2016 in Films

Movie My Grade RT% Mini-review
10 Cloverfield Lane A- 90% This superb “sequel” (side-quel?) is a study in quiet, disconcerting, terror.  You won’t see what’s coming next and you don’t want to know. Terrifying in every way.
A Man Called Ove B 92% This faithful book adaptation about a cranky old man who just wants to live and die in peace hits all the right buttons for a heartwarming film.
Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie B- 60% It’s not as good as you want it to be but fans of the iconic series will appreciate the continuing saga of these two British nutjobs.
Anomolisa D+ 92% Boring, mundane, and just plan awful. Fuck this movie.
Arrival A- 94% A thinking person’s sci-fi. Quiet and suspenseful with a shifting narrative. An allegory for talking to “foreigners” that sits in an emotional narrative; not a whiz-bang epic.
Bad Moms B 60% I begrudgingly enjoyed this R-rated Mom-com. It’s like if the Mean Girls grew up and had kids and hated life. Open a glass of bad wine and enjoy.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice C- 28% DC has no clue what they are doing. Yes, this is entertaining but if you think too much about the plot it makes no sense at all. Wonder Woman is the only saving grace…barely.
Bridget Jones’s Baby B- 76% Bridget is back! Not that anyone cared. Perfect film to watch when you are sick on the couch or on a long flight.
Café Society B- 70% Middle-of-the-road Allen film with Eisenberg standing in for the Woody role. It feels like no one has enough to do and Steve Carell is basically just walking through the part.
Captain America: Civil War B+ 90% This movie addresses the real repercussions of the previous MCU films (i.e. you saved the world but manages to kill thousands in the process.) Also Spider-man and giant sized Ant-Man for the win!
Deadpool B+ 84% Negasonic Teenage Warhead steals the show from this surprisingly small R-rated action comedy. The jokes wear thin on repeat viewing but it’s refreshing to see an adult superhero movie.
Doctor Strange B+ 90% Beautifully trippy. It’s a lot to take in at once and you leave dazzled if not a bit mystified and maybe a little headachy. Tilda Swinton is great per usual.
Don’t Think Twice B 99% This is an actor’s movie – if you’re in “the biz” you’ll love it otherwise maybe not so much. Great performances in this funny yet depressing film.
Edge of Seventeen B+ 94% The (no-reason-for-this-to-be R-rated) teen dramedy doesn’t talk down to kids and really hits on what it’s like to be a moody high-schooler. The script channels John Hughes in the best way possible.
Everybody Wants Some!! C+ 86% Despite some well-written scenes and overt homoeroticism, it’s not as good as Dazed and Confused. Also it’s about 15 minutes too long. Nice baseball butts, though.
Eye in the Sky B+ 95% An edge-of-your-seat thriller that really examines the ethical dilemmas of 21st Century drone warfare. Completely engrossing.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them B 73% A fairly dark film about an autistic magizoologist who unwittingly gets caught up in an impending Wizard war in 1920s New York. It’s a lot of set up for a future franchise but enjoyable nonetheless.
Fences A- 94% The first 20 minutes feel like a play but then it settles in once Denzel settles into the long speeches. If Viola Davis doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, then Academy be damned.
Finding Dory B+ 94% Worthy follow-up showcasing how disabilities shouldn’t define you. Try not to think about the life-span of fish or whether they can easily go from salt to fresh water or you’ll get bogged down in the goofs.
Florence Foster Jenkins B 86% Enjoyable if not a bit silly. Streep will get an Oscar nom but shouldn’t. Simon Helberg won’t but should.
Ghostbusters: Answer the Call C+ 72% Not as good as you want it to be but better than you think it will be. There is a lot wrong with this film (mostly the special effects) but the cast saves it. It’s better than Ghostbusters II. And yes, that is the new title of the film.
Hail, Caesar! C 85% There are only three good parts of this mess: 1) Channing Tatum gay musical number. 2) A star-turning performance by Alden Ehrenreich. 3) Tilda Swinton being her usual weird self. Otherwise this is completely disappointing.
Hell or High Water A- 98% Bad decisions lead to terrible consequences in this excellent neo-western pot-boiler. Ben Foster made me anxious the entire time. One of the best of the year.
Hello My Name is Doris B+ 83% Please give Sally Field an Oscar nom for her fantastic turn as a lonely, lovely, kooky, septuagenarian who just wants to be loved. Both heartwarming and heartbreaking.
Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party B+ 80% A poignant and touching film examining what it’s like to be gay in an Evangelical family. Much like Stephen Cone’s other films (“Black Box” and “The Wise Kids” – 100% on RT) this one has some truly beautiful moments. Also I get a “thank you” in the end credits.
Hush A- 100% This direct-to-Netflix horror film is so smart and intense. It moves at a really quick pace for a seriously edge-of-your-seat 87 minutes. Turn off the lights, make some popcorn and get ready for a fantastic thriller.
Inferno C+ 20% Did anyone want another Robert Langdon film? It’s not bad it’s just boring. And the most interesting part of the book (the ending) was rewritten for a more Hollywood ending. Skip it.
Jackie A- 88% A brilliant performance about a woman trying to maintain control in the wake a the most public disaster. Grace under fire to say the least. Worst part is Peter Sarsgaard who doesn’t even try to be Robert Kennedy.
Jason Bourne B 56% I love the Bourne movies (except that Renner spin-off which we don’t acknowledge) and this one was fun albeit a bit silly. You might not be blown-away but you won’t be bored.
La La Land A- 92% The only time I’ve ever seen a film where people gave a STANDING OVATION after the opening scene. It’s worthy of all the praise even if Gosling is a bit reserved as a jazz musician who has lost his forte.
Love and Friendship C+ 98% This movie was so boring and confusing. I could not wait for it to be over and once it was I had to read a synopsis of the story to even understand it.
Loving B 89% True story about the civil rights case Loving v. Virginia. It’s mind-boggling that interracial marriage was illegal not that long ago. 50 years from now will there be a Obergefell v. Hodges film?
Manchester by the Sea C+ 97% An insanely depressing and frustrating film. I know that people deal with grief in different ways but I really wish that at least ONE character was visibility upset. The film left me both exhausted and emotionally blocked. I never want to see this again.
Midnight Special B- 83% On the surface it’s about a kid with special powers but beneath it’s just a dad trying to protect his family. It goes a little wonky at the end but the journey is worth it.
Money Monster B- 58% This movie left my brain about 5 minutes after we saw it to the point where I had to re-watch the trailer today to remember what it was. Completely engaging but also completely forgettable.
Moonlight A- 98% Told in three parts this touching story of a man trying to find his identity amidst an opposing society is heartbreakingly beautiful. I love that it doesn’t answer every question. It leaves some doors ajar but let’s you decide whether to cross through.
Nocturnal Animals A- 72% This film is complete genius. It’s gorgeous and terrifying. Some of the most intense scenes in a film that is not a thriller. One of the best of the year.
Passengers A- 31% Critics be damned, this movie is freaking awesome! There is a real moral dilemma 1/3 of the way into the film that has polarized people. But a sci-fi film that raises real human conflict is not for everyone.
Pee-wee’s Big Holiday B 82% If you like Pee-wee then you will like this fun, competent, crazy movie. More of the same from Big Adventure.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story B+ 84% A heist movie in space. What’s not to love? Plus, those last 7 minutes? #AllTheFeels (as they say).
Room B 94% This first act of this film deserves an A. The second drags it down for me.  It’s important to delve into the aftermath but it’s not fun to watch.
Sing Street B+ 96% It’s like ONCE in 1985 Britain. A fun coming of age film for the whole family. You can’t not smile while watching this.
Southside with You B+ 92% A nice film about two people falling in love on a first date. It’s the Before Sunrise of the year.
Star Trek Beyond B 84% A solid standalone Star Trek film. The resolve is it bit predictable but the ride is fun.
Strike A Pose B 80% A follow-up documentary about the dancers on Madonna’s fabled “Truth or Dare” tour/film. It’s fun to catch up with the crew but it’s a little bittersweet to see what happens when the star fades (theirs not hers).
Sully B- 85% I like that this is essentially an NTSB trial investigation with flashbacks. There is a ridiculous “what-if” dream scenario that is completely gratuitous but overall it’s a decent film. Watch it on a plane (or don’t).
The Accountant B+ 51% A fast-paced, kind of smart, by-the-numbers thriller that has some pretty good twists and turns. Totally set up for a franchise. I really enjoyed this film.
The Fundamentals of Caring B- 77% Paul Rudd redeems this sweet if by-the-book road trip about a kid with muscular dystrophy and his caregiver. The film that takes a bit to get going but it’s an enjoyable ride.
The Green Room B+ 90% One of the most intense films I have ever seen. A rock band witnesses a murder at a club and the neo-nazis responsible trap them in the green room. Very disturbing. An unintentional allegory for the Trump/alt-righters holding this country hostage.
The Invitation B+ 88% Woah, this movie is insanely intense, completely thrilling, and very disturbing. One of the best indie-horror films
The Jungle Book C- 94% This movie is so boring. The special effects are good but the pacing and the story is super dull. What was the point of this snoozefest?
The Lobster B 90% A wry satire on the world of single-people vs. couples. This movie is definitely not for everyone. It’s bizarre, fantastical, off-putting, and very dark.
The Magnificent Seven A- 63% The film is a little crowded but the action is great.
The Nice Guys B+ 92% This effervescent action comedy about two lowlifes trying to solve a mystery that quickly spins out of control was one of my favorites of the year. The characters may be goofy but they are good at their jobs; especially the young girl who steals the show.
The Witch A- 91% More creepy than outright scary, this story of a slowly-maddening family in 16th century New England is more unsettling for how women are treated than for what the actual witch does.
Tickled B+ 96% A true WTF documentary that has to be seen to be believed. What starts as a small curiosity into the world of “competitive tickling” videos quickly descends into the psyche of the completely depraved human being behindit all.
Weiner B 96% Behind every idiot man is a strong, stable woman. Why he let them make this documentary while his political career was falling apart is beyond me (and them as well). The amount of hubris is astounding but the schadenfreude is low. He’s not a bad man, just a numbskull.
X-Men: Apocalypse D- 48% This complete piece of garbage was a waste of time and money. Easily the worst movie of the year. The story makes no sense, the characters retcon everything in the previous films, and the timeline shift is pointless. I hope this franchise is dead and they just give it back to Marvel. Bryan Singer shouldn’t be allowed near a studio lot for 5 years as a punishment.
Zootopia B 98% A lot smarter than I thought it would be. The story is fresh and the animation is top-notch. A lot for adults to like as well as kids.