The Ol’ Six Incher Behind the Barn

New Releases:

The Great Wall
Fist Fight
A Cure for Wellness
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge

Top Five: Fist Fights

Undisputed Classic: It Happened One Night

1987 – Return to Horror High, Morgan Stewart’s Coming Home, One Woman or Two, Death Before Dishonor,

Trailers:

Song to Song
The House
The Bad Batch
Dean

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The Nipple Clamp Mcguffin

New Releases:

Lego Batman
Fifty Shades Darker
John Wick 2

Top Five: Favorite Keanu Reeves movies

Undisputed Classic: Midnight Cowboy

1987 – Over the Top, Mannequin, 84 Charing Cross Road, The Good Father,

Trailers:

Avengers: Infinity War

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Literally a Handful

New Releases:

Rings
The Space Between Us
The Comedian

Top Five: Foreign Remakes

Undisputed Classic: All About Eve

1987 – Black Widow, From the Hip, Light of Day

Trailers:

A Cure for Wellness
Ghost in the Shell
Life
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Transformers: The Last Knight
Logan
The Fate of the Furious
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

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A Bell’s Purpose

New Releases:

A Dog’s Purpose
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Gold
The Handmaiden

Top Five: 2017 biggest Oscar snubs

Undisputed Classic: Kramer vs Kramer

1987 – Radio Days, Outrageous Fortune, Allan Quaterman & The Lost City

Trailers:

My Cousin Rachel
Catfight
Trainspotting 2

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Split is a Must See Right Now

New Releases:

Split
XXX The Return of Xander Cage
The Founder
20th Century Women
The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

Top Five: Your Mom’s favorite movies

Undisputed Classic: Ordinary People

1987 – The Bedroom Window, Critical Condition, Wanted Dead or Alive, The Stepfather

Trailers:

The Discovery
Logan
Power Rangers
Colossal

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Patriot’s Day A Must See

Patriot’s Day A Must See

New Releases:

The Bye Bye Man
Patriot’s Day
Monster Trucks
Sleepless
Live By Night

Top Five: Movies based on real life events

Undisputed Classic: The Greatest Show on Earth

1987 – Postponed

Trailers:

Raw
Below Her Mouth
Youth in Oregon
Chips

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A Monster Calls to Make You Cry

New Releases:

Underworld: Blood Wars
A Monster Calls
Hidden Figures

Top Five: Movies You’re Looking Forward to in 2017

Undisputed Classic: Gentleman’s Agreement

1986 Wisdom, Assassination, Meatballs 3

Trailers:

The Lovers
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
I am Not Your Negro

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The Best Movies of 2016

Before we get to the Too 10 movies of 2016 I wish to mention several films that narrowly missed this list.

Paterson from director Jim Jarmusch and starring Adam Driver

20th Century Women from director Mike Mills and starring Annette Bening

Swiss Army Man from directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano

Christine from director Antonio Campos and starring Rebecca Hall

The Finest Hours from director Craig Gillespie and starring Chris Pine

Divine Access from director Steven Chester Prince and starring Billy Burke

Hail Caesar from The Coen Brothers and starring Josh Brolin

The Lobster from director Yorgos Lanthimos

The Handmaiden from director Chan Wook Park and starring Kim Min-Hee

Sing Street from director John Carney and starring Ferdia Walsh Peelo

Everybody Wants Some from director Richard Linklater and starring Blake Jenner

Nocturnal Animals from director Tom Ford and starring Amy Adams

Deadpool from director Tim Miller and starring Ryan Reynolds

Don’t Think Twice from writer-director and star Mike Birbiglia

And now on to the Top 10 movies of 2016

10. The Nice Guys – Somehow, I am always surprised by director Shane Black, even though I shouldn’t be. Black’s work has been consistently great behind the camera with Iron Man 3 being one of the most underrated superhero movies and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang being a legitimate cult classic. Nevertheless, I find myself shocked when he arrives with another terrific movie. The Nice Guys is arguably his best work yet. This buddy comedy with Russell Crowe as a tough guy-straight man to Ryan Gosling’s broader, goofier private eye is rich with wit and wildly clever plotting.

9. The Witch– One of the biggest surprises of 2016 is director Robert Eggers’ Pilgrim era horror movie The Witch. When it comes to horror movies I tend not to expect much and then get exactly what I expected. The Witch however, blew away my expectations and transcended its genre to be something so much more interesting than a mere horror movie. The film is a brilliant exercise in tension and suspense and it builds to one stunning moment after another until it reaches an ending that is both strange and cathartic. It ends in the only way this very odd and brilliant film could.

8. La La Land – Damian Chazzelle is part of a new generation of directors alongside Robert Eggers, and Denis Villaneuve, directors who’s talents will lead us to the next generation of film as an artform and La La Land is the confirmation of his status as a leader of this next generation. Both a genre film and a brilliant innovation, Chazzelle belongs to a new generation of filmmakers who bridging the divide between art and commerce by transforming genre pictures into indie style works of art.

7. Moonlight– Barry Jenkins is another of the next generation of great filmmakers who’s work will be transforming popular culture for the next decade and beyond. Though Moonlight is small in scale, it is a grand statement on identity, gender and sexuality. But Moonlight isn’t just a message picture or a political statement picture, it has style to go with the substance. Check the scene in the second act where Chiron and Kevin are having a tender moment at the beach. The scene is filled with all sorts of tension but the visual is all smooth and silky and most importantly, soothing with deep blues melting extending beautifully from the white sand beach reflecting a nearby streetlight out to the darkening horizon. The scene is gorgeous and sexy and emotionally powerful and perfectly sums up the whole of this incredible film.

6. Green Room– Ok, maybe there is a theme to this year’s best films, the next generation of great filmmakers. Jeremy Saulnier definitely belongs in that conversation about the future of film culture. Green Room is Saulnier’s first true masterpiece following the near greatness of his Blue Ruin. The story of a punk rock band trapped in a skinhead nightmare, Green Room is raw and visceral, gritty and darkly humorous.

5. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk– Breaking the trend of the next generation of filmmakers dominating my list of the years best is director Ang Lee who taught quite unique lesson about how a filmmaker can innovate the cinematic form. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is supposed to be a war movie with the tropes and cliches of the modern anti-war war movie. In many way it is that movie but Ang Lee makes it so much more by shooting the film at a record breaking frame rate and having his best known cast-members speak directly to the camera as they speak to our title character Billy. There is so much more to it than that but those are two ways in which this film rouses the audience from the usually passive way we consume film.

4. Manchester by the Sea– It’s hard to believe, and more than a bit of a loss for those of us who cherish his work, but Kenneth Lonergan has only directed 3 films in his nearly 18 years in the business; his experience making the remarkable movie Margaret likely having stunted his output. At least when Lonergan does work he makes it count. Manchester by the Sea, a story of loss, grief and the excruciating process of healing, is Lonergan’s third career masterpiece following the aforementioned Margaret and his 2000 directorial debut You Can Count on Me.

3. Hell or High Water– Time will tell whether or not David Mackenzie will join the likes of Damian Chazelle and Denis Villaneuve in that next generation of great filmmakers but Hell or High Water is certainly a strong statement of belonging. This modern western that posits the modern housing crisis in the context of a classic western about outlaws and rangers carries incredible tension and weight from beginning to end. If anything holds me about Mackenzie it’s that he is the rare modern director who isn’t also a writer. Taylor Sheridan wrote the screenplay for Hell or High Water and the two have to split the credit for this brilliant film.

2. The Neon Demon– Nicholas Winding Refn is yet another leader of the new generation of great filmmakers. Perhaps this generation’s Stanley Kubrick, with a dash of Ken Russell, Refn’s piece de resistance is The Neon Demon, a wildly inventive shock fest that divided audiences between those who rapturously praise the film as art and those who consider it trashy and exploitative. Both Kubrick and Russell would be proud.

  1. Arrival– No film released in 2016 had the kind of emotional impact on me that Arrival did. Arrival acted upon me both intellectually and emotionally. Amy Adams stars as a linguist who is pressed into service by the military to find a way to communicate with aliens that have arrived on Earth but have no stated intentions. Through her work she will develop a way to communicate with the aliens and that communication forever changes the world, and more personally, changes her life in a way that is stunningly powerful. Director Denis Villaneuve has now two unquestioned masterpieces on his resume with Arrival standing next to Enemy as films that I will forever cherish, each having ended their respective year as my favorite movie. Add in Sicario, Incendies and Prisoners, and you have a modern master in the making.

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RIP Carrie Fisher

RIP Carrie Fisher.

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The Worst Movies of 2016

10. “The Other Side of the Door”:  One of the more random horror movie releases of 2016, “The Other Side of the Door,” was given a limited release back in March. What luck for me that my market was home to one of the few theaters cursed with this flotsam. “The Other Side of the Door” starred Sarah Wayne Callies, a long way from “The Walking Dead,” in a convoluted story about curses, bad religion, and silly special effects reminiscent of “The Evil Dead,” minus the charm and the excuse of a micro-budget.

9. “Incarnate”: Aaron Eckhardt is way too good for such dreck as “Incarnate.” The makers of “Incarnate” pretty much stopped working after coming up with this pitch: “It’s “Inception” meets “The Exorcist.” Never mind coherent storytelling or good characters or interesting dialogue, they have a pitch that would excite any marketing department in Hollywood, where all the best movie decisions are made.

8. “Why Him?”: Awkward does not begin to describe this comedy about a zany California billionaire played by James Franco and the conservative Midwestern father of the billionaire’s girlfriend played by Bryan Cranston. Other than the dreadfully off-putting relationship between the two leads, who really seem to be competing for least likable lead, the film is obsessed with toilets to a degree that can hardly be described. At the very least a toilet is a fitting metaphor for “Why Him?”.

7. “Nerdland”: Other than the crushing disappointment of “Jason Bourne” there was no bigger disappointment for me at the movies in 2016 than “Nerdland.” Where “Jason Bourne” at least was only mediocre when it should have been awesome, “Nerdland” was terrible when it should have been brilliant. Check the list of comic talent that created this unfunny movie: Paul Rudd, Patton Oswalt, Hannibal Burress, Riki Lindholme, Kate Micucci, Mike Judge, Owen Benjamin and it all sprang from the mind of one of the star creators of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, Chris Prynoski. That level of talent should not be able to fail and yet it does quite miserably.

6. “Warcraft”: Duncan Jones may be a beloved cult director but his talent is no match for a videogame adaptation as unwieldy and unnecessary as “Warcraft.” Giant goofy “Lord of the Rings” rejects locked into a nonsensical time travel (?) plot involving portals and dimensions and guys with swords and armor and wizards and magic and who the hell cares????

5. “Mother’s Day”: We are told we should never speak ill of the dead and since Director Garry Marshall died earlier this year, I will make “Mother’s Day” my number 5 worst of the year and offer no other comment about the film or Mr. Marshall’s oeuvre.

4. “Nerve”: “Nerve” is an idiot plot based on a made up internet game with rules that make no sense and filmed with the quality of cellphone video blown up to the big screen. So, not only is the plot riddled with holes but the film is ugly to look at on top of that.

3. “God’s Not Dead 2”: If you thought the persecution complex of the creators of “God’s Not Dead” would be sated by the strawman victory they scripted in the first film, you are so wrong. “God’s Not Dead” drags that persecution complex into the public school system in order to win another empty victory, this time defeating Ray Wise as Satan, maybe? He seems to be playing Satan but he’s also Ray Wise who kind of always plays Satan no matter what role he is actually playing.

2. “The Brothers Grimsby”: No better evidence need be offered to show that Sascha Baron C0hen’s unrestrained id is dire, sad and gross. “Grimsby” is Baron Cohen turned up to 11, without anyone around to tell him what he’s doing has crossed the line from Borat’s juvenile yet hilarious satire to something akin to an even uglier version of an Adam Sandler movie, also known as my worst nightmare.

  1. “Gods of Egypt”/”London Has Fallen”: Do I need to say anything more than “Starring Gerard Butler”

Dishonorable mentions for “Nine Lives,” “Shut In,” “The Disappointments Room,” and “Max Steel,” each of which was probably as bad as anything on this list but they weren’t nearly as fun to write about.

PPS: In case you are wondering why “Collateral Beauty” isn’t on this list, it’s because “Collateral Beauty” is too beautiful for this world. “Collateral Beauty” is the gold standard of bad, a film so wonderfully misguided that it crosses the uncanny valley from bad to so bad it is glorious. “Collateral Beauty” is my spirit animal. I will treasure it forever and ever and ever. I love you “Collateral Beauty,” stay gold.

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