November Movie Releases

It’s Turkey Month ladies and gentlemen!

Happy Early Thanksgiving! It’s now at the point that we have a great film or films coming out every week and some that will for sure divide films fans. Now let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s coming out!

 

1st

Arctic Dogs – Entertainment Studios Motion Picture, AMBI Group

Swifty the Fox (Jeremy Renner) discovers a devious plan by Otto Von Walrus (John Cleese) to drill beneath the Arctic surface to unleash enough gas to melt all the ice. With the help from his friends – an introverted polar bear, a scatterbrained albatross, a crafty fox and two paranoid otters – Swifty and the gang spring into action to foil Otto’s plot and save the day. The voice cast also includes James Franco, Heidi Klum, Laurie Holden, Alec Baldwin, Omar Sy, Michael Madsen and Anjelica Huston.

 

Harriet – Focus Features, Story Gold Features, Martin Chase Productions, New Balloon

The extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s (Cynthia Erivo) escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes, whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. Harriet co-stars Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Clarke Peters, Deborah Ayorinde and Janelle Monae.

 

Motherless Brooklyn – Warner Bros., Class 5 Films

Based on the novel by Jonathan Lethem, and directed by Edward Norton; set against the backdrop of 1950s, Lionel Essrog (Norton), a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna (Bruce Willis). Motherless Brooklyn co-stars Willem Dafoe, Leslie Mann, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Kenneth Williams and Alec Baldwin.

 

Terminator: Dark Fate – Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Skydance Media, Lightstorm Entertainment, Tencent Pictures

Directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool), Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and a hybrid cyborg human (Mackenzie Davis) must protect a young girl (Natalia Reyes) from a newly modified liquid Terminator (Gabriel Luna) from the future. Dark Fate co-stars Diego Boneta, Edward Furlong and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Thoughts: The Terminator franchise doesn’t have the best history since the release of Judgment Day, but everyone is touting that Dark Fate is getting the franchise back on track. Of course, that’s studio people, it’s really all about the fans, and from the looks of it…they could be right. It helps that Linda Hamilton is back as Sarah Connor for one, and it’s going back to its rated-R roots (which may or may not help who knows). It can’t be as bad as Genisys right? RIGHT?

 

 

8th

Limited Release – Honey Boy

Written and starring by Shia LaBeouf – it is a semi-autobiography of his life – a child actor works to mend the relationship with his hard-drinking, law-breaking father. Honey Boy stars LaBeouf (as his father), Noah Jupe, Lucas Hedges, FKA Twigs, Maika Monroe and Clifton Collins Jr.

 

Playing with Fire – Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players, Nickelodeon Movies, Broken Road Productions

A crew of rugged firefighters meet their match when attempting to rescue three rambunctious kids. Playing with Fire stars John Cena, John Leguizamo, Keegan-Michael Key, Tyler Mane, Brianna Hildebrand, Christian Convery, Finley Rose Slater and Judy Greer.

Thoughts: What is this movie!?

 

Last Christmas – Universal Pictures,

Directed by Paul Feig, and co-written by Emma Thompson – Kate (Emilia Clarke) is a young woman subscribed to bad decisions. Her last date with disaster? That of having accepted to work as Santa’s elf for a department store. However, she meets Tom (Henry Golding) here. Her life takes a new turn. For Kate, it seems too good to be true. Last Christmas co-stars Thompson, Patti LuPone and Michelle Yeoh.

 

Midway – Lionsgate, The Mark Gordon CompanyD

Directed by Roland Emmerich, the story of the Battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the sailors who fought it. Midway stars Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart, Keean Johnson, Alexander Ludwig, Mandy Moore, Darren Criss, Nick Jonas, Ed Skrein and Dennis Quaid.

 

Doctor Sleep – Warner Bros., Vertigo Entertainment, Intrepid Pictures

Based off the novel by Stephen King, years following the events of The Shining, a now-adult Dan Torrence (Ewan McGregor) meets a young girl with similar powers as his and tries to protect her from a cult known as The True Knot who prey on children with powers to remain immortal. Directed by Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald’s Game, Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House), Doctor Sleep co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Kyliegh Curran, Chelsea Talmadge, Cliff Curtis and Bruce Greenwood

Thoughts: A sequel to one of the most popular horror films, maybe ever, Doctor Sleep looks like it’s going to be a healthy mix of nostalgia and being its thing. It also helps that the film is directed by the very talented Mike Flanagan. So yeah, Doctor Sleep could potentially be one of the best movies of the month.

 

 

15th

Limited Release: Waves

Written and directed by Trey Edward Schults (It Comes at Night); Traces the journey of a suburban African-American family – led by a well-intentioned but domineering father (Sterling K. Brown) – as they navigate love, forgiveness and coming together in the aftermath of a loss. Waves co-stars Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Alexa Demie, Renee Elise Goldsberry and Clifton Collins Jr.

 

The Good Liar – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema,

Based on the novel by Nicholas Searle, and directed by Bill Condon; career con artist Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) can hardly believe his luck when he meets well-to-do widow Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren) online. As Betty opens her home and life to him, Roy is surprised to find himself caring about her, turning what should be a cut-and-dry swindle into the most treacherous tightrope walk of his life. The Good Liar co-stars Jim Carter, Laurie Davidson and Russell Tovey.

 

Charlie’s Angels – Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Brownstone Productions,

When a young systems engineer  (Naomi Scott) blows the whistle on a dangerous technology, Charlie’s Angels (Ella Balinska and Kristen Stewart) are called into action, putting their lives on the line to protect us all. Charlie’s Angels co-stars Elizabeth Banks, Djimon Hounsou, Sam Claflin, Noah Centineo and Patrick Stewart.

Thoughts: I wasn’t completely sold on the new Charlie’s Angels movie, but I’ll admit the FIRST trailer at least had me in for the idea of the reboot. This second trailer though, oof.

 

Ford v. Ferrari – 20th Century Fox, Chernin Entertainment

Directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma, The Wolverine, Logan) – American car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Ford v. Ferrari co-stars Caitriona Balfe, Jon Bernthal, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe and Tracy Letts.

Thoughts: This one has been in the works for a while, and it’s finally here and it looks pretty solid. The film already has a great backstory so hopefully that will bring people out to watch.

 

 

22nd

Limited Release – Dark Waters

Based on a real story and magazine article by Nathaniel Rich; A corporate defense attorney (Mark Ruffalo) takes on an environmental lawsuit against a chemical company that exposes a lengthy history of pollution. Dark Waters co-stars Anne Hathaway, William Jackson Harper, Bill Pullman, Bill Camp, Victor Garber and Tim Robbins.

 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Sony Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Tencent Pictures, Big Beach Films

Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and journalist Tom Junod. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood co-stars Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Cooper.

Thoughts: You ready to cry? I’m not ready to cry. Because we’re going to cry.

 

21 Bridges – STX Entertainment, AGBO, Huayi Brothers

Thrust into a citywide manhunt for a duo of cop killers, NYPD detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) begins to undercover a massive conspiracy that links his fellow police officers to a criminal empire and must decide who he is hunting and who is actually hunting him. During the manhunt, Manhattan is completely locked down for the first time in its history – no exit or entry to the island including all 21 bridges. 21 Bridges co-stars Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, Stephan James, Keith David and J.K. Simmons.

 

Frozen 2 – Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios

Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom. Frozen 2 voice cast also includes Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown.

Thoughts: You ready for the next “Let it Go” to be played over 100 times? ARE YOU?

 

 

27th

Queen & Slim – Universal Pictures, BRON Studios,

A couple’s (Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith) first date take an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over. Queen & Slim co-stars Indya Moore, Chloe Sevigny, and Bokeem Woodbine.

 

Knives Out – Lionsgate, Media Rights Capital, FilmNation Entertainment, Ram Bergman Productions

Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Looper, Star Wars: The Last Jedi), a detective (Daniel Craig) investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family. Knives Out impressive cast includes Chris Evans, LaKeith Stanfield, Ana de Armas, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, Riki Lindhome, Jaeden Martell, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis  and Christopher Plummer.

Thoughts: Knives Out has gotten a lot, A LOT, of love in the film festival circuit, so Knives Out looks to be one of those movies that you’re going to need to watch opening weekend.

 

What are you looking forward to?

September Movie Releases

Hello everybody!

Another month has gone by and we’re on to another packed month full of great films. September seems like it’s going to be great by the end of the month, and may even have some early Academy Award nominees. I know, too early to think of that, but you know what? When you look at these films, you’ll be saying the same thing too. Let’s take a look at what’s coming out this month.

 

6th

It: Chapter 2 – Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Vertigo Entertainment, Lin Pictures

Synopsis: Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), the Losers Club have grown up (James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Isaiah Mustafa) and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back. Directed once again by Andy Muschietti, the film will co-star the original young cast of Jaeden Martell, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Jack Dylan Grazer, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, and Chosen Jacobs.

Thoughts: I really liked the first It, so I was very eager to see what they would do with Chapter 2. So far, it looks DAMN good. Runtime aside – 2 hours and 49 minutes – which really doesn’t matter to me, so bring on the scary-ass clown!

 

 

13th

Hustlers – STX Entertainment

Based on the New York Magazine article by Jessica Pressler – a crew of strip club employees band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Directed by Lorene Scafaria (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, The Meddler), Hustlers stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Madeline Brewer, Julia Stiles, Lizzo and Cardi B.

 

The Goldfinch – Warner Bros., Amazon Studios, Color Force

An adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Donna Tartt, a boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Goldfinch’s impressive cast stars Ansel Elgort, Jeffrey Wright, Ashleigh Cummings, Willa Fitzgerald, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn Wolfhard, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson and Nicole Kidman.

 

 

20th

Downton Abbey – Focus Features, Perfect World Pictures, Carnival Film & Television

The continuing story of the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century.

 

Rambo: Last Blood – Lionsgate, Millennium Films, Balboa Productions

Synopsis: Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) must confront his past and unearth his ruthless combat skills to exact revenge in a final mission. Rambo co-stars Oscar Jaenada, Paz Vega, Yvette Monreal and Adriana Barraza.

Thoughts: Stallone’s last (maybe) time out as John Rambo has him fighting the cartel, and it looks like it’s going to be down-and-dirty. I’ll be honest; I don’t have quite the connection to the Rambo movies like I thought I did. I might have to do a quick re-watch of the movies before Last Blood to get a better feel. Either way, I enjoyed the last Rambo movie, which of course features Rambo mowing down an entire army with a truck-planted machine gun, and cutting people in half with a machete.

 

Ad Astra – 20th Century Fox, New Regency Pictures, Plan B Entertainment, Bona Film Group

Synopsis: Co-written and directed by James Gray (We Own the Night, The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z), an astronaut (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his father (Tommy Lee Jones) and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet. He uncovers secrets which challenge the nature of human existence and our place in the cosmos. Ad Astra co-stars Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga and Donald Sutherland.

Thoughts: Ad Astra seems like it’s going to be one of those movies that people are expecting one thing, and will get another, and hopefully it will be for the better. I mean you got Pitt, Jones and Sutherland in a sci-fi space movie! What more do you want!?

 

 

27th

Limited Release: Judy

Based on the stageplay “End of the Rainbow” by Peter Quilter, legendary performer Judy Garland (played by Renee Zellweger) arrives in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts. Judy co-stars Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Bella Ramsey, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon.

 

Abominable – Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Pearl Studio

A magical Yeti must return to his family. The voice cast includes Chloe Bennet, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard, Albert Tsai and Sarah Paulson.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

August Movie Releases

Can you believe it’s already August? Seriously, where has the all the time gone geez. Anyway, August is filled some films that could have potential. It’s also the last month of the Summer Movie Season, also known to some as studios’ “dump month.”  Let’s hope that it is not the true case.

 

4th

Expansion Release: An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

 

Limited Release: Wind River

Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water) writes and makes his directorial debut here which follows an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) teaming with a town’s veteran game tracker (Jeremy Renner) to investigate a murder that occurred on a Native American reservation. The film looks pretty great to be honest and seeing Sheridan make his directorial debut with great leads is going to – hoping – be great to watch. The film also stars Jon Bernthal, Gil Birmingham, Martin Sensmeier and Julia Jones.

 

Kidnap (Thriller – Aviron Pictures, Well Go USA Entertainment, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Gold Star Films)

A mother, played by Halle Berry, stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son. This was supposed to come out last year, but got shelved after Relativity Media and got picked up some by another studio. It also doesn’t help that the movie doesn’t look all that great, but you never know. The film stars Sage Correa, Dana Gourrier, Christopher Berry and Lew Temple.

 

Detroit (Drama Thriller – Annapurna Pictures, MGM, First Light Production, Page 1)

Amidst the chaos of the Detroit Rebellion, with the city under curfew and as the Michigan National Guard patrolled the streets, three young African American men were murdered at the Algiers Motel. The film is directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, the duo already have The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty under their belts and are now tackling this story set against the backdrop of the famous Detroit Riots. It looks absolutely great and has a great cast lead by John Boyega. Detroit also stars Will Poulter, Jacob Latimore, Jason Mitchell, Kaitlyn Dever, Jack Reynor, Algee Smith, Ben O’Toole, John Krasinski and Anthony Mackie.

 

The Dark Tower (Sci-Fi Fantasy – Sony Pictures/Media Rights Capital/Imagine Entertainment)

Based on the Stephen King stories, The Dark Tower follows Gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), who roams an Old West-like landscape in search of the Dark Tower, in hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world. This puts him at odds with The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey. This movie has been in the works for so long, I’m happy to finally see this get made, and more importantly it doesn’t look that bad. The Dark Tower also stars Tom Taylor, Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley, Fran Kranz and Dennis Haysbert.

 

11th

Limited Release: The Only Living Boy in New York 

Directed by Marc Webb, adrift in New York City, a recent college graduate’s life is upended by his father’s mistress. The film stars Callum Turner, Kiersey Clemons, Kate Beckinsale, Jeff Bridges, and Pierce Brosnan.

 

Limited Release: Ingrid Goes West

Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is an unhinged social media stalker who takes a liking to Taylor Sloane (Elizaebth Olsen), a life influencer, who looks to live the perfect life. Ingrid moves to L.A to try and become friends with Taylor, but eventually – like always – takes things too far. The film also stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell and Pom Klementieff.

 

Limited Release: Good Time

A bank robber (Robert Pattinson) finds himself unable to evade those who are looking for him. The film is by A24, who has been on a tear lately, and sees Pattinson’s character also trying to save his brother from being kept in prison. The film also stars Ben Safdie, Barkhad Abdi, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

 

The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (Animation – Open Road Films, ToonBox Entertainment, Shanghai Hoongman, Gulfstream Pictures)

Following the events of the first film, Surly and his friends must stop Oakton City’s mayor from destroying their home to make way for a dysfunctional amusement park. The voice cast includes Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Isabela Moner, Peter Stormare, Bobby Cannavale, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham and Bobby Moynihan.

 

The Glass Castle (Drama – Lionsgate, Netter Productions)

Based on the memoir by Jeannette Walls, the film follows a young girl who comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty. The film has a great cast of Brie Larson, Naomi Watts, Sarah Snook, Max Greenfield and Woody Harrelson.

 

Annabelle: Creation (Horror – New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster)

Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle. Directed by David F. Sandberg, who did the impressive Light’s Out, the film is a prequel to the first Annabelle, which of course itself a prequel/spinoff of The Conjuring. The film stars Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Anthony LaPaglia, Lulu Wilson, Adam Bartley, Alicia Vela-Bailey, Philippa Coulthard, Javier Botet, and Mark Bramhall. I was lucky enough to see an advanced screening late last month, and I really liked it. The film just never lets you go. I highly recommend.

 

18th

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Action Comedy – Lionsgate/Nu Image / Millennium Films/Skydance Productions/Campbell Grobman Films)

The world’s top bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) gets a new client, a hit man (Samuel L. Jackson) who must testify at the International Court of Justice. They must put their differences aside and work together to make it to the trial on time. I like to call this the quintessential Samuel L. Jackson movie given the red-band trailers have Jackson yelling “mother fucker” for most of it. The film also stars Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung, Joaquim de Almeida, and Gary Oldman.

 

Logan Lucky (Comedy – Bleecker Street Media, Fingerprint Releasing, Trans-Radial Pictures, Free Association)

Two brothers (Adam Driver and Channing Tatum) attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina. Steven Soderbergh returns to the big screen after his semi-retirement with this great looking comedy heist film including to wacky characters like Daniel Craig’s Joe Bang and a one armed Adam Driver. The film also stars Katherine Waterston, Riley Keough, Sebastian Stan, Katie Holmes, Jack Quaid, Seth MacFarlane and Hilary Swank

 

25th

Tulip Fever (Romance Drama – The Weinstein Company, Worldview Entertainment, Ruby Films)

Based on Deborah Moggach’s novel, an artist falls for a young married woman while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait during the Tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam. The film has been moved around so many times now, let’s hope it finally sticks. The film also has a nice cast of Alicia Vikander, Cara Delevingne, Holliday Grainger, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz, Zach Galifianakis, Kevin McKidd, Jack O’Connell, Tom Hollander, David Harewood, and Judi Dench.

 

Crown Heights (Drama – Amazon Studios, Black Maple Films, Washington Square Films, Iam21 Entertainment)

When Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) is wrongfully convicted of murder, his best friend Carl King (Nnamdi Asomugha) devotes his life to proving Colin’s innocence. The film also stars Bill Camp and Nestor Carbonell.

 

All Saints (Drama – Columbia Pictures, Affirm Films)

Based on the true story of a salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock (John Corbett), the tiny church he was ordered to shut down, and a group of refugees from Southeast Asia. Together, they risked everything to plant seeds for a future that might just save them all.

 

Birth of the Dragon (Action – WWE Studios, BH Tilt, Groundswell Productions)

Set against the backdrop of 1960s San Francisco, the film is a modern take on the classic movies that Bruce Lee was known for. It takes its inspiration from the epic and still controversial showdown between and up-and-coming Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) and kung fu master Wong Jack Man (Yu Xia) – a battle that gave birth to a legend.

 

Leap! (Animation – The Weinstein Company, Quad Productions, Caramel Film, Main Journey)

Originally a French film, an orphan girl (voiced by Elle Fanning) dreams of becoming a ballerina and flees her rural Brittany for Paris, where she passes for someone else and accedes to the position of pupil at the Grand Opera House. It looks like foreign animated films with an American voice cast is starting to become a trend, but for me, Leap! doesn’t look all that great. The dubbed voice cast also includes Dane DeHaan, Maddie Ziegler and Carly Rae Jepsen.

 

So, what are you looking forward to?

My Best/Favorite Films of 2016

It’s the end of the year boys and girls, you know what that means? It’s list time!!

There were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.

The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time. Also, the list won’t include limited release like Live By Night, A Monster Calls, Patriots Day or Silence since they didn’t open in my area, so I’ll include those in my list of 2017 (assuming they make the list of course). Then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, surprises of the year, honorable mentions and then the big ones.

 

Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch

Anomalisa

American Honey

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Café Society

Captain Fantastic

Eye in the Sky

High Rise

Indignation

I Saw the Light

Loving

Miss Sloane

Swiss Army Man

The Birth of a Nation

The Hollars

The Invitation

The Light Between Oceans

The Wave

 

 

Just Missed The List

Demolition

Don’t Think Twice

Lights Out

Nocturnal Animals

The Magnificent Seven

Train to Busan

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Bad Moms (STX Entertainment/Block Entertainment)

If you told me that Bad Moms would be as funny as it was at the beginning of the year, I’d probably walk away from our conversation. But, I gave Bad Moms a chance and I actually had an enjoyable time watching it. It isn’t perfect, but there are plenty of laughs with a great lead cast in Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn.

bad_moms

 

Ouija: Origin of Evil (Universal Pictures/Blumhouse Productions/Platinum Dunes/Hasbro/Allspark Pictures)

I never watched the first Ouija (and I still don’t at this point), so walking into Origin of Evil knowing it was a prequel, I didn’t know what to anticipate. Thankfully, the sequel/prequel really worked, and honestly, worked better as a family drama than it did horror. Although some of the horror moments by Mike Flanagan, who directed films like Oculus and Hush, worked really well and of course it helped that he had a great cast, especially standout and young star Lulu Wilson.

ouija_two_ver2

 

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Universal Pictures/Party Over Here/The Lonely Island/Apatow Productions)

Popstar was one of those films that I watched the trailer and found out what it was about, I couldn’t see myself watching it. Add the fact that I’m not that big of an Andy Samberg fan, but boy was I wrong. The movie was way more funnier than the trailers, and the mockumentary really adds to the movie as a whole, especially the bee “scene.” I’m okay with being wrong this time around.

popstar_never_stop_never_stopping

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Cross Creak Pictures/Head Gear Films/Handsomecharlie Films/QC Entertainment/MadRiver Pictures)

I had actually been looking forward to this for a long time now, and while it wasn’t perfect, I still really enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies knew what it was and didn’t try to overdo it or be something else.

pride_and_prejudice_and_zombies_ver3

 

Storks (Warner Bros. Animation/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Stoller Global Solutions)

Storks didn’t grab my attention at all until the second trailer came out, and even then I wasn’t completely sold on it. Then I watched it and I was glad I did. I genuinely had a great time watching the film. It had solid jokes that had me laughing for a good while after, and a very touching story with a satisfying ending that I didn’t think it would.

storks_ver11

 

The Shallows (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Ombra Films/Weimaraner Republic Pictures)

Another film I had no expectation for but ended watching anyway was the Blake Lively-trying-not-to-get-eaten-by-a-shark film. But, The Shallows wasn’t all that bad, in fact, it kind of made me change my mind on Lively as an actress. Granted it was one film, and it had everything to do with the material she was given, but The Shallows hands down is my surprise film of the year that didn’t suck.

shallows

 

Honorable Mentions

10 Cloverfield Lane (Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Spectrum Effects)

Considering the title for the film came out of nowhere, many were waiting to see what 10 Cloverfield Lane would bring to the table. Thankfully, it came in the form of a great film than probably most people didn’t anticipate. The third act twist to make it connect to the overall world of Cloverfield and all the online marketing threw a lot of people off, but nothing can take away what this film was able to do, in the short time we had to adjust. 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the best thrillers of the year.

ten_cloverfield_lane

 

Christine (The Orchard/Great Point Media/Fresh Jade/BorderLine Films)

Based on a true story I didn’t know before this film, I was still excited to see how they would approach the material. Also, knowing what was going to happen didn’t affect the final product at all. Rebecca Hall is a standout in this and her performance is amazing to watch from beginning to end.

christine

 

Deepwater Horizon (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Participant Media/Di Bonaventura Pictures/Closest to the Hole Productions/Leverage Entertainment)

Peter Berg feels like he’s become a “based on a true story” director, which is fine if they’re anything like Deepwater Horizon. Whether you think the concept of making a film based on the BP oil spill is a “good” idea, the film was more about the actual workers there. Not only that, the film is heavily emotion that I will not lie, made me tear up.

deepwater_horizon

 

Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

Marvel continues its trend of changing the way they make their films and keeping the fans on their feet. Doctor Strange introduced magic to the already well-oiled machine that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Filled with trippy, and great, visuals Doctor Strange may not be the best Marvel film, but one that definitely sticks out, and will leave a lasting impression.

doctor_strange_ver3

 

Don’t Breathe (Sony Pictures/Screen Gems/Ghost House Pictures/Stage 6 Films/Good Universe)

Fede Alvarez had a lot of eyes on him after he directed the not-as-bad-as-people-thought-it-would-be remake of Evil Dead, and Don’t Breathe was a worthy follow-up. The film was filled with great tension throughout that was helped by the great sound design. Not only that, the film was vastly different from what the trailers made you think you were walking into, which is always nice.

dont_breathe_ver2

 

Eddie the Eagle (20th Century Fox/Marv Films/Saville Productions/Studio Babelsberg)

Based on the real life of Eddie the Eagle, Taron Egerton continued to prove that he is one of the best young and upcoming actors working today. Add in the fact that he’s playing a real person whose story was not only a feel-good one, but one that is truly inspirational was great to watch. Also, anytime we get to see Hugh Jackman is a plus, right?

eddie_the_eagle_ver2

 

Finding Dory (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)

Many, myself included, worried whether a sequel to Finding Nemo was even necessary, but doubting Pixar at this point has been a bad move. Not only was Finding Dory a worthy sequel, it was a ton of fun. The film never tried to be like the previous film, and instead did things differently to tell its story, and thankfully it paid off.

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Found Footage 3D

One of the highlights of the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was Found Footage 3D. Keeping true to the title, the film is shot in found footage in 3D, and as terrible as that may sound to some, Found Footage 3D is a lot of fun and worthy to seen. I’ll say this about the film, it’s the Scream of found footage movies.

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Ghostbusters (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Village Roadshow Pictures/LStar Captial/Feigco Entertainment/Pascal Pictures/The Montecito Picture Company)

Yes, I actually enjoyed Ghostbusters. The film didn’t deserve all the hate it got. Was it perfect? No, but it wasn’t terrible either. And yes, the female-led cast actually worked. The film was funny, and the last act – although fell into typical Summer Blockbuster Movie tropes – had some cool things going for it, like ghosts taking over Time Square.

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Green Room (A24/Broad Green Pictures/Film Science)

One of the main attractions of Green Room for many I’m sure was seeing the always loveable Patrick Stewart play a terrifying Neo-Nazis leader, and that’s what he did indeed. Also, it later turned out to be one of the last films by Anton Yelchin. With all that said, Green Room did turn out to be much more than those points. While the film had some horror elements, Green Room works better as a survival thriller.

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Hacksaw Ridge (Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Cross Creak Pictures/Demarest Media/IM Global)

Say what you want about Mel Gibson, and maybe he still deserves it or maybe not, but the man can direct a damn movie! Hacksaw Ridge is a powerful film that, like some films on the list, is based on a true story that maybe not a lot of people knew, and props to Andrew Garfield for bringing not just the character, but the actual man, to life. The war scenes were brutal, sure, but it was Garfield’s performance that really made this movie shine.

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Headshot (Infinite Frameworks Studios)

Headshot was the newest film that starred The Raid and The Raid 2 stars Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yullisman. The film does lean more on the drama side before the action kicks into overdrive and becomes the martial arts film that the trailers promised.

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Here Alone (Vertical Entertainment/Lola’s Productions/Easy Open Productions/Manhattan Productions/Gentile Entertainment Group/Preferred Content) 

One of the biggest surprises of the Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival was not really too much of a horror film, but a thriller drama that follows a woman trying to live her life in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The film sounds simple but it is so much more than the synopsis has you believe. The film surpassed any sort of expectations I had for it, which was none, because I didn’t know anything about it before hand.

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Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox/Fox 2000 Pictures/Chernin Entertainment/Levantine Films)

This could have gone in my surprises of the year, but I ended up really liking Hidden Figures a lot more than I had original thought. Along with a story that really happened, I had to include it in my list of films of the year. The film was smart, funny and highly entertaining from beginning to end. Also, the wide release is early January, but I managed to see a “Special Engagement” showing, so I was able to put it on my list for 2016.

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Midnight Special (Warner Bros./Tri-State Pictures/RatPac Dune Entertainment)

Another film that I wished more people got to see was this film. Midnight Special may have the backdrop of a sci-fi film, but it really is a story about family and what a father would do for his son. The film is a independent film to the truest point, and even when the sci-fi elements come into play, it never undermines the family drama.

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Moonlight (A24/Plan B Entertainment) 

There’s something special about Moonlight when watching it. The film’s decision to follow our main character from childhood to adulthood was an interesting move, but also made sense when you remember everything that was shown beforehand. The film’s theme was also something that was handled extremely well, and since the trailer – at least from what I remember – didn’t say or hint at anything about it, I was surprised and floored. Moonlight takes the risk and it pays off.

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Pete’s Dragon (Walt Disney Productions)

I had never seen – or at least don’t remember – the original Pete’s Dragon, and I’m kind of glad of that because this iteration is great. It did feel like more of a older crowd film, but there was enough for kids to enjoy and understand. The film also didn’t have a hard time pulling on the heartstrings, and Elliot the Dragon, was worth the price of admission alone.

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The Autopsy of Jane Doe (IFC Films/IFC Midnight/IM Global/Impostor Pictures/42)

Directed by Trollhunters director Andre Ovredal, The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of those films that just came out of nowhere, and one you should see if you get the chance without knowing too much about it. All you need to know is Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch have great chemistry as father and son coroners who have to deal with a mysterious body and creepy as things going down.

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The Edge of Seventeen (STX Entertainment/Gracie Films)

This was a film I wasn’t too excited about just based off the premise, but once the cast came together and watching the first trailer, it went to must-watch watch. The Edge of Seventeen is a great coming-of-age film that is lead by Hailee Steinfeld and had a great supporting cast. It wasn’t the best coming-of-age film this year, but one of the best for sure.

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The Handmaiden (Amazon Studios/CJ Entertainment/Magnolia Pictures/Moho Film/Yong Film)

Directed by Chan-wook Park, this erotic thriller – to put it lightly – was like nothing I ever thought it would be like. I mean, seriously, like. Nothing. I. Never. Thought. It. Would. Be.

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The Witch (A24/Parts and Labor/Rooks Nest Entertainment/Code Red Productions/Mott Street Pictures/Code Red Productions/Maiden Voyage Pictures)

The Witch was one of those films that I couldn’t shake off after watching. That doesn’t happen often, and that’s saying something coming from a guy that watches a lot of films in general. From start to finish, the film grabs you with its unique cinematography, eerie setting, and overall sense of dread.

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Zootopia (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

After watching Zootopia, I thought, that’s it for animated films this year right? Well, no, but Zootopia is still right there on top of the list. Filled with smart social commentary and a great voice cast, Disney has done it again with their animated films.

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Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

Arrival (Paramount Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/21 Laps Entertainment)

Arrival was one of those films you make you feel comfortable until it hits you with all the emotions it’s gathered up throughout the film. It’s also one of those films that leaves you thinking way after watching the film, and start asking questions about what you would do. It’s a great film that came out of nowhere, and one we need a little more of.

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Captain America: Civil War (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Marvel Studios)

The Civil War story in the comics is unbelievable, so when Marvel announced they were going to put it on the big screen, I was a little hesitant – even though I trust Marvel. So when I watched Civil War, all I could think about was how great they were able to bring their own story into the film, and make it work and make Captain America: Civil War one of the best Marvel films so far.

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Carol (The Weinstein Company/Film4/Killer Films/Number 9 Films)

Technically a 2015 film, but considering its wide release rollout – which is when I saw it – wasn’t until 2016, I’m putting Carol here. Of course, it doesn’t really matter where you put this film because it is such a great film. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara made these characters and story feel so real that even with the period piece, you can easy see how modern the story is as well.

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Deadpool (20th Century Fox/Marvel Enterprises/TSG Entertainment)

Deadpool could also be labeled a Surprise Film of the Year, but let’s face it, Deadpool belongs in a favorite films of the year list. Considering it took so long to get this film made, all the kudos goes to Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to bring, arguably, one of the most hardest comic book characters to life on the big screen.

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Everybody Wants Some!! (Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Detour Filmproduction)

Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused is so relatable to many, it’s kind of weird. We’ve all been there at some point of our lives and Linklater has this ability to find actors that we can relate to and root for it’s almost impossible.

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Hell or High Water (CBS Films/Lionsgate/Oddlot Entertainment/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/Film 44)

Hell or High Water is one of those films you watch and wonder, why didn’t this get a bigger release? It had great performances by the cast all around, the story and cinematography were great, and feel of the film is constant throughout. If you haven’t yet, do yourself a favor and watch this film!

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (The Orchard/Piki Films/Defender Films/Curious Film)

This is one film I didn’t know too much about before going to see it. All I knew was it was getting rave reviews and it was directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Flight of the Conchords, Thor: Ragnarok). I loved Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and one of the reason I loved it was because it was so different in its own quirky, weird, fun way.

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I Am Not a Serial Killer (IFC Midnight/Fantastic Films/Floodland Pictures/Winterland Pictures/Liquid Noise Films/Level 5 Films)

Having read the novel a few years back, I didn’t even know a movie was being released until it premiered on the film festival circuit. However, I Am Not a Serial Killer is definitely of those rare films that surpasses the source material, and what helped was the casting of Max Records and Christopher Lloyd.

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Jackie (Fox Searchlight Pictures/LD Entertainment/Wild Bunch/Why Not Productions/Protozoa Pictures/Bliss Media/Fabula)

Natalie Portman gives an absolutely crushing and great performance as Jackie Kennedy. The film is built and carried by her as we see Portman literally go through every emotion she can go through bringing the former First Lady to life that lost her husband in front of her, who also happened to be the President of the United States in a very public way.

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Kubo and the Two Strings (Focus Features/Laika Entertainment)

Laika Entertainment’s fourth film, and for me personally, their best, Kubo and the Two Strings is a beautifully done film with tremendous production design and awesome score. The story at times feels simple, but man did I fall in love with this film.

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La La Land (Summit Entertainment/Black Label Media/Marc Platt Productions/Impostor Pictures/Gilbert Films)

I was blown away by La La Land! I didn’t think the film would be as good as people were saying it was, but I’m glad it was. The film was beautifully done and filled with a great and emotional soundtrack that I’ve slowly become addicted too. The fact that is also feels like an old Hollywood film is what makes the film go above the rest.

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Manchester by the Sea (Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions/B Story/Big Indie Pictures/Pearl Street Films/CMP/K Period Media)

Films about grief are common in Hollywood every year, however what makes Manchester by the Sea stick out is that it feels overly real than the rest. There’s no pouring his emotions out by Casey Affleck’s character, and the film shows people go through grief in their own ways. Add on the breakout performance by Lucas Hedges, and the small but powerful performance by Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea is one of the best films of the year.

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Moana (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios)

Disney Animation continues to bring powerful, emotional and beautifully done films, and it felt like this year was a great year for them. Moana tells a great story through its character, but also its amazing soundtrack, which probably makes sense since they had Lin-Manuel Miranda helping them out.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Allison Shearmur Productions)

Let’s face it, Rogue One was a huge risk for Lucasfilm. Another prequel? Really, did they learn nothing from the past? Well, we were wrong! Rogue One was not only a great prequel to A New Hope, but a great Star Wars film in general. It brings a whole new level to the franchise, and whether you are a hardcore fan, a moderate fan, and someone who is just starting, Rogue One is a ton of fun, action-packed and filled with great characters.

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Sing Street (The Weinstein Company/FilmNation Entertainment/Likely Story/PalmStar Media)

I remember watching the trailer for Sing Street and automatically knew it was going to be something special, and it looked like I was right. Sing Street is one of those films that you may have seen before, but the cast and soundtrack they were able to pull together makes this film not only one of my favorite films of the year, but one of the best films of the year.

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Star Trek Beyond (Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions/Bad Robot/Sneaky Shark/Perfect Storm Entertainment)

Star Trek Beyond is one of those films that I don’t think many people gave a chance because Into Darkness was underwhelming and disappointing. Which is a fair assessment. However, Star Trek Beyond was a better film and a more fun film that was reminiscent of the first film in the rebooted franchise.

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The Conjuring 2 (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Evergreen Media Group/The Safran Company/Atomic Monster)

At this point, I think I’ll follow James Wan anywhere. I don’t know if The Conjuring 2 was better than the first film, but it is a worthy sequel and one that works within the world that Wan created. Not only that, he continues to bring creepy as hell characters to the big screen to fill our nightmares.

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The Jungle Book (Walt Disney Pictures/Fairview Entertainment/Moving Picture Company)

Another worthy candidate for Surprise of the Year, The Jungle Book proved you can take an old property and do something new with it, and add to it. Also, the fact that the film only has one real person in it in Neel Sethi, and everything else was done in CGI that looked real in some cases, it’s rather impressive.

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The Nice Guys (Warner Bros./Silver Pictures/Waypoint Entertainment/Misty Mountains)

Shane Black’s return to the dark comedy and noir films proved to be a good move with his great film in The Nice Guys. It’s a shame that no one really went out to see it because they missed out on the great chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.

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The Revenant (20th Century Fox/New Regency Pictures/RatPac Entertainment/Anonymous Content/Appian Way)

Like Carol, Alejandro G. Inarritu’s new film was technically a 2015 film, but didn’t get its wide release rollout until 2016, which is when I saw it. Of course, the film earned Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar, but it was also the performances of the other cast members like Tom Hardy and the reunion of Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Also, watching Leo go through the torturous journey is worthy of watching the film.

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So that was my year. What are your favorite/best films of the 2016.