Monthly Rewind for May

Hello, everybody!

The fifth edition of Monthly Rewind is here, and we’re doing May!

I mentioned in the last post that I’m going to change how I did these going forward, and that’s going to happen here. I originally did all the movies I watched that month and gave my reactions to all those movies, good or bad. The new change is that I’ll still be doing that, but this time with only the movies that really left an impression or stood out. I’m not saying I won’t mention the bad movies, but for the most part, it’s going to be the ones that stood out.

If you know something came out during that month, or year, and it’s not on here. It’s a good chance that I haven’t seen it – yes, even after all these years – or I just completely missed it while putting the list together. It’s a lot of movies after all.

Alright, let’s get started with 2010!

 

2010

Iron Man 2

MacGruber

Thoughts: Let’s start off with Marvel’s third outing, Iron Man 2. The sequel that a lot of fans ended up not liking for various reasons, and honestly, I was one of them. The sequel does have its faults, but Marvel was still finding its footing. Plus, the sequel did end up giving us a lot of cool moments like Iron Man and War Machine back-to-back fighting off the robots, Black Widow and Whiplash’s introduction at the speedway.

Next is the comedy MacGruber, the feature-length film based off Will Forte’s SNL skit of the same name. I wasn’t a huge watcher of SNL, so I didn’t know about the skit, just that the movie looked like a dumb fun action comedy. So I went with that and actually enjoyed myself watching the overly ridiculously comedy that was happening in front of me. Even the celery.

 

 

2011

Thor

Thoughts: May 2011 was pretty light on movies, but I ended up picking Thor for a few reasons. I know some see Thor as the outliner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – some even seeing it at the “worst” one – but again, Thor was part of the Phase One movies, where Marvel was still figuring everything out. It wasn’t also done in a different style as it felt more like a Shakespearian film with Kenneth Branagh directing, and an unknown actor, aka Tom Hiddleston, stealing the show. While even I don’t see Thor as one of the best movies in the MCU, it is in my eyes, one of the more ambitious films, in terms of approach.

 

 

2012

Sleepless Night

Moonrise Kingdom

The Avengers

Thoughts: Okay, let’s get started with the Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom, the first live-action Anderson film I remember watching all the way through (The Royal Tenenbaums, being one that I hadn’t watched all the way through). The film followed two young lovers who flee from their homes and the community coming together to find them. It’s about what you expect from an Anderson film, with our young lead Jared Gilman says “sons of bitches” at one point, which just broke me.

Next is the French action crime thriller Sleepless Night – which was remade titled Sleepless with Jamie Foxx, which was NOT good – which I first saw at Actionfest, and instantly loved it. The film follows a cop with a connection to the criminal underworld, whose cover is blown when his partner gets caught skimming a recent product. When the drug lord finds out, they end up taking the cop’s son, and the cop goes in to try to save his son on his own in one night. It’s not your traditional action movie, although there is a great kitchen brawl, but I really enjoyed the movie for what it was.

Finally, The Avengers, Marvel’s first big team-up movie brought all the comic book nerds, and non-nerds, together to experience a massive milestone in comic book movie history. It’s not perfect, even I can admit that, but you got to admit it was something.

 

 

2013

Iron Man 3

After Earth

Fast & Furious 6

Thoughts: Oh 2013, what was going on? Okay, let’s start off with Iron Man 3, once again, an Iron Man sequel that left many fans divided. Marvel took the chance and hired Shane Black to write and direct, and decided to bring one of Iron Man’s biggest villains into the cinematic universe in The Mandarin, played Sir Ben Kingsley, in what was more a sadistic terrorist than somewhat supernatural villain, plus the mishandling of the Extremists storyline. I don’t know, it’s not the best Iron Man movie, but I think the movie does get a little too much hate.

Now let’s get to a movie that deserves the hate it gets, After Earth. “Directed” by M. Night Shyamalan (it was said that Will Smith “really” directed the movie, but Shyamalan took all the heat for how the movie turned out) and starring Smith and his son Jaden as father and son in the future who get stranded on the former Earth, after their ship crashes. Jaden’s character then as to go and search for help for his father, who was injured during the crash. This movie was NOT good, in any way. Jaden just didn’t have the “it factor,” especially to lead a movie like this, and apparently the movie went through so many changes after it was filmed, that a longer cut existed with people cut from the movie, and more of the back-story of things included. Even then, I don’t think the movie would have been anyway.

Finally, Fast & Furious 6, the last movie in the franchise directed by Justin Lin (who started with Tokyo Drift, and directed the eventually-released F9), which had the crew, teaming up with Dwayne Johnson’s Hobbs against a deadly crew, with the returning, and now amnesic returning Michelle Rodriguez’ Letty. This was one that I knew had a bigger impact with me, cause of the theater crowd – although I do still enjoy watching it at home too – because EVERYONE was into it. It’s a tad melodramatic with the Letty and Dom stuff, but that’s one of the things the films had done at that point, so whatever.

 

 

2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Godzilla

Chef

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Thoughts: 2014’s back came to give us proper hits! Expect this first one we’re going to talk about, The Amazing Spider-Man 2! After a solid reboot with the first Amazing Spider-Man, Sony had to whiff it by trying to play catch up to the MCU and try to create their own connected universe with Spider-Man. The result was a bloated, messy sequel that got rid of its own saving grace in Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy.

Now, let’s talk about the divisive film, Godzilla. One of the main things that everyone had a problem with was the “lack” of Godzilla in the film. Yeah, okay, but Godzilla would have really lost some of its luster by the end when he’s fighting the MUTOs, at least I think so. Besides, some of the best monster movies are the ones that don’t show the monster too often until the end, where they roam free like crazy. The other one was people thinking Bryan Cranston’s character died too soon in the movie. Again, people forgetting there needs to be stakes in a movie.

Let’s move on to, arguably, another divisive film in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Based off the popular comic story, the movie saw Wolverine’s mind being sent to the past in a desperate effort to stop an event that results in a dark future for both humans and mutants. The film changes A LOT from the comics, but the core is still kind of there. But the big selling point here was taking the cast of the Bryan Singer X-Men films and combining it with the cast of the new X-Men films. The result was a descent blend of the casts and some pretty intense and surprise death scenes.

Finally, the written and directed Jon Favreau film comedy, Chef, which as you can guess, Favreau plays a head chief, who quits his job after an incident and decides to open a food truck to reconnect with his estranged family. I didn’t know what to expect from Chef, but oh man did I love this. It’s a much smaller film that got lost in the crowed summer, but it’s definitely worth the watch. Word of advice, if you do end up watching this, don’t watch it while hungry. Don’t!

 

 

2015

Maggie

Tomorrowland

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Mad Max: Fury Road

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the smaller film that most people probably didn’t watch or get to watch, and that’s the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led, Maggie. The film saw Schwarzenegger as a father to Abigail Breslin’s titular character who gets infected by a virus that is slowly turning her into a zombie. The movie is just okay, being more of a character based-drama than your typical zombie movie, although it really doesn’t give you enough for the ending they went with, which lets the air out of you waiting for an ending, you think it’s building up to.

Next is the, generally disappointing, Tomorrowland. A lot of hype and expectations came with this one, and for good reason. It was directed by Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), it had a screenplay by Damon Lindelof (which I didn’t really care about since I didn’t watch Lost) and it looked great. Then the movie came out, and it was nothing like people expected. I liked the message it was trying to tell, but the way it was executed was half-baked.

Now let’s talk about Avengers: Age of Ultron, the second Avengers movie, which brought one of the famed villains in Avengers history, which hyped people up even more. What resulted was a very mix bag as a whole. Ultron wasn’t what people expected him to be, the introduction of Wanda, Pietro and Vision, Hawkeye’s secret family and the Hulkbuster suit. But there is also the fact that the movie kind of loses itself for a bit, and just barely recovers.

Finally, one of the best action films of the decade, Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller returned to Max, now played by Tom Hardy, as he tries to survive The Wasteland with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as she tries to lead a group of women away from Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). The movie pretty much has it all, top-notch action, beautiful cinematography and a killer score, what more do you want?

 

 

2016

Green Room

The Nice Guys

Captain America: Civil War

Thoughts: Another solid 2016 which will start with the indie thriller Green Room. The film followed a punk rock band that ends up in a skinhead bar, and after making a mistake, must fight their way out. It’s a very confined thriller with a descent chunk of the movie taking place in a room where the band is holding up. The selling point if you need one is Sir Patrick Stewart plays the head of the gang, so yeah.

The next film is the Shane Black written/directed film, The Nice Guys, starring a down on his luck P.I (played by Ryan Reynolds) and a rough around the edges P.I (played by Russell Crowe) who pair together to investigate a missing girl and a mysterious death of a porn star, who might share a connection. Besides the Shane Black-dark humor/wit, the combo of Crowe and Gosling, along with Angourie Rice, who plays Gosling’s daughter, make the perfect trio to keep the film going, and entertaining from start to finish.

Finally, Captain America: Civil War, Marvel’s ambitious retelling of the famed comic book story, obviously changed to fit the MCU characters instead of ALL the characters like in the comics. Civil War broke apart the Avengers and had them pick a side, and then added new players to the board like Black Panther and Spider-Man. I really don’t have a negative thing to say about the movie. I really enjoyed the action scenes, the airport sequence was amazing to watch on a big screen, and the final fight between Iron Man and Captain America is such a heart-breaker.

 

 

2017

Lowriders

Alien: Covenant

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Thoughts: Let’s start off with the movie that slipped most people’s radar, Lowriders. The drama followed a young street artist (Gabriel Chavarria) in East L.A. who is caught between his father’s (played by Demian Bichir) obsession with car culture, his ex-felon brother (Theo Rossi) who is out of prison and his need for self-expression. I really connected to the movie, although not the car culture or ex-felon brother, but someone trying to make his own way in a family that expected one thing from me, while I went another. Plus, the movie’s very good, so there is also that.

Let’s talk about King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, the Guy Ritchie co-written and directed take on the King Arthur legend. I know some people who didn’t like the movie for their reasons, which is fine, and while I’m not the biggest fan of it either, I enjoyed Ritchie take on the character. Adding in some of his own flavors – a street hustler Arthur with his crew – and working with a bigger budget, and a pretty solid score, I did enjoy what I watched.

Finally, Alien: Covenant, oh man. Okay, first and foremost, there are some things I do like about Covenant, not a lot, but some. Overall though, Alien: Covenant is a tad bit messy for its good. Condensing the Alien mythology and the birth of the xenomorphs into one movie was kind of a slap to the face, especially considering that the movie’s final act feels like it was tacked on to have an early xenomorph attack.

 

 

2018

Deadpool 2

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Thoughts: Let’s being our final month with Deadpool 2, the anticipated sequel after the first Deadpool surprised audiences with its meta and fourth-wall breaking humor. The movie itself was just okay to be honest, even with the inclusion of Josh Brolin’s Cable. It was kind of a bummer, but still enjoy the first time through.

Next is the much-talked about Solo: A Star Wars Story. I think at this point we all know the behind-the-scenes troubles and going-ons, so let’s move pass that, at least just a bit. The movie itself is kind of scattered in multiple places, but the better question, and the one that should be asked is, did you enjoy it? The answer to that is, yeah, for the most part. Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han was charming enough, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 was a standout amongst the cast.

The other thing about the movie was it does suffer from the prequel effect aka no real danger to the main character, but what Solo also tries to do is set up more adventures. This would be fine, if the production wasn’t such a problem to begin with, plus if the movie ended up doing more better and got better fanfare. Especially considering the ending.

 

And that’s it everyone. Admittedly, this was still a lot movies, but I can’t help that enjoy a lot of movies more than others. But more importantly, I want to know what you guys think about this. Let me know what your favorite movies in February were?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

found_footage_3d

 

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.

headshot

 

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.

midnight_special

 

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.

edge_of_seventeen

 

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.

April Movie Releases

Well hello there!

It’s April, and to some studios, it’s the unofficial start of the Summer Movie Season. Although, it doesn’t seem too much like the studios are pushing their huge films like previous years, but there are big films coming out before the end of the month. Let’s take a look shall we?

 

 

1st

Limited Release: Everybody Wants Some!! (Comedy – Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures/Detour Filmproduction)

A spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, director Richard Linklater tells a story of a group of college baseball players navigating their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood. The film has a young cast of Ryan Guzman, Wyatt Russell, Blake Jenner, Juston Street, Tyler Hoechlin, Glenn Powell, Zoey Deutch, Dora Madison, Austin Amelio, Holly Jee, and Jonathan Breck. This is part of a limited release and will get wider releases in the weeks to come, so if you don’t see it on April 1st, you can catch it in the following weeks.

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Limited Release: Miles Ahead (Biography Drama)

Written, directed and starring Don Cheadle, Miles Ahead is an exploration of the life and music of legendary musician Miles Davis (Cheadle). The movie doesn’t look too bad, but with a limited release I don’t know if I’ll get around to watching it. Miles Ahead also stars Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emayatzy Corinealdi, and Keith Stanfield.

 

God’s Not Dead 2 (Drama – Pure Flix Productions)

Sequel to the popular film (among some circles) the sequel sees a high school teacher asked a question in class about Jesus. Her reasoned response lands her in deep trouble and could expel God from the public square. I never saw the first film, so I’m pretty sure I won’t see this one. God’s Not Dead 2 stars Jesse Metcalfe, Melissa Joan Hart, David A.R. White, Robin Givens, Hayley Orrantia, Maria Canals-Barrera, Pat Boone, Ernie Hudson and Ray Wise.

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Meet the Blacks (Comedy – Freestyle Releasing/Hidden Empire Film Group)

Mike Epps stars in this film that is essentially a parody/spoof of The Purge when Carl Black (Epps) moves his family to Beverly Hills to relax, only to realize the Purge is about to happen. I have to say a lot of spoof/parody movies that come out look pretty dumb and not worthwhile. However, Meet the Blacks actually looks pretty decently funny. Mike Tyson, Zulay Henao, and Charlie Murphy also star.

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8th

Expansion Release: Everybody Wants Some!!

 

Limited Release: Green Room (Horror Thriller)

A band find themselves trapped in a secluded venue after stumbling upon a horrific act of violence and are soon targets of a white power skinhead group, lead by Patrick Stewart, who want all evidence of the crime eliminated. The cast is rather impressive and the film is on a few people’s watch list, and I can see why, I mean, when is the last time we’ve seen Patrick Stewart as a bad guy? Green Room stars Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Mark Webber, Joe Cole, Callum Turner and Eric Edelstein.

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Limited Release: Demolition (Comedy Drama – Fox Searchlight Pictures/Black Label Media/Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/Right of Way Films/Mr. Mudd)

David, a successful investment banker (Jake Gyllenhaal), struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father-in-law (Chris Cooper), to pull his life together, Davis doesn’t and starts a complaint letter to a vending machine company that actually turns into a series of letters revealing personal admissions. The letter actually make it to customer service rep, Karen (Naomi Watts) who is going through her own burden, the two form an unlikely connection. The two, along with Karen’s son (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild his life by starting a demolition his home.  The film looks pretty great so I’m looking forward to this.

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Hardcore Henry (Action – STX Entertainment/Versus Pictures/Bazelevs Production)

Based on the music video “Bad Motherfucker” by llya Naishuller, Naishuller will bring a feature0lenght adaptation that will be shot entirely like a first-person shooter and was shot with a GoPro. The film follows Henry, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator (Haley Bennett) from AKAN, a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, and his army of mercenaries. Fighting alongside Henry is Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) who is Henry’s only hope to make it through the day in Moscow, Russia. The film looks crazy, which is probably the best way to describe it. I don’t know how many will be down to a watch an entire movie shot like a video game, but if it good, then why not right?

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Before I Wake (Horror – Relativity Media/Demarest Films/Intrepid Pictures/MICA Entertainment)

This was supposed to come out last year – I even wrote about it – but when Relativity Media went into bankruptcy, this and many of their films were pulled from the schedule, but now they are back in good(?) shape and their films are coming out. Although I still haven’t seen anything new come out for this, it’s still being billed to come out this week. If it doesn’t, I don’t know when it will come out now. Anyway, the film follows a couple (Thomas Jane and Kate Bosworth) who adopt an orphaned child (Jacob Tremblay) whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. The film is directed by Mike Flanagan, who directed Oculus, which I really enjoyed, and it looks like he’s going to make this as creepy as his previous films, so I can’t wait to watch this. Annabeth Gish, Scottie Thompson and Dash Mihok also star.

 

The Boss (Comedy – Universal Pictures/On the Day)

Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy), a titan of the industry is sent to prison after she’s caught for insider trading. When she gets out, she tries to rebrand herself as America’s sweetheart to the country and to her former employees by helping one of her former employee’s (Kristen Bell) daughter sell girl scout cookies. The film looks okay, I haven’t seen every McCarthy comedy, but it looks like more of the same from the previous films. The film co-written (McCarthy co-wrote it as well) and directed by McCarthy’s husband, Ben Falcone, who also directed her in Tammy, which may not be a good sign. The Boss also stars Peter Dinklage, Kristen Schaal, Cecily Strong, Ella Anderson, Parker Young, Kathy Bates, and Margo Martindale.

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15th

Expansion/Wide Release: Green Room

Final Expansion: Everybody Wants Some!!

 

Limited Release: Sing Street (Musical Comedy)

A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family by starting a band and moving to London. The film looks pretty damn funny and looks like a great addition to the coming-of-age genre. There looks to be a great unknown young cast with some bigger names in supporting roles like Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Jack Reynor.

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Limited Release: Colonia (Thriller)

Based on true events, Lena (Emma Watson) is on the search for her kidnapped boyfriend Daniel (Daniel Bruhl), who being held hostage by the infamous Colonia Dignidad run by Paul Schafer (Michael Nyqvist), a place no one has ever escaped from during Pinochet’s reign in 1973.

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Criminal (Action Drama – Lionsgate/Summit Entertainment/Millennium Films/BenderSpink/Campbell Grobman Films)

The memories and skills of a deceased CIA agent are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous convict. The film may not sound like much but the cast is freaking huge. Of course, we don’t know how much screen time these people will have, but still. Criminal stars Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Jordi Molla, Amaury Nolasco, Antje Traue, Scott Adkins, Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, and Tommy Lee Jones

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Barbershop: The Next Cut (Comedy – New Line Cinema/MGM/Cube Vision)

It’s been more than ten years since the last Barbershop movie (which I don’t remember watching) but that doesn’t seem to stop Ice Cube and Malcolm D. Lee from doing another film. The film has Calvin (Cube) and his crew now working with a beauty salon making the all man’s barber shop now a co-ed place. The film will also tackle some issues like gun violence and doing great community work (at least that’s what I got from the trailer). I don’t know if I’ll watch this, but this will have its audience. The Next Cut also stars Common, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, Eve, Cedric the Entertainer, Sean Patrick Thomas, Dean Cole, and Nicki Minaj.

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The Jungle Book (Fantasy Adventure – Walt Disney Pictures/Moving Pictures Company)

A new approach to the classic story by Rudyard Kipling about an orphan boy named Mowgli (Neel Sethi), who is raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear and a black panther. The film will be a combination live-action, motion capture and photorealism and the trailers have been nothing but great so far, so I can’t wait to see how this turns out. The motion-capture and voice cast includes Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Christopher Walken, Giancarlo Esposito, Emjay Anthony, Ralph Ineson, Jamie Dornan, Lupita Nyong’o and Ben Kingsley.

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22nd

Limited Release: A Hologram for the King (Drama)

A failed American businessman (Tom Hanks) looks to recoup his losses by traveling to Saudi Arabia and selling his idea to a wealthy monarch. The film also stars Ben Whishaw, Sarita Choudhury, Tracey Fairaway, Dhaffer L’Abidine, Jay Abdo and Tom Skerritt.

 

Elvis & Nixon (Comedy – Bleecker Street Media/Amazon Studios)

Follows the untold true story behind Elvis (Michael Shannon) and President Nixon (Kevin Spacey), resulting in the moment that has been immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives. Should be interesting to see how this plays out with the rest of the cast that includes Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Evan Peters, Tate Donovan and Colin Hanks.

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The Huntsman Winter’s War (Fantasy Action Adventure – Universal Pictures/Roth Films)

A prequel (and seems like a sequel too) to Snow White and the Huntsman focus on Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) has his past catches up to him. The Huntsman Winter’s War sees Queen Freya (Emily Blunt) bringing back her sister Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) from the dead to conquer the land. This leads Eric to find Sara (Jessica Chastain) – a former love – and a band of warriors to stop them. The film looks a hell of a lot better than I thought it would and I’m glad that they focusing on Eric this time. Winter’s War also stars Sam Claflin, Colin Morgan, Sophie Cookson, Sheridan Smith, Alexandra Roach, and Nick Frost.

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29th

Limited Release: A Beautiful Planet (Documentary)

An exploration of Earth and beyond as seen from outer space.

 

Mother’s Day (Comedy – Open Road Films/PalmStar Media/Gulfstream Pictures/Rice Films)

Garry Marshall is back at it. The man behind intertwining story films like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve (and of course other films) is back and this time tackling stories around Mother’s Day. Of course, the film has a huge cast that includes Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Timothy Olyphant, Britt Robertson, Sarah Chalke, Shay Mitchell, Christine Lakin, Jon Lovitz and Margo Martindale.

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Ratchet & Clank (Animation – Focus Features/Gramercy Pictures/Sony Computer Entertainment/Insomniac Games/Rainmaker Entertainment/Blockade Entertainment/CNHK Media)

Based on the popular video game series, Ratchet and Clank see the two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop an alien race lead by Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in their galaxy. The two then join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to stop them. I’ve only played one game in the series, but the trailers aren’t really helping the film at all for me. The voice cast includes James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward, Sylvester Stallone, Rosario Dawson, Belle Thorne, John Goodman and Paul Giamatti.

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Keanu (Action Comedy – Warner Bros./Principato-Young Entertainment)

Jordan Peele co-wrote this film that follows friends who hatch a plot to get back a stolen cat by posing as drug dealers for a street gang. The film is being labeled as an action comedy and the premise sounds a bit fun, so let hope the execution pans out. Keanu stars Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Will Forte, Nia Long, Jason Mitchell, Method Man, and Rob Huebel.

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What are you looking forward to?