My Best/Favorite Movies/Films of the 2017

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. 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

Silence

The Wall

The Beguiled

The Glass Castle

The Little Hours

Stronger

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House

Last Flag Flying

Mudbound

Call Me by Your Name

Raw

Prevenge

Gerald’s Game

 

Just Missed the Lists

A Ghost Story

Atomic Blonde

Battle of the Sexes

Colossal

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Patriots Day

The Florida Project

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

Gifted

Wind River

Band Aid

The Founder

Okja

It Comes at Night

John Wick: Chapter 2

 

 

Surprises of the Year

Cars 3

Girls Trip

Ingrid Goes West

Lowriders

Sleight

The Girl with All the Gifts

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049 was probably one of the most visually appealing films of the year, and it shouldn’t be a surprise since Roger Deakins was behind the cinematography along with director Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). While the film did have moments that went on a tad bit too long, Blade Runner 2049 did manage to get you invested in the world of Blade Runner again.

 

Darkest Hour

Gary Oldman is absolutely fantastic as Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour puts all the weight on Oldman’s shoulders, and he’s able to carry it all the way until the very end of the film. Set during the very beginning of Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister during England’s worst time, and the film shows all the obstacles that he had to face. The film surprisingly doesn’t lull around too much, which it could have easily done, and while the film could have stretched out on a few places, it was Churchhill’s story and worked.

 

Detroit

Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit was a hard film to watch. It puts you right into the thick of the horrible incident at the Algiers Motel during the Detroit riots, and never lets up on the tension. However, that’s one of the things that make it so enthralling. The cast is incredible and the claustrophobic feel of the movie makes the long time worth it. That said, Detroit is not a film that at the end you say, “man, I want to watch that again soon.”

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

While I think we can all agree that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was not as great as the first movie, it does have a more emotional story than the first. If you didn’t tear up with the last scene with Peter and Yonda, you’re dead inside – I should know because I’m slightly dead inside too. Sure not all the jokes worked, but damn it, I enjoyed the hell out of Vol. 2.

 

It

The new iteration of Stephen King’s It was definitely going to divide fans. While some fans preferred the original with Tim Curry playing Pennywise the Clown, I rather enjoyed and liked this new version more. I know one of the biggest gripes with the new film is that it wasn’t scary enough – or at all if you ask some – but for me, It was indeed more creepy than scary, but in the end, it doesn’t matter.

 

Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island feels like one of those movies, no one seems to really talk about as the year ended. Whether it be because it came out early in the year in March or people just weren’t for it at all. Personally, the movie does have faults with pacing, but it’s finally seeing Kong let loose on everything in his way – like the helicopter attack – was a sight to see. Also, the film is now part of Legendary’s Monster Universe with Godzilla, so it should be interesting to see how all of it fits together.

 

Lady Bird

Lady Bird was a film that I wanted to watch as soon as I watched the trailer for the first time. Saoirse Ronan was fantastic as “Lady Bird,” who wants to escape Sacramento because she finds it rather boring. However, it’s the journey from beginning to end, and her interactions with the people like her best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) and her mother Marion, played greatly by Laurie Metcalf.

 

Logan Lucky

Steven Soderbergh’s return to the big screen did not fail or disappoint. Taking the heist film and giving it a southern twist with “cursed” brothers, played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, trying to turn their luck around. I really enjoyed the hell out of the movie, but the real draw for the film was definitely seeing Daniel Craig let loose as Joe Bang.

 

Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin made his directorial debut with Molly’s Game and it was a great one. Lead by Jessica Chastain playing Molly Bloom, telling her incredible true story, Sorkin infused his own style with a true story about Molly Bloom running the biggest poker games around, and her downfall after getting arrested. It’s a rather compelling story, and one that – with the exception of a few scenes – doesn’t let up until the very end.

 

Power Rangers

Look, I grew up with Power Rangers, and yes, I had my doubts about the movie. However, I enjoyed the hell out of this. An updated version of what the show was, even adding some new things to the mythology we knew of the original series. Was it the best movie of the year? No. But I’ll admit seeing and hear the zords run along each other with the original song – although cheesy – hit me right in the chest.

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Yes, I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and I still do too. However, when I step back and look at everything from the movie – now seeing it more than once – I did enjoy the movie a little more. There are some awesome visuals and shots in the movie that, for me, made it worthwhile. Nevertheless, I will say that yes, I do see a lot of the things that make the movie very divisive.

 

Split

Let’s face it; we had all given up on M. Night Shyamalan. I know I did, but The Visit restored some of it, but after watching Split, it was almost like watching the Shyamalan of old. That being said, Split was a movie that could have burst at the steams anytime, but it was Shyamalan’s direction with James McAvoy’s amazing performances as Kevin, and his different personalities. However, what made Split stick out the extra mile was classic Shyamalan twist at the end, which made Split connect to one of Shyamalan’s best early films.

 

The Disaster Artist

I have never seen The Room, and despite everyone saying I should watch the “worst movie ever made” I didn’t do it before I saw this. Thankfully, you didn’t need to absolutely watch The Room to enjoy and get The Disaster Artist – I’m sure it helped in some cases. But, what James Franco was able to get out of everyone on the cast, including what he was able to do by bringing Tommy Wiseau to life, but more importantly how he brought the story to life was great. The movie wasn’t just about the crazy making of The Room, but about Tommy and Greg (Dave Franco) living out their dream of making it in Hollywood.

 

 

Best/Favorite Movies of the Year

A Monster Calls

I had heard a lot about A Monster Calls before it was officially released. I also never read the book, so when I walked in, it was pretty much a clean slate. That was something I was not prepared for. A Monster Calls is an emotional gut-punch from beginning to end, and the last twenty to fifteen minutes had me in tears. That’s right, I said it TEARS! That along gave A Monster Calls a place on my list.

 

Annabelle: Creation

I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Annabelle. It had its moments, but overall it lacked the certain punch that its parent film The Conjuring had. Cue in director David F. Sandberg, who had just directed the hit horror film Lights Out, who upped everything about the first film, and dare I say, is right up there with the Conjuring movies in terms of quality and scares. Creation did bring a lot to the table, and had me on the edge of seat the whole time.

 

Baby Driver

Edgar Wright is one of those directors who apparently can’t make a bad movie. The buzz and hype around Baby Driver was extremely high when it premiered at SXSW that I pretty much told myself, “it can’t be that good, can it?” I was wrong, very, very wrong. Wright had made this high-octane and funny heist movie with great characters and an awesome soundtrack. Needless to say, I had force myself not to speed home after the movie.

 

Coco

I had my doubts about Coco, but of course we’ve all come to never doubt Pixar, and yet that’s what I did. And like all great Pixar movies, Coco had it all. A great story, great characters, amazing visuals, an amazing soundtrack; and more importantly, it tugged on every emotional string it would find. I’ll admit, it had me on the verge of tears, A LOT.

 

Dunkirk

I know Dunkirk had some fans divided, but I stand by what I said earlier in the year that Dunkirk is one of the best movies of the year. Christopher Nolan did an amazing job putting together the film, which on a technical level, is justified to be put on any top list of the year.

 

Free Fire

Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire has a simple premise, a gun deal gone wrong in a warehouse. Even with that simple premise, Free Fire was such a great, fun and funny film with a great cast that almost also felt like a throwback to the old 70s or early 80s gangster movies with similar premises.

 

Get Out  

If anyone thought Get Out was going to be hurt because of Jordan Peele comedic background, you were sorely mistaken. Get Out became an important movie that didn’t shy away from its message: racism, and what black men go through. Needless to say, Get Out put Peele on the map as a director to look out for.

 

I, Tonya

I wasn’t old enough to remember the whole Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, but it was something I heard. However, I, Tonya isn’t a film about that, but a combination of a biopic about Tonya Harding, played by Margot Robbie, and the events that lead up to the incident and the effect it had on Harding. It’s a powerful film filled with great performances by the cast – with Allison Janney being the standout – scenes that are hard to watch and scenes that completely come out of left-field which includes a scene that has Tonya directly speaking to the audience that I wasn’t expecting.

 

Logan

It took three tries, but 20th Century Fox finally got the character of Wolverine right. Maybe it was that we knew this was Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s last ride, or it had a breakout performance by newcomer Dafne Keen. Either way, Logan was a great bookend to one of the most popular X-Men characters and a fitting end to the character that Hugh Jackman did such a great job with.

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Yes, another Spider-Man reboot seemed unnecessary and maybe unwanted, but this Spider-Man was finally connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe! However, this reboot was worth it because it finally feels like we have the real Peter Parker on the big screen (I liked Andrew Garfield, so settle down). Plus, the movie was a hell of a lot of fun.

 

The Big Sick

This was something I was interested in from the very beginning. Based on the actual story of Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick tugged on every emotion. It was funny, charming, heartbreaking and hopeful from beginning to end.

 

The LEGO Batman Movie

The LEGO Movie was a surprise hit for everyone, and LEGO Batman was definitely one of the highlights of it, so when it was announced that LEGO Batman would get his solo movie, everyone was pretty excited. Lucky for us, The LEGO Batman Movie was just as good, even better than its predecessor, but even better than that, the film had a lot of heart and was a love letter to the character of Batman.

 

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro is probably one of my favorite directors of all time, and one of those directors that anytime a movie comes out by him, I’m undoubtedly going to go watch. That said, what he did with The Shape of Water was seamless. A twist on the classic “beauty and beast” story with some Creature from the Black Lagoon and other old timely films, The Shape of Water is a beautiful film from start to finish with a great score, production design and a cast lead by Sally Hawkins as mute Eliza, Richard Jenkins and del Toro mainstay Doug Jones as the creature.

 

Thor: Ragnarok

The Thor movies have never been the big blockbusters the other movies have been. Sure they’re popular enough with some fans – I’m looking at you Tom Hiddleston fans – but the Thor movies were always more on the serious side than the others. Marvel then turned Thor on its head as they splashed it with color and more humor, and I for one, loved it.

 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I’ve been a huge fan of Martin McDonagh’s work like In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, and when I found out about this film and the cast, I immediately put this on “to watch” list. Thankfully, the movie delivered, and even surprised me too. Frances McDormand is great, but for me, the movie belonged to Sam Rockwell, in one of my favorite performances by him. The film was truly a dark comedy that hit on every level, and it left me wanting more, which doesn’t happen often.

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

Not many modern trilogies turn out to be good. They often fall apart in the sequel or even the third movie, but thankfully that didn’t happen here. War for the Planet of the Apes closed a trilogy that started as an origin story to what really feels like a segway into the original films. However, what really made these films so special is Andy Serkis’ performance as Caesar and the overall impressive and awe-inspiring special effects.

 

Wonder Woman

Finally, finally we got a Wonder Woman movie, but more importantly, IT WAS GOOD! Gal Gadot washed away some doubt of her casting as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it was undoubtedly Wonder Woman that made non-believers finally see Gadot was almost born to play the character. Taking the action during her first adventure was a great move. The movie was full of charm, great characters and character building, but more importantly, made Wonder Woman freaking badass.

 

That’s it folks. It was definitely an interesting year for movies, films and everything in-between. What were your favorite, enjoyable, liked and best movies/films of the year? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Undecided? Nevertheless, here’s to another great and awesome year of movies and films.

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Favorite Fight/Action Sequences, Cinematography, Score/Soundtrack and Trailers

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things with my favorite fights/action sequences, cinematography, score/soundtrack, and trailers.

 

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Atomic Blonde – Lorraine Protects Spyglass (“One Take”)

Baby Driver – Shootout, Baby Runs & Baby vs. Buddy

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Yondu, Rocket and Baby Groot Escape

Kong: Skull Island – Kong Takes Down the Choppers & Graveyard Attack

Logan – Laura vs. Reavers (Mexico) & Logan and Laura vs. Reavers (Woods)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Rey and Kylo vs. Praetorian Guards

The Fate of the Furious – Prison Riot

The LEGO Batman Movie – Opening Sequence

Thor: Ragnarok – Thor vs. Hulk

Wonder Woman – No Man’s Land Sequence & Village Attack

 

Honorable Mention

It – The Losers vs. Pennywise

John Wick: Chapter 2 – John Wick vs. Cassian (Rome) & John Wick vs. Bounty Collectors

Justice League – League vs. Superman

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – Arthur and Others Run Through the City

Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Eggsy and Harry vs. Poppy’s Men & Eggsy and Harry vs. Whiskey

Thor: Ragnarok – Bifrost Battle

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Opening Space Battle

War for the Planet of the Apes – Opening Trench Attack

Wolf Warrior 2 – Feng vs. Big Daddy

Wonder Woman – Amazons vs. Germans

 

Just Missed the List

Baby Driver – Opening & Second Job

Fist Fight – Campbell vs. Strickland

Justice League – Steppenwolf vs. Amazons

Power Rangers – Rangers Train & Megazoid vs. Goldar

Thor: Ragnarok – Hela vs. Asgardian Army

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Escape from the Market & Valerian’s Run Through the Base

Wolf Warrior 2 – Escaping the Village

 

 

Cinematography

Dan Lustsen – The Shape of Water

Hoyte Van Hoytema – Dunkirk

Javier Aguirresarobe – Thor: Ragnarok

Oscar Faura – A Monster Calls

Matthew Libatique – Mother!

Roger Deakins – Blade Runner 2049

 

Honorable Mentions

Chung-hoon Chung – It

Darius Khondji – The Lost City of Z

Dariusz Wolski – Alien: Covenant

Drew Daniels – It Comes At Night

Matthew Jensen – Wonder Woman

Maxime Alexandre – Annabelle: Creation

Steve Yedlin – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

 

Just Missed the List

Ben Richardson – Wind River

Bojan Bazelli – A Cure for Wellness

Jess Hall – Ghost in the Shell

Larry Fong – Kong: Skull Island

Stuart Dryburgh/Xiaoding Zhao – The Great Wall

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Alexandre Desplat – The Shape of Water

Baby Driver

Daniel Pemberton – King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Hans Zimmer – Dunkirk

Lorne Balfe – The LEGO Batman Movie

Mark Mothersbaugh – Thor: Ragnarok

Michael Giacchino – Coco & War for the Planet of the Apes

 

Honorable Mentions

Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer – Blade Runner 2049

John Williams – Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Lucius – Band Aid

Rupert Gregson-Williams – Wonder Woman

Tyler Bates – Atomic Blonde

 

Just Missed the List

Carter Burwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Henry Jackman – Kong: Skull Island

West Dylan Thordson – Split

 

 

Trailers

Atomic Blonde

Trailer #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIUube1pSC0&t=73s

 

Avengers: Infinity War

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZfuNTqbHE8

 

Black Panther

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxWvtMOGAhw

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Teaser – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW1BIid8Osg

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duGqrYw4usE&t=38s

 

Logan

First Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Div0iP65aZo

Second Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DekuSxJgpbY

 

Pacific Rim: Uprising

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EhiLLOhVis&t=3s

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Teaser

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zB4I68XVPzQ

 

Thor: Ragnarok

Teaser – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7MGUNV8MxU&t=4s

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue80QwXMRHg&t=1s

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

Trailer #1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDcAlo8i2y8

Final Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxjPjPzQ1iU

 

Wonder Woman

Origin Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INLzqh7rZ-U

Rise of the Warrior Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSB4wGIdDwo

 

Honorable Mentions

Baby Driver Trailer #1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9YZw_X5UzQ

Black Panther #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjDjIWPwcPU

Blade Runner 2049 #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZOaI_Fn5o4&t=39s

It – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKJmEC5ieOk

Kingsman: The Golden Circle #2 (Red Band) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SwZ4_Dw0yk

Mother! – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpICoc65uh0&t=9s

Power Rangers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kIe6UZHSXw&t=1s

Star Wars: The Last Jedi #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0CbN8sfihY&t=2s

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Red Band) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4Afusxc2SM

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Red Band) #2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxxA4YZnzbQ

The New Mutants – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwT879-4Wjs

 

Just Missed the List

Alien: Covenant – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svnAD0TApb8&t=44s

It Comes At Night – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YOYHCBQn9g&t=81s

Ocean’s 8 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFWF9dU5Zc0

Sicario 2: Soldado – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pymm6cmE9uQ

The Dark Tower – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjwfqXTebIY&t=88s

‘Kong: Skull Island’ Review

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Writers: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein and Derek Connolly

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Thomas Mann, Tian Jing, Jason Mitchell, Eugene Cordero, Shea Whingham, John Ortiz, Toby Kebbell and John C. Reilly

Synopsis: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

 

*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*

*Reviewer Note 2: There is a post-credit scene*

 

King Kong is one of the most famous movie characters of all time, so it’s no surprise that Hollywood would try to bring him to the big screen as much as possible. Some have been great and some have been disappointing, but Kong: Skull Island thankfully leans more toward the great side. So, what exactly did director Jordan Vogt-Roberts do to make Kong: Skull Island a good King Kong film? Keep reading and find out.

Set during 1973, at the tail end of U.S troops pulling out of Vietnam, struggling government organization Monarch has two employees in William Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) who have a wild theory that an uncharted island could lead to major secrets. They manage to pull together a survey and mapping operation on the island with a military escort lead by Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), a former SAS Captain and expert tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and an antiwar photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson). Once they arrive to the island – and after dropping bombs to map out the island – they meet Kong (motion-captured by Toby Kebbell and Terry Notary), who isn’t happy they’re dropping bombs in his backyard.

After surviving the initial attack, the group gets separated with Packard leading some of his men in Mills (Jason Mitchell), Cole (Shea Whigham), Reles (Eugene Cordero) and Randa, while Conrad, Weaver, and Brooks are with other Monarch members in San (Tian Jing), Slivko (Thomas Mann) and Victor Nieves (John Ortiz) before they run into Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), who has been on the island for quite some time. What follows is both groups trying to make it off the island, avoiding Kong, but also finding out that Kong may not be the most dangerous thing there.

If you follow the news online, or are a fan of 2014’s Godzilla, Monarch is a connective tissue from the movie, and Skull Island was the studio’s way to introducing King Kong for the forthcoming mashup film between Godzilla and King Kong. However, Skull Island – thankfully – stands on its own making Kong a huge highlight and a force of nature. So since we’re talking about Kong, let’s go more into him. Obviously, Kong is someone you don’t want to mess with according the trailers. He’s king on the island as Reilly’s Marlow says, and that statement is proven the moment we meet as he takes over what felt like a dozen helicopters with ease, and going up against some of the Skull Crawlers. And when it comes to the Skull Crawlers, they do make an intimidating villains and great foes to Kong.

When it comes to the cast, they all play their part very, very well. Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson have their characters fleshed out enough, while the highlights could very well go to John C. Reilly and Samuel L. Jackson. Reilly’s Marlow has been stuck on the island for decades with the natives of the land, so his nuances are fun to watch unfold. Jackson’s characters fits into the time. Jackson is fueled by one thing after the first encounter with Kong: Find Kong and kill him. Jackson’s Packard is very much inspired by the time and films like Apocalypse Now. In fact the whole film feels a tinge like Apocalypse Now, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not so bluntly obvious that it takes away from the film. Two others that I want highlight personally is the pair of Shea Whigham and Jason Mitchell, the two have great chemistry together and is actually my favorite pairing in the film. One unfortunate casting misstep is Toby Kebbell, who gets the short end of the stick when it comes to the cast and story.

However, besides the cast and Kong, a huge highlight is the visuals and cinematography by Larry Fong. Kong and the Skull Crawlers are impressive sure, but of course we come across other creatures on the island that are either beautiful or scary as hell. Kong: Skull Island has a nice balance of the two, but it’s not just the creatures that impress, it’s the beautiful landscapes of the island. If Skull Island wasn’t filled with things that can kill you, you’d probably want to visit – maybe.

All in all, Kong: Skull Island is an enjoyable fun adventure film with a great cast, visuals, cinematography and soundtrack. While the film does slow down at times, it doesn’t do so without trying to flesh out the characters. Of course, the highlight of the film is seeing King Kong return to the big screen in all his glory.

Kong: Skull Island

4 out of 5

New Podcast – Thor: Ragnarok Plot Details, Deadpool Casts its Domino, Avatar 2 Delayed & More

The Movie Pit Podcast is here!

Later than usual because I forgot about it for a bit – can’t believe either!

March Movie Release

Hello there!

Can you believe it’s March already? Anyway, besides it being my birth month(!) there are some great films coming out in March that we can look forward to. Also, a large amount of limited releases to some big films, so let’s start shall we?

 

3rd

Limited Release: Table 19

Ex-maid of honor Eloise (Anna Kendrick) – having been relieved of her duties after being unceremoniously dumped by the best man via text – decides to attend the wedding anyway only to find herself seated with 5 “random” guests at the dreaded Table 19. The rest of the cast includes Wyatt Russell, Amanda Crew, Craig Robinson, Tony Revolori, Stephen Merchant and Lisa Kudrow.

 

Limited Release: Headshot

Iko Uwais returns to his ass-kicking ways in this new action drama that sees him play a man who washes ashore with no memories after a serious head injury. As he tries to move on with the help of the doctor that helped (Chelsea Islan), his past comes back to haunt him and he must not only regain his memories, but fight back. I got the chance to see this last year at the Chicago International Film Festival, and while the film has some tonal shift problems, no one is watching this for the drama parts, they are watching for the highly entertaining and kick-ass fight scenes. Also the film has a little The Raid 2 reunion as Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yulisman appear. Also in the film is Sunny Pang.

 

The Shack (Drama – Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment, Netter Productions)

Based on the novel by William Paul Young, the film follows a grieving man (Sam Worthington) who receives a mysterious, personal invitation to meet with God at a place called “the Shack.” The film continues the trend of religious films getting a limelight, and with a cast like this and a powerful trailer, I don’t see this film falling on the wayside. The film also stars Radha Mitchell, Tim McGraw, Ryan Robbins and Octavia Spencer.

 

Before I Fall (Mystery Drama – Open Road Films, Awesomeness Films, Jon Shestack Productions)

Based on the novel by Lauren Oliver, February 12th is just another day in Sam’s (Zoey Deutch) charmed life until it turns out to be her last. Stuck reliving her last day over one inexplicable week, Sam untangles the mystery around her death and discovers everything she’s in danger of losing. The Groundhog Day with teenagers mystery angle may be enough to get some people in theaters, but I don’t think I’m sold on it. The film also stars Halston Sage, Diego Boneta, Elena Kampouris, Alyssa Lynch, Logan Miller and Jennifer Beals.

 

Logan (Action Adventure – 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, TSG Entertainment, Donners’ Company)

In the near future, a weary Wolverine (Hugh Jackman’s last performance) cares for an ailing Professor X (potentially Patrick Stewart’s last performance) in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are up-ended when a young mutant in Laura Kinney aka X-23 (Dafne Keen) arrives, being pursued by dark forces. The film has done nothing but impress fans and media outlets – who saw over 40-plus minutes of the film – so now that we get to see the whole film, I can’t wait to see how they close out this big run for Jackman. Logan also stars Boyd Holbrook, Richard E. Grant, Stephen Merchant, Doris Morgado, and Elizabeth Rodriguez.

 

 

10th

Limited Release: Raw (Horror)

When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her. The French film has been making waves at film festivals and those lucky enough to see it, and based off the trailers, I can see why.

 

Kong: Skull Island (Action Adventure – Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures)

King Kong is back! The film follows a team going to uncharted territory, mainly, Skull Island where they encounter a myth – and king of the island: King Kong. The film looks absolutely great, and I can’t wait to see how they handle this new King Kong. Kong: Skull Island has an impressive cast of Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Toby Kebbell, Corey Hawkins, Thomas Mann, Jason Mitchell, Tian Jing, John C. Reilly, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Goodman.

 

17th

U.S. Release: T2: Trainspotting

Danny Boyle gets the band back together for the sequel to the cult following film Trainspotting. The film see the crew come back for some more misadventures.

 

The Belko Experiment (Action Thriller – High Top Releasing, BH Tilt, Orion Pictures, MGM, The Safran Company)

Written by James Gunn, in a twisted social experiment, a group of 80 Americans are locked in their high-rise corporate office in Bogata, Colombia and ordered by an unknown voice coming from the company’s intercom system to participate in a deadly game of kill or be killed. The film looks absolutely crazy, and with the Battle Royal and Office Space comparisons floating around, it sounds like we’re in for a fun ride. Josh Brener, Michael Rooker, Tony Goldwyn, John Gallagher Jr., Sean Gunn, John C. McGinley, and David Dastmalchian also star.

 

Beauty and the Beast (Musical Fantasy – Walt Disney Pictures, Mandeville Films)

An adaptation of the classic fairy-tale about a Belle (Emma Watson) who falls in love with a cursed and monstrous prince (Dan Stevens). This film has some major shoes to fill. Major. The animated to a lot of people, including myself, is a classic so hopefully it’s at least half-way descent. The film also stars Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Josh Gad, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Sline, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

 

 

24th

Limited Release: Wilson (Comedy Drama)

Based on a the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, who also scripts the film, a lonely, neurotic and hilariously honest middle-aged man reunites with his estranged wife and meets his teenage daughter for the first film. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer, Cheryl Hines, Laura Dern and Margo Martindale.

 

Life (Sci-Fi Thriller – Sony Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Skydance Media)

An international space crew discovers life on Mars. However, on their way back home the crew is put in danger from said lifeform. It should be interesting to see the film handles the material, but with a cast like this, I can’t imagine this being bad. At least one can hope. Life stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds, Rebecca Ferguson, and Hiroyuki Sanada.

 

CHiPs (Action Comedy – Warner Bros., Primate Pictures)

Directed and written by Dax Shepard, the adventures of two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers, Jon Baker (Shepard) and Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherllo (Michael Pena), as they make their rounds on the freeways of Los Angeles. There are already people saying this isn’t the CHiPs they grew up with, but the trailer makes the film look like a lot of fun to be honest. I wasn’t looking really forward to it, and I’m still not completely sold, but at least I’m looking forward to seeing what it could lead to. The film also stars Rosa Salazar, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Bell, Adam Brody, Ryan Hansen, Jessica McNamee, Justin Chatwin and Vincent D’Onofrio.

 

Power Rangers (Action Sci-Fi Fantasy – Lionsgate, Saban Entertainment)

Based on the popular 90s show, a group of high-school kids are chosen to protect the world from an ancient evil with their new found super abilities. Look let’s face it, this has the chance of being cheesy as hell, but that’s kind of the point of Power Rangers, so that complaint won’t work. And honestly, the trailers so far have been pretty great – says the childhood fan in me. The film stars Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Dacre Montgomery, singer Becky G., and Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa.

 

31st

The Boss Baby (Animation – 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks Animation)

Based on the book by Maria Frazee, a suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying baby pairs up with his seven-year old brother to stop the dastardly plot of the CEO of Puppy Co. I’m not too excited about the film, it hasn’t really grabbed me, although I’m sure there will be an audience. The voice cast includes Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin and ViviAnna Yee.

 

Step Sisters (Comedy – Broad Green Pictures, Los Angeles Media Fund)

An African American sorority girl resorts to desperate measures to get into a top law school. The film stars Megalyn Echikunwoke, Eden Sher, Alessandra Torresani, Gage Golightly, and Matt McGorry.

 

The Zookeeper’s Wife (Biography Drama – Focus Features, LD Entertainment, Scion Films)

Based on the book by Diane Ackerman, the film tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) and Antonina Zabinski (Jessica Chastain), who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the Nazi invasion. The trailer looks powerful, but I hesitate only because it looks like the trailer gave a bit too much away. The film also stars Daniel Bruhl, Michael McElhatton, Anna Rust, and Iddo Goldberg.

 

Ghost in the Shell (Action Crime – Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG)

Based off the popular anime film, a cyborg policewoman (Scarlett Johansson) attempts to bring down a nefarious computer hacker (Michael Pitt). The trailers have set a pretty good sense of the tone, and since I have no real connection to the anime, I think it looks pretty good. The film also stars Pilou Asbeek, Michael Wincott, and Takeshi Kitano.

 

What are you looking forward to?

Favorite/Standout Cinematography, Action/Fight Sequences, Score/Soundtrack, Visual Effects & Trailers of 2016

This is a continuation of my Favorite/Standouts of the Year, this time focusing more on the genre side of things with my favorite fights/action sequences, cinematography, score/soundtrack, visual effects and trailers.

 

Fight/Action Sequence

Assassin’s Creed: Run Through the City

Assassin’s Creed’s best moments where set in the past, and a majority of them were action sequences. The standout sequences was the run through the city that involves Aguilar (Michael Fassbender) and Maria (Ariane Labed) on the run from Ojeda (Hovik Keuchkerian) and his men. Along with small fights in tight quarters or on rooftops, the scene may be the best scene in the whole film.

 

Captain America: Civil War: Airport Battle & Captain America/Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man

Okay, this is a copout since this these are most of the action sequences, but let’s face it, Civil War, was filled with great action sequences. Of course, the biggest highlight was the Airport Battle that was unbelievably nerdy. The second big fight is Captain America and The Winter Soldier vs. Iron Man in a fight that is much more personal that I think anyone could have imagined being in a comic book film.

 

Deadpool: Deadpool Takes Out Convoy

While the scene is just a modified version of the “leaked” footage that came out the year before, the convoy sequence stood out to me because it happens in such a confined space and it still allows Ryan Reynolds to give us very Deadpool like lines.

 

Doctor Strange: The Ancient One vs. Kaecilius/Zealots & Strange vs. Kaecilius and Zealots

The fight scenes in Doctor Strange brought a new style to fight scenes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Magic. Not only that, that opening fight scenes between The Ancient One and the Zealots and Kaecilius showed the MCU isn’t scared of going a more martial arts route.

 

Ip Man 3 – Ip Man vs. Frank & Ip Man vs. Cheung Tin-chi

The Donnie Yen Ip-Man films are always filled with great fight scenes and Ip-Man 3 was no different. The two standout fights for me was the heavily promoted fight with Mike Tyson – who plays a mob boss named Frank – and the final fight between Ip Man and Cheung Tin-chi (Jin Zhang). The fight with Frank is actually good, and while arguably a stunt fight (they could have easily casted someone else), it doesn’t disappoint too much. As for the final fight with Cheung Tin-chi, this one was building almost from the beginning of the film, and when it finally happens, you can totally feel the emotion behind every punch and movement they make.

 

Moana: Moana and Maui Escape Kakamora

Another animated sequence that stood out to me was this Mad Max: Fury Road-inspired chase scene in Moana. Right down to the beating drums, and weirdly dressed Kakamora’s, the chase was something I’m sure George Miller would be proud of.

 

Rogue One: Chirrut Imwe vs. Stormtroppers, Final Battle, Vadar Boards

I’d be surprised if this doesn’t end up on other peoples lists. Personally, seeing Donnie Yen mess up some Stormtroopers was awesome. However, the final battle on Scarif was what the film was building up to, and it did not disappoint. Finally, the Vadar scene. I won’t give it away too much if you haven’t seen it, but wow!

 

Storks: Junior and Tulip vs. The Penguins

Animated “fight/action” sequences usually involve comedy and aren’t really taken seriously, and you know what? Sometimes that’s okay. Storks did that with their fight scenes that involves are heroes, Junior and Tulip, going up against penguins. What makes it standout – besides the homage to Aliens – all of it happens as they try to make the least amount of noise possible so they don’t wake up the baby.

 

The Revenant – Opening Ambush

The opening ambush scene was really something to watch unfold. The cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki is done in the classic Lubezki trope in that it’s done in shot continuous take. Not only that, it happens very fast and is so chaotic, that it makes it a standout scene.

 

X-Men: Apocalypse: Quicksilver’s Rescue & Wolverine Breaks Free

While Quicksilver’s Rescue was awesome to watch, seeing Hugh Jackman unleashed a bit of Berserker Rage on Stryker’s men was an even more awesome sight to see. Especially knowing that Jackman is on his way out the door as Wolverine/Logan

 

 

Honorable Mention

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Batman vs. Knyazev’s Men

Deadpool: Deadpool vs. Ajax (Finale)

Ghostbusters: Ghostbusters vs. Times Square Ghosts

Hacksaw Ridge: First Attack

Headshot: Ishmael vs. Tano & Ishmael vs. Lee

Kill Zone 2: Chatchai vs. Kit (Prison Riot) & Chatchai/Kit vs. Ko Hung aka The Warden

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Skeletons vs. Hollows

Star Trek Beyond: Enterprise Takeover

Suicide Squad: Suicide Squad/Katana/Rick Flag’s Unit vs. Monsters (Streets)

The Magnificent Seven: Finale Shootout

Warcraft: Durotan vs. Gul’dan

 

 

Cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant

Emmanuel Lubezki has already made himself a well-known name amongst cinematographers, so it came as no surprise that his work in The Revenant was amazing and beautiful to watch.

 

Jarin Blaschke – The Witch

I’ve never heard of Jarin Blaschke, but I will be on the lookout for whatever he does next because his work in The Witch was equal parts creepy, eerie and gut-wrenching scary as hell. I’m not usually a fan of quotes in movie trailers, but the quote in the trailers that basically said it feels like something you shouldn’t be watching it completely true.

 

Linus Sandgren – La La Land

La La Land feels like an ultimate homage to old timey Hollywood films right down to cinematography during the musical sections of the film. Also, the fact that they used real location around Los Angeles is an added bonus (says the man from outside Chicago).

 

Pedro Luque – Don’t Breathe

One of the reasons that Don’t Breathe worked – at least for me – is the look of it all. The creepy house with the overall dark look made the film a more effective horror thriller. Pedro Luque really had a great eye for it all, and lets add the surprisingly good blackout sequences using night vision to show the pure terror of our main characters was great.

 

Zach Kuperstein – The Eyes of My Mother

The Eyes of My Mother is probably one of the creepiest films cinematography-wise. The film is shot in black and white, and for some reason, it made it a hell of a lot more creepier. It makes you imagine what the colors would look like, but even its nature shots and more distributing shots, the film is still beautiful to look at.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Bradford Young – Arrival

Don Burgess – The Conjuring 2

Marc Spicer – Lights Out

Natasha Braier – The Neon Demon

Pasha Kapinos/Vsevolod Kaptur/Fedor Lyass – Hardcore Henry

Roman Osin – The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Stephane Fontaine – Jackie

 

 

Score/Soundtrack

Dario Marianelli – Kubo and the Two Strings

Kubo and the Two Strings is already a great film, but one of the main reasons is because of the music. The music connects to theme they’re going for, and Regina Spektor’s cover of “My Guitar Gently Weeps” is beautiful.

 

Justin Hurwitz – La La Land

Easily one of, if not, the best soundtracks of the year, La La Land’s soundtrack is as vivid as the set-pieces it plays over. You can easily be addict to the soundtrack, I know I was, because as soon as I walked out of the theater I bought the soundtrack.

 

Mark Korven – The Witch

The Witch is already eerily creepy with its cinematography, but add on the music that was created by Mark Korven, you have yourself an all around horror film of nightmares.

 

Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina, and Lin-Manuel Miranda – Moana

Come on, let’s face it – you’ve been singing songs from Moana since you’ve seen it, right? Okay then.

 

Musical Department in Sing Street 

Sing Street doesn’t have one specific person attached for the music. Some were covers, but Drive it Like You Stole It, is one of the best new songs of the year.

 

Honorable Mentions

Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL – Batman Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Johann Johannsson – Arrival

Lukasz Pawel Buda/Samuel Scott/Conrad Wedde – Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carsten Nicolai, and Bryce Dessner – The Revenant

 

 

Visual Effects

Doctor Strange

Marvel introduced us to the magical realm and other dimensions, and I don’t know if anyone other than Scott Derrickson could have introduced us to that. The visuals were just amazing to see, even with the Inception-style effects, that aren’t as dominate as you would think, the visuals made Doctor Strange a standout Marvel film.

 

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book is a film that probably should have failed, but it didn’t – at all. The film is bursting with phenomenal visuals, that even after you find out that almost everything was created with visuals, you watch wondering, was that real? Honestly, The Jungle Book was arguably some of the best CGI we’ve ever seen.

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Ghostbusters

Pete’s Dragon

The BFG

 

 

Trailers

Captain America: Civil War Trailer 2

 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

 

 

Free Fire

 

 

Kong: Skull Island

 

 

Logan

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes

 

 

Wonder Woman Comic Con

 

 

Honorable Mentions

Get Out

First Official ‘Suicide Squad’ Trailer

The Birth of a Nation Teaser

First Sausage Party Trailer

 

So that’s it ladies and gentlemen.

What are some of your favorites, and be on the lookout for the big lists next week!

New Podcast: Ryan Reynolds Comments on Tim Miller, The Crow Reboot, & A Ton More

Hey everyone!

I got a new podcast for you guys, so sit back and enjoy.