Mr. Cellophane

In a location adjacent to a place in a city of some significance, what comes out of my head is plastered on the walls of this blog.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The movies of 2016.

Okay, let's do this again.

10. The Founder - More or less The Social Network with burgers, but equally well-acted and still quite appealing on its own merits.

9. Kubo and the Two Strings - As with all of Laika's oevure, beautifully animated and rich in heart, with an appropriate tribute to the art of storytelling.

8. Star Trek Beyond - Perhaps the best entry in the reboot series so far, with exciting action and terrific character interplay.

7. La La Land - An effervescent musical and a love letter to Los Angeles rolled into one, with dynamic turns from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

6. Everybody Wants Some!! - Wholly lacking in plot thrust, but who cares when the environment and the characters are this enjoyable?

5. Zootopia - You'd think that colorful animation and sharp social commentary wouldn't make for the best mix, yet here we are.

4. The Nice Guys - A welcome return to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang territory for Shane Black, and while it's not quite as masterful, it is very good, with a fine team in Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.

3. Captain America: Civil War - It's little wonder Marvel runs rings around the box office, with movies as rousing and funny as this.

2. Doctor Strange - Eye-popping effects and note-perfect work by Benedict Cumberbatch highlight this engaging Marvel movie.

1. Deadpool - With copious amounts of gore and cursing, this may be the most puerile major superhero movie ever made...and it is, by far, the most fun I had at a movie all last year.

And then there's...

Bad Moms - A terrific cast and a script of steady laughs punctuated by some strong points make for one of the most delightful comedy surprises of recent memory.
Eddie the Eagle- Underdog sports story doesn't re-invent the wheel, but still entertains, with engaging turns from Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman.
The Edge of Seventeen - A most effective high school story, with a fantastic performance from Hailee Steinfeld as the frustrated (and frustrating) protagonist.
Finding Dory - Not one of the greatest Pixar movies, but some good gags and amusing new characters make it fun.
Kung Fu Panda 3 - Latest chapter in the animated saga got lost in the shuffle, but it's still an exceptional work.
Moana - Beautiful animation, catchy songs and a likable pair of leading characters; who could ask for more?
A Monster Calls - Heartbreaking story of dealing with loss, highlighted by striking animated sequences.
10 Cloverfield Lane - Even with its polarizing ending, this is a marvelous little thriller, with first-timer Dan Trachtenberg nicely eliciting suspense and fine performances.
Triple 9 - A superlative cast gives this lively-if-pulpy thriller more class than it probably deserves.
X-Men: Apocalypse - Heavy on spectacle, but buoyed by good set-pieces and nice character moments.

Underrated: Batman: Return of the Caped CrusadersPride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sing and Suicide Squad (...yes, I'm serious)

Guilty pleasures: Gods of Egypt, Hardcore Henry and London Has Fallen

My favorite things in movies - 2016:

Alden Ehrenreich in Hail, Caesar!

"All dinosaurs feared the mighty T-Rex." - Deadpool

Chadwick Boseman in Captain America: Civil War and Gods of Egypt

The crew takes a trip to Yorktown in Star Trek Beyond

The evocations of the past in Eddie the Eagle, Elvis & Nixon and Everybody Wants Some!!

The fight with the Kakamora in Moana

"A Lovely Night" - La La Land; among many fine aspects of this musical (Linus Sandgren's eye-catching cinematography, the use of Los Angeles locations), this sequence stands out

Mandy Walker's cinematography for Jane Got a Gun

Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

The McDonald brothers tell Ray Kroc their story in The Founder, especially the 'perfecting the Speedee system' sequence

The pursuit of Shredder's transport in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Quicksilver evacuates the Xavier mansion in X-Men: Apocalypse

The renderings of the stories and the monster in A Monster Calls

Rosita readies her kids for school in Sing

Sharlto Copley in Hardcore Henry

The tarmac battle in Captain America: Civil War

The visual effects of Doctor Strange, especially when the Ancient One opens Strange's mind

Woody Harrelson in The Edge of Seventeen, Now You See Me 2 and Triple 9

Holy shit, was that...?

Benjamin Bratt in Doctor Strange
Jim Broadbent in Eddie the Eagle
Clark Duke, Wendell Pierce and Wanda Sykes in Bad Moms
Cam Gigandet in The Magnificent Seven
Luis Guzman in Keanu
Bill Hader in Finding Dory
Tom Everett Scott in La La Land
Ty Simpkins in The Nice Guys
too many names to list in Hail, Caesar!
Dean Winters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Alfre Woodard, Hope Davis and Jim Rash in Captain America: Civil War

What a tragic waste...

everyone not named Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart in London Has Fallen
Holly Hunter and Joe Morton in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Frances McDormand in Hail, Caesar!
Jean Smart in The Accountant
Michael Stuhlbarg in Doctor Strange
that adorable little pig in Moana (don't front; you were thinking it, too)

Random thoughts:

- It took the IMDb trivia page for Star Trek Beyond to point me in this direction, but I read how Simon Pegg named Jaylah after Jennifer Lawrence. I don't know if she was ever approached for the role, but my mind went right to Star Trek V's Sha Ka Ree and the vain hope that Sean Connery would play Sybok.

- And speaking of J-Law, that scene in X-Men: Apocalypse, where Quicksilver runs Mystique to a place while holding her head. You don't think that Simon Kinberg got a look at 'How It Should Have Ended's' X-Men: Days of Future Past video before he wrote this, do you?

- As I feared, Swiss Army Man, aka, the farting corpse movie, is making year-end top ten lists left and right, despite my (not completely unreasonable) assertion that it's just a hop, skip and a jump toward eight-time Oscar winner, Ass: the Movie. Most people bitch about the proliferation of comic book movies, reboots and any manner of film adapted from another medium. "There's too many movies like that. We should support anything that's original." Ah, yes, the Jupiter Ascending fallacy. Two years on, how's that working for you?

- Because of my financial troubles, I didn't see anywhere near as many movies as I wanted to this year (37). For the curious, here are the movies I wanted to see, but couldn't: Absolutely Fabulous: the Movie, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Bad Santa 2, The BFG, Central Intelligence, Criminal, De Palma, Desierto, Don't Breathe, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Live by NightMasterminds, Mechanic: Resurrection, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, NerdlandOffice Christmas Party, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Rogue One: a Star Wars StorySing Street, Storks and War Dogs.

- Watching Everybody Wants Some!!, I was truly struck by how much Zoey Deutch resembles her mother, Lea Thompson. Also, her character was named Beverly, which, if you're familiar with Miss Thompson's filmography, should have you chuckling right now.

- After hearing "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the Suicide Squad trailer and "Don't Stop Me Now" in the Hardcore Henry trailer, no matter the ultimate quality of the respective films, Queen + action movie trailer = asses in seats. There's no use arguing this. It's science. Shit, you could probably put "Fat Bottomed Girls" over a trailer and guarantee an $80 million opening weekend.

- While I enjoyed Sing quite a bit, I have but one complaint: why was there no singing from John C. Reilly (who voiced Eddie)? For crying out loud, his one Oscar nomination was for a role where he got to sing!

- For the second summer in a row, Paramount felt the need to spoil their potential summer blockbuster in ads leading up to the film's release. Here's a tip: just because you feel you have the foreign box office sewn up is no reason to go and blow the film-going experience for domestic audiences. Schmucks.

- You probably noticed (or didn't) that there wasn't a listing for 'overrated' movies this year. I didn't see any critically-praised, Oscar-baity movies that could stand to be taken down a peg, so let me just go with an overrated movie moment: "Would that it 'twere so simple?" from Hail, Caesar!. Seriously, even the Coen faithful have to admit that, following the first 20 seconds or so, the point is made and it's straight up "Family Guy" territory after that.

- It's amazing that Batman headlined three movies this year. Even more amazing, given his dark backstory, is that the kid-friendly one would be, far and away, the most entertaining (and that streak looks to continue given the trailers for The LEGO Batman Movie).

- I liked Now You See Me 2, but I am still disappointed that, in the scene where the Horsemen meet Daniel Radcliffe's character and he screws up a card trick, not a one of them said 'This guy sucks at magic.'. You tell me that wouldn't have brought the house down.


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