2010s In Film Day 6: 2016

January – Spotlight/The Big Short

I’m including both of these as one as to me they’re both very similar. For some reason I’d get the feeling they’d make a brilliant double feature. Both deal with social responsibility and how to cope when your world collapses around you, how you deal with knowing that something that is supposed to be a saviour for the masses is actually responsible for ruining so many peoples lives. Not just good films, but also very important. It’s weird both of these came out in the same month. Occasionally we’re blessed with great release schedules, and sometimes we have nothing.

February – Goosebumps

Again, another REALLY good month. This month had this, deadpool, Secrets In Their Eyes, and, ok actually that’s it. But that’s still a good month. I chose to talk about this though as I’m not entirely sure what I can say about Secrets In Their Eyes, whereas this I can at least have one paragraph about an aspect of it. This is a weird genre; kid-friendly horror. It’s a really hard genre to do, but when it’s done well it’s great. You can’t depend on cheap tricks for these, you can’t just fill the screen with jump scares, ultra-violence, and sexual assault. You have to get creative and think of ways of maintaining dread through well-written characters and a villain that represents a deep fear we all have. This isn’t the best film I’ve ever seen, but it is one of the ones I feel the most warmth for.

March – The Witch (or The VVitch)

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog (and if you’re not, the subscribe button is like, right there) will know that my relationship with horror is complicated. I like the genre yet it’s the genre with the films I’ve hated most. Luckily this film fixes a lot of mistakes that most horror films make. Firstly, it’s f*cking terrifying. I liked this film a lot, but I NEVER want to see it again, it just felt wrong watching it. Not in the way that people feel when they’re watching A Serbian Film or Human Centipede or a Justin Bieber music video. That’s not fear, that’s disgust, if you go outside and vomit on someone you will disgust them, but it doesn’t make you the next Stephen King. This film is truly chilling. In a way that I genuinely can’t remember any film being. I remember watching this and being VERY impressed with how well it was directed (seriously, Robert Eggers is a f*cking genius with what he did, he managed to make a slow zoom into a forest scary and then managed to make you feel genuine terror at a rabbit). Really the only downside to this film is also one of its strengths. It doesn’t hold the viewers’ hands and walk them through.I guarantee at least 70% of the people who see this will hate it and find it boring, but the others will be sitting on the edge of their seat throughout, and it’s those 30% that the film is aiming at, but this means it often does things which disenfranchise the casual moviegoer. Shots don’t linger on important things as if to say “hey, pay attention to this” and things aren’t explained. You never feel like you’re watching a film and the dialogue flows beautifully and feels natural (which is odd as they’re speaking in ye olde english) but on the downside, moments end before you realise how important they are and how much you should have been paying attention.

April – Captain America: Civil War

I really loved this film when I saw it, and for a long time after. But to be completely honest, Endgame made this film worse in retrospect. It made me realise that this film didn’t really matter in the long term. The actual “civil war” had almost no impact on the rest of the franchise, neither did a character being paralysed. This film was like a little kid playing with army figures, he sets up the troops into weird and wonderful positions, he goes to school, hoping to continue when he comes back from school. But then his dad picks up all the figures and puts them back where they were as “that’s where they’re supposed to be”.

May – Money Monster

A big regret of mine is not seeing this at the cinema, I thought it would be overly preachy and dull. Nope, so tense, a great thriller which just goes to show how talented Jodie Foster is behind the camera. The story is depressingly relevant for these times.

June – The Conjuring 2

I preferred this to the first one, which was one of the most highly regarded horror films of the last decade. Does this mean it’s better? I have no idea, I’m aware of how strong personal bias can be, and I saw the first one in a house, whereas this one I saw in cinema, and horror is a genre made for cinema. Not just for the darkness and the volume, but also because of instant audience feedback, much like laughing, when you hear other people be scared it sets the tone and makes you more scared. And of course you’re forced to pay attention to it, you can’t sit there checking your phone (well, you can, but if you do, you’re a c*nt). I cannot overestimate how strong Madison Wolfe’s performance is in this, giving a performance well beyond her 13 years, bringing to mind Linda Blair in The Exorcist. She’s been in other films before but usually as a “main character when she was younger”, but on this the entire film is dependent on her. If you don’t buy her character and her fear, then the film is dead quicker than one of Henry VIII’s wives. The other performances? Well they’re okay, Vera Farmiga seems to be slightly phoning it in as Lorraine Warren this time, Patrick Wilson doesn’t have much to do but furrow his brow, Lauren Esposito does well with what she’s given but reminds me too much of someone I know for that not to be a distraction. This film does have some great scares, but they won’t stick with you, some of them are almost literally a guy sneaking up behind you and saying “boo”, they’re instant scares. They make you jump and provide good reaction shots for people to use in publicity, but once you leave the cinema all fear is over. You don’t see the world differently like you did after It Follows, you’re not left changed by the experience, every scare takes place in the moment. As such it’s destined to be one of those films teenagers watch in groups and sit in the dark (a genre I shall now deem; “frat house horror” as that seems to be the most popular place to watch horror movies according to American TV and films). Basically, it’s the feature length equivalent of one of those jump scare videos your asshole friend sends you, only over two hours long.

July – The BFG

I went into this with relatively low expectations, I saw Pete’s Dragon the same week and it did absolutely nothing for me, I appreciated what it did well, but I don’t need to see it again and I won’t recommend it to anyone. Also their was a family in front of me that I could tell were going to be problematic, with a whole bag of popcorn thrown on the floor behind them (i.e. in front of me) before the film even started. Yet within five minutes of this film I had completely forgotten Pete’s Dragon, I had forgotten the popcorn, I had forgotten the general feeling of ennui that accompanies my general existence, I was completely lost in the world that this film created. I completely brought into the universe that was created, if I saw this film whilst I was a child my parents would hate it due to the fact they’d have had to watch it every single day. Ruby Barnhill is superb in it, she spends a lot of time being the only real thing on screen, so it’s down to her to convince you that the rest is real, and she manages it. So to summarise; some films are funny, some films are heart-breaking, very few films can be described as magical, this is one of them. And it’s a real shame this film isn’t better regarded.

August – David Brent: Life On The Road

An odd film, funny in parts but it seems strange in the way it handles the main character. All through the film he’s shown to be a delusional person who annoys everybody. Logically this film should end with him realising the error of his ways and changing accordingly, maybe stop being such a dick to everybody. But nope, this ends with everyone else changing for him, and saying “he’s not that bad really”, “I quite like him actually”, and he the character doesn’t do anything to deserve this, they all just suddenly decide they like him now it’s reached the end of the film. I actually feel a lot of sympathy for the supposed antagonist of the film, all through the film he’s shown as someone who’s just trying to get on with his job but the main character keeps getting in the way and making so much noise he can’t do it, and when the guy finally snaps and says “look, just shut the fuck up”, we’re supposed to be angry at him, instead of just “yeah, that makes sense, he should have done that earlier”.

September – Kubo And The Two Strings

A film so strong and confident I just automatically assumed it was based on something. The fact that a new property can set up a world this full and real says a lot about the talent of both the writers and the directors. This was one of the few films in 2016 I was actively following from the moment I saw the first trailer, it just looked so good, the music choice (While My Guitar Gently Weeps) was inspired, and visually it was very different from everything else. This HAD to be fantastic for me to like it, anything else would be a bigger disappointment than the first time I tried Hershey’s Chocolate.

October – Storks

Expected it to be terrible, yet was actually quite funny. Not the greatest plot but very charming. Plus it has a fight scene where all the characters are trying to not make any noise so they don’t wake a sleeping baby, which was just hilarious, very inventive.

November – Edge Of Seventeen

It HAS to be this film, and not just because I’m watching it as I write this. Let’s get the obvious out of the way here; I’m fairly certain I’m not the target audience for this film (a feeling which was confirmed by the cinema being almost entirely teenage girls), so this had an uphill battle to impress me, an uphill battle which was evened out by the release of the trailer, which was funny, slightly heartwarming, and cynical as hell, I’m glad to say the only difference between the film and the trailer is the film itself is a lot more heartwarming. It’s just as funny and cynical as you’d hope, although part of my opinion on that might be because I have a weakness for any film which has “I’m going to kill myself” as the first line. It’s not just the cynical nature of the film that’s done well, the characters themselves are really well defined. Even when the characters do and say terrible things, you understand their motivations, even though you don’t agree with them. They are all fully fleshed out, and they all get good lines. Unpopular opinion, I tend to dislike “comedy characters” in films and sitcoms, mainly because it means the writers tend to give them all the best lines, leaving the other characters somewhat underdeveloped. That’s a problem which this film avoids, most of the characters could comfortably lead their own movie, that’s a masterful piece of scripting and the writer should be commended for that. Which is why I’m glad the writer also directed it, it’s easier to follow directors careers than writers as more emphasis is put on directors. I was surprised this was directed by the writer, although it kind of makes sense, this seems like a very personal story and they’d be nobody better to get that across than the person who wrote it. It’s more surprising that this is her first film as a director, whilst it’s not exactly full of “wow shots”, or inspiring cinematography, it’s a lot more accomplished than a first time director should be, here’s hoping she gets a chance to do more work in the future with someone elses script, will be interesting to see what she can do. I feel her best work is as a writer though, the script has some amazing pieces of dialogue that really hit home. My personal favourite being (and i’m paraphrasing here) “I just don’t want to have to live with myself for the rest of my life”. Like I said, I’m watching it right now and it is still just SO perfect.

December – Moana

A film so good it almost seems like Pixar made it, if it wasn’t for the songs. But oddly enough it’s the songs that push this to the top spot. I hate songs in kids films usually as they’re just distracting, but here it served a real purpose, characters seemed to have their own musical motifs attached to them, and the songs are REALLY good. There’s a crab singing a David Bowie-esque song, The Rock singing a song about how awesome he is, and they’re still not the best songs in this film. On the downside there’s one or two jokes that take you out of the movie (there’s a twitter joke in here which is quite funny but completely unnatural), but then they’re followed with moments of brilliance (the psychedelic crab scene, for instance, features animation so colourful and beautiful, the likes of which haven’t been seen in a long time). It also features what is without a doubt the best pee-joke of the year. So there’s that. Oh, it also features adorable/terrifying coconuts, which is always the sign of a great movie (be honest, how much better would every film be if you added anthropomorphic coconuts?)

 

So yeah, that was 2016, and I didn’t even get to mention Zootropolis, Batman Vs Superman, Creed, or Room. Room is one of my favourite movies ever, and the fact I didn’t mention it just shows how good this year was.

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (2019)

I saw a trailer for this months ago (I think was about March), and as such, I had forgotten some things about. Mainly, how violent it was. For some reason, in my head, it was like Goosebumps (a severely underrated film btw). You know, not “scary”, but “spooky”, the kind of thing schools would show at Halloween. Yeah, I’m a f*cking idiot. The director, Andre Ovredal, previously directed the Autopsy Of Jane Doe, and is currently working on a film version of a Stephen King novel. So that’s a good indication that this film is not for kids. It’s not exactly aimed at die-hard horror fans either though. It’s aimed at that middle ground. It’s not quite “My First Horror Movie”, but it is like the third or fourth one you watch to help establish yourself to the genre once you realise you like it and want to find more.

This won’t end up in my list of scariest stories of the year, but I will still highly recommend it. The first story (about Harold the Scarecrow) is a truly disturbing piece of body horror, but it’s just too restrained to be truly effective. I’m not asking for full gore, but a little bit more would have helped it a bit. Considering the limitations, Ovredal did a fantastic job here. An uneasy sense of dread hangs over the entire film (kind of reminds of the film Ghost Stories from a few years ago). Even within slightly comedic moments, that sense of fear never leaves the screen. The effects on the “monsters” are also remarkable, genuinely creepy. I’ve looked at some of the illustrations in the book some of the stories are based on, and he nailed it, especially the Pale Lady. I’m not that familiar with the series as a whole, but I can’t help but feel fans of it will be pleased by what they say.

The acting, now horror movies aren’t known for great performances, but they’re getting better. This is towards the higher end of the talented performances spectrum. There’s one performance I wasn’t a particular fan of as it just annoyed me, but looking at reviews and comments I seem to be the only one as a lot of people considered this character a highlight, so what do I know? Zoe Colletti is a revelation as the lead, even if she did remind me of someone I know for a lot of the film. Michael Garza has the potential to be a great obnoxious anti-hero in a family-friendly television series.

I saw this the same day I saw IT: Chapter 2. They’re kind of similar films, young kids in a bygone America fighting evil (for parts of Chapter 2 anyway), as such it would be easy for this to look weak by comparison, especially since it’s going towards a younger audience. I loved IT, and I will say that this film stands proudly alongside it

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)

I came into this film in an uneasy mood. The original goosebumps movie holds a warm place in my heart and is a film I genuinely enjoyed. I really didn’t want that to be tarnished by a sub-par sequel, as often happens (looking at you Die Hard). These fears were confirmed when I heard that Jack Black is barely any in it, and neither are any of the other characters from the first film. This had all the hallmarks of a terrible sequel, the reviews even said as much. Now I know a lot of the reviews for this are scathing but I liked it. It’s not a film I need to see again but for the time it was on, it was an easy movie to escape into and lose yourself.

I know a lot of the reviews are negative, but I did enjoy this. It was fun. It was a good way to pass the time. To me, a lot of the jokes worked (the IT joke in particular still makes me laugh), and the characters were well-rounded and performed actions which made sense. The script was actually really well done. It’s only 90 minutes long but almost every second counts. The pace is frantic, never letting go for a second, and is all the better for it.

The downsides? It could have been so much better. It’s not as good as the first one, not even close, but it could have been. The potential was there, they just do nothing with it. This is especially noticeable in regards to the cast; Ken Jeong is woefully underused, but when he is in he steals the scene. It is also incredibly similar to the first one in the way the characters have to deal with the menace. A lot of people have said that “it doesn’t continue the story from the first film, this means it awful”, I disagree. As far as I know, the Goosebumps books weren’t connected in terms of characters, so it’s more in the spirit of the films for them to do the same. Okay, this is ruined by the fact the first one was kind of a “greatest hits” of characters from the books, so it kind of screwed up that concept for this one, but my point still stands. To be honest I think it might have worked better as a shared universe where individual characters were built up in their own movies, before all being unleashed in a script similar to the one for the first movie. Ah well.

So yeah, I did enjoy it, I don’t need to see it again, but it was incredibly fun. I mean, I should discuss the ending though. It ends with Slappy the dummy trapping RL Stine in a book. It’s a shocking ending that comes completely out of left field and I really fucking hope that goes somewhere. If they just use that as an excuse to keep him out of future films, then it’s awful. If it sets up the next film, I’m in. If they don’t even mention it, fuck this film.

The House With A Clock In Its Walls (2018)

Those who know me know that I absolutely adore the Goosebumps movie from a few years ago. It was like a horror movie for kids and was absolutely delightful. This is kind of similar, in that it has Jack Black in and has an air of horror about it. It’s not QUITE as fun though. It has some good moments in it, and it does inspire some genuine laughs. But not enough. It does help that it’s directed by Eli Roth, who has a critically and fan-acclaimed history when it comes to horror movies. This film is the work of someone who knows what they’re doing, but is toning it down slightly for the younger audience. This is definitely a film for kids, it is a slight horror but it has that warm feeling that you associate with films from the 80’s like ET etc. There’s an air of warm nostalgia to the whole thing that will warm the hearts of fans of those films. It’s incredibly, I don’t know, cosy.

The script, as well, is pretty damn good. It’s funny without being insulting to the intelligence of adults watching. That’s in terms of humour anyway, there are quite a few moments where the characters think of an idea long after the audience have. These are supposed to be highly intelligent and trained wizards, yet it takes them A LONG time to come to certain conclusions and ideas. That only happens like once or twice but it’s enough to take you out of it. A lot of my issues with this are incredibly minor, this is a hard film to actively dislike. The biggest problems for me were some toilet humour that doesn’t really suit the tone of the film, and Jack Black’s performance was a bit over the top at the times, it might have improved it if he toned it down about 2%. He does have fantastic chemistry with his co-stars though, so that makes up for it. You genuinely feel that they really bonded on set and became close. Which considering the themes of closeness in the movie, makes sense.

Just because it’s a difficult film to dislike, does not mean it’s an easy film to love. It is an easy film to like, though. It just doesn’t really do much to make you remember it for years to come. The final third almost manages it, with a chaotically fast-paced piece that is logical and weird. The whole film is weird, which makes sense as that’s the message of the film: weird is good, embrace the weirdness. Also; bullies are dickholes.

End Of Year Film Awards

Best Actor

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals. Better known as “That kid from Kick-Ass”. One of the things about Kick-Ass was that it was about a hero who looked absolutely nothing like a hero, in fact there’s one scene where he threatens somebody and they just laugh at him. Yet in this he’s absolutely terrifying. His despicable nature just oozes out of the screen every second he’s on. Genuinely unsettling, and utterly compelling.

Also:

Bradley Cooper – Joy. If only because he’s responsible for the best moments in the film. His scenes with Jennifer Lawrence almost make her up her game, and it’s a much better film during those all too brief moments.

Best Actress

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Brie Larson – Room. Did you watch this film? Then you know why. She was just amazing in this. Everything about her performance was perfect. I saw this in January, which meant I had 11 months of performances which couldn’t even match it.

Also:

Madison Wolfe – The Conjuring 2. A performance beyond her years.

Julia Roberts – Secrets In Their Eyes. The first time I feel I’ve truly “got” her as an actress. Superb.

Best Script

Eye In The Sky: A film which could have been very bad if written differently. Same plot, same actors, same director and this film would not have only been bad, but catastrophically awful. As it was this film was perfectly paced. When doing a film like this you do run the risk of attempting methodical and instead just ending up with it being boring and too slow. You need to slowly crank up the tension through dialogue, if it goes wrong, it’s awful, but when it works it’s phenomenal. A fitting epitaph to Alan Rickman’s career.

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Worst Film

The Boss: I really want to like Melissa McCarthy, but she keeps making terrible films. Her character in this is extremely unlikeable with almost no character arc that redeems her. In almost any other film she’d be the main villain.

Best Film Moment

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Arrival – The meeting scene. There’s a moment in this where Amy Adam’s character first meets the aliens. It’s about ten minutes long and you can’t take your eyes away from the screen the entire time. Everything about it is perfect, the look, the acting, it all builds towards something which if there’s any justice will become as big a part of pop-culture iconography as scenes from Close Encounters, ET, or Alien. A moment full of pure wonder that truly shows what film can do.

Worst Film Moment

Batman Vs Superman: Martha. A moment which almost became shorthand for “awful and nonsensical”. The thing is, it does kind of make sense when you think about it, it could have been very believable that seeing someone as a person with a family will change your outlook on them, but the way it was delivered simply wasn’t good enough.

Best Film

Room: Excellent script, some of the best performances I’ve seen in a long time, and truly beautiful. This isn’t just film, this is emotional spectacle cinema. A film which I saw very early on in the year, and yet almost 12 months later it has still stuck with me.

Best Film To Look At

Arrival: A film shot with the warmth and cosiness of a home video. Science fiction (more than any other genre) seems to define itself by it’s look. And this film does more than enough to join the greats of the genre.

Also:

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. 

Beautifully shot, the action scenes are brilliantly choreographed, and the costumes are superb. You could watch this on mute and still find things to appreciate.

Most Disappointing Film

Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

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This film had so much riding on it, so for it to fall as much as it did (critically at least) is very disappointing. Especially since the problems in it are easily fixed. Some of them aren’t personal preference, they’re basic storytelling mistakes. I know it sounds awful to say but this film should end somebody’s career, you cannot make some of the mistakes they made in this film and still hope to make films. It had such high potential too, it really needed to be great, but in the end it was merely only “okay”

Also:

10 Cloverfield Lane

A film of three thirds: the first two are really good, matching up and in some ways surpassing the original, tense and claustophobic, just brilliant. Then it’s all thrown away in the final stretch until it dissolves into what William Shakespeare would describe as “a massive pile of wank”

Central Intelligence. It took too long to get to the point of the film, and there weren’t really enough “laugh out loud” moments. Reminds me of Hear No Evil, See No Evil, in that the chemistry between the leads is better than the actual fil.

Most Surprising Film

The 5th Wave

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I expected this to be just low-grade YA shlock. Yet it had a really really good plot and some excellent moments. Yes it wasn’t the greatest film I saw this year, but it was a lot better than I thought it would be.

Also: Goosebumps.

Very solid and well made kids horror film. I saw some reviews of it which criticised it for “looks like it was made for children”, which, you know, it was. It’s like criticising porn for being aimed at people who want to masturbate. Yeah it means it won’t make much money among people who want something to watch in the evening whilst drinking a glass of red wine in the evening, but it’s not meant to.

The “Well I Liked It” Award

The BFG: Called by some people “one of the biggest box office bombs of 2016” and I truly don’t get why. In a year which was the best one in recent memory for kids films, this one still stood out in a very crowded bunch. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; there are many great films, only a select few are “magical”, and this is definitely one.

Best Marketing Campaign

Deadpool: A very violent comic book film, what would be the best way to market this?

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That’s actually pretty brilliant. During the run up to the release to this (way way back at the beginning of the year) Ryan Reynolds was on point, uploading almost in character updates on the film. If anybody doubting how well-suited he was to the role hopefully had those doubt squashed like a bug. Actually he continued it past release, doing new adverts to celebrate the film being out for a month in cinemas. A magnificent campaign which worked wonders. If there’s any doubt how successful this campaign was I’ll point this out; it meant people wanted to see the film, despite the fact that most peoples knowledge of the character being X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

2016 In Film (Part Three: The Good)

Films I like but don’t love. One’s that I won’t rush out to buy, but if I saw them at a good price I’d feel compelled to get them.

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I actually liked this film. Okay, the “romance” moments were really bad but the rest of the film was good. The destruction scenes were very well done and really showcased the horror that’s going on. There’s very little “implied” deaths here, they’re shown, and shown in detail. For example; during a scene where an earthquake induced tsunami where the wave washes through a building, rather than just show it from the outside, or show people getting knocked down, the wave actually knocks someone off a balcony and they land (painfully) on a rail below. The plot itself was really tight as well, it held together beautifully and I’m genuinely invested in the characters and want to see what happens next. A mix of both terribly cliche teen bullshit, and REALLY strong plotting.
The Accountant
Aflecks best film of the year (although that’s not saying much).
Bridge Of Spies
I expected to be really bored by this. But the plot, and the performances, were strong enough to keep me emotionally invested in the story. I loved it.
Carol
A lovely film, seemed to come straight from the 70’s. Very disappointed it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at Academy Awards, it fully deserved it. I also found it kind of weird that Rooney Mara got nominated for Best Supporting Actress considering she was one of the leads. It’s like the academy doesn’t want to admit that a film can have more than one female lead. And in a year where Jennifer Lawrence got nominated for the “oh yeah I forgot that film existed” Joy, it’s not as though there was lots of very strong competition to keep her out, okay she would have still ended up losing to Brie Larson from Room, but still.
Creed
A film that almost made people forget about the last few Rocky movies. It does follow a few of the same story beats as the original, but it’s done so well that you don’t really care. Possibly the best boxing film of the year (and one that reminds me I forgot to put Bleed For This in the “bad” blog so I’ll just quickly mention it here; the important car crash from the trailer? Doesn’t happen until over the halfway mark, it’s horrifically paced, we see the main character lose a fight, train and make a comeback, win that fight, THEN get in the car crash. Cut the first fight and would improve it immensely). But back to this film; it was basically a remake of an iconic film, featuring a black character as the lead, yet the internet didn’t shit on it, THAT’S how good this film was, even racists like it, and they usually only like burning crosses on lawns, drinking beer, and being terrible people.
Had a lot working against it, film adaptations of television shows very rarely work, neither do remakes, and this is both. I went into this with low expectations but it was very enjoyable, funny enough and enjoyable, very entertaining.
Eddie The Eagle
The kind of film you put on at christmas when you’ve got family round and need something funny and innocent whilst you stuff your face full of celebrations and pringles. Very very funny, and not just “slight chortle to self” laugh, but “full on laugh out loud” laughs.
Eye In The Sky
Pretty much a bottle episode, starts off very tense and maintains the tense nature throughout the entire film, which is very hard to do. A worthy last film for Alan Rickman.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
This was very close to being put in the “meh”, it doesn’t have enough “wow” moments, moments where you truly embrace the magic of the moment, just kind of ordinary. Elevated into “good” by the performance of Dan Fogler and his characters romantic sub-plot, which really works. Is sweet and heartwarming, one of the rare examples of a romantic sub-plot really elevating a film. I think that might be because he’s the only non-magical main character in the film, so he’s our point of reference, he’s the one we identify with.
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Some reviewers complained this film was uneven, saying the audience was unsure whether we should be mocking or sympathising with the main character. That’s a strength to me though, the fact that we can do both. She was clearly delusional, but her delusion came from a place of warmth and honesty so we could easily sympathise with her. The fact that the audience can laugh at this character, yet also feel her pain throughout, is testament to both the script and Meryl Streep’s performance (I know, Streep gives a good performance, what a surprise, right?)
Again, went in with low expectations yet really liked this film. Can be best defined as a horror film aimed at pre-teens. Not scary enough for adults, but entertaining enough to justify its existence.
Grimsby
Very close to being in the “Meh”, but Mark Strong’s performance just about pushes it into this one. Funny, disgusting and full of obvious inaccuracies, it’s basically South Park without politics.
Keanu
It’s an action comedy about two people stealing a cat from gangsters, and it features Anna Farris playing a drugged up Anna Farris, this was either going to be awful or charming and funny, luckily it manages the second one. Very sweet and very funny.
Ridiculous plotting, stupid characters, and coincidences that even JK Rowling would consider “a bit much”, yet bombastic enough that it kind of works. Plus Radcliffe seems to be having the time of his life.
Great songs, and a film which could teach Zoolander 2 a thing or two about how to do celebrity cameos; do it to enhance the film, keep the focus on your characters, not on the celebs.
Race
Obvious oscar bait, but a remarkable story that’s very well told. Also Jason Sudeikis gives a career best performance, one scene in particular stands out as fantastic, where he’s in a locker room as a football team shouts at him, he’s ignoring them and continues talking to his athletes about how all the yelling is “just noise” and doesn’t matter.
Secrets in their eyes
A film that nobody really talks about, which is a shame as it was very good. Yes it was a remake, but it’s very well made and has a great story. Plus it’s the first film where I’ve truly understood why people like Julia Roberts.
Storks
Expected it to be terrible, yet was actually quite funny. Not the greatest plot but very charming. Plus it has a fight scene where all the characters are trying to not make any noise so they don’t wake a sleeping baby, which was one of my favourite scenes of the year, was hilarious.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Worth seeing, even if only to hear Martin Freeman call someone a “cunt” in a Scottish accent.
The Witch
Very very scary. But not enough iconic scenes/shots. And maybe it would have been better if there wasn’t actually a witch so it would have been about puritanical paranoia, as it is their paranoia was justified, I feel it would have been a stronger film if it wasn’t a witch that destroyed them, but was their own religious beliefs that did so instead.

The 5 Best Kids Films Of 2016

5 Goosebumps

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Are you surprised to see this here? Well to be honest, so am I. I had quite low expectations here, if expectations were a high jump, then this was set 2cms off the ground, and easily cleared it, not in a way to set a new world record, but one that still performs admirably. The great thing about this film is that it exists in a genre of one; it’s a kids horror film, and one that made back double it’s budget, so expect a few poor imitations in the next few years. I do feel guilty about putting this film here though, because it means I can’t put Finding Dory on this list. That’s not a knock against Finding Dory, it’s just an indicator of exactly how strong kids films have been this year, been a phenomenal time for them, and whilst Dory hit me harder emotionally, I think part of its target audience was adults, whereas Goosebumps was focused almost entirely on the kids. So whilst kids will grow up and watch Finding Dory when they’re older, I feel that while they’re younger, Goosebumps will have more appeal, and it’s odd that that could be seen as a bad thing in todays society, for kids films to be aimed at children. We almost expect them to have adult jokes in them now and consider films failures if they don’t, maybe because all film critics are adults so it can be hard for them to judge kids films on their own merits (probably not though, as they are professional).

4. The BFG

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As already mentioned, I LOVED this movie. It was magical, as I said earlier this year:

“some films are funny, some films are heart-breaking, very few films can be described as magical, this is one of them”

It also had one of my favourite performances of the year, and is a film I’ve already considered buying on blu ray, despite being so poor at the moment I’m panicking about money about two days after receiving any. I know this film wasn’t rated that highly by critics, I just don’t get why. Normally when I disagree with critics it’s on comedies, films which I can see are definitely cult films, I don’t normally disagree based on “f*ck you this film was fairy lights and sunshine on celluloid”.

3. Kubo And The Two Strings

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A film so strong and confident I just automatically assumed it was based on something. The fact that a new property can set up a world this full and real says a lot about the talent of both the writers and the directors. Surprisingly it’s the directors first film as a director, and I would not be surprised if he won an Academy Award for it (it’s not likely, but it would be very deserved). This was one of the few films this year I was actively following from the moment I saw the first trailer, it just looked so good, the music choice (While My  Guitar Gently Weeps) was inspired, and visually it was very different from everything else. This HAD to be fantastic for me to like it, anything else would be a bigger disappointment than the first time I tried Hershey’s Chocolate.

2. Zootropolis

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A film that reminded me of an important lesson; you can have too many jokes in a comedy. I know that sounds weird but even in a comedy the characters need to treat the situation seriously, otherwise the audience don’t feel the jeopardy. If the characters don’t fear the situation, then why will the audience? It’s hard to believe but in the closing stretch of Airplane there’s barely any jokes, it’s all plot. This film does that too, there’s not many jokes in the final third, the characters are genuinely scared and determined and focused on plot, so that makes the stakes seem high to the audience, so they’re more emotionally invested. Now if I was doing a “favourite animated films of the year” then this would probably be top, but as I’m judging this by it’s standard as a kids film, this sadly has to be second. It’s definitely a better film than the one I’ve chosen to go in top spot, but not a better kids film for one simple reason; there’s no magic. There’s no moment where you sit watching this film and are overcome by a feeling of wonder and joy, there’s no “ooooooooo” moment. If it did that then it would definitely be top, and in most years it would, but this year it’s just beaten to the top spot by another film.

1. Moana

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A film so good it almost seems like Pixar made it, if it wasn’t for the songs. But oddly enough it’s the songs that push this to the top spot. I hate songs in kids films usually as they’re just distracting, but here it served a real purpose, characters seemed to have their own musical motifs attached to them, and the songs are REALLY good. There’s a crab singing a David Bowie-esque song, The Rock singing a song about how awesome he is, and they’re still not the best songs in this film. If “How Far I’ll Go” doesn’t get nominated for awards I will genuinely be surprised, it’s touching, empowering, and even from a technical standpoint just a superb piece of music. On the downside there’s one or two jokes that take you out of the movie (there’s a twitter joke in here which is quite funny but completely unnatural), but then they’re followed with moments of brilliance (the psychedelic crab scene for instance features animation so colourful and beautiful, the likes of which haven’t been seen in a long time). It also features what is without a doubt the best pee-joke of the year. So there’s that. Oh, it also features adorable/terrifying coconuts, which is always the sign of a great movie (be honest, how much better would every film be if you added anthropomorphic coconuts?)

 

So, that’s that. We’re starting work on our end of film lists as we speak so if there’s any films you think we’re likely to have not seen this year, let us know and we’ll try to watch them before the years out.