Category: Articles

Best Films of 2017

I don’t need a long introduction anymore, I have done a few of these already! I don’t even have a significant list of missing films to talk about, even better!

So you know the drill, here are some honorable mentions. Honorable what?

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Like every year, I had quite a few 4 out of 4’s to choose from. Top 15 lists are more exciting and besides, 10 is an arbitrary number. But what films couldn’t make the list? Things like Beauty and the Beast, The Lost City of Z, The Post, Thelma, and The Chess Player and more.

This year I sucked at watching documentaries as well as foreign films. They will have a lot of missing components when the Oscar nominations happen. So I decided to not include any documentaries on the list, and the only foreign film was in English so you wouldn’t notice anyways.


15) Split

Split was the first 4 out of 4 I gave of the year, and the last film to make my list. Split was a surprise, as it was a big return to form for M. Night Shyamalan and more importantly it was a sign of how this year would be. Which is of course, a strong as fuck year on horror. I am excited about the sequel to this film and James McAvoy should be celebrated for the acting he pulled off in this movie.

Split


14) It Comes At Night

Speaking of Horror, It Comes At Night was a film that disappointed a lot of individuals due to its advertising campaign. I didn’t watch any trailers, so I didn’t come into the film with any expectations. What I got was a very simple film, dealing with dreadful themes and making me feel uneasy for quite a few days afterwards. It was well acted, beautifully shot, and a film that really makes you think.

It Comes At Night


13) The Greatest Showman

The Greatest Showman is the movie that I thought would be my favorite of 2017, from sometime early in 2016. Its a musical, it has actors I love, and it is about a fascinating subject. If you just realize that this is full of lies and in no way accurate of P.T. Barnum, it is a fun experience with catchy songs.

This is my favorite musical of 2017, although there is at least one other song higher that is musical in the other definition.

The Greatest Showman


12) Hostiles

Hostiles is the first film on this list that I haven’t had a review published for yet, because the studio wants it to be released closer to the January release date. But Hostiles was a slow, long, and powerful journey and experience. A lot happens on that journey, including great acting, good scenery, and a lot of redemption.

Hostiles


11) A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story is not a horror film, just a straight up Drama movie, although it does deal with some potentially frightening scenes. It is a very slow burn and it will turn a lot of people off due to strange it is. A powerful concept, with two talented leads, although one of the leads might no actually be under the sheet for most of the film, who the fuck knows.

This is a movie that will never make you look at pie the same way.

A Ghost Story


10) The Breadwinner

It took me until December to find an animated film I could really get behind and love when I finally saw The Breadwinner. This a year of disappointing animated films, and quite a few will make my worst of the year list. But The Breadwinner sails above them all, giving a powerful new story, from an underrepresented area in film and a little girl star. It is the type of film families should want to show their kids to encourage them to overcome their future struggles.

This is the best animated film of 2017, by a long shot.

The Breadwinner


9) Professor Marston & The Wonder Women

You know whats better than superheroes? Sometimes the story behind the superheroes! In this case Professor Marston & The Wonder Women is about three fascinating, real individuals, who did more than create a comic. They had academic lives, they made discoveries, inventions, experienced a lot sexually, and then made a comic. The more you know!

And no, the Wonder Woman film about the actual hero didn’t make the list, because it went “Full DC” in the conclusion. The end was so bad and hard to watch it put a dark stain on that film.

Prof Marston and the wonder women


8) Wind River

At this point in the list, it was so hard to rank these movies, and there are still 8 to go! Why is Wind River up here and not further? Fuck if I know. This could very well be my favorite movie of the year, and right now I just don’t remember a lot of it because it came out in the summer. Other films I was able to watch multiple times despite early releases.

That doesn’t change the fact that Wind River is incredible. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen are acting powerhouses, and this is a film that has the potential to change you.

Wind River


7) Get Out

Speaking of number ones, a lot of people will have Get Out on top and that makes sense. Have you not seen Get Out yet? Then fucking go do it. It came out really soon after Split, and these two movies were both genre bending, not full on horrors. Get Out has a better message, a better story, and really resonated with most of the viewers.

Get Out is an important film, and thus, the best “horror” film of 2017.

Get Out


6) Three Billboards Outside Ebbing,
Missouri

Another very topical film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is also a very topical film. Sweet sentence, I know. This film features very strong acting across multiple directions, and it is hard to know who is right or wrong. But we get violence, language, gross as fuck scenes, this is a movie about modern middle America for adults.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri


5) The Shape of Water

Human. Fucking. Amphibian Man. Consensually.

This is the kind of film people might not have wanted when they said they wanted original films, but The Shape of Water is what they are getting. Brought to us by the mastermind of visuals and monsters, Guillermo del Toro. A love story that feels like it is traveling uncharted waters and with eccentric characters to boot.

The Shape of Water


4) I, Tonya

The last film I saw this year that had the potential to be on this list was I, Tonya, and it certainly blew me away. It started off a bit slow, and I was a bit weirded out with its quirkiness. But this tells a really powerful story (one that might not be true, but I am not judging truthiness) that turned a national punchline joke into an emotional story about overcoming abuse. Both physical and emotional. A film that builds and gets crazier and more unbelievable with each passing moment.

This would be the best Dark Comedy of 2017 for me. Or the best Dark Comedy. Mostly uncertain because I don’t know how to classify half of the films on this list, let alone the first one.

I, Tonya


3) Brawl in Cell Block 99

Probably the biggest surprise you will see on this list is Brawl in Cell Block 99. Some of you may just be asking what the hell is this film even? And that is fair. It is by the director who brought us Bone Tomahawk last year which had a lot of acclaim. This one is just more modern, more Vince Vaughn, and an incredible (frightening) ending that had me going for more than two hours. An incredible experience with probably Vaughn’s best performance. I could watch it again, but I am too afraid.

This is probably considered the best Action film of 2017. Depending on how you view the next film in this list.

Brawl in Cell Block 99


2) Baby Driver

In my middle of the year top 10 list, Baby Driver was number one. And usually my number one halfway through the year doesn’t crack the top five at the end, so this is already impressive that it only went down one spot. My second viewing wasn’t as powerful as the first, but this is still a fantastic film, with great acting, a great soundtrack, fun plot and characters. It also has Kevin Spacey, which is going to be one of the last things I talk about with him in it I guess.

Is this an action movie? A heist film? A comedy? A musical (because it is musical, at least…). Who knows! Let’s just say the best adventure film of 2017 and move on from that.

Baby Driver


1) Colossal

Surprise motherfuckers!

Seriously, none of you saw this coming. Hell, I barely saw it coming. I have never had a harder time determining a number one for a year ever. Usually I know well in advanced, or get swept up in some December hype. But a lot of the December releases just really didn’t sell themselves well to me, and the ones I over hyped I know are still not the best.

With Colossal, I feel like it is a natural progression from Split and Get Out earlier in the year. It is like, five genres rolled into one, building off of each other and creating an incredible experience overall. Even knowing how it ends and the twists, I still was captivated in my second viewing.

I think Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis give such great and at times subtle performances in this film. Hell, I am surprised it wasn’t praised more when it came out. I can understand no awards love, because yet, it is a very awkward film and uncomfortable by the end. Although not perfect, with some very strange plot points that don’t make a lot of sense, this is a film that I would recommend over and over again to such a variety of people. It is my number one film of the year, and right now, I am sticking to that.

Colossal

Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know (but I probably saw it and reviewed it on this very site! Overall, only one animated film, 1 musical, and no super hero films. Shockingly the big news here is how many of these films were thriller or horror, which has the best year ever.

And for those haters who need to compare this list to others, yes I did see Molly’s Game, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Last Flag Flying, All The Money in the World, Call Me By Your Name, Lady Bird and The Big Sick. Big films that people would expect to see on these lists. But hey, they didn’t make it. I didn’t put this warning at the top because it would have been spoilers, hah.

And as always, I accept hate mail via the post office, email, or tweets.

Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities

Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities is currently playing in Houston and tickets can be bought here.

If I were to say that me and Cirque Du Soleil go way back, that would be a bold faced lie. In my life I have gone to the circus, but the last time was probably around 1st grade. And it was a small one. So no circus that is all about the achievements of the human body like Cirque Du Soleil. Although, a year or two ago, I went to Sea World, and saw a sort of water gymnast animal thing that might have been close enough.

Needless to say, I was stoked at the opportunity to get to see my first CDS performance, titled Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities. The topic itself is fascinating to me, as I have been to a real “Cabinet of Curiosities” a few years ago.

The cabinets used to just be eccentric collections of stuff that people showed off, which helped evolve into the modern museum. But the title can still be used, especially if the stuff doesn’t have a real theme and is just a lot of weird and interesting figures.

So my first Cirque Du Soleil performance, technically my second circus, and technically my second cabinet of curiosities. Clearly I am over qualified to write about live spectacles.

CAst
It is like the cast of Little Nemo AND Finding Nemo collectively fucked a steam engine.

The before show was not reason enough to really show up too early, outside of getting better parking spots. They had a small event to showcase the opening of the tent, but it is not something worth breaking your back over to get there in time. But a good time for photos, souvenirs, and making sure you know where the pissers are.

The seating area was a bit smaller than I imagined as well, because damn it, I have a big imagination. Tightly packed chairs, not a lot of leg room or places for you to put your cups. But they are stadium seating with a few big walk ways so the performers can do pre show antics with the crowd. The start of the show is a bit of a start soft as well, with characters doing minor activities for a good 10 plus minutes while people get to their seats and finish their conversations.

The first real part of the show gives us a nice glimpse into their band and singer, setting the tone and sound for the rest of the show. The opening act then throws character after character onto the stage, to fill the viewer with a sense of wonder. Wondering what each person will end up doing, or if they are just a background character, of course. Technically they start the focus with banging on sticks and a juggler, which sounds like nothing new, but it feels like a grand party.

After that we get a series of weird and awesome tricks, displays, and athleticism. And weird shit! And honestly, it was all a blast.

I looked up official names, but my initial description names make me laugh more. We had a woman who just struggled so hard to ride a bike correctly, a group of contortionists who were freakishly erotic, while also reminding me of Beyonce and Hand Models. But the two top performances of the first half involved upside down mirror worlds and a guy standing on some shaky shit. Well, technically both of them should have involved standing on some shaky shit.

Fly
Why stand on shaky stuff, when you can fake fly?

While waiting in the bathroom line, I figured it would hard for the second half to be as entertaining as the first, but that is because I apparently used to be a dumb shit nostalgic fool.

Because the second half was so goddamn amazing. And that is whre the Finding Nemo elements come in, along with a little bit of Steve Zissou.

We get a giant net with trampoline level bounciness to drape the stage. And on that net is of course men in raincoats. What is that? No, they are actually strange fish men, and they got mad hops. I have never seen trampolining that precise, in terms of height, types of spins, and even the way they were able to stop was a sight to behold.

After that is some yo-yo tricks, some “Siamese twins” on ribbon ropes, some hand puppets, and then our striped strong dudes. Like some Popeye side character, they danced and jumped their way onto the stage.

This one I just needed to get a picture of for the review because I could not believe it. A big part of their choreography involved them putting their hands together, jumping on their hands and flinging them through the air. Again, words fail me, but the amount of height they got off of this maneuver just felt unbelievable. I wondered if you could photoshop live video in front of your face. It flowed so well and it sort of felt like looking at a classic video game double jump in real life.

Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities is worth the money to see. They put on a show, I smiled the entire night, and I want to see it again and again. There are people out there who can do amazing things, and you just gotta sometimes go underneath a tent to find them.

Megajump
They seriously have put Mario to shame.

4 out of 4.

Worst Films of 2016

Welcome back to another roaring year of shit film! I pride myself in looking for the worst of the worst, not just the best films. Someone has to watch the terrible movies, and it might as well be me.

As a note, I didn’t get to see everything last year. I never saw Bad Santa 2, Why Him?, Bridget Jones’s Baby, and Dead 7.


(DIS)HONORABLE MENTIONS

Not a great list. The Final Project was a small film no one saw (thankfully), The Boss was a film too many people saw, When The Bough Breaks wasn’t sexy enough for this list, and Sharknado 4 because I am fucking tired of writing about Sharknado movies.


15) The Sea of Trees

Hey I got a good idea. Let’s take a serious subject and make a serious movie about it. Let’s make it about suicide, depression, losing your loved ones, but maybe a little hope in there as well.

All of that does sound good. But The Sea of Trees turned its serious contender into a boring turd. It fits into the drama category but it suffocates the viewer with bad symbolism and a terrible plot. It is so bad that a horror film about the same place ended up better somehow.

TSoT


14) The Brother’s Grimsby

Look, I’m a guy that can handle crude humor. But crude humor can still help the plot, have a point, or at least also be a bit funny. In The Brother’s Grimsby, we are given several repulsive scenes with zero payout. A film that must have been created solely for the scenes in question with the plot coming maybe in third place.

Cohen can be a great actor and he can also be infuriating. What is sad is that this isn’t the only film he stars in on this list, but the other film he is the only great part in it.

TBG


13) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Some book to film adaptations are so bad they make you want to stop the movie halfway through and read the book again in protest. Or at least to remind yourself that the book is decent.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is amazing in that it is not only trrrible, but just like the book, you will find yourself wanting to stop both of them early on and just go back the original source material. This movie is a tad bit better than the book in that it at least flows nicely together, where the book features the worst cut and paste jobs in modern fiction writing.

PaPaZ


12) Nina

Nina Simone is an activist and musician who should be remembered. She did a lot for her community, her race, and for music. She was quite a character too. Unfortunately this movie will do nothing for people who know nothing about her. It will probably just turn them off to her legacy.

Thank you Netflix for releasing What Happened, Miss Simone? It is the only reason I know her. And it is the only thing you should watch about her as of right now.

Nina


11) Gods of Egypt

I cannot super hate Gods of Egypt. It is meant to be a campy movie and it definitely goes campy. But I can still be angry with how lame of a story it came up with. It is a film that looks horrible, has a dull plot, and wastes some occasionally good actors. We don’t have a lot of movies involving Egyptian mythology, which is rich and wonderfully diverse, so it is just a bit of a bigger pain when the only morsel we get in forever is just a big shiny piece of shit.

GoE


10) Meet The Blacks

Meet the Blacks is a movie no one saw and for good reason. It had little publicity, was barely in the theaters, and has one famous person attached.

But I had it go and see it because I was excited to see it. I generally like The Purge movies so a good parody with some different political angles can totally work. But this film doesn’t work. It isn’t funny. It is argument after argument. It is barely coherent. And I am the one person who saw it who probably felt disappointed as everyone else besides me knew it would suck.

MTB


9) God’s Not Dead 2

You know, if you had asked me in April where God’s Not Dead 2 would have landed I would have assumed in the top 3. I am as surprised as you that it is up here at 9! I even got to make a fake review of this film for an April Fool’s Day joke.

But in all honesty it is a bad movie that badly preaches to he choir. It makes bad guys out of nothing and exaggerates everything to 11. It is painful but at least it is easy to make fun of which is why I didn’t have it super low.

GND2


8) Ben-Hur

Speaking of religious films (This is technically the third on the list) Ben-Hur is probably the most sacrilegious. You know. Rebooting a masterpiece. Condensing an epic story down an hour an a half and trying to still make it coherent. Replacing well done scenes with CGI and extra action for the Millenials. And again, just shitting over one of the biggest films in cinema history for a quick buck.

I’m not against reboots. I’m against bad movies.

BH


7) Hillary’s America: The Secret History Of The Democratic Party

Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party is the only documentary to make my list, a sequel to the only documentary to make any of my worst lists before this (America: Imagine The World Without Her)!

The director has taken political agenda to the extreme and decided to switch around a few arguments and lie to drive his point home. It is as much about him as it is about he a Democratic Party. The reason it isn’t lower is because it would have done nothing to change the outcome of the election. The only people who saw it who don’t criticize movies for a living are the ones who would have already whole heartedly agreed with it.

HA


6) Knight of Cups

I don’t want to say I hate people but Terrence Malick comes close. I assume he starts shouting a movie with a specific plot in line, then he loses his notes and starts just shooting scenic shots. Later remembering the plot he adds some voice over that vaguely helps tell the story and boom. You too can make elitist filth.

I try really hard with every new film of his to have an open mind. But they are getting more and more out there he just leaves me scratching my head in wonder and resentment. Knight Of Cups is a giant shrug and a instantly forgettable.

KOC


5) Nine Lives

Finally the bottom of the bottom, with Nine Lives topping (bottoming?) most worst of the year lists.

This is a few famous people doing very little to get a paycheck. No one has their heart in it. Spacey for the most part just had to record some voice work. It is a 90s film that they tried to make 15 years too late and add nothing new to that terrible abandoned genre. Basically it is the worst film of 2016 about a cat.

NL


4) I’m Not Ashamed

Okay here is the thing. I’m Not Ashamed film you probably hadn’t heard about. But it is really fucked up. It is about Columbine. About a girl shot during the attack and her last year or so alive. It is a religious film and a teenage drama, but the acting is bad, they make a lot of assumptions about the shooters and other students at the school, most of it is most certainly a lie, and it is basically a disgrace to exploit a real national tragedy to make a film this bad. God’s Not Dead 2 had overacting and we could laugh at it. This film will just make you angry at how terrible and unethical the whole thing is.

It is the worst religious film of 2016 and it would have also been the worst Fantast film based on how much it warps the reality of the situation, but the next film on the list took that crown.

INa


3) Alice Through The Looking Glass

There isn’t enough space for me to truly rant about everything wrong with this film. I already did so quite well in my inial review of Alice Through The Looking Glass. By all means read it and let it fill you with hate.

The reason it wasn’t further down is because Cohen was actually great in this film and the only bright spot. But it is in fact the worst fantasy film of the year and should be bought up in droves just to bury in some New Mexico pit somewhere.

ATTLG


2) Norm of the North

Every year there is one animated film that slams itself to the terrible ground and refuses to get a leg up. Before it was Strange Magic. This year Norm of the North. And yes, both did come out in January.

Norm of the North barely has a plot. There is a rough story, but it seems to mostly get in the way of the piss and fart jokes. The animation is poor, the jokes are of the lowest quality, and nothing feels funny. I can’t actually remember a lot of the film anymore thankfully, I just do remember that my four year old turning to me to tell me it was a bad film in the theater.

NotN


1) Allegiant

I did not know this would be my number one film, despite watching it in March. If you read my review, I hated it, I hated it a lot, but really, I just assumed it would be somewhere in the middle.

So what changed? What made this film rise to become the cream of the shit? Well, the fallout is one reason. Yes, we are tired of books being split up, but there has never been a break up this terrible. Allegiant has literally KILLED the Divergent movie franchise. They aren’t able to finish the story and have to switch it to a TV movie/show situation, because Allegiant was so bad.

At least the first two films had a plot that was easy enough to follow. They had a lot of holes and confusing aspects, but I got it. Part three? It lets us out in to the world and spends most of the time wasting it and not answering questions. It has situations that don’t make sense, characters not acting like real entities, a waste of talent, a waste of time. And holy fuck, it killed a franchise.

All

Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know (but I probably saw it and reviewed it on this very site! Check out my thoughts).

And as always, I accept hate mail via the post office, email, or tweets.

Best Films of 2016

I don’t need a long introduction anymore, I have done a few of these already! I don’t even have a significant list of missing films to talk about, even better!

So you know the drill, here are some honorable mentions. Honorable what?

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Straight up, I had a lot of 4 out of 4’s this year. But I can’t just list like 10 movies here like some jackass. So here are a few movie, The Conjuring 2, Hacksaw Ridge, Midnight Special, The Light Between Oceans, Captain America: Civil War, Lion and The Edge of Seventeen.

It should also be note that I didn’t put any documentaries on this list, it was too hard. But my favorite from 2016 include 13th, Nuts!, and Tickled. See, only… shit, that was ten movies.


15) The 9th Life of Louis Drax

There has to be some controversy in a top list and part of the reason to go to 15 is to have more weird shit in it. Which is why I wanted to put The 9th Life of Louis Drax up here, a movie where I might be the only one to really love. It is a dark film, about a serious subject. But it is also light from the point of the view of the kid. Finally, it has the best acting I have seen from Aaron Paul outside of Breaking Bad.

T9LoLD


14) Moonlight

Okay okay, here is a true story. I really liked Moonlight, I did! I just also watched it at a 10:30 screening, after an already long day, and maybe fell asleep a couple of times during it. A slow burner for sure, but what I saw and felt was pure. It probably should be higher, but I can only comment on what I saw, and for the most part, this is completely my fault. Hopefully sometime in the future I will see it again and might regret having it this “low”, but alas, I am the only person to blame.

ML


13) Moana

Moana has a lot going for it. Music by Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of the main reasons. The music is catchy and so well produced and layered (except for Shiny, fuck Shiny). He could probably win an Oscar from over half of the songs if it wasn’t such a strong music year.

The animation is wonderful, the story comes from an underrepresented part of the world, the lead is strong, The Rock makes everything better, and just, gah, it is so good.

Moana


12) Manchester By The Sea

Manchester By The Sea is another film that I am surprised landed just outside of my top 10. After watching it I was so overcome with emotion that it took me quite a long time to finally write the review. I was also overcome with emotion during the picture and sort of on the edge of my seat. Affleck gives one of his best performances, and we probably say that about him every year.

And of course, Manchester By The Sea probably has one of the most tragic scenes in film this year, including comparisons to Lion and Nocturnal Animals.

MBTS


11) Hunt For The Wilderpeople

I am a bit disappointed Hunt For The Wilderpeople didn’t finish in my top 10, but alas, blame Silence. Hunt is one of the few foreign films that made the list (because I didn’t watch a lot), and gave an incredible adventure story, set in New Zealand. Turns out the country is beautiful, they should set more adventure stories out there. Taika Waititi gives a hilarious story, big in nature, small in cast, about growing up and kicking ass.

HFTWP


10) Kubo and the Two String

I had to think long and hard about whether Kubo and The Two Strings was the best animated film of the year, or would that honor go to Moana. And as I type this, I was able to see Moana twice but never revisit Kubo, which makes me sad, but I still gave Kubo that honor. Kubo doesn’t have music, and has quite terrible names for its side characters, but it has a strong story and some of the best stop motion animation I have ever seen. The story is fully captivating, along with some good lessons and twists along the way. Laika continues to raise the bar with its film quality, and I frankly can’t imagine where they go from here.

This is the best animated film of 2016!

KATS


9) A Monster Calls

I was definitely skeptical going into A Monster Calls, with a Groot like being, a Horror sounding name, and a concept I couldn’t relate fully to. But I was quickly taken away by the imagination of the story, the many stories the monster told, and how well the kid, MacDougall, acted.

Even if you aren’t affected in real life by Cancer (yet), the overall themes of grief, of losing a loved one, of losing your mother, are still pretty universal. A Monster Calls is a hard film to swallow, but it is still worth giving it at least one watch.

AMC


8) Fences

Do you like strong acting? I said DO YOU LIKE STRONG ACTING, MOTHERFUCKER? Well, then watch the fuck out of Fences!

Washington has still got it, Davis and Henderson are treats as well. From the pages of the play to the screen, they make those words their bitches, giving meaning behind all of the lines and tell a quite tragic tale about an old timey family. I own the play, have seen it performed before (by shitty people, I admit) but this performance really takes the cake. They won Tony’s for this performance, so you can tell they really know their stuff.

fen


7) The Witch

The Witch is a film that came out extremely early in the year, one that I had my doubts about, but delivered on almost every level. The Witch is dedicated to its story and the director pulls no punches. The costumes are authentic, the dialogue is correct to the period, the actors all feel like a real family and it feels like the film is actually evil. There is scary and there is terrifying, The Witch is definitely in the latter.

Technically my favorite Horror film of 2016, but maybe not the scariest film of 2016.

tw


6) Silence

Fresh off the presses, I knew I couldn’t make this list until I saw Silence. Based on the director, the actors, the story, I just knew it would be a sham if it didn’t have the potential to be included. That’s right. The potential. I am not saying it was guaranteed, I was just saying there was a chance.

And damn it, I am glad I waited. It was fully immersive and more importantly it told a wonderful religious story that didn’t suck, didn’t grind anything into your face, and really just felt like something that is practically universal. Garfield is a great actor, its been true for years, and he had an amazing year.

Silence


5) Sing Street

If years were only six months long, Sing Street would be my favorite film of 2016. The music is amazing and the film is emotional. It isn’t just about a boy trying to impress a girl with a makeshift 80’s band. It is about family and brotherly bonds. It is about escaping your comfort zone and stepping up to authority. And yes, it is also about great music. I love Up, it is the best song, I don’t are what anyone says.

And it is a shame that I don’t get to call it my favorite musical of 2016.

SS


4) Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man the most original, most out there, and by golly, one of the most fun film of the year. And not only is it a delight to watch, it has a banging sound track. Montage is great, Radcliffe and Dano singing is great, it is just fully immersive and amazing.

There is nothing like Swiss Army Man and it will be a long time before something else as original comes along. My favorite comedy film of 2016.

SAM


3) Arrival

Arrival gets to be THE Sci-Fi movie of the year, not without a lot of pressure from Midnight Special. Sci-Fi films can mean a lot of things, but Arrival comes from an area of love, guilt, and surprise. It starts you off sad and crying, and the tears come even harder for the finale. A smart film, a great drama, and a wonderful performance by Amy Adams. I honestly cannot say more without giving it away.

Arrival


2) Nocturnal Animals

Speaking of Amy Adams, yes she stars in Nocturnal Animals as well. How does she do it?! Is she in the number 1 film also?! (Nope). Even though she is the lead, Nocturnal Animals is more than just one actors performance. The terrible ness of the story in the story, the beautiful shots, the revenge, the double revenge, the great supporting performances, the tension and the real fears.

I mentioned that The Witch was my favorite Horror film of the year, but not the scariest. Nocturnal Animals is a Drama/Thriller, and it is my favorite of those genres of the year and definitely the “scariest’ film of the year for me.

NA


1)La La Land

What can I say about La La Land that hasn’t been said by everyone else in the world at this point? Holy fuck, this is a great movie. After Whiplash, Damien Chazelle decided he was going to top it on almost all fronts. It is still jazz focused, but it is now a romance instead of a sort of Drama Thriller. We get to see scenes to remind us of musicals of old early on, with flashy colors, long shots, and big sets. But the film soon morphs into a more modern approach, with only a few songs, repeating riffs, less flash and more style. A wonderful combination of the past and the new in one big whirl of cinematic glory.

Shit, after I saw it, I went out and had to see it a second time with my wife. If it shows on IMAX in my area I will watch it a third time. I bought ticket for my school’s choir teacher and wife to go see it. That’s how much I love it. Go see La La Land and learn to love and think logically yourself too.

LLL

Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know (but I probably saw it and reviewed it on this very site! Check out my thoughts). Overall, a few musicals, foreign films that speak English, two animated films, no super hero movies, and a lot of drama.

And as always, I accept hate mail via the post office, email, or tweets.

Michael Stocker, “Finding Dory” Animation Supervisor: Animation and Technology

Animation

When it comes to animation, Michael Stocker has seemingly done it all. His first animation role in a movie was with the 1994 classic The Lion King and from there he moved onto actual animation roles in Hercules, Tarzan, and The Emperor’s New Groove. After a few years, he found himself an animator working on purely 3D movies like The Incredibles and Cars.

When Toy Story 3 came around he was a directing animator and now, with Finding Dory, he is a Supervising Animator, leading the entire film along side David DeVan.

So when we got to sit down and chat with Stocker on the past, present, and future of animation, he had a lot of interesting things to say.

“The rules they used to animate Pinocchio, we all used to animate Dory,” Stocker said. Despite a change in technology, the same rules still apply to making an animated film, technology just makes things easier. “The difference is we are doing it in a computer, we are doing it in a 3D world.”

New technology comes with its pros and cons. “One thing that is easy [with a computer] is that when…fifty people animate Dory, it will still look like Dory. When fifty people draw Dory it will look like fifty different people drew Dory.”

The advancements in technology actually hurt them in a few ways since the release of Finding Nemo in 2003. He compared using new technology to opening a very old Word document on a newer computer: It wouldn’t understand the older data. “We had to go back and rebuild Dory, rebuild Marlin…The challenge was that people loved this world…We had to make sure that our new world matched that exactly.” Despite advancements in technology, they had to match the world aesthetic from 2003 and couldn’t upgrade every component.

Stocker2

Newer technologies did make certain aspects of the film a bit easier to handle. Software they developed a few films back was used extensively in Finding Dory. When they were not sure how to animate or take a current scene they were able to take a pen and just draw freehand what they wanted into the scene. Instead of taking a day to animate it and maybe trashing the whole thing, they could visualize in less than a minute and match the animation to their drawings.

As for the future of animated film? “I’m not sure,” laughed Stocker. “Things are changing so fast.” What he did know is that the challenges in the future for Pixar will drive the technological improvements. It will be a movie by movie basis. He went on to note that with Cars 3 coming down the line, it had a similar issue with Finding Dory, where things had to be rebuilt while maintaining their previous aesthetic.

Stocker was very open about his past in animation and his role in the Finding Dory film. But more importantly, he said his favorite animal was the octopus, and thus was a big component of Hank the Septopus from the film, arguably the best part of the movie. Coming from a family obsessed with the octopus, both in sports and in our child’s nursery, I can say that he clearly is a man with the finest of tastes.

Screening Pass Giveaway – Sing Street

From the director of Once and Begin Again comes Sing Street!

If you are a Houston resident, you can click the link below to Gofobo to claim ADVANCED PASSES for

Wednesday, April 27th, at the Landmark River Oaks Theater.

Passes are limited, so get them quickly before they are all gone! It is in the bigger downstairs theater and it is impressive screen to watch a movie on if you have never been before!

http://www.gofobo.com/HOUGORGVIEW

SS

SING STREET takes us back to 1980s Dublin seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents’ relationship and money troubles, while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool and beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band…yet. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver what he’s promised – calling himself “Cosmo” and immersing himself in the vibrant rock music trends of the decade, he forms a band with a few lads, and the group pours their heart into writing lyrics and shooting videos. Inspired by writer/director John Carney’s (ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN) life and love for music, SING STREET shows us a world where music has the power to take us away from the turmoil of everyday life and transform us into something greater.

2016 Oscar Predictions

Last year, I made my 2015 Oscar Predictions public. I was excited to do the same thing this year, but I realized that predictions are boring. Maybe in a one on one conversation they can be cool, but they don’t tell the full story of the season, and at the end of the day you are just reading a list.

Now, I was excited like a lot of you Thursday morning to see the nominees and ready to refresh the official list website. Unfortunately the whole thing was overshadowed by the death of Alan Rickman. And you know what. That sucks. That sucks more than who or what was snubbed. That sucks more than any awards ceremony. So I won’t do normal predictions, I am going to make these my Oscar Hopes.

Sure, I could give real predictions. But that is really just repeating what every one else has said about the Oscars. If you want that, you could look here, here, or even here. If you wanted to know official odds and gamble on it, you could even do that.

So instead I am just going to deal with the categories I know a lot about. I will also list the order I hope the Oscar goes to, and damn it, I will talk about it after the fact. No boring list here. This is straight up strong opinion time.

Oscars

Supporting Actor
1) Tom Hardy in “The Revenant
2a) Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight
2b) Christian Bale in “The Big Short
4) Mark Rylance in “Bridge of Spies
5) Sylvester Stallone in “Creed

Starting from the bottom up. I didn’t like Stallone in Creed and it made the film average for me. I just don’t see the hype. I really really hope he doesn’t win this. Rylance was the best part of Bridge of Spies, but the movie itself was average. I think I like Ruffalo a bit more than Bale, but they both were pretty dang good in their films. Neither hold a candle to how good I thought Hardy was. His accent, his character, his monologue. Fantastic acting from a man who had a lot of hits this year.

Supporting Actress

1a) Jennifer Jason Leigh in “The Hateful Eight
1b) Rooney Mara in “Carol
1c) Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl
1d) Kate Winslet in “Steve Jobs
10) Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight

This is the hardest category for me to talk about. Clearly there are four great choices here, and honestly I’d be happy with any of them. There is no hope for McAdams who was good, sure, but everyone else here was phenomenal.

I couldn’t even recognize Winslet in her role, but she was just as important to the plot as Fassbender. Vikander had the best year of any woman, giving a just as good performance in Ex Machina, while also in Burnt and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Mara was the best part of Carol to me, telling a lot through just her eyes and stares. And Leigh held up her own with a lot of dudes in her film, giving the second best performance after Walton Goggins. You cannot go wrong with any of these ladies and it is the most anticipated category to watch.

Oscars

Adapted Screenplay

1) The Big Short
2) Room
3) The Martian
4) Brooklyn
5) Carol

The real answer here is Steve Jobs but the Academy didn’t nominate it. Argh. Hell, the whole reason I am talking about this category is just to make that point. I don’t know much work the writers had to do to adapt their screenplays from the source material. I think Carol up here is a basic insult, since it needs to be in Best Director, the screenplay not being nearly as important to that movies success. But yeah. Steve Jobs. Aaron Sorkin. What the hell Academy. I know I said I wouldn’t bitch about snubs, but I really had to just get this one out, so I can never talk about it again.

Animated Feature

1) Inside Out
2) Anomalisa
3) Shaun the Sheep
Didn’t see – Boy and the World, When Marnie Was There (yet!)

The only surprising thing about this category is Boy and the World, which I think no one really knew about. Inside Out is the easy best animated picture of they year. It had emotions, emotions for the emotions, and emotions for my own self. Anomalisa made me feel in a different way, but wasn’t the type of film I would want to see again. Shaun the Sheep was good, but again, not great.

Oscars

Actor

1a) Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant
1b) Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs
2) Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl
3) Matt Damon in “The Martian

Didn’t See – Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo” (yet!)

I think this is the year. This is the year DiCaprio will win Best Actor. He has consistently put out great performances, but I never feel like he was robbed, because I usually liked the actual winner better. If DiCaprio doesn’t win in it, I would only want it to go to Fassbender, who also blew me away with his performance this year. Redmayne was good and transformative, but I don’t think he needs the award two years in a row. Damon was the perfect person for The Martian, but a lot of it was him just playing himself. I am sure Cranston is just fine in Trumbo, but definitely either DiCaprio or Fassbender.

Actress

1) Brie Larson in “Room
2) Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn
3) Cate Blanchett in “Carol
4) Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy

Didn’t See – Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years” (yet!)

Yes, Blanchett acted great in Carol, but I thought she was upstaged by Mara and Blanchett won it a couple years ago in an arguably better role. Lawrence was the best part of Joy and definitely was acting, but overall I don’t think the film deserved any nominations. Ronan was my favorite performance of the year when I saw it, incredibly subtle and she carried a very simple movie into something strangely amazing. But then I saw Room, where Larson acted her ass off. Room has an incredible plot and her character has a lot of demons, so she shows off all of her skills in this film. A great follow up after her film in Short Term 12.

Oscars

Picture

1) The Big Short
2) Room
3) The Revenant
4) Spotlight
5) The Martian
6) Mad Max: Fury Road
7) Brooklyn
8) Bridge of Spies

This is actually my most boring of listing categories. In reality, Spotlight is most likely going to win Best Picture with the smallest extra chance given to The Revenant due to the shear amount of nominations it has. And I also recently already made my Best Movies of 2015 List. Sure enough, 6 of these movies made the list, so I just put them in order of my favorites! Simple simple. Brooklyn and Bridge of Spies did not make my list though. Brooklyn I did like, Bridge of Spies was average. But hey, I guess they have to give some distinction to Spielberg. For reasons.

That’s all I have today folks! I will make sure to not make a real Oscar Predictions post, but instead focus my next few months on watching all of the films I haven’t yet seen. After that I will return to watching the worst of the worst for your entertainment.

Worst Films of 2015

Welcome back to another roaring year of shit film! I pride myself in looking for the worst of the worst, not just the best films. Someone has to watch the terrible movies, and it might as well be me.

This list is only the worst films I was able to see this year. There were a lot of straight to DVD junk out there that most people don’t get a chance to see, and unfortunately, I am like most people in that regard. Now. Only so much time in the day. But I feel confident this is a good spectrum of terrible films across genre and release strategies that most people could agree with.

Again, I couldn’t see all the bad stuff. I didn’t get to see Entertainment, Love the Coopers, Momentum, Child 44. I also didn’t see Terminator Genisys, which should come as a surprise. It was a big summer release. Yeah, well, after Terminator Salvation and seeing the trailer, I refuse to watch it. I won’t give it the satisfaction of wasting my time. If I had, it might have made the list, but I literally just will never see it. Unless I am forced to for reasons. Moving on!


(DIS)HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Minions. Self/Less. Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Hot Pursuit. These films barely missed the cut. Now on to the real shit!


15) Boulevard

Choosing the last spot on this list was one of the hardest. There were so many films I rated 1 out of 4 that could have filled it, with literally every one of the Honorable Mentions being prime candidates.

But I picked Boulevard, the last film starring Robin Williams? Why? Was it truly that boring and slow as my review described? Eh, maybe. Maybe I had a bad day. I would say in reality could be closer to an average film.

I put it here for a personal reason. After my review, I had a comment from someone who claimed to be the writer. Then, later, I received an email from him again. The writer of Boulevard was angry at me for not loving his movie, even though it is just some guy who had like five writing credits since 1995, with most of them being just TV movies.

Yes, I am only 10 years old.

Boulevard


14) Jem and the Holograms

Jem and the Holograms was a film I made sure I could watch with its theatrical release, just in case it was bad enough for this list. I expected it to be one of the worst films of the year. The trailers were bad and seemed to shit all over the source material.

But it didn’t end up being that bad. This is the last film on the list that I gave a 1 out of 4 too, everything 13 and on is a pure zero film. Jem was terrible, it truly was, however one scene kept me from kicking it in the shins.

It fucking made me cry. Out of nowhere, because it switched genres every 15 minutes, there was a 5-7 minute scene that was so incredibly sad thanks to my new dad hormones, I just had tears rolling down my cheeks. Damn you surprise tear jerkers. You ruined the films potential of being truly worse than what it was.

Jem and the Holograms


13) Seventh Son

Seventh Son is the type of movie you watch, notably get annoyed at its existence, and then forget about it. I could not remember that this came out this year or that I even watched it. Thankfully the tag feature on my site lets me see all my 0 out of 4s, and there it was, just lying there, looking like a scared little bird.

Then the pictures of my review made the painful memories return. Not important ones like the plot, or characters, or anything. Just the memories about dislike and hatred.

What is this movie about? I don’t know, shitty fantasy. And shitty fantasy needs to be acknowledged as it attempts to ruin the best genre out there.

Seventh Son


12) Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

Readers will see this entry and go one of two ways:

The dumbasses out there will think that the film is intentionally bad and shouldn’t be on the list for this reason. Fuck that. Bad things need to be acknowledged, and shit for shit’s sake is never a good time. If someone has to be drunk, with a group of friends, only half watching the film and half making jokes, then the film isn’t actually good. Drinking is good.

The other side will wonder how in the hell there are 11 worse films than a third Sharknado film. Yeah, I am surprised too.

Sharknado 3 was bad, in every way, from the acting to the CGI to the plot. Yet I only slightly hated it. All the other films from this point on are just literally movies I hated worse. Could be a variety of reasons to hate them, but number one is that they all would have cost me time or money to see them. Either from a movie ticket or rental or driving to a theater.

If someone could say anything good about Sharknado 3, it would be that at least it is on free and on TV. No other commitment needed outside of the time it takes to see it. After you are done, you can immediately go back to napping. That’s a good thing!

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!


11) Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

It is important to note out the individual achievements of certain films. And sure, achievements can be negative. In a year with many bad horrors that I liked more than other people, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension is the worst. The worst horror movie of the year! Congrats!

It is the worst film in the 6 movie franchise. It switches to 3D for absolutely no reason and decides to get rid of any of the subtle scares that made the franchise great.

It does something else even worse. It still doesn’t fully explain the mythos of the franchise, despite that it is the last paranormal activity film. Allegedly. And that is why this film is only at number 11. At least it signifies that no more of these foul film creations can be made.

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimesion


10) Taken 3

Speaking of franchise ending films, fuck Taken 3 and everything it stands for.

I think I can speak for everyone when I say that Taken was great or enjoyable, and Taken 2 was shit. Liam Neeson said he wouldn’t do another film, but then something like $10 million dollars spoke, so of course he did a third one.

They changed the formula, and they made the main character a bigger asshole than ever before. Now he is harming American citizens and American police officers. Everything bad that happens in this film can just be ignored if he doesn’t run when he is set up for the crime. The plot is beyond convoluted with an ending that will leave you scratching your head. But again, this should mean the franchise is at least finally dead.

Taken 3


9) The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door has almost everything working against it. Jennifer Lopez is the star and she has arguably never been in any good film ever. Remember Parker? Of course not. But you probably remember Gigli.

But it is also a trashy sex thriller. Something that might make you hot and bothered, but then someone ends up dead. A strange genre, for sure. I guess murderers are sexy. Those two genres mashed together give one of the worst hybrid genres. Not as bad as Western Sci-Fi, but close.

Either way, at 90 minutes it is still far too long. It is the type of film that should maybe just be the plot of a music video, which would be much more suited to Ms. Lopez’s acting style. So maybe she just got confused?

The Boy Next Door


8) Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Some people rightfully assumed that Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 would be one of the worst movies of the year. After all, Paul Blart: Mall Cop wasn’t good and so a sequel shouldn’t be good either. But you know who didn’t think that would be the case? Red Robin (Yummmmmmmm!). I remember having the ability to buy a $25 gift card from them and getting a free ticket to see the movie! So I did.

The good news is I got to eat Red Robin. The bad news is I had to see this terrible sequel.

The problem with the movie isn’t that it is offensive, it is just safe and family friendly in the worst way. Simplistic jokes and slap stick. Boring plot lines and boring characters. Sure, they were all eccentric, but that doesn’t make them good.

And all of this is a shame. All of these terrible movies Kevin James is in. And now people won’t give him work because of it. Because he is a funny guy, a funny stand up, and was good on TV. He just can’t get a movie with a good script. Damn shame.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2


7) Aloha

According to movies I have seen, and not any actual cultural research, Aloha means hello and goodbye, which shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. It is clear that the film version of Aloha just means goodbye and to never return, ever.

Ignoring all the casting decisions, Aloha is a romantic comedy drama with absolutely no soul. Zero soul, zero passion, zero effort. Bradley Cooper‘s character is like a zombie throughout the film.

It has only one good scene. Just one! And that involves two characters speaking to each other through a lack of words.

Everything else is cookie cutter simple bull shit. Avoid at all cost. (And yes, this is the year’s worst RomCom).

Aloha


6) Mortdecai

And then there is Mortdecai. Guess what? Another January film on this list. This is the third one from the month, but don’t worry, in the top 5 there is still one more hiding. If anything, January is at least consistent with its terrible films. By having them all so early, you can wait to see them all on DVD before Summer and they can still make your worst list!

I am annoyed at Mortdecai, because usually in January there is at least one film that I can enjoy a lot more than the others. It might still get bad reviews but I thought it was funny. I thought Mortdecai would be this movie for me, and it let me down just like Ride Along.

I hope this movie served as a wake up call for Johnny Depp. He is a good actor but hasn’t given a crap about most of his roles for years, and it shows. He is just earning that fat cash and taking his dogs all around the world.

Mortdecai, although somewhat unique in its premise, is not funny and not interesting. And I am a reviewer who appreciates facial hair in film. It is a new low point for Depp’s career, and not even Black Mass could save him from a disappointing 2015.

Mortdecai


5) The Transporter Refueled

Now we are at the bottom five, the worst of the worst. The things you couldn’t pay me to watch. (Editor’s Note: I will watch all of these movies again for money.) And I can’t wait to badmouth The Transporter Refueled some more.

This is a sequel no one asked for. This is a reboot no one asked for. Hell, the last two Transporter movies were things no one asked for. But my Arch-Rival Luc Besson doesn’t give a fuck and he keeps putting out films.

Outside of one, maybe two scenes, there is nothing special about this film. Those one to two scenes show a clever action fight, and then they move on back to a slightly confusing, definitely convoluted plot. Twists and turns can be good, but if all of them feel pointless, the viewer will feel jerked along. Like they are in a car chase. Which I guess this film as in it as well.

The lead is no Jason Statham and he has zero charisma or screen presence. It’s like watching a role of salami wear a suit. Although I’d argue that movie might at least be entertaining due to some comedy.

The Transporter Refueled


4) Fantastic Four

The placing of Fantastic Four on this list felt hard, but for some reason, fourth worse just felt right.

There are a lot of worsts going for Fantastic Four. It is the worst action movie of the year and worst super hero movie since…I don’t even know. The Wolverine was bad, but not this bad.

It was boring enough to cause me to personally snooze in the film for up to five minutes. I am lucky that I am a loud snorer so I could be woken up before I missed the truly dreadful parts when they went into the different dimension. All I missed was a science montage, which I am sure would have only pissed me off further. It is strange that they can make a movie about the Fantastic Four and seem to actively ignore every part of the team outside of Mr. Fantastic.

The relationship between The Thing and Reed was the most forced bromance of 2015. The team does practically no fighting, turning it into almost a drama. Two fight scenes, where one of them is straight up Dr. Doom killing a ton of people like a horror film, and the other a CGI explosion of boring tropes that only can make people think of the first Fantastic Four film finale with Dr. Doom.

Apparently this movie had directoral issues and lots of reshoots, which is a shame, because his previous film Chronicle was amazing. This version of the super hero team will go down as the worse version, yes worse than the 1994 film, which is most surprising given the actual talent involved with the film.

Fantastic Four


3) United Passions

The only reason I even heard about the movie United Passions is due to John Oliver and its hilariously bad opening weekend numbers. It opened in 10 theaters in 10 different cities across the US and it couldn’t even make $1,000 over the first three days. No one wanted to see a movie about the founding and history of FIFA.

Why? Well, one, nobody in America cares about FIFA for the most part. So that was already going against it. But two, FIFA was involved in huge scandals about corruption from all its top ranking members. So the timing of a film that asked the viewer to ignore the current reality and instead focus on the past, and show that the organization is one that stands for honor and sportsmanship is a really hard thing to sell.

I will be honest, within 10 minutes of watching the movie I knew it was a dud. It was like watching a movie about a man, directed and written by that same man. That man decided the set and other actors, but of course the writer/director would star as himself in the lead role. It smelled and oozed of self congratulatory work. It wanted us to know all the efforts it went to make this crazy organization. It mentioned some troubled times, but it showed how it rose above them! How did it rise above them?

With Sepp Blatter, played by Tim Roth, who got all the corruption out of FIFA! And is now, you know, most of the cause for their current corruption.

No one should want to watch this dramatically slow and uncomfortable circle jerk. But a documentary about FIFA, showing their corruption, and including this terrifying movie would probably be a great watch. And of course, this is the worst Drama/Historical/Biographical film of the year. Hooray!

United Passions


2) Strange Magic

“What the fuck is Strange Magic?” you might be asking yourself. You mean you didn’t know that an animated musical epic came out in January on the same day as Mortdecai? It opened in over 3,000 theaters and finished its opening weekend ranked #7. That is two spots over Mortdecai!

Well, Strange Magic is made by no other than George Lucas himself! Disney had to release this film, presumably as part of them buying LucasArts. If they didn’t, they might not have gotten Star Wars! Apparently this film was in production for about 15 years. Why? George wanted to do something for his daughters. He said, quite sexist-ly, that Star Wars was for 12 year old boys, so he needed a new Star Wars for 12 year old girls.

Gender stereotypes aplenty, because Lucas made an animated, jukebox musical, about fairies fighting in a forest over good an evil. And as for his song theme? There was no theme at all. It was literally just random music he liked, or something.

I am a big jukebox musical apologist, but these song choices are a downright travesty. The animation isn’t good looking, the plot is terrible, and of course the reasoning behind it is almost horrifying. Disney really just wanted to bury this film and it shows. Strange Magic is almost the worst film of the year, while also being the worst animated film, musical, and fantasy.

Strange Magic


1) Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser

And there you have it. The worst film of 2015. Well, did you guess it correctly? Did you expect it? Did you even know it existed?

A lot of people didn’t watch Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser, and that is to be expected. After all, it never went to theaters but it also wasn’t straight to DVD. It started out streaming online. No, not on Amazon Prime, not Netflix, not even Yahoo. It was streaming originally on Crackle and only on Crackle.

Crackle is a Sony streaming service, and most people are pretty confused why The Interview wasn’t put there after all the hassle. You can go to their website without logging in and watch some movies! You just have to watch them with ads.

And with that, I had to watch the worst movie of the year. With fucking ad breaks in it, giving the movie some sort of monetary value, making me feel bad. Journalistic integrity made me watch the whole movie, so I couldn’t just wait for a DVD release, people needed to know. And I am part of the reason David Spade got paid for this.

Everything about this movie is an attack against good quality movies. It recycles internet jokes on the screen. And references to internet jokes are ALWAYS late and dated, but it feels even more so with this film. It went out of its way to make a Forrest Gump parody, 20 years after the fact. Almost every scene goes on too long, that way all potentially good jokes can be driven into the ground leaving you in this awkward valley that will never end.

In the end, I bet this movie made a profit too. Because life isn’t fair some times. And if that happened to be true, there could be a third Joe Dirt, potentially killing cinema as we know it. The worst film of the year, the worst comedy of the year.

Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser

Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know (but I probably saw it and reviewed it on this very site! Check out my thoughts).

And as always, I accept hate mail via the post office, email, or tweets.

Best Films of 2015

This year, I am doing the best first! Mostly because, miraculously, I have seen everything that might make this list already, decently early. My worst list might be a few weeks, as I have been avoiding some of the worse films for my own sanity.

I had a lot of movies that I really liked this year too. And unlike the worst list, everything on this list I gave a 4 out of 4 too. This is the cream of the crop. As a side note, here are some critically acclaimed movies I did not see yet: Victoria, Son of Saul, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, and The Duke of Burgundy.

Honorable Mentions::The Hateful Eight, Love & Mercy, Everest, It Follows

15) Southpaw

“What is this? This is Southpaw, not Creed! How dare you!” First of all, you have no idea if Creed is going to show up (it isn’t) and second, yeah, I think Southpaw is the better movie.

I should reiterate that since my baby girl was born, my emotions have been all over the place. And so when bad things happen to families with young girls? They can get to me. If there is a long death scene with crying and screaming, I will be right there with it, bawling my eyes out.

To go with it, Jake Gyllenhaal is a great actor and he really gives it his all in this film. The fight scenes are exciting, the drama is tense, and I would say it is definitely the best boxing movie of 2015. Bring it on, haters.

Southpaw

14) Chi-Raq

Speaking of haters, boy golly, Spike Lee sure has a lot of them. I mean, some people have valid reasons. He has done stupid things in the past and has strong opinions based on movies that he may not have ever seen. But just because he may be an opinionated asshole does not mean that he cannot make good films.

Fuck. Everyone knows Lee can make good films. Outside of the recent Oldboy remake, he has had a pretty dang good track record as a director. Chi-Raq is not an exception and is one of the more unique and entertaining films of they year. I love Greek plays, so the idea of doing a modern version of an already scandalous and potentially offensive play is ballsy. Turning most of the films dialogue into poetic rhymes? Ballsy. Making a movie about solving gang violence with sex? Very very ballsy.

Lee has balls. And his balls paid off with Chi-Raq.

Chi-Raq

13) Infinitely Polar Bear

Good news Mark Ruffalo fans! Infinitely Polar Bear is not the only movie on this list with Ruffalo. I will say there is only one more with his cheesy face and he acts the most eccentric in this film.

To me, this movie was about better understanding bipolar disorder, and to watch Ruffalo act his ass off. He was all over the place, but it worked for the film and it was touching and warm. It is one of the first times in a few years where Zoe Saldana didn’t detract from the plot, but actually helped! Given that two of the main stars are teenage and pre-teen girls, the film is able to keep you on the edge of your seat as almost every character has the potentially to suddenly not act as you would expect. Emotions are all over the place and the best part is that it just makes sense.

And fuck, it probably has the best title on this list at least.

Infinitely Polar Bear

12) Mad Max: Fury Road

Let it be known, if I kept to a standard top ten list, Mad Max: Fury Road would have not made it on this list. That sounds like I am reluctant to praise the film, even though I did enjoy it. It is just a film that has been circle jerked on the internet to death, so it can get a tad annoying.

Fury Road is good. The action is intense and barely stops. Tom Hardy gives one of his many amazing acting performances of the year. Charlize Theron does a good job as well.

Top notch visuals and stunts really drive home the insanity of the universe George Miller created.

Mad Max: Fury Road

11) Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton ends up with the status of being the best musical Biopic of the year. Sorry Love & Mercy, but you were still close.

I think part of the reason I enjoyed this film so much is that I actually learned a lot through it. I had heard some of the songs and band members before, but I didn’t know how they got started or how they got famous outside of the group. I didn’t know about all the arguments or how other famous rappers came into the picture. It was probably the best way a young white person could ever remotely begin to understand any of it.

And you know what else? It almost made me cry. It almost made me cry three times. Which is technically a stark difference to the next film.

Straight Outta Compton

10)Inside Out

Oh Inside Out, how much I love you.

When I saw this in theaters, I cried three whole times. And one of those three times was during the animated short Lava (which won’t be nominated for any awards, what the hell?!). Given its subject matter of emotions, it is so wonder that the film can make people feel so emotional. It appeals to kids and adults, with old movie references and simple slapstick humor. Hell, even one part gets insanely psychological, but the kids would just write the scene off as weird and not miss a beat.

It is important to note that Inside Out is my only animated film on the list, so it is the obvious pick from me to win Best Animated Film. I think it is no contest. Maybe Shaun the Sheep could be an extreme dark horse.

Inside Out

9) Sicario

Oh Sicario, I feel bad for you Sicario.

Sicario is twisted and beautiful. It is well acted and emotion inducing. It is realistic and sad. It is scary and thrilling. It is so much and more. Well, not a comedy.

After watching Sicario, I knew I had seen something special. I knew it would be nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actor for Bencio Del Toro. But now, suddenly, there is no award love at all. At the same time, it isn’t even that far down my list.

This was a hard list to compile, and like other films, I found myself surprised at how “low” certain films ranked, this being one of them. But I loved a lot of movies this year, and Sicario may end up being forgotten like the majority of films this year. So sad, but at least it is the highest thriller on my list this year. It is something!

Sicario

8) Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

I first saw Me and Earl and the Dying Girl back in April and I loved the piss out of it. At that point it was my favorite film of the year and it stayed there for months. Like, literally until September when more good movies started coming out.

And yeah, sure, it fell a few spots, but it is still on the list and still in the top ten.

This movie is about quirky people who love movies and full of awkward conversations between teenagers. Your basic indie bread and butter. But it is also funny, well acted, and a bit unexpected. Did I cry? I just might have. That was a long time ago. But it is the type of movie I want to own and put with my other weird films to show how cool and unique I am.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

7) The Last Five Years

The addition of The Last Five Years on the list should end up being my most shocking. I don’t know if anyone put this film on their top of the year list, let alone do I know how many reviewers actually saw it. It was released limited on Valentine’s Day with an immediate VOD, and then out to buy only a month or two later. I remember the day it came out the Blu-Ray was only $7, which was a steal! It clearly just was ignored by most of the population.

And 2015 was a terrible year for musicals, but the only two shining stars both featured Anna Kendrick. The other being a sequel, not as good as the first.

I don’t even know where to start with The Last Five Years. It only has really two characters and it is told out of chronological order. The female POV is backwards, the male is forwards. The relationship jumps back and forth from bad to good and you know it won’t end well thanks to the very first song. The music is haunting and not pop musical shit. Choruses exist, but they are rare and change up. Many of the notes get belted and are just hard to sing along with, showing dedication to the words chosen.

After I watched it on my computer, I immediately had to re listen to the whole soundtrack, just to go through the emotions again. This is obviously the only musical on the list this year, and I hope 2016 also has some surprises in store.

The Last Five Years

6) The Martian

Science, science, science!

Let it be known that I feel really bad placing The Martian at only number 6 on this list, given how happy and excited it made me feel. Hell, I read the book right after watching the movie. That is how much I liked this film. Then I did that thing where I remembered I technically love all the films on this list, and that 6th is still pretty damn good. And I couldn’t figure out what films to pull back from the top five. Reality sucks.

But thankfully reality has Matt Damon in it to make everything feel that much better. The Martian is the best pro-science, pro-NASA thing to ever exist since the actual moon landing. Yes, it is a film, but it is a film a lot of people had seen and it is pretty accurate on the science front.

And it is entertaining yeah. It is funny, and scary at points. And they made a Lord of the Rings reference. That is automatically cool points, right?

The Martian

5) Spotlight

I told you Ruffalo fans he’d be back. I hope you weren’t assuming it was Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Spotlight is the front runner to win Best Picture for the Oscars and a slew of other awards. And you know what? It totally deserves all of its praise.

Spotlight isn’t about one person giving the acting performance of a lifetime, it is a group of people coming together to give a real performance about real events. It is informative and lets you realize how hard investigative journalism can be. It shows how every cog is important in the machine. No one will be nominated for anything outside of supporting roles, because not even Michael Keaton is the “true” star. Sure he is the easiest to put in that position, but it definitely feels like something more than one individual.

Spotlight is a wonderful film that decided to get details right and tell the truth. Sure, this was all 14 years ago, but like most scandals, the people really only heard the headlines and not the details and specifics. I won’t be mad if Spotlight wins Best Picture, I just personally found four movies this year to be a bit better.

Spotlight

4) Steve Jobs

Sure, after reading my Spotlight blurb, you might find this and the next few placements a bit strange. After all, unlike Spotlight, they are most known for incredible acting performances. But I’d argue they have more than that, they have the whole package as well. This is true for all movies on the list as I gave them all perfect scores.

But let’s talk about Steve Jobs. No not fucking Jobs, that movie was technically bad despite above average acting from Ashton Kutcher. Steve Jobs features one of two incredible acting performances from Michael Fassbender this year, with the other being Macbeth. Unlike Macbeth, you can actually understand this whole movie and the dialogue is the strong point, not the weak point.

Some people may not like Aaron Sorkin‘s writing style of quick rapid fire banter, but those people just have to accept being wrong. The film is like an orchaestra and a war zone of words, displaying in full glory the asshole that Jobs was to his friends, family, and coworkers. And even though every aspect of this film and almost every camera angle is directed at Fassbender, the supporting actors also give top notch performances, especially Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, and Jeff Daniels.

This biography, that includes fictionalized events, gets to the hearts of the real people involved and truly showcases human emotion.

Steve Jobs

3) The Revenant

The Revenant is a perfect storm of parts coming together to make a masterpiece.

First of all, the director is of course Alejandro González Iñárritu, who recently won Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture for Birdman. We have Leonardo DiCaprio, always the bridesmaid and never the bride when it comes to winning Best Actor. There is Tom Hardy, who had the acting year of his life, as you saw above and didn’t see above with Legend. And last but not least, Emmanuel Lubezki, who won Best Cinematography the last two years with Birdman and Gravity.

Yeah, they were going for something great. And thankfully, this 2.5 hour epic is something worthy and marvelous, especially on the big screen. Leo does a big part in this and I fully believe he deserves the Best Actor award this year. If not him, then look above at Fassbender. They are the only acceptable winners.

I hope Tom Hardy also gets some love as a support, but that category is stacked this year.

The Revenant is beautiful and a bit awe inspiring at times. It is truly a film created by people who take heart in their craft with every bit and piece working to perfection. It is a movie I worry won’t feel truly as amazing on my TV at home, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still one of the best of the year.

The Revenant

2) Room

Room is a hard film to describe and praise, but given its surprise position on this list, I guess I have to try.

I originally avoided Room just thinking it’d be some family romance movie from the cover alone. Of course I was wrong. It is a serious drama/thriller. In fact, the subject matter is so strong that those with especially weak hearts and given today’s culture, I am surprised that it wasn’t splattered with trigger warnings before the first scene.

Room features two very strong acting performances, not just from Brie Larson who is totally going to win Best Actress, but also from Jacob Tremblay, who plays the kid.

And since the movie is basically from his point of view, it allows the movie to remain vague on many of the harsher elements. This allows the viewer to fill in the blanks and jump to their own conclusions, without being spoon fed the answers. It assumes the audience is paying attention, which not a lot of films care about.

Room is a hard movie to sit through, but one that is worth it for all the great elements around it.

Room

1) The Big Short

I saw a trailer for The Big Short before Steve Jobs and didn’t care that much. But alas, people told me that it had Oscar buzz and it was supposed to be a big deal, so I reluctantly bought a matinee ticket two days before Christmas to check it out. And I was blown away.

Much like Spotlight, this movie involves a lot of actors working together to do some of their best work. The film’s biggest leads are Christian Bale and Steve Carell, and although they don’t meet in the film at all, their prescense is felt throughout it, especially Carell. It is well acted and based on a true story.

I can’t attest to how true the movie version is, but they call themselves out when they do something bullshitty, so it seems truthful. More importantly though is it takes a real, very confusing event that affected the entire world and did a pretty damn good job trying to explain it. It made me angry and pissed off at banks and was way more effective than what a documentary could have done. The Big Short makes me want to go out and change the world, so it left me with some of the strongest emotions of any film this year.

It might not be the big winner, but this year it is the big winner of my heart and mind.

The Big Short

And there you have it! The best of the best. Did I leave off anything you think should have been up here? Do you disagree with anything at all? Am I the stupidest person ever? Be sure to let me know and yell obscenities while doing it!

Few fun notes:

No super hero films made the list this year.
Only one animated film, last year had two.
Still only one musical like last year.
No straight horrors made the list this year, although there were a few thrillers.
And most likely my top movie this year will not win Best Picture like the last three before it.


2015: A Box Office Year To Remember

It’s safe to say 2015 has been one of the craziest years ever in terms of box office history. If you haven’t been paying attention to movies at all this year, first of all, why weren’t you on this website and secondly, why are you on this website now?

You may have heard a record or two thrown around in your every day life but in reality there are more than a handful new records for both the best and the worst films ever.

And because the best stories are rags to riches, I think it is appropriately if we start are way on the bottom and work our way up.

Jem
Here’s looking at you, kids.

The Worst of 2015

Not making a lot of money when you only open on a dozen or less screens is expected. Unless you are The Grand Budapest Hotel, you will only get several thousand bucks. What is important in tracking failure is for the movies that don’t make a lot but open a wide release in the US. Usually the metric that people care about is at least 2,000 theaters across America. You probably never heard of Oogieloves In The BIG Balloon Adventure or Delgo, but they are the number 1 and 2 worst openings ever for films that have reached 2,000 theaters and have been there for a few years now. Those are both animated films.

Instead, this year we received We Are Your Friends, a live action movie with Zac Efron about electronic dance music. It opened to a measly $1.76 million. It was the worst live action opening of all time (that wasn’t a re-release). Unfortunately, it couldn’t even hold on to its fame for that long. Just two months later, two more films on the same weekend decided to suck harder. Rock The Kasbah had only $1.47 million and Jem and the Holograms $1.38 million. Before this year, the live action winner was P2, a shitty thriller from 2007 and even that made at least $2 million.

If we change our standards, November saw the worst live action film opening of all time with at least 2,500 theaters. Victor Frankenstein, starring Professor X and Harry Potter, managed to win that title.

Just for getting the whole picture, there are two other great movie mentions. United Passions is the story of FIFA, starring Tim Roth, and it came out right when FIFA was being bombarded with corruption claims. It opened to only 10 theaters and made $607 its opening weekend. Even better, it made only $9 in Phoenix, meaning in the first three days only one person decided to burn his money and waste his time.

More recently, a small time thriller named Momentum opened up to also 10 screens in the UK. It’s opening weekend take translated to about $69. Ouch. And that one had Morgan Freeman in it.

JW
I heard she was competing against the bear in The Revenant for Best CGI Female.

The Scrooge McDucks of 2015

Overall, not as many films can be represented in the best money makers, because it is hard to get people out of their couches and into the theaters. With VOD and high food prices and shootings, people would rather stay in their homes. And yet, here we are, studios making bank.

The biggest winner of 2015 (so far) is Jurassic World. This film is part of a franchise that, realistically, only had one great film with Jurassic Park and two average sequels. But nostalgia and a return to the park at the right time in the summer was the key to its success. The most important record it broke was the Biggest Opening Weekend Domestic, with $208.8 million, just a hair over The Avengers at $207 million. It also won Biggest Opening Weekend Internationally and of course, Biggest Worldwide Opening Weekend. .

Jurassic World finished third all time in the domestic box office, only about $6 million behind Titanic. It was the fastest to reach basically every milestone you can think of monetarily.

But a new challenger approaches. Most people think that Star Wars: The Force Awakens, coming out this Friday will break all of the records Jurassic World crushed and more. There are even official odds for record breaking potential and plot points, because who doesn’t like to gamble. I know I do. I made a bet with someone that it wouldn’t beat the 3 day weekend Jurassic World domestic record. I am probably going to lose $20 now. Mostly because it has broken pre-sale records and other ridiculous things.

The hype is running this film to the ground. No matter how good it actually is, I can’t imagine anyone speaking bad about it for months. It is like they forgot The Phantom Menace hype and disappointment. Some people just want to set themselves up for sadness, I guess.

SW
And the CGI for John Candy is absolutely stunning here.

The Big Studio In Town

Now, Jurassic World isn’t the only film to make money this year. A handful of films broke a billion worldwide, and a lot of films became surprise successes with relatively low budgets.

The biggest winner overall, hands down, is Universal Studios. Jurassic World, Furious 7, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Minions all broke $1 billion worldwide, and outside of Avengers, all three of them come from Universal.

It was the fastest studio to ever reach $1 billion (domestic) in only 165 days. As of August, it had over $5.5 billion from its films, making it the best year a studio has ever had. I don’t know its official end of year numbers now, but basically every movie they released was a box office smash. They had the best of luck with Straight Outta Compton, Pitch Perfect 2, Fifty Shades of Grey and Everest.

Their only loose end was Jem and the Holograms. Yes, the biggest dud of the year. But with profits like that, they wouldn’t even bat an eye at the film.

PP2
And Pitch Perfect 2 wasn’t even the best Anna Kendrick musical this year!

Takeaway Notes

The main purpose for this article is to highlight how extreme the box office numbers were from this year. With overall theater attendance going down, it is refreshing to see such high box office totals for a wide variety of films. People might be going to the movies just as often as before, but they are also refusing to see anything that may be bad or mediocre. That is what Redbox and Netflix are for after all.

2016 is looking to be the first year mostly controlled by super hero films, with roughly 1,000 being released and no more Hunger Games. I can’t imagining anything being as high or low as this year has turned out to be.

Thanks for reading!