My Top 5 Films of 2016
Given everything that went wrong this year, it gave me some hope that for this list, I had some hard decisions to make. These aren't by any means the best movies I've seen, more so the five I didn't review, but still found interesting and thus, warrant a look back and some discussion.
I was happy not only to see a Fox superhero film knock it out of the park, but to do so by bucking the trends of its contemporaries. Chock full of self-aware over the top visceral humor and violence, Deadpool has more lampshades than an IKEA. It's one of the best examples of an adaptation really understanding the appeal of the source material and translating it properly.
This film had every bit as much constructive social commentary baked into it as Zootopia, only it was more subtly baked in. In addition to presenting a compelling story beautifully, it avoids a lot of potentially detracting elements by not even acknowledging them. What helped a lot was the complete lack of any romantic sub-plot. There's not time for that when the world needs saving. Also, can Lin-Manuel Miranda score all the things?
3. Captain America: Civil War
I was a little worried when Joss Whedon stepped down from making Avengers films (and let's be frank, this is an Avengers film). Anyone familiar with his work knows he does a fantastic job establishing a large cast and the relationships therein, and this had the biggest roster of any superhero film to date. The Russo brothers, however, knocked it out of the park. It isn't quite as clever or nuanced as Winter Soldier (what is?), but it's still a blast.
This film was a powerful glimpse of experiences I have no way to relate to, but is so masterfully made that I can't not viscerally feel some of what the protagonist is going through. It also shows how important even the most threadbare support network can be when trapped in an environment that feels like it has no place for you.
1. The Handmaiden
Here's another film that on the surface, I should've had some difficulty relating to, but brings it home by bursting at the seams with film-making finesse. It has all the twists and turns of Gone Girl, but without seeming gleefully self-indulgent and presented much more beautifully and with better characterization. It's smart, sexy, immersive, and an instant classic. Catch it if you can.
Before I sign off, here's a lightning round of films I wanted to see, but missed out on for whatever reason.
1. Hardcore Henry: I'm all for mindless action romps, especially when they try something new to change the formula.
2. Finding Dory: Ellen DeGeneres is a national treasure. Nuff said.
3. The Nice Guys: I'm a huge fan of Shane Black and I feel a bit guilty for not supporting his latest endeavor, especially since it got such a warm critical reception. I am also starting to think Ryan Gosling has what I'll call the "Brad Pitt Effect"; being a gifted character actor stuck in a leading man's body.
Here's to next year.