Foreward: I did not get to see all the movies I wanted to this year, or that many; however, there were several movies that garnered my attention and blew me away. P.S. top 5 “meh” movies will soon follow.
- The Nice Guys – If Shane Black were to spend the rest of his career writing and directing increments and spin-offs of Lethal Weapon, it would not be the worst thing in the world. The mismatched duo of Gosling and Crowe, with the former’s slapstick antics and the latter’s swinging fists, the cacophony is on point. The execution of the fight sequences and shoot outs is reminiscent of a past time in action movies, more specifically when Russell Crowe fought Keith David; side note, this was the year I finally saw They Live, which added further meta-context for the Crowe/David fight. Alas, the ending up being a bit more, less than subtle with its message; the quirky hijinks involving the environment tickled me in the beginning, but intertwining it with the plot felt a bit forced and out of pace. Regardless, Shane Black knows his craft masterfully and can weave action, allure, and action movie tropes in a way that reminds me of Tarantino. And what better city to set a neo-noir, gumshoe tale than the overcrowded, smog ridden city of seventies Los Angeles as the aesthetics and tone of the setting enhances the narrative experience.
- Green Room –Green Room is one of those low-budget survival thriller movies where the sum of its parts align to a nigh perfect degree. The focus on claustrophobia and uncertainty around every corner brings the audience forward and right back down on their seats. An out of town band going to a remote location in the mountains, playing to a crowd of, to put it lightly, rowdy customers; witnesses a horrific event and are left in a compromising scenario. The main attraction, the burning question of this movie is: how are they getting out of this one?! The sheer will power to get from place to place when there is a gang the size of a small militia outside and in; all the while being completely cornered is feat in of itself. Patrick Stewart and Anton Yelchin provide a satisfying counterpoint to each other as predator and prey, pushing each other’s efforts to the brink; creating a shift that sways in both their favors. You cannot go wrong giving this movie a watch if you missed it in theaters.
- Deadpool – What if I were to tell you, that the surprise hit of February, as well as 2016 was an insane superhero movie where are our main protagonist wore a mask, spat fourth-wall breaking one-liners, was nearly invincible, was played by a Canadian, and added with a twist of insanity? But enough about Jim Carrey in The Mask! Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool was a savior performance that purges any wrongdoings that were transgressed in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. He stepped back, and took the time to perfect his Deadpool schtick and show that given significant creative control he can add rejuvenation to the X-Men franchise. In return, this movie is by far 20th Century Fox’s best X-Men movie since First Class. The barrage of destruction brings an element of excitement and the meta-humor is so on point the line of parody is blurred. The plot is your average stand-alone mutant experimentation story, except that someone cranked Wade’s levels to eleven, leaving him in near constant state of insanity. The formula does stagnate in the villain department, and yet, this is specifically a Deadpool origin movie, most of the screen time is going to go towards his character development.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane – 10 Cloverfield Lane is a prime example of how to accomplish a soft reboot/alternate story within a shared universe. The shock of a cataclysmic event is still felt within Mscene later, she is brought to the main area in which the film spends ninety eight percent of the movie. If you thought Green Room was claustrophobic, it looks like a massive church compared to 10 Cloverfield Lane. John Goodman puts on a stellar performance as a survivalist who has his fair share of issues exacerbated by recent events. As time progresses, the amount of cringe and paranoia can be measured in yards as Goodman’s unhinged tendencies burst from the seams. Goodman clearly wants to relive happier times, and where Winstead stands on this, calculating issue is irrelevant. It is bad enough that an alien invasion looms around the corner, but when we as people are forced to exist in compromising positions becomes a necessary evil.
- Hail, Caesar! – May the Coen brothers continue to create their brand of philosophical, head-scratching comedy. The overall narrative led by Hollywood fixer, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), is layered within the stars he manages, as well as the reporters who come to him for any semblance of sensational leads. George Clooney, Scarlet Johansson, and Channing Tatum round out a cast with all sorts of zany characters and familiar faces. Each thread begins as a particular issue in which Brolin’s firm, subtle touch is required, and ends in unpredictable outcomes. A characteristic of the Coen brothers’ formula are the numerous side characters and their agendas that give the plot its winding turns. Leading to calamitous conclusions and a story that is not bookend finished, rather allowing us to fill in the blanks and explore further ideas and concepts rooted within the movies’ narrative. All in all, the Coen brothers film catalogue has more memorable and irreverent selections; Hail, Caesar! stupendously passes the bar and lengthens the stride of the brothers’ output of extraordinary movies.