by Michael Henley
– After the animated brilliance of “Zootopia,” “Kubo and the Two Strings” and “Moana,” I have to say that “Finding Dory” was pretty thin gruel. You let us down this year, Pixar.
– “Hail, Caesar” is a little gem that was largely dismissed but will be reappraised greatly in a few years.
– Between its fixation on mortality and sudden violence, its anticipation of a new rise of Neo-Nazism and the untimely death of its star, “Green Room” is in many ways the most on-topic film of 2016.
– “10 Cloverfield Lane” is a debut feature and it’s the second-best-directed genre studio picture of the year. I may be biased on this. I may also be right. (Also, John Goodman deserves an Oscar nom.)
– The first-best-directed genre movie of the year is “Arrival.” I know I’m right on this.
– The single best studio comedy of the year was “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” because it has dozens and dozens of great jokes, as opposed to the other studio comedies, which each had, like, five. Or zero.
– Anyone who doesn’t understand my love of “The Nice Guys” will be someone who never ever really truly gets me.
– “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” was so great I’m disappointed Marvel snapped that director up for a “Thor” movie. I want more quirky movies like “Wilderpeople.”
– “The Lobster” is a movie where I despised the narration so much it may have greatly influenced my opinion of the movie as a whole.
– “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” taught me two invaluable lessons. One: Johnny Depp ruins everything. Two: the only time I’ve ever liked an Eddie Redmayne performance was in “Jupiter Ascending.”
– No, I’m serious with that Eddie Redmayne thing.
– “Star Trek Beyond” is the best Star Trek movie since “Undiscovered Country.”
– I saw a lot of mediocre things this year but not many with zero redeeming qualities. Only one: “Independence Day: Resurgence,” which is one of the worst studio blockbusters I’ve seen in forever.
– “Blair Witch” was fan fiction. That last half hour is pretty scary, though.
– People calling the new “Jungle Book” a live-action movie never fails to make me chuckle.
– I think Gillian Jacobs might deserve an Oscar nomination for the last ten minutes of “Don’t Think Twice.”
– I was hypnotized and then ultimately let down by my first viewing of “The Neon Demon,” but it stayed with me and taught me how to like it, like great movies often do. Now I think it’s kind of amazing.
– If “A Bigger Splash” won’t convince you that Dakota Johnson is actually pretty great, I don’t know what to tell you.
– “Gods of Egypt” was so bad it almost changed gears into so-bad-it’s-awesome.
– I’ve cooled in my opinion of “Ghostbusters,” a little. But I still like it.
– “Sing Street” is one of my absolute favorite movies of the year. It’s from the director of “Once.” It’s also way better than “Once.”
– “Rogue One” is a deeply confused movie. The poster says “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” but the title is just “Rogue One.” Every other “Star Wars” movie has the words “Star Wars” in it. Why the change? Why’d I have the bowl, Bart? Why did I have the bowl?
– “Manchester by the Sea” is a really powerful movie but its sense of humor takes it down a notch or two for me. Sometimes the tone works perfectly and sometimes it strains too hard to make the jokes land.
– I should have liked “Love and Friendship” but it left me colder than a very cold thing.
– “The Shallows” is sixty minutes of expertly-tuned suspense/horror and then a finale that’s twenty minutes of schlock.
– “Nocturnal Animals”: No, really. I don’t get it.
– “Keanu” could have been great, but really wasn’t. Cute kitten, though.
– I actually really liked “The Light Between Oceans.”
– COMICS CORNER! “Captain America: Civil War” actually has many many great scenes outside of the airport fight (and the best moment of that fight is “Queens!”/”Brooklyn!”) “Doctor Strange” I liked but I’m starting to think Cumberbatch has limited range. “Deadpool” was okay; nothing more, nothing less. Biggest disappointment of the year was the mess of “X-Men: Apocalypse.” LEAAAAAARRRRRNING! “Suicide Squad,” upon further reflection, IS significantly significantly worse than “Batman v. Superman” (which wasn’t good).
– “Café Society” is Woody Allen’s best movie since “Midnight in Paris.” Or, in other words, it’s not aggressively awful like everything he’s made since “Paris,” but it’s not good, and it’s not in its wildest dreams as good as “Midnight in Paris.”
– “Everybody Wants Some” is exactly what I wanted from a Richard Linklater movie about white college baseball bros. It’s quiet and observational and warm and sweet and it is what it is. I think it’s quietly great. I love Linklater. Let Linklater be Linklater.
– “Sausage Party” is a humorous five-minute sketch stretched laboriously to ninety minutes. No, the ending didn’t work for me.
– “Warcraft” is maybe the best-possible-made version of a movie based on material as derivative and silly as “Warcraft.” That’s half-compliment and half-insult. Compli-sult.
– Without Tom Hanks’ performance in “Sully” there literally is no movie.
– “Lights Out” was not as good as it could have been. “Ouija: Origin of Evil” was way better than it should have been.
– “The BFG” was NBD to me. Pretty meh. And I can totally see why it flopped. Maybe Spielberg doesn’t really have this kind of movie in him anymore?
– We don’t need any more “Purge” or “Robert Langdon” movies. Possibly “Jason Bourne” belongs here as well if things keep going the way they do.
– Ten years ago a movie like “Money Monster” would have been a big studio summer production for adults, and also would have had more resources at its disposal, perhaps to possibly allow for a smarter and more incisive script.
– Did you know they made a Tarzan movie this year? And a remake of “Ben-Hur”? Did you know that they made a sequel to “Now You See Me” despite the fact that no one on the planet was asking for that? I know. Crazy.
– Movies I still really want to see from this year: “Lion,” “Twentieth Century Women,” “In a Valley of Violence,” “The Founder,” “Miss Sloane,” “The Edge of Seventeen,” “Elvis and Nixon,” “Snowden,” “The Birth of a Nation,” “Loving,” “Jackie,” “Hidden Figures.”