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Thursday, December 29, 2016

2016 Year in Review - Movies

All right.  2016 is almost over.  And I've already gotten two days out of the way in this special look back at a year that mostly everyone wants to forget.

Today's the day that we're going to be looking at the hits and misses of the film industry in 2016.  And as I look back on my entry for 2015, I can't help but laugh at the comment I made about 2016 bringing us promise and joy.  I can't say that I agree with that sentiment now that the year's almost over.  But one thing that I can say...2016 was actually a pretty decent year in the movie industry.

I mean, just have a look at the Top 10 films of the year as of December 28, 2016.  Surprisingly, most of these I have seen compared to a couple of years ago where 2014 was a year that I largely skipped over.

1               Captain America: Civil War - $1,153,304,495
2               Finding Dory - $1,027,771,569
3               Zootopia - $1,023,784,195
4            The Jungle Book - $966,550,600
5            The Secret Life of Pets - $875,415,307
6               Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - $873,260,194
7               Deadpool - $783,112,979
8               Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - $746,145,251
9               Suicide Squad - $745,600,054
10               Doctor Strange - $656,497,833

So, clearly Disney is the winner of the movie dual.  Five of the ten pictures in the Top 10 were Disney films, and four of those five make our top four.  And that's not even including the standout film "Moana" which was released just weeks ago either.  I'm sure it may make the 2017 list!

Now, 2016 could be considered the year of the family friendly pictures, as most of these films are suitable for children.  Well, except for maybe #7 and #9.  In fact, Ryan Reynolds who played the title role of Deadpool actually encouraged young kids NOT to see the film! 

But most of the top 10 are filled with solid choices.  "Zootopia" was a fun original movie by Disney, and it certainly had one of the coolest messages presented in the film, which is to not judge a book by its cover...or in this case, the fox by its tail.

It may have taken thirteen years for the "Finding Nemo" sequel to appear, but it certainly made an impact on the box office.  I think the creation of the new characters mixed with the old favourites was just what the film needed, and Ed O'Neill's portrayal of Hank the Octopus was a major scene stealer - even if the animation of said octopus caused more than many migraine headaches for the Pixar crew.

Superhero films were all the rage a few years ago, and it seems as though 2016 is not one to buck the trend.  The latest "Captain America" film was the dominant film at the box office, and many people went to the theatres to see if Batman or Superman would be victorious.

And, I can honestly say that the "Suicide Squad" movie explains why I saw so many people dressed up as Harley Quinn this past Halloween.  Though the movie did get mixed to negative reviews, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, and Will Smith certainly breathed life into their characters.

Now, we've still got a couple of months to go before the 89th Academy Awards celebrate the best of why don't we have a look at the 88th Academy Awards which aired at the end of February 2016 to see what the people voted as best of the bunch.  And more important, let's see if any of these films are ones that I've heard of!!!

BEST DIRECTOR: Alejandro G. Inarritu - The Revenant
BEST ACTOR: Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
BEST ACTRESS: Brie Larson - Room
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Mark Rylance - Bridge of Spies
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: "Writing's on the Wall" from "Spectre"

Okay, so before I continue on with the retrospect, we have to address the elephant in the room.  There was a controversy regarding the Academy Awards in 2016 with the fact that everyone nominated in the acting categories was Caucasian - sparking the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite.  Now, I personally believe that there were a few people that should not have been left out - I still think Will Smith deserved a nomination for his role in "Concussion" myself.  At the same time, I feel that all of the people who were nominated deserved to be up there - not because of what their ethnic background is, but because of the talent that they possess.  I'm going to give the Academy the benefit of the doubt this time around...I guess we'll see what happens when the nominees for the 2017 ceremony are announced on January 24.

Now, as far as the people who did win awards go, I'll say this.  I'll admit that I'm not Leonardo DiCaprio's biggest fan.  I hate to say it, but I was one of the ones who was sort of happy that his character drowned in "Titanic".  That said though, his work in "The Revenant" was phenomenal, and he deserved the Oscar that year.

One of my favourite movies from last year - "Inside Out" won the best animated feature, and I am thrilled about that.  It's not your typical Disney film.  It's really one of the more complex films that Disney-Pixar has produced, and the gamble really paid off. 

And congratulations to "Spotlight" for winning Best Picture!  I predicted last year that the film was going to be a huge success, and I have to say that I like it when my predictions came true.  Such a fantastic movie, and I definitely recommend that you go see it if you haven't yet.  And if you have, watch it again.

As for the others...well, I have NOT seen the films they were in...but congratulations to all of the winners.

The following people also won an award in 2016...but not the ones they were hoping for.  Here are the "winners" of the 36th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards - lovingly referred to as a "Razzie".

WORST PICTURE: (tie) Fifty Shades of Grey & Fantastic Four
WORST DIRECTOR: Josh Trank - Fantastic Four
WORST ACTOR: Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey)
WORST ACTRESS: Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey)
WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Eddie Redmayne (Jupiter Ascending)
WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Kaley Cuoco (The Wedding Ringer)

So, apparently Fifty Shades of Grey was more like Fifty Shades of Blecch.  Honestly, I'm not a fan of the book series, so I doubt that I was going to shake pom-poms and cheer the film on anyway.  But many filmgoers who were expecting to see the scandal and sizzle that the book offered play out on the silver screen left very disappointed.  Is it any wonder the film nearly had a clean sweep of Razzie Awards that year?  And yet it was still popular enough for another Fifty Shades film to be coming out in February 2017?!?  I just don't get it.  I'm not sure I even WANT to get it...

At least Sylvester Stallone redeemed himself this time around by starring in the decent film "Creed".  Prior to that he starred in one box office bomb after another.  "Bullet to the Head", "Escape Plan"...hell, do I even have to list all of the movies with the words "Rocky" or "Expendables" in the title?  The first ones of both series were enough!

But would you have a look at Eddie Redmayne?  He had the opposite reaction!  From winning an Academy Award in 2015 to winning a Golden Razzie in 2016!  The only thing worse would be having won a Razzie and an Oscar in the same year - and Sandra Bullock already made that a reality a few years ago!  But at least she was a good sport about it all.  I'm not sure how Mr. Redmayne felt about it!

Oh yeah...Fantastic Four?  Not so fantastic. 

Okay, so for other movie notes...

Although 2016 was the year of family friendly animation, that's not to say that all your choices were G-rated.  In the case of "Sausage Party", it was quite the opposite reaction!  In fact, one movie theatre got into a lot of trouble for showing a preview of this film before the feature presentation...of FINDING DORY!  Whoops!

It hasn't been a great time for live action adaptations of video games and turning them into movies.  We saw what happened with "Pixels" last year and the movie "Assassin's Creed" is reportedly tanking after just one week in the box office.  It makes me wonder if they're going to make a "Bioshock" movie, or perhaps "Minecraft: The Movie".

(Do people still PLAY Minecraft these days?)

At least some book adaptations made for great movies (unlike Fifty Shades of Grey).  If you haven't read "The Girl on the Train" yet, I'd say the movie version isn't a bad one.  Critics were mixed on whether the film was a masterpiece, but all were agreeable on one thing.  Emily Blunt was a gem.

If I had to make a prediction for movies that should see at least Oscar nominations this year, one of my picks would be "La La Land".  The musical - starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone - has already gotten rave reviews and several Golden Globe nominations.  And it's been a while since a musical has been nominated for an Academy Award, so I say give it a chance!

"Jackie" is another film that is certain to get some Oscar buzz as well, and Natalie Portman does a brilliant job portraying the former First Lady.  Although it's hardly the first film that has told the story of Jacqueline Kennedy, I think it is one of the better adaptations, and the casting for this film is superb.

And if you're looking for other historical retellings of films from 20th century history, I also recommend "Loving".  It's the tale of Mildred and Richard Loving, who fought to stay married when the world told them that interracial marriage was a sin.  It's definitely worth checking out.  And if you're looking for something more modern, "Sully" and "Snowden" are also fair choices.

While Disney-Pixar is the reigning champ of 2016 animation, don't count out Illumination.  Their film "The Secret Life of Pets" was one of the most watched films of 2016, and their latest film "Sing" is also doing remarkably well.  And for those of you who can't get enough of Gru and his Minions, a third installment of the "Despicable Me" series is coming in 2017.

And speaking of animation, "Trolls" also dominated the movie scene with lots of merchandise and fanfare.  Though I think it was also Justin Timberlake's catchy song that helped propel it to popular status.  I'll talk more about that song when we get to the music retrospective.

Okay, seriously Tyler Perry...give Madea up!  I'll be the first to admit that when the first Medea film was released, I really enjoyed it and it was something different from what we were used to.  But "Boo! A Madea Halloween" was the eighth film...and they get progressively worse and worse!  Dude, I think you've done some great things for the film and television industry, and I do respect you...but club Madea over the head with a shovel and bury her already!!!

I mean, if you want to see how a film franchise brings back a character the right way, see Renee Zellweger in "Bridget Jones's Baby".  It proves that Zellweger still has it when it comes to playing the beloved book character, and the third film was just as charming as the first...well, provided you're into those kinds of films, that is.

And, finally I just want to talk about the reboot of the "Ghostbusters" movie series...and how surprised I was that it was so GOOD!  Seriously!  Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, and Kristen Wiig proved that they weren't afraid of no ghosts, and the end result was pure awesomeness.  What WASN'T awesomeness was the abuse and the rude comments directed towards Leslie Jones that caused her to abandon her Twitter account for some time after the film's premiere.  Racist comments and jokes about people's appearance is NOT okay, and if you were one of the ones who made those rude comments towards Leslie Jones, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I'm actually waiting for the "Ghostbusters" sequel.  At least, I hope one is coming.  The first film was so good, it deserves another story!

So, all in all, 2016 may have not been a good year...but as far as movies went, it was one of the better ones in quite a while.  Well, at least in this guy's opinion.

We're taking a break tomorrow for Jem Reviewed, but I will see you on New Years' Eve for the best and worst in 2016 music.

And I thought I would take this time to post a memorial for Carrie Fisher, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 60.  Her portrayal of Princess Leia will forever be in our minds and our hearts...and at the time of her death, she had just finished Star Wars at least next year we'll all be able to see her one final time.

EDITED TO ADD:  I would also like to take time to express condolences to the entire Fisher family for the loss of their matriarch, Debbie Reynolds, who died yesterday at the age of 84 - just one day after the loss of her daughter.  

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