My Top Movies 2016

  • Captain America Civil War
  • Deadpool
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Love and Friendship
  • Everybody Wants Some
  • La La Land
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Rogue One
  • Edge of Seventeen
  • Central Intelligence

It was good a year for movies. In hindsight, there are only 3 or 4 films that I regret going to see and I saw about 24 films at the theater in 2016. Perhaps only one of those films was really awful.

That is my list of the best films of the year, I haven’t seen every major film this year. For example, I haven’t seen Moonlight. I also didn’t see Hell or High Water.

Rogue One was good but I had a few reservations about the film. I think it is in the right slot at number #8.

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La La Land

La La Land is from the writer and director of Whiplash. I have never seen Whiplash. This is also the third teaming of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. That held a bit more appeal for me.

Stone stars as Mia, a waitress/clerk at the coffee shot on the Warner Brothers lot and aspiring actress. Gosling stars as Sebastian, a jazz lover who wants to open his own club. They met a few times before they start dating.

This is a movie about love and dreams. It is good. Characters break into song at times. I liked the songs but maybe there is only song that will break out from the film. Maybe I am wrong about that.

John Legend has a supporting role. That was nice. Emma Stone’s character has roommates at the start of the film and they looked familiar but I cannot name any of them.

The movie might be less fun than ads make it seem. Or else the ads don’t hint at some of the dark or tense moments in the plot. I still enjoyed it though.

Manchester by the Sea

Manchester by the Sea is a movie about grief. Cassey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, a man who has to take care of his nephew after his brother’s death. Lee has grief of his own as the movie reveals.

This is good but not fun. That is okay, not every good movie is fun and not every fun movie is good. It is grim but not too grim. Lee is working as a janitor in Boston when he gets the call about his brother and has to go to Manchester-by-the Sea.

Cassey Affleck is really good in this movie. I had not seen him since Gone Baby Gone (except his part in Interstellar) and I was surprised. Lucas Hedges is good as Patrick the nephew and Michelle Williams is also good as Randi, Lee’s ex-wife. There are some very good scenes in this movie.

I like the movie and how it unfolds. There are flashbacks to Lee’s life and as the movie progresses, you get a sense of what happened to Lee and has made him who he is.

The Magnificent Seven remake

The 2016 remake of the Magnificent Seven is good. Denzel Washington stars as Sam Chisolm, a warrant officer and marshal, who gathers a group of gunmen to protect a small town. This town is being overrun by a robber baron and his goons. These gunmen include a card-shark (Chris Pratt), a mountain man (Vicent D’Onoforio), a former rebel sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke), a Chinese blade expert (Byung-Hun Lee), a Native American (Martin Semsemier) and a Mexican outlaw (Manuel-Garica Rulfo). This is a more diverse cast of actors than the crew in the original movie but I don’t know if this is a revisionist Western.

This is good and different than the original (which was a remake of the Seven Samurai). In the original the town was being attacked by bandits who rob the people and leave but return later. This time the villains want to drive the people from the land and one of the heroes has a past connection with the villains. Also one of the people who recruits the seven is a widow (Haley Bennett) and she wants to fight.

The movie lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes and has two big action sequences. These are good but there also some moments to explore some of the characters. Those are fun. Vincent D’Onoforio’s dialogue is a bit hard to understand at first. It is nice to see Ethan Hawke and Denzil Washington in a movie together after Training Day. Chris Pratt has fun with his card-shark character. The rest of the cast is good but a few characters get less attention than others.

The original is better but maybe not a lot better. (Maybe I am being generous because it seems like a lot of critics do not agree with me.) The original has a better score and this version samples it at times. I think both are worth seeing.

thoughts about Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused is a movie from 1993 set in 1976. It is by director/writer Richard Linklater. It is about a bunch of high school students in a small Texas town during the first night of summer.

It is good. It introduces some characters and spends some time with them and then introduces some new characters. Then the movie returns to some characters. It seems like it should be confusing but it is not. If there is a central character it might be Randy, the quarterback who feels pressured to conform to his coach’s demands.

It is a fun movie and I think I’ve seen before but it has been at least nine years since I last saw it. I decided to (re-)watch it because I enjoyed Everybody Wants Some, which has been called a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused.

I liked both movies but I liked Everybody Wants Some more. I am not sure why. I was not a jock in high school or college, so I am not sure why I like the movie about the college baseball team more than the other movie.

Thoughts about Rogue One

I liked this film but I didn’t love it.┬áThis is the first Star War Anthology film (movies not part of the trilogies). It takes place immediately before Star Wars a New Hope. This is the story of how the Death Star plans were stolen.

It was nice to see Donnie Yen and it was good that he got more to do than the actors from the Raid 2 got to do in Star Wars the Force Awakens. His part was small but he was good and I think he added to the movie.

I am not going to say too much about the plot. There are some plot surprises I don’t want to reveal. I thought the movie was a bit slow for the first thirty minutes but I liked the ending. (This brings up the question of how much a good ending can elevate a film.) This is a Star Wars movie but it feels different than the other movies.

It was nice to see Darth Vader again on the big screen. I don’t consider this a spoiler because he was in some of the trailers or at least heavily hinted to be in the movie.

Salem’s Lot the original mini-series

Salem’s Lot is Stephen King’s second novel. It is about a vampire who comes to a small town in Maine. There have two versions made for television one in 1979 and another in 2004.

David Soul stars as writer Ben Mears in the 1979 version. He is coming back to Salem’s Lot and he intends to write about the Marsten house, a creepy old house that people believe might be haunted.

Shortly after Ben returns to town mysterious things start to happen. Two other men have moved into the town, Kurt Barlow (who no one has seen) and Richard Straker (played by James Mason). Straker says that Barlow is out on a buying trip when asked.

This is still pretty good. There are changes from the novel but they work. Barlow in the mini-series is a Nosferatu type vampire (inhuman looking) and mute. The novel was long, so some things had to be left out.

The cast is really good and some moments are still spooky. Bonnie Bedelia was likely as Susan Norton, who becomes Ben’s love interest. David Soul is good as Ben, and James Mason is really good as Straker.