Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Top 10 of 2016 (Movies)

I’m not going to put these films in order of how much I liked them. With the exception of my favorite movie which I saved till the end. They are in order of when I saw them in the theatre.

The Finest Hours Directed by Craig Gillespie who also helmed the 2011 remake of Fright Night and Disney’s Million Dollar arm gives us the story of the Coast Guard rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers are destroyed during a blizzard in 1952. 
Staring Chris Pine (Star Trek) Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma) and Casey Affleck (Gone Baby gone). 
The Finest Hours is one of those movies I went to one afternoon with not expectations but to pass the time and ended up on the edge of my seat.  it’s an exciting family friendly action drama and I can’t recommend it enough.

Triple 9 directed by John Hillcoat, who previously directed my least favorite movie of all time 2009's the Road. 
Triple 9 starring Casey Affleck (Good Will Hunting) Woody Harrelson (Hunger Games, Cheers) and Chiwitel Ejiofer (12 Years a Slave, Doctor Strange) this is a multifaceted Heist movie.
999 or Triple Nine is the code for officer down and that is a big part of this film. 2 bad cops plan to kill one of their own (Affleck) in order to cause the diversion needed in order to carryout a robbery to relive themselves of Russian Mob ties.  The subplots involve a father (Ejiwofor) who's son is being used as leverage by the mob and the relationship of Casey Affleck’s character a cop new to the area and his Uncle played by Woody Harrelson. 
Triple 9 was again one of those movies that I didn’t really want to see but went anyway and left the theatre pretty jazzed that I decided to go.  

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Directed by Zack Snyder (300, Man of Steel). Honestly this is only on this list because of Batman, were this just the sequel to Man of Steel it is unlikely it would have made my list.  
With the inclusion of Batman it by default would make my list.  
I have been on board with the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne since the announcement. Affleck in my opinion is the best Batman that has ever been on screen. I know a lot of people have an issue with the amount of people he kills in the film. This is an older Batman a Batman that is learning to live outside the rules that once colored his world.  Things that we haven’t seen things from his past like the murder of his partner Robin has given him a tougher stance on how to react to the criminal element. As they have escalated due in part to him being the Batman he has in turn escalated his violence towards them.
He still is not a Punisher style hero and when deadly force is not used against him he avoids using it himself. As displayed in the warehouse fight scene even while being shot he does not necessarily use deadly force in return. One henchman throws a grenade at Batman who returns the volley more than likely killing the criminal although that is not shown.
It is also in that scene I think Affleck does some of the best acting as Batman. One particular thug gets lucky and stabs through Batman’s armor into his shoulder. 
The look on Affleck’s face converted thru the cowl as he singularly focuses the shock and rage that someone stabbed him is phenomenal. He follows that up by not stopping or bothering with anyone else until he has removed the knife and pinned that selfsame thug to the wall with the very knife he used to stab Batman. Its an amazing scene and is everything I have said I wanted from Batman on screen since Batman and Robin.

Captain America: Civil War directed by the Russo Brothers who previously directed Captain America the Winter Soldier and are now a major player at Marvel Studios where they will Direct both of the upcoming Avengers sequels.. 
Civil War itself is a soft Avengers sequel pulling in almost all of the cast from the previous Marvel movies. The addition of Spider-man to the stable of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) heroes is a treat and has me very excited for Spiderman Homecoming due next year.  The airport fight alone is worth the price of admission. The surprise from Antman had people in the theatre I watched it in literally whooping from excitement.

Masterminds from director Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre) comes a comedy loosely based on a true story.  I was not expecting to enjoy this movie, I went begrudgingly but it turned out to be a really fun and funny movie. David Ghantt played by Zach Galifianakis (the Hangover films) is an extremely timid armored car driver who is coerced into robbing the company he works for by his former partner Kelly played by Kristin Wiig (SNL, Ghostbusters) and her friend David played by Owen Wilson (Wedding Crashers).
Hunted but the FBI and Mike McKinney a hitman hired by David and Kelly’s accomplices David flees to Mexico. Masterminds is without a doubt Jared Hess’s most main stream movie and I think his funniest. Jason Suddeikis who plays the hitman Mike turns in the best performance of the movie and makes Masterminds a must watch.

The Accountant directed by Gavin O’Conner who steered the ship on the grossly overlooked feature Warrior (2011) shows he knows action in this movie starring Ben Affleck, (the Town, Argo) Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect) and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash).
The Accountant follows Christian Wolfe (Affleck) an accountant with aspergers syndrome. Wolfe works common everyday accountant jobs to look legit but also manages money for some very unsavory groups.  Called in to find the leak in a “legitimate” company’s books originally discovered by junior accountant Dana (Kendrick). In the process of discovering the person behind the leak both Wolfe and Dana are hunted by a hitman that will stop at nothing to kill them both. Using skills he gained from his early life and military career it is soon obvious that they have messed with the wrong accountant.
I loved this movie, definitely in my top three of this year.

Doctor Strange directed by Scott Derrickson (Sinister) Doctor Strange is not the run of the mill Superhero movie. Delving into and bringing magic into the Marvel cinematic universe Doctor Strange is a welcome addition to the MCU.
Stephen Strange played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) is a brilliant surgeon with unparralled skills and he will be the first to tell you that. Dr Strange is on his way to a speaking engagement one evening and has a horrific wreck. Broken beyond conventional repair Stephen seeks help from eastern medicine. He ends up in a monastery where he learns how to harness powers from astral dimensions and heal his mind and body.  
The monastery and its 3 sister moonstaries are attacked by ex-monks that want forbidden power and Stephen finds himself one of the few sorcerers that can stop them.
Doctor Strange was a great break from the superhero movie we have seen here lately and one of the best films of this year.

The Purge Election Year directed by James DeMonaco is the third entry into the franchise that Demonaco himselff has written and directed.
Following through on characters introduced in the second Purge film the Purge Anarchy it ramps up the series stakes and in my opinion provides the strongest film in the series so far.
The Purge Election Year stars Frank Grillo (The Grey, Captain America Winter Soldier) as Leo Barnes who in the previous film was only known as Sergeant. Barnes has aligned himself with a U.S. Senator Charlie Roan played by Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, the Santa Clause 2) and is head of her security. Senator Roan is currently running for President on the platform of eliminating the purge. When Rain was a child and purger killed her entire family and left her orphaned all for fun. Growing up and rising to political power Roan is the number one contender to beat the incumbent president and purge supporter Edwidge Owens portrayed by Kyle Secor (Veronica Mars). Owens uses his political power to remove the purge clause of political exemption. Placing a target firmly on the back of Roan who if elected will abolish the holiday.
Roan and Barnes find themselves on the street alone and hunted by everyone including a government hit squad.
I genuinely enjoyed this movie and think it is a great bookend to the trilogy. Recently however a fourth installment was announced and we may not have seen the end of this franchise yet.

Conjuring 2 directed by James Wan.  James Wan started his career by cowriting and directing the original Saw film. Whether you like what that series grew to be over time or not the original film was a masterpiece of twists and suspense. Wan continued to direct horror movies including the first Dead Silence and Insidious. More recently Wan branched out to direct the Fast and the Furious 7 and is currently working on the Aquaman solo film for DC.
The Conjuring 2 finds Wan back in the horror genre with a movie based on the case files of Ed and Loraine Warren played by Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Insidious) and Vera Farminga (Up in the Air, the Departed).
Ed and Lorraine are the demonologists made famous by their real life involvement in the Amityville horror investigation.
The Conjuring 2 finds the two investigating a haunting in London where a young girl Janet Hodgson played by Madison Wolfe (the Campaign, Joy) and her family are haunted by a malevolent entity. Riding the home of the demonic force is harder than the Warrens had bargained for however and the fight takes them to the edge of their limits.
The Conjuring films are top notch haunted house movies and are guaranteed to give you at least a couple jumps.

Side Bar: Best Animated Feature
Moana this animated film directed by Disney great RonClements was my favorite cartoon of the year.  It feels weird calling this a cartoon because there is more heart and humanity in it than a lot of the live action films I’ve seen this year.
What is precisely what gives it the edge above the Secret Life of Pets and Trolls, both movies that I saw and liked but not as much as Moana.
The storytelling is superb, which is a given with such classics as the little mermaid, Aladdin and Hercules under Mr Clements belt.
Moana is the story of a Polynesian princess and her adventure to restore prosperity and their heritage to her people.
Along with Maui the cocky demigod voiced by Duane Johnson and her dimwitted chicken sidekick Hey Hey the three voyage across the ocean to restore the heart of the sea and the power of creation to the goddess Te Fiti before the darkness spreads and her people are lost.
With my love of superheroes and action movies you would figure that my favorite movie of the year would be along that vein.  

My favorite movie of the year for 2016 has occupied my thoughts at least once a day everyday since I watched it at the palace theatre in Springfield with my friend JB on Sept 19th.
More than anything else I have watched, I've found this film and its soundtrack has permeated almost every aspect of my life. I listen to the soundtrack nearly constantly. One song in particular has become my ringtone. I hunted down and ordered the original movie poster on eBay, which now hangs on my office wall.
It may not have been the biggest budget film, it may not have been as mindless and fun as other movies this year like Captain America Civil War but it always returns to the front of my mind.
This year to me belongs to one movie. 

Hillsong :Let Hope Rise directed by documentarian Michael John Warren (Jay-Z Fade to Black) follows the members of the worship band Hillsong united.
Hillsong United is driven by Joel Houston the son of Brian Houston the lead pastor for Hillsong church based in Sydney Australia.
Hillsong has grown from a small 20 person church to one of the largest churches in the world. With campuses in New York City, Phoenix, Moscow, and Germany just to name a few of its 17 locations.
Hillsong has several worship teams from that produce albums across the globe. Currently and arguably the most popular is Hillsong United. 
Let Hope Rise follows HU as they write their new album and perform live all over the world. This documentary takes you behind the scenes of their writing process as well as a look at their family lives. 
interwoven with concert footage and interviews.
From the time the film starts with the announcement that the lyrics will be on the screen during concert footage and the encouragement to sing along and worship in the theatre to the closing credits I was treated to an inspirational worship experience like I have never had before outside of church.
The Song Touch the Sky sung by Taya Smith is my favorite song of the year, it’s my ringtone and somedays it’s literally all i listen to all day. Just 8 hours of that song.

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise is a meaningful movie experience. Every so often a movie comes along that makes me want to create. A few years ago that was Exit through the Gift Shop. 
What Hillsong :Let Hope Rise brings to the table that other documentaries and inspirational movies do not, even if they inspire creation within me is a connection to the Creator.
To reach out and feel God the one that created everything, that has given me the talents that He has and see people turn that connection into artistic creation inspires me to do the same.

The single best experience I’ve ever had in a theatre.

So what were your favorite movies?

Thanks for reading.


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