Brad’s Top Ten (and More!) of 2016

| January 4, 2017

For me, 2016 will be remembered for specialty film events and controversy. I attended a lot of special events, specialty programming at the Alamo, and limited engagements elsewhere. And in a year marred by overwhelming cultural divisiveness, we got 3 major releases that amplified how much people forget that their opinions of art are not facts. There are genocides happening in the world yet some people are ready to go to war over their disappointment over a Ghostbusters movie. The irrational fervor over Ghostbusters, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, and to some extent, Star Trek Beyond really turned me off to film culture. Can’t we just appreciate that we get to enjoy movies at all? But I digress… overall, I found that making my Filmsplosion list was more difficult this year with plenty of worthy entertainment to go around.

Vital Statistics
Total ticket sales: $1,007.48

Total films attended: 90
Repeat Viewings: 25
New Release: 69
Re-Release: 21

Alamo Drafthouse Denver: 44
Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers: 1
88 Drive-In: 11
Landmark Esquire: 7
AMC Highlands Ranch 24: 6
Colorado Center 9: 4
Landmark Mayan: 3
Sie Filmcenter: 3
Red Rocks: 2
Colorado Mills: 2
Denver West: 1
Denver Pavilions: 1
Regal Southglenn: 1
Paramount Theater: 1
AMC Cherry Creek: 1
AMC Bowles: 1
Greenwood Plaza: 1
Westminster Promenade: 1
Regal Riverpoint: 1
Landmark Olde Towne Arvada: 1
Landmark Sunshine: 1
Landmark Greenwood Village: 1
Landmark Chez Artiste: 1
Century Aurora 16: 1
Aurora Movie Tavern: 0
Regal Continental: 0
Harkins Northfield: 0

Midnights & Specialty Programming

True Romance

I don’t get it. I was rather bored… and cold. The Esquire was freezing that night.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Already great, even better under the stars at Red Rocks with a crowd of thousands cheering all the best moments.

The Hunger

Bowie and Sarandon… in vampire movie? I think? Again, I was mostly bored and found it hard to follow.

Black Caesar

I guess I was expecting Black Dynamite without the satire, and got a forgettable crime drama.

Galaxy Quest

Still fun after all these years. Glad I got to see it in a theater again.

Bloodsport

Kumite! Kumite! Kumite! Kumite!

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Aside from the missing narration, I can’t tell what’s different. Doesn’t matter because it’s still great.

Hard Target

A delicious cajun craft dinner came with this one.

Dr. Strangelove

My first time watching this one, and I didn’t get what’s so special about it. To be fair, I was really tired for this show.

Hook

While the effects are dated, a lot of it feels like it exists on a soundstage, it’s still fun and two of the lost buys were on hand for a Q&A.

Street Fighter

Glad to cross this off my bucket list, despite the comedy commentary that came with the show.

The Room

Still a good crowd movie, but the screening had Greg Sestero doing a live-read of the original script.

Space Jam

The first throwback screening at the drive-in and I guess you had to have grown up with it to enjoy it.

Batman

Classic. And I got a free ticket for wearing my cowl!

Star Wars Trilogy

Initially, I thought they were presenting the un-special editions, but the week before, they clarified it was in fact the Special Editions. While it was cool to watch in the Paramount Theater, the sound wasn’t the best and it didn’t feel like the event it was envisioned to be.

Scott Pilgrim

Awesome seeing this again but with a live bass battle included!

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

After a long time hoping someone would show this in theaters again, the Alamo answered my prayers with a craft dinner tailored to the classic banquet between the Federation and the Klingons.

Drive

Saw this in a double feature with The Neon Demon, which makes for a stylish double feature.

Star Trek: First Contact

Two of my favorite Star Trek movies re-released in the same year? Must be the 50th anniversary or something. Still an amazing film.

Air Force One

I used this to ignore the awful election night results. I wish James Marshall could be our new President.

 

New Releases

Anomalisa

While the animation is incredible, I just didn’t enjoy this character and his selfish story.

Scrapped

An amazing local documentary where the director actually forced himself into homelessness for 30 days to prove how easily a little initiative and hard work could bring him out of it. But instead, he discovered just how hopeless and difficult the problem actually is.

Nina Forever

Has a cool premise where the main character’s ex-girlfriend comes back from the dead through his bed to haunt his new relationship, but I didn’t find the execution all that interesting.

The Witch

While the trailer seemed promising as a haunting and terrifying experience, I wasn’t scared at all and mostly bored.

Hail, Caesar!

Is well made and clever, but I just didn’t connect with this story.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Tense, compelling, and John Goodman’s performance terrifying.

Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday

It’s not the Big Adventure, which is what we wanted. But it was still fun to see Pee-Wee’s world again 30 years later.

Hardcore Henry

I didn’t expect it to be great, but I wasn’t prepared for just how exhausting that camera perspective would get after 10 minutes. The seamless edits are impressive but the story is weak.

Green Room

Another high-tension, trapped in a bottle story, but a film loses me when our heroes have no sense of strategy.

Belladonna of Sadness

Technically, this is a re-release of a 70’s film but I think this is the American release. Has beautiful animation and visuals, but the story is so mean to women I couldn’t enjoy it.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

I only saw the second half of this because it was playing before Keanu at the drive-in.

Keanu

Needed more cat.

Men & Chicken

Enjoyed the quirky humor, but the mystery behind the story seemed rather obvious.

X:Men Apocalypse

I did enjoy this extension of the Days of Future Past story but that detour to show Weapon X, while fun, was unnecessary.

The Lobster

I was into the first half, but the second half lost me.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

A fun sequel, more of the same.

TMNT: Out of the Shadows

I did enjoy this more than 2014’s reboot because they focused on the turtles this time and embraced the cartoon mythology. But until they embrace the original comics, I just won’t be satisfied I guess.

The Angry Birds

My friend Jason and I just made fun of this the whole time at the drive-in.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Actually a brilliant satire of the modern music industry. Will probably find cult success like Macgruber.

Finding Dory

Beautiful animation, but the story is as meandering as Dory, which may be brilliant on another level, but left me not caring as much about this tale.

Independence Day: Resurgence

So much of this movie feels like actors just standing in a green screen room. This sequel ups the visual effects and disaster porn without adding much to the mythology and mostly repeating the original… until the very end which sets up what this movie should have been.

Central Intelligence

Standard buddy comedy. Wasn’t into it.

Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

A cool look into the lives of these fans and their passion for Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it feels like there’s some over-dramatization of their rather average lives.

The BFG

I’ve already forgotten why I didn’t enjoy this.

The Legend of Tarzan

Sam Jackson’s dialog was anachronistic, and the rest just felt like a standard CGI heavy, dynamic camerawork update of a classic property.

Swiss Army Man

Appreciated the weirdness, but the middle drags hard for me.

Ghostbusters

I had fun with this. I would have liked to see the sequel that isn’t beholden to pleasing the original fans but looks like that probably won’t happen.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Like Neighbors 2, a fun comedy to pass the time.

The Shallows

Sounds like it’s just me that found this to be a dull, Blake Lively’s body worship movie.

Batman: The Killing Joke

I haven’t read the graphic novel, so I went in cold and left wondering what’s so special about this book. I know the Batgirl prologue isn’t in the novel, and it’s definitely here to fill out time.

Suicide Squad

As one of the few who did enjoy this enough, I recognize it’s not as awesome as the trailers made it seem it would be. A lot of dialog seems unnatural or corny, there aretoo many pop songs across scenes that shouldn’t even have music, character motivations change as needed, the scenes are edited as though they’re covering mistakes… and while I accept Leto’s interpretation of a Joker, his involvement in the plot just feels like a studio note: needs more famous villains. It’s sloppy, but I liked the world and vibe it built.

The Secret Life of Pets

Admittedly, the animation in this is spectacular in places. But animated films targeted at family demographics that get a pass on their subtle subversiveness and do huge business while others that are overtly subversive get protested or calls to be boycotted frustrates the hell out of me. “Let’s think up grotesque ways to murder humans. It’s okay because a cute bunny voiced by Kevin Hart will say it.”

Sausage Party

Really funny, but while the message of the movie probably seems revolutionary to the writers, people in my circle have been acknowledging those ideas for years so it didn’t feel as insightful.

Yoga Hosers

Wasn’t made for me. The Bratzi animation was embarrassingly cheap. I will wait Clerks 3.

Kickboxer: Vengeance

I really want to see JCVD in better movies. A lot of this felt like a compromise just to get it done and released on time.

Blair Witch

Like a more professionally made, bigger budget version of the original. The polish doesn’t change the weak, found footage premise.

The Magnificent Seven

A serviceable update of an often remade movie. I don’t think it brought enough new to the table to justify it’s existence.

Masterminds

I fell asleep toward the end, just after Jason Sudekis’ character enters the picture. I felt like I woke up in a different movie.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Shows off some interesting weirdness, but it seems like it’s all born out of a writer trying to force arbitrary oddities into the young adult literature market hoping one of them would stick. The world and its rules just never make sense to me. And the tone is all over the place, especially when Sam Jackson becomes a bond villain.

The Girl on the Train

It’s lazy to say, but it’s so much Gone Girl lite.

The Accountant

I dug this angle on your standard assassin becomes the hunted story but maybe one less storyline to focus on would have made it a tighter story.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Has some good character moments but the plot just wasn’t compelling.

Storks

I missed some of the beginning of this so it’s not fair to give it a definitive review, but what I did see didn’t make me interested to see what I missed.

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Well, the title’s everything it claims to be. Might have the cheesiest ending of the year.

Ouija 2: Origin of Evil

Liked this more than I expected because of the throwback title treatments and 60’s production design.

Goosebumps

Just felt like more goofy, CGI-heavy, kid-fare. I didn’t really grow up with the books so maybe I’m missing something.

Lights Out

Felt like they could have explored this premise more than the memes that spawned it. I like when they added that blacklights affect the rules.

Doctor Strange

Obviously Cumberbatch makes Strange a compelling character, but I was surprised how much I bought into his world. I’m still on board with these movies.

Arrival

A beautiful film but it didn’t affect me like it did for the other nerds.

The Love Witch

A spot on recreation of the movies it’s giving homage to, great effort, but it feels long and the story in play isn’t interesting.

Smurfs 2

I thought this was from a few years ago, but it was at the drive-in playing ahead of Inferno. I just don’t get this style of comedy and why it appeals to kids or rather why adults think it appeals to kids. Not for me.

Inferno

I wasn’t invested in this mystery. Just seems like a lot of globetrotting tourism while Tom Hanks acts infected with a virus. Then there’s some mistaken allegiances and ends in a cool underground lair-tomb-sewer where they perform symphonies.

Moana

Absolutely beautiful animation and music disguises what for me was a standard “believe in yourself” plot.

Manchester by the Sea

The tone threw me off. I was expecting a serious drama but there are darkly comedic parts, and it left me feeling I had peeked in on the lives of some New Englanders for two hours and then it was over.

Office Christmas Party

See Neighbors 2 and Mike & Dave reviews…

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Epic and wonderous in scope, appreciated the boldness of the ending, but I was pretty cool to most of the characters except K2SO.

Assassins’ Creed

I felt like the movie spent most of it’s time trying to make me accept the Animus was plausible instead of just telling a compelling story.

Why Him?

See Neighbors 2, Mike & Dave, and Office Christmas Party.

Passengers

I was all into the first and second acts, but the third seems like a race to the finish, sidelines its moral discussion for a ticking bomb, and ends by rewarding some not so admirable choices.

 

The Top Ten of 2014

10. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I can feel your hate radiating in my keyboard as I type this and it’s only making me stronger. I felt I had to put one of the big controversy movies in my top ten to appropriately honor 2016 and the Ultimate Cut beats Suicide Squad and Ghostbusters.

9. Don’t Think Twice

Feels like an honest, real peek into the lives of these characters and their world while being awkward and funny.

8. Don’t Breathe

Suspenseful and goes to places that make it stand out from other horror thrillers.

7. La La Land

Just radiates with optimism and happiness even though much of the story is melancholy. Such a delight that, it pains me I don’t have more room at the top for it. I’m even listening to the soundtrack as I write this.
6. Captain America: Civil War

That airport fight. Iconic. Really feels like the best Avengers movie.

5. Star Trek Beyond

The first Trek reboot to capture the spirit and vision of the original show and movies.

4. The Neon Demon

The cinematography is exquisite and the music is wonderfully haunting and the movie has done the same to me all year.

3. Deadpool

Another superhero origin-story, but with a fresh, funny, subversive personality.

2. The Nice Guys

Smart, funny, witty, immensely clever. This has run in my blu-ray player more than anything all year.

1. Thunderbolt 2 & Battlerap Galactica

Because of course. Nothing beats making your own work come to life on screen.

About the Author:

His earliest memory of nerdiness is discovering the Star Trek motion pictures when his parents (presumably) accidentally rented the first one on laser disc. He attended his first convention at the age of 12 and has been to many Star Trek conventions since, as well as SDCC, NYCC, and E3 twice. He’s also an avid TMNT fan who has each of the first four issues of the original comic book signed by Eastman AND Laird. Brad also favors Batman and loves Nintendo so much he still plays his Virtual Boy from time-to-time. When he’s not immersed in nerd media, he’s out competing at bar trivia or working on several creative projects like podcasting, producing short films, publishing books, and drawing cartoons. His favorite film of all-time is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie and with over 600 DVD’s and blu-rays in his collection, Brad is surely a Reel Nerd.
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