Friday, February 10, 2017


Whew, what a lovely five month hiatus. I'm finally posting my best and worst list for the year 2016. After this post I will probably cocoon again...popping up occasionally. Mind you I am still lurking on everyone's blogs. You may see me pop in every now and then. Although I may not update it often, this blog will continue as long as I watch films and have breath! So hopefully this blog will continue to run for a very long time...albeit intermittently.

Admittedly I have seen a good number of films this past year, but I have not have an opportunity to write about them all. The reasons why are abundant. I am in my late 30s, in grad school, have a 3 year old, a husband, and a full time job. So unfortunately this year, my blog went by the wayside.

I hope you enjoy my best and worst list for 2016. Please share with me yours, agree, or disagree with me in the comments. I look forward to reconnecting with everyone.

I preface my film list by saying that I don't necessarily qualify this list as the best films of the year. They are simply the best films I HAVE seen thus far this past year. I think 2015 was a much better year at the movies. Have I mentioned that 2016 was a bad movie year?

10. The Shallows. 
Surfer [to Nancy]

Similar to 'Don't Breathe,' this little horror movie snuck up on me. I didn't have high expectations so I was pleasantly surprised that a movie with a plot of "Blake Lively versus a shark" was good, but it really was. That was it. That's the plot. 'Jaws' has been done before so there's no need to go there.

That said, for this film--simplicity works. Some of the best horror films have very simple plots. Lively does a surprising good job as a medical student on vacation, attempting to follow in her mother's footsteps (who recently passed away). As long as you don't take this film seriously you will enjoy it.

9. Free State of Jones.
Moses [to Newton]

Similar to above, I enjoyed this film, but I don't necessarily qualify it as one of the best films of the year. I had such high hopes for this film because of the fascinating material, but the film's lack of focus is it's greatest hindrance. A good biopic does not have to tell the subject's whole life story or that of their descendants. The film is ultimately a biopic about Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), who was clearly a man ahead of his time and who led a very interesting life. His story and the story of Jones County, Mississippi is a story that has been lost to history and it's a story that should be told.

In the hands of a better writer and director--this film could have been epic. For example, the biopic 'Lincoln' focuses exclusively on a few months in the life of President Lincoln, during a very interesting time during his life (the passage of the 13th Amendment/Abolition of Slavery). Had the 'Free State of Jones' focused on one time period of Newton Knight's life, a mildly good film could have been a great one. Overall a good, yet flawed film. See my full review here.

8. Ghostbusters. 
Erin [to Jillian]

'Ghostbusters' 2016 is by no means one of the best films of the year. Wow, I'm saying that a lot this year. It's not a film without flaws--one of the biggest flaws was the removal of the key master/gate keeper storyline. That storyline made the original 'Ghostbusters' film genuinely scary. But I laughed so hard at this film. This film got so much heat and everyone talked so much crap about it, but it's a popcorn movie. It's not meant to be taken seriously or win awards. It's a summertime feel good flick. We don't need to read anything else into it.

Yes, the original 1984 'Ghostbusters' is a beloved film and a classic, but 'Ghostbusters' 2016 is not really a remake. It's an entirely new film with fresh characters who happen to be Ghostbusters. I had a great time watching this film with my friends! So yeah, it's one of my favorite films of 2016. I'll own the hate I get for this choice! See my full review here.

7. Allied. 
Marianne [to Max]

This movie received mixed reviews, but I enjoyed it. It was entertaining and it kept me engaged. Brad Pitt (Max Vatan) and Marion Cotilard (Marianne Beausejour) star as two spies who fall in love in Casablanca during a deadly mission. How much more romantic can that be?

Canadian spy Max Vatan. Vatan infiltrates German-held Casablanca in order to assassinate the German ambassador. He enlists the help of a French spy, Marianne Beausejour. Once they finish their mission they subsequently fall in love and return to England to continue to fight the war. From the film's trailer you can ascertain that Marianne is later accused of being a double agent. Vatan has to get to the bottom of it. If it's determined that his wife is a double agent he will have to kill her.

The film wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be, so that was a big plus. It's not necessarily a film I would see again, but it's a good date night film. My dad enjoyed the film if that gives you any indication how the film appeals to a broad audience.

My only complaint is that Hollywood needs to stop pretending that Brad Pitt is 35 years old. Heck, I'm not even 35 years old anymore and I was a young teen when Brad Pitt was a heartthrob in the 90s. Putting enough makeup on 53 year old Brad Pitt to make him look 35 is a little disconcerting every time I see it. I wish Pitt (as well as a few other A-list male actors in Hollywood--like Will Smith and Tom Cruise) would stop trying to look 25 to 30 years younger in their films. It just doesn't work. A little salt and pepper in the hair and not so much makeup would go a long way. There is nothing wrong with a good looking 50+ year old man who looks like a 50+ year old man.
Side Note: My dad is my movie partner and he's typically very naughty. He talks during the film, passes gas, and litters. He's terrible. This time was no exception. On this occasion we finally came across someone who was worse than he was. My father is hard of hearing so he asks me what happened or what someone said or he makes a comment about something happening in the film. My father views the movies as an interactive experience. Every time my father made a peep, the old man behind me would kick the seat a few seats down from me. And I mean he was kicking this seat hard. He kicked that seat during the entire film, which rattled the other seats next to it. I'm surprised I don't have whiplash. So if there was a reason to not like this film that would be clearly this was a decent movie.
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Howard [to Emmett]

Again, had this been a year other than 2016 (and perhaps if I had seen more films) this movie may not have been on my best list. Geez, 2015's list had so many wonderful little films on 'Bone Tomahawk' and 'It Follows.' Neither '10 Cloverfield Lane,' 'The Shallows,' or 'Purge: Election Year' are of the same caliber, but this is where we are.

However, '10 Cloverfield Lane' is an effective thriller. As a sequel/prequel to the original 2008 'Cloverfield' film, one would expect '10 Cloverfield Lane' to "go big," but instead "it goes home." LITERALLY. It delves into the psychology of claustrophobia and  paranoia. What I liked most about the film is that it unfolds as a psychological horror film, rather than a creature feature. This film is a fun, tightly woven little thriller deserving of a must see list. See my full review here.

5. Purge: Election Year.
Uncle Sam

I actually think this film would have landed on my best list no matter what. I loved this frightening insane film. The Purge films are my guilty pleasure. The 'Purge' films get a lot of flack. After all, these are not highbrow films, nor do they stimulate intellectual conservation. And yes these films are violent, but thankfully, writer and director James DeMonaco never crosses the line into "torture porn" territory.

The horror of the film is primarily in the minds of the participants. The tension is created in the idea of "what could happen" and less on what is actually happening. But what these films lack in critical acclaim, they more than make up for in their entertainment value. Lastly, these films are highly allegorical. The symbolism and social satire in these films only add to its charm. A must see for any horror fan who loves metaphorical films like 'Equilibrium,' THX-1138' or 'Fahrenheit 451.' See my full review here.

4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The ending of this film saved it for me. 'Rogue One' is the 'Star Wars' prequel we've been waiting for. 'Rogue One' follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as the daughter of a disgraced empire scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Jyn's story is about the creation of the death star and how the resistance learned of the death star's major flaws and who put it there. The film follows Jyn as she searchers for her father with the help of a merry band of outlaws. Her mission turns into a mission to save the republic.

In one fail swoop, this film shatters the need for any of the craptastic prequels of the 90s and early 2000s. It's a typical 'Star Wars' film in many ways, with regard to the action sequences, the camaraderie, and moral quandaries. Where this film breaks the mold is in its ending, which I will not spoil for you here. If I had one complaint about the film it would be the gross under use of Donnie Yen. You don't put a Hong Kong action star like Donnie Yen in the film and not properly use him.

3. Don't Breathe.

This film would have landed on my best list regardless. Although I don't know if it would have been rated as high. 'Don't Breathe' was the last film I fully reviewed on this blog because it took me by surprise. I didn't know anything about it before I went to the theater, but 'Don't Breathe' is a slick little horror film, with a great cast, and a thrilling (yet unbelievable) plot. Admittedly, the film has enough plot holes to drive a truck through it, but it kept me on the edge of my seat--which is hard to do. What I liked about the film is that none of the characters are particularly likable. This is one of the few horror films in which there are no heroes.

It was such an entertaining nail bitter. The casting of the magnificent Stephen Lang cinched things for me. The film's premise is simple-- a home invasion gone wrong...and oh boy do things go wrong. See my full review here.

2. Captain America: Civil War. 
Tony Stark [to Captain America]

It's kind of sad (for other films) when a comic book film is one of the best films of the year. Seriously Hollywood step it up. The film ran a little long, but kudos to directors Anthony and Joe Russo for creating another wonderful comic book film. DC Comics and Warner Brothers can learn a lot from this duo. The first step to ending DC Comic's madness would be to stop giving money to Zack Synder or David Ayers. Back to 'Civil War'-- this film is a little gem among comic book films.

The great thing about 'Civil War' is that it truly felt like an 'Avengers' film. 'Civil War' was the Avengers film that 'Age of Ultron' should have been. When I reviewed 'Age of Ultron' in 2015 I thought the problem was that there were too many characters to feature. Yet 'Civil War' has even more characters. The difference between 'Civil War' and 'Age of Ultron' is that 'Civil War' features Captain America at its heart and rightfully so. Whereas 'Age of Ultron' was all over the place, 'Civil War' is focused.

More credit should be given to Chris Evans and his portrayal of Captain America. It's not easy play a genuine "good guy." Evans continues to do it well. He's perhaps the best embodiment of a comic book hero since Christopher Reeve's Superman. See my full review here.

1. Arrival. 
Dr. Louise Banks.

This film was so lovely, magical, and well-written. Most scifi films about aliens have major action stars attached with huge explosions and gun fights. So it's rare to see a non-shoot 'em up science fiction films these days, but that's just not how director Denis Villeneuve's (Sicario) rolls. With 'Sicario,' and now with 'Arrival,' Villeneuve may be my new favorite director. Villeneuve's slow, tense, methodical style carries over to his latest film 'Arrival.' Villeneuve also seems adept at directing smart scripts with female protagonists-- a rare quality in Hollywood.

'Arrival' is a muted scifi film that still manages to be exciting. It's also not linear, so things happen out of order, which add to the film's tension. I haven't seen a scifi film quite like this one. The closest example I can give is the 'The Day the Earth Stood Still.' Not the crappy Kenau Reeves version, but the original 1954 film. Another film I would compare it to would be one of my favorite films, 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind.'

'Arrival' begins where it ends with a grieving mother. We aren't quite sure who is grieving or why, but it's a sad start to a beautiful film. Oblivious to world events, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is lecturing her class when 12 alien ships land on earth. She is soon asked to join the alien taskforce by U.S. Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), along with physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).

The film unwinds as Banks and Donnelly unravel the mystery of the aliens language, which is based on circular symbols and is non-alphabetical. It's a fascinating film about language and the commonality that binds us. 'Arrival' would have definitely been on my best of the year list, but I'm not certain if it would have been the best movie of the year if 2016 had been a better film year? That does not take away the beauty and mystery of this film. It's not a perfect film, but it hits a lot of high marks, which is more than I can say for most films in 2016.

Had I been able to see some of the films listed below, I firmly believe one of these films would have replaced 'Arrival' as my best film of the year and would have been pushed off many of the films currently on my list. Unfortunately, I haven't seen these films yet.

Nocturnal Animals.
Miss Sloane.
Hidden Figures.
Conjuring 2.

These are the films that were halfway decent. They didn't make the cut on any list. Some of these films I enjoyed more than others.

Money Monster. - TWO-1/2 STARS
Lights Out. - THREE STARS
Hail Ceasar. -  TWO-1/2 STARS
Hush. - TWO-1/2 STARS
Star Trek Beyond. - THREE STARS. I don't even remember what happened.
Jane Got a Gun. - TWO STARS
Nice Guys. - THREE STARS
Pete's Dragon. - THREE STARS

Thandie Newton. West World.
Thandie Newton's performance was not necessarily the best performance on 'West World.' No, that prize would go to Anthony Hopkins. Jeffrey Wright would be a close second. But Newton's character was my favorite. Her confident, cocky, call girl was wistful and fun to watch.

She's the only character to break through to both worlds in such a fascinating way. She's smart, vulnerable, powerful, charismatic, and oh so cheeky. Like other actors, her performance was nuanced, particularly when she reveals her curiosity and her heartbreak. I'm excited to see her character continue on the series. Newton was nothing short of sensational to watch.

Ben Affleck aka "Batfleck." Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I want to preface that the film was not good. In fact it's on my worst list, but say what you want about Ben Affleck he was a darn good Batman. Despite the haters I knew this would be the case early on for several reasons:

1.) Affleck is a decent actor, writer, and director;

2.) Batman is the ultimate American male. There is something quintessentially American about Batman. No offense to Christian Bale, but there are some slight cultural differences that do not necessarily translate across the pond. Similar to the British James Bond or Doctor Who.

3.) Perhaps most importantly, Affleck is the first actor to bring the appropriate level of rage, anger, and madness to Batman. I love Michael Keaton's Batman, but somehow even in a subpar film, Affleck was able to capture this character in full form. Kudos to Affleck. Now if only we can get him in a better film, with a better director. I have no idea why Warner Brothers and DC Comics keep handing the director of 'Sucker Punch' hundreds of millions of dollars?

West World. 
West World was the best show I saw in 2016. Hands down. Anthony Hopkins is a prince among men. I don't know if a finer actor exists in this lifetime. The rest of the cast was wonderful too. Jeffrey Wright, Thandie NewtonIngrid Bolsø Berdal, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, and the remarkable Ed Harris are all wonderful.

This show. Geez, this show. This is what television should be about. Television should be an incredible experience every week. It should not be about "shipping" or wondering which of your favorite characters is going to die each week a la 'The Walking Dead.'

Hopkins plays the enigmatic West World creator Robert Ford. For those who haven't seen the 70's pulp film, West World is a theme park populated by robotic "people" (called hosts) who are used as entertainment for the rich and infamous (guests). The guests routinely rape, murder, and exploit these sentient robotic beings for their own pleasures. It's a brutal world with a hidden mystery that only deepens as we descend further down the rabbit hole and watch the hosts and guests find their ways through this muddled existence.

The People Versus OJ Simpson: American Crime Story.
Marcia Clark [to Johnny Cochrane]

Riveting, fascinating, incredible. These are a few of the adjectives I would use to describe this show. Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark was transcendent. I don't think there was a finer performance in 2016, besides Hopkins in West World...and that's Anthony Hopkins. Likewise, Courtney B. Vance as Johnny Cochrane is crazy good. Similar to 'West World,' nearly everyone in this series if fantastic.

High marks to creators Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski and producer Ryan Murphy for delivering a stellar sister show to 'American Horror Story.' This is what happens when the writing, the direction, and the actors all come together in a perfect symphony. There were very few weak links here.

Sterling Brown as Christopher Darden, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Nathan Lane as F. Lee Bailey, Connie Britton as Faye Resnick, were all close seconds behind Paulson and Vance. Surprisingly John Travolta as Robert Shapiro was very very good. I didn't find Cuba Gooding Jr. as convincing but he does good work here too.

I remember being a young High School student when OJ Simpson took his infamous ride after the horrifying murders. It was a terrible terrible time. After watching this mini-series, clearly I only knew the half of it. This series is just mind boggling good. So even if you remember the mid-90s and think you know what happened--you really don't.

The series also re-emphasizes the humanity lost that night--the lives of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. Somehow the murders of these two people were lost in the media madness. The series brings the tragedy of their murders to the forefront, along with a behind the scenes look into the trail of the century and the people behind it. If you haven't seen this series you simply must.

The Exorcist.
Wow, just wow. I have only seen the original 1973 'The Exorcist' all the way through one time in my life. I assume I saw it on VHS in the late 80s or early 90s. Once was enough. The film terrified me so badly I vowed to never watch it again. IMO it's the scariest movie film I've ever seen and I have seen a lot of films.

Needless to say, I was very hesitant to watch this show, but the casting of Geena Davis changed my mind. I was not disappointed. 'The Exorcist' television series is completely unpredictable and fresh. The fourth episode felt like a season finale. Unlike the overtly predictable 'The Walking Dead,' 'The Exorcist' writers know how to write good television without stupid cliffhangers or killing off characters for ratings.

'The Walking Dead' is so predictable that even the hardcore fans have stopped watching the show, excluding the premieres, the mid-season finale, and the season finale. The ratings have fallen to season 3 levels, which doesn't surprise me.

Similar to 'Westworld,' 'The Exorcist' threw the television play book out the window and decided to write each episode like it could be its last. So strap in and get ready for a wild ride . You haven't seen television like this in a loooong while. And what a relief that there are actually good writers left in the world. But my favorite thing about this show is that in the end--good always conquers evil.

American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare. 
This season got a lot of flack, but I really enjoyed Season 6. It was insane, hilarious, and scary. All of these three things add up to one heck of a season. The series actually made both my mother and sister think it was one of those fake "haunted house" shows. No matter what I told them they literally believed it was a "haunted house" show on the Discovery Channel. It was pretty funny. I had to explain to them on multiple occasions that these are actors, playing actors, playing actors. They still didn't get it. So hats off to Ryan Murphy this year.

My Roanoke Nightmare follows the macabre tale of Shelby Miller (Lily Rabe), played by Audrey (played by Sarah Paulson) and her husband Matt Miller (Andre Holland), played by Dominic Banks (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who move to a haunted house near Roanoke, North Carolina. The casting of Paulson and Gooding is clearly a nod to their roles in 'The People v's OJ Simpson,' where they played Marcia Clark and OJ Simpson. I found Cuba's performance to be much better in 'Roanoke' than in 'The People v's OJ Simpson.'

Miller's troubled sister Lee played by Adina Porter (who is subsequently played by Angela Basset) soon joins them. The house has normal bouts of spookiness throughout the year, but when the blood moon comes out it's on y'all. That's when the ghostly murderous pilgrims arrive. Thomasin White played by Agnes Winstead (Kathy Bates) and her son Ambrose White played by Dylan (Wes Bentley) come out to terrorize their new neighbors and create a reality television phenomenon.

Now that I read all this "played by" stuff I realize how confusing this must be for someone who doesn't regularly watch the show and who isn't familiar with the anthology series regulars. Ok no wonder my mom and sister couldn't understand this.

Stranger Things. 
I was but a wee tadpole in 1983, but I do remember the 1980s. I can attest to the nostalgia of 'Stranger Things.' My husband is a few years older than me, so his middle school picture looks like he was plucked out of 'Stranger Things.'

When watching 'Stranger Things' he relived much of his childhood. Afternoons spent in a dank basement playing Dungeons and Dragons, Huffy bicycles with banana seats, baseball caps (he still wears the baseball caps), mullets (he lost the mullet thankfully). According to him, the writers nailed it. Why anyone finds the 1980s to be nostaglic I will never know? Besides 'The Goonies' I don't remember why the 80s is considered such a great time? It certainly wasn't a great time for me. The 1990s was way more fun IMO.

I digress. Surprisingly, Matt and Ross Duffer, the brother writing and directing duo (Millennials who were barely born in the 80s) hit the nail on the head.  This show hit all the right marks. My only complaint is that I'm a little tired of seeing 80s adventures for pre-teen boys. Thankfully there was at least one pre-pubescent girl along for this ride this time.

'Stranger Things' follows the adventures of three teen boys who go in search of one of their missing friends, but instead happen upon a mysterious young girl who has super powers. You can see my previous review of the series here.

The OA.
Wow, what a weird little show. I still don't know what happened. Was it a beautifully woven fairy tale or a dimensional rift? I don't know. What I do know is that the 'OA' kept my eyes glued to the screen for the full eight episodes...all the way to the end.

The first episode is a little slow and difficult to get through but once Prairie Johnson (Britt Marling) weaves her bizarre tale as to why and how she disappeared for eight years, she draws you in. Johnson has been rendered blind by a childhood accident. She disappears for eight years, but returns suddenly with her sight restored. The mystery behind her identity and her disappearance unravels before you in a remarkably beautiful story.

Black Mirror. Season 3.
Season 3 of 'Black Mirror' started with a bang, starring Dallas Bryce Howard and Alice Eve. Like other wonderful long lost shows, the British anthology has transitioned to Netflix. 'The Twilight Zone'-like series frequently discusses the perils of social media and technology.

The first episode 'Nosedive' has a 'Pleasantville' on drugs vibe. Everyone has a social media rating on a scale from 0 to 5 in which people rank their interactions with you. Howard's character is a classic overachiever, but can't seem to break past her score of 4.2. When her childhood best friend and social media darling asks her to be her maid of honor she jumps at the chance but things don't go as planned. Howard's character proceeds to have an epic meltdown. It's a wonderful metaphor for our overly obsessed social media culture.

But my favorite episode thus far has been 'San Junipero' with Gugu Mbatha-Raw and MacKenzie Davis. It begins with a heavy dose of 80's nostaglia. Two women played by Mbatha-Raw and Davis meet in a 1980's club in San Junipero. Their unfolding relationship is both beautiful and tragic. The episode touches on big themes like aging, infirmity, and immortality. These two episodes of the third season are an absolute must-see. This episode reminded me just how good of an actress Gugu is. She's brilliant and should get more work immediately!

Flash. Season 3.
Flash is a sweet little feel-good television series. It's so much fun to watch, relax, and unwind with. It's not meant to be taken seriously or have deep thoughts. It's just one of those light and airy shows that you don't have to think about it.

The writers are actually quite good. 'Gotham' is a close second. 'Gotham' reminds me a lot of Tim Burton's 'Batman' films--it's kitschy, dark, humorous, and colorful. It should be noted that there is a such thing as a bad superhero television show--if 'Legends of Tomorrow' and 'Supergirl' Season 2 are any indication.

The Fall. Season 3.
There aren't that many slow moving, procedural dramas that peak my interest. Perhaps it's the casting of Gillian Anderson as Master Detective Stella Gibson. It certainly isn't the casting of emotionless robot Jamie Dornan who plays serial killer Paul Spector. I've frequently said that acting wise Dornan is near comatose automaton.

He seems like a genuinely nice person, but I don't find him to be an engaging actor. I assume his popularity has risen exclusively because of his casting in 'The Fifty Shades of Grey' franchise, which is frankly sad.

Thankfully the show has Anderson, John Lynch as ACC Burns, and Colin Morgan as DS Tom Anderson. Season 3 picks up after Gibson finally nabs serial killer Paul Spector after two seasons of cat and mouse. Season 3 follows Spector's recovery from being shot and Gibson's efforts to build a court case against him. The third season is muted but powerful.

I've been on a self-help kick this year. So of course my favorite books have been non-fiction.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Love Warrior by Glennon Melton
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

On my list to read: Ready Player One. 

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I tried to like this book, but ultimately Rubin came across as entitled and elitist. I couldn't get past some of the things she actually considers to be problems.

The Walking Dead. Season 7. 
Clearly you saw this coming from my rants above. Kill it before it dies. Please someone cancel this show. If the season 6 "mid-season finale Glen death fakeout" didn't convince you that the writers enjoyed trolling you-- the season finale did. The Walking Dead Season 6 finale was probably one of the worst finales I've ever seen on television. The writers brazenly created the dumbest cliffhanger ever...just to mess with the very people who made the show successful.

Simply put--they got greedy and sloppy. They naively thought that their tried and true formula of screwing over the fans to generate huge ratings for the season premiere would work again. Not so fast. Now people are on to you. Everyone knows that nothing happens until the mid-season premiere, mid-season finale, and season finale. So guess what happened. After the season premiere, TWD had a huge rating drop. The ratings dropped to Season 3 levels. If I'm honest, the ratings drop was well deserved and I hope it continues. TWD needs to go away. NOW. Yes, I am a hardcore fan and comic book reader.

The Return of the 'X-Files.' Season 10.
Ok if you know anything about me you know that I LOVE THE 'X-FILES!' I love this show. I remember watching the first episode in 1993. In the late 90s, I remember watching an episode of the 'X-Files' while waiting for my friends to pick me up for my prom. When my husband and I were newly together, we watched the series finale of the 'X-Files' together and cried. It was one of the things we bonded over!

I have literally seen every episode of this show. So I am hardcore fan. Imagine my disappointment that the new 'X-Files' of 2016 was terrible. It was just awful...besides the third episode, which was classic monster of the week 'X-Files.' Every other episode in the 10th season left much to be desired. I don't know what happened? I hope the 'X-Files' comes back again with better scripts. David Duchovny said it best--when a show has been off the air for 14 years things are a little rusty. So perhaps the next season will be wonderful. I'm hopeful there will be a limited season 11 and that it will improve.

My worst list has been seriously culled this year. I made myself a promise that I would not watch as many crappy films this year. I have also chopped films with known diversity issues. Thankfully I have kept that promise. So I honestly haven't seen that many films this year. I know...what's wrong with a movie blogger who doesn't see that many movies? Well, I just couldn't grin and bear watching so much crap anymore. I just couldn't do it. Although I did try to watch some of the bad movies on Netflix or Amazon.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
I made it through about 20 to 30 minutes of the film and then had to turn it off. I couldn't do it. I can't even give you a proper review because I didn't see the full film.

Batman versus Superman - Dawn of Justice. 
I actually ended up seeing this film a couple of times...accidentally. After all who in their right mind would see this film more than once? The first scene with Batman's parents being killed was actually visually quite stunning. It was tragically sad, but well filmed. Unfortunately the film went downhill from there. The only two good things that came out of that film were Batfleck and the introduction of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. Gal seemed to be the only one having any fun in this dismal film.

Gods of Egypt. 
It just happened to be on cable television at my dad's house, so I was forced to watch the first 10 minutes. Alas I could only get through 10 minutes of this sludge. It was that bad. My time is far too precious to watch bad movies. I would rather watch paint dry than finish this film. There were no redeeming qualities.

The first 10 minutes of the film were basically about Bek (Brenton Thwaites) a thief stealing a beautiful dress for Zaya (Courtney Eaton) his hot girlfriend who he shares a hut with. Then we see some of the Egyptian gods in the form of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau recovering from a hangover by taking a bath 'Coming to America'-style. i.e. being bathed by scantily clothed women. Yep, no thank you. Over and out.

This film was on my "no" list from the very beginning. The diversity issues in this film are plentiful, so there was no way I was going to pay to watch this film.

Blair Witch. 
It started out fine, but this genre is so dead. Literally. There were some genuinely creeptastic parts in this film that freaked me out, but overall this movie was boring. My dad almost walked out. No joke. My dad and I have only almost walked out on three films, 'Batman and Robin' and 'Alien v. Predator: Requiem.' So 'Blair Witch' is in bad company. The ending was relatively decent, but the plot never truly came together. I can't even.

Neon Demon.
I so wanted to like this moody film. It reminded me a little bit of 'Cat People' (1982) and 'The Hunger' (1983), both of which I adore. I also loved Nicolas Winding Refn's iconic film 'Drive.' Alas, magic in a bottle may only come once in a lifetime. I'm not sure what happened to this film, but it was a little weird even for me.

The plot is basically--the models are literally witches who want to eat the angelic newcomer Jesse (Elle Fanning). Interesting concept for sure, but the film was in desperate need of more susbtance. Some of the characters were fun and strange, but it never found its footing. I wish there had been more Christina Hendricks. More Christina Hendricks may have saved this film for me.

13 Hours. The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.
One of things my dad and I do together is see movies--his genre of choice is action and war movies, so despite the reviews of course we saw '13 Hours.' But when a war film gets the Michael Bay treatment be warned. Bay is known for his sensationalism and this film suffers because of it. Unfortunately, '13 Hours' doesn't receive the treatment it deserved. Given that this film is based on true events, I would have liked to have seen a more respectful treatment of the material. Had Ridley Scott or Kathryn Bigelow directed this film, I would have enjoyed the film much more.

London Has Fallen. 
Gerard Butler needs to stop making movies. Now. This was a follow-up from 'Olympus Has Fallen.' It's an over-exploitative shoot-em up film about terrorists infiltrating London. Somehow only Secret Service Agent Mike Banning can stop them. Jack Bauer he is not.

Girl on the Train. 
It started out fine, but it soon descends into utter idiocy. Emily Blunt is a solid actress and the other actors are good too. The main problem is the material. The film was marketed as another 'Gone Girl,' but compared to the brilliance of Gillian Flynn's 'Gone Girl,' Erin Wilson's 'The Girl on a Train' doesn't hold up.

Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic who spends her days and her nights on a commuter train longing for the life and the house she once shared with her husband David (Justin Theroux). Through the window of the train she watches her husband's new life with his new wife Anna (Rebecca Furguson) and their new baby. In the process she develops a fascination with her ex-husband's neighbors, Megan (Haley Bennett) and Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans). As she spies on them she imagines this perfect couple have equally perfect lives, but looks can be deceiving. Megan goes missing and her husband stands accused. Could the girl on the train have the answers to her disappearance?

Deepwater Horizon.
It's not a bad movie, but it's not a particularly good one. Deepwater Horizon had such a tragic and sad topic that I wish it would have been handled in a more serious manner. No offense to Peter Berg, who is the star of one of my favorite B-movie films of all time ('Shocker'), but the director of 'Battleship' and 'Hancock' simply cannot do justice to a film about the 'Deepwater Horizon.'

Like '13 Hours,' it was an over simplification of the events. I would have much preferred to see 'Deepwater Horizon' done in the tradition of 'Spotlight,' 'Zodiac,' or the 'China Syndrome.' I wanted to see a film that took it's time unraveling the tragedy that took 11 lives, polluted an ocean, and destroyed the local economy of the gulf coast-- instead of  an action film. Note to self, if Mark Walberg is starring...

The Forest.
Natalie Dormer stars as a woman searching for her missing twin sister. Her sister disappeared into a forest in Japan known to be a place where people frequently commit suicide. It's a little far fetched, but go with it. It only gets worse from here. January release was the first clue.

I'm not going to waste two hours of my life to watch a crappy movie anymore. My time is valuable. So I significantly culled my movie review list in 2016. Had the reviews been better I would have likely seen the films below.

The Huntsman: Winter's War.
The Boss.
X-Men: Apocalypse.
Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Independence Day: Resurgence.
The Legend of Tarzan.
Jason Bourne.
Mechanic Resurrection .
Magnificent Seven.
The Accountant.
Assassin's Creed.

Suicide Squad. 
I am a huge DC fan, so it saddens me to say that I had to skip this film. I may eventually watch this movie on Netflix if I drink enough wine to make it worth it. I could literally cry at how DC and Warner Brothers are mismanaging their film catalog with talentless directors and bad writers. I do not like Marvel nearly as much, but even I have to admit Marvel (Disney) knows how to use their catalog properly. Most importantly--they hire good people.

Seriously, it can't be this hard. I am perplexed how/why the WB and DC keep handing hundreds of millions of dollars to the likes of David Ayers and Zack Synder. It just boggles the mind. Even after Ayer's disastrous take on 'Suicide Squad,' someone at WB thinks it's a great idea to hand over the reins to this near-do-well again for the Harley Quinn film. What fresh hell is this?

Manchester by Sea.
Not my type of film. It looks boring. I also do not want to support raging sexual harasser Casey Affleck.

La La Land. 
I seriously have no interest in seeing this film. Someone will have to convince me this is actually a good movie and not just propped up by the Academy because Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone "do" jazz.

Doctor Strange 
As I've said in previous posts, I'm not going to pay to see films like 'Doctor Strange,' 'Ghost in the Shell,' 'Pan,' or 'Gods of Egypt' or other films with known diversity issues. I adore Tilda Swinton. She and Scarlett Johansson are probably my favorite actresses of all time. No joke. Admittedly, I admire the emails Tilda sent to Margaret Cho in response to the casting issues. Tilda's emails made me love her even more. The problem is not Tilda, but Hollywood at large.

If you recall a post I did last year explaining my new policy of "putting my money where my mouth is." I'm not going to get angry or stomp my feet or create twitter hashtags. If a film isn't representative of people of color or women I just won't see it.

When I say representative I mean representative of the culture and the time the film is set in. If it's set amongst the wealthy houses of Victorian England-- I wouldn't necessarily expect to see much diversity. However, if it's set in 2017 New York City in an urban neighborhood then yes, more diversity should be included. If a character is a Tibetan monk, then perhaps the character should be played by someone of Asian descent?

There are very few roles for people of color in Hollywood, so to change one of those few roles only worsens the diversity issue in Hollywood. I also understand the concern people have about changing white characters to people of color. I have said before that if a character is iconic then it's understandable to maintain that character's ethnicity. But there are very few characters that would fit that iconic classification.

The Bechdel Test

In the same vein, I am trying to see films that pass the Bechdel TestMeaning: At least two female characters are named and talk to each other. That's it. Just two. Amazingly most films cannot pass this test. Again a disclaimer, if I'm watching a film like 'Saving Private Ryan,' I do not expect a film to pass the Bechdel test.

Also films like 'Sicario' or 'Gravity' are an exception. These films may only have one female cast member, but she's the lead character. But there's no reason that the entire 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy, the original 'Star Wars' trilogy, or 'The Avengers,' does not pass the Bechdel test. Women are 50% of the population for goodness sake.

Birth of a Nation. 
I may get some flack for not seeing this, but I refuse to see a film that Nate Parker and writing partner Jean Celestin make. Making matters worse Parker turned this film into a vanity project by starring in it. And yes, I hold Woody Allen and Roman Polanski to the same standard. I haven't seen an Allen film since 'Midnight in Paris' and I don't plan on seeing any of his films either. There are several directors and actors who are on my "nope" list, Parker is one of them. Casey Affleck is also one of them.


  1. I love that Civil War, Don't Breathe, Arrival and 10 Cloverfield made your best list! Civil War was my #1 of the year, I don't care what anyone says. That movie was exactly what I wanted it to be.

    I love all the love for Westworld! Such an amazing show. I really adored Stranger Things too and The OA, while a little wierd was very interesting.

    YES to The Walking Dead being on the worst list. God, how that show has fallen.

    I was also disappointed in the X Files. There were maybe 2 out of those 6 episodes that I'd classify as good.

    Don't beat yourself up over not seeing Birth of a Nation. I thought it was terrible.

    1. Hi Brittani! So glad to hear from you! Yes, Civil War was definitely going to be on my list. I'm glad that was your #1! Oh TWD totally deserves the worst list. They've been so terrible this year.

      Thanks for the comments on Birth of a Nation. I just couldn't bring myself to watch it.

  2. Wow, where to begin?
    Stranger Things was the best of everything last year and look forward to season two this fall.
    I really enjoyed Suicide Squad and would put it in my top ten. The biggest knock is they should've just gone for it and made it R rated.
    No Hacksaw Ridge? That's definitely in my top ten and my pick for Best Picture even though it won't win.
    The way the story ran, I accepted what they'd done with Doctor Strange and totally enjoyed it.
    Civil War and Rogue One definitely top my list.
    And I skipped Ghostbusters on principle - we didn't need another one and I can't stand McCarthy.

    1. Hi Alex!! Thanks for the comment. Yes, I really loved Stranger things. It was so wonderful! I am amazed you liked Suicide Squad. I will watch it when it comes to Netflix.

      I was debating whether to see Hacksaw Ridge. I'm not a Mel Gibson fan, but I may give that a try. It's a war movie and my dad and I see war movies.

      ha ha, I know... you and my husband are in the same camp with ghostbusters!

  3. Super solid post. I'm thrilled to see Arrival made your #1 spot! It's definitely going to be in my top 3 of my top 10 list...I was so awe-struck by it.

    You can skip Manchester by the Sea entirely. I was bored AF, as was my boyfriend (who is also a cinephile). Affleck's performance is good, but nothing groundbreaking.

    If you need my thoughts on the overrated La La Land, head over to my website ;) It's not all it's hyped to be that's for sure.

    What about Moonlight?

    Also, skipping Birth of a Nation is not a problem...the movie had potential, but was just BAD. I got a lot of shit for my negative review of it. Whatever though.

    1. Hi Courtney!! I hope you're doing well. Thank you for your comments. Arrival was so fantastic. I'm so glad you agree that I should skip Manchester. It looks so boring...then there's the Casey Affleck thing. He's so gross.

      Oh you know I forgot about Moonlight. Thank you for the recommendation! I will watch that one. I think I remember reading your review of Birth and you definitely eviscerated it! It's probably best that I skip it.

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  5. Manchester by the Sea is one of the most beautiful stories of grief ever told. It plays as a good novel of small town life reads with revelation sprinkled in as memories. Casey Affleck is a fine actor, one of our best, and I hate that these allegations from years ago have surfaced to dampen that. Unusual how that happens in an actor's moment of true success. Even so, he will and should win an Oscar for this work, and I urge you to see this movie. It rings more true to the feelings of loss than any film I've seen. At the same time, it's one of the most humanly funny films of last year.

    On another note, I regret not seeing Allied. And Arrival is great.

    1. Hi Kevin, thanks for your comments. I heard about these allegations against Affleck some years ago. I haven't really been a fan of his for quite some time. That said, as long as I can watch the film without paying for it I may do so. If the film is as good as you say I will give it a go when it comes to Netflix or Amazon prime. I am intrigued by your description of it as a beautiful story of grief!

      You should see Allied. It's a popcorn thriller. Not an Oscar contender.

  6. A great selection of good and bad and I agree with you about most of them.

    1. Ha ha, thanks Cal! I hope you're doing well!

  7. Nice to have you back! Sorry you didn’t like Neon Demon, but glad you included Stranger Things among your best TV. You question why the 80s is nostalgic, to me the iconic music and movies are big reasons why. I can’t click on the link to your previous review of Stranger T, could you add?
    Agree last 30 min of Rogue One was gripping. Well-made retro entertainment, though the new Star Wars characters were a tad indistinctive.

    1. Hi Chris! Glad to see you. Hope you're doing well. Neon Demon was a little strange for me. I may have to rewatch. The beginning of the film reminded me a lot of the Hunger. I thought the beginning was pretty good. I wish there was more plot to Elle Fanning's character.

      Thanks for letting me know about the stranger things link. I'll have to fix that. I really liked Rogue One too. I totally agree the new characters were not very distinctive from previous Star Wars films. Forest Whitaker was probably the most interesting.

  8. This is an amazing list! I'm on board with you on so many things. The Shallows was a decent movie. I hope Blake Lively can continue to push herself and try different roles because she's enjoyable to watch. Also loved Arrival, Civil War, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and Ghostbusters. The Walking Dead season seven is just horrible. It's like they didn't get Emmys for their more "artsy" episodes in season four, so it's been nothing but trolling fans since. I wouldn't mind it so much if the Negan hype was warranted but Jeffrey Dean Morgan is atrocious. American Horror Story: Roanoke was hysterical. I'm not a big fan of that show, but it was so on-point with celebrity culture and supernatural shows. I gotta say I loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The beginning with the worldbuilding could've been cut but overall it was a fun movie. Hope to see you keep popping up to blog! :D

    1. Oh my goodness. Sorry it has taken me a while to respond! I hope you're doing well. Thanks so much! I totally agree with you about TWD. I just can't even. Maybe I need to give Pride and Prejudice another chance! I didn't finish it.

  9. This was such an enjoyable post! DCEU...I swear I'd be more interested in watching documentaries about those movies than actual movies. i just cannot believe how much went how have such resources, such cast and such stories and yet to manage to mess it up to this extent...thank God for great things in 2016 like Westworld!

    1. You are sooo right! I can't even begin with DC. What in the world? Who is working there? The amount of money these people are wasting by producing trash is mind boggling.

      Oh Westworld made my 2016. Thank you for the recommendation. I think I started watching it b/c of your review.

  10. Nice round up here. Arrival gets better and better on repeat viewings. I adore it. I still really need to check out The OA. I've heard nothing but great things.

    1. Thanks Alex!! I hope you're doing well. Yes, the OA was a strange little series. It really reminded me of a fairy tale. Idk how else to describe it. It's definitely not for everyone, but I think you would like it.


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