Top Ten Worst Films Of 2016

So, 2016 eh? Apart from a few good months at the beginning and a couple of good weeks near the end, 2016 has been a terrible year for cinema. So many reboots, (unnecessary) sequels, superhero films and outright scum and villainy, it was hard to make a list of just ten films. But anyway, let’s get on with some dishonourable mentions;

Warcraft: The Beginning

Blair Witch

Inferno (although that was at least educational while being gloriously dumb)

and now onto the actual worst (no, Gods Of Egypt won’t be on here).

10.

I don’t really want to remember Independence Day: Resurgence. It was just depressing to remember how good the first one was, and THIS was the film they returned with twenty years later. Let’s just move on, it doesn’t really worth thinking about anymore.

9.

Video games, when will you and Hollywood get along? And since Assassins Creed has been dashed against the rocks, I’m going to have to wait until the new Tomb Raider for a good adaptation. But for now we have to sit through boring slog like Ratchet And Clank. With only a passing resemblance to the games and terrible animation (in a year of exquisite animated films) this one isn’t even for fans.

8.

While Jason Bourne wasn’t a terrible film, it was a thoroughly weak entry in a series that I actually enjoyed. None of the cool spy stuff from the other films was present in JB, with only a hammy Tommy Lee-Jones and a show-stealing performance from Alicia Vikander to liven up the boring story. Add in some silly ret-cons and action that is barely visible (in a series known for doing action right), Jason Bourne needs to slip back into the shadows.

7.

More terrible sequels nobody asked for with Zoolander 2. A well-worn re-tread of the first film, just with more obnoxious cameos. Yes, it was nice to see Zoolander and Hansel walk down the runway again, but everything else was not worth watching. And Sting is nowhere near a good enough replacement for David Bowie.

6.

Pixar are a pretty reliable company when it comes to animation. But instead of continuing their successful run of one-off films such as Inside Out, they are returning to their glory days in the early 2000s to give us half-arsed rehashes of their best work. Finding Dory was one of the most boring films I’ve seen this year, with a story so mind-numbingly dull I was really considering getting my phone out when I was in the cinema to entertain myself. Stop making sequels to your properties Pixar, we don’t know what we actually want. We’re the people who made Cars successful and for that reason alone we need to be utterly ignored.

5.

2013’s White House Down was a genuinely good film, a movie about terrorists attacking the White House. Olympus Has Fallen also came out that year, with the exact same plot and was worse in every single way. But since that one somehow made more money, that’s the one that got a sequel. London Has Fallen was a sloppily made garbage fire of a film, with terrible shot composition, editing and acting. And because LHF somehow actually made money, a third one has just been green-lit. Welcome to a never-ending conveyor belt of Gerard Butler beating up some vaguely foreign-types.

4.

Number four is Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates, a vile little film that takes anyone who isn’t straight, white or male and makes them out to be sexual deviants, wimps and fools. Special scorn should be aimed towards Aubrey Plaza and Adam DeVine for some of the most disgusting things I’ve witnessed on a film screen this year. And a word of advice to Zac Efron, get out of Hollywood for a while and make some darling indie project. Your future career depends on it.

3.

Two films tie for third place this year, each one being a perfect example of how terrible superhero films can be in what is apparent the Golden Age of Comic Book Movies. Batman Vs. Superman is a joke of a film, a 151 minute long fan-service exercise that things being broody and dark is cool but comes off looking immature and stupid. Throw in a non-existent story and the hilarity of “MARTHA!”, it deserves it’s place on here. But what’s worse is that Suicide Squad tries to pander to the criticisms of BvS. Bouts of “comedic” moments, a lighting setup that switches from complete darkness to blindingly white and a finished product seems to have been edited using a chainsaw, Suicide Squad get’s to sit right alongside its sister film. Please keep making terrible films DC, they’re quite fun to rip into.

2.

Point Break made me want to stop reviewing films. An unnecessary sequel of a fairly beloved classic, the new Point Break has none of the wit or charm of the original, with classic characters like Body and Utah reduced to pouty Abercrombie and Fitch models and a script that is more inspirational Facebook quotes than a proper story. But if a film that made me want to stop reviewing films is in second place, what horror awaits us at number one?

1.

I stand by the idea that you can make a good movie out of anything. No idea is too silly or stupid to watch. Heck, some of my favourite movies are films that on paper sound liked terrible jokes of ideas. But my number one is the culmination of a bad idea and a terrible film, Angry Birds. Never have I left a theatre shaking with pure white-hot rage at a film before. With a toothless and generic script, terrible voice acting (why was Peter Dinklage in this film?) and shady and exploitative product placement shoved in during the climax, Angry Birds is not just the worst of this year, it is one of the worst of the 21st Century.

Don’t even buy it on DVD to see how bad it is for yourself. If you buy it, you are supporting the Fruit Ninja film, the Tetris film, Space Invaders, Furby’s, Emoji’s and all the other terrible ideas that are going to be squirted out into cinema in the coming years. The cinema will be filled with nothing but vapid films based on some questionable source material in the next few years if these films make money, and it will be on our heads. Please, don’t go.

 

And that’s it for 2016, please return in the next year, for hopefully some better cinematic fare. Have a good new year and a great 2017!

Come have a read the other side, with The Best Of 2016!

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Top Ten Best Films Of 2016

It’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, the festive period is over, and every film critic is creating their best and worst list of the year. And here is mine.

Quick note, scores aren’t a factor on this list. These were just my personal favourites. Before we get going a few honourable mentions:

Love And Friendship

War On Everyone

Everybody Wants Some!!

And now…

10.

Ten is a tie because I couldn’t pick between them, Room and The Hateful Eight. I had no clue what I was expecting with Room, but I never though I would get a emotive family drama, focussing on the interactions of a mother and young son, with an Oscar-worthy performance by newcomer Jacob Tremblay. The shot when he first see’s the sky is still one that I think about regularly even after all this time. The Hateful Eight is a return to the old-fashioned QT, focussing on colourful dialogue with an array of interesting characters in a secluded location rather than the weird genre stylings of his last few films. Fantastic performances from Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason-Leigh, with a perfect accompanying score by Ennio Morricone.

9.

I’m not a romance film person, but The Light Between Oceans lands itself on my Top-Ten List. Stunning performances by Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander (two of my favourite actors) and exquisite cinematography by Adam Arkapaw save the sometimes clichéd story and dragging second half.

8.

A Wild Western reset in the modern day, Hell or High Water was a pleasant surprise at the tail end of the summer. An actor defining performance by Chris Pine, backed up by powerful supports such as Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. The story may seem like one you’ve seen before, but the modern trappings add a refreshing touch that separates it from similar films with much bigger budgets (I’m looking at you, Magnificent Seven).

7.

Nobody thought Eye In The Sky was going to be good. Even I saw the trailer and thought it looked pretty hackneyed. But the tense arguments, the shocking ideas of collateral damage in war and powerful performances by Helen Mirren, Barkhad Abdi and the late Alan Rickman really make this one stand tall. Here’s hoping for a posthumous Supporting Actor nomination for the latter actor.

6.

At number six, the Master Of Ultra-Violence, Nicolas Winding-Refn, is back with The Neon Demon. An odd mash-up of fairytale and the modelling business in Los Angeles, this is one you don’t want spoiled for you. Just go watch it, but be prepared for some jaw-dropping moments that you’ll be replaying long after the film is done.

5.

Modern horror usually doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t like being jump scared, I don’t seek it out for entertainment. But then The Witch came along, a film of no jump scares or silly noises, and it freaked the heck out of me. The endless tension building, the moody and ominous score by Mark Karven and the debut of lead Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch may not be for everybody, but for horror fans it’s a must-see. A great directorial debut by Robert Eggers.

4.

It took over forty years to make, but High-Rise is worth the wait. A wide selection of great actors including Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Elizabeth Moss and Luke Evans converge in an entertaining and slightly frightening orgy of sex, drugs and violence. High-Rise is the height of decadence and it’s a blast.

3.

Hell Or High Water was a Western through the lens of modern day. Our number three is a Western through the lens of horror. Bone Tomahawk was a sprawling 132 minute exercise in bloody torture and gruesome death and it was one of the my top picks for this year. Another one you don’t want spoiled for you, it’s a remarkable debut by writer, musician, cinematographer and director S. Craig Zahler.

2.

2016 has been a very good year for animation. With soon-to-be classics from Disney with Moana and Zootropolis, and Japanese efforts of When Marnie Was There and Your Name, animation buffs have been spoiled his year. But two films beat them all. Our number two is Laika’s Kubo And The Two Strings is an impressive stop-motion film with inflections of Eastern mythology and settings and a heart of gold underneath. Excellent performances by Rooney Mara, Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron, along with some near-perfect shot compositions, Kubo will be winning awards left, right and centre at this year’s Oscars.

1.

I saw this all the way back in March, and since then it’ been at the top of my list of 2016. And still, nine months later, Anomalisa has stayed on top. An awe-inspiring dream of a film, written by Eternal Sunshine writer Charlie Kaufman and directed by Duke Johnson, I consider Anomalisa to be a perfect film. Mesmerising stop-motion, beautiful portrayals by David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason-Leigh and a story that is heartfelt and crushing, this will be one for the ages.

That’s been 2016, happy new year and may 2017 be a great one!

Why not read my look back at the bad stuff, The Worst Of 2016?

Top 10 Best Films of 2015

Well, we’re already at the end of 2015. And so, like every other film reviewer, it is customary for a Top 10 list of the best and worst films this year. This list is the best of 2015.

A few rules before I start, only films I’ve reviewed will be appearing on this list, so if you’re looking for a certain film and it isn’t on here, that’s why. Also, this list doesn’t take into account my scores. So a film that scored an 8 or 9 maybe in a higher position on the list than one that has a 10. It happens, I might have just liked a film more after I had written the review. But anyway, let’s get on with it. Some honorable mentions that didn’t make the list;

Amy
Blackhat
Paper Towns
Wild

And now for the rest…

10.

It was a toss up between this and Amy, but after thinking about it I found more enjoyment in Steve Jobs. Standout performances from Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen, a fun and witty script by Aaron Sorkin that manages to be easy and entertaining for the most tech-phobic person to understand.

9.

2015 was a great year for animation, and there are at least two films on this list that show the diversity that was the animation choices this year. Number nine, Song Of The Sea is beautifully crafted and tells a sweet and simple story filled with giants, owls and fairies set in Ireland. It’s going to be one that will be remembered as a standout in future years.

8.

This film threw me when I first saw it. My thoughts when coming out of the cinema were around a 5/10, but after pondering on it, it became one of my favorites of the year, it’s Sicario. Dark, disturbing and sometimes sickening, it’s also a great action thriller, with a standout role for Benicio Del Toro. Director Denis Villenueve seems to be on a roll for creating suspenseful films and Sicario cements his already great resumé.

7.

A recent one, it’s nevertheless a great film. Spielberg comes back to us with Bridge of Spies, and shows he’s still one of the greatest directors living today. In a year filled with spies (Man From U.N.C.L.E., Kingsman and SPECTRE) Bridge Of Spies takes away the bombastic set pieces and brings it down to tense tradeoffs of enemy spies in snowy Berlin. It’s still in the cinema at the time of writing, so if you haven’t had the chance, it’s a great choice to go see.

6.

This was a little closer to the top four when I first made this list and I still think it being on this list will produce a few arguments in my house over whether it was actually that good. But damn it, I love James Bond, and SPECTRE was just what I was asking for. Every other Craig era Bond film has been a character redefining piece, so it’s nice for SPECTRE to get back to the series traditions. Add the gunbarrel, the impressive four-minute shot of the Day of the Dead and Lea Seydoux in one of the best Bond Girl roles since Diana Rigg, for me it’s one of the years best.

5.

John Wick was one of the earliest films I reviewed in 2015, but I had been waiting for it for so long and it still delivered under the intense amount of hype. It was full of everything I love, martial arts, practical stunts and Keanu Reeves. It has a simple set-up for a story, which is just fine since we are here for the gunfights and punch-ups, with the nightclub scene being on a par with the excellent nightclub shootout from Collateral. Like I said in my review, if you’re a fan of The Raid or it’s sequel, John Wick is more of the same.

4.

Four is Brooklyn, the second film to come from the Irish Film Board this year that appears on this list. A trans-Atlantic love story written by Nick Hornby and starring up and comers Saorise Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen, it’s heartfelt and sweet, without descending into mawkish Nicolas Sparks style storytelling. Brooklyn stands up there with Calvary, widely considered to be the greatest Irish film ever made.

3.

Inside Out has been appearing on many other peoples Best-Of 2015 lists, and it deserves all of the praise it gets. An inventive premise, that manages to tackle some incredibly dark topics for what is meant to be a kids film. Inside Out shows why Pixar is Pixar, and everyone else is everyone else.

2.

After starting The Student Film Review, I’ve been going to as many films as I can. Films that I wouldn’t have even looked twice at I’ve gone to and in doing so I’ve found some absolute crackers. Precinct Seven Five is one of those films. 2015 has had some good documentaries but for me Precinct Seven Five takes it. Essentially a real-life Scorsese film, the film follows two cops in the 75th Precinct in New York as they decide to become both criminals as well as cops. It’s amazing and shows that documentaries can be more pulse pounding than some action films.

1.

I ummed and ahhed over whether to give number one to this or Precinct Seven Five. But I ultimately gave it to this since it gave me a much more visceral thrill after watching it than Precinct Seven Five, or really any other film did this year. My number one for 2015 is Macbeth. Michael Fassbender (for the second time on this list) and Marion Cotillard give amazing performances, while director Justin Kurzel creates some beautiful shots and brother Jed Kurzel brings a stellar soundtrack. The quartet take one of the most adapted plays of William Shakespeare and turn it into a brooding and violent war epic. It just goes to show that sometimes the best stories are the old ones.

 

I guess that’s it for 2015. I’m Tom, The Student Film Critic and welcome to 2016!

Read the contrasting post on the Top 10 Worst Films of 2015!