Yep, it’s that time of year again–movie recap time! Hard to believe I’ve been at this for NINE years now (in case you have no idea what I’m tracking here, it’s nine years of doing a recap blog post of movies I saw in the theater the previous year). Total movies seen–in the theater–during that time? 478. I won’t even try to think about what I could have spent that money on, because many/most of those I saw with at least one other member of my family and I almost always get at least a drink and usually some other snack. You’re welcome Hollywood.
Before I get into the movie part, I will say that I’m sort of not that optimistic about the movie theater business these days. The reason I’ve spent an ungodly amount of money over the past nine years seeing almost 500 movies in the theater as opposed to waiting until they come out on DVD a few months later is because there’s something about watching a movie in the theater that you can’t replicate at home. Which is weird because it’s certainly more comfortable at home and TVs are so huge now and TV sound systems so good that, as far as movie quality goes, it’s pretty much a tie as far as home vs. theater these days. Then add in the cost of tickets for the theater these days–$11 plus, if you’re me and usually buy tickets through Fandango, $1.50 per ticket (unless you’re seeing a movie at an AMC Theater and are an AMC Stubs member–well worth the cost of Premier membership…and I wish this were sponsored by AMC but it’s not), plus parking if you go to a theater with paid parking (this part requires an entire separate rant post, Regal Rockville Town Center!), plus movie food and drink (aka the same soda and candy you could get at 7-11 for a total of $3 but pay $10 for at the theater)–is an extravagance that honestly is just not justifiable based on the quality of most movies these days. But if you’re a sucker like me, there’s something about the escapism and just luxury of being in a dark theater with no internet, phones or interruptions for two or three hours that nothing else quite matches. Although even I have my limits–yes, I’m a sucker for a reclining seat and a pillow and a blanket–but $28 for one ticket ($16 for a seat that is not in the front row, then an additional $12 VIP fee for the pillow, blanket and “free” popcorn)–how iPic Pike & Rose is still in business I have no idea.
Anyway, I’ll digress…apparently I could write a whole novel about the movie theater experience and what is and is not worth spending money or time on, but I’ll spare you because most people just skip the expense and see everything on DVD or video on demand, which, were I not addicted to the ritual of GOING to the movies, I would definitely switch to. I will say that if movies are ever released for home watching at the same time they’re released in the theater, I’ll be be hard pressed to remain devoted to the movie theater experience.
As has been the case over many of the years I’ve been doing this recap post, 2016 was pretty much a bust in terms of movie quality…although you wouldn’t know it based on the robust box office tallies for the year. So, world, you have me to blame when movies continue sucking in 2017 and beyond–because I continue to go and spend crazy amounts of money even when most movies suck. So without further ado, here is my 2016 list (ones with * are movies that came out in 2016 but that I saw at home)
- 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi–I’ll be honest–my old person memory is so bad that I can barely remember this one…so it obviously wasn’t that remarkable. Would make a good rental, though.
- The Boy–even though it turned out to be a total bust in terms of the weird/crappy plot twist at the end, it was good fun and worth seeing for the creepiness. Double your fun by watching Bad Ronald first…slight spoiler alert but you’re welcome.
- Dirty Grandpa *–ok, so I have the sense of humor of a 13 year old boy, but I thought this movie was hilarious. If you’re offended by…basically anything, you probably don’t want to see this. But I personally sort of loved it.
- Deadpool–was this only 2016? Feels like it was years ago. Anyway, Deadpool is AWESOME–a must see, IMO…with the same caveat for #3, though. If you’re offended by teenage boy humor, this is definitely not for you. But as far as Marvel movies go, it was highly enjoyable.
- How to Be Single–funny-ish and squarely meh. Good for a home watch, though.
- London Has Fallen *–even though this movie had all the ingredients of a decent movie–plus LONDON–it sadly sucked. Which explains why it was only in the theater for about two seconds.
- Whiskey Tango Foxtrot–maybe I’m not intellectual enough, but I thought this movie mostly sucked. Or if not exactly sucked, definitely wasn’t that great.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane–this was actually really good. Plot twisty, creepy and just overall a very decent movie. Definitely worth a watch at home.
- The Brothers Grimsby *–all I have to say is that this was no Borat. In other words, it sucked. Sadly.
- The Perfect Match–cute with an interesting commentary on the whole concept of internet fame. Definitely worth a watch, IMO.
- Criminal–decent but the typical “trailer was better than the movie” movie. Worth a rental, especially because my boyfriend Tommy Lee Jones is in it.
- Everybody Wants Some–While it wasn’t Boyhood, this movie was weirdly awesome and definitely worth a watch. If you want a more eloquent commentary on why this movie is sort of great, you can read this or this, but I recommend you just watch it and see what you think.
- Captain America: Civil War–yawn–it’s Captain America. So, if you love Marvel, you’ll of course love this; if you don’t, it’s still a mindless, enjoyable enough watch.
- Money Monster–this got great reviews but I personally thought it was kind of crap. This one-sentence review from Hollywood Reporter pretty much says it all: An ordinary film about an extraordinary situation.
- X-Men: Apocalypse–more Marvel movies? I admit I have a bit of a love/hate thing with Marvel movies. On one hand, I wish there would be a Marvel apocalypse and I’d never have to see another Marvel movie; on the other, I continue to see them for their formulaic, mindless fun and, mostly, the after-credit trailers.
- Me Before You *–As adorable as promised, especially if, like me, you haven’t already read the book. Definitely worth a watch if only for the cute English countryside village scenes and to fuel your dreams of living in a guest cottage in England. Oh, wait–that’s my dream, maybe not yours….regardless, still adorable and well worth a watch.
- Popstar: Never Stop Stopping–lmao–I’m laughing just remembering this movie. Even if it’s not the most intellectually stimulating movie you’ll ever see, it’s funny af and SNL clever and pretty much a must-see because we could all use a laugh right about now.
- The Conjuring 2–one of those sequels that proves the rule that sequels suck. Just re-watch The Conjuring and forget about this one.
- The Shallows–really gorgeous scenery and cinematography and, IMO, a definite should-see. I’ve seen it twice so far and just thinking about it is making me want to watch it again, if only because I’d gladly trade shark-infested gorgeous blue ocean for my current 2 degree winter nightmare state. Granted, if you’re squeamish, it may not be the best choice but it’s worth just covering your eyes for those parts to see the gorgeous ocean and enjoy the suspense of this movie.
- Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates–crude-ish but funny as hell and pretty much just what you’d expect. Definitely worth a watch if you’re ok with crude humor and mindless-ish fun.
- The Infiltrator–in case you haven’t already had your fill of Pablo Escobar these past few years (Narcos, some other recent movie I can’t remember the name of), what’s not to like about Bryan Cranston as “a gentle-souled family-man law enforcer who goes undercover as a money launderer to Pablo Escobar”? Definitely worth a watch.
- Bad Moms–funny-ish but I’m sorry–how can she be a legit bad mom if she’s running for PTA president? I’d rate this movie “fine,” which is basically less than Meh.
- Jason Bourne–another Meh for this one. Predictable, action-y, pablum for Matt Damon and/or Jason Bourne fans–myself included, I guess. More interesting than the movie, IMO, is this article about CES is represented in the film.
- Suicide Squad–-Patrick, my husband, would not agree, but I thought this one was pretty yawn-y. It was trying to be Deadpool and just failed. I’m impressed that others were able to write this many words about this pretty forgettable film; I personally would just leave it at Meh and be done with it.
- Sausage Party–hilarious! Ok, yes, crude and lots of drug use/humor, but still weirdly thought-provoking. I mean, how many other movies can be described as “an animated sex comedy about food and God”?
- War Dogs–my other boyfriend, Jonah Hill, rocked this movie, IMO. Roger Ebert hated it but I personally thought it was kind of great. A little slow, granted, but overall definitely worth a watch.
- Sully–I admit, I am not as much as a Tom Hanks as the rest of the world is, but even so, this movie was pretty good. Definitely worth a watch, especially if you’re in need of a simplistic, feel-good at the end watch.
- Before I Wake–creepy and just, sadly, pretty crappy.
- When the Bough Breaks–the trailers looked awesome, but sadly the movie was kind of a hot mess. Just watch Hand the Rocks the Cradle instead.
- Snowden–if you’re obsessed with Snowden, like I am, you’ll like this; if not…probably still worth a watch.
- The Magnificent Seven–for whatever reason, I pretty much hate Westerns and so this movie was pretty much doomed from the start for me. If you like Westerns and/or meh action/shooting movies you’ll probably like it; if not, you’re not missing anything.
- Deepwater Horizon–really good and engaging, IMO. I will definitely be watching it again, especially as the real world craziness continues to escalate and escapism rules the day/year/foreseeable future.
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children–worth a watch if only for the creepy twins and/or the creepy girl or the creepy house.
- The Girl on the Train–just NO to this movie. Read the book and forget this movie was ever made. You’re welcome.
- The Accountant–LOVED this movie and my other other boyfriend, Ben Affleck, in it. Definitely, definitely worth a watch.
- Inferno–I had low expectations for this but it was actually pretty good. Not great or anything, but decent.
- Hacksaw Ridge–LOVED this and definitely recommend watching it. Just great and engaging and sad and uplifting.
- Almost Christmas–just bad, bad, bad. It pains me to say it but it was honestly terrible.
- Arrival–I’m still confused about this movie, a month or two after seeing it. Probably because I wanted it to be Close Encounters of the Third Kind and it just ….wasn’t. It was ok, if confusing-ish, and the whole linguistic thing was sort of cool, but otherwise…meh.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–If I didn’t have a teenage son who wanted to see this, I would have been perfectly happy to give it a miss. It was fine, if you don’t count the fact that it dragged and just as it engaged you, it was over and you’re left waiting for the sequel even though you barely enjoyed the first two hours of this one.
- Cafe Society–adorable and period-perfect Woody Allen. If you hate Woody Allen, this movie isn’t going to make you a fan but it also is less Woody Allen, more 30’s glam and cute story. I personally loved it, but I love Woody Allen films…yes, in spite of the person that he is.
- Manchester by the Sea–unlike the rest of the world who went apeshit over this movie, I personally thought it was fine but nothing spectacular. Maybe because the real world is depressing enough right now and the last thing I’m looking for in a movie is bleakness, or maybe because it really just wasn’t the life-changer of a film that the critics make it out to be. I don’t know–watch it and decide if I’m crazy for not loving it or if you agree that it’s not earth-shatteringly great.
- Miss Sloane–I can’t tell if I loved this movie merely because Jessica Chastain is chic perfection in it or because it reminds me of my beloved House of Cards or if it’s actually a really great movie. I will say that it wasn’t the tightest plot in the world (what was up with the whole sub-plot of her constantly taking whatever those pills were?) but overall it was definitely worth seeing.
- The Lobster*–at the risk of coming across as a half-wit, if I had to sum up this one in one word it would be “WTF”? While interesting-ish, this movie was just too intellectual for me. While thought-provoking about the nature of relationships and love in this day and age of social media and real relationships taking a backseat to fans and followers and living our lives in photos and status updates rather than actually experiencing them, the sheer weirdness of this movie was just more than I was up for the night I watched it. Although I will now have to watch Dogtooth after seeing it mentioned in a review of The Lobster. If you want the opposite of mindless entertainment, watch The Lobster and then explain it to me please.
- La La Land–ah, I’ve saved the best for last. I will start by saying that, while I love movies and have seen a billion recent movies, I am not a film purist or scholar and have never seen most of the great classic movies…something which I will get to someday. I also don’t love musicals. So when I went to see what all the fuss was about re: La La Land, I admit I was skeptical and watched the opening scene with a bit of an inner eye-roll and wondering what I’d gotten myself into. That feeling stuck with me through the second and third scene of the movie, but then the magic of this film kicked in and I was enraptured. If you see no other movie from 2016, you NEED to see La La Land because it is magical perfection. It is the reason I have spent countless hours and dollars over the past nine years in movie theaters, giving myself up to the darkness and the screen. It is gorgeous and fun and sweet and just magical. And that’s coming from cynical me. It is what the world needs right now–two hours and eight minutes of pure escapism and splendor.
Wow, that was a lot. In case you’re merely looking for the TL/DR version, here it is:
Worst movie of 2016: I’m going to have to go with The Girl on the Train just because it took a pretty great book and just pretty much ruined it.
Best movie of 2016: La La Land, a million times over. Honorable mentions for Hacksaw Ridge and Cafe Society, though, and I still haven’t seen some of the allegedly best films of the year: Moonlight, Fences, Jackie, etc, but I can’t imagine they could top the sheer magic of La La Land.
Biggest Disappointment: I’m going to have to go with Almost Christmas, because I thought it was going to be another This Christmas, one of my all-time favorite movies, and it just WAS. NOT. And The Girl on the Train was right up there too–way to mess up a great book.
Thanks for reading, and in case you’re looking for past year’s posts, here they are: