A lot of bad movies are going to win Oscars this year. In fact, if you asked me to place my money today, I would bet that the Best Actor, Actress, Director, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay and Best Picture categories, are going to sport victors from films that are mediocre…or outright terrible. At this point, I’m counting on one very good film to grab the awards for Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay. Yet things were looking so promising just a few weeks ago–so, what happened?! Well, the rise of a tepid musical (which seems unstoppable as of today), and the fall from grace of an actor based on harassment allegations (which now seems destined to shut the film out). So, there you have it.
Don’t get me wrong–there are some damn good movies up for Best Picture this year. Two of them grace my Top Ten, and another deuce resides in the honorable mention listing. However, 4 out of the 9 don’t belong anywhere near a grouping of the “year’s best”. Plus, I have yet to see “Hacksaw Ridge”, which I understand is pretty darn strong. I believe it, and I intend to view it BEFORE the big show later this month. That it was directed by a proven anti-Semite doesn’t appear to bother the nominating committee or the public-at-large, but the unproven accusations against the aforementioned performer do. Selective outrage? Probably. Whatever. Maybe Casey’s a real jerk. But he gave my favorite performance of the year in the very best film of the year. So, it’s a conundrum.
The screen shot above this story is not my #1 film of 2016–but it was close. The February release impressed me immediately and did some respectable box office. Most critics applauded it too. But it had one of the worst CinemaScore ratings I’ve ever seen. Audiences loved the trailers, bought tickets for the movie–and despised it. Taste. Patience. Thinking outside the box. Must…fight…diatribe. But it’s so obviously true. It gets worse every year. I blame laziness and lack of artistic curiosity. In fact, I’m certain that, at least, two of my Top Ten would send some scampering out of the theater. But my list also contains the biggest hit of 2016! I took some flack on the America Weekend (77 cities, at last count!) national radio show last year for not including its percrusor. This time is different. This one is better. Must have been some kind of force.
So, when “La La Land” wins Best Picture later this month, I won’t be surprised. Even though, it’s empty posturing. That number pictured above from “Hail, Caesar!” is superior to anything in Damien Chazelle’s latest. Plus, “La La” has received some push back as of late. It won’t be enough though–it’ll win. 64 films this year (only 16 in an actual theater…thank you FYC screeners!), after last year’s torrid pace of 78. Had to take a step back and eliminate some of the garbage…the 2015 season was exhausting. At least nothing as bad as “Terminator 5” in 2016, though. I’m also so pleased that the nominations were more diverse this season. Unfortunately, that meant that a bunch of films starring African-Americans were just as bad as some of last year’s crop that were sans people of color. You see…mediocrity knows no race. But congratulations to all of the fine black actors…at least two of which I will be rooting for very strongly. Btw, I wish I had seen Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” in time for this compilation, as well as Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson”. But a deadline is a deadline is a deadline. I believe you’ll agree that it’s a wildly diverse crowd of motion pictures presented here. With more than a few surprises. Let’s get on with it then.
My #1 slot goes to a devastating meditation, from one of our finest interpreters of the human condition. #2 contains necrophilia and cannibalism…and I couldn’t take my eyes off of its seductive vampires (they’re not that, btw…but they are). #3 truly understands old Hollywood. #4 will have you questioning the role of time. #5 showed me another view, of a familiar tragedy. #6 somehow got an Oscar nom for its marvelous screenplay–Yay! #7 is from a director I wish more people were aware of. #8 was a Best Foreign Film nominee from last year, that didn’t see proper release until this year (plus, it should’ve won). #9 is a period piece that could be the director’s finest (all corsets and frilly hats…I saw it on Father’s Day.). And the #10 spot goes to a franchise release that is the best of its kind since 1980. The Ten Best Films of 2016 are:
1. Manchester by the Sea
2. The Neon Demon
3. Hail, Caesar!
6. The Lobster
7. Green Room
8. Embrace of the Serpent
9. Love & Friendship
10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13TH & Weiner
Loving & Midnight Special
Blair Witch & The Witch
Hell or High Water
Maggie’s Plan & 20th Century Women
Kubo and the Two Strings
The Nice Guys & 10 Cloverfield Lane
The Worst of the Year
Fences (overwrought & mishandled)
Ghostbusters (dancing disorganized distaff)
The Girl on the Train (tawdry & Blunt)
Hidden Figures (cartoonish caricatures)
Knight of Cups (Malick muddle)
La La Land (don’t be afraid to say it)
Suicide Squad (formless & endless)