Friday, December 30, 2016

The Best & Worst of 2016

Can you believe it? It’s already time to look back at the year that was in film. Before we dive into my list of the worst films of the year, as I always do, let’s review any trends, successes and failures of the year.

First of all, video game movies… they can’t catch a break! There were four movies based on video games that were released in 2016. This was meant to be the year we finally got a GOOD video game movie! There was Ratchet & Clank, The Angry Birds Movie, Warcraft, and Assassin’s Creed. You’d think that out of four films, one would be guaranteed to be pretty good – especially since two of the films leant so well to the animated form. The awful Angry Birds Movie was the best-reviewed of the bunch, receiving a 43% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ratchet & Clank, which I felt was actually the best video game movie I’d seen in a long time, received the lowest score at 17%. Does next year’s Tomb Raider reboot even stand a chance?
This was quite a franchise-heavy year with no less than 8 sequels, remakes and prequels in the Top 10 Highest-Grossing Films of the year (Zootopia and The Secret Life of Pets were the exceptions). There were a total of 40 sequels, prequels, and remakes in the theater this year – that’s nearly one every week! That’s not even counting all the movies based on previous material.

The summer season was also pretty rough with most films with a budget over $120 million bombing and only half a dozen movies (Bad Moms, Central Intelligence, Suicide Squad, The Secret Life of Pets, Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory) becoming legitimate hits, making more than double their budget (remember, there were well over 100 movies released between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, so 6 hits is not good). That said, 48% of the summer releases earned 70% positive or higher on Rotten Tomatoes, so there were a lot of good movies people were missing.

Race was coincidentally a recurring theme in a year full of racial conflict with Moonlight, Birth of a Nation, Free State of Jones, Race, Loving, O.J.: Made in America, and Hidden Figures all dealing with African American issues. Then there’s Gods of Egypt, which inexcusably whitewashed all its characters.

I could go on and on about box office records and other movie chatter, but let’s get to it. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Best & Worst of 2015

It’s that time of the year once again: the end.  For those of you who are following The Gibson Review on Facebook, it also means it’s time for my annual best and worst of the year lists.

Before we dive in, let's take a moment to look at the year that was. The general consensus seems to be that 2015 was a solid year for movies, so much so that there are too many movies that rise above the pack to be considered 'The Best' for many critics and audiences. As we speak, The Revenant, Carol, Spotlight, The Big Short, Room, and Mad Max: Fury Road are all fighting for awards and Best-of lists.

Like every year, majority of the top grossers were based on known properties or sequels. Pixar's Inside Out is the only film in the Top 10 to not be part of a series or based on a known property. Of course, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the unstoppable juggernaut of the year. Surprisingly, Jurassic World held that position for many months, becoming the third-highest grosser of all-time worldwide.

This was also the year that tried to re-live the '80s of sorts. Releases such as Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Poltergeist, and Creed were sequels or remakes of movies released in the '80s. Even the unsuccessful Pixels prominently featured '80s video game characters.

Who were the MVPs? Oscar Isaac is a clear MVP, breaking out in 2015 with such films as A Most Violent Year, Ex Machina, and The Force Awakens and impressing audiences each time. His co-star Domhnall Gleeson starred in four films this year to various success: Ex Machina, Brooklyn, The Force Awakens, and The Revenant. As for actresses, women in general had a great year; this year wasn't a year where only one or two women stood out. The women in The Duke of Burgundy, Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa, Emily Blunt in Sicario, The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Melissa McCarthy in Spy, Amy Schumer in Trainwreck, Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina and The Danish Girl, and Rey (Daisy Ridley) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All of these actresses and characters helped make an awesome year for women in film. Let's hope that continues in 2016.

Now, before we get to the lists it's important to note that every year there are a handful of films I am unable to get to before making my list. Sometimes the films aren't playing anywhere near my area or time just plain runs out. By my count, I was able to catch over 40 films this year, which is a touch lower than previous years. Bear in mind, there may be that one film I have yet to see that tops the list. For example, last year I wasn't able to catch Boyhood until just after the New Year. That ended up being #2 on my list. The year before, I had yet to catch up with the documentary The Act of Killing. I believe it ended up toppling 12 Years a Slave for the #1 spot that year. In 2012, I had yet to see Zero Dark Thirty, which topped my list over Beasts of the Southern Wild. And in 2011, I hadn't yet seen Lars Von Trier's Melancholia, which topped my list over Japan's 13 Assassins. So, I don't know if that will matter this year, but it is a major factor 80% of the time. What haven't I seen yet this year? Anomalisa, The Big Short, Carol, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, The Revenant, and Room.

Let's get on with it, shall we?