My Favorite Films of 2016…1/3 of the way through.

Best of 2016 (so far)

As a fan of film, and the cinema, I typically try to see a movie each week. It is not always an easy endeavor considering each week is hit and miss with good new release movies. Sometimes you roll the dice on something that isn’t considered “must see”, and you can be pleasantly surprised. Other times you’d wished you saved your time and money. During the first one-third of 2016, I have seen some good, a lot of average, and a few bad ones. This is kind of an unimaginative topic, and an easy scribe, but it has been a while since I have written anything, so to get the juices flowing again I would like to share with you my top 5 favorite films of 2016 (so far).

5. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Dir. Zack Snyder starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill) I almost decided not to see this film. I have never been a big fan of Superman or DC Comic film adaptations in general. I thought Man of Steel was a blur of CGI and an okay film at best. What finally drew me to see the film was Batman and Ben Affleck’s portrayal of the Dark Knight. When it was announced that the former Daredevil star would be the next Batman, you could almost hear a collective groan from movie nerds far and wide. My initial thought was ‘hmmmm…I can dig it’. To be honest, I think Affleck was an amazing Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film was a little long, and there are a handful of WTF? moments, but it was generally very decent and held my attention for the duration. Dawn of Justice laid some interesting ground work for the next wave of DC films.

4. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dir. Dan Trachtenberg starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead) John Goodman playing a paranoid end-of-the-world survivalist, you say? Sign me up! 10 Cloverfield Lane, is from what I can tell, the second film (the first being 2008’s Cloverfield) in an anthology of stories based on alien/monster invasions. Ninety percent of the film takes place in an underground bunker, and has a great mix of suspense and atmosphere. The writing and acting keep the film moving along nicely, and John Goodman (like always) is amazing. The last ten minutes of the film strays from the formula, but still fits with the story. This film is a pretty sweet unheralded gem from producer extraordinaire J.J. Abrams.

3. The Witch (Dir. Robert Eggers starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson) This 1630’s New England folktale is not a typical, jump-out-of-your-seat horror film. From the start, it is a slow burn, and makes you feel like you may crawl out of your skin at any moment. The cinematography, set design and costumes give The Witch a very authentic feel. From the outset, you know this God-fearing family is doomed; either at the hands of the evil residing in the forest, or through their own unraveling. I’m glad I got to see their demise on the big screen. If you like gritty horror, The Witch will please you.

2. Midnight Special (Dir. Jeff Nichols, starring Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton) Michael Shannon has quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. The roles that he chooses seem to fly under the radar, but create a buzz. The film Midnight Special is no different. Shannon plays Roy, who is on the run from the law after liberating his son from the control of a doomsday cult. His son is no ordinary boy though. He has gifts that no mere human could possess. This is a well done science fiction feature with some great performances from Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, and especially Jaeden Lieberher, who plays the son.

1. Deadpool (Dir. Tim Miller, starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin) Quite possibly the most enjoyable ninety plus minutes you could possibly spend in a cinema, Deadpool is almost perfect. Of all the comic book adaptations, Ryan Reynolds’ Wade Wilson is on par with Robert Downey’s portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man. I think I am being fair to say that this film is the most true to the title character that we have seen from Marvel Studios so far. Reynolds brings Deadpool to life as the humorous, blood thirsty “Merc with a Mouth” just as we see in the pages of the comic books in which he was born. Even if you have no idea who Wade Wilson is, you will leave the theater satisfied. The film is not for kids, as it is laced with bloody violence, no-holds-barred sexual innuendo, and enough language to make Joe Pesci blush. The casual viewer may not get every inside joke and the hidden homage to the comic, but they will be a Deadpool fan after watching the movie.

T.

In 50 (or so) Words…DEADPOOL (2016)

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DEADPOOL (2016)

Directed by: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein
Twentieth Century Fox, The Donners’ Company, Marvel Enterprises

After discovering that he has terminal cancer, mercenary for hire Wade Wilson is offered to under go an experimental procedure that can save his life, and also give him extraordinary powers. After being lied to and left for dead, Wade discovers he has gained the ability to rapidly heal from injuries. He also left with an appearance only a mother could love. Hell-bent on seeking revenge, Wilson dawns a mask and costume, and takes the moniker “Deadpool”. Along side some familiar “allies”, a quick wit, and armed to the teeth, “The Merc with the Mouth” goes on a killing spree in search of the people who turned him ugly.

Anyone who is a fan of the Deadpool character as he is represented in the Marvel Comics universe knows that the film is actually a pretty close adaptation and stays true to the character. I looked forward to seeing this film as soon as the test footage was leaked a couple years back. I am a fan of the comic book. The “breaking the fourth wall” shtick (Deadpool is aware he is in a comic book and acts accordingly) was, and still is a fresh approach. The movie takes advantage of this, and it is brilliant. This is Deadpool with the gas pedal pinned to the floor. From what I have read, this was Ryan Reynolds’ passion project, and he is brilliant. You could scour the world and not find any actor to play the part of Wade Wilson better than my fellow Canadian. From the humor, action, charm, and countless Easter eggs (intentionally hidden message, or inside joke) that are contained in Deadpool, it’s a hell of a good time at the cinema. I can see this being a movie I can watch time and time again, and still be impressed. I can only hope that Twentieth Century Fox and Marvel Studios have enough sense to add this character to future X-Men based films, because honestly, they have become dry. This is a great example of what can be accomplished when the studio loosens the reigns and lets the creativity flow. What I am trying to say is Deadpool is awesome. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I may have enjoyed it a little more than The Force Awakens, and I loved that film.

T.