2016 in Film According to Simon

by Simon Williams on January 5, 2017

in Blogs

Well, here we go again. Another year another list. Once again I decided to recap every film of 2016, despite nobody asking me to and the last one not garnering too many views. Why do I do this? Why do I spend this much time and mental energy on this fruitless task? Why doesn’t my mother look me in the eye anymore?

(takes a rather severe swig of Jose Cuervo)

LET’S TALK MOVIES!

Alice Through the Looking Glass

“Regrets Abound” – my girlfriend, describing the film.

Allied

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha (wipes away tear).

American Honey
Three hours of shaky camerawork and terrible people. It’s honestly kind of a masterpiece.

The Angry Birds Movie

So this movie ends with a pig genocide. Seriously. Not kidding. Not a jokey thing either, just plain genocide. It’s terrible but I kind of want other people to watch it just to prove I haven’t gone insane.

Arrival

The first hour is brilliant but for God’s sake CLOSED LOOPS ARE NEVER COMPELLING NO MATTER HOW WELL THEY ARE SHOT.

Assassin’s Creed

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzhmph? Hrrmph? Oh right. Videogame rage or something I dunn… zzzzz…

Barbershop: The Next Cut

Hey this is pretty fun-(barbershop gets shot up)

Oh… I forgot what this series was like…

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Uhm…

… I have some real thoughts on this one… Let’s save this for the end. Scroll to the bottom.

Ben-Hur

Just like the original! Just without sharp editing and Religious Subtext. It keeps the overblown runtime and cheesy acting though.

The BFG

It’s getting really difficult to be a Devil’s Advocate for Spielberg on this site.

Birth of a Nation

It really is such an important story. Shame the movie’s so aware of that fact.

Bleed for This

Because last time we saw Miles Teller beat himself into submission it was really compelling. Remember? Right guys?

Cafe Society

Hey look Woody Allen made a movie about a cis white protagonist pulling girls way out of his league despite his wildly unlikeable personality. Weird.

Captain America: Civil War

Best superhero movie of the year due to its radical new idea of making its villain an actual character.

Captain Fantastic

OH SURE MOVIE, REMIND ME HOW AWFUL SOCIETY IS AND HOW WE SHOULD ALL GO LIVE IN AN EGALITARIAN WILDERNESS-wait the film is actually about those people being pretentious? Oh okay nevermind please proceed.

Central Intelligence

HEY! THE ROCK IS TALL AND KEVIN HART IS SHORT! COMEDY GOLD!

The Conjuring 2

God dammit James Wan stop making good movies, I’m trying to dislike you.

Deadpool

Why is this revolutionary again? Jokes? Okay cool jokes. Right.

Deepwater Horizon

When shopping around scripts, do you think they actively advertise them as “something granddad will watch on tv?”

Demolition

I saw this? No shit really? Wait I reviewed it?

Huh. Wouldja look at that.

Doctor Strange

Iron Man but NOW MORE EFFECTS!

Don’t Breathe

God I love having Sam Raimi ba-it wasn’t Sam Raimi? Well what the hell man.

The Dressmaker

It’s like the Coen Brothers but Australian and terrible!

The Family Fang

I’d make a really witty commentary about this film and how it’s a funny concept but failed execution but nobody’s seen it so… have a picture of this bird:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter but NOW MORE EFFECTS! (and you probably shouldn’t take your kids)

Fences

Acting: The Movie!

Finding Dory

I know some people calling this film one of Pixar’s best. Fuck those people.

Firewatch

Haha oh no! I accidentally let a video game leak into this list haha. How silly of me. Anyway this is one of my favorite media experiences of the year, 10/10.

Ghostbusters

Uhhhh yeah I’m not getting in the middle of this one. Write your own jokes. I get all the hate I need from my DC reviews.

The Girl on the Train

David Fincher’s worst film. Good thing he didn’t direct it. Or have anything to do with it.

Gods of Egypt

I probably should make a racism joke here but really this film is such a rote and bland cgi-filled action exercise I feel like it doesn’t even deserve that.

Green Room

Neo-Nazis? Oh my god this is such schlock, good thing we don’t have real neo-Nazis to be scared of in real society.

(10/10)

Hacksaw Ridge

Okay serious time. Fuck this movie. What’s the best way to celebrate the life of a hero of pacifism? By making a blood-soaked celebration of violence. It’s not even a good version of that. There’s twenty minutes in the middle that are pretty good but before and after the film hits the perfect trifecta of being boring, ugly AND inaccurate. Why do people like this movie Jesus.

Hail Caesar!

The Coen’s worst film this decade and it’s still some people’s film of the year. Isn’t life grand sometimes?

Hardcore Henry

(Darude Sandstorm begins to play, and I reach through your screen and shake you)

Congrats you have basically experienced Hardcore Henry. You now have no need to see it.

He Him Her

God dammit Max Landis start making good movies, I’m trying to like you.

Hello my Name is Doris

Because old Sally Field is adorable right?

(Yes she is)

Hell or High Water

Wait this isn’t this year’s Coen Brothers film? Seriously? Huh. So bizarre I could’ve sworn it was them. Seriously this thing apes Coen tropes like Designer does Future’s. Giant rip-off. Anyway, 10/10 one of the best films of the year.

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople

It’s like Son of Rambo but emotionally resonant and thoughtful and with an actual sense of humor!

Indie Game: Life After

Okay serious time again. This film doesn’t have anywhere near the breadth or depth of the original but it’s really fascinating to get Phil Fish’s side of all the drama he’s been going through recently. Definitely worth a watch for my fellow Gamers for that alone.

Into the Inferno

It’s Werner Herzog talking about volcanos. Did you expect something not great?

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

I actually kinda like the first one. Watch that one. Don’t watch this.

Jackie

Everything points to this film being a boring, by-the-numbers Oscarbait biopic but then you actually see it and it’s this mean, cynical European art drama they successfully snuck into theaters and it’s SO GOOD.

Jason Bourne

I genuinely forgot this film happened until I was researching this list.

The Jungle Book

So this thing was a narrative trainwreck right? Am I just imagining that this film had no throughline and terrible pacing and a god-awful ending? Please? Someone?

Keanu

(Sigh)

Here’s to Key and Peele’s next feature. I’m crossing my fingers.

Knight of Cups

Terrence Malick had a movie this year… Isn’t that nice…

Kubo and the Two Strings

Hey! It’s really good! Just like all this company’s other films! It looks like they’re a really consistently great animation studio! What a surprise! How much money did it make? Oh yeah…

La La Land
I’ve now seen this film three times and my opinion expressed in my review still stands. If you still disagree with me, please follow this link.

The Light Between Oceans

It’s like watching Oscarbait from a different dimension where everything is just *slightly* off. It’s like walking into your bedroom and everything’s been moved to the left by one inch.

Lights Off

This. This is dumb schlock done right. Make more of this.

Lion

This film could be a really fascinating meditation on race and cultural homogenization. Could be. But Harvey Weinstein…

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

It’s Werner Herzog talking about the internet. Did you expect something not great?

The Lobster

The first half has some of the savviest satire and hardest visuals of any film this decade. The second half is… good?

Loving

Hey this Jeff Nichols guy is pretty good! Has he made anything else?

The Magnificent Seven

Hey lookat that, It’s decent. Ain’t that cute.

Manchester by the Sea

(Wiping away tears) What? No I’m not uh (siff) I’m not crying. Shut up.

Manchester by the Sea

Also I just half to ask real quick: this is the second year in a row where a mostly-white ensemble cast deals with a major trauma in a comedy-drama set in the Boston area has been my favorite film of the year. Guys, am I boring?

Midnight Special

Hey this Jeff Nichols guy is pretty good! Has he made anything else?

Miss Hokusai

微妙で頑丈な努力ですが、おそらくアメリカの聴衆に翻訳するのは難しいでしょう

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

It’s everything good about Harry Potter but just… not…

Moana

It’s every other Disney movie. I like it more than most but, no, I can’t explain why. Fuck you.

The Money Monster

Bahahahahahahahahahahahahaha(catches breath)hahahahahahaha.

A Monster Calls

I feel really, really bad I don’t love this thing. But I still don’t.

Moonlight

(Strings)

(I look at you, from across the table, and smile only a moment. Then I look down to my cup of coffee)

(You laugh, knowing my opinion, but biting your lip not wanting to say)

The Music of Strangers

Uhhh yeah I probably gave this film too high a score. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still solid but… Ehhh.

The Neon Demon

Okay yeah it’s actually Nicholas Winding Refn I keep trying to dislike and fail, sorry James Wan.

The Nice Guys

Hey guys! It’s a funny, taught 80s noir throwback! So underrated and original right!?!

(Kiss Kiss Bang Bang cries in the background)

Nocturnal Animals

I honestly want to just take this movie, edit all of Amy Adams out and JUST make this a movie about Michael Shannon as a no-fucks-given sheriff in Texas. Movie would be 1000% superior.

Office Christmas Party

Can somebody please get Kate McKinnon a better agent? Please?

 

OJ: Made in America

A masterpiece. Grand in scope and- Wait, we’re counting TV as cinema now? What the hell why didn’t anyone tell me!?! Now I know that…

Atlanta (Season One)

(Starting Episode 1) Is this going to be anything like Community-(guy gets shot)

Oh…

Black Mirror (Season Three)

This is the best media you’ll ever see that’ll convince you to drown your iPhone.

Bojack Horseman (Season Three)

The absurdist animated series about a anthropomorphic horse from a 90s sitcom is the best character study on TV right now. This is the world we live in.

The Crown (Season One)

I’m not really sure if I want to watch this, I mean monarchy is an outdated and harmful system to perpetuate in the modern-wait it’s about that? Oh very well, proceed.

Documentary Now! (Season Two)

IT’S SO GOOD.

Game of Thrones (Season Six)

This is a pretty good and intelligent seaso-(Battle of the Bastards ensues)

10/10

Gaycation (Season One)

Sooo I know this thing is pretty controversial and there’s a lot to say about it and I am in no way qualified to write about it being a cis straight white man in the US but… I liked it? (ducks from the flying rotten fruit)

But fuck Vice.

Luke Cage (Season One)

They actually had the guts to talk race relations in a Marvel Cinematic Property. It’s awesome, but we still don’t have a Scarlet Witch movie planned. Baby steps are only technically steps.

Stranger Things (Season One)

I’d say it’s a Goonies/It riff but, unlike those, this series is actually engaging to the non-nostalgic.

Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt (Season Two)

I really want to be offended… It’s just so good though…

Anyway back to business.

Paterson

Okay whenever you’re reading one of my articles or talking to me and I mention how I don’t care at all about plot but I love story, THIS is the movie I’m thinking about. 10/10.

Patriot’s Day

Why do I need to care about this thing again? Oh yeah terrorism.

Pee Wee’s Holiday

The least necessary sequel of the year is actually one of the year’s best comedies? Yeah, it is. Fuck logic.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Go and watch the video for “Finest Girl” from this film and join me in my sadness that this made no money.

Queen of Katwe

God take a moment to count how many films on this list Disney produced. Crazy right? Anyway this movie exists. Technically.

Race

Jesse Owens deserves a much better movie.

Risen

Christians need to make better movies.

Rogue One: a Star Wars Story

Every individual element in this film is better than The Force Awakens except for one thing: The Force Awakens actually made me feel emotions. That’s kinda an important element.

Sausage Party

It’s like South Park where it’s so self-aware about its bigotry it’s no longer offensive, the only problem being it’s not funny.

Sing Street

A few friends of mine keep comparing this to The Commitments but Jesus, when did The Commitments ever get this fucking sad?

Split

Because mental illness is scary. Thank you, M. Night Shyamalan.

Suicide Squad

A deep-fried raccoon thrown headlong into a glitter cloud landing in a field of emo kids circa 2007 who proceed to tear it to pieces then ritualistically explain what just happened to eachother repeatedly for years until they all explode into a Queen song they don’t really know the lyrics to. Fuck this movie.

Sully

Your dad will love this movie, trust me.

Swiss Army Man

“The movie with Daniel Radcliffe as a farting corpse was good? Whaaaaaaa-” – Every single goddamn critic online

Tickled

The best movie you could even imagine about Competitive Tickling.

Trolls

So the other place I work had the soundtrack for this film playing on repeat for weeks. I wanted to die. Then I saw it.

Warcraft

I actually don’t hate this movie. It’s so schlocky and cartoonish it just puts me in the mindset of watching oldschool Power Rangers.

The Witch

Yae verily, though the year has been long and full of both pleasures and great pains, this vision of the clearest and most full sight doth linger in mine thought like a childhood memory, omnipresent and kind. May it gain more prestige and note on Blu-Ray, and may more join myself, we fans, we folk of good government, and may Robert Eggers have riches and good will showered upon himself.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Aaaaand this is why people call you problematic, Tina Fey.

X-Men: Apocalypse

No, it’s not as bad as you’ve heard but no, it’s still not really worth seeking out.

Your Name

It’s just like if Freaky Friday had subtlety and nuance and gorgeous visuals and a large, overreaching narrative exploring the nature of gender performance and adolescent anxiety in modern Japan. Basically the same film aside from that, though.

Zootopia

What a thoughtful, nuanced analysis of race. With an all-white cast. Kind of makes its message a bit weird, doesn’t it?

 

10 Cloverfield Lane

(Insert dull, uninspired commentary about this movie being great save a bad ending here)

13 Hours
See: Patriot’s Day.

13th

A big reminder of the horrors of modern society and the failings of our government and our inability to hold them accountable. Best horror film of the year.

And finally…

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

This has been a long, difficult, often sad and very busy year. And yet here I am, still thinking about this goddamn movie.

Batman v. Superman is perhaps the most culturally significant superhero film of the year, if not film period. It is the platonic ideal of a Studio Tent-pole film, a massive, several billion dollar genre exercise whose success up to thousands of people’s jobs were concerned. It features several of the most popular and identifiable characters in modern fiction and, by most markers, fails to live up to even their pulpy roots.

My review for Batman v. Superman has drawn me a decent amount of ire, and continues to be probably my most read review on the site. I understand why, it’s largely for the reasons I previously listed, and that honestly kind of made me sad. If you look at the highest grossing films of this year as well as our most-read articles this year, almost across the board they are action films, children’s animated films, and pre-established properties. It’s been that way for quite awhile. And I’m not going to decry action cinema or all the sequels, that’s not going to get us anywhere. Even within a formula great work can be created. It does make it difficult though.

Batman v. Superman was 2016 in film. It’s artistic hubris being pushed to limits the creative team behind it were not prepared for. It had so much money thrown into it that one of the last of the original Big Five studios could’ve gone under if this film did just slightly worse than it did, as they put money they could have placed into any dozens of smaller projects into advertising and weeks worth of “coverage”. It dominated critical and audience discussion so much that one could be forgiven for thinking anything else came out in the Spring or Early Summer this year. It hyperbolized discussion so that it spurred its fans on to see themselves as a victimized minority left behind by the critical community. It’s this complete domination of the culture that led to the eventual boycott of Rotten Tomatoes and dozens of films released around the same time to have a fraction of the attention they deserved. And then, after a few months of raging conflict, it all subsided and we moved on, completely forgetting what had happened, because none of this will matter and everyone will still go see Wonder Woman.

Fuck this movie, fuck this studio system, and fuck this year.

Hope the New Year is good for you reader.

Simon Williams

Simon Williams is a media critic and filmmaker originally from Columbus Ohio. He makes short films about sad people who don’t speak their minds because he himself is a sad person who does not have that issue.

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