The Best Films of 2016

Movie Nation

Perhaps we, ok I, have been too hasty to write off 2016 at the movies.

Sure, the dead stretches have been corpse-strewn, but a year that started with “Deadpool” can’t be a total write-off, can it?

The exceptional films are as rare as they always are, but the great muddled middle brow/middle-ground fare seems to be of a somewhat higher caliber.

Mainstream thrillers like “The Accountant” and “Girl on the Train” were watchable, a true story action picture like “Deepwater Horizon” is almost enough to restore your faith in Mark Wahlberg. I can’t recall a movie whose dazzling visuals and sound made me duck at what I was sure was flying off the screen the way that one did.

Horror produces so much that’s forgettable, that remembering what’s good enough to attract a decent cast (“Ouija 2”) or new twists on basic fears (“Don’t Breathe”) is a worthwhile exercise.

The…

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Is 2016 the resurgence of the horror movie genre?

Either late 2015 or early 2016 I was told by some unnamed person or podcast or blog that the year 2016 was gonna be the resurgence of the horror movie genre. In recent years we have been blessed with a bunch of Paranormal Activity films, a couple Insidious films, remakes of Halloween and Poltergeist, The Conjuring and its sequel Annabelle and Ouija just to name a few. Will 2016 be that resurgence that I was told it is? The question still remains. I will break down the good and the bad of the horror movie genre so far this year.

In January we got The Forrest and The Boy. When her twin sister disappears in Japan, a young American named Sara (Natalie Dormer) becomes determined to find out what happened to her. Sara’s investigation leads her to the legendary Aokigahara Forest, located at the base of Mount Fuji. Accompanied by expatriate Aiden, she enters the mysterious wilderness after being warned to “stay on the path.” Her investigation plunges her into a dark world where the angry and tormented souls of the dead prey on those who dare to explore the forest.

A young American named Greta (Lauren Cohan) takes a job as a nanny for an 8-year-old boy in a remote English village. To her surprise, Greta learns that the child of her new employers is a life-size doll. They care for the doll as if it was human, which helps the couple to cope with the death of their own son 20 years earlier. When Greta violates a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring her worst fears to life, leading her to believe that the doll is alive.

In February we Got Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and 10 Cloverfield Lane the sequel to Cloverfield. In the 19th century, a mysterious plague turns the English countryside into a war zone. No one is safe as the dead come back to life to terrorize the land. Fate leads Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James), a master of martial arts and weaponry, to join forces with Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), a handsome but arrogant gentleman. Elizabeth can’t stand Darcy, but respects his skills as a zombie killer. Casting aside their personal differences, they unite on the blood-soaked battlefield to save their country.

After surviving a car accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up to find herself in an underground bunker with two men. Howard (John Goodman) tells her that a massive chemical attack has rendered the air unbreathable, and their only hope of survival is to remain inside. Despite the comforts of home, Howard’s controlling and menacing nature makes Michelle want to escape. After taking matters into her own hands, the young woman finally discovers the truth about the outside world.

In March we got The Other Side of the Door and Hush. Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies) becomes consumed with guilt after losing her son Oliver (Logan Creran) in a tragic accident. She learns about a remote Hindu temple where visitors can communicate with the dead to say goodbye for the last time. The grieving mother disobeys a dire warning to never open the ancient door that serves as a mysterious portal. Her failure to follow the rules causes Oliver’s restless spirit to return home and haunt the rest of his family (Jeremy Sisto, Sofia Rosinsky). 

Hush is a 2016 American psychological horror thriller film directed by Mike Flanagan from a screenplay by Flanagan and Kate Siegel. The film stars John Gallagher Jr., Michael Trucco, Samantha Sloyan and Siegel.

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In May we got The Green Room and The Darkness. Members (Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat) of a punk-rock band and a tough young woman (Imogen Poots) battle murderous white supremacists at a remote Oregon roadhouse.

Peter Taylor (Kevin Bacon), his wife Bronny and their two children return to Los Angeles after a fun-filled vacation to the Grand Canyon. Strange events soon start to plague the family, including young son Michael’s increasingly erratic behavior. The Taylors learn that Michael brought back some mysterious rocks that he discovered inside a cave. Unfortunately, something followed them home as the clan now find themselves in a battle with a supernatural force that preys on their worst fears.

In June we got two new horror films, The Shallows and The Neon Demon, and the sequel to The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2. Still reeling from the loss of her mother, medical student Nancy Adams (Blake Lively) travels to a secluded beach for some much-needed solace. Despite the danger of surfing alone, Nancy decides to soak up the sun and hit the waves. Suddenly, a great white shark attacks, forcing her to swim to a giant rock for safety. Left injured and stranded 200 yards from shore, the frightened young woman must fight for her life as the deadly predator circles her in its feeding ground.

Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles just after her 16th birthday to launch a career as a model. The head of her agency tells the innocent teen that she has the qualities to become a top star. Jesse soon faces the wrath of ruthless vixens who despise her fresh-faced beauty. On top of that, she must contend with a seedy motel manager and a creepy photographer. As Jesse starts to take the fashion world by storm, her personality changes in ways that could help her against her cutthroat rivals. 

In 1977, paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren come out of a self-imposed sabbatical to travel to Enfield, a borough in north London. There, they meet Peggy Hodgson, an overwhelmed single mother of four who tells the couple that something evil is in her home. Ed and Lorraine believe her story when the youngest daughter starts to show signs of demonic possession. As the Warrens try to help the besieged girl, they become the next targets of the malicious spirit.

And in July were getting The Purge: Election Year and Lights Out. As a young girl, Sen. Charlie Roan survived the annual night of lawlessness that took the lives of her family members. As a presidential candidate, Roan is determined to end the yearly tradition of blood lust once and for all. When her opponents hatch a deadly scheme, the senator finds herself trapped on the streets of Washington, D.C., just as the latest Purge gets underway. Now, it’s up to Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), her head of security, to keep her alive during the next 12 hours of mayhem.

When Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) left home, she thought that her childhood fears were behind her. As a young girl growing up, she was never really sure of what was real when the lights went out at night. Now, her little brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is experiencing the same unexplained and terrifying events that jeopardized her safety and sanity. Holding a mysterious attachment to their mother (Maria Bello), the supernatural entity has returned with a vengeance to torment the entire family.

Of these thirteen films I would give my recommendation to four of them 10 Cloverfield Lane,The Shallows,The Neon Demon and The Conjuring 2. Seven of them I would not recommend, The Forest,The Boy, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Other Side of the Door, Hush, The Green Room and The Darkness, and two of them I have not seen yet. I will being seeing The Purge: Election Year and Lights Out in the next week or so. By far the best horror film I have seen this year is the Conjuring 2. It has a lot of mystery to it. Especially involving how Lorraine Warren played by Vera Farmiga gets to the bottom of the identity of the demon haunting the Hodgson family. The whole saving of Ed Warren played by Patrick Wilson was very suspenseful as well. I didn’t like the first Conjuring at all.

I believe liking four of eleven films is not a good average. The Conjuring 2 will be in my Top Ten of the Year so far list. So that’s a good thing. The Purge: Election Year isn’t getting great reviews but, Lights Out is getting great reviews. That’s another good thing. Their are a lot of other horror movies coming out the rest of the year. 31 the latest from Rob Zombie, Rings a sequel to The Ring, Don’t Breathe a home invasion film. The Woods about a group of hikers lost in the woods and once again sequels of Underworld, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Resident Evil. Are these films gonna make this a great year for the horror genre? Or are they gonna drag down year year even further then it has already been. Who know? By my total this is once again a bad year for the horror movie genre. Hopefully it gets better as the years goes on. I’m crossing my fingers Lights Out is as good as the reviews its been getting.

Dan Skip Allen

 

 

 

 

 

Ant-Man Review

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Ant Man is Marvel’s latest stand alone film. It stars Paul Rudd as the titular Avenger. The film starts out with him getting out of prison trying to make things right with his estranged wife played by Judy Greer so he can see his daughter. Her husband played by Bobby Cannavale doesn’t want him to have anything to do with the little girl. Scott sets out to try to make things right in  his life. By getting a job at a Baskin Robbins ice cream shop.Scott has buddy Louis,played by, Michael Pena, who tries to convince him that he should get back into a life of crime. He’s got this one job he thinks would be perfect for Scott and his crew. After getting fired from Baskin Robbins Scott decides he needs money and he needs something to show his ex wife so he decides to do this one job. He ends up robbing the house of Hank Pym played by Michael Douglas and finds a suit in a vault and ends up taking the suit. He takes the suit back to his apartment and tries it on and realizes he has shrunk down to the size of an ant.  Normal tub water turns into a like a tidal wave and so he’s fighting for his life. Scott tries to bring the suit back but, Hank Pym gets in his ear because he had nanotechnology built into the suit so he could contact him. He says to him that he is the right man for the job and he wants him to be the Ant Man. With the help of his daughter Hope Van Dine  played by, Evengeline Lilly, and Hank puts Scott  through a rigorous training schedule so he can use the suit to break into Hanks company called Pym Technology. Corey Stoll, portrays Darren Cross, the head of Pym Technology and he has got his own suit called the Yellow Jacket.  He tries to use The Yellow Jacket to sell to the military and make a bunch of tiny warriors for the American government. That’s not exactly what Hank envisioned his company for so Scott and his crew Michael Pena, Louis,TI, and David Dastmalchian they all get together with Hank Pym and Hop Van Dine to try to rob Pym Technologies so they can get the suit out of the hands of Corey Stoll’s Darren Cross character.

Ant Man is a unbelievable, funny, action packed thrill ride but it has a heart. Where a lot of  Marvel films don’t have the heart that Ant-man has. This is a film about a father trying to find redemption and try to show his daughter that he’s a good father and he cares about her. There is so much comedy but the micro for photography really takes over. It’s just breathtaking to watch some of the scenes, fighting in and around a carpet or up on a little toy train set. I absolutely think that Ant-man is one of the Top Five of all the Marvel Cinematic movies.Guardians of the Galaxy,Avengers,Avengers:Age of Ultron and Captain America the Winter Soldier are the best and then Ant-man is after those in my opinion. It’s a heist movie and a shrinking movie all combined into one. Peyten Reed has really captured the essence of the character and the world he lives in with Ant-man. This is a movie for the entire family, parents, kids anybody that has a family and has struggled and specially separated families. You know you can really feel for what Scott Lang is going through so I give Ant-man a huge See-it.
Dan Skip Allen

Jack O’Connell a star on the horizon!

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Were in a new era of young stars on the horizon the last few years. With great young talents like Miles Teller,Micheal B. Jordan,Dane Dehaan and Jack O’Connell among others. Jack O’Connell though has been a little less known from the others I mention’d. He had lesser roles in 300:Rise of an Empire,Harry Brown and The Damned United as well as other smaller parts in a few more films. Three movies he has shined in though the last six months or so are Starred Up,71 and Unbroken.

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O’Connell stars as Eric Love in Starred Up a teenager transferred from a juvenile detention center to an adult prison for men. While there he runs in to his father Neville portrayed by another lesser known character actor but very good in his own right, Ben Mendlesohn. Of course they are like oil an vinegar. They instantly butt heads. Eric doesn’t like the fact that he’s locked up at all and frequently gets in fights or arguments with the prisoners and guards. He joins a group of prisoners who get together to talk about there problems and lives in and out of prison. The leader of the group Oliver played by Rupert Friend, tries to get through to Eric like no other have tried. Starred Up is a star making performance by O’Connell and he takes this role of this troubled teenager to the next level.

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O’Connell plays young British military officer Gary Hook. He and his unit are sent to Belfast Northern Ireland to quell some rioting and violence by Catholics. After getting a little to much resistance from the local people of Belfast Gary’s unit leaves him accidentally. The local IRA members find out about this and start searching the city furiously. Turning over every rock and go house to house and apartment to apartment. Gary find refuge with so local protestant sympathizers but has to go on the run again to keep the IRA off of his friends. 71 really shows how this feud between England and Northern Ireland escalated on such a violent level. The viciousness of this conflict shows in the chase for Hook through the streets of Belfast. Once again O’Connell shows he is a star on the rise.

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O’Connell plays Louis “Louie” Zmperini  a troubled teen. With the help from his older brother he starts to run to get his frustrations out. He later gets qualifies for the 1936 Olympic games as a long distance runner. When World War II breaks out Louie goes to enlist. While flying over the Pacific Ocean his plane crashes in the Ocean. His co-stars include Jai Courtney as Hugh ‘Cup” Cupper, Domhnall Gleason as Russell Allen ‘Phil”, Garrett Hedlund as John Fitzgerald and Finn Wittrock as Francis “Mac” MacNamara. A few of his plane mates survive along with Louie and they are adrift for 47 days. Until a Japanese ship finds them almost dead. They are put in a prisoner of war camp where Louie is targeted by the prison commander who was once a racing rival. Louie goes through some horrible torture at the hands of Mutsushiro Watanabe portrayed by Miyavi. Unbroken is directed by Angelina Jolie in her second go at the art f directing after In the Land of Blood and Honey. O’Connell once again shows what he’s willing to do to get the performance he needs to make the movie work on all levels. He really puts himself through a lot on this movie which makes for a better movie and a more enjoyable experience.

Jack O’Connell has proven in these three great performances that he has the acting chops to become one of the greats of his generation. With these roles you can see him get better and better at the craft of acting and as the films came out in the theaters the performances were better in each film. O’Connell will be one to watch as the days and months go by. I for one will definitely be keeping track of his up coming films

Dan Skip Allen

My Oscar Predictions

I have watched over one hundred and seventy movies this past year so I believe this allows me to give a very informed opinion on what movies are good or bad. In this case I believe I have the best idea when it comes to making Oscar predictions. I have seen all but one Oscar nominee in the acting categories and all the nominees in all the Best Picture and directing categories. I however have not seen all the Animated movies nominated for the Best Animated Feature though. That being said here are my predictions on all the major categories.

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I strongly believe that Boyhood starring Ellar Colltrane as Mason and Ethan Hawke,(Oscar Nominee) Patricia Arquette and Loralie Linklater. This coming of age film directed by (Oscar Nominee) Richard Linklater is clearly the best film of the year in my opinion. I think this story has resonated with plenty of people all over the world. It does have a story of normalcy but one that I could relate to in a way that it reminded me of my childhood and upbringing. I would love for this film and its stars and behind the scenes people to be rewarded for such a wonderful film.

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In the Best actor category I believe that Micheal Keaton will win the Oscar for Best Actor. Micheal Keaton was so believable as this actor trying to make a play in New York but also trying to forget his past as a famous superhero in a series of films a decade before. This is a funny movie written by (Oscar nominee) Alejandro Gonzalez Inuritu about a Micheal Keaton type actor. I believe Micheal Keaton was the perfect actor to play this role because it resembled his career in the past and present.

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My pick to win the Best Actress Oscar is Julianne Moore for her role of Alice in Still Alice. I have recently watched this film about a women who has been diagnosed early onset alzhiemers. Julianne Moore has has several great performance over her career and has won and Emmy Award for Best Actress in a made for television movie or mini-series for portraying Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. I was shocked while watching this film because of the degrading of this women’s mind during the film. I definitely came to the conclusion that this was the Best performance by a lead actress.

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I saw Whiplash back in October and as soon as I got out of the theater I knew that J K Simmons was in my opinion gonna win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. I believed it then and I believe it now that J K Simmons is the closest thing to a lock in this years Academy Awards. He gives a performance like no other this year. As a strong willed band leader, Terrence Fletcher, Who tries to get the most out of his band members of this jazz band he is conducting.

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I have talked about Boyhood once in this article already but, this is the second time of three I will bring up this great movie. I believe Patricia Arquette should win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Patricia Arquette is the heart of this coming of age film. As Mason’s mom she really went through a lot for her kids. I really was on board with her performance as this mom struggling with abusive husbands and alcohol. Always being strong for her children the entire time.

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With everything I have said about Boyhood it goes without saying that I think Richard Linklater should and will win the Oscar for Best Director. He has crafted a great family film over twelve years. Nobody saw this coming. LInklater really got these actors and actresses to buy into this marathon of a movie about family and growing up.

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In a year of not so good Animated movies we had a few stand outs. One of those was Big Hero Six. This was an adapted movies from the comic book of the same name. Though a very different movie then the comic book. I fell in love with Baymax as did so many others I’m sure and the action and story swept me up. The animation was on par with some of the best animated films ever. I pick Big Hero Six as the Best Animated Feature Oscar winner.

I love this time of year where we get to talk about our favorite movies of the past year. Oscar nominations day is one of my most anticipated of the entire year. Oscar Sunday is always my favorite day of the year. I am sad when its over because I have to wait an entire year for all of this to start again. In between though I have a whole year of movies to watch and that’s always a great thing.

Dan Skip Allen