Monday, January 09, 2017

Film Year In Review--2016

It's time for our eagerly awaited annual film wrap-up.  If it's a bit later than most, it's because I go see movies with regulars folks at the cineplex, and need to catch up in early January. There are some notable titles I missed over the year--big hits I couldn't force myself to see and well-reviewed films that looked boring--but not so many that my list is pointless. (Also, some friends put out movies in 2016 that I won't be discussing because I don't think I can be objective.)

Not a great year, but most years aren't great.  A fair amount of mid-range stuff, and I wasn't overwhelmed with the quality of most of the good stuff.

Before we start, a few ground rules. I discuss only feature films released or made widely available in U. S. theatres in 2016.  No shorts, no TV (even if TV is often better than film). I will give out some awards, note some trends, tell you which films were good, bad and ugly, and then list my top ten.  You can rush to the bottom right now to find out, but really, the best stuff is along the way.

Feel free to leave a comment, whether you agree or not.  In fact, comments tend to be better when you don't agree.

2016 AWARDS:

Performance Of The YearNo single winner this year, but a bunch of performances I enjoyed that generally went places I didn't expect--Annette Bening in 20th Century Women, Woody Harrelson in The Edge Of Seventeen, Alia Bhatt in Kapoor & Sons, Shia LaBeouf in American Honey, Chris Gethard in Don't Think Twice, Andre Holland in Moonlight.

Star Of The Year: Amy Adams, who did notable turns in two original films, Nocturnal Animals and Arrival, as well as repeating her Lois Lane in Batman V Superman.

Busiest Actor: Anna Kendrick, who starred in five movies (one animated)--The Accountant, Get A Job, The Hollars, Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates and Trolls.

Worst Year:  Jesse Eisenberg.  He starred in an awful sequel (Now You See Me 2), a Woody Allen film that was DOA (Café Society) and was perhaps the worst part in a poorly-received superhero movie (Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice).

Not Quite A Star Yet Award:  Gal Gadot.  She's ready to be launched as a major name in this year's Wonder Woman, but her so-so work in three 2016 films--Triple 9, Criminal and Keeping Up With The Joneses--plus her first outing as Wonder Woman in Batman V Superman, hasn't exactly whetted everyone's appetite. Runner-up: Asa Butterfield. We've seen him grow up on screen in Hugo (2011), Ender's Game (2013) and now Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children.  But how many people would recognize his photo?

Most Preparation For A Role: Indian superstar Aamir Khan bulked up to play a young wrestler in Dangal.  And then blubbered up, gaining over 60 pounds to play the same character, now middle-aged and over-the-hill.

Best Opening CreditsDeadpool

Most Memorable OpeningNocturnal Animals.  We're hit with naked, fat, older women dancing.  Turns out to be an art installation (and doesn't have too much to do with the rest of the film) but certainly gets your attention. Runner-up: Elle, which begins with the rape of Isabelle Huppert.

Best SequelCaptain America: Civil War

Worst Sequel:  A highly competitive category.  And the winner is...Zoolander 2.  For the past fifteen years I don't recall an outcry for a sequel, so why now? Runner-up: Neighbors 2--if Zoolander waited too long, Neighbors didn't wait long enough.  They should have at least waited till they had a good story.

Best Reboot: Jungle Book.

Worst Reboot: Ghostbusters.  There was no reason to do a sequel in 1989 (other than money), and there was even less reason to try to recapture the magic of the original in 2016, whether it starred women, men or some combination.

Put It Out Of Its Misery AwardThe Divergent series.  They've been releasing one a year, starting in 2014, with diminishing returns.  And, following the modern trend, they've split the last book of a trilogy into two movies, so we have yet another this year.  I'd rather be left hanging.

Best Musical Number (Not In A Musical): The party dance in Girl Asleep. Unfortunately, I can't find a video, but you can catch a second or two in the trailer:

Runner-up: "Run Rabbit Run" from Miss Peregrine's School For Peculiar Children.  Once again, no video, but here's the song:

Most Generic Title: Office Christmas Party. Yep, that's what it is.

Worst TitleGenius. The main genius on display is author Thomas Wolfe, but the film is about his editor, Maxwell Perkins. I guess no one wants to see a film called Editor.

Title With The Most Wishful ThinkingIndependence Day: Resurgence

Best Ending: Tie--Nocturnal Animals and The Lobster, both of which end with a woman in a restaurant waiting for a man, but in very different contexts. Runner-up: Rogue One. We knew it was coming, but it was still nice to see.

Worst Ending: High-Rise. After suffering through two hours of incoherent allegory about Britain a few decades ago, the film ends with a soundbite from Margaret Thatcher just in case we don't get it.

Worst Plot: Inferno.  I'd describe it to you except I can't remember anything about it.

Plot Better Than It Had Any Right To Be: Sausage Party

Most Pointless Plot Point: In Rogue One they make a big deal of how the designer of the Death Star sabotaged it. This is to cover for an alleged plot hole in the first Star Wars, except there was no problem to begin with, so it just cheapens the original. It's simple--the Rebels steal the Death Star plans so they can figure out where it's most vulnerable. They don't need a specially set-up Death Star, they'll just do the best they can with the top secret information they managed to grab. I'm guessing if they had more time (they were in quite a hurry in the original film), they would have smuggled a huge bomb onboard.  And if they had a bigger fleet, they would have sent them all to ram the Death Star.  Instead, they came up with a longshot because it was about the only thing they could do. (And the Death Star needs exhaust ports--Kyber crystals seem to be unstable and you've got to deal with that. No one will even know where the ports are unless someone steals the plans--and even then they probably won't be able to get through the defenses, and if the Empire is still worried they can redo the exhaust ports after they blow up Rebel headquarters.)

Song Of The Year: "City Of Stars" from La La Land (sorry to be so obvious).

Runner-up "The Great Beyond" from Sausage Party (definitely NSFW)

Babette's Feast Award For Best Food Porn:  The Founder.  While not exactly rising to the culinary level of past winners, watching the McDonald brothers fry all those burgers made your mouth water (and make plans for where to go after the movie).

Dear White People Award For Stopping A Movie Dead To Deliver Your MessageLive By Night, for the scene where Ben Affleck--who's also the writer-director--tells off a rich WASP, letting him know (back during the Depression) that black people and immigrants do all the work and eventually they're going to wise up and take over. This also wins the award for line most obviously written by someone who figured Hillary Clinton would be President.

Jason Statham Award For Actor Who Appears In One Bad Film After Another But Still Manages To Be Appealing:  Gerard ButlerHe starred in the awful London Has Fallen, but we still like him.

Proof Award For Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play That Doesn't Translate To The Screen:  Fences.  The screenplay comes from the playwright (who died over ten years ago), and he's too faithful to the source. The play is set in a Pittsburgh backyard, and almost all the movie--which is almost all talk--is set in and around that backyard. With that family shouting all the time, why don't the neighbors complain?

You Me And Dupree Award For The Film That While Nominally A Hollywood Comedy Is Actually A Surrealist Masterpiece Where Plot Points Are Introduced And Dropped For No Reason, Dialogue Is Unrelated To The Action, And Characters Do Things That Bear No Resemblance To How Humans Act: Dirty Grandpa

House Of Sand And Fog Award For Miserable People Doing Miserable Things That Ends Up In MiseryWiener-Dog. Of course, this is Todd Solondz' MO, which, oddly, makes his films easier to watch the second time around, since you've already seen the worst.

There's Something About Mary Award For The Comedy That Most Confuses Being Disgusting With Being Funny (Not That There's Something About Mary Isn't Funny, Just That Too Many People Learned The Wrong Lesson From It):  The Brothers Grimsby

Occupation Of The Year: Athlete--gymnast (The Bronze), wrestlers (Dangal), hopeful baseball players (Everybody Wants Some!!), boxer (Hands Of Stone, Bleed For This), track and field (Race), ski jumper (Eddie The Eagle), football players (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk), failed baseball player (Fences), marathon runners (Patriots Day) and we'll throw in chess masters (Magnus, Queen Of Katwe)

Decade Of The Year: The 1960s--Hidden Figures, Born To Be Blue, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Operation Avalanche, Jackie and much of Loving, Miles Ahead, The Golden Age Of Rock Music Journalism and Rules Don't Apply. (The 60s often win, but fear not, the baby boomers are on their last legs.)

Most Anti-Colonialism FilmThe Legend Of Tarzan, believe it or not.

Most Anti-Communist Film: Hail, Caesar!, believe it or not.

Worst Date Movie:  Silence.  After watching nearly three hours of Jesuits suffering in 17th century Japan, there's not much more to say.

Lamest Enemy:  The gun lobby in Miss Sloane. We keep hearing about how all-powerful they are, but they seemed like pretty feeble screw-ups to me.

Strangest PremiseSwiss Army Man.  A guy stuck on an island sees a corpse wash ashore.  Turns out the corpse has magical abilities, including the power to fart them off the island.

Worst Trend: It's already happening.  Any movie where something bad happens (i.e., every movie) has filmmakers or critics saying it's a cautionary tale for the age of Trump.  We're going to have to put up with this for four to eight more years? We already went through it with Bush.


Hidden Figures: Zero Days, Rogue One, How To Be Single, Kubo And The Two Strings, Don't Think Twice, The 5th Wave, The Magnificent Seven, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Nine Lives, Triple 9, 10 Cloverfield Lane, 13 Hours, The Edge Of Seventeen, 20th Century Women, Elstree 1976

Zootopia: Lion, Chicken People, The Lobster, Wiener-Dog, Kung Fu Panda 3, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Secret Life Of Pets, Storks, War Dogs, The Angry Birds Movie, The Eagle Huntress, The Jungle Book

The Name Game: The Brothers Grimbsy, Hello My Name Is Doris, Hardcore Henry, Kapoor & Sons, Keanu, Florence Foster Jenkins, Maggie's Plan, Finding Dory, Weiner, Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates, Jason Bourne, Norm Of The North, Morgan, Sully, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Mr. Church, Jack Reacher, Magnus, Miss Sloane, Loving, Jackie, Eddie The Eagle, Toni Erdmann, Neruda, Snowden, Julieta, Ben-Hur, Max Steel, No Manches Frida, Paterson, A Man Called Ove

Color My World: The Bronze, City Of Gold, Fifty Shades Of Black, Born To Be Blue, Green Room, White Girl, The Golden Age Of Rock Music Journalism, Meet The Blacks

Where It's At: Sing Street, 10 Cloverfield Lane, London Has Fallen, Southside With You, Elstree 1976, Manchester By The Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, Paterson, Free State Of Jones, A Beautiful Planet

I Do Declare!: Hail Caesar!, Nuts!, Raiders!: The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, Bang! The Bert Berns Story, Boo! A Madea Halloween, Everybody Wants Some!!

For A Song: Don't Think Twice, Everybody Wants Some!!, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week, Midnight Special, White Girl, The Edge Of Seventeen

Falling From A Height And Hitting Your Head On A Blunt Object=Comedy GoldWhy Him?,  Christmas Office Party and I'm also going to give it to Central Intelligence and Keeping Up With The Joneses

The Water Broke: Mechanic: Resurrection, Why Him?, Passengers, Miss Peregine's Home For Peculiar Children, Sing

Ben Affleck Is A Very Effective Killer:  Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, The Accountant, Live By Night

Woman Doing Jobs That Men Do (And Generally Doing It Better): Hidden Figures, 20th Century Women, Moana, Elle, Bad Moms, Arrival, Ghostbusters 2, Miss Sloane, Toni Erdmann

L.A.'s A Wondrous Toy: La La Land, Rules Don't Apply, Hail Caesar!, Knight Of Cups, City Of Gold, The Nice Guys, Hunter Gatherer

There's A Magical Realm On The Other Side Of The Water: The BFG, Moana, Kubo And The Two Strings, Evolution

Pratt Fall: After starring in Guardians Of The Galaxy and Jurassic World (and doing the lead voice in The LEGO Movie), Chris Pratt seemed poised to be the next superstar, but two high profile disappointments in 2016--The Magnificent Seven and Passengers--showed he's still got a few things to prove.

Meta Much?: Nocturnal Animals, Zoom, Jackie

Creepy--And Generally Secret--Admirer: The Hollars, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Swiss Army Man, Girl Asleep, Central Intelligence, Hunter Gatherer, The Accountant, The Girl On The Train, Elle

Monster Of Choice: The giant, as seen in The BFG, A Monster Calls, Moana, Miss Peregrine's School For Peculiar Children

Go-To Science Guy: Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who shows up in Batman V Superman, Zoolander 2, Ice Age: Collision Course and For The Love Of Spock.

Andrew Garfield Suffers For His ReligionSilence, Hacksaw Ridge,

Liam Neeson Speaks Unpleasant Truths: Silence, A Monster Calls

Kids In A Cave: Kubo And The Two Strings, Moana, Rogue One

What Makes Philip Roth A Great Writer Doesn't Make Movies Based On His Novels Great:  Indignation, American Pastoral

Advice On How To Deal With Women: Captain Fantastic, 20th Century Women, Everybody Wants Some!!

Let's Have A Hearing: Sully, Miss Sloane, Deepwater Horizon

Cosby Jokes: The Brothers Grimsby, Barbershop: The Next Cut

Kids Raised In The Wild: Pete's Dragon, The Legend Of Tarzan, The Jungle Book, Captain Fantastic, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, Kubo And The Two Strings

Confusion At The Box Office: 13th and 13 Hours, Weiner and Wiener-Dog.

Surviving A Plane Crash: Sully, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, London Has Fallen

Start The Film With The Lead Talking Directly Into Camera Even If The Audience Doesn't Understand What's Going On: Miss Sloane, The Founder, Always Shine

Otherworldly Beings May Be More Trouble Than They're Worth:  Midnight Special, Arrival, Miss Peregrine, Fantastic Beasts, Evolution

Why Can't Good Guy Superheroes Get Along?:  Captain America: Civil War, Batman V Superman, Deadpool

School Kids Are Sadists:  A Monster Calls, Sing Street, Moonlight, Girl Asleep

Want To Hold On To A Beautiful Woman?--Lock Her In Your Underground Lair:  Don't Breathe, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Morgan, Split

Texas (or Southwest) Cop On One Last Case: Hell Or High Water, The Hollow Point, Nocturnal Animals

NASA Is The Place To Be: Hidden Figures, Operation Avalanche, A Space Program

Who Am I? (Not To Be Confused With Who Are You?): Collateral Beauty, The Girl On The Train, Lobster, Lion, Kubo And The Two Strings, Always Shine, Evolution

Killing Deer Without A Gun: Morgan, Captain Fantastic

Indulgent Parents: 20th Century Women, The Edge Of Seventeen, A Monster Calls, Bad Moms, Midnight Special, The Brothers Grimsby


Note: I was charitable this year--when a film was on the edge, I rounded up


The Jungle Book, Kapoor & Sons, Sing Street, Karel Zeman: Adventurer In Film, Green Room, Captain America: Civil War, De Palma, Don't Think Twice, Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words, Bad Moms, Bang! The Bert Berns Story, Hell Or High Water, Sausage Party, Zoom, For The Love Of Spock, The Accountant, Arrival, Loving, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (in large part due to its connection to the first Star Wars), Dangal, Hidden Figures


13 Hours, Zootopia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Bronze, Hello My Name Is Doris, City Of Gold, Everybody Wants Some!!, Born To Be Blue, Demolition, The Secret Life Of Pets, A Space Program, The Nice Guys, Maggie's Plan, Central Intelligence, Raiders!: The Story Of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, Wiener-Dog, The BFG, Star Trek Beyond, In Order Of Disappearance, Sully, Ticket To Write: The Golden Age Of Rock Music Journalism, Nerve, Moonlight, Doctor Strange, Hunter Gatherer, Manchester By The Sea, Magnus, Always Shine, Kubo And The Two Strings, The Founder, Collateral Beauty, Lion, Elle, Silence, Sing, Paterson

Not Okay

Ride Along 2, Dirty Grandpa, Hail Caesar!, How To Be Single, Triple 9, The Brothers Grimsby, Midnight Special, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, Zoolander 2, Barbershop: The Next Cut, London Has Fallen, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Keanu, Elstree 1976, High-Rise, Miles Ahead, Criminal, X-Men: Apocalypse, Money Monster, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Now You See Me 2, Genius, Finding Dory, Swiss Army Man, Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Captain Fantastic, Ghostbusters, Café Society, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad, Indignation, The Purge: Election Year, Lo And Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World, War Dogs, Cosmos, Morgan, Mechanic: Resurrection, The Legend Of Tarzan, The Hollars, Operation Avalanche, Miss Peregine's Home For Peculiar Children, Masterminds, The Girl On The Train, American Honey, The Magnificent Seven, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Inferno, The Edge Of Seventeen, Rules Don't Apply, Moana, Keeping Up With The Joneses, Allied, Evolution, Miss Sloane, Jackie, Deepwater Horizon, Office Christmas Party, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, Eddie The Eagle, Why Him?, Fences, The Hollow Point, Passengers, Toni Erdmann, A Monster Calls, Live By Night

TOP TEN (In Alphabetical Order):

20th Century Women

Captures an era and has characters who act like real people.

The Beatles: Eight Days A Week--The Touring Years

Lots of new footage (to me, anyway) in this compilation.  We know the story, but age cannot wither, nor custom stale, their infinite variety.


A superhero epics that has less "super," "hero" and "epic" than usual, but a lot more personality.

Girl Asleep

Even at around 80 minutes it threatens to overdo it, yet has a sense of fun and style that overcomes the low budget.

Hunt For The Wilderpeople

A surprising romp in the wilds of New Zealand.

Knight Of Cups

I've given up trying to defend Terrence Malick's style of overheard life.  Don't see it, you won't like it.

La La Land

A film that's original yet captures the spirit of Golden Age Hollywood musicals. (All the more amazing in that it doesn't feature the same level of singing, dancing or songwriting that the classics offer.) And I love the long takes--musical numbers where you can actually see the performers perform.

The Lobster

You have to create a truly new and imaginative world to keep surrealism going for two hours.

Nocturnal Animals

Stylish, but also quite powerful.


Like last year's top ten title Korla, here's a documentary with a fascinating subject I knew very little about, and one with twists and turns I didn't see coming.

BONUS (Two others that almost made it)

Don't Breathe

Horror is probably my least favorite genre, so maybe I'm overrating this little film that could.


See Nuts!


Blogger Jason said...

Steve, thank you for re-stocking my Netflix queue as you have for so many years now. I am pleasantly surprised that Deadpool made the top 10 - it was my favorite comedy of the year until I saw Lobster last week. I walked out on LaLa Land about six hours in and have been convinced that it's the Emperor's New Clothes of the Oscar season. I might give it a chance since you evidently stayed for the whole thing.
Thank you again.

6:15 AM, January 09, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of these I haven't seen, of course, but I would put Sully up there, and a number of cartoons, like Zootopia, The Secret Life Of Pets and Sing (which are all about animals).

7:56 AM, January 09, 2017  
Anonymous Todd said...

Steve, your prodigious capacity for cinema continues to impress...

...but for me, it's come to this: Not only have I not been in a theater this year, nor seen any of the movies on this list, but I haven't even heard of 90% of the titles.

A pretty striking comment from a guy who used to write screenplays and, while extreme, still somewhat indicative of the fractal state of entertainment in the 21st century. There are just so many outlets and options now, each packed to bursting with product, all vying for a finite set of eyeballs.

The days of any one piece of entertainment captivating a vast majority of the audience - be it a "Game of Thrones" or even a "Star Wars" - are behind us.

Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.


8:10 AM, January 09, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Todd: There's a reason that most films are made for 12-24-year-olds--they're the ones who go out to see movies. Not only don't you go out any more, apparently you don't even read reviews or looks at ads.

I should add that I would hope this film wrap-up can be read and enjoyed even by people unfamiliar with most of the titles.

Jason: If you don't like La La Land early on, it's doubtful you'll like the rest. Let me note it's an honest-to-goodness word-of-mouth hit--I'm not saying people can't have poor taste, but they're not being fooled by the hype, they're clearly responding to the film itself. (More people would probably say The Lobster is the Emperor's New Clothes for the art house set.)

8:28 AM, January 09, 2017  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I haven't seen a lot of this year's films, but I would agree it wasn't a great year. That said, Batman vs. Superman wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, though Amy Adams and Jesse Eisenberg were both horribly out of place in the film.

Most pleasant surprise was Fantastic Beasts, which showed JK Rowling could still create a delightful tale with twists and turns about a magical universe. The end was a little pat with a magical cure all to good to be believable, but the film captured some of the wonder of the earlier Harry Potter movies.

My favorite comedy (dramedy?) was Don't Think Twice, but I like Mike Birbiglia. It felt like it captured some truths about the world of comedy, and the entertainment industry in general. But maybe I'm wrong.

I keep seeing the live-action Jungle Book ranked highly in year end lists? I have had no desire to see this, but does it really bring something new to this tale? Is it just cool to see the live animals act like the cartoon ones?

9:58 AM, January 09, 2017  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Limited Perspective Comment

I grew up in a Pittsburgh -area backyard-in fact the nearby no-longer white suburban town that August Wilson's characters said they wanted to move to (don't know if they did in Fences- haven't seen it yet, but yes, people did scream all the time and they considered it "talking"

I also liked Nocturnal Animals but thought the ending didn't work (though it would have had it been better executed- instead was more "well how 'bout that?")).

My son the Star Wars fan (he wears a Storm Trooper tie to fancy events) told me that I could wait for video on Rogue One

10:31 AM, January 09, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Denver Guy: The Jungle Book was a lot of fun. Did it bring something new to the tale? Depends what you already know about the story. I would think it being a tale well-told would be enough. (The animated version was the last overseen by Walt Disney. I like it, though it's hardly a classic compared to his early animated features. The new version is more serious than the cartoon, I'd say.)

New England Guy: It's not that people shouldn't scream in Fences. It's that in a play you just have those characters and that's enough. But in a movie, things are more realistic--they're surrounded by other houses, yet we don't ever see anyone else in the backyard, or even hear a peep from the neighbors, and it makes the action seem more artificial.

Without giving too much away, I'd note the ending of Nocturnal Animals is ambiguous. I thought it meant one thing, but the friend I saw the movie with thought it was something else. Then I saw an interview with the director who said it could be read either way.

10:45 AM, January 09, 2017  
Anonymous Ed Turner said...

Hello ,
I'm the Executive Producer of Ticket to Write: The Golden Age of Rock Music Journalism , and was heartened to see we were mentioned in your end- of- year wrap up....Just out of curiosity , would you mind sharing with me where you came across our documentary ( knowing this would help with our marketing goals for the film )?
You can reach me at my email address , ....

Many thanks !!
Ed Turner
Road Ahead Productions , LLC

1:42 AM, January 11, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Ed Turner: Good to hear from you. I saw the documentary at the Cinefamily, a small movie theatre with interesting programming at the old Silent Movie Theatre on 611 N. Fairfax in Los Angeles.

Congratulations on your film. I thought you did good work--just getting all those people on record and letting them tell their stories is quite an accomplishment.

9:18 AM, January 11, 2017  
Anonymous Edward G Turner said...

Thanks for getting back with me !! I had hoped to attend the screening at the Silent Movie Theater , but wasn't able to make it .... Just FYI , we're working on a follow up film , Throttle The Sun : Discovering Rock and Roll's "It" Factor , which features some great interviews with folks like Alan Parsons , Don Barnes of 38 Special , Tommy James of Tommy James and The Shondells .... I'll be sure to update you when we release Throttle The Sun... In the meantime , please feel free to keep in touch via my email address if you have any questions about any of our upcoming projects ....

Thanks again , Ed

3:21 PM, January 11, 2017  
Blogger Jesse said...

Apparently I liked *Hail, Caesar!* a great deal more than you did.

5:54 PM, January 11, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

To be fair to the Coen Brothers, they put enough in their films that even if you don't like them on first viewing, there's enough fascinating stuff that you'll often be rewarded by later viewings. Hail, Caesar! has been on cable recently, and while I still don't think the whole thing holds up, it's fun to watch certain scenes. And it looks great.

6:33 PM, January 11, 2017  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Running really late this year - I have to leave my 2017 predictions in the 2016 film review thread!

First, 2016 was pretty good for me:

In the S.Ct. - Enwel v. Abbott did uphold (unanimously) proportional representation based on total population in house districts. My other predictions were about Obamacare cases, and weren't decided given the political and court situation, and now the likely repeal of the ACA.

Obviously, didn't predict Trump winning election, but: 1) Congress passed no Climate Change legislation; 2) Republicans held House and narrowly held Senate (though without unseating Michael Bennett); and 3) sadly, Major Terrorist attack in the US (Orlando, though maybe not directly linked to ISIS).

Internationally, 1) sadly, Major Terrorist attack in Germany before year-end; 2) ISIS still fighting; 3) Assad still ruling Syria; and 4) Russia in the thick of things in the Levant. Oh, and Castro dies (like a stopped a clock, had to get that right eventually).

Economy - 2016 GDP not final, but looks to be coming in under 2% for the year, capping 8 years below 3% growth. The Fed raised interest rates once (not twice, as I predicted). Anticipating a Democratic takeover of the Senate and White House, I predicted a DOW below 17,000. Glad to be wrong.

And in fun stuff, AFC defeated the Panthers, Phelps won more than 2 more gold medals (5 actually), and DiCaprio got his Oscar!

Now, for 2017:


Lee v. Tam - Kennedy will lead a majority (6-2 or 5-3) striking down the Patent/Trademark Office decision to bar registration of the name "Slants" by an Asian American band on grounds it is a disparaging term. This may pave the way for the Wash. Redskins winning challenge to their disparaging trademark.

LA County v. Mendez - 5/4 the Court will overturn 9th Cir. ruling that police who use excessive force lose their immunity from personal prosecution.

And with Trump promising a nomination within 2 weeks, here's my bold prediction for the Scalia replacement: Don Willett, TX S.Ct. Trump's choice will be based on personal interviews, and Willett is known as "the tweeting judge." He doesn't take things so seriously.

Second choice, Diane Sykes, 7th Cir., as a thank-you to Wisconsin (she'll be first choice if Ginsburg leaves in next few years). Thomas Lee, U. Of Chicago Law grad is on the list, but doesn't have sufficient track record to satisfy Senate Republicans (assuming Trump cares about that).


Congress will pass no significant legislation to combat Climate Change.

The Clintons will not leave the public sphere, continuing to be the toast of Hollywood, DC and NY functions. The Bushes will leave the public sphere.


Andrea Merkl will lose or withdraw from Germany's election.

Marine Le Pen will not win the French election.

The US embassy in Israel will move to Jerusalem.

Trump will not reinstate sanctions on Cuba (it's not good for business). The left will be in a quandary trying to decide whether to be happy that communist Cuba is open to visit, or angry that Trump's company will try and build a hotel there.


GDP in 2017 will exceed 3% growth.

And I'll counter LA Guy, the DOW will remain below 20,000 by year end, due to Trump policies damaging the stock of many blue chips. This is what populists do - create scapegoats.


Cubs will not repeat in the World Series (one win a century is enough to keep the fan base).

The Apprentice, with Arnold as host, will be canceled (or Arnold will be fired).

The Twin Peaks revival on Showtime will be a winner (or at least renewed for a second season).

The Star Trek revival on CBS pay channel will fail (and perhaps the whole channel with it).

Guardians of Galaxy II will be the highest grossing picture of the year. (No real insight here, just don't like LA Guy's Star Wars pick, though he is probably right).

Happy Trump Year!

12:42 PM, January 12, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Thanks for the belated predictions. I'll post them on the blog for convenience.

1:11 PM, January 12, 2017  
Anonymous New Jersey Guy said...

Thanks for the year-end review. As usual, I'm most impressed (or perhaps alarmed) by the extreme frequency of your trips to actual movie theaters. I didn't add up the number of films mentioned, but you must be in a theatre 2-3 times per week. I myself cherry pick the best films of the year, buy them on blu-ray, and watch them in the comfort and privacy of my home cinema. But enough about me.

Although I rarely venture out to see movies (unless I'm on an airplane), I do read the movie reviews in both the WSJ and NYT every Thursday and have to confess I'm only familiar with several of your Top 10. So congrats on ferreting out the winners from among the obscure and generally unknown.

As for "Hail Caesar", I believe that Coen brothers movies are at worst "okay" and should not be relegated to "Not Okay." (I prefer "bad" or "terrible.") Coen dialogue itself makes even their lesser work worth watching. The movie wasn't really about anything, other than paying homage to classic Hollywood with the message that working on movies is so great it beats more "meaningful" work. (Weird coincidence between Lockheed in the movie and PEOTUS rants about same.) But regardless, I thought the dancing sailor musical scene might get a nod from you for best musical number.

Finally, would you lose all respect for me (however low currently) if I said I enjoyed watching "War Dogs"? (Saw it on an airplane coming back from MX. Have you seen how cheap the Peso is versus the greenback?) Upon review, could it have possibly snuck into the "okay" grouping? I bet you hate Jonah Hill, just as you could never rate a movie about the Beatles anything less than "Good".

BTW, your grouping of movies into buckets by numbers, names, and other criteria brought to mind "Rain Man". A movie I thought was very overrated.

8:33 AM, January 14, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I usually go out to see the latest on Friday and Saturday. When you throw in the occasional weekday screening, it adds up. Many of the more obscure titles come from a local theatre, the Cinefamily, which specializes in such stuff.

There was more than one musical number in Hail Caesar!. They were probably major reasons the Coen's wanted to make the film. Not bad, but I thought they were trying a bit too hard.

I've got nothing against Jonah Hill. In fact, I like him. It's just that War Dogs was quite preachy from the start--an attribute likely to land you in the "not okay" section faster than anything else.

10:38 AM, January 14, 2017  
Anonymous JuliaF said...

I still go to the movies - most of the time to see big outdoorsy or space movies, but sometimes as a work antidote.

This year the most memorable film for me was The Accountant. It got pretty bad reviews but I liked the clear drive and kill plans. I loved the twist that his friend at the School was his crime compatriot. Hail Ceasar was pretty good but I think you had to know about the HUAC hearings to really get into it. LA LA Land just OK - but it is on the Oscar train.

Speaking of Jesse Eisenberg, Social Network is one of my alltime favorite movies and I remember thinking that this guy would be a big star if he could play another character. Cafe Society showed that he really could not get beyond a snarky young guy. Could this be Woody Allen's last film? Both LA and NY were included and his voice sounded raspy.

Rogue 1 lived up to its hype - it was a little weird to have new accents but it is a diversified galaxy.

See Jungle Book for Scarlett Johannsen's role as Kah the snake.

3:43 PM, January 15, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Thanks for you comments. As you can see, I liked The Accountant too. It didn't get critical approval, but it was a hit. Makes you wonder if there'll be a sequel.

Café Society was a big nothing. Quite a disappointment when you consider the setting held out a lot of possibilities. Woody has been making a film a year for decades. I always say he should take a year off to write the script first.

They took a huge chance with The Jungle Book and got a huge hit out of it. There was plenty of good voice work, though I assume most people remember Bill Murray the best.

I'm a bit surprised you didn't go more for LA LA Land. It may not be for everyone, but it's truly caught on with the public.

4:20 PM, January 15, 2017  
Anonymous New Jersey Guy said...

Cafe Society has to be one of Woody's worst. First, when a movie is narrated, it's almost always a sign of trouble. Were they trying to get Woody into the movie in some way? But that was a minor issue compared to the stilted dialogue. Was Jesse Eisenberg trying to impersonate a young Woody Allen? And Steve Carell was a fish out of water. He could have played that part so much bigger and funnier, but he seemed oddly restrained and uncomfortable.

Woody needs to retire. Who funds his work anyway? Can't believe anyone bets actual money no this guy's work.

8:45 AM, January 24, 2017  

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