This was a bit of a weird year for this blog. For some reason, in January, I decided to stop writing for a while, but I also decided to take the blog down for a while. Then I put it back up, but still didn’t write anything. The whole time, though, I was watching stuff and marking it down as a draft, knowing that eventually, I’d keep up with it. So most of the year was a game of catch-up, trailing weeks behind the viewing, up until a week or so ago. So if you’re wondering why there’s nothing until April of this year, that’s why. Overall though, it was a great year for movies and TV, old and new. The judgements are below, in no particular order:
Favourite movies – Son of Saul, Moonlight, The Lobster, Boyhood, Blue Jasmine, The American Friend, The Revenant, Sicario, The Bling Ring, Hail Caesar!, Calvary, Get Carter, Amadeus, The Fugitive, Amy, Steve Jobs, Macbeth, Odd Man Out, Frank, The Hustler, Malcolm X, Spy, Drive, Creed, The White Ribbon, A Separation, 13th, A Royal Affair, Oasis: Supersonic, Kill Zone: SPL, The Good The Bad The Weird, Rogue One
Favourite new releases for 2016 – Moonlight, 13th, Hail Caesar, Oasis: Supersonic
Favourite action – The Fugitive, The Transporter, Game of Thrones (Battle of Bastards scene), Kill Zone: SPL, The Good The Bad The Weird
Visually amazing – The Revenant, Macbeth, Sicario, Steve Jobs, Moonlight, Son of Saul
Great performances – Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey in House of Cards, everyone in Hail Caesar, Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro in Sicario, Brendan Gleeson in Calvary, Michael Caine in Get Carter, Gael Garcia Bernal in Rosewater, Toshiro Mifune in Sanjuro, Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham in Amadeus, Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey, Bruno Ganz in The American Friend, Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs, Russell Crowe in The Insider, Sophie Turner in Game of Thrones, Jeremy Renner in Kill the Messenger, Aziz Ansari in Master of None, everyone in The Lobster, Kathleen Ryan in Odd Man Out, Maggie Gyllenhaal in Frank, Peter Sellers in Return of the Pink Panther, Paul Newman and Piper Laurie in The Hustler, Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul, Patricia Arquette in Boyhood, Denzel Washington in Malcolm X, Melissa McCarthy in Spy, Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, everyone in Drive, Elizabeth Banks in Love & Mercy, Michael B Jordan in Creed, Winona Ryder in Stranger Things, everyone in A Separation, Thomas Schubert in Breathing, Géza Röhrig in Son of Saul, everyone in Moonlight.
Great shots/sequences – Stone Roses: Made of Stone: The overhead, slow-mo, dusktime helicopter shot of the crowd before the Heaton Park gig; Malcolm X: The opening long take with the incredible crane swooping in and zooming in on Spike Lee in that crazy zoot suit; Moonlight: that amazing hallway shot where the young kid comes home and his mom, Naomi Harris in a career high, looks back at him, and we see her through his POV, and the time slows down, and the lighting is surreal, and she gives us this enigmatic, haunting look that will surely haunt his dreams for his whole life, and then she lets rip with an indecipherable scream in that slow-motion, and it’s very very good.
Great moustaches – Bruno Ganz in The American Friend, Colin Farrell in The Lobster, Carl Weathers in Predator, Christopher Walken in Heaven’s Gate, Ethan Hawke at the end of Boyhood, Martin Freeman in Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Scene stealers – Jason Statham in Spy, Aziz Ansari’s real parents in Master of None
Best music – Amadeus, The Fugitive, Frank, Stranger Things (score, not soundtrack)
Biggest hypes that will quickly be (or already are) considered not that great – Making a Murderer, Stranger Things
Best dance routine – Channing Tatum’s “No Dames” sailor routine in Hail Caesar, Astaire and Rogers “Isn’t This a Lovely Day to be Caught in the Rain” from Top Hat
Michael Fassbender performances (in order) – Macbeth, Steve Jobs, Frank (last not because of a bad performance, but by virtue of not seeing his face)
Best documentary – 13th, Amy
Superhero movies that most made me want to puke – Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad
Most racist movie – Birth of a Nation
Least racist movie – Malcolm X
Things I wasn’t that hot on at the time but which I remember fondly now – Heaven’s Gate, Special Correspondents
Best long form documentary about the Eagles – The History of the Eagles
Best movie about bending it like Beckham – Bend it Like Beckham
Best movie for Michael Jordan playing basketball with cartoons – Space Jam
And now, the stats:
In 2016, I saw 80 movies and 14 seasons of TV shows (including all 6 seasons of Downton which I lumped into one post).
55 were American, 11 were British, 3 Japanese, 2 from Hong Kong, 2 Hong Kong/China co-productions, 2 Ireland/UK co-productions, 1 from Iran, 1 Austrian, 1 South Korean, 1 from France, 1 from Hungary, 1 USA/Germany co-production, 1 UK/Germany co-produciton, 1 West Germany/France co-production, 1 USA/UK/Canada co-production, 1 UK/France/USA co-production, 1 Denmark/Sweden/Czech Republic co-production, 1 Austria/Germany/France/Italy co-production, 1 USA/UK/Germany/France/Japan co-production, 1 Ireland/UK/Greece/France/Netherlands co-production.
I always think that I never saw anything new from this year, but it turns out I saw 19 movies or TV seasons that were released in 2016. As usual, a lot of catching up from last year, 15 from 2015 (although the whole practice of releasing a movie in the final weeks of a calendar year in order to get Oscar love is annoying and doesn’t count—fucking La La Land!). I saw 36 things from 2000-2014, 6 from the 1990’s, 3 from the 1980’s, 3 from the 70’s, 3 from the 60’s, surprisingly 0 from the 50’s, 3 from the 40’s, 2 from the 30’s, and one from 1915 (I believe the oldest for this blog).
As usual, the majority of the stuff I saw was English-language. But I had a pretty good ratio of international stuff this year, better than other years I believe, so it’s been pretty linguistically diverse. Of course, the 3 Japanese films from this year were in Japanese, and the Danish film was in Danish. A Separation was fully in Persian, and Rosewater was partly in Persian. Of the Hong Kong/Chinese movies, most were in Mandarin and/or Cantonese, with the exception of The Bodyguard and The Legend of Drunken Master, which were dubbed into English in the version I saw. Like the first season, the second season of Narcos was largely in Spanish. Breathing and The White Ribbon were totally German, and The American Friend aka Der Amerikanische Freund was largely in German, with some English and French too. Son of Saul was a melting pot of Eastern European languages: Hungarian, German, Polish, Yiddish, and Russian. The Good, The Bad, The Weird was pretty crazy—it was set in Manchuria, but the main people were Korean, and there are a bunch of Japanese soldiers as well, so you got Mandarin, Korean, Japanese in that one.
I saw 7 documentaries, 9 comedies, 7 superhero films, 2 animation/kids movies, and 1 silent film. I wrote 1 long-form Overview post, and 3 Re-View posts of things I’d already seen before.
It looks like I actually did tackle some of my resolutions from last year, increasing my foreign-language quotient and good comedies, and even 1 silent film. I’d like to continue that for 2017, and also dip into some more “required viewing”, big stuff that I haven’t seen, in Hollywood and beyond. It wouldn’t kill me to fill in some of the giant gaps in my film knowledge, notably India, the entire continent of Africa, and the entire continent of South America. But as for my personal hankering, I’d like to see some more silent Hollywood, say from the 20’s, and also more 30’s through 50’s classic Hollywood, including some melodramas, some Minnelli and Sirk. I should try on some more romance/rom-com really, to balance out all the meathead masculinist action stuff. But also, I still want to keep up the martial arts movies, because they’re great, and also some more samurai films.