Like usual, I have my top 10, honorable mentions, and instead of picking worst movie of the year, I've decided to go with "Meh movie of the year", which I give to a movie that really should have been so much better than a "meh". It's also because of its 95% at rottentomatoes. That is ridiculous.
I have a bigger bone to pick with this movie than the worst movie of the year which was The Brothers Grimsby, but like...it got shat on by the critics, it did horribly at the box office, so I really don't have much more to say that hasn't been said already. Anyways...
The Secret Life of Pets, Captain America: Civil War, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Embrace of the Serpent, The Legend of Tarzan, Independence Day 2: Resurgence
Although it's a family movie and there's enough cool visuals to keep the kids entertained, I think adults will be far more moved by this than kids. It's a great coming of age story, a little girl who truly learns what it means to grow up, against her mother's vision of what it means to be a grown up. As the aviator says, "Growing up isn't the problem, forgetting is." Childhood is the period of our the world is a true wonder, how much of that are we losing we age? Little Prince kind of reminded me of Bridge to Terebithia in being movie directed at children that's bittersweet about dealing with loss, but ultimately what you get out of it. Most of all though, it's a very entertaining movie, weird at times, with very well developed characters and although not hilarious, its sense of humor is clever when it's there. There would be no Oscar upset that would make me happier than to see Little Prince pull a shocking upset for best animated movie over the incredibly over-rated, forgettable and generic Finding Dory. I think even a best adapted screenplay nomination should be in store for Little Prince.
3. Mei Ren Yu (The Mermaid) ****1/2
This movie broke just about every box office record in China, and currently stands tall as the highest grossing movie of all time in China, and it is very well deserved. If you watched the trailer to this movie, you'd have no idea that's one of the funniest movies of the year, though the trailer unfortunately makes it look like a cheap Chinese Avatar wannabe.
If you've seen Dances with Wolves, Avatar and Pocahontas, you'll definitely recognize the exact same structure this movie will go through. I'd say it's more like a Chinese Avatar meets a Chinese Monty Python. I take The Mermaid over the movies I mentioned above, it pulls everything off in a brisk 90 minutes, and my god is this movie funny! If you're a fan of comedy, give this movie a try, and you don't need to be Chinese to appreciate the humor; there's a uniqueness to its sense of humor that's sorely lacking in Hollywood comedies. It's very goofy, but clever in its goofiness and with its fair share of dark comedy.
There's a scene of a billionaire that walks into a police station to report that he'd been abducted by mermaids. I knew at the start of the scene that they were going to deliver some big laughs, but it transcended my expectations and this is by far the funniest scene of the year. This scene should be studied by all comedy directors and all aspiring comedy directors.
There's no doubt that the CGI of this movie are cheesy, but there's oddly a charm to it. At some point though, the laughs die down for the movie to deliver a very important message about how badly we're fucking up the environment and a condemnation of human greed. While it's not exactly subtle in the way it delivers its message, it's not overly heavy handed either. To my fellow Chinese people, you absolutely must watch this movie!! #1 movie of all time in China, come on, what are you waiting for? For the non-Chinese who's bored of the same shit from Hollywood and want something different, this is your movie!
2. How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town ****1/2
It was a tough call for "Funniest movie of the year" between this and my #3 pick, but I think I might give this a slight edge. 3 Canadian movies made my list, but this is the best movie from Canada this year, and the funniest raunchy sex comedy I've seen in a long long time; I'll call this the highest brow low brow sex comedy. There's a uniqueness to the gags, and everything about the awkwardness, inadequacies, and problems in the bedroom, including how no one can control their orgasm face is captured with such hilarity. Funniest appearance, there's a nerdy looking guy who looks like a skinnier Jason Segel, and oh my god does he steal the show! But, when it comes to the low key dialogue based humor, the dialogue writing is sharp and witty.
I really enjoyed the ensemble approach, highlighting that all the characters have something different or a different motivation to get out of the orgy. But what surprised me is that despite how absurd the premise of the movie is, when the comedy dies down for some drama which usually fails in just about every raunchy comedy, it actually works in this one. I'm impressed that a movie called How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town has surprisingly very good character development, might I add that I was very surprised at how beautiful and poetic of an ending it was. This is a movie that goes all the way with its raunchy gags, but has a lot of heart and is much smarter than you'd expect too.
1. Eye in the Sky ****1/2
After walking out of this movie, I knew for a fact that it would be #1 on my half year list. It wouldn't surprise me if it ends up at #1 at my end of the year top 10 list either. Eye in the Sky is the best political thriller I've seen in a long time; it's almost like a war movie stage play. It is absolutely fucking intense from beginning to end. It's a morally challenging movie that can be debated well after the credits roll.
We hear about drone strikes in the news all the time, but we still know very little about it. Eye in the Sky is fascinating at shedding a light on everyone involved in drone strikes, from the military to the politicians to the drone pilots themselves and the psychological mindfuckery that comes with their jobs and of course the most unfortunate thing about the drone strikes: the innocent victims that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. It also looks at the political and propaganda ramifications of drone strikes. This movie is uncompromising, challenging, and disturbing.
Of all 2016 movies so far, this is the first true contender for best picture for the upcoming Oscars. It's the best work that Helen Mirren has done in a while, and what a great final performance for Alan Rickman.
The Meh movie of 2016:
Finding Dory **1/2
It's not that Finding Dory is a bad movie, because it's not. But, it's meh, and that is so fucking disappointing. We hold Pixar to higher standards due to their resume, it's the same director as Finding Nemo and Wall-E, it's the sequel to arguably one of the best animated movies ever made, there was an over 10 year gap between the movies...and this was the best they could do?! Unlike Toy Story 2 and 3 that truly felt like creatively motivated sequels, this sequel truly felt like an uninspired money grab. Finding Dory is completely generic. It does absolutely nothing new that wasn't done better in the original. There is not one moment in this movie that sticks out. There is not one memorable chase scene. The comedy writing is uninspired, once again...are there any quotable lines of dialogue or jokes that anyone can remember? When you hear lines like, "Holy carp!", you know the writers are desperate.
I bet anything that a year from now if I were to ask you about the movie, you'll forget most of what happened. The only things I'll remember about this movie are how utterly fucking irritating the speaking whale was (too bad, because that was many people's favorite joke from Nemo), and the incredibly heavy handed attempts at drama, with those cheesy ass flashbacks to Dory's past. My god did the director try so fucking hard to get tears from the audience.
If this was not a sequel to Nemo, and it wasn't made by Pixar, then I would be much more forgiving to this movie. For them to make a sequel to one of my all time favorite not just animated movies, but movies in general, I wish they had an inspired idea for why a sequel is necessary and this sequel was clearly not. But hey, it made Pixar a shitload of money, so bring on Cars 3 or 4 or which one are they at now? And Toy Story 4 (yes, let's make an additional sequel to the most perfect trilogy ending imaginable to part 3), and Inside Out 2, and why not make a Ratatouille 2 and Brave 2 while you're at it? How about Monsters Highschool? Then Monsters Elementary school? I didn't include Incredibles 2 in that rant, because I can actually see a lot of creative possibilities in that.
The Little Prince, Secret Life of Pets and Zootopia are far superior animated movies, and Pixar's supposed to be the best.
Other Honorable awards worth mentioning:
Trippiest movie of the year (best movie to see high):
Independence Day: Resurgence
Trippiest end credits:
Best Use of 3-D:
The Secret Life of Pets
Best action scene:
Captain America: Civil War - Airport scene
How to Start an Orgy in a Small Town
Tear Jerker of the year:
The Little Prince
Performance of the year:
I was originally gonna give it to a serious role, but fuck it...
I'm giving it to Chao Deng who plays the Chinese billionaire who eventually falls in love with the mermaid in MEI REN YU (THE MERMAID). Simply the funniest performance of the year!
Ensemble cast of the year:
Eye in the Sky, hands down!
Villain of the year:
Idris Elba as Shere Khan in Jungle Book