2016 was full of all sorts of losses for me. My life went through a few unwelcome changes, we've got a crazy President now, and the general air was full of strife. But at least there were some good movies last year. The year may not have been as stacked with greatness as years past, but there were some definite gems.
Highlighting the year were major surprises, a fantastic animated slate, and one film I found myself (mostly) unfairly comparing every other release to.
Here are fifteen of my favorite films from 2016.
30-16: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sausage Party, Bad Moms, Star Trek Beyond, Zootopia, Deadpool, Storks, Magnificent Seven, The Boy and the Beast, Everybody Wants Some, The 13th, Ouija: Origins of Evil, La La Land, Hidden Figures, Kicks... read + comment
The 2017 Oscar nominees have been announced. The leader of the pack this year is Damien Chazelle's La La Land, which garnered 14 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and two Best Original Song nods.
Wait, two Best Original song nominations? Sing Street was robbed, I tells ya.
14 nominations ties a the all-time most nominations record set by Titanic and All About Eve.
Other major films vying for gold this year include Barry Jenkins' Moonlight, Kenneth Longergan's Manchester by the Sea, Theodore Melfi's Hidden Figures, Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, Denzel Washington's Fences, and, surprisingly, Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge.
Check out the nominations below and then complain about what got snubbed in the comments.
*cough The Handmaiden*
[via The Oscars]... read + comment
It's official, ladies and gents. Star Wars Episode VIII from wirter/director Rian Johnson is titled The Last Jedi. One might have expected this to be the name of the the third film in the new trilogy, following the naming conventions of Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith. Instead, a swerve that reminds me of the cult martial arts movie The Last Dragon.
This means that Rey is Bruce Leroy and Kylo Ren is the Shogun of Space Harlem.
A poster for the film is in the gallery. What do you think of the title? Let us know in the comments.
[via Star Wars on Twitter]... read + comment
Pop culture is full of different kinds of media, but the ones with the most lasting power all do a very important thing: build mythos. "Mythos" is essentially a group of ideas uniquely tied to a premise. Power Rangers has managed to last 24 seasons because of its mythos. When you hear "Power Rangers" you expect a show full of brightly colored spandex, giant robot fights, and most importantly, a rockin' theme song to kick it all off.
But did you know each season brought a new theme song? Some were hype, and others were decidedly not. A children's show is only as good as its theme song, so I'm here to tell you which Power Rangers opening themes were the best.... read + comment
We were all stricken by the first Logan trailer for its gritty setting, somber tone, and older Logan, and it looks like the second trailer delivers that even more so. The third, and final, Wolverine film follows Logan as he struggles to keep a little girl who shares his adamantium skeleton safe. With this trailer, we finally get a taste of what an R-rated Wolverine film can give us.
Patrick Stewart is also back as a Professor X who's fighting dementia and drops a few F-bombs more than expected. It's so nice to hear, honestly. Hugh Jackman has wanted to do an R-rated Wolverine film for years, and he's going to deliver. I hope it's a good end to the character before Fox inevitably reboots him later.
Logan opens March 3rd.
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This newest trailer for Power Rangers has everything, and I mean everything, you probably we wanted to see. We see the new Command Center, Zordon, Alpha, we see the suits in action, zords, Rita Repulsa, the Megazord, and pretty much every big scene in the movie (which was what I was afraid of). But...I'm really feeling this.
While the suits still look a mess, and the finale is going to be lots of CG nonsense, I really liked this trailer. I don't like it as a "fan" of the series, but it's at least a much better cut trailer than the first one. It drops a lot of its pretense, and has the kind of fun I wanted from the jump. I hope the full film can match this tone.
Power Rangers releases March 24th.
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Inauguration Day is this week. It's also my birthday on Inauguration Day. If you've seen some of my previous film and TV-related posts about Donald Trump on this site, you probably know how I feel about this. It's a glum and heavy feeling that I've been carrying with me since election night last November. What a strange, strange time to be alive.
Filmmaker Ryan Scafuro was in the UK last November, and he captured that day's hope, fear, disappointment, and numbness in his short documentary Election Night. The eight-minute film premiered today over at Short of the Week. You can give it a watch below.
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Joining shows getting remade for the screen like The A-Team, 21 Jump Street, and Baywatch, is CHiPs, a show practically everyone forgot about. And like 21 Jump Street, this new Chips is trying to be a goofy buddy comedy that would reinvigorate the brand. Unfortunately, this first trailer for the remake is awful.
Starring Dax Shepard (who also directs the film) and Michael Pena (an FBI agent using the "Ponch" identity), this trailer has a bunch of what I think are jokes? It might just be the way the trailer is edited, but nothing hits the mark here. The tone is weird, the cast doesn't seem to have chemistry, and Shepard and Pena don't have a lot of fun here. I'm hoping the next couple of trailers can fix this issue, or we're all in for a bad time.
CHiPs hits theaters March 24th.
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Reviewing We Are the Flesh from writer/director Emiliano Rocha Minter is tricky. On the one hand, it's a deeply flawed film aimed at a limited audience. It's transgressive in the extreme, sexually explicit bordering on pornographic, nonsensical bordering on pretentious. Minter seems to want to find that sliver of an audience that loves high-brow art house movies as much as they love sordid exploitation trash. Characters are reduced to character types and symbols, which themselves get reduced to the most base animalistic impulses (i.e., eat, f**k, repeat).
And yet this is why I can't get We Are the Flesh out of my head. No wonder Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Gravity) and Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman, The Revenant) have endorsed Minter's filmmaking. It might speak to the way that extreme cinema, even irresolvable or seemingly incomplete (maybe incomprehensible?) works, can affect viewers simply through a lack of restraint. It's like staring at a squalid ink blot and trying to discern meaning and intent, knowing that this shape may be nothing more than sound, fury, sex, and gore.
[This review originally ran as part of our coverage of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]... read + comment
Sony has been trying and trying and trying to make an Uncharted movie for years. Now in 2017, they may actually start making the movie. Finally. Really. Well, maybe. We'll see if Shawn Levy sticks around to direct.
Joe Carnahan has finished the screenplay for the film, and he posted about it on his Instagram account:
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Did anyone else forget Justice League was coming out this year? I totally did. 2016 was such a weird year, it feels like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released forever ago. But as teased in both BvS, Suicide Squad and most likely Wonder Woman, Justice League is releasing later this year. Which means now the crazy advertising campaign can begin in full.
USA Today provided our first look at the team together and I'm not so sure about what I'm looking at here. I don't think I'm going to like Ray Fisher's Cyborg unless they fix more of his look in the coming months. He's a bit too CG and seems awkward standing next to the others. Granted everyone here looks awkward, and it's nice to have him front and center, but this still seems a little, well still.
I'm probably being a bit too harsh but, after DC/WB's last two attempts, all of this is warranted. Part of me's going to geek out seeing all of these heroes on screen, but let's hope it's at least a good film.
Justice League opens November 17th.
[via USA Today]... read + comment
I've been looking forward to Disney's live action Beauty and the Beast remake for a while now, and despite a funky looking Beast, every bit of footage we've seen has been fantastic. But Disney has smartly held off the film's all-important songs until now; since the film is three months away.
I'm not sure if Emma Watson can really sing yet, but I'm going to believe in her. This TV spot reveals a bit of her prowess, and that's all I needed really. I can't wait to see what the rest of the cast has to offer, but I'm all in at this point, haha.
Beauty and the Beast opens March 17th.
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The Golden Globes were a weird sight last night. Technical flubs (which made Fallon awkwardly flail on stage until he mercifully shuffled away), Hidden Figures and Fences wrongly labeled as "Hidden Fences" (which reveals a whole host of other problems), and plenty of prolonged, awkward gags and bits. But anyway, it's all about the awards.
Highlights include Meryl Streep's lifetime award acceptance speech (and Viola Davis' introduction), Donald Glover won a few Globes for Atlanta, La La Land broke a record for wins with seven Globes (winning basically everything it was nominated in), and finally, Moonlight was snubbed for the majority of the show until winning Best Picture in the end.
Read below for the full list of winners.... read + comment
We know that in real life Home Alone's booby traps would be a hyperviolent collection of severe bodily trauma. A full paint can to the noggin is not so pleasant. In fact, it's some straight-up horror movie stuff.
That's the conceit behind Home Alone with Blood. It adds blood to Home Alone. Not a misleading title. Well, it adds blood, gore, and a terrifying sense of gleeful sadism to Kevin McCallister's antics.
It's a little NSFW and a tad bit more disturbing than you might think, but give all four videos a watch below.... read + comment
While Donald Trump was running for president, Billy West recorded a number of the candidate's dumber statements in the voice of Futurama's Zap Brannigan. It was funny. And now that Donald Trump is President-elect, it's just kind of numbly terrifying. Seriously.
Case in point, Donald Trump's New Year's Eve tweet was the sort of thin-skinned, petty, childish garbage a school bully would write: "Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!"
Well, Mark Hamill recorded that tweet as The Joker, a voice role he's played since 1992 for Batman: The Animated Series. And it works a little too well.
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David Bowie's death last year was so sudden and unexpected. He'd been battling cancer bravely and quietly for 18 months. Just days before he passed, he released Blackstar on his 69th birthday. That was a year ago today, and on first listen, not knowing Bowie was about to die, I could've sworn it marked a late-career creative surge that would last a long while.
There's new David Bowie music out now on what would have been his 70th birthday. The four-song EP is titled No Plan, and was recorded during the sessions that would make the album Blackstar.
You can watch the music video for the title track below. Elegiac and quite touching, the video was directed by Tom Hingston, who also directed the video for Bowie's "I'd Rather Be High" from the excellent 2013 album The Next Day.
Happy birthday, David Bowie. We miss you.
[via Spin]... read + comment
While people continue to mourn Carrie Fisher's passing, Lucasfilm now has to address a major question about Star Wars moving forward. What happens to Leia in this franchise? How will they rework their original plans? Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow will meet to figure out what happens next.
Reports are that Fisher completed her work on Rian Johnson's Episode VIII. The issue is with Episode IX. The original plans were for General Leia to have a larger role in the third film of the new Star Wars trilogy.
Will they try to write Leia out of the story between Episode VIII and Episode IX? Will there be any Episode VIII reshoots to give Leia a sendoff of some kind? And there's the other big elephant in the room: Will they resort to a CG double a la Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?... read + comment
I don't think I've legitimately liked a Jackie Chan movie since 2004's New Police Story. There were good scenes and flashes of brilliance in Rob-B-Hood, The Forbidden Kingdom, and Chinese Zodiac, but they never really hung together as movies.
Regardless, Jackie Chan is back, and his latest movie is Kung-Fu Yoga. The film reteams Chan with Stanley Tong, who also directed some of Chan's standout work in the 1990s: Rumble in the Bronx, Police Story III: Supercop, and Police Story IV: First Strike.
If anything, the movie has Jackie Chan in a car with a CGI lion named Little Jackie. Seriously, give it a watch.
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My taste is eclectic, but I am, at heart, a simple man. Sometimes I want a long Hungarian art movie, or an oblique sci-fi existential meditation on trauma and pigs, or a reassuring week in the life of a working artist.
Other times I just want to see people punch each other in the face in really fancy ways.
So this trailer for Jailbreak looks pretty darn fun to me. The only thing that's missing is the Thin Lizzy song "Jailbreak". Give it a watch.
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If you've seen Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, you know that there are some unexpected appearances by well-known (and lesser known) characters from the original Star Wars. Needless to say, SPOILERS to follow.
Some of my favorite Easter eggs in the film include some Y-wing and X-wing fighters checking in during the final third of the film, including good ol' Red Leader.
Almost there.... alll-mosst theeere...
But the biggest and most unexpected appearances in Rogue One are from Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Princess Leia. Peter Cushing has been dead since 1994, and the late Carrie Fisher was just 19 years old while making the original Star Wars. Nightline aired the following report on how these actors were recreated by Industrial Light and Magic.
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I had no idea about The Lure until last night even though it played at Sundance last year. The Lure is now one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. The debut film from Agnieszka Smoczynska, The Lure is a horror/fantasy musical about carnivorous mermaids in Poland during the 1980s. Bonus: It's being released by Janus Films, that stamp of quality that suggests full-throated endorsement by the Criterion Collection.
If that elevator pitch alone isn't enough to sell you on The Lure, check out the trailer below. The trailer is NSFW since it contains some nudity.
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One of the most notable aspects of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was its multi-racial cast. This resulted in a dumb attempt at boycotting the film (not the first time this has happened). We can mock the racists and rubes all we want, but I think it's better to consider the positive effects of representation and why casts like Rogue One's have an impact.
Diego Luna, who plays Cassian Andor in Rogue One, shared the following anecdote from a fan on Twitter. It's a story about the fan taking his dad to see the film.... read + comment
Naturally when a film gets hit with numerous delays it's easy to assume the final product is subpar. Couple that with a bump from last October to February, and Rings already has a lot working against it. It's a sequel no one really wants (and the one we do want is premiering on Shudder soon), it's going to premiere when no one is interested, and this newest trailer for it doesn't look so hot.
Instead of spreading through a VHS tape, Samara's going through spam e-mail but it's basically the same old schtick the other two films had. And like spam e-mail, folks will probably ignore this film and let it linger in their junk folder.
Rings opens February 3.
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For those not too in the know, the Child's Play series has been keeping a single story alive for 30 years now. For some reason I don't completely comprehend, Chucky has been a horror icon to many and a joke to more. But regardless the seventh entry in the series, Cult of Chucky, is now in the works!
According to Bloody Disgusting, Cult of Chucky will begin filming next week with most of the original series' team returning for it. Don Mancini is returning to write and direct, Brad Dourif is once again voicing the killer doll, Jennifer Tilly (who once also voiced a killer doll before becoming human), and even the original Child's Play's Alex Vincent. It's pretty damn neat the series has keep a single canon going rather than softly reboot the series each entry like other popular slasher franchises.
Cult of Chucky will release directly on home video later this year. Check out the announcement trailer and plot synopsis below.
[via Bloody Disgusting]
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They Live is one of John Carpenter's indisputable masterpieces. Part satire and part ass-kicker, the film is all about the horrors of capitalism, consumerism, and 80s excess. Yet because the Internet exists and it is awful, a bunch of Nazi scum have been promulgating the theory that They Live is really about fighting the hidden Jewish agenda. Yes, neo-Nazi alt-right jagoffs think John Carpenter is on their side.
John Carpenter is having none of this insane nonsense. He took the Twitter the other night to dispel this mishegoss:
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Composer Hans Zimmer has a world tour planned this year, and he's added an unexpected stop: Coachella. Running from April 14th-16th and April 21st-23rd in Indio, California, Zimmer will be playing on the 16th and 23rd. These are the same nights as Kendrick Lamar, New Order, Lorde, Devendra Banhart, and a bunch of other people I'm too old to have heard of.
Also, Radiohead and Beyonce are playing at Coachella this year. (Wait, they do two weekends of Coachella now?)
The one time I went to Coachella way back when I saw Pixies, Radiohead, Belle and Sebastian, The Flaming Lips, a little bit of The Cure. It was only one weekend back then, and everyone had onions on their belts, that being the style at the time. Hans Zimmer was definitely not there.
Or was he?
Hopefully there's no BWAAAAAM bleed from Zimmer's stage during the Future Islands set.
[via The Verge]... read + comment
If you bring up Rob Liefeld among comic book fans, you'll get a whole slew of reactions. Some loathe the man and his artwork (which is very 1990s) while others like The Rob and what he does. One thing he did many years ago was create Deadpool.
Given, the Deadpool back then wasn't the anarchic meta character he'd become, but without Rob Liefeld, there wouldn't be Deadpool. And without Deadpool doing so well at the box office (and on torrent/pirate sites), Rob Liefeld wouldn't have the insane film deal he got yesterday. Thus the son becomes the father and the father the son.
Fundamental Films and Akiva Goldsman have acquired the film rights to Rob Liefeld's Extreme Universe with the intent of creating a multi-film franchise a la the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Whatever That Dreck Is. The Extreme Universe includes Youngblood, Bloodstrike, Bloodwulf, Brigade, and a host of other characters that are sort of like Marvel ones but different. (For example, Bloodstrike is basically Deadpool.)
It's easy to make jokes about Liefeld's numerous Blood[blank] and [Blank]blood creations, but good work has come from The Rob through other writers. Alan Moore had an excellent run on Rob Liefeld's Supreme, turning a Superman rip-off into a love letter to and deconstruction of Mort Weisinger-era DC Comics. More recently, Brandon Graham took Prophet (a Captain America rip-off) and turned his adventures into a sci-fi adventure in the mold of Moebius and European comics. Maybe, with the right creative teams involved, something really cool can come of this.
Assuming these movies even get off the ground, of course. This could be Youngblood: Year One all over again.
[via The Wrap]... read + comment
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story underwent a number of changes from script to screen. There were extensive reshoots, the film was restructured, and certain shots and lines from early trailers never made it into the theatrical release of the movie.
We may not get the full story on what was changed for a while, but director Gareth Edwards and editors John Gilroy and Colin Goudie have started talking about various revisions and alternate takes.
First off, Edwards shared lots of Rogue One trivia, secrets, and info with Empire. Among these revelations, Rogue One originally had an opening crawl like the other Star Wars films.
... read + comment
The first screenplay that Gary Whitta wrote had a crawl in it--and you learn doing that that 'a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away' has four dots in it, not three. You get extra marks for that. And then at some point, probably like six months before we were filming, we were in a meeting, and they talked about not having an opening crawl, because these are standalone films, not part of the sagas. And if I'm honest, there was an initial kind of like, "Whaaaa? I want the crawl!" The opening sequence is kind of the crawl of our movie. It's like the setup. And our film is also born out of a crawl--the reason we exist is because of a previous crawl, so it feels like this infinite loop that will never end. It's a small thing to give up to get to do Star Wars.
As a first foray into Star Wars spinoffs, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has been extremely successful both critically and commercially. The upcoming young Han Solo film ought to do gangbusters as well. So far Alden Ehrenreich is slated to play Han Solo with Donald Glover set to play Lando Calrissian.
According to Variety, Han Solo is going to have a mentor, and Woody Harrelson is the frontrunner for that role.
Harrelson was also a mentor figure in The Hunger Games and, of course, Kingpin, the 1996 gross-out bowling comedy from the Farrelly brothers. It's unclear if Harrelson's character in the young Han Solo movie will be a pilot and swindler of some kind. I imagine Han's mentor will be a down-on-his-luck former bowling champion who finds promise in a young Amish man (Han Solo) who can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs and pick up 7-10 splits like they're candy wrappers.
I could be wrong, though.
Young Han Solo (aka Kingpin 2: Young Han Solo: A Star Wars Story) is set to come out May 25, 2018, though some rumors online suggest the movie may be pushed back to December 2018. This may be to ensure all actors are given proper bowling training so they can perform their own bowling stunts.
[via Variety]... read + comment
Tom Hardy tends to be the best thing or secret-best thing in any movie he appears in. He's an exceptional actor who disappears into roles, often stealing the show through voice and mannerism. (For examples, see Bronson, The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, and the otherwise forgettable Lawless. Actually, maybe don't see Lawless.)
A few nights ago on the children's show CBeebies, Tom Hardy and his dog Woody stole the internet's heart. Or something.
Before turning in tonight, here's video of Hardy and his dog reading You Must Bring a Hat by Simon Philip and Kate Hindley. It's the charming bedtime story born in the darkness, molded in it.
[via IndieWire]... read + comment