Top 10 Best Films of 2016

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This is my personal list of the best films of this year. I loved all of the movies on this list, or really liked them, and recognize they are good films. This list is my opinion, it’s alright if you don’t agree. There were a lot of movies I liked this year so this list took a while to get down to ten but that’s why I have honorable mentions lol. I haven’t seen everything that came out so some things aren’t on here unfortunately. Click HERE for my worst list.
Also, not every film on this list I did a review for, but the ones I did, I will put a link.
Honorable Mentions: The Jungle BookThe Neon Demon, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Lobster, Eye In the Sky, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
My Top 10 Best Films of 2016
10. The Boy and the Beast 
 the-boy-and-the-beastI didn’t do a review for this film, but this is an anime film. Chris Stuckmann said it best it’s like Karate Kid with anamorphic animals. A human boy finds this world, he doesn’t have a relationship with his father and he ends up becoming the apprentice to this bear like man. It’s so beautifully animated, the characters are fantastic, and while they’re not all “good people” I think they’re all likable to the point where you can’t help but feel connected to them. Especially Ren, the main character. I loved his relationship to his mentor, it came off antagonistic a lot but you could tell they cared about each other. It’s very emotional and heartfelt but I do think it’s very interesting, especially the third act. It’s kind of weird but it’s great.
9. Kicks
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I loved this movie, but it was so under the radar that I don’t think many people saw it. However, I loved the cinematography, I thought the direction was great because it felt like I was actually there alongside Brandon trying to get his shoes back. Oakland looked real. I thought Jahking Guillory did a great job holding his own in this role, I hope to see more from him in the future. The story is a bit basic but the journey this character takes over something that seems so trivial is amazing because in this world, those shoes mean something to him. I also loved the idealism of the astronaut being there. It’s a very unique film.
8. Swiss Army Man
SWISS ARMY MAN (2016) Daniel Radcliffe and Paul DanoI actually debated with myself a lot about doing a review for this one but I ended up not doing it because it’s so hard to get my thoughts out about it. But it’s so good. It’s weird, believe me it’s weird, but Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe work so well together, it’s hilarious, it’s emotional and kind of sad in many areas but it’s also kind of uplifting. The music is FANTASTIC, probably one of my favorite elements about the film. The cinematography is so crisp and clear. Definitely check this one out.
7. Fences
fences-header-photoI think is a great character study film. Between Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the talent and emotion explodes from the screen. August Wilson is a fantastic writer and these characters are complex human beings. Outside of a few editing choices, I think the direction is great, I loved how the camera would sometimes view the characters from a window, or through the tree branches, or through the fence… it was amazing. I do think it was a bit wordy but the words are magical, they build these characters up in ways that allows them to be understood. All of the characters are interesting people. Viola Davis though, she’s a powerhouse.
6. Moana
 disney-moana-mauiI don’t think it’s any surprise that this is on my list because I adore Disney. The music. THE MUSIC! The animation! The visuals! Moana and Maui BOTH are so great characters! The voice acting, Auli’i and Dwayne were both so good here. THE MUSIC! The animation! This is classic Disney, sure the story is basic but the wrapping is amazing because while we’ve heard the story before, the culture used, the way the story is told, the music used to tell it is all so new. Disney needs to keep moving forward like this, new cultures and have the voice actors be people who mirror those characters.
5. Deadpool
 deadpool1-gallery-imageThis film was very necessary in for comic book films. I do believe it’s a great film and the experience in the theater was so fun that it’s unforgettable. This is definitely something that’s rewatchable over and over again. I think it was necessary because so many comic book movies could have been rated R, should have been rated R but of course ya know, general audience and stuff. But Deadpool IS and that helps the future of these films, they shouldn’t be so scared anymore. PLUS, Ryan Reynolds owns this role, the inclusion of Colossus and NegaSonic Teenage Warhead was great, their chemistry together and then their chemistry with Wade is gold. The humor, the opening scene ALONE is gold. I loved it. I had such a great time, I don’t think I laughed so much at a superhero movie in forever.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
kubo-and-the-two-strings-international-posterI looooove this movie. Laika is amazing! The animation in this film! Look at the picture! Look at it! The main three characters are absolutely amazing and so interesting. Kubo is your “hero” of course, but he’s a storyteller who uses magical origami to tell them. His instrument is the object in which he uses to channel his magic. He embarks on a quest to find a magical armor and the journey is so much fun. Along the way we meet Monkey and Beetle whose relationship is so humorous, playful and sometimes antagonistic but they work together because they both end up caring about Kubo. The eyes are so very important in this film and the animation and design, spectacular. Also the music. Wow. I saw this movie earlier in the year and I have not forgotten about it. I think it’s one of Laika’s best films and one of the best animated films I’ve seen.
3. Captain America: Civil War
captain-america-civil-war-key-artFirst of all, I love the MCU, I love superhero films and this is one of the best. What Marvel Studios has done is create this world, and these characters where they are so likable, relatable and so emotionally grabbing that in this film, there is no way (unless you are just soo biased) that you do not flip flop sides or at least understand where the other is coming from. I am unwavering Team Cap BUT the script was so well written in terms of this rift in the Avengers that I could not believe that I was understanding Tony’s side (unlike the comics where he’s just a douche). Both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. do so well. The inclusion of Black Panther and Spider Man were stellar choices, they weren’t underused or overused and it helps continue to build this world. The film was funny but it was also emotional. The action scenes are top notch, the airport scene and the end fight between Cap, Bucky and Tony was so gut-wrenching that I almost cried. There are a few plot elements that are questionable but I do believe it was handled very well here. This is my second favorite Superhero movie ever and it’s definitely one that I would watch quite often.
2. Zootopia
 cft6aicuiaaf-juThe way I feel about Zootopia… such a clever film. Very different from what Disney usually gives us and I loved it. I think Zootopia has a lot of hidden gems. Judy and Nick are great interesting characters, they both are very different and work so well together. Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman were great in these roles. The music is nice and the song is catchy, the animation is beautiful, the world created in this film is expansive. There is so much more than can explore, I hope they do. It’s hilarious, that slot scene gets me every time, it’s emotional, I think I’ve cried each time I’ve watched it. The underlying message is relevant and I don’t think they do it in a manipulative way. I think they handled it for an animated film with class. I personally think it’s more for adults than for kids but kids will enjoy it and I think adults will appreciate what it’s saying. A definite must watch.
1. La La Land
la-la-land-audition-14I actually flip flopped between this and Zootopia for a while. If you’re a musical lover, this film is for you as it’s a love letter to musicals but more importantly, it’s a love letter to those people who are dreamers. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling who have such great chemistry together, this film highlights those people who go out in search of their dreams but they also have to figure out their lives as well. Will they follow their dreams and rule out love or will they try to have both? Is it possible to have both without one being pushed back. The music here is so beautiful, all of the songs are original and I think they’re so dreamy. The cinematography is beautiful. I have never been to L.A but I think this film make it look so… lol grand. The characters are also very well written, it’s impossible to dislike either Mia or Sebastian, and I think it’s impossible to not understand them. You have to. If you’re not a fan of musicals, that’s alright because this film is not a song every second, nor is it just random singing, it has a purpose. It fits with the story, it propels it forward and honestly, it’s not like there’s a ton of singing in it. But the music, dancing, singing is a character in itself. La La Land is a feel good movie and as a dreamer, this is my favorite film of the year.

 

I hope you enjoyed this list. If you agree, let me know in the comments below, same if you don’t. What films of the year do you have on YOUR list? There is a lot I missed this year but I also think I did a great job in what I saw lol. If you haven’t seen any of these, please check them out! Also, check out my blog for other reviews!
Don’t forget to like and follow!

Happy New Year!

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Kicks (2016) Review

I saw the poster for this film while at a screening for Birth of a Nation but I don’t remember ever seeing movie times for it. But I was interested off the poster alone. So I finally got it from the library, checked it out and I have to say… wow.
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Summary: Brandon is a 15 year old whose dream is a pair of fresh Air Jordans. Soon after he gets his hands on them, they’re stolen by a local hood, causing Brandon and his two friends to go on a dangerous mission through Oakland to retrieve them.
Pros:
Cast and characters. This film has an interesting set of characters and I’m going to try to talk about at least all of the main ones, which if I’m being honest, isn’t a lot. It’s a contained film.
  • Jahking Guillory as Brandon. Wow such a standout in the film. I was trying to figure out where I knew him from but I guess he just has one of those faces (maybe some commercials) and I hope I see it in the future. He’s 15 and his family isn’t very well off, so he often gets teased by others or even his two bets friends because of his ratty shoes. So he tries to save up money to get them and when he does, he of course flaunts them. He gets jacked and now he’s upset and he goes on a revenge plot to get them back. Jahking is a short and he has this beautiful head of curly hair that makes him look “soft” which makes people, including his friends, underestimate him. But he has this defiant strength in him as the film continues, it comes out slowly. It seems that he never stands up for himself but these shoes are the last straw and not only does he stand up to his friends in the beginning but he stands up to everyone’s view of him. There are a couple of times where he’s doing a voiceover and it’s a short rap that I’m assuming Brandon wrote himself, but we never actually hear him talk about it so it’s like “stream of consciousness”. The character is pretty silent to be honest, he doesn’t have a ton of lines, it’s mostly his expressions which I think Jahking does so well. It’s so easy to care for this character, to want him to get his shoes back, to understand the reason why he wants to do this but at the same time, know that he is a teenager who might be going overboard. I think he’s very well written. I liked him a lot.
    • The Astronaut. So there is a character that I consider to be part of Brandon. It’s just an astronaut, Molly Shaiken is the actress in the suit but the character is interesting and the way they’re used. We seem the astronaut when Brandon has made some type of decision or if he really wants something. He wishes he could be in space where it’s quiet and no one can f*** with him in which we see the astronaut, we see him when Brandon is close to getting his shoes back, we see him when he has to face his attacker… I mean I love the addition and I totally get it. It’s almost like his subconscious in physical form but something happens… so interesting. I don’t even want to spoil it.
  • Christoper Jordan Wallace as Albert. He is one of Brandon’s friends, he’s the “funny one” who talks about wanting to be a rapper but doesn’t seem to be very good, talks about girls but doesn’t seem to ever have been successful in talking to one lol. He’s pretty loyal to his friends, he forgives Brandon first when stuff pops off, he also is the last one to leave when stuff gets too much. I liked that about him, in a film with three friends, there is also going to be one that is more loyal than the other but that of course doesn’t necessarily mean that the other friend isn’t a good friend. Just saying. I think Christopher was likable in this role, he could have easily been annoying but he wasn’t. Chris found a nice and happy balance for Albert.
  • Christopher Meyer as Rico. He’s the other friend, he’s the “cool one” and the “ladies man”. Brandon says that no one messes with him and that girls like messing with him lol. He’s cool but he’s the friend that is willing to fight with you, fight for you but who is not about to get shot for you, especially over shoes. He’s the level headed one to be honest, I mean I get exactly why he was upset with Brandon. He was definitely a ride or die until it got a bit too much. I liked the fact that he was very different from Brandon and Albert. He was also likable because you can’t help but understand him. He could have been very ugh and a douche but I think Christopher also found a nice medium.
  • Mahershala Ali as Uncle Marlon. Is there anything this dude can’t do?? So far there isn’t anything. He is amazing. He can be inspiring, terrifying, intimidating and kind of creepy. He doesn’t have an extremely large role but he plays Brandon’s mysterious uncle who was in jail for a long time. Brandon goes to visit his uncle to find out if he knows his attacker and if he would help him. Marlon drops a bit of wisdom on him. It’s up to you whether or not you think of it that way but considering the type of world these characters live in, it’s wisdom. It’s messed up but it’s truth. Mahershala is so good here that I did wish he was on screen more but I also think they used him well.
  • Kofi Siriboe as Flaco. He is the “villain” of the story and WOW this dude is scary. We first meet him when Brandon gets jacked for his shoes. It’s so bad that when Brandon sees him as he’s walking home, he immediately shifts (he’s afraid) and I’m afraid. We don’t see him a lot but when he does, he’s so scary that I want Brandon to legit get him back, but then we find out why he does he what he does… it doesn’t necessarily excuse him but it helps understand him. I think he’s at his best in the third act. There’s a scene between him, Brandon and another character (I won’t spoil) that’s so good that I teared up.
The music. I thought it was handled in a unique way. A screen card would appear telling you what the song was and who the artist was and I’m not totally familiar with rap songs, but I think what they did was, they used the particular song as a transition, perhaps even as a “chapter” title card.
The Direction. Justin Tipping is the director for the film and the way he handled this film, it was beautiful. It looks so authentic, it doesn’t look like this was filmed on a sound stage, or that they blocked off areas of Oakland to film. It really looks like they recorded these real kids and their real stories right off the street. It’s dark and gritty, but at the same time so surreal when scenes with the Astronaut come into play. Such great choices.
It’s Grand. By this, I mean that it’s one of those “go big or go home” type things which could have easily not worked but I think it was handled so well here that it works. The first half is subtle, it starts to pick up in ways in the second half and by the third half we’re at a full force and there is no stopping it… even when you think it’s over.
Cons.
The story. I could praise a lot about this film but I think the story is probably the weakest element which is unfortunate. However, I don’t think the main story is all that interesting, I mean someone stole a kid’s shoes and he wants to get them back. Cool. But not very interesting, there were times where I wished there was a bit of something extra that showed as to why Brandon wanted them back so much. It wasn’t nonexistent but I don’t think there was enough to justify. I do think you can argue, he’s a teenager, they don’t think of that but the lengths he goes to… it’s pretty interesting. I just wanted a bit more.
Parental Absence. Brandon’s mother was often talked about but we never saw her outside of photos and I think she would have been essential. I think it would have been nice to have her to give a bit more of a reason as to why Brandon felt the need to get these shoes back so badly. We see his house but not enough of it, they may not be well off but is it really that bad that you have to risk your life and your friends to get some shoes??
Overall, I really liked Kicks, I thought it was unique, especially in it’s direction and storytelling. I liked the characters, especially Brandon and Flaco and I think Jahking Guillory was a stand out in the film. I think the addition of the music is useful and helpful to the film, the authenticity of the film allows the viewer to feel as if they are watching real people. It may be a little “artsy” for some but that is what makes it unique for this type of film, handling a story about the inner city in a way that keeps the gritty feel of the actual location while presenting it with a surreal feel is a unique feat. I loved it. The lack of parental figures does pose questions about the free reign these teenagers have. The story is a bit lacking but I think the fact that it’s a character study makes up for it but it’s still noticeable .
Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars.
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