by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
Here we are Indie Revolver readers – another year down and another best and worst list from your friend, “Supernerd” Scott Stanikmas!!
We’ve seen some exceptional films this year and my Top Ten reflects this. From the top spot down you’ll see a myriad of genres and styles represented. But this year wasn’t without its turkeys as well, which you’ll see in the Bottom Five.
But before we get to the main event, let me monologue a bit (like a bad Bond villain). You have so many choices when choosing what to read and who to trust when it comes to movie reviews. I’ve always been a fan of trusting your gut and going with what YOU think is good. I myself always used critics’ reviews as a general guideline, not the be-all end-all final decision on whether or not I’ll see a movie.
Still, we appreciate you reading this. We’re fans just like you. Even if I get to tag-along with IR Chief Jay Carlson to a screening here or there, I usually spending my hard-earned money to see films with friends or family. So when I say I liked a film, it’s because the directors, writers, actors and studios went above and beyond to give me some quality entertainment. And when I say I hated a movie, it’s because I most likely put down MY hard earned money to see a film and leave feeling like the studio just dipped their hands into my wallet and took me for a proverbial ride.
You’ll notice that a lot of films that are on everyone’s Top Ten and Best Of lists aren’t here. While I try and see everything that gets released, I’m still only human. I have a job outside of this and family and friends and sometimes things get by me. Should Sicario and The Danish Girl get a spot on the Top Ten? Probably. Would Aloha have gotten a space on the Bottom Five? From what I’ve heard, most likely.
What this list represents is MY favorite films – you can agree or disagree but of all the films I did get to see this year these were the ones that stood out as the cream of the crop and the bottom of the bunch.
But enough about that. You clicked here to see what I thought were the best and worst films of the year…so let’s get on with the show!!
SUPERNERD’S TOP TEN
Last year I did an Honorable Mention (and Dishonorable Mention) category, for those films I saw just a bit outside of the top honors. This year, because of the sheer volume of films I saw, I’m sticking to a strictly numbered list.
- Trainwreck – Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow teamed up for a raunchy yet heartfelt look at a modern woman and her skewed view on love and relationships. Bill Hader and Brie Larson turn in some touching performances, but the surprises here are John Cena and Lebron James, both of whom showed amazing comedic timing and great delivery.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service – The movie that Spectre wishes it was. Kingsman turned the spy genre around and managed to create a universe, involve you with its established characters AND pass the torch to a younger generation. Plus it had one of the best action sequences this year with the church fight scene (and the best use of “Freebird” since The Devil’s Rejects.)
- Mad Max: Fury Road – A non-stop chase movie that actually told an engaging story as well. George Miller, taking a break from the family friendly fare, returned to his beloved character “Mad” Max Rockatansky and introduces one of the best female action characters since Ellen Ripley with Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. I’m very intrigued to see this black-and-white version that Miller is saying will soon be released. Check out my REVIEW HERE
- Room – A heartbreaking and emotionally draining film. Words escape me other than to say I was moved to tears on multiple occasions during the two hours I spent watching this.
- Mr. Holmes – Ian McKellan as an aging Sherlock Holmes who needs to solve one final case before he loses his once great deductive mind to the ravages of time? Count me in! A great story that works three different timelines and mysteries in one seamless narrative.
- Brooklyn – The American Dream as seen through the eyes of an Irish immigrant in the early half of the 20th Century. Saroise Ronan delivers an emotionally conflicting performance as a young girl torn between the life she wants and the life everyone else thinks she should have.
- Creed – In a true “passing of the torch” moment, Sylvester Stallone hands over the reins to the Rocky universe to director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan as they tell the story of the Adonis Creed, son of Apollo Creed, as he strives to earn his place outside of his famous father’s shadow and carve his own path. Another film that brought me to (manly) tears at numerous points.
- The Martian – One of the most impressive page-to-screen adaptations in recent years (along with Gone Girl). Matt Damon amazes as he pretty much has just himself to play against. An excellent supporting cast that includes the likes of Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig, this was a superb film that started strong and finished stronger. Check out my REVIEW HERE
- Ex Machina –One of the best sci-fi films in recent memory. Writer/Director Alex Garland makes his debut behind the lens in a film that shows you can have a grand movie with huge ideas that still takes place on a small scale. Oscar Isaac, Domnhall Gleeson and Alcia Vikander dazzle in a movie that makes you question everyone’s motives until the final credits roll. Check out my REVIEW HERE
- Spotlight – The best ensemble cast of the year, this true story about the breaking open of the Catholic Church sex scandal blew me away. Everything from the script to the acting to the directing flowed so beautifully together that you feel less like you’re watching a movie and more like your peeking behind the curtain and watching history unfold. Simply masterful.
SUPERNERD’S BOTTOM FIVE
And now for the other end of the spectrum. You can’t appreciate the brightness of the stars without the darkness of the night…well, these films represent a pretty dark night, if I say so myself.
- Hot Pursuit –It seems like Reese Witherspoon is really hit-or-miss with some of her comedic choices. This one was a huge miss. And please don’t ever let Sophia Vegara near a leading role in a film ever again please. REVIEW HERE
- Get Hard – Do Kevin Hart or Will Ferrell read scripts anymore or do they just sign on for anything that seems offensive but “funny.” There is a difference between satire and downright crude and this movie doesn’t seem to care where that line is.
- Pixels –In the long line of failed attempts at making video game-based movies, Pixels makes you wish for the kill screen from an 80’s arcade game to pop up and end your misery. Adam Sandler is seriously just coasting now (and he even admits as much when asked about it). And Josh Gad is the male equivalent of Sophia Vergara in my eye.
- Fantastic Four – Depending who you listen to, Director Josh Trank had the good sense to leap off this runaway train before things got real bad, but that still doesn’t excuse him from being involved with it in the first place. From the Swiss-cheese script with plot holes you could drive an eighteen wheeler through to the clichéd performances to the WTF characterization, Fantastic Four is everything wrong with comic book movies. REVIEW HERE
- Jupiter Ascending – This is why we can’t have nice things. When a studio dumps a ton of money into an original idea and they get this in return, we can turn to Jupiter Ascending as an example as to why Hollywood continues to churn out the same cookie-cutter crap that gets shoved down our throats year after year. Boring, convoluted and hokey, the only reason to own Jupiter Ascending is as a visual demo disc for your new A/V set-up. REVIEW HERE
And there we have it. Another year down and another list in the books. I sit here on the verge of another new year and I’m making a promise to you, our faithful readers – next year I will review even MORE films and try and give you the best, most comprehensive reviews of 2016 that I can.
But enough about me – what were your favorite and most hated films of the year? Let us know in the comments below!!