2016 in [Big Picture] Review – Lawrence’s Top Films

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To acknowledge our transition from 2016 to 2017, we’ve lined up a few end of year articles and lists to celebrate/commiserate the films we’ve seen!

Next up is Lawrence, and his Top 8-ish films of 2016!

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Well it’s been an eventful year; I’ve been screaming about the encroaching End Times outside bus stations and homeless shelters for years now, and it’s a pretty vindicating feeling that the faces of onlookers now betray a roiling sense of unease and uncertainty rather than the usual pity. Naturally, the desire for escapism has only increased, and the film industry is all too eager to provide! Here I’m going to be talking about the movies that I really liked and why, with none of the flimsy pretence of objectivity that my reviews strive for in a fruitless and tragic endeavour for validation. Now, I can only mention movies that I’ve actually seen, so no Deadpool, Moana, Don’t Breathe, Jungle Book, Rogue One or Ghostbusters, sorry; they’re on the to-do list.

Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

If there are two kinds of films that critics love, it is excellent films that we can gush about, and terrible films that we can sink our teeth into. It is the average, the mediocre, that is anathema. So along came Warner Brothers and Zack Snyder to deliver this veritable gift of a film that accomplished the impossible by being both.

When it’s good, it’s great! When it’s bad, it’s terrible! One moment you’re gripping your seat as Batman is fighting an impossible battle in an apocalyptic nightmare, next you’re scratching your chin at why Lex Luthor is doing any of the things he is doing. With this precedent set by the DCCU, we can certainly look forward to some high-quality bitching and moaning over the next few years.

It’s certainly going to sting when they mangle Under the Red Hood though.

Zootropolis

Zootopia/Zootropolis

Not the subtlest take on discrimination, but 2016 wasn’t a subtle year so maybe that’s only appropriate, it even had the vapid celebrity “Why can’t we all just get along?” TV spot. What a breath of fresh air it is for a movie (a Disney movie, no less) to have two lead characters of opposite gender go through a rollicking adventure without the obligatory romantic subplot. Sure it’s ambiguous at the end, but that alone requires a restraint I didn’t think they had. They do have a good track record of not treating kids like idiots, and trusting them with mature themes; this is a strategy that has paid dividends. Everyone can enjoy the racial tension; fun for all the family! Though could they really have found a more ham-fisted way to squeeze in that Breaking Bad reference?

Now that I think on it, what have the carnivores been eating all this time? Where does everyone get milk and cheese and eggs? Where are all the reptiles and amphibians and birds? What ab-(continues Ad Nauseam)

arrival

Arrival

For a film that’s about as close to the perfect first contact film as I’ve seen so far, I’ve been rather harsh on Arrival. Perhaps as the closer to perfection a work becomes, the more visible those remaining flaws are. Perhaps its considerable thematic overlap with Interstellar have led to some blurred lines. Perhaps I’m a hack. In any case, it’s still a stunning work of cinema and science fiction alike.

If anything else, we can rest assured that the Blade Runner sequel is in safe hands.

Captain America - Civil War

Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War

It’s pleasant surprise and a half that Marvel have held it all together so far. Not a single bad movie; some worse than others maybe, but certainly no stinkers. Even with Captain America: Civil War visibly bursting at the seams and buckling under its own weight, the mid-film slobberknocker fisticuffs extravaganza is all that I could really ask for, even if it seems completely at odds with the tone of the film.

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Meanwhile, Doctor Strange is opening the can of worms on all the weird shit Marvel was too scared to show audiences before in case it scared them off. I am very curious indeed as to how Strange will fit into the MCU and how he affects the dynamic, what with him being miles and away more powerful than every other hero other than maybe Vision. With the Infinity War looming on the horizon, it was best to inoculate audience with the crazy before people lose their minds over Death showing up.

Revenant, The

The Revenant

There’s nothing quite like a good wallowing in man’s inhumanity to man, and The Revenant provides a cool, crisp wallow indeed. Westerns are a reserved kind of macho, the kind that (usually) doesn’t brag; and every once in a while a work comes along that reminds you that the reason those there fellas are so tough as nails is because the setting they live in is absolutely bloody miserable. This is a movie where the fights scenes are dirty, hateful, desperate, and sullen; screaming, roaring and crying; digits severed, limbs broken, and eyes gouged. As much as we may romanticise the period these are people who did not fuck around and you’ll feel it.  DiCaprio’s done an excellent job, he fought for and earned his Oscar, but it was Tom Hardy and Will Poulter that stole the show as far as I’m concerned.

Also that’s some good mauling right there, ain’t nothing like a good mauling.

i-am-not-a-serial-killer

I Am Not a Serial Killer

Talking about what I really like about this movie is difficult as it’s intimately tied to important plot details. It’s gently flawed, but there’s an underlying heart to this movie that I’m having trouble escaping from.

Despite ample opportunity there is not a single jumpscare, but it has no problem maintaining an underlying sense of unease throughout. The grindhouse-esque opening titles and cheesily “spooky” soundtrack convey a certain macabre charm, and superb acting all round. Truthfully, I would recommend it based on the villain alone; but the subtle whiff of Twin Peaks off it certainly doesn’t hurt.

kubo-and-the-two-strings

Kubo and the Two Strings

Still haven’t seen it? Tell me, why is it that you hate happiness?

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