The Best of (What I Saw in) 2016

In 2016, I saw 178 new-to-me movies. Not all of them were released last year, which is good, because can you imagine how much it would have cost to see all of them? A lot. It would have cost a lot. I can only do so much. Luckily, I have a Netflix subscription, and I occasionally write pieces for Critical Movie Critics.

Speaking of which: I got an email from AMC Stubs the other day, a sort of 2016 roundup. I didn’t join until late last year, so my dash there showed like six movies. But the email said one Stubs member had seen 287 in 2016. That means 287 in the theater in 2016. Specifically, at an AMC theater! That’s just insane.

Anyway, of my 178, I rated a full 41 as 3.5 or 4 stars out of 4. A little less than a quarter of them. First, the 4-star gang:

Life Is Beautiful (1998). Just a perfect blend of drama and comedy, about a Jewish bookseller (Roberto Benigni) who pretends to his young son that their imprisonment by the Nazis is all part of a fun game. The movie pulls your heartstrings but is never maudlin.

The Seven Samurai (1954). The inspiration for The Magnificent Seven in the U.S., Akira Kurosawa’s epic about a disparate group of swordsmen who band together to save an impoverished village from a despotic bully is an exceptionally filmed and acted movie. Just great storytelling.

Modern Times (1936). Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp becomes overwhelmed by the new Industrial Age in one of the master’s greatest comedic achievements. Look for the scene where he’s working on an assembly line and can’t quite keep up. Or the scene where he and a homeless woman (Paulette Goddard) sneak into a department store and Chaplin on roller skates comes dangerously close to falling over a ledge.

Much Ado About Nothing (2012). While on break from filming The Avengers, Joss Whedon gathered some of his actor friends and filmed them performing Shakespeare’s comedy – in Whedon’s own house. In black and white. As with many Bard adaptations, this one’s a marvel, and Nathan Fillion (of course) steals the show as Dogberry. Accessible and hilarious.

Next, here are the 3.5-star fellas. Let’s just do them in ABC order, shall we? We all have things to do. I’ll provide links for the ones you might not have heard of.

Big Hero 6 (2014)
The Big Short (2015)
Brooklyn (2015)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
City of God (2002)
The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Counter-Clockwise (2016)
Deadpool (2016)
Ex Machina (2015)
Fish Story (2009)
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)
Get Crazy (1983)
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Hello, My Name Is Doris (2015)
The Killers (1964)
Leave Her to Heaven (1945)
Let Me In (2010)
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
The Martian (2015)
Midnight Special (2016)
Morocco (1930)
Patterns (1956)
Rashômon (1950)
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Sausage Party (2016)
A Separation (2011)
The Similars (2015)
Stalker (1979)
Sully (2016)
Too Late for Tears (1949)
The Wages of Fear (1953)
The Wannsee Conference (1984)
The Woodsman (2004)
Zabriskie Point (1970)
Zootopia (2016)

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