The 10 Best Movies of 2016

Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studios

Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studios

If you ever needed a moment to escape from the feeling that the world was falling apart, Hollywood was there to help. They weren’t always ready to cheer you up, but there were some great movies out this year.

Just from looking through my list, the idea that everything put out nowadays is simply not true. This year had a surprisingly good offering of musicals, tales of rural America, and neo-Nazis getting their butts kicked.

Without further adieu, here’s my list of the 10 best movies of 2016:

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2016′s Best Pieces of Political Comedy

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From Brexit to Trump, 2016 was a weird and ultimately terrible year for politics.

This year was also a test for comedians. Would they cozy up to Trump? (Jimmy Fallon failed) Would they stand up to him in creative, original, and angry ways? (Seth Meyers succeeded) Ultimately, it was the year we discovered that posting John Oliver clips had absolutely no effect.

In that light, it’s time to look at comedy less as something that can change the world, but more something that will help us laugh at the absurdity of the coming years, as a “Dr. Strangelove” moment looks more and more likely to come true.

After watching Trump shockingly beat Hillary Clinton, I believe that nobody knows anything anymore. But I’ll at least do the best I can to let these funny moments speak for themselves:

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Sorry, but I’m going to nitpick ‘Zootopia’ for a moment

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Disney

Warning: This post contains some major spoilers for “Zootopia,” and possibly “10 Cloverfield Lane.”

“Zootopia” might just be Disney’s best movie in a long time. Take that, “Frozen.”

Anyway, it was great. I am always happy to see animals onscreen acting like people. However, “Zootopia” takes it anthropomorphic to the next level, suggesting that these civilized animals aren’t far off from reverting to their predatory instincts. 

When I write about a movie, I try not to resort to nitpicking. However, I have a nit to pick with “Zootopia,” and it feels a little more like an itch that I just can’t scratch.

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“Deadpool” is fun and clever enough, and that’s good enough for me

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20th Century Fox

“Deadpool” is the biggest movie in America right now, and it’s not even a fair fight.

It now holds the record for highest opening for an R-rated movie of all time. Oh, “Deadpool” is rated R? “Deadpool” is a superhero movie? You don’t say. “Deadpool” is one of the most hyped movies of the year that happened to come out during February, where movies tend to go to die.

Hey, it turns out this one isn’t so bad. But, is it great?

For the past few days a lot of people have asked me if they should see “Deadpool.” When answering the daunting question of “how was it?” my answer has been, “it’s fun enough.” “Deadpool” does just enough to be a good movie. It tries really hard, and I appreciate that. As somebody who tries really hard but doesn’t always get the best results, I respect and appreciate effort. Hell, give “Deadpool” the Superhero Movie Participation Ribbon it deserves!

One thing you can’t call “Deadpool” is empty. There is a surprising amount to unpack here. There is bad, and there is good.

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The biggest problem with ‘Joy’ is its own director

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“Joy” had scenes. And while some of them were very good, I’m not sure that it’s actually a movie, though.

“Joy,” the latest film by David O. Russell is a biopic that proudly displays a big asterisk on the “bio” part. It tells the true story of Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence), an overworked, single mother who created the Miracle Mop and became a millionaire.

Now this is the kind of story David O. Russell loves: somebody who is constantly held down by their insane mess of a family. And that is what ultimately hurts Russell at certain points: he is constantly standing in his own shadow.

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“The Night Before” is the best movie yet about being a Jew on Christmas

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Sony

It’s like they put out Christmas movies earlier and earlier every year.

The release of “The Night Before” marks the start of 2015′s Christmas Movie Season. It is perhaps one of my favorite Christmas-themed movies in a long time. Maybe after a few more viewings, I will be able to put it alongside “Trading Places.”

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Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

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And with one flame from an electric guitar, summer movie season was reborn.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” is a refreshing shot of adrenaline in every way possible. It is based on a franchise that I have never seen and that doesn’t matter, because it eloquently states a nearly 40 year old backstory in a brief voiceover.

We are transported to a desert landscape that is anything but empty. In the future, Earth is a wasteland. Everybody searches for water and oil. Gangs form, but sides often blur together. The angry Max (Tom Hardy) of the title teams up with Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to bring down the psychotic cult leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

This is a future ruled by lack of resources, where eating a two-headed lizard is the best form of nutrition.

For a barren landscape, this world sure is populated by bright, colorful figures who all abide by different codes. Sure, this is called “Mad Max,” but “Fury Road” often feels like it is about everybody else, whether you have a pale face, or a flaming electric guitar. But Hardy, of course, is a born action star. Hell, at this point, he can play anything. He doesn’t even do that much “”acting” here. All it takes is a few grunts, and I am on board.

The real star here may be Charlize Theron. Furiosa is both nurturing and terrifying. She is somebody who would take care of you, but definitely not somebody you would ever want to pick a fight with.

This is director George Miller’s full vision, and it feels like something he’s been saving up to do for a long time. “Fury Road” was in development and production hell for many years, and the wait was definetly worth it. The film is settled on a few big action set pieces that last a long time and do not disappoint in the slightest. I think what I am most impressed with is Miller’s ability to turn every possible object into a weapon, whether that be a crane or a flaming electric guitar. He is like a way cooler MacGyver.

Many people have been pointing out a “lack of plot” in “Fury Road.” “Fury Road” has a plot, it is just much more sparse and simple than most blockbusters nowadays. That is a great thing. There is one, straight-forward villain. The heroes are clear. The goals are small and attainable. Nobody is trying to launch a nuclear missile through a wormhole. This is literally a world without rules. You don’t have to shut off your mind to watch “Fury Road,” but it definitely the simplest summer blockbuster to digest.

With “Fury Road,” it feels like George Miller was able to play in his own personal sandbox. Then, he decided to blow it up, crash a few cars in it, and set it on fire with a flaming electric guitar. Just roll with it, and you’ll have the best time you’ve had at the movies in a very long time.