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Top 30 Best New Movies Of 2016 – Guide

24th – 10 Cloverfield Lane
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher, Jr.
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Released: March 11, 2016
Upcoming Movies 2016

A young woman (Winstead) wakes in an underground cellar after a car accident and fears she has been abducted. Her “captor” a doomsday prepper (Goodman), tells her he saved her life and that there has been a terrible biological attack that has left the outside uninhabitable. A young, laid-back man (Gallagher) is in there too, who claims he begged to be let in. She doesn’t know what to believe and as tensions rise, decides she must escape, regardless of the terrors that potentially await outside… Director Dan Trachtenberg is a feature first-timer from the world of commercials, best known as the former co-host of ‘The Totally Rad Show’ and ‘Geekdrome’. Initially this was a small movie called ‘The Cellar’, but at some point J.J. Abrams joined as a producer and it was partially reshot (mainly the ending) to fit (very vaguely) with the Cloverfield brand. Let’s be clear: Cloverfield was a movie about a giant monster with a bat face stumbling around New York – This has nothing to do with that. The reshoot for rebranding was one of the most cynical marketing exercises of recent years and nearly ruins a brilliant thriller. It did however help it find a massive audience. Goodman is fantastic as the humourless, unhinged doomsday prepper. The mystery and suspense are Hitchcockian (inc. shades of ‘Psycho’, beginning with the heroine fleeing her past life in a car), with a presumed-ending crescendo half way that leaves little idea where it’s going after that. Sadly the last 15 minutes, J.J.’s Cloverfield tie-in, is tacked on, cliched, and the script devolves to a few swear words. Winstead’s performance drops, taking unbelievable sights in her stride as if they’re nothing. ‘The Cellar’s original ending (lookup online) was more subtle but a much better fit. Overall, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ (doesn’t even sound like a farm’s address) is a must-see for Goodman and the suspense, forget the “Cloverfield” stamp.

23rd – Bridget Jones’s Baby
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent
Director: Sharon Maguire
Out: September 16, 2016
best new movies of 2016

British TV news producer Bridget Jones (Zellweger) has entered her 40s. After hooking up with a dating site millionaire (Dempsey) at a music festival, she reconnects with Mr.Darcy (Firth) at Cleaver’s funeral. Soon she is pregnant but doesn’t know who the father is or even who she would prefer it to be… The director of the first movie, who didn’t helm the disappointing ‘Edge of Reason’, returns. Zellweger didn’t gain weight this time but the character’s age is the new insecurity so that works fine. Zellweger was Oscar-nominated for Best Actress for the first film and here she proves more likeable than ever. Yes she is a surprisingly fertile 43 year old, conceiving after a single night with two men in their 50s. Yes Hugh Grant’s exit is clunky. Yes it all should have been made 10 years ago but this is a thoroughly charming movie. Production company Working Title made ‘Four Weddings’ and remain the masters of romanticised middle-class witty antics. Hugh Grant isn’t particularly missed, since Dempsey does well as the free, spiritual counterbalance to straight-laced Firth and makes Bridget’s decision an intriguingly difficult one. Emma Thompson is a mini-stand out as Bridget’s matter-of-fact doctor.

22nd – The Conjuring 2
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’Connor, Madison Wolfe
Director: James Wan
Out: June 10, 2016
2016 new movies

In the 1970s, real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (Wilson and Farmiga reprising their roles) travel to England to investigate spectral activity at a council house in the London Borough of Enfield. They find a mother (Frances O’Connor) desperate to protect her daughters… This is based on the real life case of the Enfield Poltergeist, which took place from 1977 to 1979, and involved the alleged haunting of two sisters, aged 13 and 11, at their mother’s council house… Moving ‘The Conjuring’ to England is pretty inspired, with Britain in the 70s adding a refreshingly different look and feel to the typical haunted house story. The atmospherics and period detail are nicely done and it is, crucially, a downright scary film. There’s palpable apprehension whenever a character wakes during the night. The frights, by returning director James Wan, are well studied and designed, with the ‘Demon Nun’ having a particularly creepy scene involving a painting, the elderly ghost effectively atypical, and the Crooked Man spooky when stationary (but knee-capped by the cgi when in motion). The ‘true story’ aspect adds intrigue but also partially cripples it. It’s obvious to anyone looking at a YouTube video that the Enfield case was two girls having a laugh (amazing that it got any attention). Instead of just telling the fabricated story, which would be fine, the film actively tries to make a case for how the skeptics are fools, and watching this ‘propaganda’ is a bit grating. With the movie’s highly exaggerated recreations of the ghostly events, the subplot of the non-believing character and the girls being doubted later on seems preposterous. Furthermore, the Nun Demon’s plan makes little sense, and when the Warrens are together in calm moments it often becomes a sappy, overly sincere one-note love story. Overall, while nowhere near the period classics it’s influenced by, from ‘The Exorcist’ to ‘The Shining’, ‘Conjuring 2’ is an effectively frightening film.

21st – Hell Or High Water
Starring: Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham
Director: David Mackenzie
Released: August 12, 2016
best movies 2016

In rural Texas two brothers – a straight-living, divorced father (Pine) trying to make a better life for his son; and a short-tempered ex-con (Forster) – come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. Soon they’re in the crosshairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger (Bridges) looking for triumph on the eve of his retirement, and his long-suffering native american partner (Birmingham)… From the writer of ‘Sicario’ and the director of ‘Starred Up’. This is a modern day western with a left-leaning social conscience, whose subtext concerns the theft of land: White Americans took from native Americans, now corporate America from the poor – pushing them into making skirmish raids on the banks, Indian-style. The cast all do their jobs well, from a brooding Chris Pine (looking increasingly like 90s Jeff Fahey), an edgy trigger-happy Ben Foster (his speciality, see ‘3:10 To Yuma’) and Jeff Bridges doing a variation of his cowboy from ‘True Grit’ and ‘RIPD’. Whilst not vastly different to a couple of outlaw thrillers that drop every year, it is a polished product with more allegory than normal, one that meanders in the early stages but increasingly picks up steam and interest.

20th – The Wailing (aka Gokseong)
Starring: Kwak Do-Won, Hwang Jung-Min, Chun Woo-Hee
Director: Na Hong-jin
Out: May 12, 2016

A quiet, creepy Japanese pensioner arrives in a small S.Korean village. Soon after, a mysterious sickness starts spreading. The boil-covered victims either die horribly from convulsions, or murder their family in a rampage. A bumbling provincial cop is drawn into investigating. Is the old stranger a ghost, or something else?… Revealing which sub-genre this is will spoil the guessing game – ‘The Wailing’s greatest strength, besides from being unsettling, is the fun of trying to pin down what it’s really about, and subsequently interpreting the subtext. Rural South Korea is portrayed evocatively, with shantytown against beautiful countryside. It’s a place where a shaman recommendation is not hard to find and the Korean take on supernatural ideas gives them a freshness. The movie has a terrific first hour, with a sense of foreboding from the off, and a hero characterised as a coward, reacting naturally and hilariously to ghostly figures at windows and doing a realistically half-assed job when it comes to crime-solving. But once his daughter is put in danger he arcs into sincere ‘desperate to save his daughter’ mode which is where he is disappointingly stuck for the rest of the movie. At 2 hours, 36 minutes ‘The Wailing’ is indulgently long, and could easily have trimmed 20 minutes. The pacing in the second half is meandering, with a build up to a final reveal that’s so slow my main emotional response was get on with it. When that final reveal comes it is a pretty memorable one, and makes several prior scenes more eerie in retrospect. However it also leaves the death hex sequence making almost no sense at all.

19th – Green Room
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Out: April 1, 2016

A young, struggling punk rock band (including Yelchin) are booked to play a secluded white supremacist venue and accidentally witness a murder in the green room backstage. Trapped and under siege, they’re pitted against an ice-cold neo-nazi (Stewart) and his gang of skinheads, intent on murdering them… Chekov has really upset an N-bomb dropping Captain Jean-Luc Picard in this ultra-violent edge of your seat horror-thriller. What puts this into horror territory is the doomed atmosphere, ensemble eliminations, and the gruesomely realistic, stomach-churning nature of the violence. When a box cutter is introduced you know you’re going to see what a box cutter can actually do to someone. This viciousness makes the film extremely tense (particularly the first half). And that naturalism is applied to performances overall and the desperate fight scenes. The choice of villains is a chillingly strong one, with deft little touches skilfully separating the different “types” in the neo-nazi group. To nitpick, it’s not too credible that the skinheads would abandon the green room door for chats in the car park, the staged “accident” crime scene feels implausible given the number of dead, and while Patrick Stewart is extremely watchable, his cold, calculating performance doesn’t quite do enough to throw off his warm persona baggage – seeing him going mental and losing his sh*t in this controversial role would have been something to behold. Anton Yelchin (in his last film to be released before his death) does a fine job as the director’s signature “inept protagonist” who’s in over his head and would need years of therapy.

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7 Comments »

  • MzGenuine said

    You missed the N.W.A. movie

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  • gd smith said

    Nothing grabs me here, Seems a very safe set of releases with one or two forcing a plot devise onto a vague outline.
    There will be good movies here and there, but I don’t see these being they. Talking of which, what happened to movie moron’s yearly best and worst of in 2014-2015?

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    • Sheridan Passell said
      Sheridan Passell

      There will be good movies here and there, but I don’t see these being they.

      Hold up, none of these 30 movies, the 30 biggest of next year, will be any good? Where’s your positivity man? What’s the movie that should be on here? Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ will be anything but conventional if that’s what you’re looking for. I agree it is a mainstream perspective. I’ll be updating it as it goes, as I’ve done sporadically with this year’s list – http://www.movie-moron.com/?p=29343 – a work in progress.

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      • gd smith said

        I don’t know. Increasingly, I find it’s the films I wasn’t expecting that turn out to be the really the good ones. Some of these look ok, but I can’t see myself putting them on a must see list is all I’m saying. It’s like I always whine about there being too many superhero movies and I always watch them. Truth to tell I tend to like them, but the prospect of them is never that exciting. If that makes sense.

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        • Sheridan Passell said
          Sheridan Passell

          A lot of the great independent stuff doesn’t rear its head this early, but it’ll be there. I definitely have superhero fatigue too, but then sitting down to watch something like X-Men: Days of Future Past, it really was terrific. It’s new phenomena that I get most interested by, whether it’s when Marvel was starting up or even observing something like 50 Shades-mania. By the end of next year we’ll be watching stuff on VR headsets, that’s what I’m most excited to experience, how they’ll find a way of providing movies in that medium.

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  • OLGA Broward college said

    I think Alice Through The Looking Glass – so fantastic and colored movie that i want to watch over and over.
    love the actors, costumes, nature and of course the idea of this movie.
    would love to recomend it to all people i know-)

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