We are at the halfway point of 2016. It feels like just yesterday I was scrambling to see all of the 2015 Oscar contenders and before you know it, we will be talking Oscars again.
Now is not that time. Now is a time for reflection and to take a look at what 2016 has offered at the movies. The first half of the year tends to offer a few gems but the early months are known cinematic wastelands. This year, so far, has offered several good movies and even a few great ones. It was a much stronger first half than expected.
I’ve seen a couple of films that will more than likely make it on my Top 10 list at the end of the year. I just haven’t been able to shake them and they have already warranted multiple viewings.
The best movie I’ve seen so far this year is Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special. Nichols has proven himself to be a gifted filmmaker with only a few movies to his name. Early in his career, he made a muse out of Michael Shannon with Shotgun Stories and they have continued to work together consistently since. Between Take Shelter, Mud and now Midnight Special, Nichols is crafting a diverse filmography. His latest is a marvel. Midnight Special is a movie shrouded in ambiguity and while the mystery may prove to be more interesting than the results, he takes us on an unforgettable and thrilling journey.
Other favorites from this year are:
Sing Street – John Carney’s affectionate ode to 80s music is one of the most pleasant movies I’ve ever seen. It’s not particularly original or edgy but it put a smile on my face throughout both times I saw it.
10 Cloverfield Lane – Director Dan Trachtenberg’s chamber piece is a tense and thrilling exercise in mood and atmosphere. He keeps three characters locked in a cellar – the film was first conceived as a project called The Cellar – and ramps up the tension with every scene. John Goodman is terrifying in this.
But it doesn’t stop there. Richard Linklater’s Everbody Wants Some!! is a terrific, shaggy 80s comedy about brotherhood in college, Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is a gnarly treat for horror fans, Gavin Hood’s Eye in the Sky evenhandedly built tension from beginning to end and Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash is a sexy, sun-kissed romp in Italy. As delightful as Finding Dory is, Zootopia is the best animated film so far this year. And Deadpool. We can’t forget about Deadpool, the best Marvel film of the year.
There has been a little bit of something for everyone this year but with the good comes the bad. As surprising as it has been to have such a good crop of films this early in the year, there have been plenty that weren’t so good.
Take Warcraft, for example. Rarely has there been a movie without a whiff of a redeemable quality. It’s ugly, boring, stupid and a real disappointment coming from Duncan Jones, who gave us Moon and Source Code.
Standing beside Warcraft as some of the worst selections of the year so far are:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
Gods of Egypt
Fifty Shades of Black
The Brothers Grimsby
London Has Fallen
But we can’t dwell on the bad. I’m very pleased with what this year has given us so far and I look forward to the last half of the year at the movies.