Monday, January 30, 2017

2016 in Review: Movies

In recent years, I have dedicated the majority of January blog posts to a review of the previous year. I have typically broken up the previous year into a variety of subjects, only one of which was addressed per blog post: books, music, etc. I will continue this trend as I review 2016, but compared to years past, these reviews will be much more condensed. I simply don’t have time to go into great detail.

I will start my review of 2016 with movies. In 2016, I saw 102 movies that I had never before seen. Rating them on a standard four-star scale, with zero stars being an absolutely crappy film and four stars being an undeniably excellent film, I gave an average score of **½. That keeps in tradition with years past, I believe.

My personal favorite film of 2016 (which isn’t necessarily the absolute best film of 2016) is Sing Street. This independent charmer is about a group of boys who start a band in 1980s Ireland. It is an ode to everything I love: music, the 1980s, twitterpation, and dreaming. I probably shouldn’t admit how much the mental life of the teenage protagonist mirrors my own. Full disclosure: if I’ve interacted with you more than a few times in real life, chances are you’ve been part of an ultra-cheesy dance sequence in my head.

Other personal favorites that were actually released in 2016 include: Zootopia; Hell or High Water; Kubo and the Two Strings; Deadpool; Swiss Army Man; Moana; and The Nice Guys. Favorites that predate 2016 but weren’t seen by me until 2016 include: The Big Short; The Revenant; Inside Out; The Lobster; Spotlight; Star Wars: The Force Awakens; and Hello, My Name is Doris. Honorable mentions seen in 2016 (but released whenever) include: Bridge of Spies; Brooklyn; Sicario; The Hateful Eight; Straight Outta Compton; and La La Land.

The very worst film I saw in 2016 (and also from 2016) is a no-brainer, in more one ways than one: Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers. Other films I saw last year that fall squarely into the crap camp include: Nine Lives; The Night Before; Once I Was a Beehive; The Brothers Grimsby; and Sisters.

It’s a shame I don’t have time to go into further detail about movies. I actually kept slightly better notes on movies in 2016, and I tracked how my critiques compared to the aggregate scores found on Metacritic and IMDb. In theory, then, I have much more that I could say. Even so, I’ll keep my final comments brief.

The most overrated film I saw in 2016 was the 2012 documentary Room 237. I thought the film was rather bad, but it has a Metacritic score of 80, meaning the average movie critic rated it the equivalent of 80 out of 100 points. According to the critics, then, it’s essentially a ***½ movie. Wrong. The documentary showcases what are basically conspiracy theories surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic masterpiece The Shining. Unfortunately, the interpretations offered by those within the film are not compelling enough to make their lunacy entertaining.

Deadpool was the most underrated movie I saw in 2016, according to my own scores, but since I’ve mentioned that film already, I’ll instead mention the 2015 thriller No Escape. No Escape stars Owen Wilson, which may explain the film’s rather poor Metascore of 38—essentially *½. Wilson isn’t the type of actor you’d expect to see in a high-intensity thriller, much less as the lead character: a man whose vacationing family finds themselves in the midst of a violent overseas rebellion in which Americans quickly become targets. I myself was quite leery, but found the film sufficiently gripping. I thought it was good. Not great, but definitely good.

The end.

Friday, January 27, 2017


It’s me! I’m still here! It’s not over yet, folks!

That’s what I’d say to the readers of this blog, if I had any. As it is, I suppose I’m just talking to myself. That’s fine.

I’m coming up on the one-year anniversary of getting my first real job since leaving grad school. I guess I needed a one-year sabbatical, because lately I’ve been itching to reclaim many aspects of my life that I feel like I lost when I got a job. I just looked back on my 2016 blog entries, which are few, and apparently I never wrote about these feelings publicly. I did write about them in my private journal, however. While many great things came from my being employed, I also felt like a big part of me was lost. So many things that had defined me, aspects of my life and personality that I felt were being richly developed, things that were exhilarating and meaningful to me, quickly fell to the wayside. I just didn’t have time for them, and because I was so busy and preoccupied with other things, I hardly cared that those major parts of my life and personality had seemingly vanished. The one exception was music, which I made a greater priority in 2016 than it had been in years, possibly decades. I started taking guitar lessons again, and it has been a wonderfully fruitful endeavor. I’m loving it. But other things were lost, some more gradually than others, and I am only now starting to yearn for them again. Case in point, I read one book in 2016. One. A single book! I used to read between 40 and 50 books per year, and in 2016 I read one. Insanity! Well, now I really want to read again. I’m actually craving it, and I’m actually halfway through a book already. (Hugely impressive, isn’t it?) I also feel a strong desire to rekindle my spiritual life, which has been severely lacking over the last several months. And yes, I have a renewed interest in writing. Hence, this blog post.

It’s always temping after a long break in writing to try to sum up everything that’s happened between the previous entry and today. That ain’t going to happen. I’m stopping here. But there will be more to come. I truly believe this. We’ll see if I’m right.