Marcus's Top Ten Movies of 2016
1. The Invitation
A bunch of old friends gather for a dinner to rekindle their friendship and things go awry. It's a boring concept that has been done plenty of times before, but The Invitation still manages to feel wholly original and be the only movie I truly loved this year. Karyn Kusama's masterpiece makes you uneasy right off the bat and spends the next hour plus keeping you in a state where everything is nerve wracking. You know something bad is going to happen (it just has to, right?), but you don't know when. Clues and red herrings are dropped effortlessly right in front of you where you are searching for them and you still somehow don't ever truly know if you're being manipulated by the main character's fractured psyche or if things are really as ominous as they feel. Things finally come to a head in the most pitch perfect, scariest final 20 minutes of a movie this year, and the final shot is one of the most chilling in cinema history. I could talk all day about The Invitation's merits, but this isn't a review so I'm simply going to say that it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
2. Hardcore Henry
Hardcore Henry is loud, fast, crude, and messy as hell, and it's the best theatre experience I had this year. The largely CGI-free first-person action could have been disorienting (and to some it very much was), but I found it to be invigorating. Just as I did when I saw Gravity for the first time, I was actually moving along with the action on screen. My legs were shaking and my heart was racing. When the mute Henry performed his most death defying stunt, where he jumps off a tall building, grabs a rope, and slides into a big pile of trash, I actually stopped breathing for a second. It's my favorite theatre moment of the year, and one of many that made Hardcore Henry the most exciting action movie of the year.
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Much maligned for its dour tone, I found Batman v Superman to be refreshingly adult and totally different than most superhero films. I have a couple more on this list, but they did not do much for me beyond just being good times at the movies watching stuff explode. BvS stands out by simply not following as many trends and attempting to do things a little differently. I hated Man of Steel, but Snyder completely turned things around with the follow up.
4. Don't Breathe
It's a tried and true horror formula: a bunch of shitty twenty-somethings pick the wrong person to fuck with. The shitty twenty-somethings in Don't Breathe are fairly generic shitty twenty-somethings, and the wrong person to fuck with is a blind army vet who is capable of way more than the shitty twenty-somethings assumed when they broke in looking for a big payday. The creaky halls and dark lighting are all that the blind man needs to hunt down the invaders in bloody fashion. Intense all throughout and the twist is unforgettably twisted.
5. Assassin's Creed
It's the most promising start to a blockbuster franchise I've seen in a long time, and a satisfying translation of the mega popular video game franchise for fans. I do not know for sure if my fandom of the games is making me like this or if it's actually good, but I don't care, I had a great time with it.
6. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
I love The Lonely Island and I love a good mockumentary. Connor4real's silly journey perfectly sums up everything great and horrible about modern pop music and is full of laugh out loud moments. I haven't seen La La Land or Moana, but I have no problem saying that this is the best soundtrack of the year with the few seconds I've heard of those weird movie's weird soundtracks. I've been listening to it frequently since I first saw it and it still manages to make me laugh.
Deadpool is a superhero movie with only two relatively short action scenes that is still completely engaging. It aims to bust out of the Marvel shell, it doesn't really do that, but it plays within it in the most interesting way any of those movies have really attempted this side of the X-Men franchise. Huge bursts of laughter came often in my theater, and I was completely onboard for the whole ride.
8. Captain America: Civil War
Another superhero movie!!!!! Hell yeah!!! Look, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a formula for a reason. All the beats are the exact same in every movie. The jokey lines are all the same and are in the same places. The actions set pieces are all fairly similar. The only thing that changes are the actors who do basically the same thing as one another. But everything works. I get suckered by it every time. I could have plugged Doctor Strange in here and said essentially the same thing, but I chose Cap because it's essentially a way better Avengers sequel than Age of Ultron. Every hero gets their time to shine and the "Civil War" part of the title comes into play in a very effective way that has made me more excited for the future of the series than I have been since the first Captain America.
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have had a pretty incredible last 6 years. Their critically acclaimed sketch show was a viral video machine and both have made a decent career out of guest starring on every comedy show that exists. Keanu sees the comedic powerhouse duo come into their own as legitimate stars in this throwback to buddy comedies of the 80s.
10. Yoga Hosers
As a Kevin Smith fan, walking into every new movie is a bit of a gut check because this time might be the time you have to agree with the majority of people telling you that it's garbage. I'm not here to tell you Yoga Hosers is good, because I don't even think I agree with that, but I loved watching it. The tale of two teen girls fighting nazi bratwurst is beyond stupid, but I bought into it because the two leads were just so good together. Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp are very clearly real life friends and completely know how to play off each other for laughs, even with director Smith's awkward dialogue.