Next week I will get back into the depressing news that develops us now. Our president is a lunatic, the GOP is after everything that benefits poor people and the hapless Democrats are still stuck in identity politics land from which there is no escape. At least we had some good films last year to distract us from the nightmare that is getting worse by the day. If you can't see that Trump is horrific, you're blind AND stupid. If you think that Hillary would have been much better, you're equally delusional. I fear for us this year in which chances of either a war or massive terrorist attack are hugely possible, especially if they stage another false flag attack, this time with the establishment cracking down hard on civil liberties as a result. Stay vigilant America and trust little about what you hear. And when you can, hide in a dark movie theater and let reality disappear for a little while. Here are some movies to rent where you can do the same in your own home.
10)Horror Movies- There was the usual brand of terrible horror films (Blair Witch I am looking at you) but there were also some truly scary flicks as well. The Witch was an excellent film filled with atmospheric dread and an original story line. Clown, about a guy who puts on a cursed clown outfit, was worth the rent. Two anthology horror movies, A Christmas Horror Story and Tales from Halloween, finally delivered one of my favorite types of films without terrible story lines. South Korea's Train to Busan was a fantastic zombies on a train scenario that worked due to the creepy way the zombies moved as if they were broken marionettes. But by and far the scariest film was Conjuring 2, which had the world's scariest nun, and that's saying something as I went to Catholic School. Watch any of these with the lights on.
9)Animated Films- There are always a lot of great animated films and this year is no different. The Secret Life of Pets was laugh out loud funny. Finding Dory was touching and spectacular which is what we all expect from Pixar. Kung Fu Panda 3 defied expectations by actually being the best so far in this surprisingly watchable series. Zootopia deserved the Oscar nod for it's clever story line and eye popping animation. Sausage Party was easily one of the funniest moves all year and definitively NOT for kids. But hands down the best was a holdover from 2015 that I didn't see until this year and that was the brilliant Anomolisa. Done by the same guys who did the underrated Frankenhole, this was a sad, poignant tale of heartbreak and emotional cruelty. Not funny in any way, it was still a film I find myself thinking about months later.
8)Independent movies- No surprise here as the Oscars awarded most of their nods to small studios as the major ones have decided to only make big budget films from now and with middling results. The Coen Brothers prove to be a force again with the hysterical Hail Caesar. Melissa Raunch from Big Band Theory slips effortlessly into the part of a foul mouthed ex gymnast forced to train her replacement. The naked gymnastic sex scene (with body doubles of course) is one of the funniest things I have seen all year. The Lobster about a guy who has 45 days to find a new lover or turn into an animal was one of the most original films I saw all year. But the best of the best here was a film you probably have not heard of called Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a fanatstic movie about a young foster child who goes to live in the Outback with his new family when tragedy strikes and the the boy and his foster father go live in the woods for months on end. It is hysterical, sad and am truly disappointed this film didn't get any Oscar nods.
7)Keanu- I have seen this film five times and I still think it is laugh out loud funny. Key and Peele are a laugh riot but the real hero is the kitten who is the most adorable thing ever. The scene were Key accidentally smokes a strong hallucinogen and starts dancing badly to George Michael was one of the funniest things I saw all year. A strong supporting cast that included Will Forte, Luis Guzman and Anna Faris help this film become one of the best of the year especially if you like animals.
6)Magnificent 7- I hate remakes. I really hate remakes of films I love. Considering this is one of my all time favorite films, I was shocked by how much I liked this. The fact that Ethan Hawke was in it made that even more surprising as I don't care for him that much. Denzel Washington has been in some of the best movies every year for at least a decade now. I don't know how he picks his parts, but he is doing a bang up job. Someone should have a conversation with Will Smith.
5)Hidden Figures- The only Oscar nominated film I have seen this year was a beautiful film about a subject I am stunned I never knew about. Three black women helped save the space program and astronauts lives? Why was this not common knowledge before now? Funny, touching and historical, this film should be shown in schools across the nation to get young black children to see that science is not their enemy. Maybe we should show it to the Republican party also while we are at it.
4)The Accountant- John Wick lite, this film about an autistic accountant/assassin was much better than I thought it would be. Ben Affleck nails the part which a lesser actor would have played way too over the top. Great action sequences, a great plot (that does have a few holes in it to be fair) and a famous supporting cast make this one a winner if you like action picks.
3)Hardcore Henry- No action film was better than this year. Shot with a Go Pro strapped to an actor's head, this non stop tour de force never lets up and contains some of the best, funniest kills I have ever seen. Shot in one long take (with cuts done Rope style), Henry butchers his way through an endless wave of killers that is just as much video game as movie. The only issue is that those who get motion sickness will not like the film at all. My fiance couldn't watch it which was too bad because she loves these kinds of movues.
2)Science Fiction- A great year for this. Arrival was brilliant from what I have heard and look forward to seeing it. Star Trek: From Beyond was genius, finally moving from saving Earth to exploring the cosmos, this script written by Simon Pegg was the best so far from this series. But we all know the best sci-fi film this year was obviously the fantastic Rouge One. Felicity Jones is a great actress and beautiful as well and the international cast shined with Donnie Yen proving once again to be one of the best Asian actors working today. This was going to make a lot of money regardless but it was nice to see that getting the series away from hack George Lucas was a smart move.
1)Marvel films- No better had better films this year than Marvel. Shut out of Oscars again, this is getting tiresome as every pic every year is "important" and usually, depressing as hell. This year's Oscar's are going to be the lowest rated ever because 90% of the country didn't see a single film nominated for Best Picture this year, but that's a future column. The three Marvel movies that came out this year all should have received better recognition than they did. Captain America: Civil War was more of an Avengers sequel than I would have thought and I am not complaining. The airport fight sequence, introducing us to Giant Man and Spider Man, was the best fight scene in any movie this year. Dr. Strange turned another off the rack super hero and turned him into an important member of the MCU. Personally, I am big fan of the character and was thrilled that they hired Cumberbatch to play him as well as his foe Dormammu in one of my favorite sequences of any film involving a time loop and a pissed off demon God. The best of the best this year and cruelly snubbed for best actor/picture was Deadpool. I have watched this film dozens of times and I will never get tired of it. Funny, subversive and wholly original, no film filled me with joy more than this. The opening credits alone are worth the price of admission. Let's hope this year gives us as many great films and far less of the crappy ones. We are going to need some escapism from the horrors of everyday life.