Saturday, July 9, 2016

First Half Best Films of 2016 - 20 through 16

Halfway through the year, halfway through 2016 in film. It has been an interesting first half to say the least, a lot of good and an awful lot of bad which is to be expected. I have seen a few films which are pretty much locks to be top 10 of the year no matter what hits, even with Oscar season coming, but I can promise that a lot will change between now and when I post my 50 favorites list early next year. Last year I had films at my top 20 at the halfway point that didn't even make the cut of 50, so time will tell with what sticks around and what falls out. For now, these are the best movies I have seen thus far:

20. The Fundamentals of Caring

Paul Rudd wins me over every time. I can't help it, I see him and I expect to be amused and charmed regardless of the material he is dealing with. Good thing The Fundamentals of Caring is pretty strong material. A new Netflix Original film that is based on the book The Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison, it's a sort of predictable and familar feeling tale that still manages to smell fresh thanks to performances and clever and funny dialogue. Paul Rudd plays a writer who quits his craft after a tragedy strikes him personally and he decides to take a gig as a disabled teenager's caregiver. The chemistry between him and the teen, played by Craig Roberts, is outstanding and the film even manages to comfortably fit in a pretty decent performance from Selena Gomez. If you have Netflix, give it a stream.

19. The Shallows

I have seen a fair amount of "the best shark movie since Jaws" when it comes to The Shallows, which I assume is a tad tongue-in-cheek considering the competition isn't exactly fierce among the sub-genre. Still, it's a fact. The Shallows is intense and thoughtful and scary and wonderfully paced at only 78ish minutes. If you have no interest in brutal shark attacks and just want to watch it because you find Blake Lively attractive, you will get your money's worth. If you love a good thrilling survival story cleverly constructed by a director who knows what he is doing, go buy a damn ticket now and take a seat. The Shallows is worth it.

18. Jim: The James Foley Story

One day earlier this year, I came home from work and my wife was on the couch watching a documentary that had just started, like literally 30 seconds into it and I asked what it was. Jim: The James Foley Story, a look at the life of a man who did what he loved, being a war correspondent/photo journalist who put his life on the line on a regular basis and eventually he was captured and executed on video by ISIS. It's a powerful and moving portrait of a life worth your time.

17. The Nice Guys

You might not believe it with the duo of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling at the top of the bill, but The Nice Guys is so damn funny, mostly thanks to the latter. Gosling kills it with his comedic performance here, exactly what this old school noir buddy comedy directed by Shane Black (director of Iron Man 3 among other films) needed. I'm already looking forward to revisiting this one because look out for it definitely sticking around for my top 50. I think I will appreciate it that much more when I admire the chemistry and nuance of the performances all over again.

16. Hush

I don't do well with home invasion horror films. I feel so uncomfortable watching them, which doesn't sound like fun (and it isn't really) but it also means the movie is doing its job. Hush did its job really, really well. I was unnerved and freaked the fuck out from early on until the very end, and despite a hiccup here or there with the narrative losing its steam, overall this is a horror film that lingers with me and makes me paranoid all over again when I start to think about it. A deaf woman living alone getting stalked around her own home by a deranged killer in a mask. Damn it, just typing this is making my skin crawl again. Time to close the blinds.

Speaking of horror, the image above comes from a film that will appear on the 11 through 15 list of my favorite films thus far from 2016. Stay tuned...


  1. Wow, I'm surprised how low The Nice Guys and Hush are.

    1. I really think The Nice Guys is capable of moving up after watching it again in a less distracting setting. I loved both the films but it has been a solid year thus far. Not spectacular but solid, especially considering it's the first half before all the heavy hitters get released during Oscar season.

  2. Only one I've seen so far is "Hush", Scott. However, after initially not being inspired to do so I plan to check out both "The Shallows" and "The Nice Guys" on home video. "Hush" was better than fair IMO but I just thought that the ending could have been more, if you'll pardon the pun, "resounding". ;} Good work here, lad!

    1. haha I absolutely pardon the pun John.

      I had little to no interest in The Shallows prior to hearing some good word of mouth. I assumed it was just a attempt to sell tickets by showcasing Blake Lively in a bikini (and don't get me wrong, it is) but at least it is made really well, and at its very short length it's pretty compelling throughout.

      The Nice Guys is a whole lot of fun. I actually think I will enjoy it even more the second time I see it, I was distracted during my first viewing and I don't think I appreciated the comedic talent of Gosling enough.