Top 10 Films of 2016

With the year winding down it is that time to debate who gave the best performance and which story generated the most powerful response. Each year making that list becomes more and more of an enjoyment. Here are my 10 best of this past year 2016.

10. 10 Cloverfield Lane- John Goodman is the man. What a captivating and chilling movie. Goodman had me cringing in fear and this movie steadily built to a climax that was both daring and respectable. John Gallager Jr and Mary Elizabeth Winstead added nice complimentary performances. This film was the “sequel” to Cloverfield we never really asked for but we secretly craved and it turned out to be a much better film than anyone could have possibly imagined.

9. Sausage Party- Ouff what a flick this turned out to be. I really had no doubts about the levels of raunchy that could be reached but somehow this trumped that and it was downright hilarious. The voice cast was the same usual suspects and it just created an insane world that was somehow very similar to previous works yet wildly different in its own right. 

8. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot- This film was never in doubt of being funny it was about mixing in a plot that fit the Tina Fey narrative. It was different in many ways thanks to Fey, Martin Short and Margot Robbie. It slowed down the narrative to allow character development which has kinda been a hinderance of Tina Fey characters. 

7. Free State of Jones- The only real complaint you can make about this film is that is long but that does not spell bad film. It will make people hesitant on viewing the film. McConaughey continues to be the best script chooser in Hollywood opting for scripts that draw on emotions and no longer opting to just be the pretty boy of Sunset boulevard. Free State of Jones is a fine film. A definite must see for fans of cinema and fans of McConaughey.

6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story- After The Force Awakens this was the next big adventure in a world that has been looking for fresh new perspective. If you want to dimiss Rogue One as just a plot whole plug than please do yourself a favor and rewatch the film and see the depth that was added to characters we all knew the fate of before watching the film. Bosted by a talented cast including Forrest Whittaker and Mads Mikkelson this was a darker take for Star Wars, a tone that was attempted for The Force Awakens but was better executed here as this story fit it much better. There is unlimted potential within this universe and this was one of those stories. It would be nice to see the Star Wars world look at more of these types of stories instead of just stories about already established characters when they were younger. As a fan of the universe I guess I will take what Disney is willing to give us for now but that is my hope for the future. 

5. The Hollars- John Krasinski directed and starred in one of the most complete films I have seen in a while. An emotional moment at the forefront the film explored how each character was dealing with their own particular set of struggles only to be forced to rely on one another again. It eneded right where it needed to in order to capture the essense of how quickly things can change in how much one person can truly feel in a matter of moments.

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them- Perhaps it was being immersed back in the Harry Potter world or it was the magic of any story by JK Rowling that really made this film just an absolute delight. Eddie Redmayne was perfectly cast as were Ezra Miller and Colin Farrell. It was a magical filmed featuring even cooler creatures. Harry Potter has always been one of my favorite universes and with another series in the works I am glad my daughter will still have this universe to grow into. Harry Potter lore is rich with potential prequels and sequels and it is such a magical world that I cant imagine any point in my life where I wont want to be at the cinema waiting with anticipation. 

3. Deadpool- A film that for the better part of the year had a great chance at being number one because of the R Rated nature of the film. Deadpool was a brilliant film and it was definitely a passion project. Ryan Reynolds poked fun at almost everything you could ever think of and his comedic timing and acting have never been more fun to watch. More please and thank you. Deadpool is going to replace Wolverine as the most wanted hero on the big screen and that is a perfect maneouvre by Marvel. 

2. Suicide Squad- Perhaps this was the year of Margot Robbie because two of her films made this list and this one was an easy choice. Robbie brought one of DC’s most iconic female characters to life and did so in a way that made the happy nerd in me smile profusely. Suicide Squad overall was a much better film than critics indicated and it is a step forward after the wreck that was Batman Vs Superman. My only real complaint of Suicide Squad was that the Joker was basically a secondary throw away character with little depth at all. All that was overshadowed by Robbie and the things the DCEU can do with her character in the future. 

1. Hell or High Water- Lead by Chris Pine and Ben Foster this film does a marvellous job of allowing the action to fit into the weaving narrative that may be a well travelled story but has never been executed with such emotion and nuance that still allow this film to be unique in its own right. At the heart of the story there are two brothers who are trying to right some wrongs done to their family in the name of Greed. The film allows this to be a subtle part of the story but it is the catalyst for the thrilling climax we all knew was coming. Hell or High Water had stiff competition in order to secure this spot but really at the end of the day as soon as the credits began to role I knew there was no other film that was going to get the spot. Low key story driven cinema will always resonate with me more than super explosions and unbelievable mid air sequences because at the end of the day film is a visual medium and we need to believe in the stories being told to us or the overall reason for cinema is lost entirely. 

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Best of Television 2016

With the ever growing landscape of Television it becomes more of a challenge each year to create a list of the best. It creates a mad dash where each episode could make or break the chance at the list. This year was especially tough. We have such a great list of newcomers and perenial favorites jockeying for the coveted number. Without further ado lets countdown the years best from the small screen.

10- Pitch (Fox)- This show immediately earned itself a spot with the presentation of the Major League broadcasts. Despite the low numbers Pitch has an amazing cast.The praise for Kylie Bunbury has been high but it is the overall cast that really helps the show shine. Pitch is a show that really deserves a long run but that is looking more and more doubtful as the ratings have yet to raise.

9. Gotham (Fox)- This is a show that since day one has been really hit or miss but in early season three it really hit a stride thanks to Benedict Samuel as Jervis Tetch. Michael Chiklis also added some much needed refreshment even if these story lines concluded quickly. Gotham is a show rich with potential story lines and so far in season three the writers have done a fantastic job giving us some fresh thoughts and new adventures with some familiar foes. 

8. The Walking Dead (AMC)- This show has really taken a turn downhill and it has slowly seen the show drop on the list. The only real reason this show is making the list is because of Jeffrey Dean Morgan and his intro and follow up episodes. The rest of the season 6 finale set no expectation and ruined my anticipation. However Walking Dead still gets a place on this list this year and who knows what the future has in store so it very well could find itself on the list again next year.

7. The Path (Showtime)- Aaron Paul and Hugh Dancy are two of my favorite actors and to pair them together in this series was phenomenal. There was so much tension and emotion in this drama. It led to a thrilling season of building the showdown and revelations. Season 2 should be just as good so fingers crossed.

6. Suits (USA)- The story took a creative turn this year sending the lead to prison and making it one of the most compelling stories yet on the show. Plus the show lead up to the departure of Gina Torres who’s fiesty Jessica Pearson will always be missed. Here is to hoping she will return for a guest stint. 

5. Atlanta (FX)- Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino once again finds a unique way to show us he is a unique personality with a fresh perspective on social culture. His music continues to showcase his raw writing talent and TV allows him to display another part of him that means so much. His history.

4.The Flash (CW)- This show continued to do everything it has done right again. It slipped a little during the beginning of season three leaving out key components of the Flashpoint paradox and opting to be less daring and very predictable in the story telling. The acting is probably the series strongest point and Tom Felton has been a key contributor this season during the first half.

3. Daredevil (Netflix)- Season two was amazing for one major reason. Jon Bernthal. He has set the bar high for his own solo series as The Punisher but he is the main reason season two continued to push the envelope of character development and gritty storylines. His presence added a much needed sense of realism that was evidently lacking during most of the seasons second half. 

2. Empire (Fox)- This is one of the juiciest shows on television. The drama and the music are always sizzling hot. Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard are amazing on screen together. The chemisty is just off the charts. However this season the praise has to be given to Jussie Smollett for his wide display of emotions both through Jamals music and his expressions as a human being struggling to cope with what happened to him. Empire continues to be one of the highlights of my viewing experience. 

1. This is Us (NBC)- This may go down as the first and only time a rookie show will ever win this spot. No other new show has been as emotionally engaging as This is Us in my viewing experience. Everyone plays their role to perfection creating an ensemble of people who all have their own pain and past that still leaves them searching for answers. Lead by Mandy Moore and Sterling K. Brown This is Us thrives on the raw talent the cast has. One of the most realistic shows in all of TV. That mid season finale had me on the verge of tears all the way through and very few shows evoke that kind of response especially during this time of year. This is Us sure has found a weaving narrative that works. I see this show competing for this number one spot for quite a few years. An amazing show. 

Best Television Shows of 2015

Top 10 Best Shows of 2015

10. Bloodline (Netflix)- The dark portrayal of Ben Mendolsohn made this show more mysterious, add in that he created drama with almost everyone he interacted with and you have one of the most engaging shows of 2015. His chemistry with Kyle Chandler was downright phenomenal and as the season progressed you knew it was heading to something chilling.

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9. Fear The Walking Dead (AMC)- Touted as the next big zombie show Fear did a fantastic job spreading the paranoia and panic of the early days of the apocalypse. It was fresh to see people struggling with their morality as they made questionable decisions and it was even more fun to be on an abosultely fun ride that did come pre-packaged by a neat comic book story. The cast was good, not great in their respective family roles which is what kept this show from going higher on the list.

8.Longmire (Netflix)- The once canceled cowboy drama found a new home on Netflix and the format sure did help. It began right where the third season had left off and took us to new levels as story lines were ended and new ones began which lead to another thrilling cliffhanger. Robert Taylor is very subtle in portraying the slight nuances that make Walter Longmire who he is and the rest of the cast fits in nicely, taking on more screen time due to the almost 15 minutes extra run time they received per episode.

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7. Ray Donovan (Showtime)- Probably the only element of this show that can’t be criticized is the casting. Leiv Schrieber is very emotionally disconnected as Ray, having bottled his emotions for too long and now he cant run from them any longer. Ray Donovan combines the absurdities of an upper class California lifestyle with enough family drama to keep the story flowing at a good rate and to keep the emotional scenes coming at us with intensity.

6. The Walking Dead (AMC)- This show was once a shoe-in for a top 5 spot, but recently the survival element has not been enforced as hard as it should be. This show once praised itself on no one being safe and there was not been a death that was surprising since Lori died in season 3. Lennie James returning as Morgan has provided some reassurance that there is still potential story lines for characters who think differently than the core group, and the upcoming second half promises to have a much needed change in pace with Negan being introduced before seasons end. 2016 could lead the Walking Dead back into it’s old unpredictable and violent territory.

5. Empire (Fox)- Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson are electrifying and it is so crazy to think that all episodes of this show have aired only 2015, which makes it one hell of a debut. Any other year this show debuting this strong could have possibly garnered it the number one spot. Empire features dope musical guest stars from Courtney Love to Alicia Keys and the drama is hot enough to start a fire in any room. Empire is straight up one of the best produced shows on television on all fronts, from story telling to editing to acting, this show will have a perennial top 5 spot as long as it airs and as long as it continues down this path.

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4. Daredevil (Netflix)- One of Marvels most deep heroes, Netflix took a much darker approach than the disappointing 2003 Ben Affleck film. Another show with top notch production value and the selling point to it all was the choreography for the fight scenes. Every punch, every bruise felt real and you could feel it watching as no single character dominated every fight and no one character looked more badass than the next. Couple that with a fine performance from Vincent D’Onafrio as Wilson Fisk and you have perhaps the finest Marvel production to date and that includes the cinematic universe.

3. Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)- Early computer creations, early gaming platforms, set in the early to mid 80’s, AMC has one of the most original time pieces of all time in this show and they made a smart decision to pick it up for a third season despite the low ratings. Season 2 was much better than season one, allowing the strong female characters to take the forefront. Lead by Kerry Bishe and Mackenzie Davis the Mutiny story line created put the two women on a dangerous path as one tried to move on after a tumultuous relationship and the other tried to keep a family together.

2. The Flash (CW)- With a cast full of relatively unknowns, The Flash has taken on some fairly emotional content and every cast member has had the chance to be brilliant. Grant Gustin has depth and shows his emotional range on a fairly regular basis and the villainous guest stars have been incredible efficient in creating dynamic villains for the Flash to engage with. Season 2 has introduced the multiverse and that opens up many new story lines and it is only a matter of time before the back half of season 2 begins to allow them to unfold.

1. Hannibal (NBC)- There probably is not a single positive word that has not already been used to describe this show. Every time I sat down to watch it my mind was blown by the psychological themes on display and the undertones were even darker and twisted. Season three took on perhaps the most grim Hannibal story lines with the Verger farm in the mid season finale and then time jump to include The Red Dragon in the back half. Mads Mikkelson continued to excel and make Hannibal his own with such a deep performance. Every word spoken to him and Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham brought the show to new levels and left you wanting more each week. It’s a shame probably the best produced show in the past decade has ended so soon after what was probably the best story line to date. As a fan of this show, I can only imagine where this show would have gone next, but the one that was a guarantee is that it would have been emotionally and visually satisfying.

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