Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 220: La La Land (2016) and Passengers (2016) and Collateral Beauty (2016) and MPW’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2016

Episode 220

Happy New Year’s Eve, and welcome to Movie Podcast Weekly’s Episode 220, our TOP 10 BEST MOVIES OF 2016 celebration! We have Jason, Karl, Ryan and a guy named … “Handy.” But most importantly, we bring you the MPW Collective Listenership’s picks for 2016. We had 37 submissions, and they were (in no particular order): Kevin Z., Christie in Texas, RedCap Jack, Dino, Film critic Cody Clark, Dark Mark, Juan in Texas, DJ Godzilla, Mario, Saif, Leigh and Jensen B. from Canada, Eric Herman, Matt the Marvel and Zack, Michal, Natalie Pyles, Drew F., Jenifer, Marc 2314, Sal Roma, Arturo in Mexico, Jonathan W., Vance, Jody B. from Ohio, K. Porter from Pennsylvania, Smitty, Mack R., Shane W. from the UK, Con, Wild Man Willis Wheeler from D.C., Paul D. from Australia, Dan C. from the UK, Jason Dragon, Dick S. in Colorado, Brandon from Florida, and Adam U! MPW listeners representin’!

To kick off this episode, we talk about many great celebrities we’ve lot in 2016, and we bring you the listeners’ Top 10 Favorite Fake Movie Titles by Ryan. Jason also brings you three Feature Reviews of La La Land and Passengers and Collateral Beauty. And as you may have guessed, we bring you a number of other 2016 lists and shenanigans, so join us!

If you’re new to our show… Movie Podcast Weekly typically features four hosts — Jason, Andy, Karl and Geek Cast Ry — along with frequent guests. We give you our verdicts on at least one new movie release from the current year that’s currently playing in theaters, as well as several mini reviews of whatever we’ve been watching lately. New episodes release every single week!


I. Introduction
— Happy New Year’s Eve 2016!
— Welcome to a guy named Handy
— Reflecting on the great celebrity losses of 2016
— Listener comments: Dark Mark, Kevin Zade from The Zade Storey movie podcast

[ 0:15:01 ] II. MPW: Year in Review — Stats and Highlights of 2016
— The MPW Listener Council Roll Call: Kevin Z., Christie in Texas, RedCap Jack, Dino, Film critic Cody Clark, Dark Mark, Juan in Texas, DJ Godzilla, Mario, Saif, Leigh and Jensen B. from Canada, Eric Herman, Matt the Marvel and Zack, Michal, Natalie Pyles, Drew F., Jenifer, Marc 2314, Sal Roma, Arturo in Mexico, Jonathan W., Vance, Jody B. from Ohio, K. Porter from Pennsylvania, Smitty, Mack R., Shane W. from the UK, Con, Wild Man Willis Wheeler from D.C., Paul D. from Australia, Dan C. from the UK, Jason Dragon, Dick S. in Colorado, Brandon from Florida, and Adam U.

MPW listeners’ Top 10 Fake Movie Titles by Ryan:
1. Rise: A Baker’s Tale
2. The Art of the Fall
3. Grandma Shanghai
4. Treble Yell
5. Apartheid City
6. Generation Woman
7. Oil and Milk
8. Tyler Perry’s Miracle on J-Street
9. Ampersand
10. Black Velvet

III. New in Theaters This Past Weekend [Dec. 23, 2016]:
Man Up
Why Him?
Laugh Track
Assassin’s Creed
A Monster Calls
Untold Truths
I, Daniel Blake
The Bad Kids


[ 0:31:33 ] IV. Feature Review: LA LA LAND (2016)
Jason = 9 ( Theater / Buy it! )

[ 0:49:04 ] V. Feature Review: PASSENGERS (2016)
Jason = 7 ( Theater / Rental )

[ 0:56:54 ] VI. Feature Review: COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016)
Jason = 9 ( Theater / Buy it! )

[ 1:11:36 ] VII. MAIN EVENT: MPW’s TOP 10 BEST MOVIES OF 2016

MPW Collective Listenership’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2016
1. Arrival
2. Hell or High Water
3. 10 Cloverfield Lane
4. Green Room
5. Deadpool
6. Sing Street | -tie- | Captain America: Civil War
7. Moana
8. The Witch: A New England Folktale
9. Hacksaw Ridge
10. Kubo and the Two Strings

Karl’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2016
1. Deadpool
2. Sing Street
3. Snowden
4. The Last Descent
5. Hell or High Water
6. The Nice Guys
7. The Accountant
8. Midnight Special
9. Eye in the Sky
10. Anthropoid

Jason’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2016
1. The Revenant
2. Room
3. Green Room
4. Arrival
5. The Witch: A New England Folktale
6. Captain Fantastic
7. Hell or High Water
8. The Invitation
9. Collateral Beauty
10. Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2016
1. The Witch: A New England Folktale
2. Kubo and the Two Strings
3. Deadpool
4. Hell or High Water
5. Triple 9
6. 10 Cloverfield Lane
7. Nocturnal Animals
8. Captain America: Civil War
9. The Nice Guys
10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Andy’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2016
1. Hell or High Water
2. La La Land (did not see it)
3. The Nice Guys
4. Jackie (did not see it)
5. Arrival (did not see it)
6. Rise: A Baker’s Tale (not a real movie)
7. Moonlight (did not see it)
8. Manchester by the Sea (did not see it)
9. Treble Yell (not a real movie)
10. Green Room

***BONUS Show Notes Statistics (not mentioned during podcast):

— Only one film appears on all five Top 10 lists: Hell or High Water

— Out of 50 possible movies among five lists, we selected a total of 30 different films.

— Here are the repeats and how many times they were chosen:

Hell or High Water (5)

Deadpool (3)
Green Room (3)
Arrival (3)
The Nice Guys (3)
The Witch: A New England Folktale (3)

10 Cloverfield Lane (2)
Captain America: Civil War (2)
Hacksaw Ridge (2)
Kubo and the Two Strings (2)
Sing Street (2)


MPW Collective Listenership’s Honorable Mention of 2016 (#11-15)
11. The Revenant
12. Captain Fantastic
13. Don’t Breathe
14. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
15. The Nice Guys

Jason’s Honorable Mention of 2016 (#11-15)
11. The Last Descent
12. Edge of Winter
13. Man Down
14. Krisha
15. Into the Forest

Karl’s Honorable Mention of 2016 (#11-15)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Captain America: Civil War
Green Room

Ryan’s Honorable Mention of 2016 (#11-15)
Dr. Strange
Star Trek Beyond
Bad Moms
The Jungle Book

Andy’s Honorable Mention of 2016 (#11-15)
*** “If you didn’t make the Top 10, I didn’t even consider ya.” -Handy


MPW Collective Listenership’s Biggest Disappointments / Heartbreaks of 2016
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Blair Witch
Jason Bourne
Suicide Squad

Jason’s Biggest Disappointments / Heartbreaks of 2016
Desierto (which Jason never saw because it was never released but was advertised since Dec. 2015)
The Nice Guys
Jason Bourne
The Assassin
Independence Day: Resurgence

Karl’s Biggest Disappointments / Heartbreaks of 2016
X-Men: Apocalypse
Jason Bourne
Suicide Squad

Ryan’s Biggest Disappointments / Heartbreaks of 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Suicide Squad
Hail, Caesar!

Andy’s Biggest Disappointments / Heartbreaks of 2016
“I found 2016 to be disappointing.” —Handy


MPW Collective Listenership’s Dishonorable Mentions and the Worst Damn Movie of 2016
5. Blair Witch
4. The 5th Wave
3. Allegiant (The Divergent Series)
2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The Listeners’ Worst Damn Movie of 2016: The Break-In

Jason’s Dishonorable Mentions and the Worst Damn Movie of 2016
5. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
4. Hail, Caesar!
3. Skiptrace
2. Criminal

Jason’s Worst Damn Movie of 2016: Tie – Blair Witch – tied with – The Monster With 1,000 Heads

Karl’s Dishonorable Mentions and the Worst Damn Movie of 2016
5. Hardcore Henry
4. Bridget Jones’s Baby
3. Now You See Me 2
2. The 5th Wave

Karl’s Worst Damn Movie of 2016: Blair Witch

Ryan’s Dishonorable Mentions and the Worst Damn Movie of 2016
5. The BFG
4. Bridget Jones’s Baby
3. Finding Dory
2. How to Be Single

Ryan’s Worst Damn Movie of 2016: Gods of Egypt

Andy’s Dishonorable Mentions and the Worst Damn Movie of 2016
5. All your comic book movies (except Deadpool)
4. The BFG
3. Finding Dory
2. Gods of Egypt (never saw it; only to bandwagon with Ryan)

Andy’s Worst Damn Movie of 2016: Gods of Egypt (never saw it; only to bandwagon with Ryan)


MPW Collective Listenership’s GUILTY PLEASURE OF THE YEAR
Tie: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – tied with – The Brothers Grimsby

Gods of Egypt

Tie: Eddie the Eagle – tied with – Bad Moms

Tie: Warcraft – tied with – Keanu

Declined to comment.


MPW Collective Listenership’s Most Overrated Movie of 2016

Jason’s Most Overrated Movie of 2016
Sing Street

Karl’s Most Overrated Movie of 2016
The Hateful Eight

Ryan’s Most Overrated Movie of 2016
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Andy’s Most Overrated Movie of 2016
Movie Podcast Weekly.

XIII. Wrap-Up / Plugs / Ending

1st Place Raffle Prize: $50 Amazon gift card:
Winner: Dark Mark

2nd Place Raffle Prize: $25 Amazon gift card:
Winner: Christie in Texas

3rd place raffle prize: Ryan’s 2016 BMOTY
Winner: Jody B. from Ohio

Karl’s movie code winners:
The Bourne Legacy = Dino
Star Trek Beyond = Cody Clark

Episode 221 where we’ll be reviewing “Too Late” (2016) and discussing our Most Anticipated Movies of 2017! Join us!


Please support Operation Underground Railroad

Kevin Zade’s The Zade Storey movie podcast

Hear Jason’s Top 10 three-letter title movies on The Cinereelists movie podcast

And don’t forget to get acquainted with the rest of the Movie Podcast Network over the holidays… Here we are:
Geek Cast Live Podcast
Movie Stream Cast
The Sci-Fi Podcast
Retro Movie Geek
Horror Movie Podcast
Movie Podcast Weekly

If you liked this Top 10 of 2016 episode, here are our previous shows from the past four years:
Ep. 014: MPW’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2012
Ep. 066: MPW’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2013
Ep. 118: MPW’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2014
Ep. 170: MPW’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2015

Contact MPW:
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We’d like to thank The Dave Eaton Element and Dave himself for the use of his music for our theme song. Buy Dave’s Eaton’s music:

Ryan’s Fake Movie Titles for this episode:
Laugh Track
Untold Truths
Man Up

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Thanks for listening, and join us again next week for Movie Podcast Weekly.

164 thoughts on “Movie Podcast Weekly Ep. 220: La La Land (2016) and Passengers (2016) and Collateral Beauty (2016) and MPW’s Top 10 Best Movies of 2016

  1. Great show, it was nice to hear some of my comments made it on. As a New Yorker all these early releases are a little overwhelming. Looking to catch silence and Patriots day this week, can’t wait for you guys to review them.

  2. I may not know anything about animals… I’ll cop to that. And I’ll also acknowledge my hypocrisy at “pre-hating” the cinema in this case, which I accused Jason of doing with arogue One. You were right to call me out on that.

    But, I do know a whacky and strained premise when I hear it. Merely hearing the basic storyline of what Collateral Beauty really is about (regardless of its misleading trailer), and a couple of details about where it goes from there, tells me that it is a really screwy film. It fails on narrative cohesion/sense alone. And combine that with the “this is oh so meaningful” tone of the trailer and the pretentious title, and I’m at least allowed to be highly skeptical of it. I will try to watch it someday with an open mind, though, and not merely hate-watch it.

    And I will unofficially replace Collateral Beauty on my “worst of” list. Let’s see, what else could go there… I know, Gods of Egypt! 😀 I haven’t seen that one, either, but I understand it’s really really bad. Well wait, there’s one guy I know who gave it a 7. Hmm… (Actually, I would probably at least get a kick out of Gods of Egypt, as compared to Collateral Beauty).

    J, you are a contrarian. If the world at large loves something, you’re bound to come in very low. And if something is getting a huge backlash, you might end up several points higher than the average. You are the force that seeks to bring balance to the cinematic universe.

    I loved when Ry pointed out hilariously how you say that you don’t like musicals and then complain that a movie isn’t enough of a musical. Ah, you are a conundrum baked in a riddle, my friend. Thanks for being you, though. :)

    • @Eric (or should I say … “Andy”),
      Once you see “Collateral Beauty,” then you can make judgments. Look at the other nine films on my Top 10 list and ask yourself this: Judging by the quality of the other nine films, would Jay put one awful movie on there? The fact that it made my list should, at least, make you curious about it. Besides, let’s remember that people “heard” that the bear sodomized Leo D. in “The Revenant,” and that wasn’t the case, either.

      Rule No. 1 of Film Criticism: Watch the movie first, then critique it.

      Armond White is an example of a contrarian. But I believe it’s my “job” (ha ha) to take a closer look at films that everyone is raving about, just to make sure I’m not swept up in its hype. (Case in point: For example, and I’m not dissin’: I had one listener submit a list where “Rogue One” was the No. 1 pick. The listener’s note said: “I haven’t seen this one yet, but I’m certain it will be my No. 1.” Actually, there may have been two submissions along these lines… Anyway, people love to agree with everyone else. It’s easy to get swept away in popular opinion, whether it’s positive or negative.

      And I also see it as my job to try to assess a film that everyone thinks is terrible. I’ve found that many times the movie was just being piled on because “it’s fun to form a mob.”

      The world loves “La La Land,” and I agree that it’s good. I gave it a 9 out of 10! Why? I truly feel it has merit.

      Finally, let’s say you don’t particularly love cake. But someone gives you cake to judge in a cake-tasting contest. Do you judge that cake as if it were pie, or do you assess it compared to other cakes?

      “La La Land” is a musical. So, I’m going to judge it on its own terms as a musical. What’s confusing about that? (I don’t love musicals myself, generally speaking, though I do love a few…) But as far as musicals go, “La La Land” is kind of half-hearted. “La La Land” may be a weak musical, but it’s still a good film.

      Thanks for writing! (Go see “Collateral Beauty.”)
      Your pal,

      • Sure, it was a dumb thing to include that without having seen it, but really, I was half-joking… I honestly didn’t have a fourth Dishonorable Mention, so I figured, eh, I’ve heard enough bad things about that movie, and the premise sounds bad enough, and the trailer looks schmaltzy enough, so I’ll throw it in there.

        But J, I have heard you several times (including somewhere in this episode, though I’m not gonna listen to it all again to remember what it is) refer to a movie you haven’t seen in a very negative way, to the extent that you imply that you don’t need to see it to know you likely wouldn’t like it.

        So yeah, it’s fair that you give me a little grief for preemptively hating Collateral Beauty, but I’ve only learned from the master. 😀

        • I know what you’re saying, Eric… I have always been very tough on Allegiant (The Divergent Series), extremely dismissive, even — and I’ve never seen it. So, that’s true. I just didn’t include it in my worst of the year list. ha ha. (Luckily, enough listeners did.) ; )

          I still think if you watch “Collateral Beauty” with an open mind, and let it affect you, you might be surprised!

          • My only problem with the premise of ‘Collateral Beauty,’ is how mean spirited the whole concept seems. This guy lost his kid; and my understanding is the people involved with this scheme want him to either get his life back together to help save the company or they will be able to prove he has lost his mind by stating he’s talking to these apparitions and somehow I guess that will save the company. I haven’t seen it so I’m just going by what I’ve heard from Jay and a couple of other review sites. Regardless, that just sounds like a story line I’m going to have a hard time getting behind.

            Also, from a technical stand-point, I’ve found in the past a more reserved Will Smith (i.e. ‘Seven Pounds’ Will Smith) goes against all of his strengths as an actor.

            I will eventually see the movie, and give a more honest criticism at that time.

          • Hi Jonathan,
            I appreciate what you wrote here. And I would have felt the same way. Let me assure you, spoiler-free, that his co-workers are friends who genuinely care about Will Smith’s character and his future. But as his future is tied to theirs, they feel they must take some aggressive action that’s not intended to be mean-spirited, though they are conflicted by how detrimental it could be for their friend… This inner conflict is another little layer that makes the film so interesting. But the great (and refreshing) thing about this movie is, there’s no real villain in this movie other than grief. And interestingly, all the characters have their own little challenges pertaining to love, death and time.

            Oh, and I always forget to mention, there are also some incredible domino scenes in this movie!

            • Good to know. Will definitely be checking it out.

              Just listened to the Cinereelists episode you were on. Great stuff. I subscribed to them.

    • Everyone needs to chill and stop hating on the cinema. Gods of Egypt is a perfectly good, dumb, popcorn movie. It knows what it is and it rolls with it full force. I applaud the filmmakers for coming up with such a ludicrous idea and executing it in an ebenore ludicrous way. And you know what? It’s fun. It’s a lot of fun and damnit I liked it. Jay, I’m with you all the way bro.

      • “Yassssss,” Juan! I’ve been waiting on the “Gods of Egypt” appreciators to weigh in…

        Yes, it’s a bad movie. So bad, it’s good! But like many films that fall into the “so bad it’s good” classification, the filmmaker was obviously trying something ambitious and failed.

        Ryan has been downright unfair to that movie. I hope that by including it as my “GUILTY PLEASURE OF THE YEAR” film, that some people will try it!


          • Andrew,
            Thanks for accepting the challenge! Ryan says you’ll see the worst movie of the year; I say you’ll see an auteur-in-the-making’s ambitious vision gone horribly wrong… ha ha ha

          • I accepted the challenge and still have yet to stay awake for the entire movie will give it another try today…. On the plus side my daughter enjoyed it and said it is not bad….

        • Jason, I still can’t shake the fact that you spent 128 mins. watching Gods of Egypt, when you could have spared just 28 mins. more to have watched The Wailing.

          Speaking of which, have you seen The Wailing yet?

      • Juan, I agree that it knows what it is. However, it’s a painful movie to sit through. I did not find it fun. I could totally see how people would.

        For a fun, dumb, popcorn movie, look no further than another Gerard Butler 2016 offering, the insanity known as ‘London Has Fallen.’

  3. Whoopee, I won! Thanks, guys and great show! Here’s the top 15 I sent to Jay, but since then I’ve added Rogue One. Shout out to Ryan for getting the correct answer… The Witch is the number one movie of the year.

    1. The Witch
    2. Don’t Breathe
    3. Moana
    4. Green Room
    5. Ghostbusters (Rogue One would be 5)
    6. Holidays
    7. Zootopia
    8. Deadpool
    9. Train to Busan
    10. Hush
    11. The Shallows
    12. The Conjuring 2
    13. The Wailing
    14. The Monster
    15. A Monster Calls

    • Crazy list, Mark. And I mean that in the best possible way. Can’t wait to see the all-horror version of your list next week. Holidays is already surprising me. I hope you’ll write-out a couple of blurbs about your more controversial picks for HMP.

      • Haha, Yea it’s a little crazy. I mostly only watched horror movies this year. Making a balanced movie list with 5 regular movies and 55 horror movies is difficult. I put my lists together based on personal favorites and definitely not by what I think is the best crafted film. A lot of my ranking depends on how much I want to rewatch a film, so an anthology like Holidays will pervade my future holidays. I usually watch Ghostbusters 1 and 2 a couple of times in a year so adding another movie to that pool gets it high on my list. The Witch is where my personal favorite meets a well crafted and deserving film.

      • And ‘Train to Busan’ would have totally been on my list if I had seen it in time. Thankfully, I saw it before I had to submit the Top Ten Horror list because it is amazing.

        ‘Holidays’ at 6? Wow! I might have to check that out.

  4. Been making my way through the lists all day. Andy is cracking me up. I’ll have some comments once I get a minute.
    Just had to stop in for a quick anecdote that I thought was funny.

    To speak to the lack of Polynesian cultural representation I rambled about in my MOANA review (esp thinking Mr. T was my dad) … My kids just saw a Time Magazine or Life Magazine “remembering those we lost in 2016” cover in the grocery store that had Mohamed Ali on the cover and my daughter said “Wait, is that your dad? Your dad died?”

  5. It was bad enough that J gave Sing Street a 6, but most overrated… Sigh. How do you do a head-shake emoticon?

    Btw, Karl mentioned Begin Again, and that’s on Netflix. I liked it, but it’s my least favorite of Carney’s music films. This is my ranking:

    Begin Again: 7.5
    Once: 8.5
    Sing Street: 10 ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

    • I have to back Jay on this one, Eric. Though I think Sing Street is a good movie, I don’t understand why people are so in love with it. Scratch that. I do know why people are so crazy in love with it and to them I say this: take off your nostalgia goggles. And look, the movie is good, like 8.5 good, so Jay is once again hating on the cinem but not nearly as much as you’re making it out to be 😉

    • I need to see ‘Begin Again.’ I liked ‘Once’ for the most part. I thought it had two insanely great scenes – the music store and the recording session. In fact, the music store scene is right up there with my favorite scenes of all time.

      I thought ‘Sing Street’ was a lot better than ‘Once.’ I, as Andy pointed, out, am a dummy by saying it’s a masterpiece and giving it a 9. ‘Once,’ I would probably give a 7.5.

  6. Handy was absolutely hilarious. I was laughing the whole time. You should get rid of that Andy guy and replace him with Handy.

  7. Great episode guys. Loved everyone’s list, but lets be honest, no one had more insightful and intelligent reviews than Andy. If I may make a suggestion for next year though, why not make the first episode of the new year the Top 10 episode. By making Christmas Eve the deadline, you essentially eliminate 2 weeks worth of movies from contention. Ex: The Hateful 8 (Not that it would’ve made my list or anything, but even this year, you have “Fences” and “Hidden Figures”, which are both getting good reviews so far. Or just for the sake of the show, make the “movie year”, Christmas to Christmas, to include the final 2 weeks of the year. Obviously, your show, your rules. I will take part every year regardless, but just a thought I had while listening to you a Dino from a couple of weeks ago. Also, what about a quick top 5 or top 10 of the movies your looking forward to most in 2017?

    • Brandon, the struggle is real. Jason is so stubborn, he will never change his ways, no matter how little sense they make!!!

      Case in point – his 2016 top 10 list, which was rendered completely silly by including not one, but TWO, 2015 movies. And as his top 2 movies of the year, no less! Even his three co-hosts, who themselves admit that they don’t really care about how you determine year of release, argued with him that he shouldn’t include The Revenant on his 2016 list.

      Because it’s a 2015 movie.

      • I have to back Brandon and Dino on this one, Jay. Your list is outrageous. I think we all know you relish on being controversial and for the listenership to call you out, but being controversial for the sake of being controversial is getting in the way of you doing the best possible job you can do. Your top pick for last year’s horror list was a travesty, but to have two 2015 movies in your 2016 list is crossing the line.

        Seriously, Jay, how are we supposed to engage in discussion if you’re not on the same boat as the rest of us? While Dino, Eric, Brandon, and the rest of us are discussing movies like Arrival, you’re going to be discussing The Revenant, a movie that we’ve already discussed in the past. You’re living in the past, Jay! Grab my hand and let’s get you into the present, where all of us are. It’s great here, I promise.

        • I have to agree with Jay on his choice for the Revenant on his 2016 list. While it was included in 2015’s Academy Awards show it technically had a wide release of January 8 2016 according to After listening to the podcast I revised my Top 10 list to include The Revenant and it had to be at #1 as well.

          I actually saw this movie in December 2015 via a screener before it’s wide release. But, why is this a problem including a 2016 release movie on a 2016 Top 10 list? Am I missing something?

          I personally went by imdb for my release dates on all of my Top 10 of 2016 movies. Not a single one had a wide release date in 2015 or 2017.

      • The solution is so obvious, Jay. There doesn’t need to be any alienation of co-hosts or listeners. There doesn’t need to be any sham revision of previously declared lists. Stop conforming to the ridiculous need among professional critics to make these declarations of Best Movies of the Year before anyone can reasonably expect to have seen all of the movies released (in the prevailing, Oscar-eligible sense of the term) in a given year. Before anyone including your ever-faithful listeners can reasonably expect to have seen them, I don’t hesitate to add. Think of the ladies and gentlemen who just gave you 41 pages worth of their opinions!

        MPW can’t change the discussion in the sense of getting all of Hollywood and the media to change its collective mind about Year of Release. It’s never gonna happen. But you COULD strike a blow for rationality, and stand out from the critical herd to boot, by adopting the Eric Herman/Cody Clark/Every-Other-Listener-Who-Has-Thought-of-It Proposal and moving the Best of Year episode to a spot on the calendar where it could be a beacon in the sad and lonely lives of mid-February moviegoers. Have it be the MPW release on the week before the Oscars. It would make so much more sense that way, and be so much BOLDER than sloshing around Uncle Oscar’s Tepid Bucket of Warm Spit. Dare to be different, brother!

        • Man, I gotta agree with Cody (and apparently everyone). Have the “Best of” show in February before the Oscars. I still need to see “La La Land” (which releases fully wide Jan. 6 I believe). C’mon Jay. Free up your holidays for some family time and last minute shopping.

        • “But you COULD strike a blow for rationality, and stand out from the critical herd to boot, by adopting the Eric Herman/Cody Clark/Every-Other-Listener-Who-Has-Thought-of-It Proposal and moving the Best of Year episode to a spot on the calendar where it could be a beacon in the sad and lonely lives of mid-February moviegoers. Have it be the MPW release on the week before the Oscars.”


  8. Just so we can all compare and contrast, here are all of my picks for each category:

    Top 10
    (12 points) = 1. The Witch – Unquestionably the most (and best) horror movie of the year. The struggle of a family trying to stay together while being torn apart by forces out of their reach is so dark that it begs the question “how much darker can this get?”. The answer is none more dark. -Juan Esparza

    (10 points) = 2. Arrival – The best science fiction movie of the year, bar none. The level of artistry with which the subject matter is treated not only within the story, but the structure of the film itself is nothing short of mind-blowing. -Juan Esparza

    (9 points) = 3. The Wailing – I tend to keep my top horror movie lists and top overall movie lists separate, but like The Witch, The Wailing is the rare kind of horror movie that is done so well that it transcends genre classification. With a story that’s so intricately constructed and a myriad of symbolism scattered throughout the film,The Wailing leaves you contemplating long after the end credits. -Juan Esparza

    (8 points) = 4. Elle – Paul Verhoeven managed to operate under every single genre imaginable and made it all work in such a cohesive way that its mesmerizing. But as amazing as that feat was, it’s the lead performance of Isabelle Huppert that stole the show and my heart. I’ve never rooted so hard for such a likable yet despicable and flawed anti-hero. -Juan Esparza

    (7 points) = 5. Kicks – A modern coming of age tale that’s kickstarted by a set of sneakers. The premise and overall story is simple, but the journey is complex and the amount of heart the characters and the actors portraying them show onscreen is outstanding. -Juan Esparza

    (6 points) = 6. Midnight Special – In a year with a spectacular science fiction masterpiece like Arrival, Midnight Special still managed to capture my attention and ignite my imagination with its engaging mystery and likable set of characters. -Juan Esparza

    (5 points) = 7. The Nice Guys – One of the most fun movies I watched all year. The over-the-top situations the very memorable characters get into are so well thought out that they never get in the way of the story or the character growth while at the same time providing ridiculous amounts of laughs. Jay, stop hating on the cinema. -Juan Esparza

    (4 points) = 8. Kubo and the Two Strings – The level of craftsmanship and heart this movie has is enough to put it on my top ten, but the film actually manages to tell an original story with full of lovable characters. The ending is satisfying enough, but the journey is fantastic. -Juan Esparza

    (3 points) = 9. The Jungle Book – I wasn’t sold on Disney redoing their old classics as live action movies, but after witnessing the insanity that is The Jungle Book, consider me sold. Jaw-dropping GGI paired with excellent voice acting and a kid that has plenty of heart make this a modern Disney classic in my book. -Juan Esparza

    (2 points) = 10. Green Room – I wanted to like this as much as Blue Ruin, especially after the passing of Anton Yelchin. It’s still a very tense, dark, and engaging film, but it lacks the personal investment that I had in the main character of the director’s previous effort. -Juan Esparza

    Honorable Mentions
    11. Deadpool – I’m sad this missed my top ten because it really was a breath of fresh air for superhero movies. -Juan Esparza
    12. Hunt for the Wilderpeople – Possibly the funniest movie of the year for me. At the very least, it gives movies like The Nice Guys and Deadpool a run for their money as far as laughs go. -Juan Esparza
    13. Captain Fantastic – Any movie that makes me want to watch less movies and read more instead is definitely something worth watching. -Juan Esparza
    14. Zootopia – A movie with a lot of heart and themes that are very relevant these days. I wish I could’ve placed this higher. -Juan Esparza
    15. Moana – Like Zootopia, I wish I could’ve placed this higher, but in a year replete of excellent movies, an honorable mention will have to suffice to one of the best animated films of the year. -Juan Esparza

    Biggest Disappointments
    – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – It wasn’t a bad movie, but it’s not quite The Force Awakens level. I understand it’s a stand alone story, but I refuse to give the movie a break just because it’s Star Wars. -Juan Esparza

    Guilty Pleasures
    – Gods of Egypt – The only reason I watched this is because the armors in the trailer reminded me of an old anime that’s very dear to me. It turns out that the movie was a perfectly dumb summer action blockbuster and I’m ok with that. -Juan Esparza

    Most of Overrated
    – Train to Busan – I cannot, for the love of everything that’s dear to me, figure out why people love this so much. It’s literally World War Z… in a train… with Koreans. LITERALLY. -Juan Esparza

    Most Anticipated for 2017 (in order)
    Alien Covenant
    Star Wars Episode VIII
    Blade Runner 2049
    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
    Spiderman Homecoming
    John Wick Chapter 2
    A Cure for Wellness
    Ghost in the Shell

    • For those that have a Letterboxd account, here’s a link to my 2016 stats:

      If you don’t have a Letterboxd, I highly recommend you sign up. It makes it very easy to keep up with everything you watch and you can keep a closer look to what all of your friends are watching. I know Dino, Eric, Sal, and Jody have an account as well as many others including Josh. Jay, you should really sign up. It’s super easy and it’s nothing like Facebook or twitter. I guarantee you’ll get hooked and it’ll make your life easier.

    • I disagree with you 100% on ‘Train to Busan’ as you will see next week on my Top Ten Horror List I submitted. I don’t know that I can give you a reason why I loved it so much that will change your mind or help you understand other than to say I enjoyed the hell out of it and it definitely pushed the parental button in me. I found the characters engaging; loved the look and actions of the diseased/zombies or whatever you want to call them. I just had a blast with it.

      Very upset I didn’t get a chance to see ‘The Wailing’ or ‘Elle’ yet. Good to hear that Veerhoven seems to be back.

      Love the list.

      • Everyone that has raved about this movie seems to be a parent, so with that in mind, the appeal becomes more apparent. Not having kids of my own was maybe a factor in my lukewarm reception of the movie, but I really feel like at its core, this movie isn’t much different than WWZ. My biggest gripe with the movie was the emotional punch it lacked at the end. It just felt so clichè, predictable, and unearned that it left a sour taste in my mouth. Deservedly or undeservedly, I have given this movie enough crap and I hate to poop on other people’s favorite movies, so I’ll stop here… for now.

        • Bro, I can’t speak for anyone else, but my love for Train to Busan has nothing to do with being a parent. It is very similar to World War Z, but it’s WWZ done right, maintaining the frenetic action by establishing fully realized characters to care about.

          That’s why I love it.

        • I haven’t see WWZ so the way the zombies acted in Train was very fresh to me. Though, while watching Train I thought to myself, “this is probably what WWZ was like.”

        • Sorry, Juan, but like others, I’m neither a parent nor much of a horror fan nor even Korean, but I thought Train to Busan was the best thing I’ve seen with zombies since 28 Days Later.

          An excellent genre film with defined characters, a bit of social commentary, a few inventive touches, some very good action set-pieces (probably the best use of zombie hordes I’ve ever seen), and an excellent ending.

    • Juan, bro, how did the listeners muff it so badly that “The Witch” is only our collective No. 8 of 2016? Just looking at this comment board alone, it picked up 12 each from you and Dark Mark, 10 from me (expanded comments below), and 9 from Eric Herman. Even if you factor in a kick in the teeth from Jonathan and a stiff dose of the silent treatment from Dino (not even an honorable mention?!), it still seems like it would have done better than No. 8. Unless the four of us are all big, fat outliers.

        • Jonathan, there’s no need to feel bad. However, you are wise to want to give The Witch a second chance. Perhaps you won’t be able to love it, but there’s a chance you might come out of your second viewing with a much greater appreciation for it. I for one plan on revisiting Train to Busan. I feel like I owe myself a chance to share in the love. Time will tell.

      • Bro, I know (where have I heard this before?). I think what happened is a combination of three things. One, the majority of the listeners don’t post on the comment boards, so just because you see a few people with the movie on their top ten list, doesn’t mean that that’s what’s happening behind the scenes with the rest of the listenership. Two, The Witch was getting a lot of hype for being super scary, which it is in its own very darker than dark way, but that might have put people off who would’ve otherwise given it a chance. A third factor would be people like Dino, who watched the movie very early on and loved it, but kind of forgot about it as the year went on. In the end though, we both know The Witch was the movie of the year #fact.

        • Yeah, makes sense. Just seems like with only 37 people chiming in altogether, if there are four confirmed “No. 3 or higher” votes just in the comments section (two of which are No. 1 overall), then you could reasonably predict a better final standing than No. 8. It’s probably Jay’s fault, because he hates the cinema so much. :-)

          • Perhaps there are too many listeners out there like me, who aren’t too keen on watching “The Witch.” I don’t want that candle in my soul to go out! I need that candle!

    • I saw Verhoeven’s Elle yesterday, and would agree with you (and many critics) that it’s a fascinating, provocative, and well-made return-to-form for the director – and certainly worthy of a mention in best films of the year.

      My only question was why they had Huppert – who turned 62 during it’s filming in 2015 – be a 49-year-old in the movie? She definitely looks great for her age (and several, if not 13, years younger than she actually is), but why not make her age in the story exactly (or closer to) what it is in real life? It seems to me, the same story with the protagonist as a +60-year old woman adds even greater impact and meaning to the themes and narrative of the film – while having her pretend to be 13 years younger than her actual age actually undercuts the ‘feminist’ edge a bit (i.e. conforms to the typical societal – and cinematic – expectations of older women).

  9. Ryan, just so it’s clear to you, the hosts, and the world, I don’t hate you. Yes, I once did for very dumb and selfish reasons but I’ve come around and I now like you. Not love, like. Baby steps, bro. Baby steps 😉

  10. 1. SING STREET – A wonderful film about coming-of-age, finding your confidence and your voice (literally), and dealing with reality in romance and in life. The relationships Conor has with his brother and with his sort-of girlfriend are nuanced and dynamic, and never feel clichéd. A musical and cinematic treat.

    2. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC – Like Nicholson in As Good As It Gets, this film makes me want to be a better man. It’s powerful to realize that my family *is* this family; not specifically, but in the same sense of being a small tribe defining the ways we walk with society or against it.

    3. The VVITCH – A harrowing horror drama about the destruction of an uber-religious family from without and from within, using the authentic witch legends of its time period. It was fascinating to get both a disturbing and empowering feeling from the film’s resolution. Scariest rabbit since The Holy Grail!

    4. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE – In a banner year for thrillers about “a few people stuck in a small space” (Green Room, Don’t Breathe, et al.), this was the best. A unique setting, great performances (esp. John Goodman), strong writing and direction, and an original premise that keeps you guessing in different ways.

    5. ARRIVAL – A smart and compelling sci-fi drama that assumes you are intelligent enough to care about its ideas, and gives us aliens that are not merely antagonistic killers, but intriguing strangers to connect with.

    6. HELL OR HIGH WATER – A modern-day Western done right. Nothing particularly unique, story-wise, but the writing is very sharp, and it starts to hit its stride about halfway through and really sticks the landing from there.

    7. DON’T THINK TWICE – A sharp ensemble story about an improv group in New York City, where one member gets called up to the big-time (the fictional equivalent of SNL). The interactions of the group felt very genuine and meaningful, and their ability to weave the art of improv into their lives was uplifting.

    8. GENIUS – I quite loved this movie about Thomas Wolfe and his editor and their relationship that helped shape Wolfe’s work. I was engaged with the poetry of Wolfe’s writing as presented in the film, and Jude Law admirably gives energy to Wolfe’s passion, and Colin Firth to the editor’s craft.

    9. ZOOTOPIA – I had no interest in this film from its trailers, but it really impressed me as a very clever and entertaining animated feature. Moana is also great, but this edges that out for its originality and message.

    10. SWISS ARMY MAN – Included perhaps more for its originality than quality, which is uneven. But original it certainly is, and it also has many thoughtful moments, and even a transcendent moment or two, with the strangest bromance ever between Paul Dano and the corpse of Daniel Radcliffe.

    11. Green Room
    12. Krisha
    13. The Little Prince
    14. The Jungle Book
    15. The Nice Guys

    In consideration: Fences, Deadpool, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Moana, Hail Caeser!, Star Trek: Beyond, Kubo and the Two Strings, Allied, Eye in the Sky (I thought for sure this was a 2015 film or I’d have considered it more).

    Possible late inclusions: With my general love of musicals, and from what I’ve seen and heard of and about La La Land and the critical reception its had, I can’t imagine it not making my Top 10, possibly at or near the top, once I finally see it (looks like next weekend). Other movies I haven’t seen yet that may end up on a later adjusted list include Silence, The Handmaiden, Lion, Toni Erdmann, The Founder, Paterson, A Monster Calls and Jackie.

    • Biggest Disappointments/Heartbreaks of 2016: A lot of somewhat disappointing movies in 2016, where things were okay, but not great. My personal biggest disappointment was Mascots. I’ve been a big fan of Christopher Guest’s mockumentaries since his part in Spinal Tap. The premise of Mascots was great, but like his last two or three films, the consistency of humor just wasn’t very strong. And I gave it a 6, so not terrible, but also not very good.

      Dishonorable Mentions:
      Blair Witch
      Batman v. Superman
      Independence Day: Resurgence
      — Nothing to see here —

      Very Worst: I’m sure there are films that were worse in 2017 than Saturday’s Warrior, but I usually avoid seeing most things that would seem likely to be that bad.

      Guilty Pleasures: It’s pretty obnoxious, but I mostly enjoyed Popstar as a funny pop music mockumentary. Not Spinal Tap quality, but much better than Mascots. I might have included Sausage Party here, but I won’t admit to ever seeing that filthy, wretched film (which was pretty clever and funny).

      Most overrated: Ah, gee… I hate to say that both of the big critical darlings, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea, are overrated, as I did like both of them quite a lot (8.5 for each). But they are both slow and at times plodding, and while they do have some real poignance and insight, they don’t always give enough of that for their slow pacing.

      Most anticipated of 2017:

      Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan could film “The Phone Book” and I’ll go see it.)

      Kong: Skull Island (I had no major interest in this, initially, as I still love the Peter Jackson 2005 film, but the trailer looks terrific.)

      Star Wars VIII (duh)

      Beauty and the Beast (This could be a winner like the recent Cinderella.)

      The Circle (Tom Hanks and Emma Watson in a Black Mirror-esque film? Hellz, yeah.)

      Thor: Ragnarok (I had absolutely ZERO interest in this until I found out that Taika Waititi is directing. Seems like an odd choice, but now I might see it.)

      A Cure for Wellness (Trailer looks downright creepy. I’m intrigued.)

      Suburbicon (Coens script with Matt Damon starring, about a mystery in an odd 1950’s town. Supposed to be a “crime comedy.” Might be good.)

      The Mummy (Trusting Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. Trailer looks interesting.)

      The Dark Tower (Never read the book, but I’m optimistic about this Stephen King adaptation.)

      Annihilation (Writer/director of Ex Machina. About an expedition into an environmental disaster zone.)

      Weightless (An amazing cast, and described as “obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.” I’m in.)

      T2: Trainspotting (I don’t care about most of the numerous franchise sequels coming out, but this one I’ll have to check out.)

      Wonder Woman (Looks a lot better than BvS and Suicide Squad, but not sure that equals “good.” Will wait for early reviews, otherwise will catch on DVD/VOD.)

      The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Next film by Lobster writer/director, also starring Colin Ferrell. Lobster was interesting, but hopefully this one is better, overall.)

      The Lost City of Z (Indiana Jones meets Bone Tomahawk? Worth a gander.)

      Blade Runner 2049 (Hope this is worthy. Need to watch the original again.)

      And probably a bunch of smaller dramatic/comedy films that I don’t even know anything about yet (the big action/adventure films are hogging more of the early 2017 hype). Looks like a better year in advance than 2016 did, though.

    • Awesome list, sir. ‘Don’t Think Twice’ was a film I meant to watch before submitting but forgot about it. I have seen it since and it would have at least been an honorable mention. Love seeing ‘Hail Caesar’ on your honorable mentions. Recently rewatched and I have a strong feeling that will be a Coen Bros. movie that gets a lot more love in the next ten years (ala ‘Miller’s Crossing’ or ‘The Man Who Wasn’t There).

      Nothing to be guilty about on ‘Popstar.’ I thought that was the funniest movie of 2016.

    • Nice list, Eric. The only pick I have a slight problem with is Swiss Army Man, not because it was bad, but because against all your other picks it seems a little lackluster. There were times when it shined, but overall it was a bit disappointing imo.

      • Fair enough. But I felt that it had enough great moments to merit inclusion. And especially for being unique and trying some creative things in terms of portraying inner dialogue and such.

        And as noted, it has almost no chance of remaining in my top 10 once I see things like La La Land, Silence, The Handmaiden, etc.

        • I also have yet to see La La Land and my boss just raved about it, so I’m excited to check that out hopefully this week. I’ve seen The Handmaiden and I was let down, maybe partly because of the hype, but mostly because I feel like it’s not the director’s strongest effort. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, I just didn’t think it was amazing. You need to watch it so Dino and I can settle this. I know you’re not a huge horror guy, but did you get a chance to see Train to Busan? I’m curious to see what a non-horror guy’s take is on this.

          • I’m not a “horror movie fan,” but I do love a lot of movies that happen to be horror movies, if that makes sense. The Witch, It Follows, Babadook, etc., are all faves from recent years. Heck, I even liked WWZ just fine. I guess the difference is that I don’t really seek out horror movies. But if something in that genre gets some good buzz, then sure, I’ll want to see it and I may love it if it’s well done. And that should now include Train to Busan from all of its praise, so yes, I’ll definitely check it out. :)

          • Gotcha! You’re a good man, Eric. I was mostly trying to get you to watch Train to Busan because Dino and I have such a different take on it and I wanted to know your take on it. I’ve been relentlessly messing with him about it even though it seems like I’m in the minority, so I have a feeling that you’ll love it. But I’d say your time will be better spent watching The Wailing. Both movies are Korean horror, but The Wailing is so next level that it might even crack your top ten.

  11. Just wanted to share with you all the movies I got for Christmas.

    Dvds –
    The Loft
    Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    Blu Ray –
    The Lost Boys
    What We Do in the Shadows
    The Place Beyond The Pines
    Dead Calm
    Pet Sematary

    I think I will be watching The Lost Boys tonight.

  12. The fact that y’all include 2015 movies makes this episode so anticlimactic. Talking about movies that were talked to death a year ago= snoozefest.

  13. Still listening but wanted to chime in and say I’m in Dino’s camp on the definition of a masterpiece in that it doesn’t have to be a 10. However, I also have a hard time giving any movie a 10 on the first viewing which becomes problematic because then a 9 or 9.5 in essence kind of becomes a ten for me I guess. So Andy is probably right in that I’m a dummy.

    Also, Jonathan with 3 N’s is the coolest nickname I’ve ever received. Loving the podcast so far; I’m sure I’ll have more to add later.

    • A little explanation on why I think a film can be called a masterpiece even if I don’t rate it a 10/10…

      When I rate a film, I look at the overall quality, but a decent chunk of my rating is based on my subjective response to the film. For example, The Sound of Music is definitely a film I would classify as a masterpiece, but it’s not one that I particularly enjoy watching. It would not be a 10/10 for me.

      Also, I think a film can be considered a masterpiece for many different reasons. Rocky, for example, is a masterpiece to me specifically as an underdog story and a sports movie, different for why I consider films like Alien or The Godfather to be masterpieces. In other words, if I’m measuring all films on the same “masterpiece” metric, Rocky likely would not make the cut, which would be a shame.

      Anyway, those are the two main reasons why I think a film can be considered a masterpiece even if they are not a 10/10 for me. Stick to your guns, Jonathan! Don’t let the MPW boys or anyone else bully you into changing your beliefs!!!

  14. Below is what I submitted.

    1. Arrival – “Arrival” is one of the smartest and most engaging science fiction films I have seen in the last twenty years. Denis Villeneuve has simply done it again and might be my current favorite filmmaker working – looking forward to Blade Runner. And for the record, I had zero issue with the lighting. 9.5 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    2. Hell or High Water – “Hell or High Water” proved to be some of the most fun I had at the theater in 2016. This movie builds from scene to scene into an intense hybrid of westerns and heist movies. Chris Pine keeps surprising me with each role he takes on and Ben Foster gives one of the best performances of 2016. 9.5 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    3. The Nice Guys – Shane Black returns after the highly underrated “Iron Man 3” with this fun modern take on film noir and buddy comedies. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling appear to be having the time of their lives and the audience is rewarded for it. So much fun…9.5 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    4. Sing Street – ‘Sing Street’ is the feel good movie of 2016 – if you leave this movie without a big grin on your face then I can’t do anything for you. I thought John Carney’s first film, ‘Once,’ was a film with greater parts than a whole; I think he corrects those issues with ‘Sing Street.’ This is a masterpiece. 9 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    5. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – My favorite comedy of 2016 was this mockumentary send-up from the Lonely Island crew and while it won’t make you forget about “This is Spinal Tap,” it’s a nice pairing for a double feature. And if ‘Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song)’ is not nominated for ‘Best Song’ at the Oscars it would be a crime. 9 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    6. De Palma – “De Palma” is literally two hours of filmmaker, Brian De Palma, talking about each of his films in front of a camera and it is fascinating. If you are already a De Palma fan, this will make you want to relive all of his films again; if you are not a De Palma fan you will become one after watching this. One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen on filmmaking… 9 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    7. Deadpool – Ryan Reynolds gives possibly my favorite superhero performance ever in this gem. Fast paced and funny as hell, it doesn’t get much more entertaining than “Deadpool.” 8.5 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    8. The Jungle Book – These Disney live action updates might simply be cash cow retellings but sometimes they can still work and “Jungle Book” is a great example of that. Visually stunning; you will never believe the whole film was shot in a warehouse. 8 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    9. The Invitation – As frightening as any film I’ve seen in this decade, “The Invitation” brings tension from the first frame and never lets up. It also has my favorite final shot of any movie in 2016. 8 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins
    10. Star Trek: Beyond – A huge improvement over “Into Darkness,” the newest entry in the “Star Trek” franchise felt like a breath of fresh air in one of the worst Summer Movie Seasons in recent memory. It’s an exciting and fun adventure film, and while I don’t want it to be the last film in this current version of the franchise, it could work as a perfect send off. 8 out of 10 – Jonathan Watkins

    1. Zootopia
    2. Moana
    3. 10 Cloverfield Lane
    4. Hush
    5. Doctor Strange

    1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
    2. Ghostbusters
    3. Keanu
    4. Triple 9
    5. Finding Dory

    London Has Fallen

    The Witch

    Worst Films of 2016/Dishonorable Mentions
    1. Alice Through the Looking Glass – At one point during this horrible eyesore of a movie, I was contemplating how I could get away with leaving the theater which would have meant leaving my five year old daughter by herself while I was out in the lobby playing video games or you know watching paint dry. And if you are judging me, then you clearly haven’t had to suffer through this movie.
    2. Zoolander 2
    3. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
    4. The Forest
    5. The 5th Wave

      • Ha! I didn’t hate it, and probably overall liked it but just didn’t get the praise. I will be watching it again at some point; probably sooner than later since it’s on Amazon currently.

      • I can see how a movie as well received as The Witch can be seen as overrated, especially if seen after being exposed to the hype. For me, that movie was Train to Busan, which I liked just fine, but think it’s nowhere near as good as what everyone claims. I think it’ll be one of those movies that in a few years when people revisit it, they’ll realize it wasn’t as good. It’s also set to age ungracefully thanks to the heavy use of subpar CGI.

        • Too funny. I just replied to your comment above about ‘Train to Busan.’

          That’s the thing with the term overrated; doesn’t mean you hate or dislike (although you could have that reaction) but just don’t get why everyone else loved it more than you.

    • Great list, man. There are a few overlaps and with the exception of you’re most overrated pick, I’m with you on all of your picks.

    • Great list, Jonathan! Wow, The Invitation looks like it’s the only horror on your list. I started off hating that film but it just kept getting better as I watched it. I was very pleased by the end with the lanterns.

      When I watched The Witch in theaters, I was a little disappointed and also felt it was overhyped. The Witch was not my number one until I watched it again at home in October. Now, I can’t stop overhyping it! I think I fell victim to the initial buzz.

      • Mark, I suspect a similar thing may happen for me. I still haven’t gotten to re-watch The Witch, but of all the movies on my top 10 horror list, I feel like it’s the one that will benefit the most from a re-watch. That film, which IS on my top 10 list BUT rather low, could shoot up the ranks into the future. If nothing else, it certainly is one of the more enduring horror films to come out in awhile.

      • Thanks! I think both ‘Train to Busan’ and ‘Autopsy of Jane Doe’ could have possibly made the list, but I saw them after the submission deadline. And I had two on my honorable mentions, but yeah got a lot of variety in this year.

        I’m definitely going to be watching ‘The Witch’ again; hope that I feel more along the lines of everyone else.

  15. #Pissed

    I’m listening to this podcast and suddenly Jay calls my favorite movie of 2016 the most overrated film of the year. Then Karl who loves Sing Street, calls my favorite film of last year the most overrated film of this year! Seriously guys! It’s all good though. Maybe.


          • I do understand things like The a Founder coming out in mid-January not being included but I truly wish every wide 2016 release was always included. Putting this show out January 7th or so would not be “too late” for people to be interested. That said I also hope I’m not coming off as a hater, I do like to razz Jason but I also don’t love this rush to get the lists out. I sort of feel like The Academy Awards is the end of the film year, so I wouldn’t be completely concerned with getting my list out there before the Oscars. That’s how many groups I’m in out their lists out.

  16. Jason, I’m really not trying to troll your list, so I sincerely apologize if that’s how it’s coming out.

    I am just thoroughly disappointed.

    • Not that I care too much either way, but I wonder if including two major 2015 films as 1 and 2 for 2016 is as bad as his No Escape as the #1 horror film last year.

      Jason, you may not be a contrarian, but I think perhaps you are a provocateur!

      He just likes to get us all riled up, and he sits back and enjoys the fireworks. ?

      • As much as No Escape on his horror list bothered me, this is far worse. At least with genre classification, there is a fair amount of subjectivity involved.

        And there’s a difference between getting someone riled up and disappointing them altogether. His 2015 lists were of the riling up variety; this year is the latter. :(

  17. Here is what I submitted to Jason…

    Top 10 Movies of 2016

    1. The Handmaiden (2016) – Park Chan-wook’s latest twisted tale of a woman hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress, but is secretly involved in a plot to defraud her. A simple drama / crime thriller told in an unconventional, delightful way. 10 out of 10. A masterpiece and a must-see for fans of Korean cinema.

    2. The Wailing (2016) – Na Hong-jin’s battle between good and evil will keep you guessing which side is which until the very end. Masterfully paced, blood-soaked and intense. A serious supernatural horror film that will linger in your consciousness. 10 out of 10. A must-see and a horror masterpiece.

    3. Arrival (2016) – Denis Villeneuve’s intimate look at what might happen if extraterrestrials landed on Earth. Heady themes of fate and love abound in this beautifully lit, true sci-fi film. Creates more edge-of-your-seat tension than such a quiet film should. 9.5 out of 10. A must-see and arguably the best sci-fi film in recent years.

    4. Midnight Special (2016) – Jeff Nichols’ extended chase, sci-fi thriller that serves as a metaphor for the challenges of parenthood. Ambiguous and restrained, the story told is more about character and emotion than a plot-driven narrative. 9.5 out of 10. A must-see for those who don’t mind a little ambiguity in films.

    5. Sing Street (2016) – Set in 1980s Dublin, John Carney’s musical teen romance film is a love letter to the music and style of the time. A simple story, but one of the most heart-warming and delightful of the year. 9.5 out of 10. A must-see.

    6. The Lobster (2016) – A brutally comedic commentary on our societal obsession of marriage. Poignant and touching at times, absurd throughout and completely unlike anything else. 9.5 out of 10. A must-see for those with a dry sense of humor.

    7. Train to Busan (2016) – Focusing on a small group of characters on a speeding train amidst the outbreak of a fast-spreading zombie virus, Yeon Sang-ho’s horror thriller succeeds where World War Z failed. Rich in character development, but doesn’t skimp on frenetic zombie action. 9.5 out of 10. A must-see and the most fun movie of the year.

    8. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) – The first spin-off story from the Skywalker saga sets an excellent precedent for future standalone films by providing a new perspective on Star Wars mythology. Politically relevant in its own right, the final act provides some of the most impactful moments in the Star Wars franchise while giving more weight to the events of Episode IV. 9 out of 10. A must-see for any Star Wars fan.

    9. Eye in the Sky (2016) – Gavin Hood’s tense terrorist warfare thriller that examines the complicated implications of a modern drone airstrike. Essentially shown in real-time, the film follows the events of a single operation. Frustrating at times, but unlike any other military thriller I’ve ever seen. 9 out of 10. A must-see for fans of thrillers and war movies.

    10. Captain Fantastic (2016) – A story of a father’s struggle to raise his children in the best way possible, while coming under attack from the outside world. Somewhat manipulative at times, the film succeeds in making me feel thoroughly inadequate as a parent. 9 out of 10. A must-see.

    Honorable Mentions of 2016

    – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
    – Green Room (2016)
    – Captain America: Civil War (2016)
    – Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
    – Love & Friendship (2016)

    Biggest Disappointments / Heartbreaks of 2016

    – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
    – Blair Witch (2016)

    Four Dishonorable Mentions of 2016

    – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
    – JeruZalem (2016)
    – Blair Witch (2016)
    – The Veil (2016)

    The Worst Damn Movie of 2016

    – The Break-In (2016)

    Guilty Pleasure of the Year Award

    – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

    Most Overrated Movie of 2016

    – Krisha (2016)

    I recognize the effectiveness and, at times, brilliance of Krisha in its depiction of the loneliness and destruction that addiction can cause. But I just can’t understand how anyone can actually “like” this film. It made me physically ill and was one of the most unpleasant viewing experiences I had this past year.

    • In hindsight, I might have swapped The Lobster and Midnight Special in the rankings, and moved Captain Fantastic down below Green Room (bumping 10 Cloverfield Lane into the #10 slot on my list).

      Also, there are several critically acclaimed films that I did not get a chance to see prior to submitting my list, including:

      – Fences
      – La La Land
      – Nocturnal Animals
      – Manchester by the Sea
      – Moonlight
      – Elle
      – Loving
      – Jackie
      – Hail, Caesar!
      – The Nice Guys

      Of the films listed above, only Fences was released after the submission deadline, so not seeing the others in time is on me. However, I wanted to at least mention the others. Nocturnal Animals, Elle and The Nice Guys, in particular, sound as though they would have had a legitimate shot at making my top 10 list.

      • Nocturnal Animals and Manchester by the Sea are great. La La Land is good but couldn’t live up to the hype I had for it. Still top 20 though. Haven’t seen Elle, Loving or Jackie.

    • Man, this is the first time in three years that we don’t see eye to eye. You are being quite generous this year. I’ve never seen so many 10s/9.5s from you in my life.*

      *And by life I mean the short amount of time we’ve known each other 😉

      • I don’t know, bro. I just looked at my 2015 list (which, in hindsight, I would definitely switch around a little), and I handed out four 10s, two 9.5s and eight 9s (factoring in my HMs)!

        I’m starting to get to the point where I don’t really feel like rating movies anymore. I think I might just start marking films as “liked” on Letterboxd if I like them. It’s just something that I waste way too much time and effort ruminating over for no reason, especially since my feelings of films change over time (I gave The Force Awakens a 10/10 last year?!).

        That said, I also feel like I watched more really excellent new films this year than ever before. Looking at my 2015 list, the only movies that would have made the cut this year are Mad Max: Fury Road, It Follows and maybe Ex Machina.

        • That’s so crazy. I feel exactly he opposite. For me, this year was much weaker than the previous one. Other than Arrival, The Witch, and The Wailing, I don’t think any of my picks this year would’ve stood a chance. I’m very curious to see how you’d feel having seen all of these films back to back or even better, how you’ll feel about these over time. And by you I mean all of us, because we all have our biases.

          • Yeah, I definitely suffer from recency bias. That’s why my ratings of films almost always change over time.

            Taking a serious look at my lists from the last two years, though, I far preferred the depth of offerings from this year. Movies like 10 Cloverfield Lane or Green Room probably would have been top 5 films on my 2015 list, but didn’t even crack my (submitted) top 10 list this year.

            But I agree that it’ll be interesting to revisit these lists a year or two in the future.

          • As far as the rating goes, it’s one of my favorite things to do. Is it pointless? Totally, but it helps me assign value to a movie if that makes sense. It’s really more for me than for anyone else. Having said that, I can see how it can be a chore for someone like you who puts a lot of thought into things and has a slight problem with brevity. Slight.


            • Haha :)

              Again, we’re sort of on opposite sides with this. When I was putting together my top 10 lists this year, I found that my ratings actually hindered me. For example, when putting together my horror list, I struggled with movies like 10 Cloverfield Lane and Green Room (I know, I keep mentioning those two films) because I think they are better films than something like Lights Out and The Shallows. However, I enjoyed the latter two films more and wanted to rank them higher, which ultimately, I did. That’s why, when I submitted my list to Jason, I made a note that it was a ranking of my “favorites” from 2016, not necessarily the “best.”

    • Dino – Thanks for your list. I think of anyone associated with this podcast (i.e. hosts or other commenters), my taste is most closely aligned with yours (at least, non-baseball tastes 😉 ).

      Disregarding the ranking, I agree with all of your picks that I’ve seen (except Captain America: Civil War), and I’m likely to agree with those I haven’t seen yet too – i.e. Arrival, Sing Street, and Eye in the Sky – although probably not Rogue One; since, as with Captain America, I’m not a big fan of Hollywood franchise movies. I also think that Hell or High Water, Sunset Song, and Paul Verhoeven’s latest, Elle, might deserve space in the list or among the Honorable Mentions.

      That being said, after the long discussion you had with J, I decided that unless I was a legitimate movie critic (i.e. someone that is paid to see and review movies – or at least, has their movie tickets paid for) that could always see released movies in a timely fashion, it’s ridiculous for me to issue a Top 10 list until Academy Award time – since I’m almost always caught up with the previous year’s movies by then – and can make a comprehensive and inclusive list with most (if not all) of the nominated films (and the great ones that weren’t nominated). I’m a big believer in context – and for a list that is tied to a particular year, it’s more important that the list be inclusive than delivered before Dec. 31st (again, unless you are paid to watch movies).

      • I hear you. I’m hoping for next year, Jason considers doing this closer to Oscar time. That solution seems to make sense.

        Realistically, though, I know that won’t happen, which is why I suggested doing the list revisit around Oscar time. The fact is that Jason looks forward to doing the end of year top 10 list shows so much, I don’t see him ever changing that.

        Maybe if we all revolt and hold our lists until February?… maybe. But not likely.

        Another benefit of holding off until Oscar time is that it gives time for reflection. Personally, I know I have a tendency to suffer from recency bias, so I’m wondering if movies I watched late in the year had an unfair advantage.

        • I’m aware this is Jay’s show, but the only way the show can work the way he wants it to work is with the help of listener participation, so I vote we boycott this year’s end of the year show by not sending in our lists. When he realizes that he’s only alienating us, I guarantee you he’ll concede. Anyway, just an idea.


        • Haha I didn’t finish reading your entire comment, so I didn’t realize we were thinking the same thing. I’m telling you, man. A rebellion is the only feasible option now.

        • “Maybe if we all revolt and hold our lists until February?”

          Sounds good to me; I’m planning to post my list here then anyway. :)

    • I finally saw La La Land, and agree that it’s charming and quite good, but it’s being overpraised. It’s unlikely to make my Top 10 list (an honorable mention is possible), although I suspect, just like The Artist in 2012, it will win the Best Picture award simply because it’s about “the business” – and not because it is, by any stretch, the BMOTY.

      I can understand Damien Chazelle’s desire to make a musical – and he does a very admirable job with it. But it’s not nearly as original, riveting, or as thrilling as Whiplash, which is a much better film.

      But the problems with La La Land are multiple:
      1) Tired, stale plot: the umpteen-hundredth film about “making it” in Hollywood.
      2) The denouement of that plot is regrettable (can’t say more without spoiling).
      3) It’s a literal pastiche of many movies that came before. Even the best part (the final 10 minutes) is lifted from a classic, older film.
      4) Sagging second act, and other script problems.

      …and other problems relating to casting and/or script choices.

      Again, it’s an enjoyable film with many fine moments (and a great, last 10 minutes) – it’s just not close, IMO, to being one of the top films of the year.

        • Yes. I agree with most of this. Likely on my honorable mention bubble rather than top 10, as well. Not nearly as great as Whiplash (#1 or 2 of its year IMO). I enjoy the performances but personally I’d take Sing Street in a heartbeat.

          • I haven’t seen Sing Street yet (hopefully soon), but I suspect I’ll probably like it better (based simply on the subject matter).

      • I can’t really disagree with any of your broad statements, per se, but just found it super charming, regardless. The things you mention make it #4 on my list, and not higher, but I still think it’s a wonderful film, and deserving of most of its praise.

        More specifically…

        #1. True, but although some things were contrived in a typical way (e.g., the casting director just happens to have been at her play), others were portrayed in ways that felt fresh.

        #2. I don’t necessarily agree that the ending is regrettable. That’s a matter of interpretation, but I found it better that they (SPOILER) each found their dreams without getting to be with each other, as opposed to most films of this nature, where somehow they’d also get back together. Their relationship was more of a side trip on the longer journey, and something of a necessary sacrifice. The nature of what they’d be willing to do in order to achieve their dreams had been established, and giving up on each other was one of those possible things, though they hadn’t expressed that or realized that.

        #3. True. It was largely homage. But then again, virtually everything is a “remix.” I agree with you that Whiplash is more original and riveting, overall, all.

        #4. Definitely agree here. There is a captivating energy to the first half or so, and the musical numbers are incredibly charming and memorable. But then we get almost nothing, or nothing great, musically speaking, for quite a while. There’s that song performed by the John Legend band, which isn’t great (and presumably isn’t meant to be great, per Mia’s reaction). And a reprise of the “City of Lights” songs with Seb and Mia at the piano, which I loved, but at that point, it’s pretty slow and melancholy. A big and energetic take-home number during that 20-30 minutes would have livened things up a lot. And I love love love Mia’s audition song later, but again, that is slow and moody, so while it’s welcome, it continues to give that second half a sagging feeling.

        • Eric –
          Thanks for the response. Some elaboration on #2:

          **** SPOILERS FOR LA LA LAND ****

          Yes, I agree that it was better that they didn’t get to be together (as opposed to an even more traditional 20th century Hollywood “happy ending”), but by “regrettable”, what I meant was that perhaps a more interesting, modern, 21st century ending might have been something closer to the reality lived by 99.999% of the people that attempt to work in creative fields; i.e. they end up finding some happiness and contentment without easily attaining their impossibly difficult-to-achieve American dreams.

          That – and other rather naive elements in the screenplay (e.g. the source of the third-act “crisis” is Seb finding success as a professional touring and session musician – something most musicians would kill for) – seem to me things that only a 30-year old that has has never really struggled, but has already had remarkable success by his mid-twenties, would write.

          I understand it’s simple escapism wrapped in a familiar package (but without the great singing or dancing 😉 ), and I don’t begrudge the people that love that. For me though, it’s not really what I crave most from the films I see – and doesn’t hold a candle to something meaty like, for example, The Handmaiden, which is not only as beautiful and painstakingly made as La La Land, but has new and fascinating things to say about gender, desire, the male gaze, pornography, etc.

          • Mark, it probably seems like I’m picking on you today. 😀 But someone told me once that engaging in debate shows respect for the person you do it with, so I hope you see it in that way.

            This isn’t the story of the 99.999%. Well, we do see some of them in the first scene on the off-ramp. But then we see our two protagonists, who are lined up with them, but who we expect will rise above and make it that extra step. And of course we root for them to make it, and would be disappointed if they ended up working as a bank teller or selling used cars.

            This is absolutely as authentic and “modern 21st century” as anything else for Seb and Mia, especially with Emma Stone, who is playing a very meta character. We are watching Emma Stone, someone who moved to Hollywood with big dreams and who endured countless auditions and worked part time at a bakery before becoming a movie star – play a character who moved to Hollywood with big dreams and who endures countless auditions and works part time at a coffee shop before becoming a movie star. The dream does happen. It’s right there on the screen, singing an amazing song about the fools who dream.

            The scene of Mia fawning over the movie star who comes into her coffee shop, and then later being the fawned-over movie star in the same coffee shop, is something that I imagine happens in that town every so often (by necessity, since today’s movie stars are often yesterday’s waitresses and baristas). The big dreams do indeed come true in the real La La Land, or we wouldn’t have the movie called La La Land that shows the dreams coming true, starring the people whose dreams came true. But we also see the struggles and setbacks and failures and self-doubts that are also a true part of that journey. It’s all stylized and broad and a bit cartoonish like musicals tend to be, but it’s certainly real enough in its own way.

            As someone who works full-time in a creative field, I can tell you that it’s not the impossible dream that many think. I used to frequent a weekly Open Mic when I lived in Buffalo 20 years ago, and became good friends with 6-7 of the other fledgling musicians who showed up there regularly. From among that group, 5 of us have since worked full-time in music. So I’d say that your vision of 99.999% failing is a defeatist one and is false, and I reject it as somehow being more authentic or meaningful to focus on. We see in film the examples of ultimate success because that has both the romantic appeal and also the practical aspect of hey, you have the chance to make it if you have an ounce of talent and a ton of persistence. Sure, many people will eventually give up and move on to other fields, and that may be fine for them, but that’s not the movie anyone really wants to see, except you, apparently. :) Granted, there are entertaining stories about spectacular failures, including in show biz, but that’s not quite the same thing.

            Also, the crisis was not Seb’s success as a touring musician, but the danger and damage to their relationship because of it, and also to his deeper dream of opening the club, which the touring gig delayed and distracted from. It’s easy to pooh-pooh him as an already successful person feeling bad about not having the real kind of success he wants, but as a protagonist, what’s the difference between that and anyone who isn’t fulfilled, or who aims to achieve something bigger? We still want them to achieve that fulfillment or bigger success, whether it’s the already successful stock brokers of The Big Short pulling off what they did, or the already well-regarded journalists of Spotlight nailing that big story, etc. Their narratives were still important to them (and to us), even though they already had good jobs and success in their fields. In Seb’s case, the crisis is also the spectre of regret or “what if?”, which is a very real consideration. Sure, it’s easier to regret when you have a steady gig and food on your plate, but so what… it’s still a worthy personal adversary.

            • Eric –

              Mark, it probably seems like I’m picking on you today.

              Not at all – I appreciate it. I post my opinions in the hope they’ll spark a dialogue… just please don’t take my criticisms of the film(s) as a critique of your enjoyment of them :)

              This is absolutely as authentic and “modern 21st century” as anything else for Seb and Mia, especially with Emma Stone, who is playing a very meta character.

              I’m not sure why you would think this is a modern, 21st century tale when we’ve seen it so often before. “A Star is Born” was remade three different times in the 20th century – and “The Artist” was just another version of that same story. The main difference in those films is that just one of the characters achieves their ultimate dream, while in “La La Land”, they both do.

              As someone who works full-time in a creative field, I can tell you that it’s not the impossible dream that many think…So I’d say that your vision of 99.999% failing is a defeatist one and is false, and I reject it as somehow being more authentic or meaningful to focus on.

              I think you’ve misunderstood my point. I went to art school 35 years ago, and since then, I continue to create my work, have exhibitions, sell art, etc. while supplementing my income with the occasional teaching at the art academies here in NL. So I’ve been working full-time for most of my adult life in my chosen creative field.

              My figure of 99.999% was not about the millions of us that achieve reasonable success working in our fields; it was about the 0.001% of people that achieve the absolute pinnacle of success (or their dreams). And BTW, that 0.001% is completely made up – I’m sure the number of actresses that become major movie stars (out of actresses trying to make it in L.A.) is actually much much lower 😉

              We see in film the examples of ultimate success because that has both the romantic appeal and also the practical aspect of hey, you have the chance to make it if you have an ounce of talent and a ton of persistence. Sure, many people will eventually give up and move on to other fields…

              Again, I didn’t mean moving on to other fields. The question I ask when watching a film like this is: how would the (admittedly) charming, final 5 minutes have played differently if, instead of being a movie star staying at the Chateau Marmont, Mia had simply been a steadily-employed actress with a small recurring role in a TV show – and Seb had been playing the type of music he loves, but at someone else’s club? Would it be less poignant or more bittersweet? I think we would both agree that it would be, at the very least, closer to reality – and perhaps more unique (and thus more potent) for this genre of film.

              …but that’s not the movie anyone really wants to see, except you, apparently. :)

              One thing we were taught in school is that art (and here I’m referring to all the visual and performing arts) propagates a political agenda – conscious or otherwise. Even though Chazelle can claim he’s simply making escapist fare, it is, nonetheless, a particular form of escapist fare at a particular moment in history (i.e. a celebrity-obsessed, post-Trump world, suffering from an enormous income-inequality gap [currently at the level of the 1920’s before the Great Depression]).

              I just think it’s possible to hold art (even escapist fare) to a high standard – and want it to be, at a minimum, conscious of any political subtext that might be read – but preferably to comment on or subvert those readings.

              I realize this is certainly *not* the majority opinion (which is why Hollywood makes so much escapist fare), but I think there are many great ‘escapist’ films this year that do precisely that (The Witch being a prime example) :)

            • Eric –

              BTW, our conversations have made me want to re-watch “The Witch” (since I haven’t seen it since it was released about 10 months ago), and see if my impressions of it (and especially the ending) differ upon a second viewing :)

  18. Good to see sing Street ion the list. Nice to see a nice story without CGI and a massive level of seriousness. In 2017 – watch out for the young offenders

  19. I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. One thing I truly love about MPW “list” episodes is that we get consistent participation from all of the hosts, start to finish. I like that the microphone gets passed, so to speak, at regular intervals. Not only do we get to hear from everyone, but there tends to be more snarky byplay and better overall discussion among the hosts than is sometimes the case on a given late summer weekend (hypothetically speaking; I’m not thinking of any one episode in particular) when Jason has seen four or five new releases, Karl has seen one, GCR hasn’t seen any, and Candy is playing hooky. (I don’t mean to crack on any of the episodes where full participation is more nebulous, incidentally. MPW is my jam. It’s just more fun when all of the hosts are both present and engaged.)

    (Side note to Jason, since Mandy never reads the comments: Please let Candy know that this is MPW, not “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash. I think I speak for everyone when I say that Blandy should most certainly stay. But what’s up with the randomness and inconsistency of the past many weeks? Come on, Handy, your public needs you.)

    While I’m on the record with my own opinion about how Jason should address the ongoing Year of Release conundrum, I somewhat contrarily don’t mind that he did what he did with “The Revenant” and “Room.” I understand his reasoning and I’m fine with being reminded of some powerful films that maybe aren’t being actively discussed by cinephiles everywhere at the moment. Actually, one thing I enjoyed a great deal about this episode was the parallel between Jay’s take on “The Revenant” and Ryan’s take on “The Witch.” Two fascinating films that many people might not necessarily choose to watch over and over again.

    To continue in that vein, my own Best of 2016 list was most closely aligned with GCR; we agree on the two best films of the year. I put “Kubo” first and “The Witch” second, but both films got me hugely fired up and I thoroughly enjoyed both viewing experiences. I may never watch “The Witch” again, but it wouldn’t be so much because I can’t handle subjecting myself to all of the existential terror and soul-deadening embrace of pure evil. For me, some movies are just engineered to be watched over and over again, and others not so much. Part of the power of “The Witch” is seeing it for the first time. I think I counterintuitively used the word “glorious” to describe the final 20-ish minutes (Jay had Ryan read my blurb on the episode), and it really was a total rush to be thrilled and chilled (so very, very chilled) by each Next Thing that happens. In that context, at the end of such a marvelously timed and executed buildup, the final few images of the film are masterfully composed and unshakably vivid. It’s a fantastic film, and I would revel in its peerless craftsmanship no matter how many times I watched it. But for me, at least, I don’t think the full magic (black magic, naturally) could ever be replicated again. It was built to blow my socks off and give me an unforgettable thrill one time … and I’m fine with that. I’d rather have the full power of that first experience remain intact and undiminished.

    Of course, I’m not always sure which movies I love will be the ones that I go back to over and over again. That’s a function of time and often, for me, takes years to settle in. Probably the most recent film to capture my heart that way is the Coen Brothers version of “True Grit.”

  20. Here’s a mildly amusing P.S. for the dedicated listeners who soldiered on to the very end of the episode: I flatter myself that Karl was joking when he groaned after Jay announced that I had won his digital copy of “Star Trek Beyond.” Either way, though, not to worry, Mr. Huddleston, because the joke’s on “film critic Cody Clark.” Jay didn’t mention this, but I listed “Star Trek Beyond” as my BDOTY (Biggest Disappointment of the Year) for 2016.

    I didn’t think it was terrible per se. I like the reboot cast (and really enjoyed the first two films, which I own) and think adding Simon Pegg to the screenwriting mix was a solid creative step that paid off some already, and could potentially pay off more in the future (particularly if he were given the chance to write his own take from scratch). I had just hoped for something better and more satisfying, particularly after all of the early “Say, this thing’s actually pretty good” praise began to emerge. Interestingly, there were far more films in 2016 that met or exceeded my expectations than came up short of them.

    Also, please don’t anyone interpret this comment to mean that I don’t want my free copy of “Star Trek Beyond.” I never win stuff, so I am definitely claiming my prize. And hey, free digital movie! :-)

  21. Just want to point out ONE thing to the LISTENERSHIP of Movie Podcast Weekly, especially to Dino and Juan … Indeed, all those who are coming after me for including “The Revenant” on my list… Remember that the COLLECTIVE lists were compiled from 37 listeners (in case you need those: Kevin Z., Christie in Texas, RedCap Jack, Dino, Film critic Cody Clark, Dark Mark, Juan in Texas, DJ Godzilla, Mario, Saif, Leigh and Jensen B. from Canada, Eric Herman, Matt the Marvel and Zack, Michal, Natalie Pyles, Drew F., Jenifer, Marc 2314, Sal Roma, Arturo in Mexico, Jonathan W., Vance, Jody B. from Ohio, K. Porter from Pennsylvania, Smitty, Mack R., Shane W. from the UK, Con, Wild Man Willis Wheeler from D.C., Paul D. from Australia, Dan C. from the UK, Jason Dragon, Dick S. in Colorado, Brandon from Florida, and Adam U).

    So, let’s review the results of the tally. Notice:

    MPW Collector Listenership’s Honorable Mention of 2016 (#11-15)
    **11. The Revenant**
    12. Captain Fantastic
    13. Don’t Breathe
    14. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
    15. The Nice Guys

    What does No. 11 say, Dino, Juan? I am not alone, Sirs. “The Revenant” just BARELY missed being in the Collective Listener Top 10.

    Obviously, a number of your fellow listeners considered it for this year, as well. So…

    Stop it, Bears!

    • Just because a few other people were also wrong does not make it right, Jason. And I think deep down, you know this to be true.

      Out of curiosity, how many actual people from the listener submissions had The Revenant on their list? Because, remember, a vote for #1 gives a movie 12 points in your scale, so that could have just been one or two people having it high up on their list.

    • To be clear, I didn’t have an issue with Jay’s “Revenant” submission. Either there has to be one set of rules for everyone to follow on year of release, or just accept what people submit. Like you guys mentioned in your discussion, it’s really the academy’s fault for this argument. If the Academy would make only movies that are wide released between Jan-Dec eligible for awards, I think as a collective group, we’d be more on the same page. My argument was simply that by making Christmas Eve the deadline to submit your lists, you have two weekends or so of movie releases that will never be considered for your Top Ten list.

    • Sweet Jay, a pool of 37 people is not that great representation for your whole listenership, which is in the thousands, I assume. If it had been a few hundred voters, then I’d be less inclined to fight you on this matter, but 37?! Come on, bro.

      • I can’t take issue with J’s choice of The Revenant, or anyone else choosing that, because by the rules given, it was allowed to include that if you wanted to. Whether that should be allowed or not is another story, and of course we’ve already gone over that ad nauseum. (Move the Top 10 show to February next year!!)

        I would call shenanigans on choosing Room, though. Much as I adore that movie and am happy to hear any more love given to it, that came out well before the end of 2015. I believe I even mentioned when it was in theaters in SLC, and I think that was November of 2015 (I’ll check that later). If you didn’t happen to see it until January or February of 2016, fine, but it shouldn’t have taken a space on the 2016 list if you had a reasonable opportunity to see it in 2015. The Revenant was different in that sense, being one of those films released in very limited areas right before year-end and only wide in January.

        Btw, I agree with Ryan about The Revenant… I loved it and gave it a 9, but have no major desire to ever see it again.

        • Eric, you’re right in that it follows the rules given, but it also exemplifies why the rules / current system is so flawed. The Revenant is the very reason I argued against Jason’s year of release rules in the first place – because we all knew how much he loved that movie, and it would for sure be #1 on his 2016 list. And taste aside, that’s completely wrong to do when it was all over the awards season for 2015 movies.

        • Here’s the evidence… both that J had ample time and opportunity to see Room in 2015, and that he ignores my comments. 😀

          Eric Herman on Nov. 25, 2015 said:
          I also want to note that Room is now playing in SLC, so I hope you guys get a chance to see that.

          Eric Herman on Dec. 9, 2015 said:
          And again, go see Room while you can. I may be a broken record until that happens.

          Eric Herman on Dec. 22, 2015 said:
          Btw, still no Room? You guys should really see that before making top 10s. Still playing at a couple of theaters in SLC.

          For your 2015 Top 10, you could have mentioned Room as one that you didn’t get to see in time, and then follow up with a full-review when you finally saw it (which you did). But no way should it have been on a Best of 2016 list.

          Btw, now that I now about the formatting tags, I will apologize for the overuse/misuse/abuse of them, as demonstrated in my previous post (and possibly this one, once I see it posted), where one missed tag caused some extra italicization (is that a word?). I wish there was some way to edit posts after the fact. (Or is there?)

  22. I watched my Guilty Pleasure (Popstar) again last night, and it occurs to me that there was no category for “Most Underrated,” which isn’t the same thing as a guilty pleasure, necessarily. My Most Underrated film of 2016, especially by MPW host standards, would be Hail Caesar!

    I gave it an 8 and put it in the middle tier of Coen films, but it’s still terrific by any normal standards. Some fantastic production numbers that pay homage to classic Hollywood; some brilliantly clever and funny scenes (the religious leader discussion, the Ralph Fiennes dialogue coaching, Frances McDormand’s editing room, Jonah Hill’s accounting, etc.); a breakthrough performance for Alden Ehrenreich; a great anchoring lead role for Josh Brolin, with a nice Christ-type parallel, and a wonderful climactic scene (which was unfortunately spoiled of some of its impact by the trailer).

    It has faults and missed opportunities, too, which is why I wouldn’t consider it in the upper echelon of Coen movies. But damn, it is really great in a lot of ways, and probably the one film where I differed the most from all of the MPW hosts (usually it’s just J who hates the cinema!).

  23. La La Land finally came to my town. A big snooze, really.

    No, I’m kidding! I loved it. So many wonderful moments. Ryan Gosling was very good, but Emma Stone was soooooo great. I don’t have a thing for her like some of you guys, but after this, I am totally in awe of her as an actress. Astounding performance.

    Story-wise, it followed a pretty standard type of narrative, but also diverged enough from expectation to remain very engaging. There was that incredible audition song; the brilliantly trippy closing number; the amazing opening number on the off-ramp, the lovely song-and-dance Gosling and Stone do out at night on a park bench… and really so many more great scenes. So much artistry and visual creativity throughout, in big and small ways. I loved many little moments like when there’s a musical number at a pool party, and at a certain point it hits a break, but then someone jumps in the pool and that crashes it to start up again.

    It wasn’t perfect. Dragged just a bit about 2/3 in, and some aspects of it felt more 2-dimensional than 3-dimensional. But it’s a 9.5 for me, and will easily jump into 3rd place on my Top 10. And it probably deserves #1, but I’m stubbornly holding out for Sing Street and Captain Fantastic, which both had a bit more personal resonance for me.

    I’m already planning to see it again next week. Do not miss this on a big screen, folks!

  24. I watched TONI ERDMANN over three days. Not sure exactly what to say about this film. It definitely has a unique charm to it. Hard to recommend widely, though, because at 2 hours and 40 minutes, it will likely not be to the liking of many with its pacing. But for a peculiar and amusing piece of cinema, it’s definitely worth a look. Actually, it reminded me in some respects of last year’s Victoria. It’s not shot in real time, and has a totally different tone, but it takes its sweet time to really show things developing with characters, and then does pay them off pretty well towards the end. And like Victoria, you’ll probably feel like at least 20 minutes could have been shaved without losing its effectiveness.

    It’s about an older guy who is a bit of a goofball and prankster. He gets in touch with his daughter, who has turned out to be a very serious business woman, and he kind of follows her around, inserting himself into some of her social and business interactions as a character he names Toni Erdmann. There is a cringe factor to some of this… not quite early Michael Scott levels… but close, as we can feel how his presence is affecting her. But as you might imagine (though doubtfully in a way you would imagine), there is some catharsis and pay off for everything.

    As it went on, I found myself chuckling almost every time Toni Erdmann showed up. There is also a rendition of a Whitney Houston song that has some importance and impact, and a scene of nudity and a monster costume that are amusing and poignant.

    I don’t think I’ll have a desire to see it again, but I’m glad to have watched it. I give it an 8.

  25. 1.) Top 10 Movies of 2016

    (Having not seen A Monster Calls, Patriots Day, The Founder, Live by Night, Paterson, & Dirty Grandpa)

    (2 points) = 10. Hacksaw Ridge
    Mel Gibson is the greatest action director on Earth, bringing it once again in this poignant true story. The battlefield scenes of Desmond Doss, are the most nail gnawing moments of film in 2016. I was never a big Andrew Garfield fan, though he’s truly great here. Will someone give Mel a Marvel movie already????
    8/10 – Jason Dragon

    (3 points) = 9. Train to Busan
    The most fun I’ve had watching a zombie film this century (28 Days Later isn’t). It knows exactly what it’s trying to be & holds nothing back in doing so. It’s a father / daughter character study, surrounded by flesh eaters. It’s as if Dustin Hoffman & Justin Henry, in Kramer vs. Kramer, encountered the living dead.
    8/10 – Jason Dragon

    (4 points) = 8. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
    The wittiest film of the year. New Zealand has knocked it out of the park three years in a row; giving us Housebound in 2014 & What We Do in the Shadows last year (also done by Taikia Waititi). On a personal level, only Sing Street gave me a better theatre viewing experience this year. Sam Neil is at his best.
    9/10 – Jason Dragon

    (5 points) 7. The Invitation
    This film is a hypnotic drug. It pulls you in from the opening car incident, to the jaw plummeting conclusion. Regarding 2016 American horror cinema, it’s “the” go to cerebral film. Logan Marshall-Green, in a discreet performance, commands the screen. Check out the series, Quarry to ascertain his talent.
    9/10 – Jason Dragon

    (6 points) 6. Sing Street
    My favorite theatre experience of 2016. Sometimes we, regardless of where our hearts & minds are at, need to be uplifted. A lovely film about letting nothing get in the way of your dreams. Maybe I’m alone here, but makes a good double-bill with Saturday Night Fever. The gymnasium scene is cinema bliss.
    10/10 – Jason Dragon

    (7 points) = 5. Green Room
    Jeremy Saulnier was the only filmmaker this year who could get me to the theatre for multiple viewings of a single movie. I was flabbergasted by all the bad decisions the band made from the start of the film, all the way through the siege. This is my personal favorite horror release since The House of the Devil (2009).
    10/10 – Jason Dragon

    (8 points) = 4. The Handmaiden
    Park Chain-wook is a master, having directed at least five brilliant films. This picture is broken into three parts, & after the first one closes, this near flawless thriller owns you. Even upon a recent repeat viewing, the twist & turns take a back seat. It’s the four main flawed characters that take control here.
    10/10 – Jason Dragon

    (9 points) = 3. The Lobster
    I’m sure a flood of repulsion will cling to me with this pick. I’ve been following Yorgos Lanthimos’ career closely since Dogtooth. He is a unique voice in film today, making this both easy & a pleasure to label a masterpiece. Equally funny & devastatingly dramatic at times, with solid performances throughout.
    10/10 – Jason Dragon

    (10 points) = 2. The Wailing
    South Korea makes the best films in the world. This picture is a modern masterwork of possession horror. A Japanese man comes to a small town, where change soon follows. Is he responsible for the bedlam or are there greater coincidences taking place? Na Hong-jin has made his third masterpiece.
    10/10 – Jason Dragon

    (12 points) = 1. Manchester by the Sea
    A film so real in its execution, the audience should feel as if they’re eavesdropping on the cast. This is filled with dense organic acting from an impeccable script. Casey Affleck clocked in the best lead performance of 2016. There is a scene concerning a gun that is a severe emotional punch to the gut.
    10/10 – Jason Dragon

    2.) Honorable Mentions of 2016

    15. 13 Hours
    I still cannot get over the fact that Michael Bay is behind this, & it’s his lowest box office earner. An indelible true story of courage. Masterful kinetic direction & first rate dynamic editing, are found readily throughout the film. It’s unfortunate he keeps flocking back to that awful robot series. Stop it, bear!
    8/10 – Jason Dragon

    14. Moonlight
    This might be the grimmest viewing experience of 2016. We see three separate stages of a male life, with a different actor playing each one. The lovely Naomie Harris is unrecognizable as the mother. She vanishes into her role, which is sure to bring attention during this awards season. Bring the tissues.
    8/10 – Jason Dragon

    13. The Nice Guys
    I thought about placing Triple 9 in this spot. Yet, I went with the one that is beyond entertaining from the push of play to the roll of credits. The chemistry between the two leads is uncanny. For all us Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang fans, it feels like Shane Black placed this story within that world; almost “sidequel” like.
    8/10 – Jason Dragon

    12. Hell or High Water
    This film fell significantly out of my top ten after a second viewing. Jeff Bridges, a Ranger on the hunt, is the true star here. Hopefully the academy doesn’t leave him behind. The story loses some steam after we experience the first few bank robberies. The final scene is worth the viewing experience alone.
    8/10 – Jason Dragon

    11. La La Land
    Woody Allen once made a musical called, Everyone Says I Love You (1996). This year, Damien Chazelle remade Annie Hall (1977) into a musical. That’s not a knock, having enjoyed a hell of a la la of this. It’s my favorite of the genre since Sweeney Todd (2007). It’s just hard to imagine why this will win best picture. Whiplash is a far superior viewing experience.
    8/10 – Jason Dragon

    3.) Biggest Disappointments / Heartbreaks of 2016

    5. Billy Lynne’s Long Halftime Walk
    It’s challenging for Ang Lee to disillusion me. His Oscar for Life of Pi was well deserved, but this film is incapable of displaying his unbelievable talent. However, having to do with our incredible military, I can’t completely bash this. That’s why I strategically placed it as far away from the first slot as possible.
    6/10 – Jason Dragon

    4. Love & Friendship
    I truly did not want to place this film on the list. Whit Stillman made three of my favorite films of the nineties; Metropolitan, Barcelona, & The Last Days of Disco. I truly do enjoy this film but not at the level of what 98% on Rotten Tomatoes states. The heartbreak is that Mr. Stillman rarely makes new movies.
    6/10 – Jason Dragon

    3. Knight of Cups
    What has happened to Terrence Malick? I adore his first five pictures, which include three masterpieces. To the Wonder was one of the worst films of 2013. That movie was unfocused with lazy direction. This one feels like an upgraded sequel to that. Though, he is still the master at narration.
    6/10 – Jason Dragon

    2. Café Society
    I’ve seen every Woody Allen film at the cinema since Everyone Says I Love You (1996). The only movie of his I don’t really care for is Shadows & Fog (1992). It’s funny I mention that title from 1992. Between Café Society & his new TV series, Crisis in Six Scenes, all he seemed to create this year was shadows & fog.
    6/10 – Jason Dragon

    1. Hail, Caesar
    Being someone that cannot stand trailers, this was one that had me elated to see the final product. As Andy put it so eloquently, “There are Ethan Coen Bros. films & Joel Coen Bros. films.” Based on that logic, this is clearly an “Ethan” film. Their most ostentatious to date & worst since Intolerable Cruelty.
    6/10 – Jason Dragon

    4.) Dishonorable Mentions / Very Worst Movies of 2016

    5. The Brothers Grimsby
    Why have Sacha Cohen films gotten chronologically worse over the years? Borat was brilliant, Bruno was decent, The Dictator was devastatingly unfunny, & this was grossly unwatchable. His acting in such films as Sweeney Todd & Hugo is great, but the scripts he writes for himself have become disconcerting.
    3/10 – Jason Dragon

    4. Bad Santa II / Zoolander II
    Sitting through these sequels, released over a decade after the original, make my head spin for a second time. It’s as if the world’s most famous model sat on Santa’s lap, wishing that all he wanted for Christmas was a watchable second part. The best thing about these sequels is that they won’t become trilogies.
    2/10 – Jason Dragon

    3. Batman vs. Superman
    This film shaved segments off my forebrain during the initial viewing. Is it as bad as the film community suggests? Yes, probably. The only redeeming factor is that Wonder Woman rescued this from total & utter obscurity. The two nominal leads got a three hour directors cut? My God, we really do need a hero.
    2/10 – Jason Dragon

    2. Sausage Party
    Here is honesty turned up to eleven; I hated this to the highest level possible. I’ve seen over 120 films at the theatre this year, & within five minutes, I considered walking out & taking the print with me. Hated the jokes, couldn’t respect the script, & despised the fact that people lined up to see this food poisoning.
    1/10 – Jason Dragon

    1. Independence Day: Resurgence
    When the original came out, I favored When Mars Attacks (1996). The 2016 MVP Oscar might just belong to Will Smith for not being part of such an invasion of mess. Did Jeff Goldblum need a payday? Certainly, if he read the script. As a sci-fi film fan, I wish Ripley would crossover franchises & self-destruct this series.
    1/10 – Jason Dragon

    5.) Guilty Pleasure of the Year Award

    I had undeniably no business enjoying this film as much as I did. This was a Saturday double bill for me that started with Café Society. I’m not hip to any social media outlet. However, I was delightfully struck with its grasp the moment narrative. Almost felt ashamed placing this here, but man, have I got nerve!
    6/10 – Jason Dragon

    6.) Most Overrated Movies of 2016 (I Do Enjoy Three Films in This Category….For the Most Part)

    5. Deadpool
    Bring on the dual katana bladed hate for this one. The irrefutable true talents of this film are the incredible writers & remarkable rookie director. Reynolds is fun here, but can’t match the screen charisma of Downey Jr.’s Stark. My theatre experience was ruined by a mom bringing children. Arrival closely follows this at number six.
    7/10 – Jason Dragon

    4. The Accountant
    A pleasing experience, with a unique trailer. This left me expecting & wanting more from its obvious plot beats. Going in I thought this was going to be like Clooney’s The American. A book & film I enjoy very much, but was sold to audiences deceivingly. I needed a bit more from this “by the numbers” screenplay.
    7/10 – Jason Dragon

    3. Captain America: Civil War
    This feels like a half pound burger stuffed into a loaf of bread. There are too many carbs to digest before getting to the protein. This is masquerading as The Avengers III. If I prefer the tiny Ant-Man film to this brawny Captain America ensemble, then something marvel is absent here. Black Panther has plenty bite.
    6/10 – Jason Dragon

    2. Lights Out
    Based on an unnerving short, unfortunately this picture is cloaked & veiled as The Babadook redo. Thankfully that film has not been officially remade. Lights Out has a strong opening scene of horror. Regrettably from that point on, it becomes quite the bore fest. Trailer gives away the few shocks.
    5/10 – Jason Dragon

    1. Rogue One
    The first Star Wars film that bored me. There was a stretch in the middle that added pounds to my eyelids. I’m surprised Disney did not understand from the prequels that these backstories should remain in the novels. Both Darth Vader & Mads Mikkelsen are wasted here. Hopefully someone will break into Disney headquarters & steal all future Death Star storylines.
    5/10 – Jason Dragon

    • Cool list, Jason. No repulsion on your pick of The Lobster, at least not from me. Actually, in hindsight, one of my regrets on my list was not having it higher – I originally had it at #6, but I would probably swap it with Midnight Special to be 4th overall (and move MS down to #6).

      I like the horror picks on your list, too. Can’t wait to see everyone’s top 10 horror lists in a few days.

  26. Thanks, Dino. Appreciate the comment very much.

    Hopefully after Colin Farrell wins the Golden Globe for The Lobster on Sunday, more people will give the film a chance.

    I really liked your contribution to the MPW episode you were just on. I had a smile beyond my ears with your review of The Handmaiden. It would’ve been great to see that film get a wider release. Another Park Chan-wook masterpiece.

  27. Went to see A Monster Calls yesterday. Not sure yet if I will bump something from my list for this, either top 10 or honorable mentions, but it will be a contender for my finalized 2016 list.

    It’s about a kid in England who is struggling with bullies at school, a dying Mom (Felicity Jones), and an overbearing grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). Each night he is visited by a giant tree monster, which is very well depicted via CGI and voiced effectively by Liam Neeson. The monster is ominous and imposing and scary (this seems like a family movie, and it is, I suppose, but it’s rated PG-13 and suited to that rating for its tone and subject matter), but appears to have a purpose in connecting with the kid.

    The monster tells him three stories, which are seen in a stunningly beautifully animated style. (I should note that this is not an animated movie… it’s live action, except for these three story interludes, which probably constitute about 3-4 minutes each.) And then the kid is confronted further with his mother’s illness and the conflict he has with the bullies and his grandmother. As a portrait of a kid (roughly 10-14) dealing with some big life stuff, I found it very meaningful, and the dramatic resolution involving the monster and the kid felt true to my feelings about that, and was also somewhat unexpected and revelatory.

    It is heavy and there’s not much levity… That would be my one major criticism, as well as it being a bit long at about 1:45. But for me, this landed emotionally big-time, where by comparison, Kubo and the Two Strings didn’t. As I’ve said before, I was totally expecting Kubo to slay me, emotionally, and it never quite got there. Well this one had me weeping more than once. And as is often the case, there are personal reasons for that which aren’t going to be universal, so YMMV. There are definite parallels between this movie and Kubo, though, in terms of subject matter, and while I’d give Kubo a big edge, visually, this one also is quite visually imaginative, especially in its animated sections.

    I’m giving it an 8.5, which is lower than what I rated Kubo, but Kubo’s 9 for me was based on an 11 for visuals and 7 for story. A Monster Calls is just an 8.5 across the board. Though it is visually stunning on its own in some respects, I wouldn’t necessarily say you need to see it in the theater. You may very well bawl as I did and that’s not always comfortable when other people are around. 😀 But I would call it a must-see rental. And J, it kind of falls into the category of horror in some respects, at least as a kids/family movie goes, so I’d recommend you give it a look. The monster is truly scary, the themes involve some very dark emotional places, and the animated stories the monster tells are pretty dark and horrific (er, spoiler).

  28. I finally got a chance to see The Wailing and after all of the praise I read about it here (and elsewhere), I was both impressed and a tiny bit letdown by it. It’s without a doubt an ambitious and excellent film, but it has some problems that keep it from being a true masterpiece (at least for me).

    To keep the majority of this critique readable for people that haven’t seen the film, I’ll give my rating and major criticism first, with a titled spoiler section at the end to make two other lesser critical points.

    Also, since there are three Korean films from 2016 which many of us are claiming are among the best of the year, for comparison purposes, my feelings are:
    The Handmaiden is a masterpiece by a +50-year old director at the top of his craft – 10/10
    The Wailing is an exceptional third feature film by a +40-year old director – 9/10
    Train to Busan is an excellent feature-film debut by a +30-year old director – 8.5/10

    1) My biggest criticism of the film is, by far, the editing. All of the above-mentioned Korean films are long, but to me, only The Wailing is, at many points, indulgent. There are numerous scenes of wailing, rituals, chasing, etc. where the film could (and should) have been trimmed. There are some scenes that are dragged on so long they get unintentionally close to self-parody – and I would argue that unless one is a major fan of horror films, there just isn’t enough story here to justify over 2 hours and 30 minutes of running time (and that’s minus the credits). I haven’t seen any of Na Hong-jin’s other films yet, but judging by some reviews I’ve read, this seems to be a recurring issue for him.

    Again, overall an excellent film – and well worth seeing.

    ************** TWO MINOR SPOILER-SPECIFIC CRITICISMS **************

    2) While I normally try to shut off my questioning mind and refrain from analyzing certain genre films (i.e. what logic can be applied to supernatural things?), there are a few choices made in the script which are obviously there as misdirection, but which so blatantly defy both real world and/or the film’s logic, that I found myself unwillingly snapped out of the moment while viewing. The most obvious of these is the final scene between Jong-Goo and the unnamed woman. While conceptually (and formally) a wonderful scene, the “logic” of it had my mind rebelling while watching it. Why would going back later (after the third rooster crow) prevent his family from being slaughtered? Time would be reversed? At the very least, the backwards logic should have been followed congruently; i.e. when he goes back early and crosses the threshold, he should then hear screaming as if his family is being killed at that very moment. Another misdirection moment that didn’t make sense to me while watching (and which slightly broke the narrative spell) is the disposing of the Japanese man’s body by a group of men that never actually did any premeditated harm to him. Why not take it back to town?

    3) Lastly, just as I thought the final coven scene in The Witch diminished the overall psychological power of that film, so I also think the scene in the cave which reveals the “devil” undercuts the psychological power of this film. I think the scene could have been done just as effectively (and creepily) without the physical transformation aspect added.

    • Erratum:
      Train to Busan is an excellent feature-film debut by a +30-year old director – 8.5/10

      …should be…

      Train to Busan is an excellent live-action feature-film debut by a +30-year old director – 8.5/10

    • Mark, can you please elaborate on this: “just as I thought the final coven scene in The Witch diminished the overall psychological power of that film, so I also think the scene in the cave which reveals the “devil” undercuts the psychological power of this film. I think the scene could have been done just as effectively (and creepily) without the physical transformation aspect added.”

      For me, that final scene was exceptional, because it created two completely opposing feelings in me, which I love to experience from a film; it was deeply disturbing to realize the ramifications of how that came to be for her, but was also was incredibly empowering. You could feel the lure and the temptation and exultation of that moment, and understand why she would have chosen that.

      And I thought the previous scene was effective by not completely *revealing* the devil, only in voice. And what a voice. And this was her crucial decision point… Black Philip was offering her something more than she’d experienced; to “live deliciously.” But I think having that come from an actual goat at that point might not have been as connective for us. We hear, “baaa baaa baaa” and then she signs the paper? Nah. This was going to be her transformation, so we also see (well, hear) how Black Philip was always capable of his transformation.

      I suppose I would ask, without that final scene, how else does it end? She dies, or goes crazy, or others traveling through find the house and take her to be burned, assuming she did it? Perhaps. But with the film being a (as I interpret it) commentary on religion and the dangers of being too fundamental and unbending (the family was originally exiled for being *too* Puritan, after all), I think the ending could be interpreted as a depiction of the freedom from letting go of that. And I think that actually depicting it, especially as beautifully and eerily as it was done (and I think her being naked was symbolically significant in that moment), was quite transcendent.

  29. Eric –

    I’m not sure from your comment if you’ve seen The Wailing or not (although I suspect you haven’t). If not, I don’t really want to reveal anything else to you about the film, since if you loved The Witch, you’ll likely enjoy The Wailing because they share some similar themes and narrative devices (and are both excellent films).

    But my general point was simply that, while I don’t believe in the devil, evil spirits, demons, witches, etc. myself, I do believe that other people believe in them, so horror films that are the most effective (to me) are ones that remain inexplicable (i.e. it could be an unknown supernatural force but it could also be psychological madness brought about by superstition or disease), as opposed to physicalizing that evil into a creature (or creatures), which immediately locates the horror as something external to the humans.

    To me, before the final scene in The Witch, there was still the chance that everything that befell that family was simply the result of their own madness.

    • But there’s the scene early on showing the witch, and the later one with the boy and the lady. It has established that it is literal horror. Regardless, a thing like that can still work being symbolic/metaphorical. And I think that would be incomplete without the ending as depicted.

      • I think those earlier scenes can be easily read as symbolic/metaphorical – and not literal – especially since they don’t occur directly to our protagonist – while the final scene is more problematic precisely because it does – and as her first actual “vision” of the occult (as far as I can recall; I haven’t seen the film since it was first released).

        Yes, it can still be read as being symbolic/metaphorical – anything can – but I’m suggesting that a different ending might have been crafted that achieved the same thematic goals without muddying the symbology with an entirely new ‘supernatural’ layer that wasn’t hinted at (or perceived by the girl) earlier.

        • BTW, just to reiterate – I think it’s a fantastic film; my only nitpick is that final scene, which, IMO, just tips the film in a slightly less-calibrated direction than what came before. But perfect endings – especially in genre films – can be incredibly hard.

  30. Thanks Jason for an excellent and entertaining Top 10 episode. Really enjoyed it!

    Just want to add that your show inspired me to make my first top 10 list ever and had me looking forward to adding movies to my “to watch list” for 2016 and creating a 2017 movie release list of movies i’m looking forward to.

    I missed getting this in time for this episode( probably much to Jason’s appreciation given his work on all of the ones who submitted them). And like my Horror Movie Top 10 list posted on HMP, the extra time allowed me to watch a few more movies I really wanted to see like The Last Descent for example. Thanks to Jason and Carl for the recommendation. I had to pick it up and was not disappointed!

    Nate’s Top 10 Movies of 2016

    Only movies released in 2016 and verified by IMDb

    # 10 Kubo and the Two Strings (animated)

    #9 The Conjuring 2

    #8 Anthropoid

    #7 Admiral (Foreign)

    #6 10 Cloverfield Lane

    #5 Hell or High Water

    #4 Hacksaw Ridge

    #3 Captain America Civil War

    #2 Star Wars Rogue One

    # 1 The Revenant – technically I saw this end of 2015 but it’s wide theater release was Jan 2016 so it had to take my # 1 of 2016 A true cinematic masterpiece 10/10! And this IS worth watching more than once Ryan :) !!

    Honorable Mentions ( in no particular order)

    Captain Fantastic
    Don’t Breathe
    Green Room
    The Witch
    The Arrival
    The Last Descent- I cheated and had to add this film to my list after watching this movie. This was a beautifully shot, well acted, tragic but important movie that should not be missed.

    Disappointments( I still liked these but thought they would have been better)

    Batman Vs Superman
    X-men Apocalypse

    Movies I wanted to see( some could have made the above lists) but didn’t get the chance to are:

    Dr. Strange
    Swiss Army Man
    Nocturnal Animals
    Collateral Beauty

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