2016 has come to a close (well…. Shortly it will be anyway) so I’m here to rattle off what I loved the most about this past year — a year that was riddled with celebrity death, political turmoil and whatever else people felt like complaining about (real or not). So let’s cut to the good stuff, the best of film, comics, music and television. Shall we?
Observations before we get to the guts of this article: In comparison to 2015, this year was much weaker for film. Last year we had Kingsman and Mad Max AND Star Wars all duking it out, including breakout indie hits like Turbo Kid and Deathgasm all vying for my favorite movie. In 2016…. Sure we have another amazing Star Wars film, but we’re gonna get one of those annually from here out. Also, the only thing that came close to Kingsman in terms of action and fun was Deadpool, which although wonderful in it’s own sassy way – doesn’t come close. TV on the other hand was more stacked than ever – but I went crazy in a different article about that. CLICK HERE for my Annual TV awards.
Best Blockbuster Film
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The first movie in the world’s most powerful franchise to not focus primarily on the Skywalker saga which has carried the previous seven films, was a risky endeavour but one that paid off in droves not only for Disney but the fans as well who flocked to theaters (and would have done so anyway). I adored this film, just as much as last year’s The Force Awakens and maybe even more-so.
From K2S0 (Alan Tudyk), who is officially the most memorable droid in the entire Star Wars universe, to the almost western or early war genre vibe of a “buncha dudes on a mission” – director Gareth Evans’ darker and more grounded Rogue One ramps up so well, so powerfully that I was holding my damn breath right up until the credits (and seconds before Episode IV kicks into gear). Rogue One was like Inglourious Basterds in outer space – an eclectic and unlikely team of heroes formed almost out of pure luck, risking their lives in the most intense Stars Wars film ever made. I also applaud the studio for letting them do what they did creatively in the end – in what has to be one of the most bonkers climaxes in a film ever to have the Disney label stamped upon it…
Best ‘Serious’ Film
- Hell or High Water
Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges in a film written by the dude (Taylor Sheridan) who used to be the sheriff on Sons of Anarchy – Hell or High Water is this year’s ‘No Country for Old Men’. A tale of two brothers hellbent on raising a massive amount of money to save the family farm and doing so by robbing a string of banks in Texas. I loved everything about this movie, the dialog, the action, all of the little supporting characters (including the old man at the bank “You’re damn right I have a gun” to the angry old waitress and more).
Foster and/or Bridges should both be landing Oscar nominations for their performances in this one, which stole the tail end of summer from a slew of movies with ten times the budget (or with the help of drawing from comics as source material). Hell or High Water is a modern western, pitch perfect from beginning to end and if I had to pick a film to swipe the Best Picture Golden Globe – it would be this, hands down no contest.
Best Movies of 2016 by Genre
- Best Action – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Best Animated – Kubo & The Two Strings
- Best Comedy – Sausage Party
- Best Drama – Hell or High Water
- Best Horror – The Monster
- Best Indie – The Witch
- Best Romance – Swiss Army Man
- Best Science Fiction – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Best Superhero – Doctor Strange
- Best Thriller – Green Room
Note: I didn’t see any memorable documentaries this year, granted I passed on Weiner, which I’ve been told is the best of the bunch. Also – no musicals either ( that includes the critically acclaimed La La Land).
Best New Comic Series
Marguerite Bennett has quickly become one of my favorite comic writers this past year and deserves to be praised right alongside powerhouse creators like Garth Ennis and Brian K. Vaughan. With her sharp dialog, twisted story and original ideas that artist Rafael de Latorre is bringing to life in spectacular fashion, Animosity is the best new series of 2016 and the breakout comic hit of the year.
This is an epic tale that deserves to be read. From the shocking and epic first issue which shows the animals slowly waking up in a shitstorm that makes all apocalypse series and films weep for not doing it as well as Animosity does, to the calm moments when we see Jesse picking Sandor as a puppy during an emotional flashback in this latest issue, — we are witnessing a classic in the making just as we did with Saga a couple years back.
Best Ongoing Comic Series
The War for Phang. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ comedic, dark, action packed and all-around wondrous sci-fi epic series was in full form for 2016. I had some minor issues with the arc previous to this one, but this creative team delivered some of the most shocking twists and turns yet after 40 issues of Saga have landed into our greasy comic lovin hands.
I wasn’t sure what to think of the storyline taking place on this war-torn world of Phang, but Vaughan and Staples ventured into some new and terrifying territory as main characters were once again taken from us in stunning fashion and new developments have complicated our tale more than we could have ever imagined. Also – this series continues to be the best month to month read on stands, as every single issue packs a punch from opening page to close.
- Chevelle – The North Corridor
Chicago hard rockers Chevelle have released their eighth studio effort titled ‘The North Corridor’ on July 8, 2016. Pete Loeffler (Vocals/Guitar), Sam Loeffler (Drums) and Dean Bernardini (Bass) have unleashed what is without a shadow of a doubt their heaviest and most masterful effort yet under the guidance of producer Joe Barresi (Tool, Parkway Drive).
The North Corridor is a searing hard rock affair that is heavier than most of the metal records I’ve been playing in 2016. I haven’t gotten this kind of a vibe while listening to an album since the good ol’ days when I’d picked up the new System of a Down CD from the store and start blasting it in my car on the way home. ‘The North Corridor’ had that same effect on me and I love that I can still get that feeling listening to music in my 30’s that I did in my teens. (full review HERE)
- Metallica – Spit Out The Bone
‘Spit Out The Bone’ is one of the strongest Metallica songs ever written. Like a fine mix of Ride The Lightning, Master of Puppets and Death Magnetic — the blistering ‘Spit Out The Bone’ is so damn fast, so damn heavy, and so damn good that it’s hard to believe Metallica have been doing this for over 30 years. Hard Wired is as diverse an album as it is jacked up on speed – and this record is hyper-sonic hair-trigger quick…(full review HERE)
Best TV Series
- Game of Thrones
For My Top 10 TV shows & Performances of 2016 – CLICK HERE
Without giving anything away, season 6 has the highest body count of any of the prior seasons… Way higher — way, way , way higher. Supporting and major characters die left and right and they die hard. I lost count of how many people went out this year, but it has to be close to 20? No it’s more than that even, It’s nuts. The finale was damn near close to being a series closer with the killcount being as high as it was. Another shocker is how many familiar faces that we haven’t seen in quite some time wind up returning to the fold. Fan favorites, those we may have forgotten entirely and more – all come back and they all have their moments to shine.
Game of Thrones went all out for season six. The Red Wedding has officially been topped – yes – they topped the Red Wedding and they did so in a MASSIVE way. I’m still reeling from the finale and The Battle of The Bastards… Hell I’m still feeling the hangover from episode five over here. Season six is the best yet and without a doubt some of the finest television ever produced. Ever.