2016 in Movies

jMy music reviews for movies that saw their theatrical release (or streaming release) in 2016 (based on IMDB’s info).

1. Sour Grapes, directed by Reuben Atlas, Jerry Rothwell (9/10)

I might have to adjust my rating; 9/10 feels too low for this incredibly entertaining examination of a massive wine fraud and the wine world of the US at large. If there is one must see documentary in 2016, it’s probably this one.

Read the review.

And see it before someone spoils it for you.

2. ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail, directed by Steve James (8/10)

An incredible story about the one and only bank to be indicted during our last recession. This is a film that will make you mad.

Read the review.

3. The Witness, directed by James D. Solomon (8/10)

A fascinating examination of the true story of how “38 people” heard a murder in New York City and “did nothing.” Read the review.

4. The City of Tiny Lights, directed by Pete Travis (8/10)

A nearly tremendous revitalization of film noir within the contexts of contemporary London and Islamic terrorism.

Read the review.

5. Chasing Asylum, directed by Eva Orner (8/10)

A frightening and compelling expose on what Australia does to its boat people.

Read the review.

6. Southwest of Salem, directed by Deborah Esquenazi (8/10)

A gripping and moving film about the San Antonio four who have (spoiler alert) subsequently been cleared, which is nice to know.

Read the review.

7. Deadpool, directed by Tim Miller (8/10)

The most fun I’ve had at a comic book movie, possibly ever. Read the review.

8. Prevenge, directed by Alice Lowe (8/10)

This is a pretty fantastic low budget dark comedy with a really unique spin on pregnancy. Well worth your time.

Read the review.

9. Apprentice, directed by Jungfen Boo (8/10)

A deliberate but affecting portrait of someone becoming an executioner.

Read the review.

10. The Nice Guys, directed by Shane Black (8/10)

Pretty funny. Read the review of The Nice Guys.

11. Tickled, directed by David Farrier, Dylan Reeve (7/10)

This isn’t a great film, but the story is so incredible that you owe it to yourself to watch the movie, even if it is very flawed.

Read the review.

12. Hotel Dallas, directed by Sherng-Lee Huang, Livia Ungur (7/10)

A flawed but entertaining – and funny! – artsy “documentary” about the effect of Dallas on Romania in the 1980s. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Read the review.

13. Cameraperson, directed by Kirsten Johnson (7/10)

A fascinating collage of documentary outtakes. Read the review of Cameraperson.

14. Amanda Knox, directed by Rod Blackhurst, Brian McGinn (7/10)

A biased but still fascinating film that serves as a reminder we need over and over again: just because news coverage suggests someone is guilty does not, for a minute, have anything to do with the actual evidence in a case.

Read the review.

15. 93 Days, directed by Steve Gukas (7/10)

From a filmmaking standpoint, this is a very conservative docudrama, but it does what it sets out to do, and it’s apparently one of the most competently made Nigerian films to date.

Read the review.

16. Mascots, directed by Christopher Guest (7/10)

Guest’s latest is a little easy and obvious but still very funny.

Read the review.

17. The Unknown Girl, directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne (7/10)

This is a very deliberate but at times very effective film about a relentless search for a Jane Doe’s identity.

Read the review.

18. Keanu, directed by Peter Atencio (7/10)

Enjoyable even if it’s formulaic. Read the review of Keanu.

19. The Limehouse Golem, directed by Juan Carlos Medina (7/10)

An entertaining but flawed period horror comedy.

Read the review.

20. City 40, directed by Samira Goetschel (7/10)

Fascinating. Read the review.

21. In the Shadow of the Hill, directed by Dan Jackson (6/10)

A deeply flawed examination of the problems in Rio leading up to the Olympics this past summer.

Read the review.

22. Chasing Coltrane, directed by John Schneinfeld (6/10)

Only for those who don’t know much about him. Read the review.

23. Hail, Caesar!, directed by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen (6/10)

A mess, but an entertaining one. Read the review of Hail!, Caesar!

24. The Accountant, directed by Gavin O’Connor (5/10)

There are some really good parts and there are some really bad parts. Read the review of The Accountant.

25. Star Trek: Beyond, directed by Justin Lin (5/1)

Meh. Read the review of Beyond.

26. X-Men: Apocalypse, directed by Bryan Singer (5/10)

Definitely not one of the best. Read the review.

27. Dr. Strange, directed by Scott Derrickson (5/10)

Same old same old. Read the review.

28. Okafor’s Law, directed by Omoni Oboli (5/10)

This is a reasonably entertaining romantic comedy until a really confusing (and tonally confused) third act. I think I dropped my rating down a point upon further reflection.

Read the review.

29. Jason Bourne, directed by Paul Greengrass (4/10)

More of the same from this now very tired franchise. Read the review.

30. Captain America: Civil War, directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (4/10)

The worst of these Marvel films so far. Read the review.

31. Triple 9, directed by John Hillcoat (4/10)

All-star cast, high concept, some neat ideas; giant mess of a film.

Read the review.

32. Passengers, directed by Morten Tyldum (4/10)

Not the absolute disaster we’ve been told it was. Read the review.

33. Masterminds, directed by Jared Hess (4/10)

An all-star cast in a mess of a film, that still manages to be occasionally really hilarious.

Read the review.

34. Just Not Married, directed by Uduak-Obong Patrick (4/10*)

I don’t know if I’d give this movie more than a 2 if it had been made by Americans (or Brits, or Canadians, or hell, Indians), but not knowing enough about Nigerian cinema, I decided to give it a 4. It has no post, and was horribly unfinished, but it managed to be reasonably entertaining at times.

Read the review.

35. Catfight, directed by Onur Tukel (4/10)

A confused and messy film that doesn’t know what it wants to be.

Read the review.

36. Marauders, directed by Steven C. Miller (4/10)

So much plot. Read the review.

37. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, directed by Edward Zwick (4/10)

Makes the first movie look pretty good. Read the review.

38. Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer (3/10)

Makes the Marvel movies look like masterpieces. Read the review.

38. Zoolander 2, directed by Ben Stiller (3/10)

A borderline disaster – possibly a disaster. 3 now feels charitable in retrospect.

Read the review.

40. Zoombies, directed by Glenn Miller (1/10)

A truly awful film, with awful CGI and a nonsense plot. Read the review.


1. “Life at a Snail’s Pace,” directed by Alexandra Gaulupeau (6/10)

A mildly diverting portrait of a woman obsessed with snails. Read the brief review.

2. “Missy Higgins: “Oh Canada,”” directed by Nicholas Kallincos, Natasha Pincus (5/10)

An Australian sings about how Canadians need to be more compassionate. Presumably she recorded it before the Canadian election swung based upon promises about Syrian refugees… 5/10 feels charitable for this manipulative and, frankly, insulting suggestion that Canada wasn’t doing enough to help the Syrians. Meanwhile, in Australia: see Chasing Asylum, above.

Read the review.