2016’s Movie Report Card: Grading the Year in Film
The practical thing to do here, I guess, for the sake of building a brand, would be to start this post the same way I started last year’s. That is, I should start by saying, “We survived 2016.”
But last year, that simple statement felt like an empty catchphrase, just a cliche hollow kickstarter for the conversation. This year, after everything, it feels almost too flippant to say. We have lost a lot this year, and not just by measurement of those individuals taken too early. Beyond the loss of some of our favorite stars, many of us have also lost our sense of comfort and safety, our country has lost a little of its pride and reason, and, subsequently, cinema seems to have lost a little of the celebratory spirit that defined last year’s film output. Many justifiably felt as though we were not going to survive this year. At a point, I certainly felt that way.
But, to define a malicious year by what it has taken instead of what it has given would be to assure its victory over us.
And, if nothing else, I am thankful that 2016 has given Audiences Everywhere an even larger audience, an even better writing staff, and the opportunity for us to continue our conversation. If you’re a regular visitor of this site, if you’ve been lead here through our social media posts, or if you have stumbled upon this article by way of Google search, you very likely love film, and I think it is in our best interest to define this year through that love of film. Let’s start with some Who’s Who Superlatives.
Who’s Who? (Superlatives)
Jeff Nichols – With Midnight Special and Loving, Jeff Nichols released two top notch films in a single year, each of far different focus and ambition, but both hitting very close to their bullseye. Nichols, perhaps best thought of as a more subdued and intimate Steven Spielberg, is very early in his directing career and doubling up on near-great films at this young chapter should fill film fans with a lot of excitement.
Class Clown (Best Comedy):
Popstar – Andy Samberg and The Lonely Island crew have put together the silliest, absurdist, most welcome laugh-out-loud comedy of the year.
Best Halloween Costume (Best Horror Movie):
The Witch – The creepiest and freshest horror film of the current decade, The Witch sets a new watermark in a blessed horror era.
Most Likely to Succeed (Best New Talents):
Robert Eggers (The Witch) – As first-time director of the aforementioned horror hit The Witch, Eggers earned his next opportunity: a modern adaptation of Nosferatu, and it’s hard to imagine a more exciting combination of first and second projects.
Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople) – A lot is asked of Dennison, just 14-years-old, in Hunt for the Wilderpeople, the newest film from rising comedic superstar Taika Waititi. He speaks a mile a minute and he nails nearly every line, proving himself to be a young prodigy who, if he keeps pace, could end up a comedic legend.
Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things) – Perhaps an unfair selection, choosing a talent from a serial T.V. program, but it’s hard to deny Brown’s performance as Eleven in a Netflix series that borrowed heavily from watershed cinematic properties, and given the charm, charisma, and extra-curricular skill exhibited by the young actress in publicity of the show, I’d be a fool not to make the prediction of future success, in film or music.