Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Editorial: 2016 Retrospective

2016 has been a tough year, everyone. Regardless of your political leanings or your social status, a lot has happened this year to make a lot of people very, very depressed. Even within the film community, we’ve been hit with some dismal disappointments (from Independence Day 2 to Insert-Comic-Book-Movie-Here-That-You-Hated).

But, in America, today we are celebrating Thanksgiving -- a time to remember the good and be truly grateful. And, 2016 has given us much to be thankful for as film fans. Here’s my little trip down Memory Lane of, dare I say it, a DAMN good year for cinema-lovers.

  • In 2016, the gods of DC and Marvel gave us two matchups that comic book nerds like me have been dreaming of for years. Batman punching Superman and Iron Man punching Captain America are two scenes that have played out countless times in my imagination, but somehow, someway, they made it to the big screen.
  • We got a truly Deadpool-y Deadpool played by everyone's favorite person, Ryan Reynolds. We even got Benedict Cumberbatch, who seems born to play the sarcastic Doctor Strange and Margot Robbie embodied her character of Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad. There has never been a better year to be a fan of comic book films.
  • In 2016, we experienced a resurgence of quality in the world of animated family films. Zootopia blew away all our expectations with biting social commentary and deep social themes. Kung Fu Panda 3 gave us an adorable, lovable entry in one of the best trilogies of the last decade. Even reboots were proven to be a viable source of beautiful cinema withJohn Favreau's The Jungle Book. And even some less stunning entries like The Secret Life of Pets and Finding Dory came in strong and delivered.
  • Fans rejected bad franchises resoundingly. At this point, it is doubtful that we’ll see another DivergentIce AgeIndependence DayAlice in LSD LandTeenage Mutant Michael Baychecks, or Let’s-Throw-Cute-People-Together-On-A-Holiday movies. Even new “franchises” like Ghostbusters were stopped dead in their tracks.
  • Horror in 2016 was at its best. The Conjuring 2, Don’t Breathe, Lights Out, and The Shallows blew away all expectations. Green Room, a Cannes film featuring the late, great Anton Yelchin deserves its own singular mention for being so utterly amazing.
  • Independent cinema excelled to new heights in this amazing year. Kubo and the Two Strings earned near-perfect marks from critics and cemented a new face in the world of animated directors. Hell or High Water’s commentary on family stirred hearts and Moonlight’s intricate look at the African-American LGBTQ experience shone an unflinching light on pain and rejection. The Edge of Seventeen entered cinemas as the highest-rated comedy of the year. And don't forget about the craziness of films like Swiss Army Man.
  • Walt Disney Studios shattered box office records, skyrocketing to the $1 billion mark a full month before Universal Studios’ previous record. Deadpool became the second-highest grossing R-rated film of all time, beaten only by Jesus Himself in The Passion of the Christ. Two animated films earned $1 billion worldwide (Finding Dory and Zootopia) for the first time in cinematic history. Batman v Superman set worldwide opening weekend box office records, raking in $422.5 million.
  • And let’s talk about the divisive films. Sure, maybe you didn’t like Ghostbusters, but despite how you personally felt about it, girls all around the world got to see badass female figures on screen. We can and should be thankful about that. And sure, the new X-Men movie might’ve been apocalyptically bad, but we did get to see some amazingly cool visuals and it looks like, moving forward, that Logan will more than make up for it next year.
As 2016 winds to a close, you can do one of two things. You can choose to remember that rotten feeling in the pit of your stomach that you had as you walked out of that comic book movie that you hated. You can remember the comment sections of Ghostbusters trailers. You can remember that Nine Lives, Norm of the North, and Shut In are real, actual movies that really, actually got made.

Or, you can look back and remember The Edge of Seventeen. You can remember the two, maybe three, possibly even four comic book movies that you saw this year that cemented their spot in your Top 10. You can remember Arrival. You can remember the magnificent return of the world of J.K. Rowling in Fantastic Beasts. Heck, you can even remember that movie that everyone else hated but you deeply connected with on some level.

2016 was a great year for film-lovers. Whether you love blockbusters or indie films, Marvel or DC, Star Trek or Star Wars, we have a lot to be thankful for. And, the best part is, the year isn’t even over yet. La La Land, Rogue One, Silence, Fences. . . so many amazing films are yet to come.

So, Happy Thanksgiving from everyone here at Merc with A Movie Blog. Here’s to an amazing year and a 2017 shaping up to be even better.

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