Reminder: Rather than ranking movies 1, 2, 3…I split up everything I think is worth seeing evenly among 6 tiers. Groupings are comparative to other films I see this year, so titles are subject to move up or down. The titles within each tier are listed alphabetically, so Captain America isn’t necessarily my favorite movie so far (Everybody Wants Some is).
I saw five worthwhile movies in May, including two that made the top tier, Civil War & The Nice Guys. The others were Neighbors 2, The Witch, and last year’s Hunger Games, which I kinda don’t like having on this list on second thought, but I already wrote about it, so whatever. You can read spoiler-free blurbs on each of these below.
Three movies that did not make the cut were Money Monster, X-Men: Apocalypse, and last year’s Point Break remake. It’s a shame Money Monster sucked, because R-Rated thrillers for adults are an endangered species in Hollywood, so the one’s that fail make it that much less likely that studios will want to invest in them. Apocalypse however is a part of the cash cow superhero genre where there’s no shortage of choices. Even with the 48% Rotten Tomatoes score, I was shocked at how bad the newest X-Men was. I’ve enjoyed the other installments in the franchise, even more so than the Disney Marvel movies generally, but this one is a disaster. The prestigious cast is way too good for this script, especially Oscar Isaac whose villain belongs more in a Power Rangers movie. It also just didn’t make any goddamn sense. Why did they set the movie in 1983, 10 years after the last one, even though no one aged a bit? I guess I’m taking this way too seriously.
And if your curious why I wasted my time with the 9% RT score Point Break remake, the 1991 original is one of my top 5 all time, so I had to check it out. There was a lot of uproar when WB announced they were remaking it, only turning the bank robbing surfers into extreme sports Robin Hoods, however I didn’t care. A little piece of me died when Sony remade The Karate Kid in 2010, so at this point who the hell cares. Go ahead, remake The Godfather, remake Die Hard, remake Adventures in Babysitting. Here’s my money.
2014’s Neighbors was my favorite comedy that year and probably would have been a Tier 1 if I did rankings back then. The premise was simple: A fraternity vs the new parents that live next door. Zac Efron vs Seth Rogen. Millenials vs Gen X. The church of Michael Keaton vs the church of Christian Bale. The movie is hilarious and introduced America to Rose Byrne’s bonafide comedy chops.
Sequels are rarely on par with their predecessors, and this is especially true with comedies. It just doesn’t happen and Neighbors 2 fails to buck this trend. (Sidenote: The exceptions to the rule are weirdly the Mike Myers vehicles Wayne’s World 2 & Austin Powers 2. Yes, I think Wayne’s World 2 is a classic, what are you gonna do about it?) The premise is pretty much the same, only replacing the fraternity with a sorority. The generational hijinks are still funny, just not as funny as the first time you saw them two years ago. Clearly this movie introduces new characters in the sorority, but I was glad to see the frat antagonists from the first movie play a part. There’s also an interesting feminist tone that wasn’t apparent in 2014, however there has already been some backlash to the ideas presented given that this movie was written by five men. You can probably wait until it’s On Demand to see Neighbors 2, and if you missed the first Neighbors I highly recommend checking it out on HBO. Tier 4
Aside from Tarantino, Shane Black is probably my favorite screenplay writer. The creator of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Last Boy Scout, and Lethal Weapon has displayed a great flair for weaving cutting and clever dialogue within tales of mysterious dead bodies, corruption, and mismatched partnerships. I’m a firm believer that cursing is an art form and Black is the Picasso of harsh tongue.
In Black’s most recent project, The Nice Guys, a wise-cracking P.I. (Ryan Gosling) teams up with a professional tough guy (Russell Crowe) to investigate a missing girl and some shady dealings within the booming adult film industry of 1970’s Hollywood. It’s one part action-comedy, one part noir, and is a true delight from start to finish. By far the funniest movie I’ve seen this year. Tier 1 – RATED GREG
The Witch is a decent installment into the “Beware of the woods” horror catalog. While it’s not jump out of your seat scary, it has a creepiness that lingers throughout the film’s 90 minutes, which are beautifully shot I might add (the scenery very much reminded me of The Revenant). The script is based on actual journaled accounts of witch hysteria in 1630’s New England, and I even had to watch it with subtitles because the Shakespearean English dialogue combined with thick accents made it a little hard to understand. I’d love to see MTV put together a “True Life: I was a child actor in an f’d up horror movie” because the young thespians of The Witch could certainly provide a good segment. Tier 5
If you’re into these movies you likely already saw the Hunger Games finale the weekend it hit the theaters back in November, so I don’t really feel compelled to write much about it. All I have to say is that an action packed second act (especially an impressive sewer sequence) makes this movie not a complete waste of time, even with the extremely dull first and third acts. Also, I’m sorry but a love triangle between Jennifer Lawrence, Liam “Eli to Chris’s Peyton” Hemsworth, and little Josh Hutcherson is utterly ridiculous. One of these things is not like the others. Tier 6
This is the second movie this year to pit popular superheroes against each other, and boy is this better than the first (Batman v Superman). I had become sorta ambivalent towards the Marvel superhero movies recently as Disney has been churning them out year after year since Robert Downey Jr kicked everything off in 2008’s Ironman. They’ve all been entertaining and worth seeing on a hot summer day, but the type of movies that immediately evaporate from your brain the second you see daylight (except for maybe Guardians of the Galaxy which was off kilter enough to stick out).
Civil War is still a popcorn movie in the vein of the other Marvel films, but it hits each part of the Marvel equation so well (action sequences, star power, and humor) that it gravitates to a level above the rest. Yeah sure, Downey, Evans, Renner, and Johansson do their standard shtick, but Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, a high school-age Spiderman, and most notably Black Panther bring their own welcome elements to the party. Coming into the year, I thought Marvel was stale enough to allow WB’s newer Batman/Superman franchise to reinvigorate the game a la the Golden State Warriors, but after each of their respective 2016 installments I don’t foresee a changing of the guard. Already looking forward to 2019’s Captain America: Biceps. TIER 1 – RATED GREG
I saw six worthwhile movies this month, including my favorite film of the year so far, Everybody Wants Some!!. The others were Green Room, The Jungle Book, Brooklyn, Midnight Special, and Minions (what can I say, I’m a simple man). You can see spoiler-free blurbs on each of these in the posts below. Reminder: I split all movies I think are worthwhile evenly within the 6 tiers, so films are subject to move up or down throughout the year.
Two movies that did not make the cut were Hush and Legend. Hush is a 2016 straight to Netflix horror that is basically an 85 minute version of the opening sequence of Scream, only if Drew Barrymore, while still a complete idiot, was also deaf. I went back and forth on including the British gangster movie Legend, but ultimately I just found it to be too inauthentic and not very compelling. Even Tom Hardy playing both main characters, real life identical twin gangsters of 60’s London Reggie and Ron Kray, was not enough to save this movie. Hardy makes the curious decision to have completely different accents for each brother. The certifiably insane brother talks like Bane, whereas the other is a variation of Inception Hardy.
The definition of turning your brain off. Clearly this isn’t a must see but it met my amusement threshold while trying to match a giant pile of socks. Speaking of which, it’d be nice to have minions to do that for me. Streaming on Netflix. Tier 6