Saturday, 31 December 2016

Best Movies Of 2016






Here again I present my favourite films of the year. As usual it's important to remember that this isn't the BEST films of the year, rather the movies that I've found the most entertaining; not necessarily the best crafted, most awards worthy, or most powerful dramatically, as a professional film critic might see them. Personally I'm looking for a re-watchablity factor in all these films (do I want to purchase it on Bluray for future multiple viewings?) There's a longevity factor to consider as well; I might love the film now but will I still love it in a year from now, or ten years time? Finally there's that highly subjective personal factor that means a film might have a look, or theme, or a story, or characters that talk to my tastes as an individual, more than it might to others who have viewed these films.

20/ Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
Extremely entertaining period action horror with a strong cast, a kick ass female lead in Lily James, comedy gold from Matt Smith and some impressive world building.

19/ Joy
Jennifer Lawrence (predictably) excels in this funny & exciting underdog dramedy.

18/ Supersonic
The Oasis documentary that traces the first three years of the band from formation to Knebworth.
The boys are just as talented & as fuckwitted as you could have dreamed. Fascinating, funny & depressing in equal measure.

17/ Sully
Hanks & Eckhart are great as the pilots who landed a passenger jet on New York’s Hudson River.
While not particularly deep, the re-enactments are as sphincter puckering & frightening as they get.

16/ DePalma
Absorbing documentary as controversial auteur film maker Brian DePalma tals you through every one of his movies. Some great anecdotes & behind the scenes tales.

15/ Hush
Small scale but exciting horror as a deaf woman’s remote cabin is besieged by a nutter.
Well written, paced & performed. It’s always refreshing when character development and logic participate in a horror film.

14/ The Witch
Atmospheric period horror as an exiled family are terrorised by devilish fuckwittery.
Drenched in unease and dread, with an ambiguity that only serves to unsettle the viewer even more.

13/ Star Trek Beyond
While possessing too many familiar story elements (crashing Enterprise, pop culture resolutions & vengeful baddie with superweapons) to be truly exceptional, this third entry was a step up from Into Darkness. Great FX, very well scripted & refreshing for it not to be using its legacy as a crutch. Fun.

12/ Me Before You
Game of Throne’s Emilia Clarke is just as funny and adorable as you knew she could be in this unapologetically sentimental romantic dramedy. It’s also impressively apocalyptically sad too.  

11/ Deadpool
Ryan Reynold’s super explicative spectacular. Brilliant condensed story structure, filthy, hilarious humour, memorable characters & that glorious trademark breaking of the forth wall.
Funniest film of the year.



10/ Doctor Strange
While Marvel’s latest superhero introduction suffers from an all too familiar origin story structure, it’s got enough batshit originality and tripiness to elevate it from the crowd. Tons of imagination, a typically grand cast and a surprising amount of humour. Also great to see our hero out wit, rather than out punch, his opponent.

9/ Goodnight Mommy
An unsettling & intense off-kilter horror mystery that’s tense and unsettling the more it progresses.
Freaky and creepy.

8/ Zootopia
Disney’s animation actually outshined their Pixar stable mates in this fantastic buddy cop, comedy adventure. Involving characters, multi layered social commentary, visually imaginative and genre savvy make this a surprise classic. Oh, and the funniest scene of the year.

7/ Train to Busan
Just when you thought the zombie genre had nothing left to offer, this little gem comes along. Intense action in a snowballing survival narrative, a welcome expansion of zombie mythology, a strong ensemble, and a touching central narrative that binds the escape drama together. 

6/ 10 Cloverfield Lane
Gripping & intimate, hostage drama that evolves into genre bothering science fiction.
Three great performances from the leads, cinematically shot, beautifully scored & a logically evolving mystery.

5/ The Big Short
Take a dull subject matter and inject it wit, delivered by an a-list cast with forth wall breaking fits.
Funny and depressingly true.



4/ The Nice Guys
The buddy movie is alive and well in Shane Black’s brilliant action, crime comedy.
Two brilliantly mismatch partners with Crowe & Gosling, memorable dialogue & scenes, all served up with razor sharp humour, violence and 70’s cool.

3/ Captain America: Civil War
One of Marvel’s best to date as the Russo Brother follow up the excellent Winter Soldier with the brilliant psychological thriller. All the characters are well served, despite the huge ensemble, and it’s thrills are generated from character fission, not just the one on one super heroics. The intros od Spidey & Black Panther are impeccably handled while a beautifully balanced script keeps the complicated plot flowing smoothly.

2/ Arrival
A smart, relevant, cine-literate science fiction piece about the importance of communication both on the micro and macro levels. Thought provoking, subtly performed, beautifully crafted and surprisingly moving.



1/ Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars returns with a bang in this gritty men on a mission war story. The FX are stunning, the photography old-school beautiful, the score epic and the action relentless. A more low key cast than Star Wars is used to impresses with a steely Felicity Jones flying the flag for stiff upper lip space warriors. Only a CGI fan servicing mask disappoints. A wonderful return to form for this beloved space opera saga.



Bubbling Under: Room, High Rise, Green Room, The Wave, Spotlight.

Worst Movies Of 2016


15/ Ghost Team

14/ Point Break

13/ Bastille Day

12/ Nine Lives

11/ The Killing Joke



10/ Alice Through The Looking Glass

9/ 50 Shades of Black

8/ Sharknado: The Forth Awakens

7/ Kindergarten Cop 2

6/ The Darkness

5/ They’re Watching

4/ Zoolander 2



3/ Gods of Egypt

2/ Daddy’s Home

1/ Dad’s Army


Best TV Of 2016



20/ The Last Ship

19/ Preacher

18/ Mr Robot

17/ UnReal

16/ Wolf Creek

15/ The Grand Tour

14/ Black Sails

13/ Another Period

12/ Marvel’s Daredevil

11/ Sweet Vicious



10/ Outlander

9/ Marvel’s Luke Cage

8/ Stranger Things

7/ Roadies

6/ House of Cards

5/ Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

4/ Black Mirror



3/ The Walking Dead

2/ Westworld 

1/ Game of Thrones


Bubbling Under; The Expanse, Fear The Walking Dead, Ash vs Evil Dead, The X-Files.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Best Movies Of 2015





Here again I present my favourite films of the year. As usual it's important to remember that this isn't the BEST films of the year, rather the movies that I've found the most entertaining; not necessarily the best crafted, most awards worthy, or most powerful dramatically, as a professional film critic might see them. Personally I'm looking for a re-watchablity factor in all these films (do I want to purchase it on Bluray for future multiple viewings?) There's a longevity factor to consider as well; I might love the film now but will I still love it in a year from now, or ten years time? Finally there's that highly subjective personal factor that means a film might have a look, or theme, or a story, or characters that talk to my tastes as an individual, more than it might to others who have viewed these films.

20/ TOMORROWLAND
The script is one of the most annoyingly contrived of the year, but Brad Bird’s execution is joyful. Harking back to the Film Foundation & Disney adventure movies of the 60’s & 70’s, this is an intelligent.

19/ TURBO KID
Mad Max meets Power Rangers meets BMX Bandits. This low budget gem is packed with humour, inventiveness & tons of charm. Tonally, this is a miracle of a ultra-violent kids adventure.

18/ CREED
Michael B Jordan, great though he is, is no Rocky in this offshoot of the Rocky saga. Still, this is a fantastic addition to the Rocky saga benefitted with some more subtle than usual wring & direction. Stallone’s performance is easily his best since Copland & the story will have you crying & cheering at the screen.

17/ THE HUNGER GAMES - MOCKINGJAY PART 2
Director Francis Laurence & star Jennifer Lawrence don’t drop the ball in this gritty final instalment. Great set pieces in an urban warfare mode, much musings on the morality of war, held together by an electrifying leading lady.

16/ THE HATEFUL EIGHT
Quentin Tarantino’s latest is essentially The Thing in western genre form, complete with Kurt Russell (being more Kurt Russell than anybody ever knew he could be.) As you’d expect, this is talky (and completely absorbing), violent (thanks to the gory participation of KNB) and brilliant.

15/ KRAMPUS
Krampus is the Trick r Treat of Christmas movies. A gleeful blend of Gremlins, Poltergeist & Night of the Living Dead, this is a contemporary comedy horror done the Amblin way of the 80’s.

14/ GOING CLEAR
A disturbing expose into the workings of cultish modern religion scientology, this documentary has some high profile contributors into the organisation that has clearly immoral systems.

13/ THE FINAL GIRLS
The Final Girls is like the Last Action Hero of Friday the 13th movies, but it actually works. A meta, self-referential, comedy horror that’s as funny as it is clever. Surprisingly, this has heart, too.

12/ AVENGERS - AGE OF ULTRON
Too ambitious to be completely successful, Ulton is a worthy follow up to the 2012 masterpiece. The script doesn’t flow quite as smoothly as you’d like and it lacks the joyful, fist pumping moments that defined the original, but this is still as epic and as funny as super hero movies have gotten, to date.

11/ ANT-MAN
Perhaps not as streamlined & inventive as an Edgar Wright adaptation might have been, but still a wildly enjoyable superhero heist movie with lashings of likable characters and humor.




10/ EX MACHINA
Smart, intelligent, old school science fiction that explores the nature of consciousness in a taut, three person play.

9/ WHIPLASH
Rocky for drummers, Whiplash is an exhilarating drama (right up until the final shot) anchored by two brilliant performances.
A masterclass of editing.

8/ JOHN WICK
John Wick is the Rambo: First Blood Part II of hitman movies. Simple premise, revenge in the air, spectacular body count delivered with extreme violence with the supporting players bigging up our legendary hero to near mythic levels. Stylish, a superb electro-dance score (and some great songs) with some great world building with regards to the hitman community. Roll on the sequel.

7/ STAR WARS - THE FORCE AWAKENS
After the stiffness of George Lucas’s prequel trilogy, fans finally got the Star Wars Sequel they’ve been waiting for with the continuing adventures of Han, Luke & Leia. A ‘soft’ reboot of the original trilogy, Awakens is energetic, perfectly cast, hyperspace paced and is loaded with humour, spectacle and emotional weight. Although it’s hampered with script problems (contrivances, poorly explained story elements, inconsistent pacing & unconvincing mysteries) this is a dynamic return to the thrilling, charming space adventures of our youth.

6/ KINGSMAN - THE SECRET SERVICE
Having dabbled in the genres of crime, fantasy and superheroes, director Matthew Vaughan once again knocks it out of the park with a subversive spy adventure packed with cursing, mega-violence and chavs. Constantly inventive, pleasingly irreverent, musically eclectic and cleverly cast, Kingsman is an adrenaline shot to the Roger Moore era Bond movies of yonder, with a mythic, larger than life, coming of age twist.

5/ IT FOLLOWS
Riffing off the atmospheric, synth-drenched, Carpenter-esque stalk and slash movies of the 70’s & 80’s, It Follows applies its trade to a doozy of a premise; a sexually transmitted death curse can only be got rid of by having sex. Tension is supreme since the wraith whose touch can kill can look like anybody and can appear at any time. It’s all wrapped up in a tender sexual awakening subtext with a strong central performance from Maika Monroe.



4/ INSIDE OUT
When a movie can balance story, character & subtext in a smooth efficient manner, it’s always impressive. When all three of those elements are complex adult constructs aimed at kids, that admiration for the film is amplified considerably. Trying to explain psychological concepts to kids is tough, but doing it ibn such a clear, funning & moving way is utter genius. Pixar’s best movie.

3/ THE MARTIAN
Give Sir Ridley Scott a great script and he always delivers. Drew Goddard provides the adaptation in this realistic Mars based survival story which is fast paced, incredibly witty and frequently exciting. Matt Damon amps his charisma up to eleven with a stunning supporting cast that includes Kristen Wigg, Jeff Daniels and a scene stealing Donald Glover. As with all great movies, this is one you want to rewind and re-watch the moment it’s finished.

2/ MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION
In a year crowded with spy movies, it was a pleasant surprise to see MI:5 rise to the top. The story may be Mission Impossible basic level stuff, but the execution is stripped to it’s thriller core with emotional through lines for the team and its stars. The stunts are bone wrenchingly real, the direction refreshingly old fashioned, the score gloriously (and rarely for modern cinema) bombastic and Rebecca Ferguson’s leading lady one of the year’s enigmatic & capable.

1/ MAD MAX - FURY ROAD
Hands down, the film of the year. Visceral action, beautiful photography, casual brutality, bonkers mythology, iconic costume & production design and a lean, mean, post-apocalyptic western narrative driven by a powerful female protagonist. In an age where cinematic action has been watered down to PG-13 and the sequences are diluted of suspense through over editing, it’s astonishing to experience of this quality again, sustained over two hours.


Bubbling Under; Spectre, Dead Snow 2, The Imitation Game, Citizen Four, The Man From UNCLE, The Revenant, Steve Jobs, Sicario.

Worst Movies Of 2015




10/ TERMINATOR GENYSIS
Beautifully produced & Arnie is still fantastic, but this is the dumbed, poorest REcast, most nonsensical thing to come out of Hollywood since Vin Diesel’s ego.

9/ THE LOVERS
Great cast, impeccably shot, romantic fantasy adventure. But directed with confusing, incoherent ineptitude.

8/ HITMAN AGENT 47
All flash, no storytelling., and the two blandest, miscast leads outside of a Star Wars prequel.

7/ THE GUNMAN
Penn, Bardem, & Rylance try to add some sophistication to the Taken (old man pulled back into action) sub-genre. It just comes off as dull, pretentious twaddle.

6/ THE GALLOWS
A plot you can’t invest in with a cast you don’t like in a boring place with scares that never work. Boring.

5/ VICE
A dull science fiction thriller in which Bruce Willis definitively demonstrates he absolutely does not give a fuck about anything, anymore.


4/ PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR
Penguins, blah, blah, blah, noise, blah, blah, something happening, blah, blah, blah. One of Dreamworks’ most irritating pieces to date.

3/ POLTERGEIST
Pointless, annoying remake that is mediocre compared with modern horror schlock like The Conjuring, and pales into insignificance when put next to Spielberg’s classic original.

2/ HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3
I loved the extremes of ideas & sickness the first two movies attained. This is scuppered by one of the worst performances of all time.

1/ FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
Take the Twilight saga & then make it twice as bad. A story that celebrates the abusive male / submissive female dynamic.


Bubbling under; Furious 7, Bloodsucking Bastards, Fantastic Four, Run All Night

Best TV Of 2015



33/ AMERICAN HORROR STORY: HOTEL

32/ LES REVENANTS

31/ CASTLE

30/ INSIDE NUMBER 9

29/ HOUSE OF FOOLS

28/ THE STRAIN

27/ WAYWARD PINES

26/ DARK MATTER

25/ THE MUPPETS

24/ FEAR THE WALKING DEAD

23/ HUMANS

22/ QUANTICO

21/ THE LAST SHIP

20/ AGENT CARTER

19/ AGENTS OF SHIELD

18/ CON MAN

17/ TRUE DETECTIVE

16/ COMMUNITY

15/ HOUSE OF CARDS

14/ BLACK SAILS

13/ OUTLANDER

12/ UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT

11/ ASH VS EVIL DEAD


10/ iZOMBIE
Witty, comedy/horror procedural with the cutest Zombie in town. Part Buffy, part Veronica Mars, all great.

9/ SCREAM QUEENS
Funny, meta, deconstruction of the slasher genre. Mad as a box of Jason Vorhees & Emma Roberts deserves an Emmy for her selfish diva.

8/ ANOTHER PERIOD
Downton crossed with Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Absurd, irreverent and hilarious.

7/ MR ROBOT
The series that proves all the mid-budget indie film making talent has moved to TV. Intelligent, edgy, topical & surreal. Top level TV.

6/ MARVEL’S DAREDEVIL
Violent, mature & witty superhero drama for adults. Slow burn character studies & gritty, brutal action dominate.

5/ MARVEL’S JESSICA JONES
Smart, mature & witty superhero drama for grown-ups. Ritter is perfect & the subtext exploring power dynamics in relationships is bold.






4/ LAST WEEK TONIGHT
Journalism and sarcastic satirical humour delivered to devastating effect. In fact, one wonders just how influential Oliver’s FIFA exposes were on current news events.

3/ DOCTOR WHO
A strong season in which Capaldi has found his swagger as the 12th Doctor, it’s the mythic, moving & imaginative Moffat episodes which continue to awe inspire and amaze.

2/ THE WALKING DEAD
While the end of season 5 delivered some intimate, powerful drama, season 6 has been an epic of biblical proportions.
The first 3 episodes are amoung the best the series has produced, to date.

1/ GAME OF THRONES
A slower season start built to a stunning climax with three of the series best. Indeed, Episode 8, Hardhome, is one of the best episodes of TV, ever.


Bubbling Under: Family Guy, The Daily Show, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Real Time with Bill Maher, Top Gear, Lip Sync Battle, Comic Book Men, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Coutdown.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Best Movies Of 2014


Here again I present my favourite films of the year. As usual it's important to remember that this isn't the BEST films of the year, rather the movies that I've found the most entertaining; not necessarily the best crafted, most awards worthy, or most powerful dramatically, as a professional film critic might see them. Personally I'm looking for a re-watchablity factor in all these films (do I want to purchase it on Bluray for future multiple viewings?) There's a longevity factor to consider as well; I might love the film now but will I still love it in a year from now, or ten years time? Finally there's that highly subjective personal factor that means a film might have a look, or theme, or a story, or characters that talk to my tastes as an individual, more than it might to others who have viewed these films.

20/ The Guest
Subversive 80’s inspired thriller that deconstructs the ‘unstoppable killer/slasher’ genre like Halloween and The Terminator. Sleek, suspenseful and slick.

19/ The Babadook
An extremely unsettling Australian supernatural drama that explores parenting.

18/ Snowpiercer
If you can get past the ludicris premise, this is a great piece of apocalyptic science fiction social commentary with black humour and mega violence.

17/ Oculus
It’s science verses the supernatural in this brain teasing chiller. Creepy with a non-linear narrative. The female cast are top notch.

16/ The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
It’s a brave blockbuster that chooses to depict a propaganda war rather than an all-action conflict, but this does. Jennifer Lawrence demonstrates why she’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

15/ Locke
A thriller with just one on screen character and set entirely within a car. captivating, unpredictable drama with a legendary turn from Tom Hardy.

14/ The Grand Budapest Hotel
The most accomplished movie to date from Anderson . Epic slapstick, smart subversive cinema with a comedy tour de force from Ralph Fiennes.

13/ Stretch
Joe Carnahan’s sweary, often hysterical, star-studded, unpredictable, day in the life of, crime thriller. Like Smokin’ Aces that preceded it, a wild ride with Patrick Wilson as your driver.

12/ Wolf Creek 2
Far better than the original, this does for Australian horror icons what Crocodile Dundee did for Australian comedy icons. It has the raw, epic beauty of Mad Max and the twisted humour of Chopper.

11/ The Lego Movie
How could a movie so blatantly commercial and goofy be so intelligent, meta, offbeat and outright, ball-achingly funny? Way too smart for kids, and yet with a Lego Batman this cool, why the hell should they even care. Amazing. 



10/ Predestination
A small scale time travel thriller with an idea so original it’s shocking no one has filmed it before. Sarah Snook and Ethan Hawke are superb, the script doesn’t have an ounce of fat on it and The Spierig Brothers direct the crap out of it.

9/ Gone Girl
David Fincher’s riveting examination of the institution of marriage. Rosamund Pike is on award winning form, the narrative is delightfully twisty and the darkly comic tone blacker than black.

8/ The Raid 2
I thought it would be 20 years until an action movie came along and outdid The Raid. It turns out it was only 2 years and that film’s sequel that achieved it. Immaculate and originally choreographed fight sequences with a brutality rarely seen these days. My kind of movie.
7/ Godzilla
The plot is very predictable and Aaron Taylor-Johnson lacks the charisma of a bonefide leading man. However, it’s magnificent at building tension, has realism that’s commendable, is directed with Spielbergian style and has all the excitement of a Rocky movie smackdown.

6/ Captain America The Winter Soldier
Changing this franchise to a World War 2 movie to an espionage actioner was a genius move. High stakes, unexpected humour, gritty setpieces and a climax that feels earned. 

5/ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Beautifully directed by Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves, this sequel has smarts and rightly makes the apes more engaging than the humans. Only slightly let down by an all-action climax. Still, can’t argee with apes, on horseback with machine guns!

4/ X-Men Days of Future Past
Singer returns to the X-Men franchise with his most fun film to date. A familiar premise is heightened with memorable scenes (the Pentagon kitchen escape) and strong, ever developing characters. A series high point.




3/ Edge Of Tomorrow
A surprisingly fun, high concept, time travel, war movie. Blunt & Cruise excel while the script is that rare beast; a block buster with brains. Only in the final act does it descend into a straight forward shoot-em up. 

2/ Interstellar
While it felt like a few talky middle act scenes could be streamlined, this was yet another intelligent, mesmerising & haunting piece of blockbuster Oscar bait from Christopher Nolan. A pleasure to watch hard-science fiction on an awe inspiring level.

1/ Guardians Of The Galaxy
Not only was this a full-on space opera (for which I am a sucker), but it was exceptionally cast, tightly written, looked amazing, had a sublime 70’s soundtrack and that irreverent James Gunn humour that we were hoping for. Moving, exciting and hilarious.


Bubbling Under = Noah, In Your Eyes, Frank, The Wolf Of wall Street, Captain Phillips, Horns, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, All Cheerleaders Die, Nightcrawler.