Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Top 10 “Rotten” Films of 2016

This is my favorite end-of-the-year movie list tradition. At the end of every year, I look at all of the “rotten” films on Rotten Tomatoes, and highlight ones I actually liked. Most of these aren’t close to being great films, but I enjoyed my time with them all the same. Be sure to list your favorite “rotten” films as well! (Note: I’m using the Rotten Tomatoes scores each film had on December 31, 2016.)

10. Blair Witch
Rotten Tomatoes score: 35%
While nowhere near as good as the original, this modern take on the Blair Witch lore was a worthy follow up. And if the filmmakers’ claims are true that are of the effects in the film were practical (i.e., no special effects), then that makes me appreciate it even more.

9. The Accountant
Rotten Tomatoes score: 51%
I’m a sucker for Gavin O’Connor’s films. So much so that two of his movies are listed here. The Accountant didn’t quite feel like an O’Connor film (no heart, no emotion), and sure, it is at-times painfully predictable, but hell, I enjoyed enough of it. Also, the film is further evidence that Joe Bernthal makes everything better.

8. Triple 9
Rotten Tomatoes score: 53%
Director John Hillcoat has made better films, but this balls-to-the-wall, cops-turned-robbers crime thriller was brutal and exciting. It didn’t pull any punches, and Kate Winslet’s caricatured Russian mob wife was crazy entertaining, even if that wasn’t the intention.

7. Jason Bourne
Rotten Tomatoes score: 56%
Jason Bourne deserves placement here for the Vegas chase scene alone. It takes so much damn work to get even the simplest of shots off for any movie, period. How they filmed a car wreaking havoc on the Strip (without the use of heavy SFX) is baffling.

6. The Purge: Election Year
Rotten Tomatoes score: 54%
Election Year is the best Purge film yet. I still think the overall concept is an interesting one, and worthy of discussion (while, of course, being only-in-the-movies ridiculous). Plus, I’ll never tire of watching Frank Grillo do his Frank Grillo thing. Wonder if they’ll keep going with this.

5. Jane Got a Gun
Rotten Tomatoes score: 40%
Jane Got a Gun had one of the most publicly tumultuous productions of recent memory. Lynne Ramsay, the original director, quit on the first day of shooting, actors dropped out, a new director (Gavin O’Connor) was brought on, etc. I’m amazed the movie got made, let alone turned out well. At 98 minutes, the film is noticeably thin, but its final act is tense and engaging.

4. War Dogs
Rotten Tomatoes score: 59%
You know, for a late summer movie, I thought War Dogs was fine. Yeah, much better movies have been made about similar subject matter, but I laughed when I was supposed to laugh, and jumped where I was supposed to jump. I also appreciated that Jonah Hill made some interesting choices here (far beyond his parodied laugh).

3. Rules Don’t Apply
Rotten Tomatoes score: 55%
I’m still surprised Warren Beatty’s long-gestating Howard Hughes film wasn’t better received. It’s far from great, but certainly better than good. If nothing else, the film looks amazing, and Beatty gives a great performance as Hughes.

2. Dog Eat Dog
Rotten Tomatoes score: 43%
I was lucky enough to see Dog Eat Dog at its Los Angeles premiere in October. Writer/director Paul Schrader introduced the film, concluding with the following (paraphrased) remark. “Some may say I’ve been involved with some of the most revered films of all time. Films that will continue to be written about and discussed. Dog Eat Dog is not one of them.”

It ain’t a classic, but it’s exactly what it aims to be, which is completely bat shit crazy from first frame to last.

1. Knight of Cups
Rotten Tomatoes score: 46%
Terrence Malick is one of film’s most polarizing auteurs. While some of his work has crossed over into more mass appeal (BadlandsThe Thin Red LineThe Tree of Life), his recent work has highlighted Malick’s obscure, reflective view of the world. The three times I’ve watched Knight of Cups, I’ve witnessed a character study of a profoundly depressed, hopelessly lost man. Women come and go, so do family members. A lavish lifestyle is entertained, but ultimately found hollow. How do you find meaning and purpose if you can’t break the cycle of your own faults? It’s a difficult thing, rebirth. But damn if I didn’t have a transcendental experience watching Christian Bale’s character attempt to find it in this film.

2016 in Review

36 comments:

  1. How big is Ed Harris' part in Rules Don't Apply? With my luck it's probably a minute :)

    I really liked Hill's performance in War Dogs, the film was so so but he elevated it and made it worth seeing

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    1. Haha I think it's actually less than a minute! One very small dinner scene.

      I liked Hill in War Dogs too!

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    2. ehhhhh I'll still watch it for him :D I sat through Man on a Ledge last night, this couldn't possibly be worse

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    3. Haha I've never even seen that. It has Ed Burns though. That's my dude.

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  2. Knight of Cups was such a dreadful experience. And The Purge: Election Year was the weakest entry in my opinion but, like you, I'll never get tired of Frank Grillo doing his thing.

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  3. I actually found War Dogs extremely entertaining, although it reminded me a lot of The Wold of Wall Street. Fortunately, I haven't seen many of these duds :)

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    1. Yeah I definitely thought War Dogs was like after school special version of tWoWS, but I still really dug it!

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  4. I love reading about the rotten films you like. Knight of Cups, to me, is profound and hypnotising because of Malick's style, although the story could be viewed as well worn.

    Neon Demon sits at 57% "rotten" and still is my #1 film of the year. It's divisive and controversial, so I can understand the split down the middle.

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    1. Dude WHAT?! The Neon Demon is rotten?! That has to be new since Jan 1. But damn... now I don't even remember if I checked. Wow, that is crazy to me. That would be number 2 on this list for sure. Wooowwww.

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  5. I'm interested in Dog Eat Dog and Rules Don't Apply because of the filmmakers while the only film in that list I've seen is Knight of Cups as it's definitely one of the best films I've seen last year. Jane Got a Gun I thought about seeing. Nothing against Gavin O'Connor who is a good filmmaker but I was more interested in seeing it when it had Lynne Ramsay at the helm.

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    1. I love O'Connor but I can't argue that Ramsay would've made the better film. ANd with Fassbender in there too... it just would've been a better ride.

      I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on Dog Eat Dog. It's fucking insane.

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  6. The only one I've seen is The Accountant. I didn't love it, but it wasn't bad. I'd probably watch it again if it were on TV. I just love that Jon Bernthal is doing great things. Punisher for life. lol

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    1. Bernthal is the MAN. I rewatched The Wolf of Wall Street the other night and everything that guy says and does is priceless. "Eh, let 'em watch, huh, let 'em watch."

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  7. Aww I didn't think Bourne had such a low score! That LA scene was brilliant.
    I really enjoyed Triple 9 too!

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    1. I thought Bourne had some rad moments too! And Triple 9 was a lot darker than I thought it was going to be.

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  8. I have only seen one movie on this list and I would have never guessed it being on this list.. The Accountant was great! It was so different and that ending alone deserves a place in Top 10 Best Movies of the year.. at least it did in mine. Camon, no other action movie surprises you with an ending like that!!

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    1. I guess critics really didn't go for it. It worked for me in a lot of ways as well, but I totally called that ending like 20 minutes in!

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  9. This is a bit of a cheat because it has a 61% rating But I'd say the best rotten film I've seen all year is probably Allied. It has a copout ending and half of the cast members are wasted. But it still has ambitious storytelling, brilliant costume work, and of course, Cotillard!!

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    1. I just watched that movie recently and I was very pleasantly surprised. Although I will never understand why so much of Zemeckis' SFX makes his films look like cartoons. They are very glossy and very poorly rendered. The man obviously has masterful special effects skills, but his latest films are not convincing. Very strange.

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  10. I think that all the great chase scenes in the past Bourne films have made me a little numb to how good they are. I wasn't a fan of Jason Bourne. It was well-made, but I found it boring for the most part. There were some nice set pieces, but it felt too familiar. The chase at the end of the Bourne Supremacy felt similar and worked much better.

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    1. I agree it was boring and dull, for sure. But as far as a "rotten" film goes, I thought it was good enough, you know? That Vegas chase scene really did floor me.

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  11. Aside from War Dogs (the only movie i have watched on this lis so far) and The Neon Demon, the only 'rotten' movie i can think of from last year that i watched and kind of liked was the new Kickboxer movie. It's cheesy as hell, the lead guy was as boring as block of wood and the story made no god damn sense, but i still had fun with it. Van Damme is always fun to watch and Batista was an underused, but cool bad guy. The original Kickboxer is still the best though.

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    1. Gotta love a good JCVD movie. I haven't seen the new Kickboxer, but hell, it's JCVD! I Still can't believe The Neon Demon is officially rotten. I didn't think it would turn, and then sure enough. Bummer.

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  12. I liked a lot Gavin O’Connor’s previous films so I’d try to watch those two you’ve mentioned. Specially knowing Bernthal is on one of them! I’ve been a fan of him since I saw him on TWD. He and David Morrissey stole the show for me when they were around.

    I watched Knight of Cups last yesterday (finally!) and I loved it as much as you did. The sentence you pointed out on your review got stuck on my mind too. I’m at a certain moment in life where I can relate a lot to that… And it’s not the first time it has happened to me with Malick. To the Wonder was released at the same time I’d broke up with my ex and I felt very connected to the characters. I couldn’t agree more with everything you wrote about how Malick's films are free to interpretation. And I saw a bit of Marcello Mastroianni’s struggle on La Dolce Vita looking at Rick being at the parties and on his long walks around the beach (another amazing performance from Bale). Some people say Malick’s films are empty but it’s exactly the contrary for me. I join his characters’ journey. Oh and I also loved Imogen Poot’s little role as much as you did.

    I also re-watched Earrings a few days ago. I'm going through a mourning process and it helped a lot... I love it so much. The scene with Radiohead playing in the background will always be one of my favorite scenes ever.

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    1. Wow, thanks so much Maria. It means so much that you still give that film a look every now and again. That sequence will always be my favorite part of the film. I'm so pleased that it resonates with you.

      And I'm so happy you like Knight of Cups as much as I did. It's so special, so unique.

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  13. A couple there I still need to see but only one I hated - Purge:Election Whatever. Just couldn't stay with it at all.

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    1. Yeah those Purge films are just damn silly. Wonder how long they'll keep them going.

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  14. Didn't you included Knight of Cups as your top film of the first half of 2016?? You deleted that post!

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  15. I've seen:

    Blair Witch: Nowhere near as good as the original, but that's probably impossible in this day and age where found footage is done to death. I'm more disappointed in the fact that it was first marketed under the title The Woods and touted by infamous hype generator BloodyDisgusting.com as one of the most groundbreaking horror movies in years. Not by a long shot, but it was still pretty scary, and I had some good fun watching it. (Okay, another complaint, what was that at the end there? Aliens? I sure as hell hope it's not aliens.)

    The Accountant: The usage of "Everything is in it's Right Place" by Radiohead in the trailers got me so stoked for it. The film itself is no masterwork, but I still really liked it.

    Jason Bourne: Eh. I'm usually more forgiving of Greengrass's style, but he really overdid this one.

    The Purge: Election Year: The Purge series will go down in history as one of the biggest missed opportunities in cinema. You know who'd be perfect to helm one of these? Paul Verhoeven. He'd bring just the right amount of trash without overriding the heady themes. Sadly, the current guy takes it way to seriously. But on the other hand, Frank Grillo's awesome.

    Not on the list:
    I just saw Passengers yesterday and to be honest, it's nowhere near as bad as people are saying it is. It's a perfectly decent sci-fi flick with some interesting thoughts on isolation. It could have delved more deeply into those thoughts, but the end result was still entertaining. My only real complaint was Andy Garcia's role in what isn't even dignified enough to be called a cameo. Literally one blink and you miss it shot with no dialogue. They flew him in for that?

    I'm surprised you didn't put The Neon Demon here. It's on your Top Ten of the Year list and it has a 57% on RT.

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    1. Blair Witch: yeah, by no means as good as that marketing promised
      Accountant: god, I so agree with you on that trailer

      Interesting to hear your thoughts on Passengers, maybe I'll give it a shot. And for The Neon Demon, it was at a 62 (or thereabouts) on Dec. 31. Still so surprised it dipped below.

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  16. Katie Winslet in Triple 9 wasn't quite on the same level as Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy but I love seeing great actors devour campy roles. As for the film as a whole? I was severely disappointed, particularly given the talent in the directors' chair.

    Ditto Jane Got a Gun, which I found a chore. Overlong and undercooked, even at 98 minutes. It didn't help that I kept imagining what Lynne Ramsay could have done with the material.

    I haven't seen the others (and I never even heard of Paul Schrader's new film, which is insane), but I'll start with No. 1 and work my way backward based on your endorsement.

    My favorite poorly reviewed films were probably Complete Unknown, a great two-hander with Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon, and I Am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House, a wonderfully creepy haunted house flick with Ruth Wilson that went straight-to-Netflix.

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    1. Dog Eat Dog is batshit crazy. But very confidently batshit crazy haha.

      I wanted to see Complete Unknown. Forgot about that one, might still check it out. And I heard good things about I Am the Pretty Thing... so I'll scope that out one night soon too!

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