It is now July and that means that we are halfway through 2016.
Which also means that we are halfway through the “summer movie season”, which typically spans from May to August. While the delightful Finding Dory has just come out and we are hopeful for the one-two-three punch of Ghostbusters, Star Trek Beyond, and Jason Bourne… It hasn’t been the greatest summer for movies.
That doesn’t mean that this year has had some bright spots. There have been six movies in particular that have taken our breath away. There are also six more that I think could take that breath away again.
Let’s take a look!
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
We loved Captain America: Civil War! There may not be a single casualty among the main characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that doesn’t mean that this film isn’t the first one to land a serious punch. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and the rest of the MCU mainstays do character-best work in this film. It also has the single best superhero fight in film history and the most emotionally wrenching finale of any MCU film to date. Oh and Spider-Man is in it.
This wildly intense, emotional movie has taken on a whole new level of devastation after it’s leading man, the great Anton Yelchin, was killed in a car accident earlier this summer. Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Macon Blair, and Sir Patrick Stewart all do next-level work in this harrowing, soon-to-be-classic siege film. Seek this out as soon as possible if you know that you’ve got the stomach for some gruesome gore and suspense. Check out our review from earlier this year.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
We haven’t run a review for this one yet, but it’s easily one of the year’s best. Director Taika Waititi delivers a surprisingly ambitious, heartfelt, and hilarious romp that takes Julian Dennison’s Ricky Baker (you will be singing this name after you see this film) and Sam Neil’s Uncle Hec (you won’t be singing this name, but that shouldn’t diminish your love of the character) into the deep forests of New Zealand to grow and heal as people and as gangsters. This movie is one that you are going to be quoting and watching for the rest of your lives.
THE JUNGLE BOOK
What a surprise this movie was. All of the other films on this list were always going to be anywhere from “really good” to “great”, but The Jungle Book wasn’t a guaranteed home run. While Favreau had done amazing work on Elf, Iron Man, and Chef… His batting average with this type of film isn’t stellar. He also made Iron Man 2 and Cowboys & Aliens. This could have been a disaster, but it wasn’t. It was an awe-filled, visually stunning family film that surpasses the film it’s based on. The vocal work from the leads is remarkable and the work that young Neel Sethi does it tremendous. I can’t believe that I’m genuinely looking forward to The Jungle Book 2. Check out our podcast dedicated to the movie!
There are so many filmmakers trying to ape the style of “Classic Spielberg” that we are almost completely numb to those familiar trappings. That numbness is released when something like Midnight Special comes along and manages to feel like “Classic Spielberg” because it focuses on character and story above all else. From the opening moments in the car to the impossible to explain final sequence of the movie… This is the real deal, folks. We’re going to be talking about “Classic Nichols” in no time at all!
What more can we say about this movie that we didn’t have in our review? This is a perfect, terrifyingly atmospheric tension piece. It isn’t “horror movie” in the traditional sense. It has it’s sights set on much loftier goals. This is the announcement of a bold new filmmaker. Much like Saulnier, Nichols, The Russo Brothers, Taika Waititi, and Jon Favreau… We are going to be talking about Robert Eggers for a long time to come. We expect those conversations will always be filled with effusive praise.
And here are our high hopes for the rest of the year:
The Marvel Cinematic Universe seems like it is entering it’s golden age post-Civil War and Doctor Strange is the first non-Avengers phase three movie out of the gate. It’s unlikely to be a dud with a cast like Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, and Benedict Wong. They really look like they are going for the trippy Steve Ditko look and there is nothing better than that!
Mel Gibson has had his fair share of public humiliation. He is, in many circles, a hated man. That being said, a new movie from the director of Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ, and Apocalypto is not something that we can ignore. Especially one about an Army medic in World War II who refused to carry a weapon that stars Andrew Garfield, Theresa Palmer, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Rachel Griffiths, and Hugo Weaving. Gibson may be hated, but he is not talentless.
There is a new Bourne movie directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Matt Damon.
We should not have to say more.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
This one we haven’t looked into much, but word from Sundance is that it is emotionally devastating and one of the year’s very best films. The cast is comprised of Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams (who we don’t see enough of these days), and Matthew Broderick. It is directed by You Can Count on Me‘s Kenneth Lonergan. We will take their word for it and keep an eye on when this alleged gem will be released.
Disney Animation Studios has been on a roll. Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6, and Zootopia have all been incredibly solid entries in their filmography. Their next film, one about a young girl and the demi-god Maui, looks to be continuing that run of quality movies. The inclusion of music by Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda certainly doesn’t hurt it’s prospects!
STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE
It’s a Star Wars movie and therefore it will be on this list. The movie got some not-so-wild buzz due to industry standard reshoots, but that hasn’t deterred anyone from getting really amped up for this movie. A war story about how the rebels got their hands on the Death Star plans? Where do we buy our tickets?
Let us hope that the force is strong with these last six movies as it was with the first six on this list. We will certainly be checking back at the end of the year to see how it all pans out.