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The Best Films of 2016

Luke Miksa welcomes 2017 with a look-back at the best cinematic treats of 2016.

I’m back!

Another year full of movies is now behind us. I saw some bad ones, and a whole bunch of mediocre ones. But they will be rightfully ignored, as I focus on the best, the funniest, the most action-packed, and dramatically satisfying films of the year. Let’s focus on the good stuff!

A lot can be said while analysing this list. Three of the top ten spots are owned by Disney (with more just on the outskirts), but I guess that just goes along with Disney’s dominant year at the box office. Another note is that three of my picks (including the top two) would easily pass the Bechdel Test, which is great for the growing diversity in Hollywood.

A lot more made the short-list, but the following class of movies made for a culling not taken lightly (Zootopia was a Disney movie with a Breaking Bad reference, for crying out loud!). Also, let’s collectively pour one out for Rogue One sadly missing the cut — the final 15 minutes were absolute ecstasy for a Star Wars fanatic.

Missed the Cut:

Zootopia, Keanu, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Green Room, Eight Days a Week, Edge of Seventeen, Lights Out

 

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10. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

There weren’t a whole lot of great comedies this year. Only the Key & Peele comedy Keanu came close (very close), but this spot ultimately belongs to the This is Spinal Tap style mockumentary from The Lonely Island, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.

Popstar stars Andy Samberg as Connor4Real, a pop superstar in the vein of Justin Beiber, and follows the dramatic shifts in his professional and personal career. If you’re familiar with musical documentaries, you’ll definitely appreciate the subversive humour, but the stand-out is the catchy and hilarious soundtrack, which was to be expected with The Lonely Island calling the shots behind the scenes.

This was not a popular film — a box office disaster, all things considered — but I have the feeling that Popstar is a movie with real legs, destined to become a cult favourite.

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Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs

With the memory of Spectre still fresh, Luke Miksa breaks down his definitive list of Bond tunes.

Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, has been out for a few weeks now to mixed reviews. I personally liked it, despite its flaws, but one thing that disappointed me was the new theme song from Sam Smith, “The Writing’s On The Wall”. This is a track which lacks excitement and is, frankly, just a little bit boring.

Don’t give me that look, Sam Smith, with your George Michael earrings and perfect voice.

Look, it’s definitely not the worst Bond theme ever produced — that honour goes to Madonna‘s “Die Another Day” (yuck!) — and it’s got some nice Bond-esque orchestration, but it is mid-tier in the canon of Bond themes. It’s especially apparent since Spectre is where modern-era Bond finally embraces some of the sillier tropes of the franchise, the song’s lovelorn lyrics simply do not resonate (much like the love story of Spectre itself).

There is a rich history of Bond music ever since that weird calypso version of “Three Blind Mice” from 1962’s Dr. No, so I have scoured the 50-plus year history to present you the Top 10 James Bond Theme Songs:

Note: The classic James Bond Theme is out of the running, because it is ubiquitous with every film. Dr. No, you’re cut.

10. “You Know My Name” Chris Cornell – Casino Royale (2006)

This song fits the era so well. Daniel Craig‘s debut as James Bond in Casino Royale was designed to update the character for modern audiences in a post-Jason Bourne world. As was the style at the time, the Bond franchise was to get its very own “gritty reboot”, highlighting a raw an inexperienced 007 for the very first time.

“You Know My Name” captures that tone perfectly, with classical Bond pomp and circumstance dropped for an appropriately grungy number from Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell. This was James Bond, but as you’ve never seen him before. You know my name, indeed.


9. “Nobody Does It Better” Carly Simon – The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

A guilty pleasure. At this stage, Roger Moore was halfway through his stint as 007, and the movies themselves had skewed into the quip-laden, ‘wink wink’ nature that was synonymous with his run. “Nobody Does It Better” is one of the more commercially successful Bond songs, and is among singer Carly Simon‘s most popular songs (that aren’t about Warren Beatty).

If we’re talking about bedding babes and thwarting criminal geniuses, it’s true that nobody does it better than James Bond. But The Spy Who Loved Me wound up being Moore’s highest grossing and critically acclaimed film, so really, when it came to making successful movies, nobody did it better. Top marks for confidence.

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The Best Films of 2014

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

It’s time to list my favourite films from 2014, a year that was… actually not quite as disappointing as previous years. 2014 was a year where a larger than usual percentage of blockbusters were above average, and some were even great! Of course, it wasn’t all terrific, but I definitely enjoyed more movies than I hated this year, and that makes me one happy film-going guy!

Obvious caveat: I’m a human, and being a human means that I can’t see every movie, so this list features only movies I saw last year. If I saw Whiplash, maybe Whiplash would be on this list. Same goes for Boyhood and Under the Skin. I did see Birdman (it was great), but Birdman didn’t come out in Australia until 2015, so it saw the bin on a technicality.

You got really close: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The LEGO Movie, Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Skeleton Twins, 22 Jump Street, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Blue Ruin.

Let’s start at 10 with a controversial choice:

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10. They Came Together

The funniest comedy of the year. Director David Wain‘s style is not for everybody, but this was undoubtedly the one movie that made me laugh more than any other. The joke-per-minute ratio is outstanding, but They Came Together makes the cut for being a hilariously clever spoof of the romantic comedy genre. While I was certainly a fan of how much fun 22 Jump Street had with subverting cinematic tropes (Plainview Red Herrings is my favourite gag of the year), and 22 Jump Street was close to taking this spot, but I give the nod to They Came Together simply for the audacity to be as silly as it is.

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9. John Wick

May I follow up a controversial choice with another? On paper, John Wick does not deserve to be on any ‘Best Of’ lists. The logline basically reads, ‘Top hitman Keanu Reeves comes out of retirement to avenge the death of his beloved dog.’ That is a silly premise, but the film is so visually kinetic and self-aware that it was a pure, genuine joy to watch. Against the grain of similar films of previous years, the action is grounded in reality, featuring a lot of close-quarters combat (so many head-shots!), mixed martial arts, and inventive gunplay. First time director Chad Stahelski — a former stunt-man by trade — successfully transforms Keanu Reeves a legitimate badass for the first time in his career, and man, it’s a thing of beauty.

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Five Favourite Birthday Episodes

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To commemorate the creators birthday earlier in the week, and by the creator I mean the high overload of Sorry I’m Late, please enjoy this quick list of of the best birthday episodes in some of his favourite shows. Happy Birthday!

#1. The Simpsons – Stark Raving Dad

When you think of The Simpsons and birthday episodes, the honorary mention will always fall on this memorable episode. While admitted to a mental hospital because of another one of Bart’s shenanigans, Homer befriends Leon Kompowsky who believes he is Michael Jackson incarnate. Leon inevitably helps Bart with a birthday present for Lisa that will last through the ages.

#2. Futurama – I Second That Emotion

Leila and the gang throw a birthday party for the five year old Nibbler, but a resenting Bender flushes Nibbler down the toilet. A distraught Leila and an emotionally crippled Bender swap emotions in order to enlighten Bender on the horrible thing he has done. Caving under the pressure of emotions, Bender goes after Nibbler where we are first introduced to the underground sewer mutants. Enter El Chupanibre.

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6 Classic TV Characters Who Should Have Stayed Dead

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As you may or may not have heard, there’s a rumour doing the rounds on the mill that the presumed dead father of the incest twins and grand papi to the King, Tywin Lannister, may make an epic comeback in season five of Game of Thrones. Whether or not Tywin’s role in the upcoming season will be a resurrection or only in a flashback capacity has yet to be confirmed. In light of this new information, I thought it was fitting to revisit some of those classic TV characters who just should have stayed dead. In case you haven’t already guessed the following has MAJOR SPOILERS from a whole lot of TV shows, so proceed with caution:

6. Lex Luther – Smallville

The dramatic death of Lex Luthor at the end of season seven in Smallville should have been the last hoorah for Lex and Clark. Instead, the series that believe it or not went so far down hill it fell on it rested gently at the bottom after the death of iconic villain Lex Luther and decided, ‘Hey, let’s give him another shot.’ Then after almost three seasons they slowly re-integrated Lex back in to the last season, desperately manipulating a story that would seem only slightly legitimate in explaining Lex’s comeback. This resulted in arguably the worst season of Smallville. Firstly, he should have quit while they were ahead, and secondly, if they didn’t devote the whole season to some convoluted Lex resurrection, it could have actually been a great end to an awesome series.

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Top Five Trashy TV Treasures

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Everyone has their secret trashy TV guilty pleasure, and if they don’t… they’re lying. If you’re in the market for a new bout of entertainment, here’s the most cringe-worthy, craptastic, laugh yourself silly and call them crazy, Top Five Trashy TV Treasures. Grab some friends, some chocolate and the alcohol of your choice and get cosy coz it’s gonna be a long night.

#5 –Toddlers and Tiaras

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Pageant shows are the pinnacle of reality TV. Crazy pageant mums: check. Kids sugar-high tantrums: check. Fierce competition: check. But most of all, the shameless parents lacking any moral or intellectual substance: check! Toddlers and Tiaras has it all rolled in to a bundle of oh-so-wrong entertaining television. Follow new kids every week through their daily pageant routines, spray tan, fake nails, even the odd eyebrow wax to win that Ultimate Grand Supreme title.This show isn’t about watching a child fulfil their pageant dreams, it’s your chance to yell profanities at the brainless parents who are clearly manipulating their children, it’s so bad it’s good. Catch these parental malfunction daily on Lifestyle You.

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