At a brief 72 minutes, The Fits squeezes a great deal of impressionistic and impactful imagery into a runtime shorter than a TV drama premiere. Anna Rose Holmer's exceptional feature debut is a dense package with no wasted scenes, an enthralling paean to growing up and finding one's passion.
Magic Mike XXL
Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh's male stripper romp, provided not only a star-making turn for Channing Tatum, but also kicked off the McConaissance, as Matthew McConaughey leaned so far into his persona as a bongo-playing sex fiend that he came out the other end having rediscovered how to pick good projects. The sequel, Magic Mike XXL, begins with Tatum's Mike out of the sex game and having fulfilled his dream of starting a furniture business. He gets a call that McConaughey's Dallas has died, and after traveling to what he thinks is a funeral, it's revealed that Dallas has not died, but left the country to pursue international success. This ruse establishes how low the stakes are going to be for the remainder of this film, a place where the financial scrambling and dehumanization of the original is replaced with a full embrace of good-time bro's having a good time. The result is a film that is as much fun as the original, but one with no lingering presence.
John Wick 2
Sequels for movies that don’t demand sequels are always dangerous territory. Too often they don’t understand what made the original great, sign on writers/directors/actors that don’t fit with the original mold, and focus too much on rehashing the original story. “John Wick Chapter 2” commits none of these sins. It sounds so cliché, but it’s true here: if you liked “John Wick,” you’re going to love the second chapter.
Best Films of 2016
By Jon Kissel
Despite a mostly dreadful summer for big-budget blockbusters, 2016 proved to be a strong year at the cinema. Far away from CGI-fests, actresses over 60 had a fantastic year, headlining four of the below 20 films. Exceptional talents like Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Anna Rose Holmer (The Fits) broke out as exciting filmmakers, intermittent masters like Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea) and Paul Verhoeven (Elle) reemerged to great success, and productive stalwarts Richard Linklater (Everybody Wants Some!!), Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden), and Martin Scorsese (Silence) stuck to what they're great at, namely the casual, the weird, and the grueling. Who needs $200 million cash sucks when Robert Eggers (The Witch) can transport the viewer hundreds of years in the past for a measly $3 million? For those that know where to look, the state of cinema is strong.
Best Film Performances of 2016
By Jon Kissel
The below performances, 5 male, 5 female, and one actor of the year, have not been nominated for an Academy award, despite all being quite deserving. Some performances that have (Mahershala Ali in Moonlight, Natalie Portman in Jackie) would certainly have made this list, but it's better to shine the low-wattage light of the MMC onto less celebrated films.
Best Film Scenes of 2016
By Jon Kissel
The following are unranked and in alphabetical order. When the actual scene can be found online, links are provided. Some spoilers are possible but if you're the kind of person who cares about that, you're being silly. Just kidding, we love you.
Best TV Shows of 2016
By Jon Kissel
The best of TV in 2016 had plenty of room for new shows. Several of TV's best dramas either ended their run (Hannibal, Mad Men, Justified) in 2015 or didn't air new episodes in 2016 (Fargo, The Knick). However, with no shortage of new series on new networks/websites that are increasingly willing to give carte blanche to previously underserved kinds of showrunners, there will always be plenty of content to take the place of what leaves the airwaves. For those who knew where to look, 2016 keeps up the pace of greatness that has characterized the medium for years. TV unquestionably qualifies as the vast wasteland, but in between those vast expanses of ghost hunting nonsense and reality TV dreck, the Golden Age continues to thrive.
Random projects from the MMC Universe.