Four Cents - Rob & Ricki and Oscar, Part Two: The Year In Review, 2016

Ricki - A coupla things we probably should have thrown in back in Part One, Our Top Ten Movies, 2016: I only watch movies at the theater.  I very seldom rent movies (though I live within walking distance of a Family Video, except in the wintertime, when I rarely leave the house, let alone walk anywhere).  I have never streamed a movie in my life.  I'm not so much anti-technology as just old & grumpy and set in my ways.  I love movie theaters.  I love settling into the dark and getting my movies 20 feet high.  At home I'm just as likely to bail on a so-so film that might get better if I gave it more time, and throw on a bootleg Lou Reed CD.

Rob - [staring blankly] You sound less like someone who likes movies and more like someone who likes to get out of the house from time to time, weather permitting. Well, old dog, there’s a new trick called Video On Demand, VOD for short.

It used to be that if a movie went straight to video it was a sign to stay away. Nowadays, don’t be too sure. There are higher quality, smaller budgeted movies being made under the roar of franchise moviemaking. In addition to a limited theatrical release, some of these movies are also released through outlets like iTunes, Amazon and cable providers.

The number of VOD releases seem to increase every year, which is great for those without access to an independent movie theater. Some of 2016’s VOD highlights include: The Invitation, Evolution, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Little Sister, The Eyes of My Mother, Always Shine, Morris from America, Under the Shadow, I Am Not a Serial Killer, The Family Fang.

Meanwhile, in the multiplex, there were great thrillers (10 Cloverfield Lane, Don’t Breathe, Green Room, Midnight Special), solid comedies (The Nice Guys, Ghostbusters, Deadpool, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) and strong stories that did without a straight, white male for a point of view (Hidden Figures, Moonlight, 20th Century Women, Elle).

Mel Gibson worked his way out of the doghouse. First, Blood Father, the action flick that hits on Gibson's trademarks of humor, rage and suffering, lightly doubles as an open apology and general statement of “I’m feeling much better now” as it gives the main character some of the same transgressions that caused him trouble. Second, while the first trailer for Hacksaw Ridge didn’t address him by name (“from the director of Braveheart”), the studio decided it was OK to promote his name once the positive reviews piled high.

Ricki - [sipping a Mountain Dew, while lying on the couch] Clearly I attach too much dedication to music and not enough attention to movies. Tell me more about these voodoo methods of watching movies on my television apparatus and more about those quality movies I missed in 2016.

Rob - Well, there was Rogue One, proving that the Death Star is the franchise's woobie. Nocturnal Animals successfully mixed artsy-fartsy with a great noir. Rebecca Hall gave the best performance of the year in Christine. Army of One hosted the best comedic performance from Nicolas Cage in years. In a Valley of Violence was the fun, classic western the Magnificent Seven remake failed to be. Norway proved they could made a disaster movie, too, with The Wave.

The 2016 class of dead filmmakers hit closer to home. Star Wars alums Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker. The great Alan Rickman. Gene Wilder. George Kennedy. Anton Yelchin was a reliable character actor. Many times during John Wick: Chapter 2 I heard Jon Polito's voice from Miller's Crossing, "It's like I tell all my boys: always put one in the brain."

Ricki - By the way, on Saturday, partly out of guilt & shame, but mostly because it was almost 60 degrees out, I walked over to Family Video and rented that Tom Hardy Kray brothers movie Legend, which is only two years out of date. How am I doing, Rob?

Rob - It's a start, Ricki. [turns to look out a rain-swept window] It's a start.