Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016's Ten Best Films

Ann and Stan: Not a great year for films. Romantic comedies, where are you?  

Can someone revive that genre, please?

And while three superhero films make our list, it seemed like every month saw yet another comic book turned into a live action film.

Here's our look at the ten best films you could see in your home during 2016.


1) THE NICE GUYS
1niceguys
The best release of 2016. Great script, great acting, real chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.  This film about Detroit, corruption, government hacks and so much was set in the 70s – probably because setting it in 2016 would have made it a horror film.  Instead, it's an action comedy that recalls the classic teaming of Lily Tomlin and Art Carney in Robert Benton's THE LATE SHOW.  Writer-director Shane Black created something to be proud of and this film is going to only look better in the coming years.

2) MIKE & DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES
1mikedavedates
Where are the comedies this year?  As 2016 finally ends, we think you’ll agree we could all use a lot more laughter.  Zac Efron's carving out a career as someone dependably funny (at least until he pulls a Jonah Hill and tries to do a WAR DOGS).  This film made your sides ache.  It was a non-stop laugh fest, a don't take a handful of popcorn right now or you will be spewing it film.  Everyone here was at the top of their game.  Aubrey Plaza deserves special note and, if you thought she was funny in DIRTY GRANDPA (and she was), prepare for her to be hilarious. 

3) SNOWDEN
1snowden
2016 wasn't a year for comedies.  It wasn't really a year for dramas.  Oliver Stone's SNOWDEN is the highest ranked drama to make our list.  This film tells the story of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden who gave up so much to inform the American people of what their government was actually doing to them.   Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers what should be an Academy Award winning Best Actor performance.  It's one of the few films this year that actually dealt with the times we live in and actually aspired to be something more than a thrill ride -- or, as was too often the case in 2016, a failed thrill ride.

4) DEADPOOL
1deadpool
If we didn't get comedies and we didn't get dramas, what did we get?  Ryan Reynolds was awful in GREEN LANTERN.  Who would have thought he could deliver in DEADPOOL?  But he did.  And the script, by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, was sharp with dialogue and plot twists and turns were praising.  Director Tim Miller brought action scenes alive.  Most shocking of all?  Leslie Uggams as Blind Al.  We doubt even Leslie's biggest fans can claim they weren't shocked by her strong performance.  Few superhero films are worthy of acting nominations but Uggams damn sure deserves a Best Supporting Actress for her work here.



5) THE BOSS
1theboss
Oh, Melissa McCarthy, what is happening to you?  GHOSTBUSTERS was sub-standard and disappointing.  Just because they were "girls" they couldn’t be sexual?  Bill Murray was a panting tongue over Sigourney Weaver throughout the original film.  Melissa played a role that was poorly written and poorly thought out.  Adult women came off like pre-tweens.  THE BOSS, however, did deliver some much needed laughter.  And went to the problem of Melissa's films of late: she has to carry it all herself.  Kristen Bell is not a comic actress and she goes soggy throughout -- wet blanket -- failing to provide Melissa with either a partner in crime or someone to play off of for friction.  And don't even get us started on career failure Tyler Labine who never delivers no matter how many times he shows up for work.  Melissa and the children and Peter Dinklage carried the film.  Audiences turned out for this.  But another film where bad TV actors like Bell and Labine filling out the supporting roles and the audience will quickly move on.


6) CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
1cpt
There was so much wrong with this film.  The central message wasn't one of the problems.  The new Spider-Man was not one of the problems.  The performances of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. were not the problems.  Marvel's continued burying of women would be one of the problems and why the hell do you have a Scarlet Witch if you do nothing with her?  Scarlet Witch demands a front and center role.  But yet again, every other character upstages her. Scarlett Johansson got a little bit more to do as Black Widow (and thankfully avoided the round up that left others behind bars) but she didn't have enough to do either.  This film featured: Captain America, Ant-Man, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hawkeye,  Falcon, Winter Soldier, War Machine, Black Panther and Vision.  That's ten men.  And the only female superheroes showing up were Black Widow and Scarlet Witch -- that's ten to two.  Does no one see the problem here?  Or that it's the same problem over and over: women are ignored.  Stop waiting for MARVEL's film with a solo female star and start integrating these films that are being made currently.  There's no excuse, in 2016, to have five male superheroes on a team for every one female super hero.  The problem gets worse with each installment.


7) NINA
1nina
The (estranged before her mother passed away) daughter of Nina Simone waited way too long to finally speak up and state the obvious: Zoe Saldana is incredibly effective in the role.  Zoe was beat up for wearing a fake nose (Nicole Kidman won an Oscar for doing the same thing) and she was trashed because her skin wasn't naturally dark enough according to some.  Long before the film was released, it had been endlessly attacked.  It lied! Or so one criticism went, by creating a sexual relationship between Zoe's Nina and the helper played by David Oyelowo.  All of this before the film came out -- all this and a call for a boycott with a Facebook page.  When it was released, nearly everyone trashed it.  We saw it then, we've seen it since.  Oyelowo delivers a very leveled and textured performance.  But Zo Saldana goes all the way with the role of Nina in a way few actors ever do.  Her performance is raw and real.  While Will Smith's bad acting and poor box office will most likely rightly deny him an Oscar nomination, Zoe, if she's denied, will be denied because a bunch of idiots decided to attack this woman of color because they didn't feel she had enough color.  Zoe is so good, she doesn't just deserve a nomination, she deserves the award.  But lots of luck there after the public tantrum destroyed this musical drama. 


8) THE QUEEN OF KATWE
1queen
David Oyelowo had quite a year.  He also co-starred in this film with Lupita Nyongo as a woman with a skill for chess which both enhances and complicates her life.  This film will probably be overlooked by the nonsense push for MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (a film we’ve seen a thousand times before and a thousand times better) so we’re including it and semi-violating our own rule (this film streams starting January 10th of next year -- however, it briefly streamed on AMAZON while it was in the theaters).  But it's a great film and one that will be forgotten at the end of 2017 when it would more clearly qualify for praise so we're noting it now.  And if you think that's wrong, we've both seen the bootleg already -- visit your local barbershop and you can get a copy as well.  The only actress that truly challenges Zoe Saldana for Best Actress is Lupita Nyongo -- between the two women, they carried dramatic acting for women in 2016.  (Ruth Negga gives a good -- not great -- performance in LOVING.  Strange fun fact, this Ethopian-Irish actress is much lighter than the woman she plays and, of course, her nose is much thinner and less pronounced.  But no one had a problem with this casting.)

9) KEANU
1keanu
Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key take their comedy to the big screen with a hilarious film that underperformed at the box office.  But so what?  These days fewer and fewer of us go to the movies and films get discovered and new life via streaming and TV.  DROP DEAD FRED, for example, is a classic to many of us today.  In real time when it was in theaters, it got awful reviews and only made $14 million in ticket sales.  KEANU is a film that wide exposure is going to make one of the 2016 releases that truly lives beyond its initial release.
  


10) X-MEN APOCALYPSE
1xmen
Bryan Singer's latest outing improves with viewing.  But the problems with this series -- which was a reboot and FOX wants to reboot again -- is the continued emphasis on men.  X-MEN, when people were excited, brought us Storm (Halle Berry), Logan (Hugh Jackman), Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Rogue (Anna Paquin) and Cyclops (James Marsden).  Yes, Charles and Magneto were part of the first film, but more supporting characters.  Suddenly, as the series moved along, they were recast with the talented Michael Fassbender and the so-so James McAvoy.  Worse, Charles and Magento now ate up time and were joined with a recast Mystique.  Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence lumbered through the role without any humor or sparkle and made clear that, in this role, Rebecca Romijin is the better actress.  Had this film not been so weighted by boys -- not men, boys -- it might have done better at the box office.  Charles is a boy.  Hank is a boy.  Stunted boys, but boys.  And we were forced to endure all this crap when all we wanted to see was the new Storm and Jean Grey.  What we didn't need was the hard-to-be-a-mutant Cyclops entry.  We had to wait to enter the story via a boy.  How boy-ring.  The first 15 minutes of the movie are visually stunning.  But in it's own way, the third act is so much better than the rest of the film as we finally get to see Jean Grey, Storm and the rest in action.  If this is where the reboot had started, FOX might not be pondering how to reboot the reboot.



The movies we're most looking forward to in the coming year?

WONDER WOMAN.



And LOGAN.


Going out with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


December 31, 2016.  The year winds down not with peace on earth but continued violence.



HAPPY NEW YEAR IRAQ! May our people finally see peace, our youth return from the frontline and live in well deserved eternal happiness.
 
 






to all and hope 2017 will be kinder to people across the in particular , and .



Wishing everyone without exception a very Happy, Healthy & Peaceful 2017. Thoughts with those suffering in Syria,Yemen,Iraq etc. 🌎





No one deserves war.

And peace is long overdue in Iraq.


But Friday saw more bombings including in Baghdad:


  1. Blasts hit a market in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, with reports of people killed or injured



BREAKING: Iraqi police and medical officials: 2 bombs strike central Baghdad market, killing at least 21 and wounding 44.



Multiple causalities in a double IED blast that targeted a crowded market in central moments ago.







In other violence, the US government continued bombing Iraq.

Friday, DoD announced:



Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter, rotary and remotely piloted aircraft, as well as rocket artillery, conducted eight strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Huwayjah, a strike engaged an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL-held building.

-- Near Qaim, three strikes destroyed a vehicle bomb-making facility, a bomb factory and an ISIL-held building.

-- Near Mosul, four strikes engaged an ISIL tactical unit, destroying 11 ISIL-held buildings, five supply caches, three tactical vehicles, two mortar systems, two fighting positions, two vehicle bombs, a tunnel, an observation post, a research lab, a command-and-control node, an up-armored vehicle bomb, two barges and two artillery pieces. Five mortar teams were suppressed, and 20 supply routes and two repeater towers were damaged.


Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

Today, they announced:

Strikes in Iraq
Attack, bomber, fighter, remotely piloted and rotary wing aircraft and rocket artillery conducted seven strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Huwayjah, a strike destroyed an ISIL-held building.

-- Near Haditha, a strike damaged a fighting position.

-- Near Mosul, four strikes engaged three ISIL tactical units; destroyed five fighting positions, three mortar systems, three ISIL-held buildings, a vehicle, a crane, a weapons factory, a vehicle bomb and a mortar position; damaged 12 supply routes; and suppressed four mortar positions.

-- Near Qayyarah, a strike destroyed an ISIL weapons storage facility.


Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.


Bombs dropped on Iraq.

And the US media doesn't see it as a crime.

Not even when it's a War Crime.

STATEMENT: concerned for civilian safety following airstrike on a hospital compound in eastern .
 






That bombing?

They're talk the US bombing.

We covered it in Friday's snapshot:





Civilians feared dead by US airstrikes in northern  


Operation Inherent Resolve (also known as Operation Eternal Redundancy) issued the following statement today:



Coalition strike results in possible civilian casualties



By | Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve | December 30, 2016
  
SOUTHWEST ASIA- During operations to liberate Mosul on Dec. 29, a Coalition air strike struck a van carrying ISIL fighters observed firing a SPG9/RPG recoilless rifle before loading the weapon in the van and driving off. The van was struck in what was later determined to be a hospital compound parking lot resulting in possible civilian casualties.

CJTF-OIR takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and this incident will be fully investigated and the findings released in a timely and transparent manner.

CJTF-OIR releases monthly reports covering our tracking and investigation of allegations of civilian casualties. Coalition forces comply with the Law of Armed Conflict, work diligently to be precise in our airstrikes, and take all feasible precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians.


.

This wasn't even the first time this month that the US had bombed civilians in Iraq -- check out the December 8th snapshot for more on the previously admitted by CENTCOM of bombing civilians.


MIDDLE EAST ONLINE notes:


[T]he coalition has already admitted to killing at least 173 civilians in its strikes in Iraq and Syria since the start of its campaign against the IS group, a number independent observers believe is greatly understated.
The London-based NGO Airwars estimates the coalition campaign has actually killed more than 2,000 civilians.


But let's all pretend it didn't happen?

Is that the way it plays?

MSNBC talk show host posing as journalist Joy Reid didn't have a word to say about it.

But she's too busy screeching mental tantrums/breakdowns so why is that so surprising?

It is surprising that so-called peace activist in the US didn't give a damn about the bombing.

But I think they're all waiting until Donald Trump's inauguration to come out of their eight-year hibernation.



Monday night in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi was kidnapped.


العراق: اختطاف الصحفية المستقلة أفراح شوقي
http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1457
أكدت معلومات موثوقة استلمها مركز الخليج لحقوق الإنسان أن الصحفية المستقلة، أفراح شوقي قد تم أختطافها من قبل مجموعة مسلحة وذلك من منزلها في بغداد.
أكدت معلومات موثوقة استلمها مركز الخليج لحقوق الإنسان أن الصحفية المستقلة، أفراح شوقي قد تم أختطافها من قبل مجموعة مسلحة وذلك من منزلها في بغداد.
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Iraq: Kidnapping of independent journalist Afrah Shawki
http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1456
Reliable information received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirmed that independent journalist, Afrah Shawki has been kidnapped by an armed group from her home in Baghdad.
Reliable information received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirmed that independent journalist, Afrah Shawki has been kidnapped by an…
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Shia militias kidnapped the journalist Afrah Shawqi
     
Poet Dunya Mikhail on Kidnapped Iraqi Writer Afrah Shawqi and Elusive 'Freedom of Expression' via
           
gunmen kidnap Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, journalist who condemned impunity of armed groups
     
  1. NOTING
     
A search is underway in for Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi, an investigative journalist kidnapped by gunmen:
     
Pray for Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi - a journalist who was kidnapped from her home in Baghdad. She used her voice to campaign against corruption.
     
... Iraqi journalist Afrah Shawqi al-Qaisi was abducted from her home in the southwest neighborhood of Saydiya, Baghdad (12/26/2016)
     


Friday, people protested her kidnapping.

Iraqi Sunnis civilians Protesting against the abduction of Iraqi Sunni Journalist Afrah Shawqi by Shia militias backed by Iran
 
     


AFP reports:



Shawqi, 43, is employed by Asharq al-Awsat, a London-based pan-Arab newspaper, as well as a number of news websites including Aklaam.
"The real scandal is that gunmen were easily able to enter a woman's home and abduct her," said Dhikra Sarsam, another protester.
"The interior ministry has said absolutely nothing about the circumstances of her abduction."



The following community sites updated:










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