1. The Accountant - This was the most boring movie I've watched in a while. It's a shame because I wanted to love it. It's so weird how Ben Affleck can be so great in one movie, and then the next he's a big dull dud. It's like he forgets how to act. Or maybe he doesn't care. The supporting cast is great - Anna Kendrick (who has grown on me), J.K. Simmons, Jean Smart (I am LOVING her resurgence), Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, and the girl from the new tv series, Shooter (I think I like her. I know I like the show) - but all were given very little to do. I was never really invested in the plot at all, and it was obvious from the beginning that J.K. was more important to the story than he was letting on. I don't really have anything else to say. It's just mediocre to its very core.
2. Passengers - From the trailers, I knew this movie was going to fail. And it shouldn't have. It stars two of the biggest names in Hollywood at the moment, looks fantastic, and seems to have an intriguing premise. There was just something off about the trailer, though. It seemed like they gave away waaaay too much, the dialogue was stiff, and there was just something not quite right. When the film was finally released, it received a fairly strong backlash for an unexpected reason - a film starring a highly successful female actress (known for badass independent roles) was accused of some pretty icky and offensive story-telling. So, it seems like a HUGE part of the movie is left out of the trailers. *spoilers ahead, that is, if you live under a rock* The plot is about this one man, who is part of a group of people who have voluntarily been placed into a hibernation state in order to travel to another planet (that takes like 100 years to get to). The problem is that he wakes up too early, after a glitch in the system. He lives a life of loneliness and depression for a full year (and that's supposed to be long time, apparently), until he decides to wake up the pretty girl he's been eyeing up (essentially murdering her). And THEN we are supposed to root for them as a couple. Pretty horrific, right? However, it makes for a pretty interesting commentary on what humans will do to avoid being lonely. This is where the movie succeeds. It never tries to pretend like what he does isn't horrific. It's part of the plot. So, in short, the outrage is kind of ridiculous. The problem is that they went with a happy ending, and therefore negating his horrific act. My proposed ending would have been a much stronger commentary - and that is that he should have died (after all, he's a MURDERER), and then she would have been stuck in this same void of loneliness, so then she wakes someone else up, essentially giving in to her own imperfect human nature. It would have been depressing as fuck, but it would have given the movie a point. And man, that would have been a fantastic story. Plus, it would have solved the whole misogynistic aspect if she does the same exact thing...right? Anyway, other issues with the movie - Pratt and Lawrence struggle with their chemistry and the plot of saving the spaceship gets really ridiculous once Lawrence Fishburne shows up. And one major plus of the movie - it's fucking beautiful. Those production design nominations are TOTALLY deserving.
3. The Girl on the Train - Oddly, I liked this movie. I didn't really expect to. The ads reminded me of Gone Girl (which originally I liked, even with all of its many faults, but the more I think about it, the more I HATE it with a passion). I am not familiar with the book, so I thought that the story was going to be all twist and turny (like Gone Girl), but it was pretty obvious as to how it was all going to end...it was just a matter of getting there (and spoiler...in movies like this, it's ALWAYS the husband. Never fail. Although the whole gaslighting thing was unexpected, and oddly relevant to current events). I adore Emily Blunt. She is great here. Kudos to the supporting cast, too - Laura Pepron, Lisa Kudrow, Allison Janney, and JUSTIN THEROUX!! I haven't seen him in anything in so long. I know he's on that show that gets some pretty good reviews (I want to say it's called The Leftovers), but I haven't seen it yet. I don't think I've seen him in anything since The Ten which was like 10 years ago. Overall, I was fully entertained watching this movie even though I couldn't really relate to it. I don't really understand obsession/jealousy of complete strangers (although I get that she is replacing this obsession with her own experience in a marriage). I do connect to the scenic environment though - I used to take that train ride all the time when I was in college - and I actually remember staring out at the houses along the tracks. It was surreal watching her do the same thing, albeit more focused. While this film might not be as well-made as Gone Girl, it certainly has a better story (and a better female lead).
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Ok, I probably can't give a fair opinion on this film because I fell asleep while watching it. Twice. However, I think that speaks volumes, because I rarely fall asleep (I think the last time was with Hugo, which kind of makes sense. These types of movies are obviously not my favorite). I hated the Harry Potter movies (SORRY NOT SORRY), so I guess I shouldn't have expected much with this movie, but it looked kind of cute. And the parts that I was awake for were cute. But it was all so dragged out and boring. The biggest reason why I didn't like the HP movies, though, was because of the acting. It's pure torture. Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson were just unbearable to watch, but I am willing to give them a chance now that they are older (and so far Radcliffe has redeemed himself, Watson not so much, but I'm excited to see Beauty and the Beast). At least this was well-acted, although I feel like Eddie Redmayne always portrays his characters as if they are autistic (which is confusing sometimes). Anyway, I'm sure many will find joy in this movie, and that's always a good thing. It's just not for me.
5. Arrival - So, I loved it. Not in the way I thought I was going to love it. The sci-fi was a little dull and unoriginal. However, the human story behind it is A+. Sure, it's a story about this language expert trying to create a dialogue with alien invaders, and essentially saving the world by bringing "us" together (world peace...blah blah blah), but it's also a story of motherhood, and the joy and heartbreak that mothers endure. It's the story of a devastating loss, having the choice to do it all again, and deciding to endure the same pain because it is part of your own identity. I am not a mother, but I have great respect for all who take on *literally* the most important role in our modern world. I also know that my own mother endured a great deal of suffering as a young mother, and I know that if given the choice, she would do it all the same. Whether you want to classify it as destiny, God's will, etc., we can't deny that our choices and our past all form our future. Changing it could be catastrophic. I love that this is what the story evolved into instead of a straight-forward sci-fi. Amy Adams was definitely robbed of an Oscar nomination, and the film is a very close third in my list of favorite movies from 2016. There was only one very obvious misstep - and that is the one piece of dialogue that ruins the whole movie's "surprise" twist (the part where she refers to her daughter's father - I groaned internally because I honestly felt like it ruined everything that came before it). The actual twist is revealed a few scenes later, so I think it was supposed to be more of a foreshadowed hint, but unfortunately it is screaming with overt plot details. Other than that, though, a stunning piece of film-making.