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Featured: The Best and Worst of Summer 2016

Movies this summer reminded me a lot of 2013, full of blockbuster disappointment but rich indies that made for a rather bipolar summer season. Sure, the bigger films were a let down, but if you were willing to look for it, summer 2016 featured some wonderful gems that without a doubt saved us this year. That said, let’s take a look at the best and worst films we saw over the summer.

*Keep in mind that we didn’t see every film, so this is based off of what we saw and discussed on the show*

The Losers
Okay, there are sadly a lot of contenders for this category, but if you ask me, there’s only one true answer for the worst film of 2016 so far and that is Independence Day: Resurgence. Wow, was that film awful. Will Smith made the right choice in staying away from that garbage. However, not far behind ID4: 2 was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turles: Out of the Shadows. I understand that Shadows has a few supporters, and God Bless them, but that film is all kinds of terrible. The first moment Krang showed up all of a sudden and I knew we were in for a world of hurt. This summer featured some lackluster performances, but those two films easily take the cake.

It’s ironic that I mentioned 2013 earlier because also in this list is Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Man of Steel didn’t make the “Loser” category for me that summer, but it was a huge disappointment still, and the same goes for BvS. I eagerly anticipate watching the extended cut, but for now, the theatrical version of BvS makes this category.

We are in the minority on this one, but for us, Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party would also be in this category. The film’s disjointed narrative and one-joke nature simply didn’t work for us.

As for a few indies, Indignation, High-Rise, A Bigger Splash and Elvis & Nixon fall under the umbrella of bad films this summer. Michael Shannon as Elvis will go down as the worst casting choice in a film to still somehow be captivating. Not for a second did I buy Shannon as Elvis, but as an Elvis impersonator, I couldn’t look away.

Special Recognition
Suicide Squad 2016
You’re probably thinking to yourself at this point; how did he not mention Warcraft, Ghostbusters or Suicide Squad in the “Losers” category? Well this is the “Movies I Liked That Everyone Else Hated” category. I recognize that all three of those films have flaws but I had fun with those films despite their problems. I completely sympathize with why some people wouldn’t like them but for me, there were elements in all of them that I subjectively really liked. The familial dynamic of Warcraft, especially worked for me and because of that, Duraton is actually one of my favorite characters I saw all summer honestly. Everything out of Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones’ mouth was hysterical to me and Will Smith is back to being Will Smith.

Some people were pretty hard on X-Men: Apocalypse as well, but we felt that Bryan Singer nailed the “X-Men” parts of that film. As a result, we were fans of that film overall. And how can you not like James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender?

Biggest Disappointment
Okay, so this category could feel overwhelming but it’s not as bad as you’d think. It also vary’s depending on what kind of expectations you had personally with these films. But here are the films that fit this category for me:

Finding Dory
The Nice Guys

Jason Bourne
Star Trek Beyond
The Shallows
The Invitation
Money Monster

Out of that list, Jason Bourne and Finding Dory hit the hardest. I love Pixar and the Bourne franchise, so for both of those films to be featured here is a bit of gut-punch. Some people will fight me on Star Trek Beyond and I say, bring it. Granted, I’m not a “Trekkie” but crawling from one action sequence to another and featuring the dullest of villains isn’t that compelling to me. So, in that regard, it makes my list here.

Let me explain The Nice Guys. Shane Black’s latest isn’t a bad film. Again, this isn’t the “bad” category. However, given my love for Black and how much I loved the trailers, The Nice Guys didn’t quite hit my expectation level. It’s a fine movie with a lot to love about it, but in the end, it was still a tad disappointing for me.

The Winners!
Kubo two strings
This category won’t feature many big releases but there are some incredible films that highlight this section. Let’s start with the mainstream films that saved this summer. They are two family-friendly films and they came out in August, of all months. I’m of course talking about Kubo and the Two Strings and Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. These two films aren’t just the best of the summer, they are two of the year’s best, period. They are both magical, fun and poignant in their own right. They also feature endearing child performances that elevate their respective stories.

Captain America: Civil War is the easy winner of this summer’s action fare. It’s almost hard to believe how well the Russo brothers succeeded here given what they were up against. There a ton of characters in this film but they somehow found a perfect balance that not only adds fun to the story, but it has a thematic and dramatic punch that is felt. Say what you want about Baron Zemo, but to me, he is one of the best “villains” of the MCU. And it’s not because of what he does per se, but more so the lack of what he does. Zemo merely pokes the fire and let’s the fire do all the damage. The writing of Civil War is brilliant and the action is glorious. Oh, and there’s freakin Spider-Man, who is incredible. And Black Panther! Ah, I could go on all day.

As for the smaller films of this summer, the biggest wins that come to mind are Sing Street, Green Room, The Lobster, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Captain Fantastic, Love & Friendship, A War, The Neon Demon, Born to Be Blue, Swiss Army Man, Hell or High Water, and April and the Extraordinary World. Some other titles that I would include just behind those films is Terence Davies Sunset Song, Tallulah, The Fundamentals of Caring and even Woody Allen’s Café Society.

Some of those may not be “summer” films depending on when they came to your area, but for us, these came during the summer months. I’ve mentioned several times on the show, as well as social media, that it may have been a down year for mainstream films, but holy cow was it spectacular for the indie circuit. Those films listed above are some of the best films of the year and will probably see several Top Lists at the end of 2016. If you didn’t see any of those film, then yeah I can see why you would complain about this year, but those films easily make up for what Hollywood was lacking. It’s also why I wouldn’t call 2016 a bad year for film. The indie circuit this year has crushed it and I’m super excited to see where that takes us this fall.

Well that’s our look at the summer of 2016. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Did we miss anything that you would have liked to talk about? Let us know in the comments and we look forward to a big fall at the movies!

InSession Film founder and owner. I love film. Love art. Love how it intersects with our real lives. My favorite movies include Citizen Kane, The 400 Blows, Modern Times, The Godfather and The Tree of Life. Follow me on Twitter @RealJDDuran. Follow us @InSessionFilm.

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  1. sbeaudet13

    I agree with the list for the most part with exception of nice guys, star trek beyond and the shallows. Maybe it’s because action movies were pretty awful across the board this summer so star trek was probably my second favorite behind Civil War.

    • InSession Film

      And that’s fair. I recognize I’m in the minority on Star Trek Beyond, so it’s understandable that people will disagree with me there. Glad you enjoyed Civil War though!