The 28th Annual Biggie Awards

for the love of movies.

Celebrating achievements in film for the year 2016

So 2016 has come and gone. A year I had big hopes for about 15 months ago turned out to be quite a dud in the grand scheme of things. It was even worse than 2015. For the second year in a row, I rated no theatrical release a ‘9’ on IMDb. There were no masterpieces, no all-time greats. There were some really good movies, and I put almost 20 more films on my “Movies I Love” list, but in terms of quality and the ability to stand the test of time, even the second or third-best movies of most past years would have easily won my Best Picture award over this lot.

Lobster Farrell bury
Me waiting for 2016 to be over.

2016 also broke a pretty long streak of spectacular even-numbered years. It was such a mediocre year that it even gave us a Steven Spielberg movie I couldn’t bring myself to watch (The BFG). General cinematic malaise aside, there were, as always, some highlights…

How long have I been begging and pleading for Michael Bay to mature enough as a filmmaker to make a drama that’s actually a drama? Since Pearl Harbor in 2001. That’s a movie that turned one of the most important events of the 20th century into an action-romance (a rare genre combination, I’ll give it that), more Armageddon than a replication of Titanic, which is what it really wanted to be. It wasn’t until 2013 that he even made another attempt at a non-traditional Bay movie in Pain & Gain, but most of Bay’s trademark cliches remained present in that film, and he was ultimately unsuccessful in balancing that story’s delicate balance of drama and humor. Well, 15 years long years after Pearl Harbor, he’s FINALLY done it, friends. 13 Hours was literally the first 2016 film I saw, opening in mid-January, and as you’re about to see, his efforts in telling a more grounded true life story have been rewarded.

13 Hours operators

16 years after Bryan Singer‘s X-Men created the modern superhero movie craze, comic book flicks still dominate the box office, and for once the genre also included one of the year’s biggest, most pleasant surprises in Fox’s vulgar, violent, R-rated Deadpool. Tim Miller‘s directorial debut opened to a massive $132.4 million last February and finished with $363 million on a roughly $60 million budget. It was the biggest opening ever for an R-rated movie, and its domestic total is second all-time for R movies, behind only The Passion of the Christ. NOBODY expected that. It was pretty amazing to see such a breath of fresh air in the superhero genre this late in the game. Hopefully, it’s just the start of a trend of moderately budgeted, character-driven comic book movies not afraid of the R rating.

Deadpool is sort of an X-Men subsidiary. The actual X-Men movie from 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse, was an unmitigated disaster. So much so that I choose not to get into details. It’s almost impossible that this movie was such a mess after Days of Future Past was so good. Suffice to say I believe it’s time for this franchise and Bryan Singer to permanently part ways. And he can take screenwriter/producer Simon Kinberg with him.

Deadpool stuntman
Deadpool in one GIF.

In the category of “People Who Have Their Shit Together”, the Marvel Cinematic Universe continued chugging along, with its 13th and 14th entries in Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange. I was happy to see Civil War mostly live up to the hype, and I now believe it is the best MCU movie yet. I’m very happy that the Captain America creative team (directors Joe & Anthony Russo, screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) are overseeing the now-in-production Avengers: Infinity War. Doctor Strange was a nice change of pace for the MCU in both style and substance, and it’ll be fun having Benedict Cumberbatch playing in this sandbox for the foreseeable future.

That said, it might be indicative that even in this incredibly weak year, the MCU’s best overall movie yet still couldn’t make the cut for Best Picture. As much as I adore Civil War, I can’t get past the glaring plot hole of basically the entire conflict of the movie relying on footage from a security camera placed in a random location in the middle of nowhere on a back road (in the early 90’s no less). That same issue probably prevented the film from also receiving an Adapted Screenplay nomination, which it otherwise well deserves. Call me petty, but for me it was a deal breaker.

On the flip side, over at Warner Bros., the DC Comics “Extended Universe” (DCEU) can’t manage to stop tripping over its own feet. I believe the big problem for them lies in the order in which they’ve made and released their films. I thought there should have been a Man of Steel sequel AND an individual Ben Affleck Batman movie before they attempted Batman v Superman. To try and suddenly mix everything at once in Dawn of Justice was a bad idea resulting in an entertaining, but incredibly messy film. Warner Bros. wants to skip to The Avengers without doing the leg work to establish their characters. I didn’t hate Dawn of Justice like many reviewers and fanboys did. It’s got many flaws, but parts of it are fantastic. And I don’t blame Zack Snyder, either. I happen to like his dark, grim style and I think the ‘seriousness’ of the DC characters is a good contrast to the ‘fun’ of the MCU. No, it’s the studio decision makers and the films’ writers who are primarily responsible for the DCEU’s woes.

On the other hand, Suicide Squad was just flat out bad from top to bottom, and wasted the much-anticipated, first ever cinematic appearance of Harley Quinn. I happen to like Jared Leto‘s Joker, which again places me in the minority. But there again I’d rather have seen both those characters in a separate film of their own instead of having the filmmakers and studio attempt to introduce them while simultaneously throwing them into the plot of a bigger teamup movie. At this point, no matter what WB does with its upcoming DCEU movies, we may be too far along for the filmmakers on those movies to repair what’s broken. Which sucks, because among other things, DC has much cooler villains in their library than does Marvel.

One last bit before we proceed with current events: I’ve made a major alteration to some important Biggies history. After years of deliberation, I’ve altered the Best Picture result for the 1994 Biggies. Previously, Forrest Gump was our Best Picture winner and Robert Zemeckis was our Best Director. I have decided to change the Best Picture winner to The Shawshank Redemption, with Zemeckis retaining his one and only Best Director crown over Shawshank‘s Frank Darabont. This creates the Biggies’ only Best Picture/Director split. In the end, I decided that Shawshank is a slightly better movie, while Gump remains a more impressive directorial achievement. That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it. I try not to change past results after the fact, but as you get older and wiser and rewatch older movies with more perspective, certain things reveal themselves to you. When it comes down to it, the entire point of this endeavor over the years has been to be more right than instinctual. Swaying with the winds of industry politics is what the Oscars do and what pisses me off most about the Academy. In this instance, I think we now have the right result.

The  Kings of ’94.

I digress. The nominees for 2016’s best are (click to Page 2 below)… 


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