Sweet 16: The 16 Top Films of 2016

For the better part of a decade, this has become an annual tradition. From January to December I compile a list of the best, artistic and most progressive films, television shows and music albums. One of the reasons I do this is to provide resources to readers who are looking for cerebral, fun and progressive media. It does exist as my lists have continued to prove. Don’t say I never gave you anything. You’re welcome.

2016 was full of surprises. Many major releases I expected to rank highly didn’t even place while there were a number of 4th quarter and sleeper hits that truly blindsided me. I found myself reranking the list again and again and again.

This past year might arguably be my most competitive list yet and 2017 is already looking to match it or even surpass it.

But that’s not all. For the first time ever 3 short films were so impressive that they were ranked among on the main feature film list.

As is the standard for a film to be considered, it must pass the Upkins Media Litmus Test.

Many did and they did not disappoint.

Without further adieu, let’s get this party started.

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The Inconvenient Truth In Advertising 

So recently Rose McGowan made headlines expressing outrage over the X-Men: Apocalypse billboard ad that showcases Ivan Ooze, I mean Apocalypse, choking Mystique, claiming that it promotes violence against women. 
Fox has since issued an apology for the billboard. Which I think was the right call for the studio. The right call would also be for Fox to apologize for the fustercluck that is X-Men: Apocalypse itself but I digress.

Now while I personally like McGowan, I have to keep it 100 and say the timing and her complaint is more than a bit suspect, not to mention hypocritical.
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Review: X-Men Apocalypse

X-Men Apocalypse.

I swore I wouldn’t write a review for the film. Primarily because any review I penned would pale in comparison to the excellent piece penned by my buddy and fellow N.O.C. colleague, Valerie Complex.

Seriously if you haven’t read it, go do so now. Val snatched so many wigs and edges, you would’ve thought Director Bryan Singer and Fox were members of the Charles Xavier Cosplay Appreciation Society.

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A Non Spoiler Review of Captain America: Civil War

If the first two Captain America films are any indication, I’ve learned not to watch them with any expectations good or bad.

Like most of the Marvel Phase One films, I found First Avenger to be a yawn and filler for the payoff that was the first Avengers movie.

Winter Soldier blindsided me and years later I’m still trying to process how amazing that film is.

As much as I love Winter Soldier (it along with Avengers and Age of Ultron rank as my favorite Marvel flicks), and even though I knew I would finally get the Black Panther in this film, I still watched with no expectation.

The verdict: By no mean is it the worst Marvel film by any stretch. It was brilliant in some parts and a mess in others. Better than First Avenger but a major letdown from Winter Soldier. I kept checking my watch so many times, one would’ve thought my name was William Tockman.

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I Believe In The Dark Knight

harvey dent

 

 

A true storyteller can often have the best insight on human condition. After all, in order to tell our stories, bards must have an intimate understanding of the forces that drive us. Within most of us, there is a struggle, an arc, a journey that is ruled by an internal conflict.

Often the key to said conflict can stare back at us the entire time.

Which brings us to the Dark Knight, the second of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy which I had the opportunity to rewatch the other night.

As for the movie itself, I think everything that needed to be said has been said: Christian Bale was a solid lead; the late Heath Ledger actually surpassed all the hype in his performance and Aaron Eckhart didn’t get the credit he deserved for his role as Harvey Dent.

Throughout the film, Bruce Wayne was seeking a white knight for Gotham. Someone pure of heart who could inspire the masses to be something better (not unlike what Superman does for Metropolis and the rest of the world). With his darkness fueling him as the grim vigilante, Bruce knew he couldn’t be that champion but he hoped someone could do for Gotham in the light of day what he did under the cloak of night.

Bruce finally thought he found that counterpart in Harvey Dent. Beautiful, charismatic and righteous, Dent proved a viable candidate. He was a man who seemed to have the fortitude to stand up to Gotham’s underworld without being corrupted himself. After all, you either die a hero or live long enough  to see yourself become a villain.

Enter the Joker, a man who simply wants to see the world burn and waged a war for Gotham’s soul. While Batman was incorruptible even in dire straits, sadly the same couldn’t be said for Dent. Ultimately Batman knew that in order to save the work he and Dent had begun, he took the blame for Dent’s murder and allowed himself to become a fugitive.

The irony is that even though he probably never realized it, what lied within Batman was indeed the pure of soul champion he had been searching for, the white knight  he thought he found in Dent. For only a man pure of heart would sacrifice himself without hesitation for the greater good. Only a man pure of heart would burden himself with the sins of others. In spite of all of his darkness and brooding , Bruce was the best of them. He always had been.

The lesson here being, the solutions we often search for outside ourselves, that semblance of completion, the resolution to that internal conflict, can usually if not always be found from within.

Funny how that epiphany hit home with me. And funny how I got THAT from a comic book movie.