Michael Movies: 10 Favorites of 2016, So Far…

Following the 2015 Oscars season, this year has hit the ground running with big blockbusters, original concepts, a few disappointments (*cough Batman v. Superman cough*) and pleasant surprises.

Rather than wait till the end of the year to put out a “Best of” list, I’d rather break 2016 up into thirds and update my list accordingly. Following the “Best Picture” win of last year’s #1 filmSpotlight, the process has begun. At this point, I’m looking for the Mad Max: Fury Road and the Me and Earl and The Dying Girl of this year…In other words, what blew me away and what did I enjoy the most from start to finish.

10. Elvis & Nixon

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Based on the story behind the famous photo taken in 1970 between Elvis Presley and the President, the single most requested photograph in the National Archives, Elvis & Nixon is like an 86 minute long Saturday Night Live sketch that doesn’t get old. The White House scenes were shot on the West Wing set. Master of impressions, Kevin Spacey nails it with Nixon and you’re reminded of Frank Underwood, a little. Michael Shannon is more himself than an Elvis impersonator, which fits the role perfectly. And the supporting cast of Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville, Colin Hanks and Evan Peters compliment the stars perfectly.

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Johnny Knoxville and Alex Pettyfer

Director: Liza Johnson

9. Everybody Wants Some!!

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Richard Linklater’s sorta-23-year-followup to Dazed and Confused was much better than I expected. It seems harder than ever these days to write good comedy and the delivery is remarkably natural in this film. It’s a party genre film, no doubt, but it’s far less cliche as the American Pie films and their straight to video spinoffs. I appreciated the “welcome to college” and late 70s-early 80s themes, the real competitiveness between NCAA baseball teammates, and nothing feeling particularly forced. Matthew McConaughey would’ve been a great fit, even now, appearing in Everybody Wants Some.

Starring: Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin and Ryan Guzman

Director: Richard Linklater

8. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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The Cloverfield sequel was a pleasant surprise to start the year, and really had almost nothing to do with the first film. Rather than just be a monster movie, it was a genre-bending captive/killer/suspense-thriller flick filled with twists at every turn. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is good, John Goodman makes your skin crawl in the best/creepiest ways, and John Gallagher Jr. continues to be one of my favorite Indie actors on the planet.

Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr.

Director: Dan Trachtenberg

7. The Jungle Book

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When the ending credits rolled on The Jungle Book, my first thought was “I hope the people in charge of Jurassic World II were taking notes.” This movie shows you how CGI is supposed to be done and it was nice to see a “live-action” retelling of a Disney story that you grew up with not suck. It solidified Jon Favreau as great big budget film director. You could also tell that older veteran actors like Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken were having fun in their roles, and that makes it more fun for the audience.

Starring: Neel Sethi, Idris Elba, Bill Murray and Ben Kingsely

Director: Jon Favreau

6. Zootopia

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If you haven’t noticed, it’s been a really good year for Disney. They rode the box office success of Force Awakens into 2015, Jungle Book knocked Batman v. Superman out of the top spot pretty quickly, another film further down this list is KILLING it, and they have another Star Wars film on the way. Add Zootopia to the sterling 2016 scoreboard for Disney. It was funny and very will animated, but it also didn’t hold back regarding it’s commentary on equality and relevant social issues in our country today. There were also some excellent hat-tips to The Godfather, LA Confidential, Chinatown, and Breaking Bad.

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin and Idris Elba

Director: Byron Howard and Rich Moore

5. Eye in the Sky

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Eye in the Sky did not get enough promotion for how good a film it is. It’s similarly suspenseful as Captain Phillips, maybe more so, and coincidentally has Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi (the pirate from Captain Phillips) in a key role. Helen Mirren is as cold and awesome as ever, Aaron Paul pulls your heartstrings, and it’s one of Alan Rickman’s last performances on the big screen. When I left the theater, I instantly believed it was one of the best films of the year…that hardly anyone has heard of.

Starring: Aaron Paul, Helen Mirren and Adam Rickman

Director: Gavin Hood

4. Deadpool

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Deadpool exceeded so many expectations. It broke box office records as a hard-R movie. It made the 13 times more than its $58 million budget. It also put serious pressure on the superhero films to come, that wanted to be darker and dirtier. Ryan Reynolds was perfect in the role, making fun of other superhero franchises, the X-Men, and even his own films in the past. It was very meta and hilarious. The action and comedic timing by the supporting cast was awesome as well. Deadpool’s “fight” scene with Colossus will go down as one of the funniest ever for the genre.

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, TJ Miller and Morena Baccarin

Director: Tim Miller

3. Midnight Special

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It’s Michael Shannon’s 2nd appearance on this list and it is a good one. Midnight Special recalls some of the feelings you had seeing E.T. for the first time, although not nearly as lighthearted and not on Spielberg’s level. The movie does a great job riding on the mysteries of everyone involved and emphasizing the father-son relationship. Joel Edgerton is an awesome badass partner-in-crime and Adam Driver (aka Kylo Ren) provides well-timed relief. It’s a hard film not to appreciate if you’re a fan of mystery and sci-fi.

Starring: Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton 

Director: Jeff Nichols

1b. Sing Street

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The reason there’s a “1a and 1b” is because I’ve been so torn on the Top 2 movies on this list as they were both so awesome to me. Sing Street is my Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and even better than that. It’s a love story that hits close to home. The inspiration for the lead character, Cosmo (played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), to chase his dreams is similar to my own. The music is fantastic and I fully expect to see it on Broadway as soon as possible. It’s also one of the few movies set in the 80’s that does so un-ironically. It made me respect Jack Reynor much more as an actor. I smiled watching this film from start to finish and that’s why the inner debate I have, on whether it’s my favorite or not, will likely last all year.

Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Jack Reynor and Aidan Gillen

Director: John Carney

1a. Captain America: Civil War

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Captain America: Civil War was a perfect superhero film. It might feel that way because Batman v. Superman was such a letdown in similar circumstances, but Civil War was able to accomplish so much that its DC rival couldn’t. The movie didn’t force you to choose a side between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. Every hero showcased why they belong and made you feel like a kid in awe. The comedic timing was right on. The introductions of Black Panther and Spider-Man were seamless and awesome. The heroes were aware and conscientious of the destruction they were causing. Most importantly, the action was everything you hoped for from a film with this much hype. Similar to Force Awakens, Civil War gets bonus points for meeting and even exceeding the fans’ expectations and reminds you that THIS is how you make a superhero movie.

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and Sebastian Stan

Director: Joe and Anthony Russo

Any films too high or too low on the list? Would you recommend some more that are in theaters? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter and be sure to listen to The Piffcast where we discuss topics just like this. 

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Piffcast: The Twelfth One – Dad Bands, blink-182, and Parts Unknown

Musician, web-artist, woodworker, and friend of the show, Nic Kaiser joins us “in-studio” for the whole episode. Checkout his work at NicKaiser.com! We discuss some of the projects he’s worked on, the bands he’s played in (Farraday and Robot Love Story), TV shows we’re watching, the new blink-182 album, guilty pleasure music, the Dad Band he and TJ play in, Anthony Bourdain and more.

We also make our final predictions for what will go down in Captain America: Civil War. Be sure to get your own predictions in to us. Best one (most entertaining) will win a Piffcast Prize!

Feel free to react as you listen on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe on iTunes here.

Piffcast: The Tenth One – Prince, Thrones, and The Winter Soldier

After the Season 6 premiere, Manu Mishra joins the show to breakdown what happened in the episode and what Game of Thrones fans should expect going forward. We also discussed Captain America: Civil War, which matchups we’re pumped for, and more. (24:06 mark, if you want to jump ahead)

Before then, TJ and I talked about what Prince meant to us and recapped how the music icon was remembered over the weekend. 

Feel free to react as you listen on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe on iTunes here.

‘Captain America: Civil War’ Chase Scene with Black Panther on the Hunt

The marketing for Captain America: Civil War has been fantastic. Trailers and early footage have audiences clamoring for tickets as the film is on-track to make at least $175 million at the box office opening weekend. Early reviews have backed up the hype, including a 94% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Fueling your excitement further is Audi releasing a new ad that mixes product placement with a stellar chase scene through a tunnel. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is in hot pursuit of The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) commandeers an Audi in the process.

The ad is pretty funny, but thankfully the internet has cut it up for those of us who don’t need the suspense tempered by a family on a joy ride. I’d totally “like” and “unlike” that dude’s Facebook post too.

Captain America: Civil War hits theaters May 6th. See you there?

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Captain America: Civil War Clip – The New Avengers In Action

During the taped airing of the MTV Movie Awards, an exclusive clip from Captain America: Civil War debuted featuring Steve Rogers, Falcon and Scarlet Witch on a mission.

Is #TeamCap trying to save Bucky Barnes?

We also saw more footage of Crossbones in action, Bucky vs. Tony Stark, Rogers vs. Black Panther, etc…

Civil War hits theaters May 6th, 2016. The closer we get, the more we’ll likely get.

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New ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Trailer, Meet Spider-Man

Let’s face it, Captain America: Civil War is just kicking Batman v. Superman’s ass when it comes to marketing itself.

A few criticisms of the BvS development and marketing include (1) They are cramming too many characters into one movie and (2) They seem to have told us the entire story in their trailers. Civil War is also cramming a lot of heroes into one film, at least 12 actually, but we are more than pumped about it because we’ve gotten to know these characters onscreen for a decade’s worth of canon. BvS is attempting to pull it all off in a one film.

Joining the mix, which we’ve been anticipating for months, is the new Peter Parker played by Tom Holland (Wolf Hall, In the Heart of the Sea). From what we see in Spider-Man’s Marvel Cinematic Universe debut, he seems to be aligned with #TeamStark. If I heard it right, Tony refers to Spidey as “Underoos” (ha, because he’s a kid. Do kids still wear those?). Spider-Man will be web-slinging into theaters with his own MCU reboot July 7th, 2017.

There are also a number of cool and conflicting things going on in the trailer.

  • Bucky seemingly taking out James Rhoades/War Machine.
  • Black Widow giving Stark the business.
  • Bucky vs. Black Panther – and bullets raining from a chopper.
  • Scarlett Witch putting Vision in a mystical submission hold.
  • CROSSBONES!
  • Ant-Man getting a lift from Hawkeye’s arrows.

It’s a good bit of fun.

Want to talk more about the Captain America: Civil War? Lets do so on Facebook or Twitter

Martin Freeman’s Character Revealed and First Look at ‘Captain America: Civil War’ Villain

Say what you will about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the talent in their films is second to none. You have The Avengers, as well as Oscar winners Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, Jeff Bridges, Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee Jones, and eventually Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnorak. Then there’s the award winning Sherlock tandem of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

We knew already that Cumberbatch will be starring as Doctor Strange in his upcoming standalone film, November 4th, 2016, but now we have actual clarity on Freeman’s role.

Empire Magazine has confirmed that Freeman will play Everett Ross, the Joint Counter Terrorist Centre official that will help introduce Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) to the MCU. With SHIELD in recovery mode after the HYDRA breach, the JCTC is filling in as the new government entity/liaison to superheroes, like Captain America and Iron Man. Ross’s relationship with Black Panther may be why we see the “Prince of Wakanda” aligned with Tony Stark in Civil War trailers.

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Also making Civil War news today is Frank Grillo (The Purge 2, Warrior) and his first look for the film. Remember how Grillo’s Brock Brumblow turned on Captain America and SHIELD as a Hydra sleeper-cell? Well he survived a massive Helicarrier crashing down on him in Winter Soldier, assumed the identity as “Crossbones”, and is ready to exact his revenge on Steve Rogers and company.

Underneath the mask and armor, Brumlow should be ugly as hell with all his scars and burns. So far, Crossbones is the only actual villain we know about in the film, despite all the epic heroes turning on each other. He’ll have HYDRA backing him up for sure, but we’ll see who else might be working with Crossbones before Civil War’s release May 6th, 2016.

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