2016 in [Big Picture] Review – Darren’s Movie Awards


To acknowledge our transition from 2016 to 2017, we’ve lined up a few end of year articles and lists to celebrate/commiserate the films we’ve seen!

And it all kicks off with Darren’s Movie Awards for 2016!


2016 is almost over and like all review sites it is that time of year where we rank our favourites, talk about some of the most interesting flicks and shout down the worst of the bunch. Yet, since I didn’t nearly see as many films as I would have liked this year, and also because I am sure you are sick to death of top ten lists, how about something different? This is my very own End of Year Awards.

The categories are: Most Entertaining Movie; Classic Movie That I Have Finally Watched; Forgettable Schlock; Making the Internet Angry; and finally, The Movie That Sums Up the Year.


Most Entertaining


For those of you who have read my reviews, this might seem like a strange choice. Didn’t I only give it a B+? Wasn’t Moana or Kubo and the Two Strings not only higher rated but much more favourably reviewed? Well, yeah.

This isn’t about which was the most technically competent or which story was the most well written but about my own enjoyment. And Ghostbusters was fun.  Sure, Kubo is probably the best movie I have seen this year, but Ghostbusters was the one I rushed out to buy on DVD, Ghostbusters is the one I want to see more of, and Ghostbusters is the one I think I’ll still be talking about down the line.

A solid remake with a great cast, decent effects and a real sense of connection to the original, while still being its own thing. Even the oversaturation of fan service couldn’t kill this for me.

Yes, it’s flawed. It’s clunky. But it has a charm that I can’t resist with a subtle female empowerment message that doesn’t pander or feel inauthentic, that just gives positive role models that are funny, tough and human. To quote Simone De Beauvoir, “One is not born but made a woman,” and these women were made to be badass female role models.


Classic Movie That I Have Finally Watched

The Defiant Ones

Some things are so classic that you never to see them to know them. They are so inextricably linked to the fabric of popular culture that you know them already. Citizen Kane, Soylent Green or Casablanca are all a part of this.  This was a year when I tried to fill up this gap in my own knowledge, getting the time to sit down and watch some of the cultural touchstones and The Defiant Ones is the one that struck a chord with me, beating out some bigger contenders for this spot such as Casablanca.

Again, while perhaps not as good a movie as Casablanca, The Defiant Ones is a brilliant watch dealing cleverly with American race relations. Like his other famous film, The Heat of the Night, Sidney Poitier gives us a truly wonderful performance and with a great support cast, such as Lon Chaney Jr, this is a movie to watch to see how far we really haven’t come.

This has cemented itself in pop culture if only because we like to pretend that it’s a thing of the past.

Pete's Dragon

Forgettable Schlock

Pete’s Dragon

Do you even remember that it came out this year? A truly woeful movie that is so painfully inoffensive that it renders it forgettable. Not a terrible film by any stretch but with a disinterested cast, a poor plot and a message so forced and mixed it really blended into the scenery. While other movies this year are unequivocally worse, this mediocrity is somehow more troubling to me. A safe and staid work that I all hope we never mention again.


Making the Internet Angry

Rogue One

This was very nearly just Ghostbusters again. The ridiculous backlash against the all-female remake was beyond absurd and the misogynistic vitriol that came from the internet in waves seemingly hurt both the fan base and the ticket sales for this fun comedy adventure movie, leading to Paul Feig leaving the project and a sequel to be, for all intents and purposes, dead.

But let’s think of a much happier resolution of fanboy rage: Rogue One.

A diverse cast with a female lead has led to quite a backlash from some Star Wars fans. With some of the more antagonistic and idiotic comments, that at first glance seem to be a gross caricature of white boy internet trolls. Such gems as “Women can’t survive in space. That’s just science,” and “It will be full of gays next.”

Oh, Internet. How I love you.

All of this culminated in what must be the worst attempt at a protest, with several fans calling for a boycott of the movie.  This obviously failed with Rogue One taking one of the best opening weeks of all time with its Christmas Day takings being the second highest in history and its two-week takings in the top ten.

You can almost taste the tears.


The Movie That Sums Up the Year

I, Daniel Blake

I could be very trite here and just insert any random disaster movie and I feel like most people would agree with the decision. 2016 has been a hot mess of a year. One of the worst in living memory. With earth-shattering consequences politically, that makes the world feel a little bit smaller, less connected.

Not to mention the deaths of so many icons. David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, and (at the time of writing) the death of a true queen, Carrie Fisher. And that’s just a few! (Ed:- Debbie Reynolds died shortly after Darren passed this one in, to really drive that understatement home!). I could go on and dreg up all who have died but I don’t think I could take it honestly. Just thinking about these few has been hard enough.

That is why I picked I, Daniel Blake to be the cinematic embodiment of the year. Not because it isn’t a great work or because it was a disaster but because it was hard. It was hard to sit there and live through it, to see the struggle of those on screen and empathise so completely. I, Daniel Blake is 2016 because it wasn’t pleasant, because it showed some hard truths and because it made me stop and appreciate what I have, even as I lost it all.

Bowie, Ali and Fisher are all Icons. Icons in screen and in deeds.

I can think of no better tribute than to remember through I, Daniel Blake. A work about the unfairness of it all, but that reminds us that we are still here. We can still pick up where they left off.

Goodbye 2016, we aren’t going to let you win.



2 thoughts on “2016 in [Big Picture] Review – Darren’s Movie Awards

  1. So happy to see Ghostbusters get some love! It’s by no means a perfect movie but it was entertaining from start finish, and didn’t deserve the hate it got at all.
    I actually had no idea about the plan to boycott Rogue One! Maybe I’m just out of touch, or maybe it didn’t get the traction it wanted to, ha!
    I forgot Pete’s Dragon even existed 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you agree, I enjoyed Busters immensely. The boycott did not get the traction it needed to, only truly gaining ground in the murky waters of the “Alt-right” (Nazi) areas of the internet.

      Liked by 2 people

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