Roundup: Movies reviewed during 2016

As a final farewell to 2016, I’ve gathered the movies I reviewed in 2016 along with short plot synopses.

Top picks are highlighted in yellow. Stinkers are prefixed with *.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015): Star Wars movie introduces a new heroine (Rey) and revives characters from the original trilogy; full review:
  • *The Monuments Men (2014): based on a real group during World War II assigned with saving art during the war; full review:
  • The Imitation Game (2014): biopic about Alan Turing and his role in breaking the German code with his computer during World War II; full review:
  • Pride (2014): look at attacks on miners and the gay and lesbian community in the UK during the tumultuous times of Margaret Thatcher and how these two groups ended up supporting one another; full review:
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): action story based on Marvel comics about how the Guardians of the Galaxy came to be; full review:
  • The Princess Bride (1987): beloved action-comedy-romance about a woman who falls in love with a farm boy who goes off to earn his fortune and ends up saving her; full review:
  • Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939): Jimmy Stewart takes on political corruption as the junior senator sent to DC to represent his state; full review:
  • *Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008): the intrepid band of animals from the zoo in Central Park encounter adventures in Africa on their way back home to NYC; full review:
  • Anatomy of a Murder (1959): Jimmy Stewart plays a musician-lawyer in this murder trial based on actual events; full review:
  • The Third Man (1949): film noir set in war-torn Vienna and centered on the mysterious disappearance of Harry Lime; influenced many films that followed; full review:
  • Citizen Kane (1941): considered the best film ever; biography of a wealthy publisher—a thinly veiled fictionalized portrayal of William Randolph Heart played by Orson Welles; full review:
  • American Experience: The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996): documentary about Citizen Kane that looks at Orson Welles, William Randolph Hearst (the supposed real-life Citizen Kane), and the battle fought to prevent the film from being shown; full review:
  • Roman Holiday (1953): romantic comedy with Audrey Hepburn in her first movie role as a British princess who gives her handlers the slip in Rome and enjoys the town with newspaperman Cary Grant; full review:
  • Rashomon (1950): Japanese classic that explores truth through the eyes of different travelers thrown together for a few hours; full review:
  • The Sound of Music (1965): musically inclined von Trapp family given new life after arrival of scatterbrained nun Maria becomes their nanny and then mother; full review:
  • Atonement (2007): aspiring writer with overworked imagination misinterprets situation that sets in motion events with dramatic impact on the lives of many she was close to; full review:
  • It Happened One Night (1934): classic Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert romance where spoiled rich girl runs away to thwart her father and joins up with cocky newspaperman; full review:
  • Into the Storm: Churchill at War (2009): second in a series of documentaries that cover Churchill’s role in leading Britain during WWII; full review:
  • The Big Sleep (1946): film noir with Bogie and Bacall based on Raymond Chandler’s book of the same name; full review:
  • Dial M for Murder (1954): Hitchcock murder mystery starring Grace Kelly who is the target of a murder attempt by her husband; full review:
  • House of Flying Daggers (2004): Chinese action movie set in the tumultuous end times of the Tang dynasty with anti-government secret societies and rebellions; full review:
  • Amazing Grace (2006): historical look at the British MP William Wilberforce and his lifelong battle to abolish the slave trade; full review:
  • Anita: Speaking Truth to Power (2014): documentary about the sexual harassment Anita Hill endured, her testimony during the nomination of Clarence Thomas, and the ways that it influenced and empowered the rest of her life; full review:
  • Creation (2009): look at the life of Charles Darwin during the time that he wrote The Origins of Species, the historical and societal context, and the impact on him and his marriage; full review:
  • The Other Boleyn Girl (2008): examination of the quick rise and demise of the Boleyn family in the court of King Henry through the Boleyn sisters, one who briefly became a queen, the other a discarded mistress; full review:
  • The Whistleblower (2010): a disturbing look at the precarious position girls and women hold in societies, especially in war-torn societies, based on true events of female trafficking and sexual exploitation by UN peacekeepers in Bosnia; full review:
  • Boyhood (2014): boy-becoming-an-adult story that films a boy over a span of twelve years, documenting the changes in his family, his life, and the world around him; full review:
  • Fury (2014): depiction of life as a member of a tank crew during World War II, revealing the harsh reality of war and human nature; full review:
  • *John Wick (2014): a revenge film where a retired hit man is the target of random mob violence and unleashes his rage; full review:
  • Lucy (2014): an unwilling drug mule who is set free from cognitive and physical limitations due to the drugs leaching into her body; full review:
  • Persepolis (2007): animated film that stars a young girl in Iran who grows to adulthood abroad and returns to the repression of Iran; full review:
  • Murder on the Orient Express (1974): famous Agatha Christie murder mystery where the murder, investigation, and resolution occur aboard a train; full review:
  • The Sting (1973): the ultimate con game set in Chicago in the 1930s, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford; full review:
  • Casablanca (1942): Bogie and Bergman classic of WWII Morocco, which is full of spies, Nazis, members of the underground, and refugees desperate to get safely to America; full review:
  • Arsenic and Old Lace (1944): Frank Capra classic about two old women running a boarding house with bodies in the basement and an estranged criminal nephew with a body of his own; full review:
  • Gone Girl (2014): thriller that plays into clichés about men’s mistreatment of women to construct a reality of events; full review:
  • Stagnant Hope: Gary, IN (2014): documentary that records in photographs the decaying historic structures of Gary and focuses on movements to reclaim the vibrancy that was Gary; full review:
  • The Pink Panther (1963): initial movie that introduces the Pink Panther diamond, the continuous plot to steal it, and Inspector Clouseau; full review:
  • A Shot in the Dark (1964): second movie with Inspector Clouseau introducing Cato and Chief Inspector Dreyfus in a classic whodunit but without the Pink Panther; full review:
  • The Return of the Pink Panther (1975): third movie with Inspector Clouseau that sees the return of Cato, Chief Inspector Dreyfus, the Pink Panther diamond, and an attempt to steal it; full review:
  • St. Vincent (2014): investigation of relationships among the unlikeliest of people and how they change one another; full review:
  • Attucks: The School That Opened a City: documentary about a school built for African-Americans in the 1920s to push them out of sight but which ended up pushing the children who attended it into lives of success; full review:
  • The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965): spy thriller based on John le Carré novel where as a last assignment US spy defects to the east to implicate an East German spy as a double agent; full review:
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956): Hitchcock remake of earlier Hitchcock movie focused on traveling Americans who get sucked into a spy ring in Morocco; full review:
  • Art and Craft (2014): documentary about an art forger who gives away his art to museums only to end up having an exhibit of his artwork and his artist talent recognized; full review:
  • The Hunting Ground (2015): disturbing documentary about how universities continue to be hunting grounds for sexual predators, why universities refuse to do anything about this, and some survivors who are fighting back; full review:
  • Whiplash (2014): aspiring drummer endures verbal and emotional abuse by professor in elite musical conservatory; full review:
  • The Ultimate Legacy (2015): the third in a trilogy of feel good movies about a young man wandering aimless in life who is taught life lessons by his deceased grandmother through stipulations in her will; full review:
  • USS Indianapolis: The Legacy (2016): documentary surrounding the history of the USS Indianapolis, its sinking, the rescue of its men, and the aftermath told through photographs, diaries, and interviews with the fast dwindling band of those who lived through it; full review:
  • A Writer’s Roots: Kurt Vonnegut’s Indianapolis: documentary about Kurt Vonnegut, growing up in Indianapolis, and his love/hate relationship with the city after he left; full review:
  • Land Grab (2016): documentary about one man who sought to rehabilitate a section of Detroit as an urban farm and a beautiful place for its inhabitants; full review:
  • Facing Darkness (2016): documentary about the role of the Samaritan’s Purse in the fight against Ebola and the well publicized contraction of Ebola by Dr. Kent Brantely and Nancy Writebol; full review:
  • Persona Non Grata (2015): based on the real life of Japanese diplomat and spy during World War II, Chiune Sugihara, who sought to serve his country and ended up helping thousands of Jews in Lithuania escape the Holocaust; full review:
  • Keep Quiet (2016): documentary about an extreme right-wing white supremacist who discovered his Jewish roots and ended up embracing his new identity; full review:
  • The Ultimate Gift (2006): the first in a trilogy of feel good movies about a young man wandering aimless in life who is taught life lessons by his deceased grandfather through stipulations in his will; full review:
  • Hoosiers: The Story of Indiana: four-part documentary that takes a historical look at Indiana from the start of statehood through the present day; full review:
  • Body of Lies (2008): action movie about a CIA operative in the Middle East who becomes disillusioned; full review:

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