by Jericho Cerrona
The difference between the "worst" and "least favorite" is a necessary distinction here because these are all films that had potential to be worthwhile. Therefore, Adam Sandler crotch kicks, Seth Rogen bong rips, animated kids movies about farting glitter, and feel-good Oscar-baiting dreck starring Will Smith will never be represented here. Infact, some of these titles have actually appeared on other Best of the Year lists. So, without further ado, here are 2016's greatest follies. When people claim cinema is alive and well, I'll point them to these turkeys.
Anthony Weiner was running for mayor of New York City in 2013. Anthony Weiner likes taking photos of his "weiner." Anthony Weiner is not a tragic figure worthy of unprecedented access, and this miscalculated freak show doc is simply another predictable tale of political hubris gone awry.
Kevin Smith's lame stoner comedy follows two convenience store teenage girls (played by the real-life daughters of Smith and Johnny Depp) as they stare into their iphones, engage in Canuk jokes, and battle Nazi bratwursts. Yes, Nazi bratwursts. This isn't simply an act of nepotism. It's child abuse.
Matt Ross's shallow social critique about a father (Viggo Mortensen) living with his family off the grid never bothers to examine its troubling premise. Instead, it piles on the familial sing-alongs, tearful monologues, and forced whimsy while holding up the patriarch as some kind of anti-capitalist saint. Vomit.
Swiss Army Man
This should have been a grotesque buddy comedy, but instead, directors "The Daniels" thinks they're making a movie about human loneliness. Please. Think Michel Gondry-inspired fantasy without the charm set to an atrociously twee indie soundtrack. And no, the Daniels are not in on it.
Star Trek Beyond
Justin Lin hyperdrives the Star Trek franchise into a black hole with this incomprehensible jumble of shaky action sequences and lame attempts at humor. Gene Rodenbery must have been rolling around in his grave to the deafening sounds of The Beastie Boys after this soulless cash grab.
Is it possible for a great performance to turn up in a truly bad, wrong-headed film? Rebecca Hall is fiercely committed as TV reporter Christine Chubbuck, who shot herself live on air in 1974, but director Antonio Campos completely misses the irony of the very thing Chubbuck warned against. Unlike Robert Greene's meta deconstruction Kate Plays Christine, Campos's misguided dramatization represents a streamlining of mental illness and a vulgar portrait of "blood and guts" exploitation.
Pablo Larraine's anti-biopic is the worst kind of art house wallpaper; a ghoulish display of grief masquerading as character study. Instead of historical specificity, we learn that it must have been awful to see your husband's head blown off. Thanks, movie.
In a year of shitty comic book movies, Deadpool was the worst because it actually thought it was being a subversive take on superhero tropes. The problem here is that indulging in the very cliches you are satirizing isn't clever, it's just as lazy and self-satisfied as an avocado having sex with an older, more disgusting avocado.
Men and Chicken
A tone deaf mess about socially challenged siblings who discover they are actually adopted half-brothers after stumbling upon three additional half-brothers on a Danish island and...well, who cares. Not even Mads Mikkelsen's goofy moustache and chronic masturbation can save this turd.
The Eyes of my Mother
Nicolas Pesce's debut is an ugly, sadistic piece of wannabe art house nonsense which offers no reason to exist other than as a flashy calling card for its writer-director. This isn't galvanizing or bold horror filmmaking. It's simply empty Freudian torture porn calories.
by Jericho Cerrona
by Jericho Cerrona
by Jericho Cerrona
by Jericho Cerrona
by Jericho Cerrona
While not quite the speaker-blowing sprawl of dissonance and lo-fi cacophony one would expect from Brooklyn noisemakers Lightning Bolt, Fantasy Empire nonetheless attempts at a certain kind of rampaging clarity. Intense heavy metal-esque riffing, coiled drumming, and herky-jerky time signatures are all here in force, as is the howling, muffled vocals. Pure intensity from start to finish.
27-year-old Melbourne native Courtney Barnett has a knack for couching witty barbs and self-referential lines under the guise of down-to-earth slacker rock, and on her debut LP, she makes an unequivocal bid for alt-rock stardom. Using her mistakes, misunderstandings, and insecurities as fodder for humorously self-reflexive tunes, Barnett strings together disparate words into colorful patchwork stories of disillusionment that also happens to rock.
Strange Trails is the kind of record that will inevitably be compared to works by artists such as Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver, but this beguiling collection of rustic, guitar-and-bass indie folk nevertheless transcends such comparisons. Lead singer Ben Schneider has a ruggedly winsome delivery and the washed-out Americana sonic stylings here are ambitiously layered, resulting in the perfect soundtrack for the wandering troubadour.
If drone-psych is a thing, than Portland outfit Moon Duo likely lay claim to the genre. Densely repetitive and overflowing with monochromatic grooves and swirling organs, Shadow of the Sun sees the band ditching the drum machine for a human being behind the kit, which adds a certain tenacity to their one/two chord psychedelic attack. The hazy vocals, pummeling organ, and fuzzy guitar solos are no match for the mortal listener.
Soak (aka Bridie Monds-Watson) is only 18-years-old, but her much buzzed about debut Before We Forgot How To Dream is the work of emotional clarity and simple, yet undeniably ambitious, songwriting. Using her soft, wispy voice as a way of extrapolating growing up bored and aimless without a hint of ironic detachment, Soak indulges in fable-like melodies backed up acoustic guitar, piano, and subtle effects. Rarely has youth sounded this mature.
A hypnotic fusion of Afro-beat, blues, and West African rhythms, Tal National's Zoy Zoy is a complete marvel; an album that succeeds almost solely on the strength of its musicians, all of which bring the ruckus. The call-and-response vocal chanting have a distinctly West African feel, but there's also dazzling twin guitar riffs and intricate drumming throughout. A joyous, life-affirming piece of extraordinary musicianship.
Another month; another retro electro-pop act. In this case, its Baltimore-based Lower Dens' third LP Escape from Evil; a simultaneously alluring and distancing slab of goth-tinged experimental pop. Jana Hunter's theatrical, high-pitched falsetto and the shimmery synth-laden soundscapes all add up to something with melodic hooks aplenty, but just enough off-center weirdness to grab the indie crowd. New-wave chic wrapped in modern garb.
Kate Staples, the sonic mastermind and voice behind This is the Kit, is a warmly expressive tour guide throughout Bashed Out; a record that weaves folk, 90s-inflected art rock, and electronic flourishes over the course of 10 tracks. Staples' hushed vocals provide an emotional center to songs that contain pop-oriented hooks, but just as often tip toward the avant-garde. Overall, a carefully constructed, subtly ambitious effort.
Jamie xx (born Jamie Smith), is essentially a producer; cobbling together various samples, sounds, clips, and choice deep cuts from his record collection. On the strength of his debut In Colour, however, he's also a legitimate artist. Anyone can pull things from various media and get the dancefloor raging, but it takes skill to appropriate such things into a musical tapestry that wiggles into your eardrums and refuses to leave. Smith has created something magical here; constructing loops that build, crash, and overwhelm just as often as they soothe.
Two members of the Los Angeles rap trio Acid Reign (Beond and Gajah, respectively), along with Osaka-based MC Gebo, have collaborated on a startling forward thinking hip-hop album that bristles with raw energy and exhilarating verve. The rhymes come fast like splintering arrows, the production weaves fractured beats with jazzy interludes, and the overall effect of the LP, despite the bevy of producers and guest spots, is one of complete cohesion.
by Jericho Cerrona
Hudson valley-based indie pop outfit Breakfast in Fur conjure blissful soundscapes on their latest LP Flyaway Garden; an album dabbling in echo-chambered percussion, airy keyboards, chugging guitars, and lilting vocals. A charming, 35-minute blast of childlike psychedelia.
With the carcass of post-punk dangling in atrophy, Chicago four-piece Disappears take the cyclical Krautrock-inspired rhythms and repetitive grooves from 2013's Era and dive further into the darkness on fifth full-length Irreal. This is a spare, unbearably intense album; a claustrophobic experiment in minimalism that nonetheless feels vitally raw.
For all the Pavement and Slowdive comparisons, the "I love the 90s" debut from Leeds band Menace Beach has it's own scuzzy charms. A slacker indie pop record with big hooks, distorted guitar lines, and endearingly lo-fi production, Ratworld would undoubtably be dismissed as pastiche if the melodies weren't this good.
One of the most influential genre filmmakers of the 1970s/1980s, John Carpenter has always been renowned for his classic movie scores and with Lost Themes, he's complied brand new material that runs the gambit from his ominous synth-driven motifs, kitschy New Age-style jazz, to long stretches of ambient noise. With all of the retro revivalism going on these days, leave it up to Carpenter to bring back the 80s as only he can.
Jenny Hoyston, Ellie Erickson, and Bianca Sparta are back with their first record since 2006's Nightlife, and though they've somewhat abandoned their jittery math-punk roots, Lost Weekend features quite possibly the trio's best songwriting yet. The lyrics are wittier, the pop sensibilities more defined, and the band's sense of playfulness more directly shared with the listener.
Even though Australian psych rockers Pond share members with fellow Aussie outfit Tame Impala, this is the work of a far more ambitious group of musicians. Colorful, bizarre, dancey, and mired in acid-psych atmosphere, Man It Feels Like Space Again has both the drug-trip freakouts of bands like the Flaming Lips as well as the hip-shaking grooves of 60's soul groups such as Funkadelic.
The sophomore effort from Australian noise-pop outfit Twerps sounds like something from the Flying Nun label circa 1985; with lots of jangly guitars, laconic melodies, and post-breakup lyrics strewn across a series of pleasantly arranged tracks. Drawing influences from The Clean and The Go-Betweens, Twerps haven't so much reappropriated an older style as they have perfected their own sonic universe.
Philly native Hezekiah manages to combine jazzy samples, soul-infused production, and socially conscience lyrics to gorgeous effect on Dreams Don't Chase Themselves; an album resonating from an older era of hip-hop which placed it's significance in the power of lyrical narratives rather than faux-braggadocio posturing.
Alabama-based spoken word artist Matt Finney's latest collaboration with Dutch musician Mories is less dependent on the drone-induced atmosphere and despairing lyrical subject matter of 2014's EP Creation Myths. Instead, Mories layers atonal glitches, electronic flourishes, percussive beats and ambient synths over Finney's bleak poetry, which is less pervasive here than in past outings, but nonetheless creeps in like a rolling fog just when you've been lulled into a false slumber.
Aimless 20-something life gets a new soundtrack with Los Angeles-based DIY rocker Colleen Green's third full-length album; which comes across like stoner pop (is that a thing?) filtered through the lens of power chords and a strong female perspective on being young and reckless. It's debatable whether or not Green really wants to grow up, but one thing is certain; she sure knows how to write a catchy hook.