The Horror Honeys: So Long, 2016: Celebrating the Year in Sci-Fi

So Long, 2016: Celebrating the Year in Sci-Fi

A Sci-Fi Honey Top 5 List with Katie

Looking back on 2016 as the year draws to a close, it’s safe to say that many of us have experienced an incredibly turbulent 12 months, and for this Sci-Fi Honey, it all began when our beloved Starman David Bowie departed this planet back in January. Fortunately, the cinema is there to provide a much-needed escape from our confusion, our grief, or just the doldrums of our everyday lives with the comfort of a darkened theatre and a flickering story before our eyes. The sci-fi films in particular from this year have taken us back and forth in time, to alternate dimensions and beyond, and have even thrown in some romance and laughter for good measure. If you need a mini-marathon to shake away the 2016 blues this month, look no further than this list of the best sci-fi offerings this year.

5. High-Rise 

Writer/director Ben Wheatley is no stranger to controversial art, and his Cronenbergian odyssey High-Rise is no exception. A dystopia set within the walls of a state-of-the-art apartment building, High-Rise presents an unflinching commentary on class warfare with a groovy, inventive 1970s aesthetic. The film can be violent, perplexing, and downright odd, but it is never ugly or boring, and major credit belongs to the film’s dashing star, Tom Hiddleston. If it weren’t for all the murder, mayhem, and torture going on in this condominium, I’d move in tomorrow.

4. Midnight Special 

As a father on the run from the government and trying to protect his supernaturally gifted son from being exploited by a mysterious cult, the always-engaging Michael Shannon shines in his fourth collaboration with writer/director Jeff Nichols. Though a grim reality lurks beneath the surface of this ‘road’ movie, Midnight Special ultimately takes audiences back to a time when sci-fi wasn’t quite so cynical, when the unknown was imbued with a sense of wonder rather than fear. The film didn’t have an enormous impact during its sluggish theatrical rollout in mid-spring this year, but it deserves to be rescued from under the radar and given a closer look by audiences who long to feel that bittersweet Spielberg-esque sci-fi magic again.

3. Ghostbusters 

For all the hullabaloo and internet firestorms this film stirred up since its inception, it came out the other side relatively unscathed. Facing criticism both as a remake and as a film fronted by a quartet of formidable comediennes, a rare occurrence in Hollywood, Paul Feig’s 2016 Ghostbusters proved that it can update a much-adored modern classic while also being quirky, timely, and totally hilarious in its own right. Purists may still argue that Ivan Reitman’s ’84 film is ‘better’ or that the remake doesn’t need to exist at all, but Feig and his funny females pulled off a solidly enjoyable summer box office smash that surprised and silenced those same naysayers all around the world. For those that still say “nay,” you’re welcome to continue to revisit the original film any time that you like... but you’d be missing out on experiencing the joy of Kate McKinnon’s glorious mad scientist, Jillian Holtzmann.

2. Arrival 

‘Arriving’ in theatres just last month, Denis Villeneuve’s take on a well-worn alien invasion tale is elevated by beautifully engrossing performances from leads Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. As a world-renowned linguist, Adams is enlisted by the U.S. government to travel to the site of an alien spacecraft landing and attempt to communicate with strange and possibly hostile extraterrestrial beings. Arrival is a poignant take on love, loss, and a unifying purpose to it all which may be the very message we need at this moment, in a world that feels increasingly chaotic and disparate. The film concludes with an incredibly heart-rending plot twist that’ll pay off if you’re paying close attention, so keep your eyes as wide open as your mind.

1. 10 Cloverfield Lane 

Less of a sequel and more like a half-sibling to 2008’s monster movie Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane is set in a world that appears to only contain monsters of a human kind: specifically, Howard (John Goodman), a survivalist who has locked people inside his underground bunker and warned them of the extraterrestrial menace that awaits them above. Learning whether or not the outside danger is real or imagined is half the fun of Dan Trachtenberg’s feature-length directorial debut, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as one of the fiercest and most resourceful sci-fi heroines since Alien’s Ellen Ripley. As entertaining as it is frightening, 10 Cloverfield Lane easily takes the top spot for appealing to fans of both sci-fi and horror alike.

Honorable Mention: 

The sci-fi film that caught me most by surprise this year is an experimental film that could’ve gone horribly wrong: Ilya Naishuller’s all-POV first feature Hardcore Henry. Shot entirely on GoPro Hero3 Black Edition cameras, the film came with a perfunctory motion sickness warning for anyone triggered by the customary shaking, jumping, spinning, or whirling of a first-person shooter video game. If you’ve got a Dramamine handy, you can appreciate the film for what it is: an inventive technical concept executed to precision, and a rollicking good time.

What was your favorite sci-fi film of 2016?
Tell Katie on Twitter: @moonrisesister

Belladonna Horror Mag 1.7
Belladonna Horror Mag: Belladonna Horror Mag 1.7
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