For those who have followed my website for any given time, you already know the prized honor of movie of the year has always gone to something that is not typically Oscar material..
Normally, through the years, it has been horror. Things like JEEPERS CREEPERS or even fantasy like LORD OF THE RINGS..

Last year, as I paused the to reflect on a big year for STAR WARS, I named THE MARTIAN as the surprise film of the year.. Looking back, I am happy with that decision. The FORCE AWAKENS seemed fine at first.. but after reflection it seemed sloppy. It seemed way too overdone with homages to the past. And the storyline appeared to be a duplicate of NEW HOPE.

All that said…this year I am going against the grain again by naming a dark horse for the movie of the year.

In 2016, despite all of the actually quite fine films released, ROGUE ONE is my movie of the year.

  • Director Gareth Edwards
  • Writers Chris Weitz,  Tony Gilroy
  • Stars Felicity Jones,  Diego Luna,  Alan Tudyk,  Donnie Yen,  Wen Jiang
  • The 2016 movie of the year

A caveat to this choice: ROGUE ONE was not highly regarded by several people. As a matter of fact, I have heard such mixed reviews that I expect the reaction to me naming this as the film of the year would be equally mixed.

But the cleverest of things happened when ROGUE ONE began.. first off, there was no scrawl with the typical STAR WARS theme. There was just a quick beginning.. a brand new start. By the end of the film we heard some similar music, but this movie wanted to set a new course of adventure that wasn’t seen previously.

It was fresh. It was new..
ROGUE ONE is a war film  mixed with science fiction..
Darth Vader shows up to prove he is still one of the greatest movie villains of all time … and what emerges by the ending credits is one of the greatest SCI-FI meets SAVING PRIVATE RYAN war films ever made. It was remarkable .. the experience incredible and real..

The final scene–conclusive in all ways–was visceral. It felt like reality. It almost felt like a future that could occur.

The places where ROGUE ONE succeeded the most was when it made itself different from STAR WARS.

Yes, Disney is rebuilding the ‘death star’ of STAR WARS by coming up with tons more of the film series.. We know that. But if the future movies are as good as ROGUE ONE then Disney is awfully clever. And we, as movie goers and STAR WARS fans, will be very rewarded.

It is notable to mention that ROGUE ONE has been besieged with just as many negative reviews as positive versions.

I find that interesting.. There is a clash among STAR WARS fans. Some from older generations who yearn for anything similar to NEW HOPE or EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and the newer fans who grew up actually accepting Jar Jar Binks as a serious character. ROGUE ONE is taking the experience of STAR WARS to a new level of entertainment.

You know the ending already.. but you never knew the beginning. And looking at the sacrifices made just to get the DEATH STAR plans, now you see why Princess Leia hides it so fast and Vader hunts it so hard..

This is a moral tale as much as it is cautionary about future choices and warlike societies. Of course there is a message. You can’t escape it completely. But you certainly can escape your own reality for that of STAR WARS…
…..the scary part is not being sure which reality you’d rather be immersed in.

But the immersion of the year–the movie of the year–runs about 2 hours and 13 minutes and features a simple story of good going bad, and evil going badder. With few good men–and women–rising to the challenge to defeat evil.

….kind of how life normally works, isn’t it?