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The Panda

The Bamboo Awards: The Panda's Top 20 of '16 Extravaganza! - Number 1 Film Revealed!

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It's finally that time of year again.  I've seen a total of 83 movies this year, a number of those being terrible, and a number of those being quite good.  I'm going to be commencing my countdown a little differently than I have the last few times I've done.  I am not only going to countdown my top 20 movies, but I am going to award Bamboo Sticks for different categories as well, hence my countdown is now titled "The Bamboo Awards".


For each of the following categories I will pick 6 people/movies to distinguish (20 in the case of best picture) and award a Gold, Silver and Bronze Bamboo stick to my top 3 choices.  I'm sure they'll be thrilled when they hear the news of winning my prestigious awards.


The Categories I am awarding are



Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Arrival

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Deadpool

4th: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

5th: Hell or High Water

6th: Zootopia

7th: Moonlight

8th: Kubo and the Two Strings

9th: The Witch

10th: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

11th: Fences

12th: The Edge of Seventeen

13th: Moana

14th: Hacksaw Ridge

15th: Eye in the Sky

16th: The Nice Guys

17th: Finding Dory

18th: 10 Cloverfield Lane

19th: Manchester by the Sea

20th: The Little Prince



Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: David Mackenzie, Hell or High Water

4th: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

5th: Taika Waititi, Hunt for the Wilderpeople

6th: Robert Eggers, The Witch



Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Moonlight

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Fences

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Hell or High Water

4th: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

5th: Manchester by the Sea

6th: The Edge of Seventeen



Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Denzel Washington, Fences

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Ryan Gosling, La La Land and the Nice Guys

4th: Chris Pine, Hell or High Water

5th: Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

6th: Sam Neill, Hunt for the Wilderpeople



Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Emma Stone, La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Amy Adams, Arrival

4th: Hailee Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen

5th: Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky

6th: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane



Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Viola Davis, Fences

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

4th: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

5th: Ben Foster, Hell or High Water

6th: Angourie Rice, The Nice Guys



Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: Arrival

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Fences

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

4th: Hell or High Water

5th: La La Land

6th: Zootopia


BEST USE OF MUSIC (Includes Best Score, Soundtrack and Original Songs)

Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Moana

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: The Witch

4th: Moonlight

5th: Kubo and the Two Strings

6th: Hell or High Water


BEST TECHNICAL WORK (Includes Best Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects)

Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: Arrival

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Moonlight

4th Place: Hacksaw Ridge

5th Place: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

6th Place: Kubo and the Two Strings


BEST PRODUCTION WORK (Includes Best Production Design, Best Makeup/Hairstyling and Best Costume Design)

Golden Bamboo Stick Winner: La La Land

Silver Bamboo Stick Winner: The Witch

Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

4th Place: Hacksaw Ridge

5th Place: Deadpool

6th Place: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them




What movie will be Panda's favorite?




How many Comic Book films will sneak onto the list?




Just how pleb will The Panda's choices be?




Does anyone even care?




The Countdown Begins!

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Before I reveal the first movie, I'll announce my six picks for Best Production Work! (Note, I am not going to really do write ups for anything besides Picture)


Best Production Work

This Category is for films with impeccable Production Design, Costume Design and Makeup/Hairstyling


Number 6

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them



Number 5




Number 4

Hacksaw Ridge




Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story




Silver Bamboo Stick Winner

The Witch




Golden Bamboo Stick Winner

La La Land


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And now for my first pick


Number 20

The Little Prince



"It is only with heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."


My Grade: B+

Most Valuable Player: Jaimie Caliri, creative director for stop motion

Box Office: 1.3m

Tomatometer: 93%

IMDb Synopsis: From Mark Osborne comes the first-ever animated feature film adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's iconic masterpiece, The Little Prince. At the heart of it all is The Little Girl, who's being prepared by her mother for the very grown-up world in which they live - only to be interrupted by her eccentric, kind-hearted neighbor, The Aviator. The Aviator introduces his new friend to an extraordinary world where anything is possible. A world that he himself was initiated into long ago by The Little Prince. It's here that The Little Girl's magical and emotional journey into her own imagination - and into the universe of The Little Prince - begins. And it's where The Little Girl rediscovers her childhood and learns that ultimately, it's human connections that matter most, and that what's truly essential can only be seen with the heart.

Critic Opinion: "“The Little Prince” is heartbreaking, beautiful and irresistible. It would be all of that and more at any time, but I can’t help feeling especially grateful that it is becoming available now, in the midst of a dark, disturbing summer of discontent. Some may dismiss the film as overly sentimental, but I’d like to think even the most jaded among us will fall heavily for “The Little Prince.”" - David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

User Opinion: "This movie was magical." - RandomJC

Reasoning: 2016 has been a prime year for animated movies, there have been many that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  2016 has also been year that it has been easy to be pessimistic in, so I figured there'd be no better way to start the countdown than with a movie that gave a little optimism.  While the 3D animation in the movie can be a little rigid, and there are times when the film reaches a little too far with its sentimentality, it definitely comes across as magical.  When I went to see animated movies as a child, movies like the Little Prince were the ones that left me inspired, and it was pretty special for the film to capture a little bit of that essence now as an adult.  The score also plays a large role in making this movie work overall. The first two acts are fairly good, but it's definitely the third act that makes the movie, this movie may have placed higher if it had captured the essence of the third act the full way through.  The Little Prince is a very underrated movie, and if you have Netflix, I'd definitely recommend checking it out.







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Number 19

Manchester By The Sea



"I can't beat it. I can't beat it."


My Grade: B+

Most Valuable Player: Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler

Box Office: 23.1m+

Tomatometer: 97%

IMDb Synopsis: An Uncle is obliged to return home to care for his nephew after his brother dies. Unknowing he is to be the guardian and struggles with the decision. Throughout the movie he recounts past memories that caused him to leave Manchester and distancing himself from his past.

Critic Opinion: "Just remember you heard somewhere that “Manchester by the Sea” is an experience worth having, not for the magnificence of its impact or the far-flung grandeur of its settings but for the way it illuminates with quiet, unyielding grace how you and I and our neighbors get by, and sometimes how we don’t."

User Opinion: "Manchester by the Sea is a beautiful look at family and how we cope with tragedy. It's a powerful drama, intimate in the human love it portrays while sweeping in its storytelling. Lonergan has made a film that will be remembered for years to come, thanks to his magnificent direction and script and his actors' breathtaking performances. A true work of art." - Blankments

Reasoning: To be fair, I just now saw this movie today, so it hasn't had time to settle in on me.  Maybe in a few weeks I'll look back more favorably on this movie, and it'll be higher on my list.  Maybe it won't.  But this is where I felt as if I needed to place it right now.  Manchester by the Sea is a quiet movie, it isn't showy, and there isn't much to it beyond the wonderful performances and a well-crafted screenplay.  The movie explores a damaged man, and presents a contrast of how events in life can cause traumatic changes in how we interact with one another.  It isn't particularly cinematic, but it is definitely human.






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One last thing for the night, I'll announce the winners for....


Best Technical Work

Awarded to films that have shown excellence in Cinematography, Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects


Number 6

Kubo and the Two Strings



Number 5

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story



Number 4

Hacksaw Ridge




Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner





Silver Bamboo Stick Winner





Golden Bamboo Stick Winner

La La Land



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Time to continue the countdown!


Number 18

10 Cloverfield Lane



"Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come."


My Grade: B+

Most Valuable Player: John Goodman as Howard

Box Office: 72.1m

Tomatometer: 90%

IMDb Synopsis: Soon after leaving her fiancé Michelle is involved in a car accident. She awakens to find herself sharing an underground bunker with Howard and Emmett. Has she been saved from an apocalyptical event as Howard & Emmett tell her or are there other motives for her being held against her will?

Critic Opinion: "Unpredictability in cinema is frequently a missing element — especially when we’re talking about movies that fall into the horror or science-fiction genres. With “10 Cloverfield Lane,” there is no such problem. Trust me. There are many twists and turns presented here that you simply won’t see coming.

And that is a very good thing." - Bill Zwecker, Chicago-Sun Times

User Opinion: "This is such a different movie from Cloverfield overall that it seems absurd to even draw a comparison between them. Ironically, the stuff that vaguely connects it to the earlier found footage movie are its weakness. The last 15 minutes don't mesh well with the effective psychological thriller that unfolds over the preceding 80 or so, as if someone (perhaps J.J. Abrams) decided that the movie needed a more slam-bang finale than what it already had and so they thought, "why not?" Before then, this is an almost unbearably claustrophobic movie that does a terrific job of building suspense as it goes along. A lot of the credit really belongs to the actors: Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes for a resourceful and badass heroine, but 10 Cloverfield Lane belongs to John Goodman, who sheds all of the teddy bear-huggable qualities that have defined his career to inhabit a truly unpleasant figure who audiences will cheer for to receive his comeuppance."

Reasoning: This honestly would have placed much higher on my list, if the last ten minutes of the film didn't exist.  This movie came out of nowhere at the beginning of the year, and was such a pleasant surprise.  The tension that builds throughout the first act leaves you in a spot where you almost can't breathe, and the performances from all three of the main cast members are top-notch, especially Goodman.  John Goodman does an excellent job turning his character Howard into a subtle monster, one that strikes much more terror than the Cloverfield monster from the movie preceding it in the anthology.  I definitely am looking forward to future Cloverfield movies, I just hope they don't take more cheap 3rd act twists in the future, like they did in this one.





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Number 17

Finding Dory



"Sigourney Weaver is going to help us!"


My Grade: A-

Most Valuable Player: Andrew Stanton and Victoria Strouse for the Screenplay

Box Office: 486.3m

Tomatometer: 94%

IMDb Synopsis: Dory is a wide-eyed, blue tang fish who suffers from memory loss every 10 seconds or so. The one thing she can remember is that she somehow became separated from her parents as a child. With help from her friends Nemo and Marlin, Dory embarks on an epic adventure to find them. Her journey brings her to the Marine Life Institute, a conservatory that houses diverse ocean species. Dory now knows that her family reunion will only happen if she can save mom and dad from captivity.

Critic Opinion: "Poignant and soulful, “Finding Dory” proves once again that Pixar is the pillar of the modern animated world, producing deeply resonant and instantly memorable classics almost without fail. (Let’s ignore “Cars 2” and “The Good Dinosaur,” shall we? Nobody bats 1000). You don’t need to have children, or be a child or an animation fan to admire their work. All you need are eyes and a mind and a heart." - Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune

User Opinion: "I mentioned earlier that the film feels a bit padded, but I'm now thinking a lot of the padding actually works. Pretty much all of the new characters have really solid footing - having to jump around a good deal between each one, and they provide a relief to the more somber story at play. It's clear that the writers and actors had a lot of fun with the roles, and they're hardly reliant on reusing comic characters (among many other things) from the first film. The film really tries to form its own identity, something Pixar's getting a lot better at with their sequels.  I know it's hip to hate on sequels, but this has me a lot more curious as to what will happen in The Incredibles 2 and even Toy Story 4." - Spaghetti

Reasoning: Animation strikes for a second time on my list, maybe I became a bit of a loonie-toon this year, or maybe I just found this year to be incredibly strong in the animation department.  Either way, Finding Dory proves that Pixar knows how to make an effective sequel to a movie not titled "Toy Story", and manages to be something almost completely detached from Finding Nemo, while also being a worthy companion piece.  There is soul in the animation, Newman's score strikes a chord as it did with the first one, and the screenplay has a surprising amount of maturity and depth.  The film isn't perfect by any means, and it isn't Pixar at their best, but it's still high quality animation-fare.






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And here are my choices for


Best Uses of Music

Awarded to films that most effectively utilized their Score, Soundtrack and Original Songs to enhance the movie.


Number 6

Hell or High Water





Number 5

Kubo and the Two Strings





Number 4






Bronze Bamboo Stick Winner

The Witch





Silver Bamboo Stick Winner






Golden Bamboo Stick Winner

La La Land




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And now to go onto...


Number 16

The Nice Guys



"So you're telling me you made a porno where the plot is the point?"


My Grade: B+

Most Valuable Player: Shane Black for his writing and direction

Box Office: 36.3m

Tomatometer: 92%

IMDb Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of 1977 Los Angeles, The Nice Guys opens when single father and licensed PI Holland March (Gosling) is hired to investigate the apparent suicide of famous porn star Misty Mountains. As the trail leads him to track down a girl named Amelia (Qualley), he encounters less licensed and less hands-off private eye Jackson Healey (Russell Crowe) and his brass knuckles, both hired by the young hippie. However, the situation takes a turn for the worse when Amelia vanishes and it becomes apparent that March wasn't the only party interested. As both men are forced to team up, they'll have to take on a world filled with eccentric goons, strippers dressed as mermaids and even a possible government conspiracy.

Critic Opinion: "Between a gorgeously grandiose finale, memorable parts for Yaya DaCosta and Kim Basinger and a juicy soundtrack that includes Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & the Gang, The Nice Guys is the perfect, incredibly crafted yet laid-back procedural we’ve been starved for. Even when it sometimes seems that the endless jokes are being thrown against a wall to see what sticks, The Nice Guys, on the whole, summons that victorious, innocent feeling of seeing likable heroes win while having fun along the way. It’s nice, guys." - Tomris Laffly, Time Out

User Opinion: "The action is surprisingly enthralling too, thanks to the humor being well-endowed within them. Nothing particularly stands out, but that's fine as this is a mystery first, comedy second, and action film last. The character work for all three main characters is wonderfully portrayed, as their arcs are well-defined and makes us root for them all the way through. The biggest issue the film has is a slow first half-hour, but the rest of the feature goes by so fast, this is easily forgivable. The Nice Guys triumphs as wonderfully entertaining filmmaking thanks to the tight script, Shane Black's amusing style, and astounding chemistry between Gosling, Crowe and Rice. Its poor performance at the box office is a true shame, and one that should be alleviated by every connoisseur of great popcorn cinema." - Blankments

Reasoning: I originally gave The Nice Guys an A-, however it didn't really stick with me that long after I saw it, so I moved it down to a B+.  Despite that, The Nice Guys is still a riveting good time at the theaters, and it provided a fresh, original story that stood out among all of the obnoxiously, loud tentpoles that surrounded it during the summer season.  I loved how it felt like a throwback to old school popcorn fun, and the chemistry between the cast helped to make the movie.  The final act could have used a bit more closure, but in the end, that was entirely forgivable as The Nice Guys provided some of the most fun to be had at the cinemas this Summer.





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2 hours ago, RandomJC said:

It feels good that my comment was used for Little Prince, still my second favorite animated film this year.


:ph34r: Even if it looks like stock promo material stolen from twitter.


I nearly didn't put it on the list because all the posters look cheesy af.

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I will say that I had a hard time picking the order for numbers 15 - 8, they are all pretty interchangeable on the list to me, but I had to go with an order.


Number 15

Eye in the Sky



"Never tell a soldier that he does not know the cost of war."


My Grade: A

Most Valuable Player: Helen Mirren for her performance as Col. Katherine Powell

Box Office: 16.6m

Tomatometer: 95%

IMDb Synopsis: Colonel Katherine Powell is a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from "capture" to "kill." But as American pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute, reaching the highest levels of US and British government, over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.

Critic Opinion: "The film might have hit home more if the tick-tock of its plot allowed us to better know its characters, who sometimes come off as mere mouthpieces of different philosophies of modern warfare. But "Eye in the Sky" is nevertheless a compelling case of how moral precision doesn't necessarily match technical accuracy.  The debate that rages in "Eye in the Sky" is perhaps more than is always spent over the fate of a single civilian casualty. But it could hardly seem more topical. On Monday, more than 150 Shabab militants were killed in Somali in a strike partially carried out by drones." - Jake Coyle, Associated Press

User Opinion: "A taut and nail-biting thriller about the moral decisions the people calling the shots have to make in drone warfare. Abetted with strong performances from Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, and (in one of his final appearances) Alan Rickman." - filmlover

Reasoning: I honestly wanted to put this one higher than it got, especially given the fact that it would have made my top 10 if it had come out last year.  As sad as I was that I couldn't find room to put this in my top 10 of the year, I will say that it's absolutely gripping.  I was left dwelling on the moral dilemma and the consequences of the movie well-after, and everyone brings their A game in this quiet and underrated film.  Helen Mirren is absolutely captivating in her subtle lead performance, as is the entire cast.  I highly recommend checking this film out, especially since it seems to have flown under the radar on these forums and in the awards season, and if nothing else because it's a fantastic final performance by Alan Rickman.






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