2016 wrapped up a couple months ago, and like most years, a lot of movies came out. Some were good, some were bad, and some were Batman v. Superman. You have may have seen a lot of these films or none at all, but below is my completely subjective list for which you can judge my entire merit as a human being.
Disclaimer: These are a small list of movies I didn’t watch that could’ve possibly made it on my list had I seen them, but movies cut into my bacon time and I do really like eating bacon.
Moonlight, Fences, Hidden Figures, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, O.J Made in America, Tower, Swiss Army Man, The Lobster, Neon Demon, Popstar
10. Captain America: Civil War
Arguably the best Marvel movie to come out that isn’t Howard the Duck, this movie is not only highly entertaining but also an emotional and personal story that most superhero movies can’t seem to manage. All the character motivations and build up from previous movies pays off in a grand spectacle of superheroes punching the shit out of other superheroes for a solid two hours. Black Panther’s introduced and Spiderman is in a movie that doesn’t suck! Cheers all around.
If you don’t know the name Denis Villenueve yet then I’m going to need you to start putting some respect on this man’s name! He’s as good a director as it is hard to say his name out loud. Arrival is a sci-fi drama, about a linguist trying to communicate with aliens in order to understand their purpose here on Earth. While definitely not as thrilling or anxiety-inducing as his other works, Arrival is a smart and emotional journey with a wallop of a finale. If you want to see a redhead who can act really well and isn’t named Emma Stone, go see this film.
My favorite animated film of 2016, Zootopia does not suffer the same issues as its competition. The story is entertaining and topical, with a good message for kids. The characters are fun and distinct, and the pacing is perfect, it never feels like there are scenes that are rushed or are too slow. A buddy-cop mystery movie with animals AND there are references to The Godfather and Breaking Bad? What’s not to love (besides that very mediocre Shakira song I mean)?
7. Hell or High Water
One of the most Texan films put to screen, written by Tyler Sheridan, who is coincidentally from Texas. Two brothers decide to rob a string of small banks in order to pay off their mother’s property debt. This is a movie that makes you fall in love with its characters in the midst of a very tragic and all too real story. Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster give standout performances, and if you truly like Dr. Pepper, you should give this movie your attention.
6. Nocturnal Animals
I’ll admit that I was way more impressed with this movie before I knew it was based on a book, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a very good screenplay, and also a very good film. Nocturnal Animals is basically a writer’s revenge porn story mashed up with a creepy and effective thriller. It’s very entertaining and thematically interesting, one of those movies where it’s actually fun to pay attention to all the details. The downside is some of the themes are told with a very heavy hand and some of the scenes come off as ridiculous, or so cheesy you could spread it on crackers, but it’s worth watching for the first five minutes alone. That last part was a joke, don’t do that.
5. Hacksaw Ridge
People don’t hate Mel Gibson now, so you can watch this movie with a guilt-free heart. Hacksaw Ridge tells the uplifting tale of a man who serves in WWII, but refuses to use a gun because he is a pacifist. He’s determined to become a medic and save lives instead of taking them. This movie is an effective and heartwarming look at the best of humanity in one of the world’s darkest times. It’s oddly put together though, since the first half plays out like a Lifetime movie only to transition into a Saving Private Ryan-on-meth war movie once the violence starts. The juxtaposition is very jarring, but Andrew Garfield is so likable here, and the battles are so visceral you’re likely to forget the movies problems by the end.
4. The Witch
2016 got it’s one great horror movie out of the way early (though I also really liked The Conjuring 2). I have a hard time describing The Witch in comparison with any other horror movie. The movie feels like you’re watching a documentary on the most messed-up shit to happen to a family alone in the woods in the 1630’s. It’s an immersive experience, with ratcheting tension that eventually goes to an 11. It’s as much a drama as it is a horror film, so if the crumbling family narrative and the old dialect put you off, then there’s probably no saving you. I will say that it has one of the most chilling horror endings I’ve seen in a very long time.
3. The Nice Guys
Nice guys might finish last at the box office, but not in our hearts. Ryan Gosling gives his best performance of the year in this plot heavy noir-comedy, which also stars Russel Crowe, who is not forced to sing against his will here. This movie is a lot of fun, and even the actors seem like they’re having a blast every time they’re on screen. The gags are smart and hilarious, people fall off buildings and get shot and stabbed, and it revolves around the porn industry in the 70’s, so what’s not to love? Also I met Shane Black and he seemed like a good guy so go rent his film at Blockbuster or in front of a Walgreens.
There comes a time in every man’s life where he watches a movie that makes him cry. Not since Titanic, Requiem for a Dream, and An Extremely Goofy Movie have I felt the waterworks turn on as much as they did for this film. Good things don’t happen in this film. You thought Manchester by the Sea was sad? Pfft, that’s child’s play compared to what happens in Silence. Now obviously terrible and sad things happening don’t make a movie good, but everything from the story, to the actors, to the cinematography works amazingly well. Andrew Garfield is actually better here than he was in Hacksaw Ridge, and he was great in Hacksaw Ridge. Even if you have no religious affiliation, this is still an effective and powerful movie that you won’t forget anytime soon.
1. La La Land
I love this movie. Everything about it is masterful. The cinematography, the lights, the sounds, the direction, the dancing, the acting, it’s all beautiful, full of creativity and wonder. The screenplay is the worst part of the movie, and the screenplay is still very good! I don’t personally prefer musicals compared to a normal narrative film, but La La Land is a different beast. The music is less story driven and focuses much more on the actual music, rather than using song lyrics as a plot device to progress the story. If you’re a fan of jazz, you’ll probably love it. If you’re a fan of great acting, you’ll probably love it. If you want to see creative and fun music numbers, you’ll probably love it. This is a hard movie to not like, and an easy one to love. I’m bumping that soundtrack right now as I write this. I’ve also seen this movie three times and it’s more enjoyable every time. If you want to see a redhead who can act really well, and isn’t named Amy Adams, go see this film.
Those are my favorites of the year. Maybe I missed one of your favorites. Maybe my list is a pile of crap and I should jump off a bridge. Whichever it is let me know, so I can virtually fight you in the comments. Thanks for reading.