The Top Movies of 2016

Alright, I think I’ve put this off long enough.

Well I’ve finally gotten to seeing all the movies I wanted to this year, so here’s the list to celebrate what I enjoyed from it. Said movies are arranged in alphabetical order rather than an arbitrary ranking with the exception of my favorite film of that year, which you’ll see at the end, and I only really love that one. Everything else is stuff I think is decent, but with the exception of one or two, I wouldn’t really go out of my way to buy the blu-ray for these. Now it’s possible that some of these won’t hold up over time or that I’ll love them even more if I ever get to rewatching them on blu-ray (my favorite film took three watches before I finally got it), but that’s the risk with lists like these, even if I’m not restricted by an arbitrary number. As of this time of writing, these are films I enjoyed seeing and wouldn’t mind seeing again if someone invited me to a movie night, so let’s ignore some warning bells and get on with this.

****

10 Cloverfield Lane

2016 was definitely a year for decent horror films, and out of all the ones that I’ve seen, 10 Cloverfield Lane is probably my favorite. John Goodman really does a good job at selling the scary big man who’s keeping these people locked up, and what I like the most about his character is how you don’t know whether he’s a good man who’s bad at showing his kindness or a truly dangerous person right up until the very end. Then the last fifteen minutes arrive and I just burst out laughing at the absurdity. It’s basically a film that gives me chills whilst making me laugh at the dark humor at the same time, and that’s a hard thing to accomplish.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

I honestly think that Michael Bay gets a bit of an overblown reaction when it comes to his hate base. His PG-13 rated stuff like the Transformers films, fine. But his R-rated movies are generally decent, and while I don’t like 13 Hours as much as I liked Pain & Gain, I appreciate how it forsakes what I usually dislike about military movies to instead rail on America’s hypocrisies through a real-life event that’s obviously fictionalized for the film world. Also, I think the action scenes in this are a lot more coherent than you’d usually expect from the dude.

Don’t Breathe

Nowhere near as scary as the advertisements say, but Don’t Breathe still does a good job at breathing life into the home invasion formula. This time, the people who are invading are the victims, and the dude they’re trying to steal from is nowhere near as vulnerable as he appears to be…and in a bad way. The “good” bad way, I mean – although I call bullshit on a blind man being able to jumpscare the main lead so far away from his home.

The Edge of Seventeen

Basically Daria by way of an 80s John Hughes film that was updated for modern times. It hits a lot of the same relatable struggles that normal middle-class teenagers go through in regards to peer pressure, social complexes, and all that whilst including some pretty biting adult humor and a bunch of 30-year olds trying to pass off as high school students (and failing miserably). I wasn’t exactly a male version of Hailee Steinfeld’s character, but I can definitely relate to how she refuses to cater to popular trends, even though her own way wasn’t exactly good for her either. Though I definitely wouldn’t treat my brother as the enemy. If anything, he’s more of a motivation to work harder at life.

The Handmaiden

Not very good at keeping up with Korean cinema, so I’m really glad I managed to watch this when it got a temporary stateside release. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say The Handmaiden would make the LBGQT community happy, it’s a pretty twisted tale regarding a noble woman and a female thief from fucked up families who end up falling in love/lust and escaping their confinements through a complex plan that requires three points of views to get the big picture. Anyone who has a craving for erotic thrillers or Korean films in general (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t, as their movies are okay for the most part) will definitely want to check this little gem out.

Keanu

No it’s not the funniest thing in the world, but I still laughed quite a bit at Key and Peele’s first attempt at carrying their humor to the big screen. Anna Faris’s cameo is also pretty unforgettable.

Moonlight

You know, I’m really glad I never grew up in the boondocks. Because man, I would not be able to go through all the shit that Chiron went through without serving a few months – and that’s one of the better ways to end up according to Moonlight. It’s pretty much one of those slice-of-life films about a young black kid as we chronicle his child, teen, and adult years of dealing with bullying, sexuality, and the drug business. And while I can’t say the movie does a great job of handling these issues given how it’s more focused on portraying the confusion while I’m more of a fan of using them as a springboard for something (i.e. The City of God), Moonlight is definitely an emotional film that’s worth at least one watch.

Shin Godzilla

It was two hours of people talking about Godzilla whilst the monster himself occasionally showed up to wreck havoc. And it was pretty sweet.

Your Name

Forget all the hype and praise surrounding this movie when it becomes available for a more public audience in a few months and just look at Your Name on its own terms. And on its own terms, it’s basically to anime what La La Land was to the general movie community. A richly made and very emotional experience with the actual ambitions behind it a little more basic than I’d have preferred. But hey, you get some good culture out of it. Plus, while I could have stood for the body-swapping mechanic to be more than a plot-convenient tool, I’ve got to say that the way it was used to expand on Shinkai’s fascination with the distance between people and how it ties into the title really makes Your Name stand out in ways beyond Comix Wave’s production values.

Zootopia

Of the two Disney films that came out this year, I prefer Zootopia. Yeah it doesn’t really do anything different or unique with a “racism is bad” story that you haven’t seen before, but it does it with enough humor and maturity that I can overlook that enough. Far from making Disney stand on the level of Pixar at its peak, but I do enjoy these current Disney animated films for the most part, and I’m glad the company is still doing well after all these years. Also, I know it’s overplayed, but that sloth joke is just funny.

And now for my favorite film of 2016…

The Nice Guys

Remember how I once said that I can forgive a lot of things if it’s funny? Well The Nice Guys is easily the best comedy I’ve seen in a long time, easily compensating for its standard villains and over-complicated mystery thanks to Ryan Gosling screaming like a little girl every time his character fucks things up big – and that’s just one of the many jokes this movie throws at you. Admittedly, it took me a few watches to really get the humor and Russell Crowe’s usual low mumbling method of acting means I can’t watch this movie without subtitles. But once those conditions are met, it’s pretty much non-stop hilarity in this unique 70s-era buddy comedy.

Great style, great music, great throwback to a genre that’s not around anymore, great characters, and giving me the hardest laughs I’ve had in a long time. The Nice Guys was basically the “best movie of 2016” that I didn’t recognize at first glance. And neither did most people given how it bombed at the box office due to people watching Captain America for like the sixth time. Well fuck you Captain America. These guys and their little girl sidekick are the true American heroes.

Minor Quips

  • Here are some honorable mentions of good films that I’m not quite as positive towards as the above:
    • Arrival – This is one of those movies that I don’t care for even though I get what the story is aiming towards. The whole “we need to use words rather than action to appeal to the foreign threat” story doesn’t really do it for me, even with how timely a message it is given everything that happened in 2016.
    • Barbershop: The Next Cut – I’ve never seen a Barbershop movie before, so I was pretty surprised with how watchable the third installment ended up being. Plus, I love how Cosby has a new meaning now.
    • Batman v Superman – While I still maintain it’s better than most superhero films, the execution is more flawed here than it is in Snyder’s previous DC efforts to the point that I can’t really consider it a great movie. Mind you, I haven’t seen the extended cut yet, even though I own it.
    • The Boy and the Beast – Like BvS, I know it’s messily executed and not all that original, but I can’t deny the underlying story underneath all that intrigues me.
    • The Conjuring 2 – Alright, if a bit overlong.
    • La La Land – I’m not really into these sort of style-as-substance early 1900s broadway musicals, but it’s a very well-made movie (that could have stood to be shorter) with some of the best original compositions I’ve heard in a long time. Love listening to “Another Day of Sun” at work.
    • Moana – Also a fun Disney movie, but I can’t really see it having much of an impact the second time around. That’s the curse of making a film whose plot mainly exists to just be a fun time and no more than that. No matter what the quality ends up actually being, you never want to see it again.
    • Sausage Party – Still like the story regarding how you can’t force anyone to convert to your views even if their current lifestyle is bad, but the jokes weren’t very funny the second go-around. Neither my buddy or I laughed once when we put this on for movie night.
    • Manchester By The Sea – Haven’t seen.
    • Silence – Haven’t seen. Looks really good though.
    • Swiss Army Man – More absurd than funny, but still worth one look at least.
    • The Witch – Cute, but I don’t really care for the Puritan setting.
  • Not doing a worst movie list, especially since I didn’t bother with stuff like Norm of the North, but I think we can all agree that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 was utter tripe.

7 responses to “The Top Movies of 2016

  1. I’m really happy The Handmaiden made this list – not that I’ve been keeping up with what’s trendy and what’s not, so I don’t know anything about its popularity, but I just assumed that it’d be under-watched. My other two favourite films of 2016, easily, were Kubo and the Two Strings (definitely under-watched, at least in comparison to other animated films of the year) and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (a New Zealand film, so I didn’t really expect it to make anyone’s top whatever list no matter how good it was).

  2. What impresses me about The Nice Guys was how cool the young girl was in the movie. Usually their roles can be really tedious and can get in the way of the characters and situation but it was hilarious how she was the “brains” around the Ryan Gosling father character. Not to mention she was actually useful to the plot. I think that young girl (don’t know the name) has a bright future ahead of her as a young actress.

    • What I like the most about Holly is how even though she’s smart, she’s still a kid who lacks experience. Next to when she sneaks into the sex party, the moment when she splashed cold coffee on that woman thinking it was hot was my favorite usage of her character.

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