Best Films of 2016
It's that time of year again!
Klep and I start threads summarizing the best films of the year many years ago now, and it's one of our annual traditions.
Last year's Top Lists and thread: http://www.archive.themanadrain.com/index.php?topic=48320.0
I thought 2016 was an above average year, and a few big standouts.
Here is a complete reference list: http://www.firstshowing.net/schedule2016/
Here is the list of films I saw that were released in 2016 (subject to revision):
Batman v. Superman
The Jungle Book
Captain America: Civil War
Star Trek: Beyond
Hell or High Water
Queen of Katwe
Birth of a Nation
Manchester by the Sea
La La Land
I’m not counting the HBO special All the Way or the Netflix film The 13th, both of which were great.
I haven’t seen, but would like to see still:
This was a very challenging year to rank, largely because the Top 3 was so outstanding, and I loved them each for different reasons. They are almost impossible to rank, and a case could be made for any of them.
Without further adieu, here are my Top 10:
Joel Edgerton's performance is possibly the greatest male acting performance I've ever seen. His love for his wife emanated off the screen, and he portrayed a more complex set of emotions with just a glance than most actors can do with a speech. This was the most captivating film I've ever seen with this kind of pacing, and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen.
- Hell or High Water
The best conventional narrative film I saw of the year, and perhaps the best all-around movie. Utterly compelling, highly entertaining, and just a great all around movie with superb performances.
- Captain Fantastic
Easily the most thought provoking film of the year. Unforgettable and brilliant. This is a movie you can watch every couple of years for decades. It's a keeper.
As I said, the top 3 could be ranked in any order. It's a virtual tie, and trying to rank these films is the hardest ranking chore I can remember trying to do.
After that, there is a much greater demarcation.
Easily the second most thought provoking film of the year. Brilliant overall, and captivating as well. Astounding.
- Hidden Figures
The perfect film for our time. Wonderful performance, and reminded me of the dreams and fears of the space race. I loved it, and the audience in the theater I was in cheered louder and more frequently through the film than I can ever recall. Great film.
This year was a bumper crop of incredible animated film (Moana, Finding Dory, Jungle Book), but this was the standout. Truly a classic, and one I'm sure I'll enjoy for years to come.
- Birth of a Nation
I actually refused to see the film at first, because of the negative aspects of it's production, etc., and had low expectations, but ultimately saw it, and it exceeded expectations.
- La La Land
Like Birth of a Nation, I had low expectations, simply because I didn't think a contemporary - and seemingly cheesy - Musical could work. Yet, the film was actually wonderful, with a great message.
- Manchester by the Sea
I knew this movie would be good, and sad, but I was prepared to come out of the theater a bit hardened, and not terribly moved. Boy was I wrong. Michelle Williams performance was a home run.
- Doctor Strange
2016 was not the best year for big-budget, tent-pole flicks, especially superhero variety (Superman v. Batman, Civil War, Suicide Squad, Deadpool, etc.), but this was probably the best of the bunch. Not because it was the best narratively, but because the visuals were unlike I'd ever seen.
I'll be posting mine in another week or so because I'm hoping I'll be able to catch Silence next weekend and one or both of Fences and Hidden Figures as well. This was definitely a year where there were lots of good movies, but you generally had to stray from the local multiplex to find them. So many blockbusters were varying degrees of terrible or flawed. Both DC comics films, the Independence Day movie, Warcraft (which is a more complicated case than just being bad), X-Men Apocalypse and more just failed on many levels.
But if you ventured out for independent cinema, you found gems like Moonlight, Loving, Jackie, The VVitch, or Hell or High Water. There was also a trilogy of phenomenal documentaries on race in O.J.: Made In America, 13th, and I Am Not Your Negro. Swiss Army Man is the sweetest movie you will ever see about a farting corpse, and Sing Street will remind you why you wanted to start a band in high school.
So if anyone tells you the movies were bad this year or any year, they're probably just not looking in the right place. Seek a good movie, and you will find it.
But @Smmenen, you can give Nocturnal Animals a pass :P. It has good performances and a pretty aesthetic, but left me feeling cold and wondering what the point of it all was.
Well I didn't get to see Silence or Fences but I still managed to change my Top 10 anyway. So here it is:
A simply stunning study of a poor young black man discovering his sexuality. Set in three stages, we see Chiron as a child, adolescent, and young adult and the three parts reflect and comment upon each other culminating in a final moment that carries the weight of all that came before it. Simply spectacular filmmaking.
2. Hail, Caesar!
The Coens are back with another masterpiece, this time a farce that explores questions of faith and good works; whether art has importance and meaning that justifies dedicating one's life to it. It's a very funny movie, but has at its center a heartfelt performance from Josh Brolin as a studio head tormented by his conscience.
3. La La Land
A delightful homage to the Hollywood musicals of old. Wonderful songs, a charismatic romantic pair, and a joyous attitude as two people struggle to follow their dreams.
Brilliant science fiction film about the importance of communicating with The Other - whether it be actual aliens or just the people across the street.
5. O.J.: Made In America
Technically counts as a film since it had an Oscar-qualifying run in New York. Still a phenomenal, detailed examination of not just the O.J. murder trial, but also the decades of history and racial strife that led up to it and turned it into what it was.
6. Manchester By The Sea
Sometimes grief is not something that is easy to let go, and Kenneth Lonergan's intimate script quietly observes a man with incredible pain in his heart struggling to deal with even more.
7. A Monster Calls
I saw this one just last night, and it left me a blubbering mess. I was on the verge of openly sobbing for basically the entire last half hour. It's another phenomenal exploration of grief, but this time a current, ongoing grief instead of one coming from the past.
8. Everybody Wants Some!!
A spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater's latest film sees a freshman arrive at college and start to explore what kind of person he can be.
Ok, so this is a third film about grief - 2016, huh? - but this one follows Jackie Kennedy closely as she struggles to cope with her husband's death and forge his legacy in the days immediately following his assassination. Natalie Portman turns in another stellar performance and I really hope there isn't anyone left out there who thinks she's not a great actress.
10. I Am Not Your Negro
Another of the three big documentaries on race for the year (with the O.J. doc above and Ava DuVernay's 13th on Netflix), I Am Not Your Negro uses the words of great African-American scholar James Baldwin to explain the pain and oppression felt by the black community in America and how it so easily curdles into rage. Samuel L. Jackson reads Baldwin's words, narrating in a soft and quiet mode that still carries an incredible amount of power. If I could, I would make every white person in America watch these three docs.
Past two years have really exceptional for my hometown in regarding film industry. Local Foley Artist Heikki Kossi was able to be a part of a really big international production and was part of the team that made the movie Little Prince in 2015. http://www.h5.fi/2016/05/the-little-prince/ Heikki Kossi has been involved in international productions before, but this is a huge news.
This year "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki" happened. Olli Mäki is from Kokkola, Finland and so is the director of the film, Juho Kuosmanen. This film has been applauded by critics worldwide and I would encourage anyone to watch this if you can get it from somewhere! Trailer: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi467121689
Not a bad round of nominees, but with a couple glaring omissions. Annette Bening should probably be in Best Actress and the omission of "Drive It Like You Stole It" from Sing Street in Best Song is painful.
Also, apparently it's ok to be Mel Gibson in Hollywood again, as Hacksaw Ridge got a handful of nominations.
I have to say I'm particularly pleased with the Writing branch of the Academy, as both Screenplay categories pretty much nailed it (bearing in mind I haven't seen Lion or Fences).
btw if anyone watches "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki" I would like to know how you liked it :)
I'm outraged that Joel Edgerton was not nominated for Loving. It was hands down the best male performance I saw in 2016.
That said, my Top 4 films were well represented in the nominations.
I'm going to watch the OJ documentary (although the OJ TV series was unbelievably good).
@Smmenen Sadly as good as Edgerton was, the Academy is not wired to recognize great small performances. They like big, flashy moments more than reserved internal struggles.
@Smmenen If you're outraged, then you think entirely too much of marketing strategies... erm... I mean awards shows of this kind. Remember when Mo Yan won the Literature Nobel?