As a disclaimer, I will note that I have not seen “Jackie,” “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” or “Silence,” each of which I expect to be contenders for this list. Because I have not seen them, they obviously will not be on this list. After I see these movies, this list is subject to change.
“The Nice Guys” – Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe were the perfect duo for this fun, classic movie. “The Nice Guys,” was wonderfully directed by Shane Black, and felt like an 80s film. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Captain America: Civil War” – If you haven’t seen “Civil War” yet, it is now on Netflix, and I highly recommend it. This was the only superhero movie this year that was exactly what I wanted. It was executed perfectly.
“Moana” – “Moana” was another prime example of a Disney animation gone right. I had fun with this movie, and loved the music. Dwayne Johnson as Maui was fantastic in his voice over. I did have a few problems here and there, but I enjoyed “Moana” quite a bit.
Top 10 Movies of 2016
10.) “Hell or High Water”
“Hell or High Water” was a great cat-and-mouse type movie between a couple bank robbers (Chris Pine, Ben Foster), and Jeff Bridges as the Sheriff of the county. I thought this movie did a great job of making a compelling argument for each side of an intense topic of controversy. Each and every performance was spectacular, and obviously Jeff Bridges who blew me away with the fourth best performance of the year on my list. This movie grew on me more and more as time went on, and by this point, I am dying to see it again.
After seeing this film, I was in awe that an animation could explore such adult, complicated themes in such a creative way. I have always said that this is a movie that kids will thoroughly enjoy at their age, and then could see again in a totally different light as they get older. To be able to accomplish that is a huge filmmaking feat, and one that I was very impressed with. The way this film tackles themes like racism, gender roles, drugs, and plenty of other modern, relevant topics, while also being subtle and entertaining enough for a kid to sit through is extremely impressive.
8.) “Nocturnal Animals”
“Nocturnal Animals” has three interwoven stories that are each clear, distinct, and exciting. I think there are a plethora of directors that are extremely deserving of a Best Director nomination, but I think Tom Ford definitely deserves to be in the same conversation. He pulled off a great movie that could have so easily gotten so lost and off-track, but he did a fantastic job. Not to mention this had three of my favorite performances of the year in Michael Shannon, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. I was surprised by how much I loved “Nocturnal Animals”.
7.) “The Witch”
I saw “The Witch” nearly a year ago, and I can still feel it. This was a movie that, based in the 1500s, could have gotten very dull and boring in its language, its style, and its themes. It was dull, but in great ways. For example, the majority of the movie was colorless, grey, but when something happened, it made it that much more exciting and impactful. This was not your conventional horror film that was filled with jump scares. It had a great score, was very well-made, and told a haunting, dark story in a very interesting way.
6.) “The Lobster”
As I’ve said in my other lists, The Lobster was a WEIRD movie. That is the best way I can explain it. A weird plot with weird writing, a weird style, and weird things happened, but I loved it. I want to see “The Lobster” again very badly, and it upsets me that more people have not/will not see this movie. I think it was unconventional and unique in all the best ways possible, and while it got a little bit forgettable in the later half of the movie, I still loved it, and it had one of the best endings in a movie that I have seen all year.
5.) “Everybody Wants Some!!”
When I saw “Everybody Wants Some!!” early in the year, it was my #1 movie for many months. I won’t tell you exactly when it was topped (you will find out with my next 4), but it deserved to be at the top of my list for a long time. This may have been the most fun I had in a movie this year. I really hoped this would not be like “Boyhood” was for me, as Richard Linklater directed this as well. Boyhood has a perfect score of 100 on Metacritic (ranks it as the #1 movie of all time, tied with two other movies), but I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to. This was not the case with this movie, as this was everything I wanted “Boyhood” to be and then some. With its hilarious and realistic writing, I truly loved this movie.
4.) “Manchester By The Sea”
I was blown away by the power that “Manchester By The Sea” had. This may have been the closest I came to crying in a movie this year. THE scene that I spoke of in yesterday’s Best Moments of 2016 list had my jaw on the floor. Each and every performance was absolutely perfect, headed by Casey Affleck who had the best performance of his career, and one that has a great chance of winning the Oscar. Lucas Hedges was perfect, Michelle Williams was fantastic. The direction was great. I thought this movie was a little bit long, and did have a time where I was a bit unengaged, but other than that, it was fantastic.
Wow, “Moonlight”. I cannot believe this is #3 on my list. These next three movies were my three 10/10s for the year, so this was a tight race of films in which I have little to no flaws with. For “Moonlight”, my only flaw was that I thought it was a bit underwhelming, but I am not sure if I can even consider that a flaw due to how I feel this movie needed to be as subtle as it was at times. This film had so much power, so much emotion, and it was conveyed in such a beautiful way by director Barry Jenkins. The entire cast was phenomenal, and if there were an Ensemble Cast award, it would probably go to this group. Barry Jenkins showed us expert filmmaking at its best with a beautiful score, incredible cinematography and lighting, and such real, grounded emotion about a gay African-American kid growing up in an adverse environment.
I was as engaged in “Arrival” as I have ever been. From the start, I was immediately interested in what was going on, and this curiosity never let up. I was enthralled from start to finish, and director Denis Villeneuve never disappoints, and he certainly didn’t with “Arrival”. I loved every minute of what I was watching from the performances to the cinematography to the score. I highly recommend “Arrival”, and stand by my decision of my second best movie of the year.
1.) “La La Land”
Anyone who knows me knows that “Whiplash” is my favorite movie of all-time. Damien Chazelle directed “Whiplash” as his first major movie of his career, so it is safe to say I was excited for this movie, but also worried to see if Chazelle would tarnish his legacy at all. Chazelle did the farthest thing from tarnishing his legacy, he only enhanced it. I am not a fan of musicals, so I was especially worried, but “La La Land” was 100% perfect. Chazelle hit the nail on the head with every facet of this movie. I have no flaws. The music, the choreography, the casting choices, the cinematography, EVERYTHING. Ryan Gosling was perfect. Emma Stone was perfect. The “epilogue” was THE best ending I have seen in a movie this year. “La La Land” does not trump “Whiplash” for me, but boy did Damien Chazelle make it at least be in the same conversation, and “La La Land” deserves to be my #1 movie of the year.
Do you agree? Disagree? What was your favorite movie of 2016? Comment below with your thoughts.