Well, it’s that time again. Time for me to do a Top 10 Best Movies list, kinda late in the year again (yeah I know I need to be more timely with these things, sue me). Given how 2016 turned out, it’s just great that there were these amazing films to see that I’m going to talk about. And yes, while I haven’t reviewed all of them yet, this list is comprised of movies I’ve seen in 2016, and of course there will be some pairings like last time. First things first, though…
-Batman/Superman: Dawn of Justice
-Batman: The Killing Joke
-Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
And now on with the list:
10. La La Land
Like a lot of people, I’m both surprised and awestruck that this movie came from the same guy who did Whiplash, which was a pretty harsh movie (though still good and definitely see it if you haven’t). Still, while this movie is upbeat and colorful, with fantastic musical numbers, it does have its down-to-earth, harsh reality moments too. A love story and a rise-to-fame-and-success story at the same time, with fantastic performances by the leads Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, this movie knows how to hit all the right notes and beats (pun intended).
9. The Witch
What do you get when you mix David Lynch, Stephen King, Stanley Kubrick, a shit ton of acid, and multiply it by 10? You get The Witch. This is one of the most disturbing horror films ever made. Heck, it might be one of the most disturbing movies ever made in general. Sure, the dialogue can get confusing at times and it may fall victim to certain horror tropes, but its simple yet dynamic premise and atmosphere, as well as the setting, performances, and the visuals, that make it such a standout horror film for the ages.
8. Don’t Breathe
Speaking of simple yet dynamic horror films for the ages, here’s this movie. Coming from the guy who did Evil Dead 2013, Fede Alvarez, this movie is definitely something that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat. This is a horror film where there are a people with questionable morals and do questionable things, but it often makes you wonder who is worse in comparison and whether their reasons are enough to justify their actions or not. Still, with all the twists and turns for a story of how one simple robbery can go horribly wrong and to never underestimate what you’re going up against, this is definitely one horror film that will be sure you never come out of it unfazed.
7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Trek Beyond
I know, it’s kinda odd pairing the latest entries of two of the most biggest sci-fi franchises on this list. But I have my reasons for it. Rogue One had a bit of an odd yet interesting premise for a Star Wars movie. For one, it’s a prequel story set before A New Hope, and we know how THOSE turned out, and yet it’s a much better prequel story than the ACTUAL prequel trilogy ever could be. Two, despite being a prequel story, this movie looks and feels as much of a standalone tale set within the Star Wars universe as you could get. Sure, there are appearances from established characters like Darth Vader, whose fight scene with the Rebels is a true spectacle to behold, as well as others that can be a bit distracting but no less impactful, and references to past events and some foreshadowing, but it’s entertaining and meaningful in its own right. And yeah the effects for certain characters like Tarkin and Leia (RIP Carrie Fisher) can be okay yet weird given the actors who played them are dead, everything else seen in this movie feels like something old made new again. But like with anything Star Wars, even at the darkest of times in the story that’s told, and this was as dark of a Star Wars story done in movie form I’ve seen yet, there’s always that sense of hope that carries through in this movie. The Force was definitely strong with this one (even though The Force wasn’t quite so much shown given this movie’s story and tone).
Star Trek Beyond is a different story. While I like the previous reboot films, I can acknowledge they had their problems. This movie had a bit of an uphill battle with the previous movies’ reputations and that weird trailer for this that played out to a rock song for some reason. While the action-heavy tone and feel from the previous films was still prevalent here, the way that it’s applied to Star Trek’s themes of exploration and discovery are nonetheless awesome in this movie. And since it came out on the franchise’s 50th anniversary, it’s great that it manages to honor how far the franchise has come since then and of course to the people that have helped with it, in particular for this movie how it honors both Leonard Nimoy and Anton Yelchin (RIP). What else can I say but that this movie went BEYOND my expectations.
6. Captain America: Civil War
It’s not an easy task to craft a superhero movie trilogy that’s set in a wider universe (as the Iron Man movies have shown), but somehow Captain America: Civil War managed to pull it off. Yes, this movie is basically “Avengers 3” in disguise as a Captain America movie, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Like with the previous film, it managed to raise the stakes for the MCU and paved the way for how future stories set in it, no matter what character or team it’s about, and not to mention the format for those stories given what the MCU is. And it’s not just Chris Evans as Captain America that manages to shine here, but pretty much everyone in this movie here, no matter if they’re familiar faces from previous MCU films (Iron Man, Black Widow, War Machine, Falcon, and others) or even new additions (Black Panther, Spider-Man, and others), no matter how big or small their role is (though the use of Crossbones here was a bit disappointing).
It should also be noted that this movie came out in an interesting time, what with its heavy political themes and the plot, which was based on a pretty heavily political comic, with the 2016 U.S. presidential election happening and other political stuff happening. Despite the divide this movie presents for its heroes for the time being, it does show that there is still some hope and optimism, and that one day, there does need to be a united front for the dark times to come (in the MCU’s case everyone just needs to get their shit together before Thanos comes and wrecks it in Infinity War)
5. Sully and The Founder
Yay! Another pairing. 2016 saw the release of a bunch of biographical films about real people and events, three of them I’ve seen (The Founder, Sully, and Snowden). While I would’ve liked to put Snowden on this spot too and make this a threeway (giggity), I didn’t think that movie was quite as good as these two. The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc, the guy who took the McDonald’s restaurant from a small-time thing into a major fast-food franchise. Of course, the movie’s biggest selling point was not only its similarity to The Social Network (the story of a guy getting into a feud between two brothers over an idea and the stuff that happens in between; also one of my favorite all-time films and the reason I’m on Facebook to begin with), and its fast pace given the subject matter of the birth of one of the biggest fast-food franchises out there, but Michael Keaton’s performance as the titular “founder” Ray Kroc himself. He may not necessarily top his role in Birdman here, but the character, the performance, the twists and turns, and the energy he has here is nothing short of Oscar-worthy and one of his best roles to date. There are other great performances here by other actors, especially Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch as the McDonald brothers, despite how some may come and go. While it may feature a guy who rises to the top through doing questionable things, for some reason you can’t help but root for him anyway. What else can be said but “I’m lovin it”.
Sully is a different story of course. I couldn’t help but be amazed at the idea of Tom Hanks acting as the lead in a Clint Eastwood-directed movie. And the movie was about Chelsey Sullenberger and him landing the plane on the Hudson River in 2009! While The Founder was very energetic and fast-paced, this movie was more slow and somber in its execution, which is fitting given the subject matter. Despite largely being revered as a hero for his actions in the film, the movie also looks at how he is suffering from PTSD because of it and how he tries his best to stay strong despite all that, so this movie doesn’t necessarily comes off as hero worship, just a story about a guy who did his job and did what he could to save lives while doing it. While it is annoying that the National Transportation Safety Board are portrayed as somewhat antagonistic, it doesn’t necessarily hurt the overall story and tone of the film. And after seeing what Hanks and Eastwood themselves are capable of when paired up, I’d love to see them work together again in the future.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
Much like with The Martian, if I hadn’t seen the next three movies on this list, this easily would’ve been #1. While it is basically a hero’s journey type of story, it is still one of the most beautifully animated and heartfelt movies I’ve watched in a long time. The stop-motion animation is top-notch and I can appreciate all the hard work and effort that went into it, especially considering the part of the movie’s end credits showcased that. The voice acting is excellent from everyone here, with Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, and even the small roles played by George Takei (complete with his trademark “oh my”) and Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa. Kubo and the Two Strings may be the kind of story that’s been told before, but it’s definitely something that shows it’s a story worth telling.
3. Manchester by the Sea
There are movies that can range from depressing to happy, yet this movie managed to have an odd balance of both. If La La Land can be a heartwarming tale with some depressing moments, then Manchester by the Sea is a depressing tale with some heartwarming moments. Casey Affleck’s performance is so subdued and nuanced, that it just simply says a lot about his character and what he’s going through, especially as the movie gradually reveals what made him like that in the first place. The movie also acknowledges that while there are things, no matter how traumatic, that people experience and try to move on from, there are also some things that no one can get past despite efforts to do so. Personally, there are a lot of moments in my life I try to get past yet for some reason they stick with me, so the only good that can come of it is to try to make the best of a sticky situation, and that’s what this movie shows. It’s also interesting to note that I got to see this movie with my mom and sister while we were on Christmas vacation in New England, so in a way being there kinda helped with getting the feel for the setting of this movie. Also if this movie didn’t have some really standout funny moments, like the part where Affleck and Hedges bitch about heating up their vehicle and how cold the weather is, juxtaposed with the depressing tone, it would’ve been a major crying fit for me to sit through, so there’s that.
After I saw this movie, there was no way I couldn’t have put this on the list. If it weren’t for a certain other movie I saw, this easily would’ve made #1 as well. The more I think about this movie, it’s kinda similar to the graphic novel I reviewed, Turning Japanese. Both stories are coming-of-age tales about the main character having to navigate the hardships of their environment and reality in general and how it shapes them into the people they become later on in their lives. Difference here is that Turning Japanese is autobiographical and largely told its story through the main character experiencing things at a certain point in their life, while Moonlight is fictional, yet doesn’t take away the down-to-earth and realistic tone it has, and told its story through the main character experiencing things at THREE certain points in their life. In this movie, they experience things as a kid, a teenager, and as a grownup. It’s at these points that the main character Chiron sees and experiences how harsh the environment around him can be and what he must do and become in order to handle it. And also like Manchester by the Sea, the movie shows that there are moments that stick with us and can be hard to get through depending how it’s done, but that we can still try to live our lives and deal with them as best we can. Add to it the standout supporting performances by Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Andre Holland, and the rest of the cast, it’s no wonder this movie is definitely one of 2016’s very best.
There are movies meant to be heartwarming, depressing, funny, or just simply are what they are. The movie Deadpool pretty much says “screw that” and ends up being one of the most fun movies I’ve ever seen. It’s not only my favorite movie of 2016, but it’s probably the best comic book movie I’ve EVER seen. Probably why I saw it THREE times. This was a movie that took a LONG time to get made, and it paid off very well with the MAXIMUM EFFORT it had in it. Ryan Reynolds nails it as Deadpool and it may just be his best role to date. Hell, it’s practically the role he was BORN to play. I don’t know what more I can say that hasn’t already been said (well I still got my actual review of the movie to do). It’s got everything you’d want and more for a movie about a character like Deadpool. Drama, comedy, action, superhero stuff, fourth-wall breaking, self-awareness, poking fun at tropes in comics and supehero stuff and movies in general, sex (oh YEAH wait’ll you get a load of THAT in this film), Ryan Reynold’s dick (yes that was in this movie), shenanigans, and just overall plain awesomeness to behold. If this didn’t have the R-rating, it probably wouldn’t have been nearly half as good, though there might’ve been a chance, but fuck that I’m glad it was rated-R cause we need more of those, but not just for the sake of it. Everyone who had a hand in making this movie (yes even Fox) deserves to be commended for it and considering what’s being done for Deadpool 2, I just can’t wait to see what’s next. What more can I say other than BEST. COMIC. BOOK. MOVIE. EVER!!!!
That’s my Top 10 Best Movies of 2016. I know I was pretty late in getting it done, as well as the upcoming reviews for those movies, but here it is and I hope you like it. So far, 2017 has been pretty excellent with movies, so hopefully I’ll have a more timely released list to commemorate the best of this year when that time comes. Thank you and I’ll be “philling in” later. See ya! 🙂