Okay, I’m really sorry that it took me so long to write this article, but that’s only because I had such a difficult time figuring out what movies would make this list. Welcome to Blugger’s top ten movies of 2016. This isn’t a definitive list – this is just my favorite movies of 2016.
Before I go any further, I would like to point out some honorable mentions. These were movies that I thought were fantastic, but I couldn’t fit in to the top ten. Here they are:
10 Cloverfield Lane, Star Trek Beyond, The Jungle Book, Snowden, Kung Fu Panda 3, Moana, and Kubo and the Two Strings.
Also, there are a few movies that I haven’t seen yet, but I really want to see and review:
Arrival, Silence, Moonlight, and Manchester by the Sea.
Okay, so now we can begin the list. Here are my top ten movies of the year:
#10: Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange is the first of three comic book movies on this list (the other two are Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman – just kidding). I was very excited for this movie as I thought it would be separated from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the first film in the MCU to truly introduce magic (the Thor movies did it, but not on this level). Moreover, I always thought that Benedict Cumberbatch was the best actor to play the titular Doctor Strange when the movie was first announced. Cumberbatch is joined by an all-star cast including Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Mads Mikkelsen, and all of them put on their best acting mode. Each character felt dynamic, and they all fit really well with this universe. The best thing about Doctor Strange is its visuals. The film looks psychedelic and breathes weirdness, and it gets bonus points for that. Though it ultimately follows the Marvel formula, it does so in a way that feels nuanced because of its mind-bending visuals and great characters. However, this movie isn’t higher up on the list because of the villain, which continues Marvel’s streak of bland villains with much more impressive hero adversaries.
#9: Hell or High Water
Hell or High Water harkens back to the forgotten days of the western genre. It’s a modern western for modern times, and this movie reminded me of why I love the old Clint Eastwood films. This is a pretty simple cops and robbers story: Toby Howard (Chris Pine) and his brother Tanner (Ben Foster) are small time bank robbers who try to make a living on the road. Soon, an old cop played by Jeff Bridges gets in his car for one last mission before he retires: to take down these guys. What starts out as a simple chase evolves into a riveting drama that had me on the edge of my seat throughout. Most of this reaction was due to the top notch acting from Pine, Foster, and and Bridges, but it was really the smart screenplay by Taylor Sheridan (who wrote Sicario) that got me. This was a film that spoke volumes about the side of America that most people tend to sadly forget about – the rural areas of the south. There was just something refreshing about seeing the countryside displayed as a vicious battleground, and it has to do with the wonderful direction by David Mackenzie. If you like westerns, you will love this movie.
#8: Finding Dory
Finding Dory was a movie that scared me until its release. Though Pixar has done successful sequels before (Toy Story 2 and 3), I thought Finding Dory was going to be more like a Cars 2. It seemed like a cash grab, and I didn’t see why a sequel was warranted. 13 years is a really long time to make a sequel to a beloved animated classic, but Pixar pulled it off once again. While it doesn’t quite recapture all the magic that made 2003’s Finding Nemo, Finding Dory does have a heart and soul of its own. This is movie that speaks to everyone by saying that each one of us is special. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. In the movie, Dory remembers her parents and goes on a journey to reconnect with them once more. However, Dory’s short term memory loss seems to be her greatest opponent. This movie is all about finding yourself and what makes you unique. It’s about using your strengths to achieve your dreams. There are also some emotional scenes that really got to me, but that’s to be expected of Pixar at this time.
#7: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Of all the films on this list, this was the one I was most worried about. Even as a huge Star Wars fan, I really didn’t know how to feel about Rogue One. This was a risky move by the people over at Disney, and I thought it would just be an excuse for the company to make a lot of money off of the Star Wars brand recognition. Regardless of whether or not that was the case, Rogue One was phenomenal in almost every way. It created a Star Wars story that felt real and gritty. In my review of the film, I said that Rogue One’s “wonderful direction, compelling story, rich characters, intense stakes, beautiful visual and practical effects, and a breathtaking action makes up a final product that is amazing in almost every way.” Director Gareth Edwards essentially created the most expensive fan film ever because that’s what this movie really felt like – a passion project made by fans of the Star Wars epic. Rogue One definitely stands in the top half of Star Wars movies for me, and I can’t wait to see where Lucasfilm takes the franchise with these new anthology films.
#6: Captain America: Civil War
Anyone who knows me knew I was going to put this movie in there. I was worried that this movie will the typical third movie in a franchise (you know… the one that sucks), but I was wrong and I couldn’t be happier. After this movie, I’m glad to say that the Captain America trilogy stands as one of the best trilogies of modern times (at least in my opinion). The first one was a gorgeous love letter to the 1940s, Winter Soldier was a political-spy-thriller, and Civil War was the superhero rumble you dreamed about when you were little. However, action alone, however glorious, don’t create movies – characters and storylines do. When Captain America doesn’t feature a spectacular action scene, it carefully progresses its characters and presents emotional dialogue that pits our favorite heroes against each other. The idealogical conflict between heroes has never been greater. The movie asks questions about how far is too far. How much can the world handle superheroes before it turns on them? It was awesome all the way to the credits (and through the obligatory end credits scene). While not as fantastic as The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War stands as one of the best superhero movies in recent times.
Though Disney and Pixar have made fantastic movies together, I’ve always thought that the solo Disney movies of recent years didn’t reach the emotional heights of the Pixar films. Zootopia threw that thought in the trash. I remember seeing this movie with little expectations. It seemed like the average popcorn flick just meant to entertain a younger audience. I walked out of the movie theaters really surprised by the deep messages the writers tried to convey. Though this movie is about the first rabbit cop in Zootopia, a metropolis where every predators and prey can coexist, it dives deep into relevant topics regarding race in America. It talks about the effects of prejudice and how judgements are rooted within society. The story is about how one being can rise up to prove all stereotypes wrong. How many Disney movies go on that deep of a level? Also, the one song is pretty catchy. Zootopia has great character development, a unique story, and amazing animations (though that is to be expected of Disney).
Deadpool ushered in a new era of comic book movies. Twenty years ago, audiences marveled at the thought of a Spider-Man movie, but now, they are living in the golden age of comic book movies. We now have a Guardians of the Galaxy movie and an Ant-Man movie – the most obscure characters are now getting their own spotlights shined on them. Though the idea of an R-rated superhero movie was explored before with Blade, we never really had a super-huge-breakthrough-blockbuster-hard-R superhero movie until this movie came along. Deadpool is an important landmark in the history of comic book movies since it became the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time. Moreover, the film itself is really amazing. From start to finish, Deadpool never lets go of its audience. Featuring likable leads, well-crafted action sequences, awesome use of visual effects, fantastic dialogue, and some of the best jokes of the year, Deadpool is a thrill to watch. In my review of the film, I said that overall, Deadpool is progressive in terms of superhero films, funny, action-packed, and surprisingly romantic. It’s definitely my favorite comic book movie of the year.
#3: The Nice Guys
This movie was without a doubt my favorite comedy of the year and one of this year’s best films. Unfortunately, it’s also one of this year’s most under-seen movies. I’m a fan of Shane Black’s directing – I think he has a stylish visual flair that makes the movie highlights colors in unique ways, and he can perfectly time comedy, which is really hard to do. The Nice Guys is another great film in Black’s filmography due to its hilarious script. The story itself is pretty cool: private detective Holland March (Ryan Gosling) teams up with Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to solve a murder mystery involving an adult film actress and a missing girl in 1977 Los Angeles. The 70’s never looked better, and I loved the set/costume design of the film. The comedic chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe works so well that I could watch five sequels to this movie and it would still not get boring. It’s sad that the movie only grossed $36 million against a $50 million budget as it’s definitely a crowd pleaser.
#2: Sing Street
This was a movie that came out in April, and I didn’t even hear about until the end of the year. After watching it on Netflix, I was stunned by how great it was. This is a movie that celebrates life in all its peculiarities. Though it’s not the only musical on this list (more on that later), Sing Street is a fantastic musical experience that highlights the best and worst parts of childhood. Set in 1985 Dublin, the movie is centered around Coner and his group of friends. Due to financial problems, Conor moves to an all-boys public school on Synge Street. In order to impress a girl, he forms a “futurist” (as he puts it) band with his friends. I don’t know about you, but I was always fascinated with the idea of forming a band because it’s just so fun. I just think it’s awesome to see a movie that realizes that dream to its full potential. What starts out as a gimmick to impress a girl turns into a full fledged band that allows Conor to achieve his dreams. Moreover, the original music in the movie is really great. The music is accompanied by phenomenal performances from relatively unknown actors Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Lucy Boynton. However, the performance that really caught my eye was that of Jack Reynor, who played Conor’s college dropout brother. Reynor is probably most well known for his role in Transformers: Age of Extinction (he was the guy who took five minutes to explain us sex laws in Texas – yeah… that guy). This guy has incredible talent, and this performance 100% washed away all the bad dialogue from Age of Extinction. Anyways, this movie is fantastic and if you like music, you should definitely check this one out (it’s currently still on Netflix).
#1: La La Land
In 2016, I didn’t give a single movie a 10/10 because to be a 10, a movie has to truly be something special. The best movies have lasting impressions on viewers. They make you go through emotions and get you to think about it way after you’ve seen it. Damien Chazelle has crafted a brilliant, energetic, and amazing feel-good emotional journey in the form of La La Land. Though it’s a romance movie on paper, I viewed La La Land as a film about two people who just want to follow their dreams. When Sebastian describes to Mia the reason that he loves jazz, he says that it’s all about clashing and compromise, and this is very exciting. In retrospect, that’s what pursuing dreams is all about. Sometimes in life, you have to compromise to achieve greater things. Sometimes differing ideas will clash, but the result is something beautiful. In the end of the movie, when this message really comes to fruition (I don’t want to spoil it), I was genuinely touched in the heart. This message really resonated with me and I left the theatre feeling good as a person.
As I said in my review, the bottom line is simple for me: La La Land is my favorite movie of 2016. It made me fall in love and made me want to pursue my passions. This movie perfectly sums up the the reason why I love movies. I haven’t seen anything like La La Land before. It’s perfect in every sense and left me speechless at the theatre. The songs are wonderful, the acting is charismatic, the dialogue emphasized the real nature of the characters, the story keeps you on the edge, the visuals are beautiful, the cinematography is phenomenal… the list goes on. La La Land is simply my favorite film of 2016.
So those are my top ten films for 2016. Once again, this is not a definite, universal list since it’s just my personal top ten list. All of these movies are worth seeing in my opinion, and I could see myself watching most of them multiple times. I know there were plenty of great films that came out in 2016, and that I didn’t see every movie in the year. With that said, please feel free to let me know what your favorite movies of 2016 are in the comments section!