Here we are again after a long year of movies. This year was odd because the movies people expected to be hits fell flat, while the smaller movies were more impressive. The comic book movies were hit and miss and the Summer Blockbusters were pretty bad. So what films were actually good? Well Horror movies actually came to play and Disney movies as a whole were very good. On top of that, the tail end of the year gave us some excellent movies that made this list extremely difficult to create. Nevertheless, I think I made a pretty sweet list, so let’s get into it.
#15. The Boy and the Beast
Mamoru Hosoda is one of the best anime directors alive, and The Boy and the Beast only solidifies his position. This is a beautifully animated film that has a heart warming story about a young boy who becomes an apprentice to this talking bear named Kumatetsu. Their relationship is what carries this movie whether it’s them arguing or them having some bonding moments. The voice work is also great, with John Swasey (Van Hohenheim, Lord Death) being the standout as the voice of Kumatetsu. If you’re a fan of anime this is a must watch, and if you aren’t then you should watch it anyway.
#14. 10 Cloverfield Lane
This claustrophobic thriller is one of the true surprises of 2016. I didn’t know what to expect of this film going into it, but I was satisfied when I came out. What this film does so well is build tension. How do they do it, you ask? John Goodman is how they do it. He gives one of my favorite performances of the year in this film. As an audience member I was always on edge trying to figure out anything I could about his character. I wanted to know if he was lying or not and the movie does a good job at making both cases. This is a film that only has 3 characters and they’re all great. This is definitely an improvement from the first Cloverfield, but don’t mistake it for a sequel.
#13. Conjuring 2
Horror movies are my favorite types of movies without a doubt. The problem is that these days they’re seen as cash grabs and very little effort is put into making them. Then there’s James Wan, who is easily the best horror director in the business. He found a way to take familiar horror movie elements and execute them in a way that was extremely satisfying. His shots in the film are all deliberate and add to the atmosphere of the movie. Patrick Wilson is excellent in the film. Him and Wan team up quite often and that chemistry is obvious the entire way through. I’ll always remember the people behind me gasping through the entire movie. Good times.
Gotta love a kids movie that has something to say, and boy does Zootopia have a lot to say. At first glance it may seem like another movie Disney pushed out for the children, but this is a film that tackles some mature themes. Discrimination is the focal point of everything as Zootopia slams both racism and sexism on multiple occasions. What makes it great is that it was able to do that without taking away from the movie’s enjoyment. It’s like there are two different movies going on. There’s a cute movie about talking animals that kids can enjoy, and there’s also this movie filled with social commentary that adults can understand and appreciate.
#11. Train To Busan
I love Zombie films, and after hearing about Train to Busan from a lot of people online, I thought I should check it out. I expected this to be pretty good, but I didn’t expect it to be great. This South Korean film adds some fresh ideas to the worn out genre. The zombies move fast like we’ve seen in other movies, but in this film they only react when they can see the people they go after. Using this, the characters turn this movie into a stealth mission, with their only resources being whatever they have on this train. The train also creates a claustrophobic environment which helped build the tension through out the movie. The characters in the movie are also not one note characters, which is a rarity in horror movies. The father in the movie has some actual depth, and his relationship with his daughter helps the movie hit harder.
Moonlight is a movie that had me completely silent in the movie theater. Watching the events of Chiron’s life play out reminded me of people that I’ve known who went through similar experiences. In short, this film is extremely powerful. Chiron is easily the most fleshed out character I was introduced to in 2016. When you peel the layers of his character back he becomes more of a person than just simply a character. The directing style that Barry Jenkins used made this movie feel so intimate. It also happens to be the best acted movie of 2016. The 3 people who play Chiron are all fantastic and Mahershala Ali was just amazing.
#9. Hell or High Water
I did not expect this to be on my list considering I waited so long to watch it, but boy was this great. Hell or High Water is about 2 brothers who rob banks. Jeff Bridges plays the ranger who is tracking them down to take them in. On the surface it’s a simple movie, but the acting and characters make it something special. Chris Pine and Ben Foster as the brothers in this movie were as good as I could have hoped for, and Jeff Bridges is even better. This is a modern Western movie so it has those type of elements in the film. What pushed it over for me was how much of an emotional core there is in the movie. These 2 brothers have a great relationship and it’s shown through great dialogue, and some of the best movie moments of the year.
#8. Hacksaw Ridge
Mel Gibson’s return to directing was well worth the wait because Hacksaw Ridge is fantastic. With a career performance from Andrew Garfield, and stellar supporting performances from Hugo Weaving and Vince Vaughn, Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of a man who would not compromise his personal beliefs in the face of enormous pressure. It’s inspirational to see what Desmond Doss went through and how he helped so many people. I also like how the first half of the movie is this really sweet story about a blossoming romance, and within a snap of your fingers it turns into a war zone.
If you ask me, this is the only super hero movie that actually delivered this year. I love everything about Deadpool. First, this movie is absolutely hilarious. I don’t remember laughing as much during a movie since Guardians of the Galaxy. Ryan Reynolds spent a decade trying to get this movie done, and with a small budget (for comic book movies) he got it done in a big way.
#6. The Nice Guys
Ryan Gosling makes his second appearance on my list and it’s his best performance that I’ve seen. This movie is dripping with personality at every step and the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe is amazing. All of the comedy hit with me and the screenplay as a whole was pretty sweet. Sadly, not many people saw this movie while it was in theaters so it’s been forgotten. Oh and Angourie Rice, who plays Goslings daughter in this film, is awesome. Usually child actors get on my nerves, but she was smart and actually useful. Definitely worth a watch.
Yeah this movie is every bit as good as people are saying it is. I love the story and the theories on language that Arrival attempts to tackle. Amy Adams completely owns this role and helps deliver one of the best alien movies I remember ever seeing. The interaction with aliens are fascinating, the impact the aliens have on the world is realistic, and the revelations in this movie hit home. It’ll make you really ponder the last act of the film in a way that most movies simply don’t.
#4. La La Land
I hate Musicals. I really really do. Despite that, I enjoyed the hell out of La La Land. There’s great music and great acting in it. None of the songs are out of place and they feel like they actually have a purpose in the movie. They don’t rely on the music to carry the movie either, because Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both excellent in the film. They’re both extremely charming and were great casting choices. Director Damien Chazelle does a great job filming this movie. There is this one scene where Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are dancing and singing in front of a sunset that I thought was an amazing shot. Watch this movie and you’ll either come out snapping your fingers, or you’ll be a puddle of tears like the lady who was sitting next to me in the theater.
#3. The Edge of Seventeen
This is my kind of movie. This coming of age movie caught me by complete surprise with its awesome script, great characters, and by how relatable it is. Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine was absolutely hilarious. She is my favorite character of 2016 hands down. She’s a flawed character that’s trying to make her way through a shitty situation the only way she knows how to do it. She’s stubborn, a drama queen, and overall a handful to be around. The movie thankfully gives her a reason for being that way and puts on display the awkwardness of going through high school.. Seriously, I dare anyone to watch this movie and not find at least one aspect of it that related to their experience in high school. Also, Woody Harrelson as her teacher had some of the best moments in the entire movie. The Edge of Seventeen is an absolute blast.
#2. Kubo and the Two Strings
This movie is a spectacle. This is easily the prettiest animated movie I’ve ever seen and I was in awe watching this in the theater. I loved how the theme of memories comes up so often and how they play off of it in different ways. The movie gave me a sense of adventure that made me go “WOW!” whenever something happened. It’s also backed up by top notch voice work by everyone involved. Even the action scenes are done brilliantly. Kubo and the Two Strings is an instant classic.
#1. Sing Street
I can’t get enough of Sing Street. This is a coming of age film set in 1985, about a kid named Conor who starts a band in hopes of getting this girl. On the surface it may not sound like much, but this movie is special. I find it inspirational in the way that it tells people go out and pursue their dreams. The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, and I typically don’t like this style of music. The song “Drive it Like you Stole It” is one of my favorite songs of the year and i always find myself humming it. There’s also a subtle relationship being shown between the two brothers in the movie that I thought was incredibly touching. I’ve seen this movie a bunch of times and I plan on seeing it a whole bunch more. Sing Street is my favorite movie of 2016.