Today though, its my ten favorite films from 2016, and (as a bonus) the ten films I’m most looking forward to this year.
10. Eye in the Sky
The acting is a little thin as you go down the cast list, but Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman (R.I.P), and Barkhad Abdi do more than enough to carry this very topical film. Forced to choose between letting a suicide bomber go free and saving the life of an innocent family, a seasoned military commander (Mirren) must navigate through both political bureaucracy (Rickman), and agents on the ground (Abdi), as she decides whether or not to push the button and blow up a Middle-Eastern compound.
9. Kubo and the Two Strings
One of the most beautifully animated films to come along in years, Kubo is another chapter in the amazingness of stop-motion film-making. The story is pretty standard, but the beauty of the film will take your breath away. Oh…and Matthew McConaughey voices a giant anthropomorphic beetle.
Of significance is also this films Best Visual Effects Oscar Nomination. It is only the second animated film ever to garner such a nomination, and the first since The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993.
8. Green Room
In the “you learn something new every day” category is Green Room. I had no idea that a green room was a real thing (it’s where bands/singers/etc hang out and wait to go onstage).
Anyway, this is a great indie film. A small-time punk rock band find themselves performing in an isolated, neo-Nazi, bar. They see something they shouldn’t, and end up in a battle for their lives. This is one of those “real-life” horror films that shakes you up a bit.
7. The Jungle Book
I’m a sucker for Kipling and the animated version of this story is one of my favorite films, so of course this film makes the list.
Not only does this version end better than the classic one, but there’s Easter eggs galore, if you know Kipling’s original work, and the cast is priceless. Who wouldn’t want to hear Bill Murray sing “The Bare Necessities?” And mad props to Neel Sethi, who played Mowgli and was the only actor physically on set during filming.
6. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
This film, fresh from New Zealand, hits all the right buttons. There’s humor, tragedy, a great villain, compassion, a fun car chase, and a talented youngster (Julian Dennison) that carries the film, with help from Sam Neill. The comedy might be too dry for some folks, but if you’re a fan of that sort of humor, make sure you see this one.
5. Hell or High Water
This is a film that sneaks up on you, both in real life and on screen. I was one of the few folks who had this film on their Oscar list going into last October (I was able to snag 100/1 odds on it on GoldDerby), and it surprises plot-wise as well.
Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Bridges are the driving forces here, but what really makes the film is the slow burn of a story. This modern-day western only gives scraps of motivation and back-story at the start, but when you get to the finish line, everything comes together and hits you between the eyeballs.
4. Doctor Strange
Although it suffers a little bit from “origin-story-itis,” the latest addition to the big screen portion of the MCU is a resounding success. The cast of this film may give the best combined performance in an MCU film since The Avengers, with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Mads Mikkelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Benedict Wong all perfectly cast.
Of course, the visuals are what separates this film from every other film made this year. Anyone who missed seeing this on a theater big screen is really out of luck.
3. Captain America: Civil War
Spider-Man was in it. ‘Nuff said.
2. Hacksaw Ridge
You can read my review here for why exactly I liked it so much. In this space, it can just be said that you will very rarely find a film like this. A true story of sacrificial heroism that will tear at your heartstrings and bring you to applause.
1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Ha ha. Just kidding. No way.
1. La La Land
It wasn’t the suburb acting chops of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the gorgeous cinematography, the catchy music, or even the fulfilled dreams that made this film the best of the year. Instead, it was how well the story can relate to our own lives. It’s a Hollywood story without a “Hollywood ending,” a reality wrapped up in a fiction for most of us, whether we are in La La Land or not. And even if we do reach our dreams, we never forget what we lost along the way.
BONUS!!! The 10 Films I’m most looking forward to in 2017. BONUS!!!
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2
- Beauty and the Beast
- My Friend Dahmer
- Murder on the Orient Express
- The Dark Tower