Top 10 Favorite Films of 2016
10. Star Trek Beyond
It’s a pity Star Trek Beyond didn’t do well during the summer. It was the best reviewed blockbuster out at the time, and yet people still didn’t see it. (Instead they watched Suicide Squad ughhh) Even though it wasn’t a box office hit, Star Trek Beyond is a fresh blockbuster that tries a couple of new things, it’s a well developed ensemble piece, it has a developed villain for once and it’s got great action pieces. Most of it is due to Simon Pegg’s terrific script and I think it’s good to see actual fans write scripts for franchise films. They feel fresh and are exactly what audiences are clamoring for. It’s a good turn away from the Studio mandated films. Star Trek Beyond is an optimist action blockbuster and we need more films like this.
I wanted to watch Moonlight before the hype took over but unfortunately I didn’t get to see it when it came out. I saw it way after the massive hype & award wins. Moonlight, thankfully didn’t disappoint. It’s got a gripping story, Barry Jenkins direction is top notch and I think he’ll be someone to keep an eye out for in the future. Though Moonlight didn’t resonate with me as it did with a lot of people. I felt the film felt a little skimmed down & lacking in parts. I’m not too sure if the movie was trying to make a statement on black culture but nothing stood out for me on that aspect. I think the film would have benefitted with an extra half hour as the story felt like it needed a bit more information. Naomi Harris & Marsherla Ali’s little screen time was disappointing as I wanted to see more of their characters. Also the film did lose a lot of steam in the third act. Regardless it’s a great indie film and one of the highlights of 2016.
8. Captain America: Civil War
Even though Deadpool is getting all the praise, I believe Captain America Civil War to be the best superhero film of the year. There is some backlash and some valid criticisms but I feel this is Marvel’s best work. It’s a serious film, it’s got great acting and the action sequences are all terrific. The Russo Brothers truly understand the character of Captain America and as a die hard Captain America fan, it’s good to see the character being done justice. Also superhero films work well when you put a genre twist and the espionage genre works well for Captain America. I’ll admit that Civil War suffers from Marvel trying to force it into their bigger universe, the bland color grading, excessive CGI. It also plays it real safe but thankfully it isn’t a cliche joke fest like all other Marvel films have been. It also feels like a stand alone movie rather than setup and a proper sequel to Winter Soldier. This was probably my favorite action film of the year and I have had tons of fun on all my viewings. Also that bicep scene had me going like = O
7. Manchester by the Sea
I was enthused to see a Casey Affleck film getting rave reviews but at the same time I was hesitant. How could a film so simple be so enrapturing? And wouldn’t it drag? The film is nearly 2 hours and half long but I have to say I was really impressed. Kenneth Lonergan’s directing and writing are superb. The music choices are also well done. The acting is great and the cinematography is nice too. It’s not a mind blowing film but it’s a good movie. Mostly due to Lonergan and his terrific cast. Manchester by the Sea reminded me of those days when there was an indie renaissance both in film and music (Around 2004-2010) It felt like a film of that time period and there were so many great simple movies coming out then. It’s the only way for me to describe Manchester by the Sea. Manchester by the Sea is movie that won’t be for everyone, it might bore others, it’s also incredibly sad (but it has some great comedic moments too) and it can be a little over long but I’m really glad I got to see this.
6. The Nice Guys
I’m going to go out and say it, this was the funniest film I”ve seen all year. I was dying from laughter beginning to end. Comedies tend to cliche simple plots but Nice Guys has a surprisingly decent plot. It was a little complicated but since the film is a throwback to noirs, it seems intended. Obviously the dialogue is great, Shane Black excels at that. I have to say, this is Shane Black’s best direction and probably his best film. I didn’t like any of his films before but this one struck the right chord with me. The soundtrack is brilliant. The climax is a whole lot of fun. And even though Ryan Gosling is getting recognition for La La Land, I think he deserves the same amount of praise for his goofy performance in The Nice Guys. The Nice Guys is a great homage to 70s LA thrillers, that manages to be downright hilarious & quotable. The Nice Guys is going to be film that gets tons of viewings from me in the future.
Disney is seriously killing it in their animated film department. Thank you John Lasseter Even though I miss the traditionally 2D musicals, the 3D movies Disney have recently been doing have been top notch animation wise and story wise. I’ll admit, there have been some duds (Frozen,YEAH I SAID IT) but overall they’re doing a great job. There are so many positive things to say about Zootopia, it’s got a really good plot. It’s a fantastic homage to noir thrillers, not to mention it’s so freaken clever in its world building. Lastly, I feel all animation films should have some humor and this does indeed have some great jokes. Most importantly it has a very strong relevant message that both adults and children can learn from. Everyone should watch Zootopia.
4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is another simple film that impressed me with how great it was. I love quirky films and Hunt for the Wilderpeople has the right amount of quirk. I’ve been following Taika Waikiki’s career since the beginning and he’s only improved as a director & writer. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is his best film and props for getting Dr Alan Grant to star in an indie film. Hunt for the Wilderpeople might have a simple plot but it’s a very funny, well directed, and well composed film that has a lot of heart and isn’t slow at all. I had so much fun watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople and its super high ratings (97% on RT) aren’t a fluke. It lived up to the hype but it’s a shame how the film has become ignored towards the end of the year. It was given a very poor Blu-ray release (That’s not even widely available! Da fuq?) and has been ignored by all award shows (it’s one of the highest reviewed films of the year!) but as you can see, it was good enough to be in my top 5 and I really wholehearted recommend you watch this as soon as possible.
3. Nocturnal Animals
Tom Ford is an excellent fashion designer but I didn’t think he would make a good film director. Boy was I wrong. Nocturnal Animals really blew me away. It has tons of symbolism, a really deep script and the entire movie is a thrill. The acting is top notch and obviously one of the best fashion designers is going to have great visuals. The score is one of my favorites this year, it’s haunting & emotional. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that’s thought provoking and mysterious. The film won’t make sense on an initial watch and that’s probably alienated it from getting the recognition it deserve. Which is stupid, since it had rave reviews at festivals. It should have been nominated for every major film award. Nocturnal Animals is a complex beautiful film full of symbolism, that was shamefully overlooked but hopefully becomes a future classic.
Amy Adams knocks it out of the park with Arrival. Arrival is another great complex movie to come out this year and I’m happy to see that it is getting some awards recognition. Though, Amy Adams being ignored for an Oscar is one of the stupidest things I’ve seen this year. It might be Amy Adams’ best performance and Denis Villeneuve continues to amaze. He continues to pump out film after film every year and they’ve all been incredible. He’s become one of my favorite directors. I wouldn’t say Arrival is better than his last film Sicario but it’s still really great and it’s got a great script. It’s what I believe Interstellar should have strived for. It also has the best use of “On Nature’s Daylight” by Max Richter and Johann Johannson delivers another great score. Arrival is also an optimistic film that has a powerful message like Zootopia on working together. This might end up being my favorite film of the year later but as of now there are a couple of things that have held it from being my favorite so far. I’m not too sure how it fares on rewatchability and it does have a slow pace but overall the movie is worth it.
1. La La Land
Chances are you’ve probably heard of La La Land and yes it happened to be my favorite film of the year as well. It’s a beautiful movie, it’s very creative, the music in the movie is downright terrific and it’s been a long time since we got an original movie musical. Obviously this movie isn’t good because of the nostalgia, it has its own significance. La La Land isn’t a perfect movie by any means and it has tons of flaws. The script could have done with a lot of work and some proofreading by other experienced individuals. The ending was downright terrible and did not fit the tone of the movie at all. That pretty much took the movie down a couple of points of being a future classic but overall it hit a strong chord with me. As a struggling artist myself, the film really highlighted the pains of chasing your dreams. The audition scenes felt real and there are so many brick walls that you hit, that it makes you want to reconsider your career path and give up. La La Land is a movie that shows we shouldn’t give up on our dreams but instead fight for them. It isn’t a “Hollywood pat on the back”, it’s a love letter to anyone who’s struggled chasing their dream. I could relate with both Mia & Sebastian. People think Sebastian is pretentious, but I am just like that. I agreed with most of the points he made and Jazz was his passion that he wanted to stay true to it. He wasn’t a hipster, he genuinely loved something and wanted to share it. And Mia working on her play, inspired me to even work harder as an actor. You can’t wait for the right role, you have to pave your own way. It’s a movie that has touched a soft spot for many and that is why it’s gotten the success it has. It’s more than a love story & a musical. It’s inspiring. Also some of the criticisms like no black people, no gay people, whitesplaining are beyond moronic. It’s literally a two person movie with 2 of the best working actors in Hollywood. Also no gay people? There are barely any solid supporting characters! And the white man loves Jazz thing comes from Damien Chazelle & Justin Hurwitz being huge fans of Jazz and they happen to be white.
Hell or High Water