Here is my top-10 list for 2016. These are my favorites and I feel like this was honestly a great year for movies overall. Many will disagree with me and that’s okay but if one thing did go right in 2016, it was the amount of great movies we were given.
I’ve been hard on Arrival simply because I don’t feel like it’s anywhere close to Denis V’s best work but I honestly really liked the movie. I felt like my expectations were too high but the acting is great, the storytelling is top notch, and the cinematography is awesome. While Arrival barely made my top 10, I gave it a spot simply because I walked out of Arrival feeling like this is the kind of movie everyone should go to the theater to experience.
This movie isn’t gonna be for everyone but I feel like if you appreciate great acting, Jackie is a must-see for people who love films. At times in this movie, it feels like Natalie Portman is so invested into this film that it’s hard to forget that she’s playing a movie role simply because she’s just so good in this film as Jackie Kennedy. Someone who surprised me, which shouldn’t be surprising, is Peter Saarsgard (spelling). Saarsgard plays Robert Kennedy and it was nice to see Portman and Saarsgard playing off of each other. While some might not find this interesting as a movie, I loved every single minute of this movie simply because I’m a huge snob for US history. Btw, the assassination scene is tough to watch; pretty graphic stuff.
You might be surprised that Moana is this low considering I’m a huge Disney fan/fanboy but that’s not to say Moana wasn’t a great film because it was. Everything about this movie is great: the animation, the overall look of this film, the voice acting, the relatable themes, and the great storyline. While it’s not my favorite Disney movie, Moana is a great experience and it’s another big hit by Disney. For any football fans, Troy Polamalu voices a very small cameo-type role that went unnoticed by me until the end of the film. If you love Disney movies, check out Moana while you still can.
7) Hell or High Water
This movie came out of nowhere this summer and I checked it out because of the high praise it had been receiving. As a big Chris Pine fan as well as a big Jeff Bridges fan, of course I checked this one out. This was a huge surprise for me. I personally loved every moment of this film and everyone in this film was brilliant. The biggest surprise in this movie was Ben Foster; Foster had so much chemistry with Chris Pine that I’d consider giving him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. This movie had the feel of a Western but I don’t know if I’d consider it a Western film. The movie was basically perfect and it’s something that should get a Best Picture nomination tbh simply because it was that damn good.
6) Don’t Think Twice
A movie I did not expect to love as much as I did was Don’t Think Twice which was also a huge surprise for me personally. I did not expect this movie to be as great as it was simply because the two lead actors were Gillian Jacobs and Keegan Michael-Key. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both of them but man, this movie almost fell into the realm of drama more than comedy at times. There were a lot of funny moments in Don’t Think Twice but there were also a lot of times where things were deadly serious and not funny at all. Much like Funny People, Don’t Think Twice gave the viewer a look into how tough and stressful being a comedian can really be. This movie will fall into the realm of “too indie” for awards but Don’t Think Twice is something that fans of comedy will enjoy simply because it’s a more realistic look at something as “simple” as improv comedy.
5) Don’t Breathe
When directors make horror movies, they’re usually not nearly as good as Don’t Breathe happened to be this year simply because they try way too hard to be “different” when different is not always needed. Don’t Breathe isn’t really original by any standards but what works for Don’t Breathe is how good of a horror film this really is. It’s a simple premise but it works. Three disruptive kids break into a blind man’s house and the twist in this movie will stick with the audience long after they’ve left the movie. While I disagree with the decision of giving this movie a sequel, Don’t Breathe was so good that I can understand why they would tackle a second iteration of a movie like Don’t Breathe.
4) Green Room
I want to preface this review by saying I miss Anton Yelchin. Many know him as Chekov from the new Star Trek films but I’ve been following this kid as an actor for years and I was devastated with his passing this year. Green Room is a great movie to have an early “swan song” for; while Imogen Poots was great and Patrick Stewart played a great bad guy (what), Yelchin was the motor that made this film work as well as it did. The only thing I’d say that might discourage people from watching people is the violence. If you can stomach gruesome violence, please watch Green Room when you can because it was easily one of my favorites of 2016. RIP Anton.
3) Midnight Special
Midnight Special contains great writing, a relatable set of lead characters, good acting from the supporting roles, and it’s just an overall great film. Even if one isn’t interested in the story per se, the acting of this film is to be appreciated. With powerful performances by Michael Shannon and Joel Edgarton, Midnight Special takes an interesting idea and makes it so much more. It also helps that director, Jeff Nichols, is a name to be reckoned with when it comes to science fiction. Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver do a great job as the supporting characters in this film and they hold their own when on the screen. Midnight Special was easily a better film than Arrival imo simply because I left the theater feeling like I wanted to watch Midnight Special for a second time. This movie made me feel more emotions and Michael Shannon deserves a lot more recognition from people who follow Hollywood films.
2) The Edge of Seventeen
It may not be the “manly” thing to rate this movie as high as number two but Edge of Seventeen was a great film that had a Best Actress-like performance from Hailee Steinfeld and the movie had such great writing throughout. Woody Harrelson, Blake Jenner, and Haley Lu Richardson were all great but Hailee Steinfeld carried this film and made it work even better than I expected. While I knew Steinfeld was a talent in the acting field, I didn’t expect her to do as well as she did with something that seemed like a “generic” high school drama film. The plot isn’t overly complicated and it’s simple but it works so well and that’s why I have it at my number two spot on this list. The Edge of Seventeen boasts great acting, relatable themes, a pretty cool soundtrack, and great direction; this is why The Edge of Seventeen is one of my favorite movies from 2016.
Can A24 do anything wrong? I did not expect Moonlight to be as great and moving as it was simply because it had a ton of praise. When a movie gets a ton of praise and barely any flak, I usually walk out of the movie theater in disappointment because it sometimes becomes a game of expectations. I expect too much and the movie falls a little flat and doesn’t grab me like other films. I can safely say that Moonlight is the best movie I have seen in 2016 and everything about this movie is near flawless. Much like Short Term 12 a few years ago, Moonlight will be something I immediately try to purchase when it hits BluRay/4K simply because I loved this movie so much. If you only get to see one more movie this year, try to go outside the norm and see Moonlight because it was a masterpiece.