2016, what a year. A really frustrating and tiring year. There was so much that happened in the world and it was hard to make sense of it all, but one thing that I, or anyone for that matter, can fall back when they can’t make sense of the world is movies. While there were some very disappointing films that were released this year, this year also had some of the most incredible films that have been released in this decade.
Before I name my top 10 though, I want to give some honorable mentions. The Jungle Book is a visual masterpiece. Hacksaw Ridge was a heart-wrenching war film. Doctor Strange pushed the visual effects boundaries to new heights. 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Accountant were fantastic thrillers. Now onto my list.
10. Kubo and the Two Strings: This film is animation at its best. Created with the dying art of Claymation, this film is essentially the Legend of Zelda film that we haven’t gotten yet. The animation is stunning and the story is beautifully told.
9. Deadpool: This film was the perfect mix of comedy and action and is probably one of the best adaptations of a superhero ever put to screen. Ryan Reynolds is perfect as the title character and the ten year wait for this film to be released was well worth the wait.
8. The Nice Guys: This film is probably the best written film of the year in my opinion. It has well-developed characters and an intriguing mystery while also being really funny in a way that few films are able to pull off. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are a fantastic pairing and brought real class to this film. It is also the most criminally underseen film of the year.
7. Zootopia: This film caught me by surprise. It is fantastically written and deals with a lot of issues that are topical and relevant and has a compelling message and story. However, it also has fantastic animation and voice-acting and genuinely interesting characters.
6. Don’t Breathe: This film is probably the best horror film in recent memory. Well-acted and perfectly directed, the tension in this film is through the roof and has twists that are extremely unpredictable. Also it doesn’t rely on gore and high death count to scare the audience, which is a nice change of pace for the horror genre.
5. Hell or High Water is fantastic neo-western that deals with some hard-hitting issues. Fantastically directed and written with Oscar worthy performances from Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster with Chris Pine also giving an incredible performance. Taut and exciting, this film is easily one of the best westerns since No Country for Old Men and the remake of 3:10 to Yuma.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story had to be somewhere on my list being that I’m a massive Star Wars fan. This film has some great characters with a drastically different and darker tone than any film in the franchise before it. The last hour is a straight up war film and probably has one of the most engaging and tense third acts in the genre if not most films.
3. Captain America: Civil War is one of the best superhero films of all-time. Fantastically directed by the Russo Brothers, it honestly felt like a personal indie film that happened to have the budget of a blockbuster. It was an incredibly personal story that also has one of the best fight scenes ever. It also had some of the best performances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man and if I would nominate anyone from a genre film for their performances, it would be these two.
2. Arrival is an incredibly deep and thought-provoking film that is fantastically directed by one of favorite directors, Denis Villeneuve. It is beautifully written and challenges how you can view the world while also having incredible cinematography and an Oscar-worthy performance from Amy Adams.
1. La La Land is one of the most beautiful films that I have ever seen. Poignant and deep with some incredible music thrown in, Damien Chazelle struck the jackpot with this film. Beautifully written and directed by Chazelle, it captures the struggle of trying to accomplish one’s dreams incredibly well with a perfect ending that pulls at the heart strings. Ryan Gosling, again, is fantastic in this film, but Emma Stone steals the show and gives one her best performances, if not the best performance, of her career. Very few films can get me to cry and each of the three times I have seen this film, I have cried.