So here we are, it’s the last day of January 2017 and I’m just now getting my best of 2016 list out there. Yes, I know I’ve been really late with my lists this year and for those who read, it might be annoying, but I guess better late than never right? Anyway, let’s put my lateness aside and get to what I think are some of the best movies of 2016. 2016 was an interesting year for movies, it had a lot of surprisingly good ones, a lot of subpar ones and a lot of shit (which isn’t unusual for any year). I realize now that I probably say this at the end of every year and probably said the same kind of thing last year when I posted this list, but I think the world is growing and the world is changing so every year we have different experiences with movies and we have different emotions with them. Either way, I think maybe I should stop rambling and get to this list, here are my top 10 movies of 2016.
10. Love & Friendship
Kate Beckinsale is a great actress and she rarely gets her time to shine. She’s in what seems to be an endless amount of Underworld movies, which are fine for what they are but aren’t really the best movies quality wise, and every now and then gets a smaller movie like Love & Friendship where she can really show her talent. Love & Friendship has my favorite type of Kate Beckinsale character in it which gossipy and witty with a slight touch of bitchiness mixed in there. There was a little bit of that in her last collaboration with Whit Stillman, Last Days of Disco, but it’s not nearly as great of a performance (or movie), as the one present. But let’s not shy away from all the other great performances in this movie, it’s filled with wit, class and funny little jabs that the characters throw at each other which I love. Love & Friendship was one of the best times I had watching a movie in 2016 and I would highly suggest to check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.
9. Nocturnal Animals
Of the two Amy Adams movies to come out this year, this is the more dark and haunting one. With A Single Man in 2009 being his debut, Nocturnal Animals marks Tom Ford’s sophomore directing effort and I’d say it’s even better than his first. One of the things this movie does so beautifully and so effortlessly is the way it’s able to go back and forth from reality to this world of fiction. As we get to experience what Amy Adams’ character is reading we get to feel the dark pain along with her, especially as we come to see what has happened in her past with her ex husband. I wouldn’t say this is for everyone especially since it can be brutal at times just with how dark and menacing it can get, but man if it doesn’t hit you right in the gut. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon have to be my two favorite parts of this movie as the avenging husband the officer by his side, they add something to the movie that I don’t think could’ve been made as great without them in the parts. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s a dark affair and I ate up every second of it.
8. De Palma
This is a documentary about a guy just talking about what he loves to do, and that’s why I love it so much. My dream is that in the future the same filmmakers get other directors to sit down and talk about their long spanning careers because I could watch movies like these 24/7. I knew a little about Brian De Palma before going into this. I knew the basics that he directed, stuff like Carrie, Mission Impossible, Dressed To Kill, Scarface but I never knew about most of his other films and how long his career has been going on for. One of the things I always loved about him as a director is the split screen effect of course but also how much he uses these long takes. There’s nothing more that bugs me in a movie than a bunch of quick cuts, I love long drawn out shots and that’s what De Palma did in a lot of his movies. I wouldn’t go into this movie expecting a full documentary about this director because that’s not what it is, it’s literally just this guy talking about his movies and the experiences he had while making them, along with some great editing of the footage from those movies. It’s a simple little movie and that’s why I loved it.
7. Green Room
Nocturnal Animals may have been dark and brooding but this is the more brutal and tense side of things. The build in this movie is insane and unlike anything I’ve seen in a long time. It’s hard to put this movie in any specific box because I wouldn’t say it’s horror necessarily but I also wouldn’t just call it a thriller either, it’s a suspenseful movie with moments of intense insanity. Similarly to what I said with Nocturnal Animals, it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. The deaths in this movie feel painfully real and don’t give you a second to catch your breath, it really adds to the brutalness of the movie. The late great Anton Yelchin is fantastic as what is pretty much the lead along with another great performance by Imogen Poots. Patrick Stewart is only in a few scenes but he also is amazing as always and will send shivers down your spine. This isn’t the easiest movie to sit through but I definitely think it’s an experience that’s worth your time.
Amy Adams has two great performances in 2016 and doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for either of them, that doesn’t make much sense. Yes, Amy Adams has been snubbed and it’s sad but at the same time it really isn’t what matters, what matters is that these movies are great and she is at the peak of her career right now. I do have to say that I think Arrival is the better movie of the two, even though I did love Nocturnal. Adams breathes and lives this movie, it’s her movie, it’s her platform. There’s something that happens in the last third of this movie which I guess you could call a twist that really changed this movie for me. Before it got to that point I was enjoying it and was genuinely interested in where it was going but wasn’t sure what I was going to get out of it. But once that thing happens towards the end the movie comes full circle and it’s really beautiful. I will say that there is one scene that just has some of the worst CGI on Adams but it’s nothing that will ruin the movie, it’s just something that I noticed and thought I should point out for some reason. Arrival is a beautiful and emotional experience of a movie and it’s definitely one of the better “alien movies” in the past decade or so, even if they’re not the sole point of the movie.
Something that stuck out to me about Fences was how much it felt like a play, and that’s what drew me to it. Originally a stage play, Fences is adapted to the screen in this but still feels like it’s living it’s life on a stage, which maybe a turn off for some but it was a plus for me. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are the driving forces of this movie, with monologue after monologue they own this movie and are the reasons to see it. Like a lot of the movies on this list, it can be a tough movie to sit through at times and you don’t always get a lot of room to breathe, but that’s what this movie is, that’s what the writing is. August Wilson’s writing in the original stage play is so beautifully heartbreaking and it seamlessly transitions to the screen. Like I said before, Denzel and Viola are the sole reasons to see this movie and I think it’s an important one, especially considering the times we’re living in right now.
4. 20th Century Women
This movie blew me away when I saw it and I’m actually still thinking about it. With Beginners and now this, Mike Mills might be one of my favorite directors in the last few years. I could make it simple and just tell you that Annette Benning is the star of this movie, which she is, but I just can’t do that because every performance in this movie is outstanding. With Greta Gerwig in all her lovliness, Elle Fanning in what’s probably my favorite performance by her to date, Billy Crudup as the cool kind of hippie dude and Lucas Jade Zumann in one of the better teenage roles in the past year or so, the cast is undeniable. The characters in this movie are insanely complex and they’re all so interesting to watch, none of them get thrown to the side or are forgotten about, they’re all present in the moment. 20th Century Women is definitely one I’ll be watching again and again.
3. Blue Jay
I’ve seen Blue Jay twice now and fall in love with it more and more every time I see it. Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass are the leads and really the only people in this little black and white indie film. With themes of coming back to your hometown and rekindling old flames it all just works so well. You can tell every acting decision was thought out so well and even improvised some of the time, or a lot of the time who knows. As much as I do love Mark Duplass and think he’s amazing in this I do have to say that Sarah Paulson is a bright star for me and just brings an extra layer of emotion to this movie. I’ve loved her since her early days in American Horror Story and anything that she’s been in after, but this really put my love for her in stone. It’s a simple movie about love and longing that I would really suggest to anyone, it’s so so great.
2. La La Land
I’m going to keep this short and simple, this is a magical film and it’s wonderful. I feel like this movie has become a victim of winning all the awards and therefore it becomes “overrated”. Sure, maybe it doesn’t deserve every award out there and others deserve it more but that doesn’t stop me from loving this movie. It seems like the second the oscars or any of the award shows come around a movie that gets any type of recognition or love in these awards is automatically not that great, but I just can’t and won’t let that happen to this movie. I had a giant smile on my face the whole way through this movie. Sure, it’s not the most complex movie ever and it’s not anything groundbreaking, but it’s fun and I think it knows that. Another complaint is the fact that the two leads can’t sing that well or don’t have strong enough of voices which is another thing I just won’t let happen. I really found nothing wrong with either Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone’s voices. Yeah neither of them have big voices for broadway, but that is not what this movie is trying to bring you, it’s bringing you a story about two dreamers in LA that fall in love and that’s that. So if you haven’t seen La La Land yet and are skeptical about it based on some of the negative things you’ve heard, I’d say fuck it. Go see this movie! It’s a spectacular time and it’s undeniably charming.
This is the best movie of 2016 and is undoubtedly become one of my favorites of all time. Moonlight spoke to me in a way that I never thought it would. Now, it is true that I am not someone who is black or from Miami so I can’t relate on that level but I can relate to being gay and feeling like you are lost in the world because I am gay and I have felt that way. The way this movie chronicles Chiron’s life in three chapters is so seamless it’s something to see. All the actors who play Chiron in the differnt stages of his life (Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes), are really great and somehow are able to make it feel like you’re watching the same person throughout the movie, which isn’t an easy task to feat. Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali and Andre Holland are three other people in this movie that are out of this world great. There’s not much else I can say about Moonlight other than that it’s a beautiful piece of art and that if you haven’t seen it, for god’s sake go watch it!
Thanks for sticking around for this list! Hope you enjoyed it and let me know what you thought below! Till next time!