Three and a half months into 2017 and I’m finally getting around to my Top 10 list of 2016. What can I say, deadlines have never been my strong suit. It hasn’t helped that a rather harsh winter has forced me into making fewer trips to the multiplex. So let’s dig into a year that has produced some phenomenal films that I truly hope will stand the test of time and get more recognition in the long run.
10. Captain Fantastic
In my opinion Viggo Mortensen was robbed at the Oscars this year. His turn as the patriarch of a family that lives off the grid was humorous, heartbreaking, and felt truly honest. Throw in a large selection of younger actors/actresses and veteran Frank Langella and the cast is aces. As the movie ended it elicited the same feelings I got when I watched Little Miss Sunshine for the first time almost a decade previously.
9. Hail, Caesar!
I know that some people were felt underwhelmed by the Coen Brothers recent film, but for me it was a fun romp. The big problem was how the trailer mis-marketed the film. But I am a sucker for films set in the Golden Age of Hollywood and the extravagance of those old productions. It’s also fun seeing a humorous take on the shadier side of that era’s glamour.
8. The Witch
This was a very divisive horror film this year. Some people called this a bland and boring film while others said it was completely unnerving. I’ve always had an interest in the Salem Witch Trials, so seeing a film set in that time frame was a wonderful surprise. The film’s atmosphere is almost palpable at times as you wonder what is going on. And I will state right here that the final fifteen minutes really got under my skin. Fingers crossed Anya Taylor-Joy has a long career.
7. Kubo and the Two Strings
Laika continues their winning streak with another well written and visually stunning film. I am genuinely annoyed that this film got snubbed at the Oscars. While ParaNorman stands as my favorite film they’ve done so far Kubo keeps inching closer to Coraline and may eclipse it as number two. Adventurous, funny, heartfelt, and with just a small bit of scary I can not recommend it enough. Hands down the best animated film of the year.
6. The Bronze
Holy shit! I saw the trailer and thought this film would be funny, but I did not expect to love this movie as much as I did. Melissa Rauch and her husband Winston Rauch penned a funny script that is a great black comedy which doesn’t get too mean spirited. When you write a very unlikable character like Hope it’s difficult to sell her to an audience, but Melissa made it work. Her comedic chemistry with co-stars Gary Cole and Thomas Middleditch was spot on. Throw in Sebastian Stan playing a perfectly slimy antagonist and this is one of 2016’s most underrated films.
5. Lights Out
Working off the premise of a fantastic short film, Lights Out was hands down my favorite horror film of the year. Using a time tested fear we’ve all had from one time or another (what’s in the dark) and giving it a small tweak it made what could’ve been cliche feel fresh. Clocking in at just over 80 minutes this movie knows how long it needs to be and gives the audience what it needs without getting bogged down in a convoluted story.
4. La La Land
Sure everyone loved this film and I am one of them. I am a sucker for musicals and grew up on them. It’s rare that we get one these days that isn’t animated or geared towards children. Chazelle, Gosling, and Stone all brought their A-game and it is glamorous. I know the film is going through it’s backlash phase at the moment, but it will once again come back around to being liked soon enough.
3. Swiss Army Man
A film that was sold on the premise of a buddy comedy that included a talking farting corpse some people weren’t sure what to make of Swiss Army Man. What we got was a heartwarming tale that examines love and loneliness. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are both fantastic actors and made this concept work. Throw in some of the best production design and costuming with the other facets and it’s a film that’s reputation will grow over time.
I’d been waiting for Martin Scorsese to make this film for over a decade. I remember hearing him talk about it and at times feared it would never come to fruition. There was casting news that kicked up every now and then, but other films kept pushing it onto the back-burner. When it finally started production and the trailer dropped I waited with bated breath. Clocking in at nearly three hours this is a beautiful and devastating film. I can not recommend it enough.
1.The Nice Guys
Shane Black is making another crime comedy, sold! Following up the smash hit Iron Man 3 Black went back to the well and drew fresh water. As someone who loved Kiss Kiss Bang Bang I was ready to see him return to the genre. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are a perfect combination and setting it in late 70’s L.A. at the apex of Hollywood decadence was great visual backdrop. All three of these men have said they’re open to making a sequel. I can only hope that happens.
Another year has come and gone leaving behind numerous films I’ve yet to see, but these are ones I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. As always, what are your thoughts? What were your favorite films from last year? Did you enjoy any of the films on my list? Are you ready for another year of films? As always you can follow me on Twitter @sdfilmthoughts. And thanks for reading!