The Best Movies of 2016

Well guys, it’s time to go over all of my reviews with a fine comb and figure out which ones make it into my top 10 list.

But it’s not just a top 10 list; a top 10 list insinuates that there were just ten movies that are recommendable. As far as I’m concerned, my best list is here to let you know about all of the movies that I personally think merit your attention. I can’t pretend that you’ll like all the movies listed below, but I am almost positive that you will find something that you’ll absolutely enjoy.

Two disclaimers:

  1. I’m not going to hide behind the idea that this is a “subjective” list; lots of reviewers who make these lists hide behind them by calling the lists subjective. My opinions on movies are pretty fantastic and as objective as I can make them, and if you don’t think so and have good arguments against my opinions, I am completely open to criticism.
  2. The only movies that make the list are the ones I reviewed, and I of course have not seen all the movies I wanted to see. I would feel guilty about this, but then I remembered that I don’t get paid to watch movies and my hobby comes directly from my time and my money…
    Hell, [a certain lame reviewer] gets paid to watch movies and review them on Youtube, and I watched nine more movies than that bastard did.

Onto the best list….

16. 

The Nice Guys, the only competent comedy this year, takes the first pick of 2016 and is number 16. I don’t know if I can rightfully call it a comedy because it fits into more of an action type category, but the obvious comedic tone compels me to at least call it a dark comedy.

The contrast between both Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling worked very well, and the attention to detail was well above average. The Nice Guys also has one of the greatest child performances of the year.

15.

For all of its occasional cheesiness and its awkward romance, number 15, Hacksaw Ridge is still quite an exceptional war movie with some fantastic performances from Andrew Garfield and Hugo Weaving. And bless Vince Vaughn’s heart, because he’s great in it too, surprisingly.

The primary reason this film is on this list is because the last third of the movie is absolutely phenomenal, but the entire movie is generally good as well.

14.

Perhaps not the most accessible, but number 14, Fences, still provides some of the strongest performances from 2016. This is one of the best performances I’ve seen from both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Granted, there are more elements to a movie besides acting. Hence, this movie is lower on this list. But the majority of the elements of Fences are still fantastic or at the very least good.

If you like depressing movies that are also character studies on sociopathic family men, then I would recommend checking it out.

13.

Captain America: Civil War, number 13, is a movie that demonstrates why Marvel is winning the super hero movie battle (albeit the only demonstration this year). This movie not only benefits from all previous Marvel movies and what they develop, but it also benefits from just how much they decided to focus on every single character. Every single character in this movie gets enough attention to be understood and to be entertaining, and the fight sequence in the airport was possibly the most fun I have had in the movies all year.

Now, unfortunately though it excels at character development and crowd pleasing, it certainly does not excel in plot development or overall storytelling. The plot isn’t necessarily horrendous, but you can tell that a lot of the time they spent focusing on the characters was at the expense of the actual story.

Fortunately, I believe that its shortcomings do not invalidate Civil War’s achievements.

12. 

Captain Fantastic lands the number 12 spot. Viggo Mortensen not only delivers a great performance with a legitimate inner conflict, but all of the child and teen actors do well in their roles too.

The journey the family has, and the conflict that came from their contrasting values from everyone else, was not only extremely interesting and thought provoking.

There’s a couple of scenes in the movie that I find a little forced, and people who can’t watch movies they politically disagree with may or may not find Mortensen’s character reprehensible, but I found the entire movie to be extremely worth watching… and maybe the only movie that isn’t in my top 10 that I would consider purchasing.

11. 

The suspenseful 10 Cloverfield Lane is number 11. The movie has one of the best performances of the year. John Goodman is so absorbed into his role, and he carries the entire movie into greatness. Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr. both do well in this movie as well, but it’s Goodman that makes this movie absolutely exceptional.

This movie works with what small space they were given to work with, giving the movie a slightly claustrophobic feeling.

Now I understand that some people hated the ending, and some people were annoyed that it had nothing to do with “Cloverfield”.

And while I certainly was completely fine with it not having anything to do with Cloverfield, I can understand why people were not fans of the ending. However, I refuse to let the ending detract from just how great the rest of the movie was. Would it have been better if the ending fit the rest of the movie? Yes.

Does the movie suck because of the ending?

I would vehemently disagree with anyone who says so.

TOP TEN

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At number 10, we have Green Roomgr_web.jpg, an absolutely chilling movie that is as equally thrilling as it is disturbing. Every single character sells this movie with just how successfully bewildered and terrified they all act to everything that happens to them. Everyone from Anton Yelchin to Patrick Stewart performs well.

This film attempts to explore the depths that people will go down in order to survive. In that, it becomes a dark movie extremely quickly. Not to mention, this movie has some indie screamo music. If either of these things sound like stuff you try to avoid, then I wouldn’t recommend you seeing this movie.

Otherwise, this movie is a savage, terrifying, fantastic experience, and I would recommend checking it out.

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At number 9, wecpbdmd7wgaafqfs-1-jpg-large.jpg have Deepwater Horizon, a surprisingly fantastic movie with great attention-to-detail, decent suspense, and great performances all around (but especially from Kurt Russel).

One of the things that makes this movie so great is how successfully they tapped into the emotions of going through such a traumatic event, and what brave men and women are willing to do when tested.

I wouldn’t necessarily call this movie complex, and I don’t know if I would call it thought-provoking, but it is certainly thrilling, suspenseful, entertaining, and crowd-pleasing.

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5756fe23e792e.image.jpgAt number 8, we have The Conjuring 2, the hands-down best horror movie of 2016 (that I’ve seen).
Where most horror movies typically just make the ambitions of the horror creature aimless in hopes to make it scarier, The Conjuring 2 was willing to keep sense in their movie and STILL was able to make it scary.

Where most horror movies throw in jump scares and horror cliches because of the obligatory horror formula, The Conjuring 2 utilizes them with actual purpose.

On top of that, the movie is adequately performed, the characters are interesting and understandable, and holy crap, they actually casted a little girl who can act and could hold her own so well that it didn’t bother me with how much screen time she took up.

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infiltrator.jpgAt number 7, we have The Infiltrator, and I seem to be the only one who’s willing to put it on a top 10 list.

I’m willing to listen to people tell me why it’s not a fantastic movie, but all detractive reviews I’ve seen say something like, “Well it doesn’t add anything new” or “It wasn’t my thing”.

Cool, well if I wanted to read about how it wasn’t your thing without explaining why it wasn’t your thing, I would talk to some random loudmouth on the street who doesn’t know about movies, thanks.

The Infiltrator is a testament to how great of an actor Bryan Cranston is. His performance, while not ground-breaking, is absolutely fantastic. Cranston was able to take a non-dynamic role and still drive a compelling performance. Diane Kruger and John Leguizamo also do exceptional in their roles. The movie is able to drive a large amount of suspense and was still able to utilize its time well despite being over two hours long and covering a lot of time.

On top of this, most of the negative reviewers I’ve read acknowledge most of these points. So even if it’s not your thing, The Infiltrator is definitely worth a chance.

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At number 6, we have The Light Between Oceans.

Are you shocked? Not as shocked as I am. Not only is this a great love story, but it is a surprising study about what happens to people who make bad decisions with good (and/or selfish) intentions.

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander are both great in their roles and they contrast each other rather well. It may very well be the saddest movie on this list, but movies are supposed to make you feel something, and the fact that this movie did so means that it accomplished its goal.

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At number 5, we have Arrival, an exquisite movie with fantastic attention to detail and an exceptional perception of cinematic craft.

But if you want a compliment that does not sound pretentious: the acting is fantastic; the tone is enthralling and consistent; and the themes of the movie are rich in depth, warmth, and sadness. This is truly a movie that I would call an experience, and as long as you’re someone who can’t stand “slow” movies, I would strongly suggest that you check it out.

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At number 4, we have Kubo and the Two Strings, the sole animated movie this year that is worth remembrance. The animation is not only breath-taking and memorable, but every single character is infinitely likable and relatable. From Kubo, the sad boy with the free-flowing imagination; to Monkey, the irritable character on the straight-and-narrow path; to Beetle, the lovable moron; every single character in this is charming and successful in establishing an emotional connection.

There are a few narrative misfires that prevent it from being a perfect movie, but its flaws don’t even come close to labeling this movie unrecommendable. Go see it as soon as you can, because this movie made dirt in the box office.

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At number 3, we have Hell or High Water, one of the only movies on this list that is not only exceptionally acted, but makes the most out of every single character in their ensemble. Everybody in this movie feels organic, the conflict though understated, felt very much real.

Ben Foster is top notch in this movie, and although I can’t call Chris Pine’s or Jeff Bridges’s characters unique, I don’t require characters to be unique to be successful; successful characters are ones that relay powerful emotion convincingly, and the entire cast accomplishes this.

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swiss_army_man_xlg.jpgAt number 2, we have Swiss Army Man, a movie that completely took me by surprise. No other movie had me crying laughing at its humor. No other movie made me want to cry out of depression (except for number 1…). And no other movie made me think that maybe fart jokes are still a worthwhile endeavor.
Not only that but the soundtrack is an absolute delight, and the cinematography really captures the absolute weirdness that this movie has to offer.
Now there are a lot of friends who have talked to me about this movie because they know that I have fervently recommended it. Most of them fall into two categories: they either loved it profusely, or they absolutely hated it.
If they hated it, it was usually because they thought the premise was stupid and profane.

Is Swiss Army man stupid? Yes. Is it profane? Absolutely.

But WHY it’s stupid and profane is more important to me than whether or not it is.

The same people who will call this movie stupid are the same people who have enjoyed every mind-numbingly generic movie this year that says nothing and does nothing. The same people who call this movie profane will turn around and enjoy other profane movies like Bad Moms or Bridget Jones’s Baby. And if you’re one of those people, you hated Swiss Army Man because of preference, and not because it was a bad movie.

And the number one movie is……

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Damn it, it’s La La Land.

All the way up until a week ago, I thought Swiss Army Man was going to be the movie to take the number one spot. And once I saw this movie, I knew that I would have to see Swiss Army Man a second time before I knew which one was 1 and which one was 2.

After the second viewing, I still absolutely love Swiss Army Man, and I STILL cried laughing at it a second time….

… but the fact is that La La Land is the more perfect of the two movies in regards to execution, story, cinematic elements, and acting. Its masterful ability to have these long scenes with impressive choreography would have been enough to make it an exceptional movie, but when the film demonstrates a reasoning for WHY it shoots some of the shots the way it did, then it is a film that puts itself at a level that almost none but a few films in the entire world puts itself at.

Not only that, but Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are both completely effortless to watch together. The music for it was great. The use of visuals was breathtaking.

The truth is that no other movie comes first.

stevejdonahue.wordpress.com

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10 thoughts on “The Best Movies of 2016

  1. Interesting list yo, I appreciate your choices especially with Kubo and Civil War, though I believe I liked them both a lot more than you did. 🙂 I also loved Deepwater Horizon, was such a nice surprise and I liked The Nice Guys a lot too. I unfortunately missed 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Conjuring 2, and The Infiltrator. A lot of your films I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about but a good few of them haven’t been released in the UK yet like Hacksaw Ridge, Fences, captain fantastic and La La La Land.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a bummer man. Yeah all areas are different. Lots of reviewers live in LA, New York or Chicago and see movies before people like me in the Midwest.

      If only a movie came out everywhere at the same time.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great list and reasons behind your choices! I cannot wait to see La La Land roll on sunday when I will eventually see it!

    Love that you included The Infiltrator in your list, it was a very engaging film and Cranston was outstanding. I put him in my top 25 male performances of 2016!

    Liked by 2 people

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