The year is coming to a close, which means a countless number of movie bloggers are counting down their favorite films of the year. This includes me. Note, this is my personal list. I’m only one guy and can only watch so many movies. Unfortunately, I have yet to see a few of the lauded films from this year such as Moonlight, Jackie, and Sing Street. With that in mind, let’s count these films down.
10. Midnight Special
“It’s rare for a completely original science fiction film to see the light of day in the current movie industry. Midnight Special is a smart and subtle film that does not compromise its genre whatsoever. It acts as a pure science fiction film that is uninterested in any attempts at making the film “accessible”. The strengths of Midnight Special lie in its refusal to spoonfeed explanations to the audience. That might sound strange, but the fact that the film never stops to spout exposition about what exactly is going on really adds to the tension and atmosphere of the film…
…Thrilling at times, heartfelt at times, Midnight Special is a satisfying science fiction thriller that asks more questions that it answers, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
9. The Witch
“The movie shies away from cheap jump scares and other similar tropes from typical horror movies. Instead, the film delivers something that feels outright sinister and evil. From the beginning of the film, there is a sense of uneasiness that doesn’t relent until it ends. For a first time director, Robert Eggers has crafted a guaranteed classic in horror cinema…
…Driving home after the film I still felt unnerved and unsettled, and those feelings stayed with me the rest of the night. And to me, those are the symptoms of having watched something truly terrifying.”
“Scripted by Jared Bush (Zootopia), Moana follows the typical chosen one/hero’s journey arc, but cleverly fuses it with the familiar tropes of classic Disney princesses and subtly subverts and deconstructs them at every turn…
…Even with this deconstruction that is ever-present in the background, there is authentic heart and sincerity at the core of Moana’s story. Moana’s familial bonds can genuinely be felt, especially her connection with grandma, which proves to be exceptionally poignant. The relationship between Maui and Moana is great as well. Inevitably, the pair doesn’t get along too well at first. Yet as their adventuring continues their bond proceeds to strengthen and grow, with a legitimate sense of companionship eventually forming.
…Moana is yet another knockout from Walt Disney Animation Studios, and the current pantheon of Disney princesses should consider themselves honored to have Moana join their ranks.”
7. American Honey
“Director Andrea Arnold isn’t trying to make you like these characters as people, but simply emphasize with them. As is eternally inevitable with youth, these teenagers feel purposeless, trying to find meaning in whatever they can. Whether that meaning is found in each other or dancing naked around a campfire, can change from night-to-night with these kids…
…This is what is so wonderful about American Honey. The film contains some supremely dark moments, but they are contrasted with gleeful moments of hope, in this formative period of Star’s life. Arnold knows full well that there is no light without darkness, no love without hate, and there is beauty to be found in every one of these moments.”
“RAW is director Julia Ducournau’s debut feature film, and you’d be hard pressed to realize that. With RAW she has already proven herself to be a fucking powerhouse. This film is absolutely fantastic, it’s gripping, it’s horrifying, it’s even funny at times. The film is so many different things at once, and Ducournau has a lot to say with here, especially concerning the issues of sexuality, body image, and addiction…
…RAW is a masterfully executed genre film, giving horror fans some delightfully stylish scares, as well as having a deeper meaning behind it all. With its great cast and stellar directing, RAW is a triumph, and will leave your mind with something to chew on long after the film is over.”
5. Swiss Army Man
“The director duo known simply as Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) pitched Swiss Army Man to star Paul Dano quite succinctly: the first fart will make you laugh, the last will make you cry. That statement perfectly encapsulates what makes Swiss Army Man so special. Who knew that the film focused on a farting corpse would be one of the most genuine, heartfelt, and personal movies of the year…
…Swiss Army Man is just such a well crafted and original film, that I could go on forever singing its praises. My only real issue with the film is that I felt it stumbled a bit in its final act, but it so quickly corrected itself that it’s hard to hold it against the film. Other than that minor nitpick, I have nothing but positives to say about this film. It’s hilarious, it’s heartwarming, and it’s surprisingly deep.”
4. Captain America: Civil War
“[Captain America: Civil War] is the most compelling superhero epic I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Captain America: Civil War is not just the best movie Marvel Studios has produced, it’s the best superhero film ever made. It’s the pinnacle of superhero storytelling, utilizing its cinematic universe in a way that feels earned. Captain America: Civil War is a great film because it’s the thirteenth film in a long-running saga, not in spite of it.
Civil War succeeds as not only the best Captain America movie ever made, but also as the strongest Iron Man movie ever made, the best Avengers movie ever made, and serves as a kick-ass origin story for Black Panther.”
3. Everybody Wants Some!!
“In the hands of another director, this film could have been another cliche and generic college sex comedy, but Linklater injects genuine heart into this film and gives it palpable emotional depth. Instead of caricatures, Linklater is able to craft this group of rowdy college students into a group of characters that feel like real people (I’ll touch more on this later). Linklater’s specialty in film-making has always been making everyday life engrossing, and Everybody Wants Some!! continues this trend.
There is no real plot to the film, no real central conflict to focus on. It simply focuses on one weekend, and how this group of friends chooses how to spend it. It’s a real slice of life film, and it just various vignettes of the different activities the group indulges in. It’s a weekend full of drinking, ping pong, baseball, arcade games, lip syncing Rapper’s Delight, and picking up women.
…[Everybody Wants Some!!] really focuses on living in the moment and because of this the film just feels exceedingly endearing.”
“It’s smart, quiet, and infused with heart. Arrival is soulful down to its very core, and director Denis Villeneuve portrays the impact that an impending alien invasion has on people on both a micro and macro level quite effectively. Not only do we get to see the intimate reactions between our main characters, we also get to experience the differing dynamics between the major countries who have had the luck of an alien ship landing in their backyard. In other words, the stakes of the film are deeply personal but are shown against a vast global backdrop…
…Arrival is an achievement by every meaning of the word, and it’s hard to say why without spoiling just what is so special about it. The film emotionally resonates, and deals with themes that will be picked apart and debated for years to come. All of this is wrapped up in one of the best genuine science fiction films to come out this turn of the century, and Villeneuve was somehow able to achieve this within the rigid studio system.
For a lack of better words, Arrival is fucking amazing.”
1. La La Land
“From the very first scene, La La Land wears its influences on its sleeve, erupting in a lavish musical number in the middle of a congested traffic jam reminiscent of ye olde Hollywood. Like this year’s earlier Hail, Caesar!, La La Land acts as a love letter to classic Hollywood, particularly ‘50s style CinemaScope musicals. Director Damien Chavelle (Whiplash) goes as far to shoot the film in this format, seamlessly blending the old and optimistic sensibilities of classic films with the aesthetic and irony of modern-day Los Angeles…
…La La Land is a film of celebration, well versed in the cinematic language. It’s steeped in its love of classic romance, of Hollywood, of jazz, of life, and of dreams. It delivers wholeheartedly a tale of sincere romance, complete with both a bittersweet and happily ever after ending, with each effectively informing one another. It acts as the perfect junction of everything I adore about cinema, why is why I’m not hesitating to call this the best damn film of the year.”
And there you have it, my top 10 favorite films of the year. What about you guys? What are your favorite movies of 2016? Sound off in the comments below!