2016 Favorite Movies 2016 There were so many wonderful movies across categories this year. In thinking of my favorites, I tried to think about which movies moved me and caused me to think about them long after the film was over. There were some films that had great performances but didn’t necessarily hit my top movies (I gave my appreciation to those performances in a previous post). So, my top 15:
- “Moonlight”. The story of a gay black man, told at 3 periods in his life, was powerful in its truly personal approach to the film. The acting across the board is superb. It is a great directing feat as well.
- “Manchester By the Sea”. Casey Affleck masterfully captured the depths of grief in this man, and again, the performances by all were stellar.
- “Arrival”. I loved this movie that felt like good, old-fashioned heady science fiction with a great contemporary message.
- “Nocturnal Animals”. My favorite “art film” that was visually beautiful to look at, sometimes terrifying to watch, and had a superb cast.
- “Hell or High Water”. Contemporary western, with great performances by Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster, that was funny and told a story that had a very contemporary feel.
- “Lion”. My favorite “feel good” movie, based on a true story, about a man who finds his way back home after being separated from India for nearly 2 decades. More great acting also.
- “Hacksaw Ridge”. Based on a true story about a man who fought in WW2 but refused to carry a gun. Andrew Garfield was perfectly cast, the war scenes are some of the most brutal ever, and the story is very inspirational.
- “Hidden Figures”. True story about 3 women who were pioneers in the NASA space program. While the movie overall felt a bit too “safe”, the story is so incredible, and I, like many others, are wondering still why we never knew about the scientific contributions of these three black women.
- “La La Land”. Two people struggling to make it in Los Angeles music/acting scene makes for a wonderful, feel-good musical. This was Emma Stone’s movie.
- “Sing Street”. Like “Once”, this is a very contemporary musical set in the 80’s that has a great story and wonderful music.
- “20th Century Women”. Annette Bening as a 50+ woman raising a teenager turns to her tenants to help usher her son into manhood. The movie just feels so fresh and the performances great.
- “Certain Women”. Stories of the subtle and transformative power of three women set in the upper Midwest shows how women survive in a man’s world.
- “Midnight Special”. Michael Shannon goes on the lam with his son, who has unique powers, to a destination that does not become clear until the very end. Expert storytelling and a wonderful performance by Michael Shannon lift this film that is a cross between chase, road trip, and science fiction movies.
- “Jackie”. I thought the story about Jackie Kennedy’s life during the week following the assassination of her husband was very unique in its presentation. The cinematography was wonderful, and the music choices created a very haunting and eerie edge to the film.
- “Loving”. True story of the Lovings, whose case to recognized their mixed-race marriage went to the Supreme Court. While this movie left me feeling a bit flat, the acting is wonderful, and the story another that should be seen.
Other movies worth mentioning: “Eye in the Sky” (very intense story about people involved in a drone attack); “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (surprisingly funny); “Birth of a Nation” (a lot of people boycotted this movie but it was overall a strong film that should be seen); “Elle” (Isabel Huppert was superb); “American Honey”, a millennial road trip movie; “Patterson”, a sweet film about a week in the life of a poet.
Most unusual movie that I liked: “Swiss Army Man” (young man stranded on an island befriends a corpse that washes onto the beach).
Horror: This year was an excellent year for horror films. The ones of note: “Train to Busan” (Japanese zombie film with a lot of heart); “The Green Room”; “Don’t Breathe”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”
Favorite Funny Movie: “Nice Guys” (Laughs all the way through on this one).