It’s that time of the year again. 2016 is coming to an end for a lot of us and everybody else has posted their lists of the best and worst movies of 2016 already so it’s about time that I join in and shared mine. This year, I’ve managed to break my record of 100 movies in 2015 by almost doubling it with 190 movies this year. That’s a lot of movies. Obviously, some were good and some, not so much. For some reason, I liked more movies this year so instead of the usual top 10 list, I’ve expanded it to 20. Below are the top 20 best movies of 2016:
*click the posters for links to reviews*
20. Sausage Party
This choice may surprise some as the subject matter was definitely not for everyone. There haven’t been too many R-rated animated comedies, maybe for good reason. The voice cast was impressive and the animation was very well done despite how they treated the animators and the movie was funny, sometimes offensive, but very funny. Who doesn’t like the occasional food pun?
19. Florence Foster Jenkins
What can’t Meryl Streep do? She’s sung many times before in movies but who thought that she can be so great while being so terrible? She took a character that could easily have been a caricature and made her likable while giving her a human side. It was easy to root for her even though we knew she was terrible. The chemistry between her and Hugh Grant was palpable and that final performance was the perfect end.
18. Hello, My Name is Doris
Continuing the theme from the previous movie, Sally Field isn’t done yet either. It was a movie about an older person in a predominantly younger environment but the it never felt cliche. Field had some moments of her own as her experiences helped her to come out of her shell. She excelled in both the comedic and dramatic moments, making Doris likable and easy to root for as she tried to woe a much younger man.
17. Shin Godzilla
There have been so many Godzilla movies but none were quite like this one. It was an origin story of sorts but focused more on the Japanese authorities than Godzilla itself. This was a refreshing approach as it dealt with a group of people with no previous knowledge of such a thing. Seeing them fail more often than succeed and the way it satirized bureaucracy was fun to watch.
16. The Edge of Seventeen
As long as there have been movies, there have been coming of age movies. This one approached the topic with great writing and characters. It dealt with real people in relatable situations and most importantly, it was funny. Sure, the story may have been a little predictable but Nadine was a fun character to watch and the scenes between Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson were some of the best all year from any movie.
Everybody knows the story and who doesn’t like Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood? The film starts off after that fateful day and deals with the aftermath where Captain Sullenberger’s actions are put into question. Hanks’ understated performance as a conflicted man was one of the best of the year and the special effects should be noted as well. This was one of the rare movies that warrants an IMAX viewing for its picture and sound.
14. Sing Street
The songs are still stuck in my head (you can listen to clips in the review). The movie is much more than a few memorable songs, however, as it is also a compelling family drama and coming of age story about an ambitious teen overcoming his environment and making a future for himself. The chemistry between Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Jack Reynor sold me and the rest of the band coming together was exciting to watch.
13. The Nice Guys
When you think of pairings, Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling probably don’t come to mind but that is partly why it worked so well here. If it were any other two, then it maybe wouldn’t have worked as well. Who would have thought that Crowe was funny? His and Gosling’s comedic timing were excellent and they were very fun to watch together as they would bumble around through their investigation. Kudos to Angourie Rice for stealing scenes as Gosling’s March’s daughter.
12. The Lady in the Van
In a year full of surprises, who would have thought a movie about a lady in a van would be so high on this list? Maggie Smith’s performance as Miss Shepherd is what made this movie, showing us a exceptional amount of range. She was funny with her wit when she needed to be and also emotional when she needed to be. It was difficult to not be interested in her life and how she got to where she did and her chemistry with Alex Jennings was great as well.
11. Captain Fantastic
This was a beautiful movie full of heart with a great script and performances, most notable Viggo Mortensen who carries the movie. It was both smart and touching, getting us to both laugh and cry as it dealt with grief and loss while giving us some lighter moments with Ben and his family. Who would have thought a movie about outdoor living savages would teach us about our own society?
Plays are not the easiest to adapt into movies and the actors from the play coming back to play the same roles doesn’t happen often either. The movie played a little too much like a play at times but was still easy to get invested thanks to the performances of Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. They make it easy to almost forgive this by elevating the material, a story about race and closed-mindedness, and making Troy and Rose compelling to watch.
9. Hacksaw Ridge
What happened to Mel Gibson was too bad but he came back with a vengeance here. This was an epic war movie which never took a stand on whether it was good or bad. Andrew Garfield was excellent in the lead as a conscientious objector. His anti-war beliefs, contrasted with the dark realities of war, just emphasized his views and made his heroic actions stand out even more. Its war sequences are some of the best ever shot.
8. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
This was one of the best experiences in film this year, featuring the unlikely pairing of Sam Neil and Julian Denison. The chemistry between the two was great, watching them trek through the beautiful New Zealand countryside while seeing their relationship evolve. This was due to a well-written script, leading to amazing moments between the two. Both were near perfect and were fun to watch, Denison as the charismatic Ricky and Neill as the grumpy Hec.
This was quite the departure from the usual comic book/superhero movies we know and love. The rare R-rating definitely helped breathe new life into the genre. This rating took the film in a refreshing direction with swearing, sex, and violence. But what put this over the top was the character of Deadpool himself, aided by Ryan Reynolds’ performance, he was larger than life with a great sense of humour, breaking the fourth wall while making fun of his own movie.
6. Captain America: Civil War
The MCU has had quite a run since its inception. Most of the movies have been epic in scale, offering exciting action and larger than life special effects. It has always had memorable characters to rely on, played by great actors, who we have followed over the past 10+ years. While the stories haven’t always been there, the series has been getting better and this new entry was the culmination of this with exciting action and a compelling story.
5. Manchester by the Sea
This was one of the big 3 movies of the year and it has earned that recognition. The story of a sheltered man who must come to terms with grief and his own personal demons was one of the most compelling this year. This was just an emotional story, led by an amazing, understated performance by Casey Affleck. This had a considerable sense of realism and dealt with real people in real situations. The movie also featured great supporting performances by Michelle Williams and the young Lucas Hedges.
Another of the big 3 movies in my top 5. A likely Best Picture contender along with Manchester by the Sea, this was another compelling story of a young man overcoming adversity and finding his own identity and place in the world. This was a beautiful movie and an immersive experience through its use of sound, color, and cinematography to set the mood and to create and emphasize emotional moments. This also featured great performances of Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris.
3. Swiss Army Man
There has never been a movie quite like this one and there might not ever be one again. A man stranded on a deserted island befriends a magical, talking corpse. That is right. Some may take offense to all the farting and dick jokes but the movie is much more than that. It is an exploration of the meaning of life and what it means to be truly alive. The camaraderie between Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe was great as they played well off of each other and kudos should be given to Radcliffe for his performance as the corpse.
2. Finding Dory
This was my favorite movie for most of the year. I was a big fan of Finding Nemo and my favorite part of it was Ellen Degeneres’ Dory. I never thought there would ever be a sequel so I was excited when they announced a Dory-focused sequel. This definitely did not disappoint. DeGeneres was great in Nemo but she took it to a whole new level here with a nuanced performance, making me laugh and cry and affecting me in a way that not many movies can.
1. La La Land
The last of the big 3 movies and the one that joined the top of my list at the last minute. This was a musical but it was much more than that. From its classic style and musical numbers, it was a movie that fans of old Hollywood should enjoy. The movie was a feast for the eyes with a kaleidoscope of color and the musical numbers were well shot and exciting to watch. The best part had to be the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. As much as it was a musical, it was about their relationship as two ambitious artists trying to make it big in Hollywood. The film would definitely not have worked as well if it were any other two here. This was a cinematic experience like no other and you can’t help but to feel happy afterwards.