Posted on Friday, December 30th, 2016 by Ethan Anderton
On occasion, there has been some argument among other film bloggers and journalists on Twitter as to whether this was an awful year for movies or not. When we look at the summer blockbuster season, it was mostly a bust this year. But if you were paying attention for good movies that were playing at the nearest indie theater, or ventured our to catch the lower key releases that only stick around the big multiplexes for a week or two at a time, that’s where the good stuff was.
The year 2016 was a bad one for sequels and reboots, but it was a good one for independent cinema, original science fiction, coming of age drama, family struggle, and incredible musical moments. All of this and more can be found in my personal list of the Top 10 Movies of 2016. But beware of some potential spoilers if you haven’t seen them!.
Before we get into the list, let’s clear up a few things. First, some of the more acclaimed or awards hopeful movies that I was unable to see are The Handmaiden, Silence, Paterson, Hidden Figures, Loving, American Honey, O.J.: Made in America, Elle, Everybody Wants Some!!, Nocturnal Animals and Certain Women. But I’m hoping to catch them all as soon as possible.
For our cumulative /Film list coming next week, we had to come up with our Top 15 Movies of 2016. I’ll briefly run through the bottom five in that list below, but here are some movies I loved that just barely didn’t make the cut: Green Room, Zootopia, Swiss Army Man, Captain Fantastic, The Lobster, Hell or High Water, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jackie, The Witch, Pete’s Dragon and Christine.
Captain America: Civil War
This was the best blockbuster of the summer, but that wasn’t enough to make it crack the Top 10. Hell, it almost got wedged out of the Top 15 by The Lobster. But Captain America: Civil War is a phenomenal sequel with some of the best comic book action the big screen has ever seen. It’s insanely rewatchable, gives great introductions to characters like Black Panther and Spider-Man, and takes superhero confrontation to the next level in a third act that packs a serious punch in more ways than one.
Manchester by the Sea
Casey Affleck gives a subtly spectacular performance in a movie that upon first inspection feels like it’s pure Oscar bait. And with all the praise it’s getting this awards season, it’ll likely end up getting plenty of nominations at the Academy Awards. But this movie delivers such an authentic portrayal of grief, the bond of family and the struggle of loss that it never feels like it’s just trying to be an Oscar contender. Even Michelle Williams, in her all too brief appearances in the movie, gives a remarkable performance.
This just might be the best movie that Walt Disney Animation has made since turn turn of the century. With a spotlight shining on a culture that had yet to be touched significantly by Disney, and a strong female lead who doesn’t need romance to have character definition, this musical adventure has charm, poise and a soundtrack that is even better than Frozen. Plus, it’s good for the whole family.
This is one of those movies that hits all the checkmarks when it comes to the kind of cliches and tropes that you find in indie movies playing at film festivals. But with real life influence inspired by Saturday Night Live writer Chris Kelly’s experiences with his own family in his own town, this one has some genuine heart and humor that make it irresistibly charming. And it accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of making you smile when you hear the song “Drops of Jupiter.”
10 Cloverfield Lane
It was tough to push this movie out of the top 10 spot since it’s one of the best sci-fi movies of the year. It’s full of endless suspense and has plenty of twists and turns right to the very end. John Goodman plays the perfect paranoid doomsday prepper while Mary Elizabeth Winstead proves that she just might be the next Sigourney Weaver. Some thought the third act was just too much, but I loved seeing it taken to that high of a level of sci-fi.