I know this is coming at you MUCH later than usual, but today I’m discussing my Top 10 Favorite Films of 2016!
(And also some of my LEAST favorites!)
So over at Awards Circuit a week or so ago, the Staff Top 10 lists were published. We were only allowed to share our list, without any accompanying explanations or rationalizations. I honestly thought I would get some crap for my list. Or at least for certain films I included. But since mine appeared on the last page, I don’t think too many readers saw it.
But I’m here today to share my list with all of you, and to give a little bit of why I loved each of these films.
First off, though, I just have to say that 2016 was NOT my favorite film year. Not even kind of. There were so many movies that should have been good and just weren’t. Most of the Best Picture nominees fall into that category for me.
In a nutshell, I would say 2016 was “fine.”
But anyway, let’s just get on with it, shall we?
10. Ghostbusters, Sony Pictures
Yup, I said it. This is the movie I thought I’d get a lot of crap for. But I stand by my love for these ladies. Ghostbusters made me laugh harder than anything else I saw this year. And I saw it five times in the theater. You know how long it’s been since I’ve done that?? There are still a lot of people who call this reboot unnecessary or even stupid, and to them maybe it is. But I stand by what I wrote all those months ago. We need the female Ghostbusters. And we need more movies like it. We need to show kids that women are smart and strong and capable and FUNNY.
And, b-t-dubs, it has 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. So all those people that say it sucks? Well, they can suck it.
9. 10 Cloverfield Lane, Paramount Pictures
One day, I was at a movie with my brother and sister-in-law and we saw a trailer for some movie we had never heard of before. But it looked awesome and we couldn’t wait. And we also wondered how J.J. Abrams did a movie we didn’t know about. That movie was Cloverfield and it WAS awesome. And they promised a sequel for years and eventually I gave up waiting. And then one morning, I got an email from Paramount with a link to a trailer for something called 10 Cloverfield Lane and I immediately knew. It was finally here. And I loved it. John Goodman is a FANTASTIC bad guy, but Mary Elizabeth Winstead is awesome. Her character refuses to be a victim. She just knows she needs to take care of business. This movie is fun and creepy and so good.
8. The Lobster, A24
The Lobster is weird. Really weird. When I first saw it, I thought everyone was kind of crazy for liking it so much. But this is a movie that has stuck with me for a really long time. I still hate the ending. HATE the ending. But the journey is actually quirky and weird and fun. And the performances are good. I was disappointed that Ryan Gosling beat Colin Farrell for the Golden Globe because this is such a different role and he is so good. If you enjoy odd movies like Her, definitely check this out. Oh, and you can watch The Lobster free right now on Amazon Prime.
7. Zootopia, Walt Disney Pictures
When I first heard about this movie, I thought there was NO WAY it was going to be competitive in the Best Animated Feature category alongside Finding Dory and Moana. Instead, it turned out to be my favorite animated film of the year. Its inclusive, accepting, positive message is so timely. And the animation and voice work are great. The story is fun and, as typical of Disney animated films, has plenty of shout outs for the grown ups too. By the way, it’s streaming on Netflix.
6. I, Daniel Blake, Sundance Selects
I saw this movie at AFI Fest last November and was pleasantly surprised by it. Although set in London, this story about a man trying to navigate the confusing and intentionally cumbersome world of bureaucracy is one that so many can relate to. Funny and frustrating and sometimes really sad, it’s a film that should have received so much more attention than it has. If you like good dramas about real people, see this.
5. Sing Street, The Weinstein Company
While everyone’s talking about That Musical that’s going to win Best Picture, I’m over here loving THIS musical. Set in Dublin in the 80s, this is the story about a kid who is forced to transfer to a public school when his parents hit financial trouble. He’s an outcast at his new school, constantly being teased and bullied. And then he starts a band. And everything changes for him after that. Eventually. This movie is funny, and has great music, I love it.
4. Manchester by the Sea, Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions
It’s rare to see a movie that presents the immediate aftermath of trauma in such a realistic way. This isn’t the kind of movie you crave or anything. But it’s good. And heartbreaking. With fantastic performances all around. It’s slow-paced, but not boring. I just wish there wasn’t all that weirdness around Casey Affleck because I want to enjoy him in this without feeling icky about it. And Lukas Hedges is just getting started.
3. Silence, Paramount Pictures
Silence is Martin Scorsese’s latest film and it’s about two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to try to find their mentor. He was rumored to have apostatized after being imprisoned and tortured by Buddhist leaders. Christianity was outlawed in seventeenth century Japan, but that didn’t stop faithful Christians hiding in villages throughout the country. So while looking for their mentor, the two priests secretly minister to the locals. Which, predictably, has consequences. I’m going to be really honest here. When Silence started getting all sorts of love from critics, I assumed it had a pretty strong anti-religious message. It absolutely doesn’t. In fact, it’s really not so much about religion. It’s all about faith. And it’s so good. Long. It’s like 3 hours long. But it’s good. And it really made me think about what faith really means.
2. Hidden Figures, 20th Century Fox
This movie made me SO happy. I LOVED it. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae are so amazing and the women they play…just WOW. It makes me really mad that these stories were never widely known. These women deserve to be celebrated and even more than that, beloved. If you want to see a movie that will make you laugh and then make you cry with pride, watch this one. Word of warning: there are things that will make you mad. Try to remember things have gotten better.
1. Lion, The Weinstein Company
I know I’ve mentioned a few times how much I LOVED the movie Lion. Like, I would marry this movie if I could. It’s BEAUTIFUL. In pretty much every way a movie can be beautiful. From gorgeous cinematography to a story that just made me cry big, fat tears of sadness and then of pure joy. When I saw this, I felt silly for full on sobbing in the screening. Until the LA Times film critic sitting behind me started to sniffle too.
This is a movie that will get you in the feels. Sunny Pawar (pictured above) is INCREDIBLE. I don’t know how they managed to find this kid, but wow. He’s precious and so good. I have been impressed by actors who can carry large parts of a film entirely by themselves. (Tom Hanks, Castaway; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Will Smith, I Am Legend.) This kid was not even an actor, and he manages to do something even really seasoned actors struggle with. Just thinking about this is making me teary eyed all over again. Oh, forget it. I’m going back to the theater RIGHT NOW. GO SEE THIS MOVIE. And then remember over and over again that this story is TRUE. And bring Kleenex. Lots of Kleenex.
Honorable Mentions: Sully, Queen of Katwe, The Conjuring 2, Captain America: Civil War, Fences, Neruda
Movies that disappointed me: La La Land, Miss Sloane, Arrival, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Moana
Movies I want to un-see: The Witch