Despite some blockbuster letdowns, there have been many amazing movies in 2016. These are the ones that have entertained me, inspired me, had me laughing hysterically, or moved me in some way that was memorable enough to take a spot on my annual list. I’ve said this before, but just to clarify, I’m unable to watch every movie ever released in 2016 (and not for lack of trying). There are also movies I wanted to watch, such as Martin Scorsese’s Silence, but couldn’t due to a limited release and/or because I wanted to get this list done in a timely manner. According to me, and what I’ve had to time to watch, these are the 10 best movies of 2016…
10. The Edge of Seventeen
This modern day John Hughes movie cracks the top 10 because it’s absolutely hilarious, while feeling realistic in it’s portrayal of teenage life. Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson give some of the best comedic performances of the year. It’s a coming-of-age story that feels genuine, capturing the awkwardness of high school today, which is amplified by social media.
Mr. Bruner: Wow. I actually was writing my own suicide note just now. I have 32 fleeting minutes of happiness during lunch, which has been eaten up again and again by the same especially badly dressed student, and I finally thought I would rather have the dark nothingness.
9. Captain America: Civil War
The sequel to Captain America: Winter Soldier turns out to be one of the best Marvel movies ever. In a generation filled with superhero flicks, Captain America: Civil War manages to step up its game and not feel redundant, which is quite a task. Every action scene has purpose, and the performances, especially from Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, and Chadwick Boseman, are compelling.
Tony Stark: All right, I’ve run out of patience. “Underoos!”
8. Other People
Chris Kelly writes and directs his first feature film, and it’s a passion project all the way through. Cancer is usually handled in a dramatic tone, but this film introduces plenty of humor to the situation, and does so in a very touching way. Former Saturday Night Live star Molly Shannon is award-worthy in her portrayal of a mother fighting cancer, and Jesse Plemons gives a heartfelt performance in this indie gem.
Joanne: I don’t like camping and I don’t like fires and I don’t want to be personally lit on fire. I want to be frozen. Do they have that as an option?
7. Hacksaw Ridge
The story of Army Medic Desmond Doss is truly an inspiration, and Mel Gibson does a tremendous job in directing the film. The movie contains some of the best war scenes in cinema history. It is a bloody, hellish affair where we can’t help but root for this skinny, unassuming soldier that refuses to use a gun. What tops it off as one of the best movies of the year? It does all this while not feeling manipulative.
Desmond Doss: With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.
6. Manchester by the Sea
Kenneth Lonergan‘s film is a difficult one to watch because it deals with tragic events in such an authentic way that you get completely invested in the performances. Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges showcase their amazing acting talents in this film, bringing the harrowing script to life. It’s as if you’re there with Lee Chandler, as he stews in his thoughts at a bar where the liquor feeds his demons. The film shows that hope, even in it’s smallest amount, can be found in the darkest places in hell.
Patrick: Oh, thanks. For a minute there, I didn’t know what happened.
5. 10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane is a film that captures the essence of the Twilight Zone. The movie is a puzzling, white-knuckle experience that’s also a genre-bender. It portrays monsters in many forms, and leaves us with a fighting spirit. John Goodman is creepy as hell playing Howard, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes for an exceptional hero to root for. The Cloverfield brand helps the eeriness of the story.
Howard: Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come.
4. Hell or High Water
The western genre gets a modern day treatment with Hell or High Water. Taylor Sheridan’s script is one of the best this year, and Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, and Ben Foster bring it to life with grit and heart. This poetic cat-and-mouse film with no clear lines of good and bad, make for a complex character-driven tale that’s not easily forgotten.
Tanner Howard: Do you know what that makes me? A Comanche.
3. The Nice Guys
Shane Black is one of the best screenwriters in Hollywood, and with The Nice Guys, it looks like he could be one of the best directors as well. This is the best buddy comedy of 2016, and one of the best buddy comedies ever. Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe play off of each other perfectly in this flick, and it’s an absolute blast to watch, plain and simple. Who can resist a private detective film revolving around a political porno and a dead porn star named Misty Mountains? Not a soul.
Holland March: I’m saying, I think they died quickly. So I don’t think they got hurt.
Denis Villeneuve follows up his amazing thriller, Sicario, with a Sci-Fi film that is destined to be a classic. Arrival‘s story is unique and the execution of the script is breathtaking and thought-provoking all the way to the finish line. Amy Adams gives a tremendous performance that deserves all the recognition it’s getting, and she’s surrounded by a talented cast. Arrival is interchangeable with the number one film on this list.
Dr. Louise Banks: You can understand communication and still end up single
1. La La Land
Every song is memorably executed, the lead performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are incredible, and the direction by Damien Chazelle is sharp. This is a beautiful film to watch, as it fills the screen with magical moments that have the trimmings of classic Hollywood musicals. It starts off strong with a musical number on a jammed L.A. freeway onramp, never lets up, and builds to a powerful finish that ends with a moment that feels like it’s very own “here’s looking at you, kid.”
Sebastian: This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!