2016: The Year in Film and My Top 10

2016 may best be remembered for the Wrong Envelope scandal, where Warren Beatty read “La La Land” for Best Picture when in fact Moonlight has won. Far far better film!

Total Films Viewed from 2016: 45

Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films

(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)

  1. Moonlight
  2. Manchester By the Sea
  3. La La Land
  4. Arrival
  5. Hell or High Water
  6. Toni Erdmann
  7. Elle
  8. The Handmaiden
  9. The Lobster
  10. Paterson

Winners of The Major Oscar Categories

Best Picture                             Moonlight

Best Actor                               Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea

Best Actress                            Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Supporting Actor             Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress          Viola Davis, Fences

Best Director                           Damian Chazelle, La La Land

Original Screenplay                Kenneth Logernan, Manchester By the Sea

Adapted Screenplay                Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Animated Feature           Zootopia

Top Grossing Movie:                Finding Dory (Domestic )

                                                Captain America: Civil War (Worldwide)

(Box Office Mojo, the source of my data here, recently changed how it ranks the #1 movie of the year. It used to be the highest grossing film released in the year. Now it’s the movie that grossed the highest within that calendar year, regardless of date of release).

Really Good Films from 2016 You May Have Missed:

Hell or High Water

The Handmaiden

A Hologram for the King

Movie from 2016 to avoid at all costs:

Independence Day: Resurgence

The Accountant

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Most Overrated Movie of the Year (and Decade)

La La Land

Not terrible, but not 14 Oscar nomination good.

Honorable Mention (Excellent movies, not quite in my Top 10)

Hacksaw Ridge, Manchester By the Sea, Eye in the Sky, Captain America: Civil War, Lion, War Dogs

Here are my Top 10 films of 2016

10.  The Handmaiden

From Korean Directory Chan-woo Park (Oldboy) The Handmaiden is a twisted, film noir style tale worthy of comparison to Hitchcock with an NC-17 rating. Notorious and (in)famous for its copious nudity and a couple of eyebrow-raising sex scenes, it’s a great genre film if you are not easily offended.

9. Sausage Party

By no means is this a good movie. But damn, its funny. Offensive, silly and terribly funny. It the kind of movie you see and when you realize you’ve been entertained; you question your own morals. Only point of reference is Team America: World Police. Watch with caution. You’ve been warned.

8. Rouge One

Of all the Star Wars prequels, sequels and back stories, I was most surprised by Rogue One. Taking place between Episode III and IV, it brilliantly weaves the tale of the creation of the Death Star and the start of the Rebellion’s attack. Saw in theatres three times, loved it.

7. Moonlight

Moonlight might end up being remembered for the “wrong envelope” scandal. But that is not fair to this moving tale of a young African American boy coming to grips with is sexual identity and his life. Its similar to Boyhood in that is follow the life story from pre-teen to adulthood. Required viewing.

6. Sully

Never travel with Tom Hanks. Hanks plays Chelsey Sullenburger, the pilot who successfully landed an Airbus A320 on the Hudson River after a bird strike by a flock of Canadian Geese. But the movie is about far more than the near-disaster. Did Sully do the right thing? Did he needlessly endanger the passengers? He may be a hero but he second guesses himself. Director Clint Eastwood excels at this type of true human drama.

5. Kubo and the Two Strings

The same team that made “Coraline” and “Paranorman”, Kubo and the Two Strings is one of the finest stop-motion animated features ever made. Its pure animated action/adventure. It has a Japanese flair two it but it is made in the US with a pretty much A-list American cast. Great opening line: “If you must blink, do it now”

4. Fences

Denzel directed and starred in this Tony award winning play. It tells the story of an African American working-class family in Pennsylvania. Troy (Denzel) was a star in the major league baseball “Negro League”, but his career ended before they allowed black players in the majors. The story of him coming to terms with his missed opportunities and how they affect his life and his relationship with this wife and son. Closer to a filmed play than a movie. Saw it twice, cried both times. Viola Davis won a richly-deserved Oscar.

3. Deadpool

Maybe higher on my list than it should be, but Deadpool (filmed in Vancouver) is an infinitely watchable, entertaining blood bath of a superhero movie. Irreverent and fun, it endlessly pokes fun at its own genre.

2. Hell or High Water

A modern western with a shocking amount of heart. Chris Pine and Ben Foster star as brothers on a bank robbing spree, trying to raise money to save their family ranch. Jeff Bridge in an Oscar nominated role plays the Sheriff who has correctly guessed their motives and tries to track them down. It’s a lean and simple movie about family, redemption and the battle of good and evil. Another one on the list of “Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”.

1. Arrival

One of those occasions where you watch a movie and you are completely taken aback by its brilliance. “First Contact” movies often fail for a number of reasons, mostly because the intent of the Alien’s is invasion and conquest. This is an intelligent thoughtful piece of Sci-Fi that digs deep into its themes, especially how world governments react to the arrival of the “Heptapods” and their twelve, strange oblong ships that hover just above the Earth. This is a movie that makes demands of its viewer, asks questions and does not provide clear answers. This is one of the decade’s best movies and requires multiple viewings.

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