Here we go. I’ve been trying to see as many straggling 2016 films that I can before compiling this list. Truth be told, there are still a few that I need to see, but it doesn’t look like I have any way of seeing them for at least two weeks, and I don’t want to put this list off, any longer. I honestly believe that any of those three (A Monster Calls, Elle, and Loving) have a shot at cracking this list, which bothers me. But, once I see them, I’ll give them their proper due, if they deserve it. All together, counting the films that I watched at home, I saw 114 2016 films.
So, the question is this: What determines if a film is one of 2016’s “top” films for this list? What is a “top” film? A film that I liked on a subjective level? A film more objectively determined to be of high-quality, regardless of how much I personally did or didn’t enjoy it? Well . . . it’s both. The higher the combination of the two, the higher it places on this list. If these were my 25 “favorite” films, it would be a different list. If these were what I saw as 2016’s 25 “best” films, it would also be a different list. These are the films that I’m most likely to both recommend and revisit. So, here are the 25 films from 2016 that I felt had the strongest mix of quality and entertainment value. And it’s my list, so just deal.
Regardless, nothing is on here without good reason, and I’ll give brief explanations for each inclusion and, sometimes, for its position. So, let’s get started! Here – in my opinion – are . . .
The Top 25 Films of 2016
I loved this movie. The fact that it ranks so “low” on this list just speaks to the strength of the other films. It lacked some of the wit and cleverness that I expect from Disney, which is why it isn’t higher. But the themes and messages are bold for an animated feature coming out of Buena Vista Entertainment, the characters are memorable and lovable (looking at you, Flash!), and the animation is brilliant. Zootopia is an amazing film. (Original post.)
24. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Yep. I make no apologies. In a Best-Of list, this one doesn’t make it. But throw in the entertainment value, and it’s enough for this particular list. I don’t care what anybody else thinks, the last 45-60 minutes of this film is everything I always dreamed of seeing in comic book movies when I was a kid. There were characterization problems. There were logic issues. But there was also the Trinity vs Doomsday in the battle to end all battles. And it was spectacular. And there was Wonder Woman. She couldn’t have been more amazing. You don’t have to love the film. But you can’t say with any degree of credibility that it didn’t have its strong points, either. (Original post.)
I can hear the whining, now. “Moonlight is only one spot above Batman v Superman?! Wah wah wah!” If that’s what you’re thinking or planning to type, just stop. You’ll just expose the fact that you didn’t read the introduction and don’t understand what the list is. In a Best-of list, Moonlight would be significantly higher than number 23. But, combining quality with entertainment value, it drops. There is little-to-no entertainment value in this film. That isn’t a criticism; it’s simply an observation. Moonlight isn’t about entertainment and it’s not trying to entertain. From A24 Studios, Moonlight is a vessel to communicate a story and a message. It does so beautifully. Its immense quality is enough to get it on this list even without the entertainment aspect, and that should be enough to count as a wholehearted endorsement of this film. (Original post.)
22. The Witch
“Art-house horror” is the phrase that was bandied about when trying to succinctly sum up The Witch. Combining horrific ideas and visuals, sociopolitical commentary, an immersive atmosphere, and performances that transport the viewer to another time (with the help of some amazing set and costume designers), the film at once delivers a thought-provoking narrative for the more-discerning audiences and an unnerving horror film for those seeking a more traditional experience without thinking too much about the subtext (as long as they can get past the fact that it’s a period piece). A24 Studios is one of the three best, most consistent production studios in the industry and The Witch is another fine example of their work. (Original post.)
21. Shin Gojira
Shin Gojira was my single favorite movie-going experience in all of 2016. It was a sold-out screening, packed full of immensely enthusiastic Gojira lovers who understand the property. The film maintains the franchise’s tradition of doubling as a political metaphor as it presents itself as an action film on the surface. After hilariously mocking the inefficiency of governmental operations in a given scene, Shin Gojira will often then shift tones and slam the viewer with an impressively epic battle scene. And what about the creature’s first form in the film? There were audible gasps from the audience (and I might have been one of them). It was bizarre and par for the course for a film that surprised at every turn. (Original post.)
20. Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War did everything right. The characters were spot on. The action was on a grand scale. It delivered Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It featured a level of complexity rarely seen in films of this genre. The only reason it isn’t higher is because I felt it lacked surprise “moments”, so to speak. Not storyline twists. We got those. I mean the little watercooler moments that other MCU films such as The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier provided (though some of Ant-Man’s lines came pretty close). But that’s minor. The film delivered in all of the most important ways. (Original post.)
19. Café Society
I have said many, many times, over the course of my life, that Woody Allen’s films are better when he sticks to writing and directing and leaves the acting to the professionals. Café Society is yet another fine example of that. Allen is such a talented director that he actually gets a charismatic performance out of Kristen Stewart. The rest of his casting is perfect, as well, with Jesse Eisenberg and Blake Lively, in particular, bringing their A-games. A whimsical look at old Hollywood, Café Society is all at once charming, heartbreaking, enlightening, and entertaining. (Original post.)
18. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
If I had decided to do a “2016’s Top Five Films That Were Most Unfairly Overlooked by Audiences and Critics, Alike” list (and maybe I should have), Hunt for the Wilderpeople would have absolutely been number one. This movie has everything that everyone says they look for in movies. And I mean everyone. General audiences would love it, if they would just watch it. Critics did love it, but it’s gone entirely overlooked during awards season, anyway. It shouldn’t be. It should be getting Best Picture nominations at every awards show. Every single one. But, we’ll have to settle for allowing it to reign in our hearts. Which it forever will. (Original post.)
17. The Nice Guys
The Nice Guys was probably the movie that surprised me the most in 2016. I saw it because of the reviews, but expected to dislike it, anyway. I haven’t often been impressed by director Shane Black, I’m not crazy about the seventies decade, and the trailers didn’t showcase the best material from the film. Thankfully, I trust the professionals who know what they’re talking about, and the critics got me into the theater. I had a blast watching Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe stumble their way through their investigation and will happily revisit this film throughout the years. (Original post.)
16. Swiss Army Man
I’m starting to repeat myself, here, but coming from – yet again – A24 Studios, Swiss Army Man is the most inventive, outside-the-box movie of 2016. There’s never been anything like it and there will never be anything like it, again. If you want to be taken off guard, constantly surprised, consistently laughing, and endlessly entertained, turn this one on, get comfortable, and let Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano blow you away. I promise you that you’ll never forget it. (Original post.)
I’ll be back with the next installment in the next day or two! In the meantime, make sure you don’t miss it and follow us on Facebook!