Best Films of 2016

I don’t need a long introduction anymore, I have done a few of these already! I don’t even have a significant list of missing films to talk about, even better!

So you know the drill, here are some honorable mentions. Honorable what?

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Straight up, I had a lot of 4 out of 4’s this year. But I can’t just list like 10 movies here like some jackass. So here are a few movie, The Conjuring 2, Hacksaw Ridge, Midnight Special, The Light Between Oceans, Captain America: Civil War, Lion and The Edge of Seventeen.

It should also be note that I didn’t put any documentaries on this list, it was too hard. But my favorite from 2016 include 13th, Nuts!, and Tickled. See, only… shit, that was ten movies.


15) The 9th Life of Louis Drax

There has to be some controversy in a top list and part of the reason to go to 15 is to have more weird shit in it. Which is why I wanted to put The 9th Life of Louis Drax up here, a movie where I might be the only one to really love. It is a dark film, about a serious subject. But it is also light from the point of the view of the kid. Finally, it has the best acting I have seen from Aaron Paul outside of Breaking Bad.

T9LoLD


14) Moonlight

Okay okay, here is a true story. I really liked Moonlight, I did! I just also watched it at a 10:30 screening, after an already long day, and maybe fell asleep a couple of times during it. A slow burner for sure, but what I saw and felt was pure. It probably should be higher, but I can only comment on what I saw, and for the most part, this is completely my fault. Hopefully sometime in the future I will see it again and might regret having it this “low”, but alas, I am the only person to blame.

ML


13) Moana

Moana has a lot going for it. Music by Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of the main reasons. The music is catchy and so well produced and layered (except for Shiny, fuck Shiny). He could probably win an Oscar from over half of the songs if it wasn’t such a strong music year.

The animation is wonderful, the story comes from an underrepresented part of the world, the lead is strong, The Rock makes everything better, and just, gah, it is so good.

Moana


12) Manchester By The Sea

Manchester By The Sea is another film that I am surprised landed just outside of my top 10. After watching it I was so overcome with emotion that it took me quite a long time to finally write the review. I was also overcome with emotion during the picture and sort of on the edge of my seat. Affleck gives one of his best performances, and we probably say that about him every year.

And of course, Manchester By The Sea probably has one of the most tragic scenes in film this year, including comparisons to Lion and Nocturnal Animals.

MBTS


11) Hunt For The Wilderpeople

I am a bit disappointed Hunt For The Wilderpeople didn’t finish in my top 10, but alas, blame Silence. Hunt is one of the few foreign films that made the list (because I didn’t watch a lot), and gave an incredible adventure story, set in New Zealand. Turns out the country is beautiful, they should set more adventure stories out there. Taika Waititi gives a hilarious story, big in nature, small in cast, about growing up and kicking ass.

HFTWP


10) Kubo and the Two String

I had to think long and hard about whether Kubo and The Two Strings was the best animated film of the year, or would that honor go to Moana. And as I type this, I was able to see Moana twice but never revisit Kubo, which makes me sad, but I still gave Kubo that honor. Kubo doesn’t have music, and has quite terrible names for its side characters, but it has a strong story and some of the best stop motion animation I have ever seen. The story is fully captivating, along with some good lessons and twists along the way. Laika continues to raise the bar with its film quality, and I frankly can’t imagine where they go from here.

This is the best animated film of 2016!

KATS


9) A Monster Calls

I was definitely skeptical going into A Monster Calls, with a Groot like being, a Horror sounding name, and a concept I couldn’t relate fully to. But I was quickly taken away by the imagination of the story, the many stories the monster told, and how well the kid, MacDougall, acted.

Even if you aren’t affected in real life by Cancer (yet), the overall themes of grief, of losing a loved one, of losing your mother, are still pretty universal. A Monster Calls is a hard film to swallow, but it is still worth giving it at least one watch.

AMC


8) Fences

Do you like strong acting? I said DO YOU LIKE STRONG ACTING, MOTHERFUCKER? Well, then watch the fuck out of Fences!

Washington has still got it, Davis and Henderson are treats as well. From the pages of the play to the screen, they make those words their bitches, giving meaning behind all of the lines and tell a quite tragic tale about an old timey family. I own the play, have seen it performed before (by shitty people, I admit) but this performance really takes the cake. They won Tony’s for this performance, so you can tell they really know their stuff.

fen


7) The Witch

The Witch is a film that came out extremely early in the year, one that I had my doubts about, but delivered on almost every level. The Witch is dedicated to its story and the director pulls no punches. The costumes are authentic, the dialogue is correct to the period, the actors all feel like a real family and it feels like the film is actually evil. There is scary and there is terrifying, The Witch is definitely in the latter.

Technically my favorite Horror film of 2016, but maybe not the scariest film of 2016.

tw


6) Silence

Fresh off the presses, I knew I couldn’t make this list until I saw Silence. Based on the director, the actors, the story, I just knew it would be a sham if it didn’t have the potential to be included. That’s right. The potential. I am not saying it was guaranteed, I was just saying there was a chance.

And damn it, I am glad I waited. It was fully immersive and more importantly it told a wonderful religious story that didn’t suck, didn’t grind anything into your face, and really just felt like something that is practically universal. Garfield is a great actor, its been true for years, and he had an amazing year.

Silence


5) Sing Street

If years were only six months long, Sing Street would be my favorite film of 2016. The music is amazing and the film is emotional. It isn’t just about a boy trying to impress a girl with a makeshift 80’s band. It is about family and brotherly bonds. It is about escaping your comfort zone and stepping up to authority. And yes, it is also about great music. I love Up, it is the best song, I don’t are what anyone says.

And it is a shame that I don’t get to call it my favorite musical of 2016.

SS


4) Swiss Army Man

Swiss Army Man the most original, most out there, and by golly, one of the most fun film of the year. And not only is it a delight to watch, it has a banging sound track. Montage is great, Radcliffe and Dano singing is great, it is just fully immersive and amazing.

There is nothing like Swiss Army Man and it will be a long time before something else as original comes along. My favorite comedy film of 2016.

SAM


3) Arrival

Arrival gets to be THE Sci-Fi movie of the year, not without a lot of pressure from Midnight Special. Sci-Fi films can mean a lot of things, but Arrival comes from an area of love, guilt, and surprise. It starts you off sad and crying, and the tears come even harder for the finale. A smart film, a great drama, and a wonderful performance by Amy Adams. I honestly cannot say more without giving it away.

Arrival


2) Nocturnal Animals

Speaking of Amy Adams, yes she stars in Nocturnal Animals as well. How does she do it?! Is she in the number 1 film also?! (Nope). Even though she is the lead, Nocturnal Animals is more than just one actors performance. The terrible ness of the story in the story, the beautiful shots, the revenge, the double revenge, the great supporting performances, the tension and the real fears.

I mentioned that The Witch was my favorite Horror film of the year, but not the scariest. Nocturnal Animals is a Drama/Thriller, and it is my favorite of those genres of the year and definitely the “scariest’ film of the year for me.

NA


1)La La Land

What can I say about La La Land that hasn’t been said by everyone else in the world at this point? Holy fuck, this is a great movie. After Whiplash, Damien Chazelle decided he was going to top it on almost all fronts. It is still jazz focused, but it is now a romance instead of a sort of Drama Thriller. We get to see scenes to remind us of musicals of old early on, with flashy colors, long shots, and big sets. But the film soon morphs into a more modern approach, with only a few songs, repeating riffs, less flash and more style. A wonderful combination of the past and the new in one big whirl of cinematic glory.

Shit, after I saw it, I went out and had to see it a second time with my wife. If it shows on IMAX in my area I will watch it a third time. I bought ticket for my school’s choir teacher and wife to go see it. That’s how much I love it. Go see La La Land and learn to love and think logically yourself too.

LLL

Thanks for reading! If you disagree with part of this list, let me know. If there is something I missed, let me know (but I probably saw it and reviewed it on this very site! Check out my thoughts). Overall, a few musicals, foreign films that speak English, two animated films, no super hero movies, and a lot of drama.

And as always, I accept hate mail via the post office, email, or tweets.

Sing Street

Originally, 2016 was looking to be a poor year for musical films. We would have movies about music, sure, but not enough musicals. Most of them are coming later in the year, up to this point I would say we have exactly 0 for the entire year.

But let’s take a step back and talk about John Carney. When I first saw Once I was disappointed, because it was hyped up as this wonderful musical, so I expected synchronized dancing and ridiculous situations. But it was raw and realistic. On later viewings, I understood it better, but still cannot fully appreciate it. Begin Again I have still only seen once, but thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a very different film, going from indie to main stream, both in theme and reality.

And now we have Sing Street. Another movie about people who just want to play music and make a living off of it. And hey, this one has street in the title, so you know this time the singing on streets is expected and not just a bonus. This time he is returning back to his indie roots and writing a whole lot more music. But this one isn’t about adults. Screw adults. This is about a boy making a band to impress a girl, which is how most bands ever got their starts.

Band
And clearly they are the funkiest teenage group in Dublin!

Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) is just a teenage kid, the youngest in his family, and his parents (Aiden Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy) are going through a tough time. Hell, this is 1985 Ireland, everyone is going through a tough time. Jobs are getting lost and many Irish youth are flocking to London for work and leaving their homes in a worst state. And now due to their financial state, Conor is transferring schools to a much cheaper Catholic school, where the boys are rough.

And now Conor gets bullied by Barry (Ian Kenny) and the head priest, Brother Baxter (Don Wycherley). But then he sees her. Raphina (Lucy Boynton), a girl who looks like she belongs in on film, with wild hair and jewelry. She says she is a model, so Conor asks her to be in a music video. After hearing him sing a bit, she agrees once they figure out the details. Great, now he just needs to get a band together.

He gets Darren (Ben Carolan), our little ginger kid who knows people, to be their manager/producer/camera man and introduce him to other musical kids. Conor knows how to play the guitar a bit and sing, but they need more than that. They are introduced to Eamon (Mark McKenna), who plays basically every instrument and owns them all, because his dad is in a wedding cover band. They get Ngig (Percy Chamburuka), Larry (Conor Hamilton) and Garry (Karl Rice) to complete the rest of the band.

Great, he has a band! And now, with the help of his older stay at home stoner brother, Brendan (Jack Reynor), he can write some songs, so they can make the music video and maybe win the heart of a mysterious model. You know, while all the other problems are going down. Also featuring Kelly Thornton as his older sister, Ann.

Stoop
Stoop girl afraid to leave stoop?

Feelings, this film is full of feelings, how can I express these, with a sonnnng?

Sing Street was good. It was really good. Carney is some musical directing genius, that is the only way all of this makes sense. I was extremely skeptical going into this film. Based on the description, I took the film to its most basic parts, and all of his movies just sounded the same. I wondered how long he could make similar movies before we stopped caring. Well, after watching Sing Street, I could easily take at least another half dozen of these, as long as the lyrics remain original with a different overall plot.

As advertised, this film is about a boy just trying to impress a girl by starting a band. But the film is more than that. Just like it is more than a comedy. It is certainly more comedy than drama, but it deals with some serious issues involving divorce, infidelity, abuse (sexual and physical), giving up and following your dreams. I technically only cried one and a half times, but I had another half cry on the way home from the film just thinking about some of the plot.

Perhaps the strongest subplot in it is the brotherly bond between Conor and Brendan. Reynor does an incredible job as his pseudo role model while they both live in a house with parents who just don’t understand. Reynor is a complete scene stealer and you can see all of the deeper issues he is working with, culminating with not just one but two powerful emotional climaxes. If it sounds sexy that is because it WAS sexy. Reynor, I judged you badly for Transformers: Age of Extinction, now I want you to become Han Solo and win a supporting actor award for this film.

Reynor
Heh. I said climax.

Ahem. Sorry. The acting from our lead was also good from Walsh-Peelo. In fact, basically the entire band and manager were all first time movie actors. Walsh-Peelo and McKenna were the main two that mattered, but the other boys held their own pretty good. Seeing the transformation of Walsh-Peelo as he learned about new bands was amusing and how he eventually coped with the failing home and school life that made up his current reality.

And finally, the soundtrack for this movie is just a blast. Both the original songs by our boy group and the 80’s music that inspires them create an overwhelmingly nostalgic experience. I have already listened to most of the original songs 3-4 times since watching the movie, thanks to YouTube. My favorite song is called “Up” and you should check it out if you are unsure if you will like the music in the movie.

Thank you Carney, you have given me a great pseudo-musical to give hope to this dry musical year.

4 out of 4.

Screening Pass Giveaway – Sing Street

From the director of Once and Begin Again comes Sing Street!

If you are a Houston resident, you can click the link below to Gofobo to claim ADVANCED PASSES for

Wednesday, April 27th, at the Landmark River Oaks Theater.

Passes are limited, so get them quickly before they are all gone! It is in the bigger downstairs theater and it is impressive screen to watch a movie on if you have never been before!

http://www.gofobo.com/HOUGORGVIEW

SS

SING STREET takes us back to 1980s Dublin seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents’ relationship and money troubles, while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool and beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band…yet. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver what he’s promised – calling himself “Cosmo” and immersing himself in the vibrant rock music trends of the decade, he forms a band with a few lads, and the group pours their heart into writing lyrics and shooting videos. Inspired by writer/director John Carney’s (ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN) life and love for music, SING STREET shows us a world where music has the power to take us away from the turmoil of everyday life and transform us into something greater.