2016 Movies: Best of the Year List

From Letterboxd, the list of movies released in 2016 that I’ve seen ranked from best to worst, or most favorite to least favorite.

‎2016, a list of films by chatchaat • Letterboxd

2016 was for the year that Warren Beatty was given the wrong envelope at the Oscars, it happened in Feb 2017, and read off La La Land as the winner of Best Picture, instead of Moonlight which actually won. La La Land and Moonlight were the two runaway favorites to compete for Best Picture with La La Land expected to win, over the whole ‘Hollywood loves movies about itself’ trope. Neither are my pick of the best of that year, although both are in the top ten. I prefer La La Land over Moonlight. La La Land’s tone is movie consistent throughout the movie; whereas Moonlight’s builds from the first chapter to the last chapter, and what a last chapter it was! Terrific! I was wowed by it and the acting in the diner scene is phenomenal!

Moonlight tends to glorify drug dealers or drug dealing. Mahershela Ali’s character Juan is the ‘good’ drug dealer who takes Chiron under his wing after he, Juan, got her hooked on drugs. No matter how many close up shots of Ali you have staring into the distance his character is still evil and the movie’s bad guy.

La La Land is a great movie and left me happy when I left the theater.

2016 is also known for the year that Brie Larsen didn’t clap for Casey Affleck when he won the Best Actor Oscar. An empty and meaningless gesture but became part of Larsen’s virtue signaling repertoire.

My top ten list:

Arrival

An easy choice for best of the year. I was floored by how great this movie was the first time I saw it. And I can’t believe Amy Adams did not win Best Actress. Emma Stone came close but Adams is so great. a master class in acting. The time jumps had me confused. I went to see it again to try and figure out the order events happen. Should have seemed obvious that the scenes with the daughter were flash forwards after Adams’ and Renner’s characters didn’t know each other when they met in the helicopter. Original I thought they were just ignoring each other after the way their marriage ended. One of the rare movies that had me crying at the end.

Rogue One

As great as ‘Empire Strikes Back’ is it gets a little slow during the Dagobah training scenes. I realize this is necessary to Luke’s becoming of a Jedi but I, like many of not most, prefer the Han/Chewy/Leia scenes. This is why I rank ‘Rogue One’ as the second best Star Wars movie after ‘Star Wars’ (sorry but the movie’s title is ‘Star Wars,’ not ‘Star Wars: A New Hope,’ as everyone who saw it in theaters in 1977 know). ‘Rogue One’ is a fantastic movie. From beginning to end. Like a wave that builds from a ripple into a monster before crashing on the beach. This is what JJ Abrams should have been going for with his trilogy. There’s no bogged down scenes of characters talking about things that don’t involve the main plot to get the Death Star plans. Everything that happens is about the Empire getting the Death Star ready and the rebels trying to destroy it. Go! Go! Go! is how I describe the pace of the movie. We get to know all the characters just enough to care about them before they die, and kudos to the actors for making that possible, Plus going in we know the rebels, including Jyn, will all die, only the plans are mentioned in Star Wars, and not Gareth Edwards nor Tony Gilroy nor Disney thought to change the past to appease audiences.

Allied

I have ‘Allied’ at third. Brad Pitt’s best work along with ‘Moneyball’ (he got jobbed for the Best Actor Oscar) and Marion Cotillard is equally terrific as the German spy posing as the French spy. I think I’m a sucker for love stories and maybe wanting for more ‘Casablanca’ stories and Allied does them both very well and the action scenes mixed in are well done. Schmaltzy maybe a little but with leads Pitt and Cotillard make it believable.

La La Land

Sound mixing and editing issues aside I love this movie about one woman’s dream of becoming an actress and one man’s obsession with ONE jazz CLUB (Sebastian isn’t trying to save jazz, just one jazz club. I can’t understand why people intentionally frame this as a ‘white man trying to save jazz music’ movie, but these are the times we live in.) Emma Stone is the star and lead of the movie. Ryan Gosling is the male lead and costar but La La Land is clearly Stone’s movie…and she carries it spectacularly. Her winning Best Actress for her performance is justly deserved.

I do have an issue with calling this a musical. I look at it more like a movie with musical numbers. At some point the musical part of the movie stopped. Still a great movie. And the epilogue is worth watching by itself.

Moonlight

I have ‘Moonlight’ at fifth, though overall I think a couple of the movies ranked 6-10 may actually be better. A movie told in thirds, ‘Moonlight’ builds and builds then POW! the third chapter jumps up and smacks you in the face! Rhodes and Holland are so so good in the diner scene…stunning the jog they did. That is just really great acting, writing, and movie making. Had the first two chapters been closer in quality to the third chapter Moonlight would have duked it out with Arrival and Rogue One for best of the year. And the fact that this was filmed in one weekend amazes me.

Other than the issue I mentioned above I found it infuriating that Naomi Harris didn’t win Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Paula. Viola Davis with a clear case of category theft.

Free Fire

This is a movie I was reluctant to watch in theaters and have since come to regret it. Was it the set up? The way it was marketed? I don’t know. Maybe I looked at the plot and thought ‘Well, a movie like that can’t be good.’ OF course I was wrong. Fun and silly and well acted and plotted…Free Fire is a great movie. Definitely one of the year’s best.

Cillian Murphy is great as usual. Armie Hammer is good. Sharlto Copley is good as usual too. Brie Larsen proves why she gets recognized as a great actress. The dialogue is good. And for a movie that is set in one place it doesn’t seem boxed in or small. Director Ben Wheatley ably spreads out the competing factions while at the same time showing the audience where all players are in relation to each other.

I can’t understand the Tomato Meter score, 69%, nor the Tomato Audience score, 52%. 2016 went a long way to show why people should go to the movies and Free Fire is great entertainment.

Cloverfield Lane

Not really sure why John Goodman’s image is larger than Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s in the above poster. As good as Goodman is Winstead is the star and a total badass. This movie had me going ‘Wow! That was awesome’ as I walked out of the theater. Tense, thrilling, suspenseful (are tense and suspenseful the same thing), well acted by Winstead, Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr. And the two mystery’s of the movie (who is the girl and what happened to her, and what is really happening outside) are played out until finally being revealed at the end.

Winstead plays the heroin role to perfection and her reaction to discovering that Goodman, though a psychocpathic woman kidnapper and killer, is right about the alien invasion, is gold.

10 Cloverfield Lane was completed when JJ Abrams bought it and renamed it in an attempt to connect it to Cloverfield, as a sort of way to build a universe and get bigger buzz. Thankfully his involvement didn’t involve his creative input.

Everybody Wants Some

Just a fun movie. As good a time to watch as the characters are having on screen. Great music, baseball, great characters and great performances, likable leads (Blake Jenner and Zoey Deutch). No fake or contrived conflicts used to artificially propel the plot. No ‘will they or won’t they’ between the Jenner and Deutch characters. Just like hanging out with your friends and having a good time.

I suppose this could be looked at as a sequel or continuation of sorts to ‘Dazed and Confused,’ the 1993 Richard Linklater movie that romanticized his childhood in Texas while giving Matthew McConaughy his start. I was eleven in 1980, the year of this movie’s setting, and seven in the year Dazed and Confused is set, but nostalgia is strong in me. Those were great years to be a kid.

Colossal

I was legitimately shocked and surprised by how good this movie is and how much I liked it. I wasn’t expecting much. I only saw it due to Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis being in it and had low expectations as it is a low budget B-movie that didn’t get a wide release. Hathaway is terrific, another Oscar snub, and Sudeikis is really good in a role that is not his typical goofball comedy routine.

An inventive story that is told slowly as to be a surprise not never boring. It starts as the typical ‘person returns to their hometown after years in the city’ trope with Hathaway’s character trying to adjust to small town life and reconnecting with old friends. This part is fine on its own. All actors sell their roles really well. Then the main plot of the movie kicks in, the tone changes, the action begins and then you are in a totally different movie.

Train to Busan

One of the better zombie movies you’ll ever see.

Honorable mentions

These are other movies from 2016 that I gave four out of five stars to.

Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan play paratroopers sent to Prague to assassinate SS General Richard Heinrich. Both men meet women affiliated with the local resistance and fall in love while trying to complete their mission. Based on a true story. Gripping, suspenseful, and exciting. Worth watching.

The ads had ,me believing this would be a typical Tina Fey comedy with the typical Tina Fey style comedy. I like Fey but sometimes her act can wear thin if overdone. This is not the case. WTF is the true story of a food critic sent to cover the invasion of Afghanistan. Funny in parts, believable and likable characters, good performances all around.
Not as good as the other Bourne movies starring Matt Damon but solid. Paul Greengrass still does big action scenes expertly, Damon still can become Bourne when needed, and Alicia Vikander is amazingly believable as someone who is staring at a computer screen. She’s great overall but she really sells that what she’s looking at on a screen is vital and not just movie props.
Anna Taylor Joy plays a genetic created girl who attacks her doctor. Kate Mara plays the corporate executive sent to evaluate the program. Mayhem ensues. An action movie where women are both the antagonist and the protagonist. Trying to figure out which is which is the mystery.
The Nice Guys fell into the category of movies I was reluctant to see in theaters for whatever reason then really liked when I watched it at home. Crowe and Gosling are great as detectives who become allies, and well, this movie is fun all around.
The Girl on the Train has a 44% Rotten Tomatoes score with a 32% Audience Score. I gave it 4/5 stars. I think mainly because I love Emily Blunt and she’s really good in it. Allison Janney is excellent in her small role.

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