My Top 10 Films of 2016

With the awards season in full swing, I thought I’d take a stab at offering up my top 10 favorite films of 2016. Now, keep in mind, these are films I personally saw in 2016, not necessarily films that came out initially during the year.

Why am I doing this? Well maybe you’ll see some of these films and enjoy them yourself. Or maybe it’s because I write a weekly blog and forgot to write it for Monday because it was a long weekend and needed to come up with something relatively quickly.

One of the two, anyway.

I’m including my original Twitter reviews, though upon some repeat viewing, I’ve bumped some up the list

10. Nocturnal Animals
Twitter Review: It’s an amazing sum of parts: acting, photography and compelling story arcs. Leaves you with a lot to think about. 3.5/4*
Not at all what it appears to be in its trailer, this film is equal parts tense thriller and slow-burn inner character development. Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal light up the screen.

9. Sing Street
Twitter Review: Pitch perfect, feel good musical which balances its drama and optimism well. Just bought the soundtrack. 3.5/4*
I really do enjoy director John Carney’s work. He did one of my personal favorites, Begin Again, and does a great job with creating both compelling characters while coming up with original music that not only drives the story, but also defines it.

8. Inside Out
Twitter Review: Beautiful and poignant; a stunning portrayal of what goes on in a child’s mind as they grow up. Close to perfect. 4/4*
I’ve kind of sort of made it a point to not watch Pixar movies over the years. Not because I don’t think they’re good, but simply because I do expect at some point in the very near future to start a family, and I expect to be completely inundated by them then. This film, however, is mandatory viewing for everyone, child and adult alike. I’ve seldom seen such a compelling view of how and why a child grows up.

7. Everybody Wants Some
Twitter Review: Takes time to build but once it does – very fun. Almost like going back to college..if college was ever that fun. 3.5/4*
I love me some Richard Linklater films. The Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight trilogy (and hopefully more) is one of the most interesting relationship stories in the history of film. No one knows how to make idle chitchat seem like deep compelling philosophy like him, and Everybody Wants Some is no exception. Three days in the life of a college baseball team makes me want to go back and try college again (and I HATED college). Almost.

6. Straight Outta Compton
Twitter Review: I only have one question: How the hell does this not get nominated for best picture? 4/4*
It’s an absolute crime that this film didn’t get nominated for Best Picture. The characters were so well drawn, acted and defined that it’s frankly surprising to me that no one got an acting nomination either. The filmmakers did a fantastic job of bringing through the rage and disappointment of those young men, and even though I don’t particularly care for the music, I even enjoyed that within the context of the film.

5. Manchester By The Sea
Twitter Review: Beautiful, raw drama filled with flawed, real characters. Slow burn, nuanced & deeply affecting. Affleck-amazing. 3.5/4*
Casey Affleck was simply amazing – one of the most subtle, well defined and emotional performances I’ve seen in many a year. Every inch of the story felt real, compelling and often gut-wrenching.

4. Arrival
Twitter Review: It’s stunning in scope; delivers way beyond expectations. Brilliantly acted by Adams et al. Villeneuve needs to make more films. 4/4*
I love me some sci-fi films. Star Wars, Independence Day, Armageddon – I’m a sucker for all of them. But one of the by-products of the popularity of these films is that we’ve lost the heady, world defining, philosophical science fiction films. This is one of them, and it’s a fantastic showcase of the many talents of Amy Adams, who delivers a complicated, highly intelligent character, one of the best female roles written in years.

3. Eye In The Sky
Twitter Review: One of the most tense & compelling films to come out in years. Virtually perfect. Timely & deeply affecting. Just see it. 4/4*
There are some films that grab you from the opening frame and don’t let go until long after the credits roll. This one is all story without an ounce of fat on it. The moral dilemmas presented are never black and white, always deep and incredibly complicated. Gives you a new appreciation for those who have to make those decisions every day.

2. Hell Or High Water
Twitter Review: Some of the best characters I’ve seen in an original film in quite some time. Great story, pacing, photography. Must see 4/4*
Far more than meets the eye. You’ll hear a lot about Jeff Bridges’ aging lawman come Oscar time, but the true revelation of the film is Chris Pine, who completely sheds his Captain Kirk persona in favor of a brooding, damaged would-be cowboy who was born 100 years after his time, but is just looking for a way to make things in his world right for his family, regardless of the cost to himself.

1. The Big Short
Twitter Review: Fantastic direction and editing to make a complex story understandable. Good pacing, solid performances. Scary as hell. 3.5/4*
Upon further review, I’d definetely up my rating of this terrific film to 4 stars. No group of actors, writers, producers and filmmakers have ever created a more compelling story with less to work with than this group. Not to say that the financial collapse was boring, but it’s borderline impossible to tell people what led to the collapse and keep it interesting. But they manage – and the film holds up so well and improves upon repeat viewing.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  • #HacksawRidge is an amazing story, well-told all around, with the best war scenes since Saving Private Ryan. A must see. 3.5/4*
  • #Sully is a deeply moving, well-crafted and executed film. Hanks and Eckhart both deliver powerful, yet understated, performances. 3.5/4*
  • #BornToBeBlue: Gets under your skin early & stays there. Fabulous cinematography; truly iconic shots. Hawke an early Oscar contender. 3.5/4*
  • #MilesAhead: Cheadle does his best to create the jazz feel in film, and largely succeeds. Powerhouse performance. 3.5/4*
  • #45years: Exquisitely subtle drama that (refreshingly) relies on facial expressions & perfectly moody cinematography Not for everyone 3.5/4*
  • #Room: Deeply affecting & haunting film. Breakout performances for both Larson and Tremblay. Defies conventional structure, but well. 3.5/4*
  • #Carol: A slow-burn, beautifully shot and well-told, compelling story with two big-time performances from its leads. 3.5/4*
  • #TheRevenant: DiCaprio should finally get his #Oscar with a powerhouse performance. Hardy too. Stunning cinematography & sound. Long. 3.5/4*