by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
Here we are once again at the end of another year. And even though I haven’t been as active as I’d like in the past, the IndieRevolver Supernerd is back with his look at the top films of 2016!
Last year I had a list of 89 films over the course of a calendar year to pick from. For a guy with a regular Monday-through-Friday “banker’s hours” job (who also tried to fit in family and the occasional trip to the gym) I thought that was pretty good. But there were so many other films that I missed and in that my list felt…inadequate. So I made a promise to see even more films to give my list a more well-rounded feel.
That task has been accomplished. From January 1 up to December 31, 2016 I managed to eke in 212 films. How? I pretty much ignored my family, skipped the gym and spent every weekend watching something. Sleep? I’ll sleep when I’m dead!
If you’d like to see my complete breakdown of films and grades, drop an email to IndieRevolver or tweet at him or me (@IR_Supernerd) and we might just put it up for you to see how I spent my 2016.
As always I’m writing this from the common fan’s perspective. What does that mean? It means that I paid for each and every movie on my list in some way. Whether it was buying a ticket at my local theater (or some that I had to drive over an hour to get to), buying a Blu-Ray or ordering something on VOD, every movie was paid for out of my own wallet. So if I don’t like something you’re damn right I’m going to give it the grade it deserves. On the other hand there were quite a few films that I saw multiple times in theater AND bought the physical home media for. Why? They were that damn good (and quite a few of those are on this year’s best of list).
And let’s get to that list shall we, instead of me rambling on. We’ll begin with my award for the biggest turkey of the year…
WORST FILM OF THE YEAR
It’s easy to write a Worst Of list. People love to read them (I’m guilty as charged on that). But social media recently has made me rethink my stance on the Worst Of list. I won’t waste my time running down a bunch of films that we all know were bad. And if you liked what I didn’t now you feel alienated. So I’ll just stick with one film. The only film this year that I gave a F / 0-star rating to:
KNIGHT OF CUPS – I’ve had the argument with people that it’s beautifully shot and the cinematography is gorgeous. But it takes more than just pretty pictures to keep me engaged. This film, with it’s scattershot story and barely comprehensible plot, was the only film that made me wish I’d done something else with my two hours. Terrence Malick might get away with stuff like this these days because of his name, but I’m probably going to skip his next cinematic offering when it comes out.
Enough negativity. Time for…
BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR
Let’s start with some Honorable Mentions (really good films that just didn’t make the top cut and in no particular order):
MOANA – Beautifully animated. Catchy songs. Stellar performances. You really can’t ask for more from Disney.
THE HOLLARS – From director John Krasinski (who also starred) will have you laughing and crying – sometimes at the same time.
THE JUNGLE BOOK – This was my top film for about two months (my how things change). Great adaptation of the animated classic and the best CGI I’ve seen all year.
SING STREET – Try to see this and not smile. Impossible. A story that’s relatable on the most basic of levels (trying to find yourself and where you fit in) combined with a soundtrack of earworm songs that you’ll be signing for days make this a must see.
Now, the final countdown…
- ARRIVAL – An impressive piece of science fiction. The ending will haunt you for days and make you wonder how you’d play things out if you were in the same boat. Director Denis Villeneuve has proven he can handle any genre thrown at him. Stellar performances from Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner make this an easy rewatch for years to come.
- DOCTOR STRANGE – My second favorite Marvel solo origin (behind Captain America: The First Avenger), Doctor Strange introduced us to the mystic side of the MCU and has now opened the doors for many different possibilities. With characters who were neither fully good or wholly bad, the shades-of-grey characterization will do well for the (hopefully) many future installments of the Master of the Mystic Arts.
- THE LITTLE PRINCE – If there was one movie that got the shaft this year it was Mark Osborne’s The Little Prince. Dropped by distributing studio Paramount weeks before it’s U.S. debut in March, the gorgeously animated tale was picked up by Netflix and made available in August. Adapting the the original tale into a framing device and using it as a parable for teaching children about death and being able to let go, this may be my favorite animated film not just of this year, but of all time. When you can get my Mom and me crying over the same movie, you’ve got something special.
- HELL OR HIGH WATER – A pulpy western of the best kind, Hell Or High Water starts off with it’s foot pushing the pedal all the way down and never letting up. Violent and stylish, Ben Foster, Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges all put in Academy Award worthy performances.
- MANCHESTER BY THE SEA – Brutal and heartbreaking, Kenneth Lonergan’s latest offering is one of the realest films about grief that you’re likely to find. Anchored by a heartbreaking performance by Casey Affleck (with one of the best Massachusetts accents since he was in Gone Baby Gone), this is one of the saddest and most genuine films of the last year.
- ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY – Not just a great Star Wars movie but a great movie in general, Rogue One lived up to the hype. Much like it’s team of rebels, this film needed every actor working in sync to achieve its ultimate success – and that happened in spades. Proof that you don’t need the “Skywalker Saga” to have a successful Star Wars film.
- LA LA LAND – Director Damien Chazelle’s love letter to the old-school musical, La La Land is chock full of great music and snazzy dance numbers. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone shine as Sebastian and Mia, singing and dancing their way through a tumultuous year together that sees as many downs as there are ups. With a bittersweet ending that just feels right, you’ll be singing and dancing your way back to your car after the credits roll.
- THE HANDMAIDEN – The South Korean crime drama from director Park Chan-wook has more twists and turns than I expected. What starts out as a regular hustle of a wealthy heiress turns out to be much more layered and complex than most crime capers out there. As the double-cross turns into a triple-cross turns into a free-for-all, you’ll want to watch it all over again just to see if you can catch all the little nuances and clues left behind.
- MOONLIGHT – One of this year’s most rewarding films, director Barry Jenkins has crafted a beautiful love story in the unlikeliest of places. Focusing on Chiron – and to an extent Kevin – over three pivotal moments of his life, Moonlight is more than just a story about a person discovering who he is and what love can be. It transcends the regular definitions of masculinity and gives you hope for finding the person that completes you.
- CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR – As a standalone film Civil War is pretty spectacular. Taken into context with everything that’s come before it and it becomes a monumental achievement. Tying together storylines going all the way back to 2008 and the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War manages to not only weave together various dangling plot threads from previous films and juggle an already established cast of almost a dozen superheroes but introduce a couple new players to the board and give you an effective villain that makes sense in his motivation (even if his plot was overly complicated in the long run). I just rewatched this before finalizing my list and feel that yes, Captain America: Civil War was the top film of 2016.
So there you have it folks. After 212 films I’m a little tired. But was it worth it worth it? I wouldn’t change a thing.
Agree? Disagree? Did I leave a film off that you loved or rank something too high or too low? Sound off in our comments or drop me a line on Twitter. I’m always up for an educated debate.
Until next year, this has been Supernerd. See you at the movies!!