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Year in Review: The Top 15 Films of 2016

Arrival, FIlmNation Entertainment

Now that we have said goodbye to 2016, it is time for the almighty best-of lists to begin hitting the internet. 2016 was a rough year for a lot of people, and no matter what the cause was, a good movie is the perfect remedy. 2016 was an amazing year for movies! This was welcomed, because for a few years, the movie industry was not producing very many great films, with the worst being 2015. To have the industry bounce back so well is a feat.

The 2016 film industry saw the beginnings of a revolution. There were big outcries for diversity in the film world, and a lot of the studios answered by casting African-American, female, or mixed race leading roles. 2016 had a wonderful batch of films for all of us. There are many films that couldn’t make the cut on this list, so feel free to let us know your favorites that we missed in the comments.

10. Sing Street

Sing Street might be a movie that you missed this year. The John Carney movie flew under most radars, but it is a lovely film. This is not a film about pop sensationalism, it’s an adult musical that will touch the inner depths of your soul. It is a touching film about a young Dublin boy who tries to win a girl over by forming a band. It is a film about youth turning to music to take control of their lives. Set in the 1980s, Sing Street is a film that will delight and amuse you, but it will also leave you in awe.

9. Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic is not a superhero movie, but it is a film about a superhero caliber dad trying to save his family in the wake of his wife’s terminal illness. This movie is a study in the struggles of living off of the grid, and dealing with the perceptions from the outside world. Captain Fantastic stars Viggo Mortenson, and is beautiful case study into the depths of a father’s love. This film’s biggest strength is in its balance. It perfectly balances love and rage, brutality and poetry, and the modern world with a simpler life. Mortenson shines as Mr. Ross, a loving father who will do what he can to save his family and live in peace. If this film came out in 2015, it easily would have been one of the top films of the year.

8. Hell or High Water

This is one of the most intense movies of the year. Hell or High Water is not your typical outlaws-on-the-run movie. Starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster (Hollywood’s most-badass badass), Hell or High Water is the story of two brothers who rob banks to try to save their parents farm. The shining factors of this film are its detailed characters and its attention to atmosphere. When you take the film’s two biggest stars and put Jeff Bridges next to them, then you have a star-studded cast with reputable charisma. The characters they all portray have a drive and a fierceness that make this film one of the best films of the year.


7. Deadpool

Does this character need an introduction? Deadpool was far from artsy, but it showed Hollywood that crude jokes and an R-Rating could work with audiences. Deadpool broke a ton of records for February releases, and managed to insult everyone involved with the film in the process. This is the beauty of Deadpool. It doesn’t take itself serious, and you shouldn’t either. It is not your typical Marvel character brought to the big screen, and star Ryan Reynolds made sure of that.

The film notoriously went through extensive last-minute budget cuts, as only Fox could, and still managed to find witty ways around them. It is not perfect, but Deadpool will give you more humor than you can take for the night. It also managed to be included in many nominations for Comedy of the year, although there is a good chance it won’t win them. If you love superheroes, pop culture references, profanity, and awkward sex scenes, then this is the film for you!


6. Arrival

Arrival is not your typical alien invasion movie. It is a film that is beautiful, and will make you question why we are really here. Amy Adams is brilliant. There is a big reason why everyone is talking about Arrival. Dennis Villeneuve helms Arrival and thrusts a female onto a situation that will blow your mind. This is something that he also did with Sicario, his last film.

When alien ships appear on Earth in massive ships, what will humanity do? This film is all about trying to establish contact, and understanding each other’s differences. It is also a film that preaches patience, which is something that Villeneuve’s wide-angled shots also stress. The beauty is in the details here. The film is remarkably beautiful, despite being restricted to a single room for much of the film. Focusing on how language defines us as a species, Arrival will not leave you disappointed.

5. Moonlight

Moonlight is a tale about a homosexual African-American boy who lives in Florida. This is such a simple description of a film that has an interesting poetry to it. Directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight is a three act film that follows the life of protagonist, Chiron. Chiron is an abused and neglected child, with a junkie mother and drug-dealing father. The message of this film is powerful and heartfelt. Moonlight shows us how hard life on the streets can be, but it takes the tale further.

This movie finds a way to balance complex and simple all at the same time, while harnessing the subtle and sensitive with intensity. It is a heart-wrenching film that you don’t want to miss.

4. Jackie

Pablo Larrain’s unconventional film about the first lady, Jackie Kennedy is remarkable. This is one of Larrain’s two remarkable films in 2016, and although his other film (Neruda) is deserving of praise, Jackie surpasses it. The film follows Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman) in the week after the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy on November 23, 1963. This film focuses on an interview between Jackie and a reporter (Billy Crudup). It digests the intense emotions that coursed through the First Lady’s mind and soul in the wake of losing her husband. This film is one of the most-intense drama’s of the year. It shows us the grace of Jackie and how words can mold history.

3. Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck shines in Manchester by the Sea. It is a film that is all about grief and recovery, tells the story of a young man who loses his brother and is forces to take in and raise his nephew (Lucas Hedges).  This drama will hit you right in the feels. Affleck isn’t the only character who stands out in this film, all of his supporting cast also embody the feelings of regret, despair, sorrow, and grief that comes with loss. The script aids the characters by finding a way to inject humor into the narrative when it can.

2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the first Star Wars anthology film. Basically Disney and LucasFilm are trying to expand the Star Wars universe outside of just telling the Skywalker story. This film was exciting, suspenseful, and really did a good job of filling in a bit of the story about how the Rebel Alliance stole the plans to the Death Star. The tory is straightforward, and director Gareth Edwards excels at giving us a Star Wars movie that feels different, while still very familiar.

The plot is intense, and the battle scenes are amazing. The film does take some time to get moving, but once it does, you buy into the premise. Many people thought that with knowing the end of the film before walking into the theater would hurt Rogue One, but they were greatly mistaken. It also might be the highest grossing film of 2016, and just broke into the Top 10 highest grossing films of all time list.


1. La La Land

La La Land is a surreal journey into romance and being able to grab ahold of your dreams. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) brings us this exhilarating musical featuring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. The beauty here is in that Chazelle doesn’t only show us the surreal, but he also balances it with the struggles of making it into show business. Gosling and Stone give spectacular performances, and force viewers to second guess their lives, for better or for worse. La La Land is a movie that begs you to take a chance at life, and not taking the safe road. It is a screenplay that has circled Hollywood for some time, but you wouldn’t guess that. It is a captivating film from start to finish, with near flawless camerawork, choreography, and acting.

What films did you think should have made the list?


Brad Repka
I am an avid lover of all things Movies, TV, Games, and delicious other randomness. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave comment!