2016 was an interesting year for film. This year was full of movies that were incredibly divisive, blockbuster or not. I find it weird that at one point, people were actually saying that 2016 was the year that films died. While there were a few films that were terrible, and a couple which disappointed, I do consider 2016 a good year for film, not that much different from previous years. It’s just that 2016 had more divisive movies than most years. The following films are my favourites of the year. And of course there will be a worst of the year list, which will be fun.
Now I do think I should state that I will be releasing updated versions of these lists later on. This is because many movies such as Lion, Silence and Jackie will be released here in Janurary and Feburary. So I’ll do an updated list, same will go for the worst of the year list. This will also allow me to catch up on the best/worst films of 2016 that I missed.
EDIT: An updated list never ended up happening. Keep in mind that in retrospect my list has changed a lot (especially after seeing more 2016 movies) so take this list as my opinion at the time. In the future I may do another updated list.
Zootopia really caught me off guard. I expected an animated kids film, which would just be forgettable or annoying. To my utter surprise, not only was the film entertaining, it was actually a great film. The characters are so likable and memorable (and are voiced well), the animation was great and the story was surprisingly well written and developed. Zootopia was really one of the most surprising films of the year.
Although I will admit I like a certain other animated kids film more (which I will get to later in the list), I will credit Zootopia for having the best written animated movie story in 2016, due to how well it integrates its themes with the story. I didn’t expect this film to tackle issues like race, prejudice, etc, and for it to all work in its story. Even if the movie doesn’t look that appealing to you (believe me, it initially didn’t look good to me), I implore you to at least watch it. This movie is a lot better than you might think it is.
15. 10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane had a lot of hype from a lot of people (mostly because it had Cloverfield in the title), I admit I wasn’t as hyped as everyone else. I went in not sure about what to really expect, I hadn’t watched Cloverfield, but I still had such a great time with it. This film is very effective as a thriller, it really surprised me how tense I felt throughout the movie.
This movie was very suspenseful, you don’t know what’s going on in the film until the very end. It was slower paced but it felt very appropriate. The acting was great, especially from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman. Aside from a couple of aspects near the third act of the movie, this film was great. Honestly, just go into this movie without looking into it. And don’t have any false expectations, this isn’t Cloverfield 2. This is a contained, suspenseful thriller which will keep you guessing and guessing to the very end.
14. Don’t Breathe
Don’t Breathe is a breath of fresh air into the horror and home invasion genres. Despite it’s simple premise, the film executes that premise brilliantly, and never lets up in building suspense, and creating effective scares. It’s unfortunate that this movie hasn’t gotten quite the attention it deserves, it really needs a lot more praise.
Don’t Breathe is a very contained horror/thriller which is actually scary. There’s not false jumpscares to ruin the tension, and when jumpscares are there, they are used effectively. The tension never lets up and is consistent throughout the whole film, you can never tell which direction this film is going in. The acting was great, particularly from Stephen Lang who makes for a very effective and scary antagonist. There were a couple of aspects in the final act that I thought could’ve been better but aside from that, there aren’t really many problems with this movie. If you are a big horror fan, go see Don’t Breathe as soon as possible, you won’t regret it.
13. The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
The Hunt for the Wilderpeople was a movie that was so entertaining from start to finish, with never a dull moment. This movie is very unique, it isn’t a movie that you can compare to any others. It was so easy to watch this movie and to be entertained by it.
The script of the movie is very entertaining and hilarious but at the same time had a lot of heart. The characters were so easy to love, the leading actors, Sam Neill and Julian Dennison, had excellent chemistry and were fantastic. The direction by Taika Watiti, also excellent. The Hunt for the Wilderpeople was just such a surprising movie. I wasn’t expecting this movie to be so great. If you haven’t seen this movie, definitely check it out.
12. The Accountant
The Accountant was a movie that sadly didn’t get a huge amount of attention for some reason. It’s a shame because it was such a great movie from its story, to its direction to the acting, most of the elements of the film are done really well.
There were a few problems I had with the story, and it didn’t always interest me in the first act but aside from that, I loved everything about the movie, from the story, to the cast (particularly Ben Affleck) and to the overall direction. By the end of the movie, I wanted a sequel, and I actually do hope that we get a sequel. Definitely check out The Accountant when you can if you haven’t already.
11. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was so enjoyable to watch as a Harry Potter fan. I will admit before watching the movie, I wasn’t as anticipated for the movie as much as I thought I would be. Maybe it’s because I had no idea what to really expect. However, it fits perfectly in the Harry Potter universe and it is in itself a very entertaining movie to watch.
The story was entertaining and was more complex than I expected it to be. The cast was great, with Ezra Miller and Colin Farrell being personal standouts to me. And as to be expects the special effects and action sequences were great to watch. The biggest thing for me is that this movie worked at setting up sequels while being a good movie in itself. As a Harry Potter fan I loved it. Even though I have some concerns over future instalments in the franchise (especially with one certain casting decision), I’m excited to see them.
10. Doctor Strange
I wasn’t expecting to love Doctor Strange as much as I did. I liked all the MCU movies, so I already knew that I would probably end up liking it. But I didn’t know that it would end up being one of my favourite MCU movies. Doctor Strange was incredibly fun to watch, investing, entertaining, felt different from all the previous Marvel movies and was overall such a surprise.
The world created was so fascinating and interesting, probably more so than in other MCU worlds. The cast was on point, with Benedict Cumberbatch leading the film as now one of my favourite main characters of the MCU, and actors like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong adding to the film greatly. Even the villain managed to be good (though having Mads Mikkelsen play him definitely helped elevate the villain’s quality). And the action and special effects… mind blowing, and so different from what I’ve seen before. While there may be a few flaws that I had with the movie, they weren’t very significant and didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie. Doctor Strange brought back my anticipation for the future MCU movies, I’m now really looking forward to seeing what is to come in future instalments.
9. The Conjuring 2
I was hesitant about a Conjuring sequel, I really liked the original Conjuring and as most of us know, horror sequels can be really bad. The only potential I found that it could be even half decent was that Conjuring director James Wan was returning for this sequel. After seeing The Conjuring 2, I can say that James Wan really is the best director working today. I didn’t expect this movie to be as great as it was.
Unlike most horror movies today, you actually care about what’s going on. It has a story, with characters that feel real. And the scares used wasn’t just scares for the sake of it being scary. It was used when it was most suited, and the scares are actually effective. The acting was great from everyone. The direction was absolutely excellent. I loved The Conjuring 2, if you love horror movies and you haven’t seen this movie, definitely check it out when you can. It’s now one of my all time favourite horror movies.
8. Kubo and the Two Strings
The film already had my interest with the talented voice cast with actors like Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey involved. This movie ended up surprising me however. Out of all the animated movies I’ve seen so far this year, this is my favourite.
It was just so easy to get wrapped up in the story. Not only that but the story itself was a little more mature and darker and more challenging as a children’s movie, it took risks which I love. Everything from the characters, to the perfectly cast voice actors and the beautiful animation just hit all the right notes for me. The animation in particular played a huge part in the movie working well, with a perfect blend of Claymation, stop motion and CGI. It is such a beautiful movie, and the animation is worth the price of admission alone. I can’t wait to see more from Laika, and I hope that Kubo gets enough attention from mainstream audiences so that we can get more of these kinds of animated movies.
7. Nocturnal Animals
Nocturnal Animals was such a great movie. It was such a different and special movie which had me interested and gripped from start to finish. No matter what you think of the movie, there’s no denying that the movie is definitely unique, and it deserves a lot more praise.
The story was pretty intriguing with deeper hidden meanings, with the storylines well implemented (however I will admit that one storyline was much more interesting than the other), the direction of the film was excellent, with perfect cinematography. However the stand out to me was the fantastic cast, with actors like Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor Johnson delivering some of their finest performances. Overall, I can’t wait to see more movies from Tom Ford. This is a movie that I won’t be forgetting for a long time.
6. The Neon Demon
The Neon Demon is another fantastic film from Nicolas Winding Refn. Before seeing this movie, I had only seen Drive but because I loved it so much, I was excited to see Refn’s upcoming film. As to be expected, it was polarizing for the general audience, because Nicolas Winding Refn makes divisive movies. However there is a group of people who loved it, and I’m happy that I’m part of this group.
The Neon Demon is a very different film from most. It relies more on visual storytelling, and it has many layers and meanings that Refn expertly injects into the movie. His direction was excellent, the soundtrack was amazing and the cinematography was so beautiful, it’s one of the best looking films of the whole year. Also the acting from everyone was great, particularly from a supporting performance by Jena Malone, who really deserves more praise. The Neon Demon overall is a movie that’s not for everyone. Some love the movie, some hate it, others don’t really know what to think of it. I’m glad that I’m in the group of people that love it. I can’t wait to see more films by Refn, both his older films and his future films.
5. The Nice Guys
I had a feeling this film would be great, with great actors Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling involved, as well as talented writer and director Shane Black leading the film. The film had a lot of potential. But I didn’t expect to love this movie this much. This and Hunt for the Wilderpeople are probably the funniest most quotable films of the year. The Nice Guys is non stop entertaining from start to finish, and has a well written and put together story.
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe were great, hilarious and perfectly cast in their roles, the writing is well written and all the jokes hit hard. Shane Black’s direction was also excellent, perfectly stylished and fitted well in its time period in the 70s. I can’t think really of any problems with this film. More people really should’ve seen The Nice Guys. I loved this movie when I first saw it and I loved it even more the second time. If you haven’t watched this movie yet, stop what you’re doing and go out and watch it right now. It is truly brilliant.
4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One had a lot to live up to. It was a Star Wars film taking place between Episodes 3 and 4, a prequel (which we all know don’t have that great of a reputation) and this film is released one year after the release of The Force Awakens, so it had a lot to live up to. I had such high hopes for this movie. Still, this movie managed to surpass those expectations, which really is such a surprise.
It was a darker and grittier story than most of the Star Wars movies. The movie had me completely invested from start to finish. The third act is simply perfection, especially with the last moments of the movie (no spoilers here). The acting was great, I loved the characters (highlights were Alan Tudyk’s K-2SO and Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic). The direction of the film overall was fantastic. Aside from a couple aspects of the movie, I loved everything about this movie. I will say that I personally love this movie slightly more than The Force Awakens, which is such a huge achievement, because I loved The Force Awakens. Rogue One is definitely one of the biggest highlights of 2016.
Now these next three picks could honestly be arranged in any order.
3. La La Land
La La Land truly blew me away, I wasn’t expecting how excellent this movie would be. However, I shouldn’t really be surprised that I loved this movie because Damian Chazelle’s (director of Whiplash) was involved. Every element in the film worked well and delivered a fantastic, entertaining, and overall great film.
The main leads, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were fantastic and worked perfectly together, their chemistry is excellent. The direction of the movie is quite simply perfect. Everything fitted together whether that was the cinematography, the use of colour, the music, the choreography, everything fitted so well together. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go out and see it as soon as you can. It is truly a fantastic movie.
Arrival was one of my most anticipated films of the year, mostly due to the cast (with Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forrest Whitaker) and director Denis Villeneuve. I knew that it would be great, as Villeneuve has made some truly great films with Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario. However, Arrival surpassed my expectations on every single level, I absolutely loved it.
I don’t want to reveal too much for those who haven’t seen it yet so I’ll try to keep my description of the movie vague. The performances were excellent, especially from Amy Adams, who gives one of her all time best performances. The direction (as to be expected from Villeneuve) was incredible, everything technical in this movie fits perfectly into place and the cinematography is beautiful. Most of all, the story was great, the mystery is drawn out incredibly well and everything ties up well at the end. I know that a lot of people are divided by the ending, but I for one loved it, and thought that it was perfect for the movie. There’s not one flaw I can find in this movie. It is a movie you need to know what you’re getting into before seeing it, it’s slower paced, it’s not action packed, but all that benefited the movie overall. If you haven’t seen Arrival yet, I implore you to see it as soon as you can. It is truly an excellent movie.
1. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition
I know what you’re probably thinking, why is Batman v Superman at number 1 and especially over all these other great movies? While Batman v Superman might not be the best film of 2016, it is my favourite movie of 2016. Honestly, I’m surprised that this movie is so high up on my list. This movie had a lot to accomplish: it had to establish Batman, Wonder Woman, many of the Justice League members and the possible future. I was scared for how the movie would turn out but it managed to pull it off greatly. The film however didn’t feel overstuffed, it was balanced out well. Certain aspects like other members of the Justice League and future enemies are hinted at but don’t distract from the main story. Also, instead of going with the predictably action route, this movie for at least the first two acts is a political thriller, with some action in it (and then the last act is full on action). This movie goes to some places that I’ve not seen most comic book movies go. It challenges these iconic superheroes and gives them compelling character arcs (well, Superman’s is shown in the Ultimate Edition). Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition achieves all of that, and it’s a miracle that it has done that.
Ben Affleck’s Batman was just perfect to me and had a great character arc, Henry Cavill’s Superman was sympathetic and likable and even Jesse Eisenberg impressed me with his interpretation of Lex Luther. Not to mention Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman stole the show. However, I must stress that the Ultimate Edition is the version I’m ranking this movie. If it was the Theatrical Cut, this movie would be down some places. The Ultimate Edition fills any holes that I had with the film and makes the film feel more complete overall. I will not lie, this is in my top 2 favourite Comic Book Movies of all time now. Bold statement, I know.
Well, up next is my worst of the year list. That should be fun. It will take a little while as I haven’t seen too many bad 2016 movies, when I get 10 of them I’ll make a list (and then possibly make an updated list later).
What are your favourite films of the year? Comment below and let me know.