Every year I go out and watch a lot of movies but not all of them unfortunately. A combination of laziness and not wanting to be that asshole in the theater who watches the movie alone because friends are too busy will keep me from seeing a lot of the year’s more celebrated films.
So I compiled a top 5 list based on the 20 or so new films I saw this past year (about a quarter of them being old films that I had never seen on Netflix) and if it seems like I’m missing a major movie off this list it’s most likely because I didn’t see it. So don’t flame me for not putting “La La Land” or “Manchester by the Sea” on my best of list. Blame them for shitty marketing and not having super heroes and weird space aliens to compel my more shallow interests as a film viewer to go see them right away.
Anyways, without further ado here’s my complete incomplete best films of 2016 list, enjoy…
5. “Captain America: Civil War”
A few weeks ago this might have been higher on this list but upon a re-watch on Netflix, it was slightly less amazing.
It lost some steam but there’s no denying this was the MCU’s biggest film to date placing the most super heroes we’ve ever seen on screen together, while delivering a solid story and most of all not fucking it up like other not to be named blockbusters this year…
“Civil War’s” greatest strength is the strong chemistry of Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. and the competing personalities of their characters Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers. This film not only is a great Captain America movie that highlights who is he and his best characteristics but also in my opinion the best Iron man film as we see Stark do more than just deliver quips over and over again. He’s a sad and beaten hero and we see more how his sarcasm and wit masks a much more burdened man underneath.
We also get a fairly strong sub story involving newcomer Black Panther played expertly by Chadwick Boseman who captures not only the warrior king in this character but his strength and wisdom.
(Sometimes literal strength)
On top of all this of course it’s a damn fun action flick, sometimes to a fault of silliness but nonetheless a great popcorn flick that delivered last summer in more ways than one. Paul Rudd is even more funny as Ant-man in this film than his solo venture a year ago and we get a nice teaser of Tom Holland as Spider-man which should make this year’s reboot fun and not a dumpster fire like another not to be named blockbuster.
If “Civil War” established anything it’s that the Russo Brothers are a pair of directors fans should place trust in moving forward, so have your popcorn ready for the Infinity Gauntlet when it arrives in a couple summers.
It’s rare to see a film match gargantuan hype and even over deliver in spots but last winter’s raunchy “Deadpool” did just that.
“Deadpool” is a successful film because, much like its titular character, it doesn’t give a fuck. For a film about this character to work it needed to be over the top and anything in between, ie: lightening it up for a PG-13 audience, would’ve been a disaster.
(If Disney made this the guns would be digitally replaced with walkie-talkies)
Deadpool has to be a foulmouthed, politically incorrect, immoral, crazy bastard (with a heart of course) and the film did this all perfectly. There’s countless great one-liners, fourth-wall breaking and ludicrousness going on and yet somehow through all this the film still has a heart with a decent love story going on in between all of this.
And much like “Civil War” it’s also
a damn fun action flick. It’s a glorious display of sophomoric violence that
whole family many movie fans enjoyed
last winter and in many ways the most comic accurate film to date.
Ryan Reynolds is already as synonymous with Deadpool as Christopher Reeves is to Superman and all us fans should be looking forward to the sequel in the near future.
3. “Rogue One”
I’ve already talked at length recently about my love for this latest “Star Wars” film (which surprisingly is divisive amongst fans) but it needs to be said again that Gareth Edwards really knocked it out of the park with this movie.
“Rogue One” is a great example of taking established source material and mixing something new into it without disrupting what’s familiar. Yes there are a lot of references in the film but few that actually made my eye roll like some films I’ve seen this year.
For the first time in the series we see how dirty the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire was and how desperate that struggle was and it’s part of what makes the story and the set pieces compelling. Finally war in Star Wars is shown the way it really is: fucking awful.
But the greatest strength of Rogue One is its cast, that while may have been better served over a long miniseries, still remain compelling and tragic across a two and a half hour film. The diversity (yes that horrible word, my estranged Breitbart neckbeards) is a primary reason for that. No, diversity doesn’t automatically make a film good but it adds depth and color (heh) that can ultimately make an already good film better. And once again, what the fuck is the problem with having a few more brown people in your movie anyway?
(You tell’em, Donnie…)
The visuals too, regardless of how you feel about the story, are the best there has ever been in the series easily and has the best space battle, at least in my opinion, to date. And while you may find the fan service-y elements annoying, can we all agree that last scene was fucking epic?
Good, let’s move on.
2. “Shin Gojira”
I’m probably the only person you know who saw this movie and I’m sure a bunch of you were vaguely aware at best that a new Godzilla film came out last year in Japan but it did and its arguably the best and most poignant one to date.
Generally speaking, when making a giant monster flick you do it one of two ways; you either make it super campy and over the top with lots of action like 2013’s “Pacific Rim” or you make it more grounded and serious like the original 1954 “Gojira.”
This is largely an example of why 2014’s “Godzilla” didn’t work (Gareth Edwards has of course redeemed himself with “Rogue One”); trying have it both ways by having a campy monster flick while also trying to make a dark American take on the famous King of Monsters. It might not have been a complete disaster but it was definitely forgettable.
(Pro Tip: Never give your hero two last names for a full name)
“Shin Gojira,” which literally translates to “New Godzilla” btw, falls into the dark, grounded end of the monster film spectrum, focusing instead on film’s message revolving around Japanese sovereignty and the frustrating and stagnant pace the government has when it comes to responding to real threats.
The film might require a bit of post WWII Japan study before viewing but the message can really be applied anywhere to those that feel frustration with their government’s inability to function.
There’s even a bit of “Dr. Strangelove” going on in the early parts of the film with the constant red tape the Japanese government must go through in order to take action against the giant fire lizard.
“Shin Gojira” also contains my favorite overall action sequence of the year which combines great cinematography alongside a haunting score with Godzilla’s first scene breathing fire on Tokyo. Compared to the 2014’s own first sequence with Godzilla, it truly highlights why “Shin Gojira” is everything Edwards’ film should have been.
(I’m going to tease this to you like Edwards did all of “Godzilla 2014!”)
“Shin Gojira” is the first true reboot to the 1954 original and just as successful delivering its message to film viewers on the dangers of an incompetent government and not taking action when destruction is staring you in the face.
Perhaps the only film I saw lastyear that will (hopefully) be nominated for an Oscar, “Arrival” was just a smidge above my previous two on this list but nonetheless a great movie.
The quality of the film is undeniable; with a harrowing performance by Amy Adams and strong supporting roles played by Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker alike, “Arrival” delivers a beautifully positive message in the shit storm of 2016.
It’s a homage to traditional sci-fi in the best way, while delivering a metaphorical middle finger to more modern “sci-fi” like “Independence Day” showing that maybe humanity can united for more reasons other than to just kill a common enemy. It’s a film that will make you ask questions and start discussions about existence, purpose and the importance of talking and communicating.
“Arrival” is also compelling on a visual and cinematic level combining great cinematography and art direction alongside a beautiful musical score by Johann Johannsson that at times are so breathtaking you might be moved to tears by this alone.
(I’m not crying, you’re crying!)
“Arrival” is a beacon of light in a very cloudy time humanity is in right now, regardless of what side you may fall under, and represents why more nuanced views and solutions are needed in society, that our presumed enemies or even just people we may not fully understand can be our friends if we try.
One thing for sure, Denis Villeneuve is a director everyone should have on their radar going forward and definitely has me excited for his next project later this year…