2016 was a rough year in a lot of ways (so many celebrity deaths) but especially movie wise. This past summer was maybe one of the worst ever, with only a few really great movies and rest being either mediocre or terrible. Luckily, there were a ton of great smaller movies released this year to make up for it and here are my picks for the top 10 best movies of the year.
- Captain America: Civil War: There were more superhero movies than ever before this year but none as fun and action packed as Civil War. Even more so than The Avengers, Civil War was a culmination of everything in the MCU leading up to it as almost all the heroes we’ve been introduced to up to that point squared off depending on what side of the Sokovia Accords they were on and the airport fight is one of the greatest comic book movie sequences, period. It also did an excellent job of introducing both Black Panther and Spider-Man(!!!) and I could not be more excited to see what lies ahead for both of their solo movies. Make mine Marvel. (It also got added to Netflix as a streaming Christmas present)
- Deadpool: Another Marvel movie, except this time from Fox, Deadpool was a labor of love that paid off big time with a pitch perfect translation of the Merc with a Mouth to the big screen. Ryan Reynolds was born for the role of Deadpool and his machine gun joke delivery is just as impressive as the acrobatic moves he uses during combat. Hilarious, vulgar, over the top, Deadpool was just an absolute blast from the first minute when those great fake credits started rolling and didn’t stop until the Ferris Bueller tribute stinger scene.
- Rogue One: If Rogue One is how the rest of the spin-off Star Wars movies are going to be, I’m all in, as Rogue One felt like a great Expanded Universe novel brought to the big screen and it’s grittier, darker tone was a great change of pace from the main Saga movies. Fantastic supporting roles from Donnie Yen and Alan Tudyk, possibly the greatest Darth Vader sequence in the franchise and an incredible third act featuring the Battle of Scarif are just some of the ways Rogue One was a slam dunk and it continues to be a fantastic time to be a Star Wars fan.
- The Nice Guys: After directing Iron Man 3, Shane Black returns to his roots with the unapologetically violent and vulgar The Nice Guys. Although it didn’t seem like it on paper, Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe are a brilliant comedic duo as a pair of private detectives in 70’s Los Angeles trying to figure out a conspiracy involving the auto industry and a dead porn star and the movie makes excellent use of it’s setting, with 70’s sleaze oozing out of every frame and an excellent soundtrack. If you loved Black’s work on movies like Lethal Weapon, The Nice Guys is an incredible return to that style of action movie.
- 10 Cloverfield Lane: Feeling like an excellent installment of The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits, 10 Cloverfield Lane was a claustrophobic, tense thriller from Dan Trachtenberg which featured an incredible battle of wills between John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead and it’s paced brilliantly so that your constantly guessing what is actually happening outside the bomb shelter setting. The end does go a little off the rails but it’s nothing that takes away from the excellence of the film.
- Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme’s introduction into the MCU was a fairly standard origin story but it featured the most mind blowing visuals we’ve ever seen from the universe, with action sequences that look like NYC got put into a kaleidoscope or one that unravels in reverse. Benedict Cumberbatch, despite his slightly sketchy New York accent, was a fantastic Stephen Strange and I can’t wait to see how he interacts with the larger MCU and his fellow Marvel superheroes.
- Zootopia: Disney was on fire all year and Zootopia was the best non-Marvel, non-Star Wars movie I saw from the House of Mouse. The world of Zootopia is so dense and fantastically realized that it didn’t even really need a plot, as just seeing how all these different ecosystems and animals co-existed was fascinating enough. However, it had a really fun mystery at it’s center and a great odd couple pair in Ginnifer Goodwin’s Judy Hopps and Jason Bateman’s Nick Wilde along with a slew of great supporting work from the likes of Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, JK Simmons, Bonnie Hunt, Tommy Chong and more. Not sure about that Shakira song though.
- Green Room: Green Room is proof of what a loss Anton Yelchin’s death was as he is fantastic as the leader of a punk band trapped in a neo-nazi bar after they stumble across a dead body following their set. Maybe the most brutal movie I saw all year, Green Room does not shy away from anything as Yelchin and his band mates try to figure out how to escape the club with their lives while the cold, calculating and terrifying Patrick Stewart methodically moves forward with his plan to cover everything up. This is one of those “so tense I forgot to breathe” movies and it’s actually on Amazon Instant if you haven’t seen it yet.
- Hell or High Water: Chris Pine and Ben Foster are excellent as a pair of bank robbing brothers in this excellent crime thriller, trying to get enough money to pay off the loan on their mother’s ranch before it’s foreclosed on. Jeff Bridges is just as excellent as the Texas Ranger on their trail, trying to get one last hit of heroics before he retires. The characters and setting all feel incredibly lived in and it’s just solid in every possible way.
- The Witch: Unsettling and full of dread pretty much from the get go, The Witch is probably not what most modern horror fans want but if you were able to get into it, it was a slow burn look at a Puritan family collapsing as suspicion of a witch among them begins to build. The look of everything and the way the dialogue is written and delivered all feel incredibly authentic and it introduced a new horror icon in Black Phillip the Goat. It’s also on Amazon Instant if you haven’t had a chance to see it yet.
- Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping: The funniest movie I saw this year and a great slew of new Lonely Island songs to boot.
- Arrival: I didn’t go as gaga over it as most of the critics but I did think it was an extremely well made and interesting thriller and another great addition to Denis Villeneuve’s catalog of films.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: It was a mess, but it was an interesting mess and I’m all in for Batfleck, especially after that climactic Batman fight scene. Also I liked Suicide Squad more than the majority as well.
- Star Trek Beyond: Probably the second best entry in the new Abramsverse that was one of the few great movies of Summer 2016.
- Ouija: Origin of Evil: A shocking 180 from the first Ouija (or so I hear) that was actually one of the best horror movies of 2016, if you skipped it because of the first, do yourself a favor and give it a shot.
- Central Intelligence: The Rock and Kevin Hart are an excellent new comedic duo.
- The Jungle Book: Incredible looking CG animals and a plot that flowed better than the original animated feature.
Movies I Didn’t Have A Chance to See That I Wanted To:
- Don’t Breathe
- Hail Caesar!
- The Neon Demon
- Lights Out
- Kubo and the Two Strings
- Jack Reacher: Never Go Back