By Jack Dignan
With Contributions By Chris Campo, Liam Alexander, Michael Leibert and Anthony Cacasci
If you say that this year went exactly as expected, you’re lying. It didn’t. What a strange, shocking, kinda fun, kinda not fun year. It had more twists and turns than an M. Night Shyamalan movie, and that’s saying something. In the world of film, however, things didn’t go quite as planned either. A lot of the big blockbusters, except for a few, ended up being highly disappointing, ranging from straight up awful to painfully mediocre. Sure, I gave Suicide Squad 5 stars on my initial viewing, but uh let’s just say I was a bit blinded by the hype. My re-review can be read here.
A lot of people have described 2016 as being an awful year for film. While I can see where they may be coming from, I don’t understand. A lot of the movies we expected to be great came up short, but there have still been plenty of absolutely fantastic movies throughout the year, many of which I wasn’t expecting to make it into my top 15 list. Am I complaining though? Not really. At the end of this list, you will also find top 15 lists from the other writers of the site, to get a little insight into their favourites from 2016. Also, there are still a few films that haven’t been released yet in Australia, such as Manchester by the Sea or Moonlight, so for all I know, they should’ve made the list, but unfortunately I haven’t seen them yet.
Now, without further to do…. Let’s begin….
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: The Conjuring 2, Deepwater Horizon, Paterson, Swiss Army Man and Kung Fu Panda 3.
Every single one of these films was on the list at some point in time, and it broke my heart to take them off.
Tom Ford’s dark and depressing tale of revenge is an absolute triumph. It’s a violent, enthralling and highly uncomfortable movie that slowly draws you in, slapping you across the face with one brutal ending, but not in a violent way. It’s not actually too violent of a film, its subject matter quite restraint when depicted on screen. What makes this film so great is the deep themes of the narrative, elevated to an extraordinary level through top-notch performances from the entire cast. It’s not for everyone, but it was definitely for me. Check out my review here.
Pixar are probably my all-time favourite studio, and Finding Nemo is one of my all time favourite movies. A sequel was long awaited, but not necessary. Was this going to be another Taken situation where Nemo has once again gone missing? Thankfully not. This time around, nobody really goes missing. Nobody new, that is. It’s Dory who, after starting to remember her upbringing, begins a dangerous, hilarious and exciting quest to find her long-lost family. Pixar knock it out of the park with animation that is an absolute marvel, and characters that are just as warm and friendly as ever. It’s a true delight to watch. Check out my review here.
As a comic book character, Doctor Strange is phenomenal. His comic runs are always as trippy and weird as can be, dealing with multiple dimensions and strange creatures from worlds unknown. Translating it to film is no easy task, yet Scott Derrickson seems to do it with ease. He’s got the weird and he’s got the wacky, crafting a Marvel film unlike any Marvel film we’ve seen before, yet still feeling like it belongs in this universe. It’s a step forward for the Marvel universe; opening up doors us fans never thought would be opened. Benedict Cumberbatch proves to be the perfect Strange, and I’m very eager to see where they take this character next. Check out my review here.
Ben Affleck has had a pretty rough year. Not only has he split from his wife, Jennifer Garner, but also every film he’s been involved with has been met to negative critical reception. Batman V Superman? Trashed. Suicide Squad? Trashed. Live By Night? Trashed. The Accountant? Trashed. While I haven’t seen Live By Night yet, I’ve enjoyed every other film he’s made this year, The Accountant especially. It’s an absolute thrill ride, mixing together several genres for a solid piece of pure entertainment. Ben Affleck doesn’t deserve to be labeled ‘Sad Ben Affleck.’ Ben Affleck deserves a hug. Check out my review here.
Mel Gibson’s ode for forgiveness is one hell of a movie. Based on the true story of Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, it’s a relentlessly brutal war movie that serves as a story of faith, forgiveness, love and the terrors of war. Andrew Garfield has given two distinctly different performances in two distinctly different stories of faith this year (the other film will be discussed shortly), and deciding which film he’s better in is a tough one. He plays a war medic who volunteers to go into battle without a single weapon, and the entire second half consists of unforgivingly violent war sequences that are impossible to look away from. Check out my review here.
2016 brought with it plenty of new superhero movies, and one of the few standing out amongst the crowd is Deadpool, the long awaited R-rated adaption of the foul mouthed, ultra-violent, immortal character. It’s an incredibly rewatchable, outrageously hilarious and delightfully over violent Marvel film you really shouldn’t take your kids to see, but hey, they’ll love you if you do. Ryan Reynolds was born to play this role, breaking the 4th wall and having a go at all his previous movies in the process. If you’ve ever seen a comic book movie, you’re going to laugh at at least one of the jokes. Check out my review here.
Few films will make you smile quite like this one. It’s one of the most joyful, happy and encouraging movies in a very long time. The dance numbers are glorious, the characters are distinct, and the ending is perfect. It’s one of those movies that makes you want to jump up into the air and cheer once it comes to a close, and it made me wish life was more like a movie. It’s a story of family, friendship, music and young love, and despite the obvious age difference between the two lead actors (who aren’t meant to be all that different in age), their love works. It is without a doubt the happiest film on this list. If you haven’t seen it, it’s best you do yourself a favour and go watch it. Check out my review here.
Silence is Martin Scorsese’s passion project, trying to get it made for nearly three decades. When a director as good as Scorsese has been working on a film for that long, you know the final product isn’t going to be anything less than extraordinary. The film doesn’t actually hit Australian cinemas till early February, so I’ll keep this summary vague, as my full thoughts will be in my review later next month. Keep an eye out for it, and definitely make sure to check this film out when it hits theatres.
Taika Waititi is a gem. The New Zealand based filmmaker has slowly been making his way further into the mainstream, with hits such as Boy, What We Do In The Shadows and now, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. He’s always been one of my favourite upcoming directors, and now that he’s set to direct Thor: Ragnarok next year, it seems he’s finally getting the appreciation he deserves. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is without a doubt his best film yet. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you scream with excitement. It’s a whirlwind of emotions in what is easily one of the most unique films of 2016.
My love affair for Denis Villeneuve started in 2013 when I saw a little film called Prisoners. It blew me away, instantly becoming one of my all-time favourites, and since then, I’ve been eagerly awaiting his next film. Arrival is quite the achievement. It’s sophisticated sci-fi made for a mainstream audience, yet implementing just the right amount of indie filmmaking to work. It requires your full attention and constantly has you guessing, and even on a technological level it’s something else entirely. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner kill it, the soundtrack is hooking and the camera work is… wow. It’s a film definitely deserving of a top 10 spot. Check out my review here.
Animation is an art form I greatly appreciate. I understand the difficulty it must be to make an animated film, and I do love how much effort is put into them. Even the crap ones. Moana is a big step forward for Disney. It’s their best film in decades, creating a plot so fun and unique that it’s impossible not to fall in love with every one of these characters. The music is amazing, so much so that I’ve listened to the soundtrack several times since leaving the theatre, and boy can these actors sing. Who knew that Dwayne Johnson was such a talented singer? I sure didn’t. Check out my review here.
Remember the airport scene? Remember watching Spider-Man swing around with other famed Marvel heroes for the first time in his cinematic history? Remember the emotion of that finale? Or the intensity of every battle? Captain America: Civil War is on par with The Avengers for best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie yet, and deservingly so. It breaks the Marvel formula while still adhering to it, and the result is an extremely entertaining movie. Action, excitement and thrills. All are to be found when it comes to the closing chapter of Captain America’s film trilogy, and it’s definitely the best one yet. Check out my review here.
The Nice Guys was screaming my name ever since the first trailer debuted. Directed by Shane Black, it brings together Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe for a 70s buddy cop comedy about a missing porn star. It’s got all the right ingredients to work, and it works spectacularly. I’ve seen the film multiple times, and every viewing remains just as hysterical as the first time around. It’s original and unpredictable, the plot so ridiculous and tightly plotted that there’s no way any film could’ve done something similar before. We need more films like The Nice Guys. Check out my review here.
Ryan Gosling successfully manages to wiggle his way into two of my top three films of 2016, and hey, I’m not complaining. La La Land is a film so good that I was initially overwhelmed by how great it was. From Damien Chazelle, director of Whiplash, comes the ultimate Hollywood musical. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone return once again as an on-screen couple, and their chemistry here is better than ever. I’ve been singing and dancing along to the songs ever since walking out of the theatre, and with three viewings down, it seems like I could be doing this for a very long time. But that’s far from a bad thing. Check out my review here.
Okay, so saying Rogue One is my favourite film of the year may sound a little biased, but I assure you, I went into Rogue One not actually expecting it to be my favourite film of the year. Having avoided all reviews, I went in thinking to myself “this film is going to be great, but don’t expect it to be perfect. Don’t expect to come out calling it the best film of the year.” I was ready to give it less than 5 stars, yet here we are. As it turns out, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was everything it should’ve been and more. It introduces us to a new group of characters, and each is as loveable as the next. The entire third act is pure insanity, and there’s one scene in particular that will go down as arguably the best scene in Star Wars history, or close enough to it. Star Wars isn’t just a film series, it’s a lifestyle, and I couldn’t be happier with how Rogue One turned out. Check out my review here and my spoiler review here.
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Tune In Tomorrow For The 10 Worst Films of 2016
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