Derek presents: His Top 10 Films of 2016!
Alright, there’s no way to sugarcoat this, 2016 just wasn’t the greatest year for movies. We were bombarded by countless films that were bad, underwhelming or flat out had no reason to exist. Thankfully, some gems have managed to shine through enough to make the overall year of disappointment worth it. So without further ado, here’s my top 10.
10. Captain America: Civil War
“Civil War” and “BvS” are often accused of essentially being the same movie and while there’s some truth to that, “Civil War” was far superior for one simple reason: execution. “Civil War” gave us characters worth caring about thanks to years of character development, better written motivations and better action scenes. While not quite as good as “Winter Soldier”, it still shows that DC still has quite a ways before they catch up to Marvel.
9. Hell or High Water
Compared to the rest of the films on this list, “Hell or High Water” is a relatively simple film. Sure, there’s an occasional bank robbery but really as a whole it’s about two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) whose lives have been stagnating. For one brother, you’ve got an intelligent man whose life clearly didn’t turn out like he hoped it would and for the other you’ve got an ex-con that has long since made peace with being the black sheep of the family. Of course, there’s also Jeff Bridges with his award worthy performance as a Texas Ranger to make a good film great.
8. The Nice Guys
You wouldn’t think Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as a comedy team would work even if it did have Shane Black writing and directing but there you go. Then again when you have Shane Black, even Pauly Shore could be made funny. “Nice Guys” isn’t quite as good as Shane Black’s other comedic masterpiece “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” but let’s be fair, very few comedies have that honor.
7. Kubo and the Two Strings
The fact that “Kubo and the Two Strings” isn’t even my favorite animated film this year speaks volumes about what a great year it’s been for animation. LAIKA’s latest entry is quite possibly their greatest one yet. As usual their animation is top notch and the action scenes are surprisingly more thrilling than most of the CGI heavy set pieces that came out this year. Even better is that “Kubo” proves there’s still original stories out there to be told.
Back in 2014, we thought “Interstellar” would end up being the next great sci-fi movie. Of course that didn’t exactly pan out with the film not quite living up to the ambition or the hype. The good news is that two years later we now have our great sci-fi movie with “Arrival.” The first twenty minutes is a bit of a slog but the film becomes more and more engrossing the longer it goes. If director Denis Villineuve ends up making a bigger name for himself down the road, it’s very possible that “Arrival” could become this generations “Close Encounters.”
5. Everybody Wants Some!!
In my opinion, Richard Linklater is possibly the most underrated director out there and “Everybody Wants Some!!” does nothing to change that. While it naturally doesn’t have as much scope or ambition as “Boyhood”, this spiritual sequel to “Dazed and Confused” proves to be a truly worthy successor. Glen Powell’s performance as Flynn was equally fantastic and much like the film itself, sadly overlooked.
I’m not going to lie, I never thought in a million years this movie would ever get made. Even when it was eventually green lit, I fully expected it to fall flat on it’s face. Thankfully, I turned out to be wrong on both counts. Some of the more dedicated DC apologists like to praise “BvS” and “Suicide Squad” for supposedly “taking chances.” Meanwhile, “Deadpool” is the one that actually takes them. They hired an actor with a terrible track record with comic book movies, a first time director and the film was willing to poke fun at it’s own franchise (and of course there’s the R-rating). “Days of Future Past” let us forget that “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” ever existed but “Deadpool” let us laugh at the idea of it being made in the first place.
3. La La Land
I know it’s cliche at this point to include “La La Land” in a “Best of” list but what can I say, the movie is just that good. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are a delight to watch, the songs are fantastic and the dancing is a wonderful tribute to the old Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly films. Normally when I feel a movie has been over hyped, I have no problem tearing it a new one but really there’s just nothing to tear into here. Since the two films I have ahead of this one have no chance at winning Best Picture, this is the film I’ll likely be throwing my full (and admittedly meaningless) support behind come Oscar night.
2. The Jungle Book
Plenty of people have been wary of the all the Disney classics getting live-action reboots which show no signs of slowing down and that’s perfectly understandable. However, if those films end up being half as good as Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book” turned out to be, I’m willing to let it slide. This film has so much more going for it than the special effects, though yes they are fantastic. The remake actually improves on the original by making Shere Khan far more menacing, the plot more interesting and absolute perfect voice casting (with the exception of Christopher Walken).
Disney could’ve easily made “Zootopia” into light fluff and make a quick bundle off merchandising. Heck, Illumination seems to have that concept down to a science. Instead, not only does “Zootopia” once again make a great movie for kids and adults to enjoy but also goes after a complex issue. “Zootopia” could’ve also had a stock “racism is bad” message but instead the film acknowledges the issue is bigger and far less black and white than we’d like to believe and that there’s no real easy solution to it. Pretty heavy stuff for an animated film but it has more than enough wit and charm to make it great.