Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Top 10 Films of 2016

Once again, it's taken me until May to get my top 10 films of the previous year together. To be fair, there were several I've wanted to rewatch and some I just hadn't gotten around to until now. And honestly, there's still a few I haven't seen (Jackie, Elle) but they'll just have to wait.

2016 was an interesting year for film. To be honest, there were no films I was even close to being as passionate about as my top films of the past couple years, but there were still many great films this year. Enjoy my list!

Top 10 Films of 2016

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10. Manchester By The Sea
I think I mentioned in my review that about 1/3 of the way through the film I wasn't sure what the big deal was. But when the film finally unveils Lee's past, it really wallops you. Manchester By The Sea is a devastating film, but what I loved about it was how authentic it felt. It didn't shy away the occasional humor (sometimes dark) and it really felt so human in the way we react in the face of grief. Casey Affleck is one of the most talented guys out there and even though he may be a terrible person, he truly is one of the most talented people working today, and this film is a career best.

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9. Eye In The Sky
One of my favourite "gimmicks" for films to do in setting it in real time. Eye In The Sky is more-or-less set in real time as various armies worldwide need to make a quick decision on whether to carry out a drone strike on a group of suicide bombers in Kenya. But things get more complicated when a civilian child enters the kill zone. There are so many fine performances here from Helen Mirren playing a cold military officer to Aaron Paul as a young drone pilot and to Alan Rickman's final on-screen performance. This is a taut, thrilling film and is definitely a must-see.

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8. Hell or High Water
I'm not really sure what there is to say about Hell or High Water that hasn't been said. It's a beautiful and heart-breaking film about two brothers who rob banks in order to save their house from being re-possessed by the banks after their mother passes away, and about an old, racist police officer about to retire, out on his final case. It's written by Taylor Sheridan (actor in Sons of Anarchy and writer of Sicario) it's a beautiful film about the poor blue-collar of rural Texas. Ben Foster is phenomenal. (
You can find this on Canadian Netflix now!

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7. Midnight Special
Jeff Nichols first of two films in 2016 tells the story of the government and a religious cult on the hunt for a man and his son (who has special powers). It's hard to describe why this film was so special. Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton are both wonderful here but it's the way Nichols tells the story and we are figuring out why so many people are on the hunt for this young boy, Alton. It's a story that almost feels Messianic and has so many interesting Biblical and religious parallels. The performances are wonderful and Nichols subtle directing here is beautiful

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6. Captain Fantastic
This is one of the most recent films I've seen and I very quickly fell in love with it. It's a bit of a unique story but it doesn't feel too odd or quirky. Ben and his wife live with their six children in the woods, creating a utopia for themselves outside of the commercialistic and consumeristic society, teaching their children literature and celebrating Noam Chomsky. But after Ben's wife has spent a few months in rehab, she kills herself. And his wife's family doesn't want Ben and the children attending the funeral. But they decide to make a roadtrip, leaving the woods for the first time in many years, to pay their respects and say their goodbyes to their mother. Viggo Mortensen and all the children in this film are wonderful. This film is so funny and it is so open about talking about mental illness in a way I didn't expect (and showing how many people shield themselves and others from conversation about it). It's another really beautiful film and deserves to be seen by so many people.

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5. Silence
I read the novel of Silence by Shusaku Endo a few months before finally seeing Silence in theatres. It had been a highly anticipated film before I saw it and I really don't think it let me down. Silence is the film that all Christians should be rallying around. It's finally a very honest look at God and belief and doubt and persecution and it was disappointing to me that it was too "difficult" or too "Catholic" for so many Christians (and the general audience) and this ended up a box office flop. Silence has some of the most gorgeous cinematography of all 2016 films and history will look back extremely confused as to why Andrew Garfield was nominated for Hacksaw Ridge but not this.

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3 & 4. Hidden Figures & La La Land (Tie)
I honestly really couldn't pick between these two movies for my third spot. I rewatched both within a week of each other and I love both of them so much, but both for VERY different reasons. Hidden Figures is a story we should've all known and been taught about in school. It celebrates women and diversity and is beautifully told without becoming too cliche. La La Land is a musical with fantastic music (both lyrical and instrumental) and has some great performances from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and THAT ENDING. The Ending is really what seals this in as a great movie for me. Both are fantastic and deserve to be seen. And thankfully both were box office smashes.

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2. Hunt For the Wilderpeople

Taika Waititi made my list last year with What We Do In The Shadows and this follow-up film couldn't be more different. Ricky Baker is a hooligan orphan who gets in trouble for kicking stuff, burning stuff, defacing stuff and loitering. He gets placed with a new family and when he and his cantankerous foster father go on the run/get lost in the New Zealand wilderness, it starts a nation-wide manhunt. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is one of the most charming, funny and touching films you'll see. Ricky Baker is someone we all want to know and newcomer Julian Denison who plays him is incredible.
This is also on Canadian Netflix now. Please go watch it!!!!

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1. Arrival

Once the lights came back on after watching Arrival for the first time I knew it was going to be hard to top. Honestly, even during the opening scenes I knew I was in for something special. I know I've said a lot of movies are beautiful this year and I may have overused that term but that really is the perfect word when regarding this movie about an alien invasion. Beautiful. Arrival is heartbreaking and beautiful and breathtaking and everything you wouldn't expect from an alien movie. But it's a movie about language and how we communicate, both on a small scale, person to person, or on a global scale, country to country. Amy Adams gives one of her best performances here and it's a movie you'll need to watch a second time the moments its over.

Special Mentions:
Don't Think Twice: A film about a group of comedians all with the dream to end up on "Weekend Live" a weekly comedy show. It's honest and authentic and funny. Gillian Jacobs was robbed of a Golden Globe nomination here.

Swiss Army Man: Possibly the weirdest film you'll ever watch but potentially one of the most touching, as well. Paul Dano is stranded on a dessert island and is about to kill himself when a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore and has magical "swiss army" powers. It's a film about grief and loneliness and friendship.

Moonlight: While not my favourite film of the year, it's one of the most visually stunning. The cinematography is drop-dead gorgeous and this has my favourite film score of the year.

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