As 2016 comes to close and we settling into the first few weeks into 2017, it’s time to go through my list of movies I saw in 2016 and pick the ten best titles. This year’s total was 69 new movies, and for those new to my lists, that includes all new movies, no matter when they came out. So the easiest step in the process is weeding out the older movies, but then comes the hard part. It took a few passes, but I finally have my top ten, so sit back and grab some popcorn, because here comes my top ten movies of 2016…
#10 – Blair Witch
And we start off with a movie that was a surprise release, much like another movie on this list. As soon as Blair Witch was announced, I knew I was going to be seeing this on a big screen, in a dark room, with a bunch of people. I was a HUGE fan of the original, got caught up in all the backstory (which is brought up and used by the people in this movie), and that was even with the knowledge that it was all made up. And this one delivered a tense movie experience, although I think they went a little overboard with the jump scares overall. It took what made the first one great, updated it a little with technology, and gave us a wicked “twig-breaking scene.” And the way the movie plays out, it’s one that warrants a second viewing, much like a few other movies on this list, another theme for 2016. If you were a fan of the first one, The Blair Witch Project, this is one to check out for sure. And once it hits one of the streaming services, worthy of a viewing, you just miss out on the whole movie theater experience. You might be judging my list from the start, but perhaps I can get you on my side as we get closer to #1.
#9 – Deepwater Horizon
And talking about a great theater experience, I was lucky enough to see Deepwater Horizon at my local LIMAX (not full IMAX screen). And when the disaster begins, you are pretty much on the edge of your seat, as you feel like you are in the middle of the action. This is coming out on Blu-ray soon, and I am sure it’s not going to have the same impact on my TV, but still one I look forward to watching again, and I am sure I will still be just as enthralled in the action. It’s based on a true story, so you kind of know how it’s going to end, but the ride was still intense and jaw dropping. After seeing this, I can say that I am looking forward to seeing star Mark Wahlberg’s next movie, Patriots Day, in a few weeks.
#8 – Finding Dory
And at this point in the list, we have my love for Pixar films with Finding Dory, although it’s not my top animated film of the year, so perhaps my love is fading a little. If your heart doesn’t melt a little the first time you see young Dory, you have no soul. A heartfelt story with all of the Pixar touches that you love and some great new characters, as well as plenty of ones you loved in the previous movie.
#7 – Kubo and the Two Strings
And if any animation studio could beat Pixar, Laika is the one. This little gem of a movie did not nearly get enough attention that it deserved, and I think we have another theme of my top ten movies. You are always amazed watching their films, and even more when you see the behind the scenes in the long process; for example, that giant skeleton monster. Stop-motion movies like Kubo and the Two Strings are enhanced when viewed in 3D, and the origami spots in this film are designed just for that. If you missed out on this one, this would be one I highly suggest you watch. I hope you enjoy the story and visuals as much as I did.
#6 – The Neon Demon
And with The Neon Demon we come to that magical moment every year, the movie most likely to warrant a few WTF from people after they watch it. It’s a visually stunning movie, mixed in with a creepy soundtrack and some even creepier moments that will leave you feeling dirty. But having said all of that, this is one that after a second viewing, it made a little more sense and because of that, garnered a spot on my top ten. I don’t expect everyone to get this one — director Nicolas Winding Refn’s movies are that way. But if you give it a chance, hopefully some of the ingredients will draw you in for the wild ride ahead of you.
#5 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
And I think we can all agree that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story surprised us all. After some mixed feeling about 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Rogue One. And due to work I was a little late to the party, so I knew of the positive reviews going in, but even with those high expectations, this one did not disappoint. Although, there were a few issues with some CGI characters, one more than the other. Besides that, we were introduced to a slew of new characters and were able to feel some emotions with them during their mission. Some great battle sequences, and not just the space battles. I hope the overall positive reviews the filmmakers work a little harder with the next Episode movies, and continue to make these side stories great, as the next up is the Han Solo standalone prequel.
#4 – Sing Street
This is another example of a movie most people overlooked when it was in the theaters, and as you can see from where it lies on my list, Sing Street was one I really loved and have watched a few times this year. I was a HUGE fan of Once and was a little meh on Begin Again, but I was back on the wagon for Sing Street. It’s not really a new story, it’s the classic boy meets girl story, but adding in a hint of great ’80s music and friendship. And for those who missed this one in theaters, you can check it out on Netflix right now, and I hope after you finish reading this article, you will go check it out.
#3 – Arrival
I always enjoy when a movie comes out of nowhere and ends up blowing me away. I knew very little about Arrival going in. I had heard some minor rumblings of how good it was before I checked it out, but it didn’t take long for me to agree with the positive reviews. As much as I enjoy the popcorn alien movies like Independence Day, I also appreciate the more dramatic and thinking movies. Actually in way, there are two movies on this list that fall in that category, and both near the top of my list. One regret is that I only got to see this one once in the theater. It’s another movie that begs for a second viewing after you see how it plays out, to see the little hints they sprinkle throughout.
#2 – The Nice Guys
Another movie that quickly won me over was The Nice Guys. When you combine Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in a ’70s private eye movie, there’s just all kinds of awesome for you to enjoy. I was going back and forth about possibly making this my number one, but I made sure to re-watch both before I locked the movies in, and as you can see it wasn’t enough for #1, but it was oh so close. There has been some rumbling that we might get more adventures with these two stars, and fingers crossed that we do.
#1 – 10 Cloverfield Lane
And we have finally reached #1, and the movie that held that spot at the halfway point in the year, was able to hold off all contenders and keep that coveted spot — 10 Cloverfield Lane. I could be a little biased with this pick due to the director, Dan Trachtenberg, who was part of the Totally Rad Show. But you also have to factor in my love for the Cloverfield movie, and I loved the fact that this one was announced just a few months before its release. I think I have said this before, but in this day and age we’ve become so used to knowing about a movie years before it is released and we seem to want to know as much about the movie as we can before we are even in theater. I know I sound like an old man, but I like to be surprised when it comes to my movie experience. Enough of the soapbox, back to the movie, the reason you are here. A great story, along with some great performances from the whole cast, and some creepy and suspenseful moments that will have you on the edge of your seat. The nice thing about this installment in the Cloverfield universe is that you don’t need to know much about its predecessor to enjoy this one. If you know the basic premise you will be fine.
And there you have it, my 10 favorite movies from 2016. As always I hope you will give each of these a watch and fingers crossed you like them as much as I did. But if you don’t, that’s fine too. The great thing about movies, we all have different tastes. But we can all agree on how much a great movie makes us feel as we walk out of a theater, it’s a nice escape from reality and something we may need a little more in these current times. If you want to talk more about this list or send me your thoughts and your top tens, feel free to send me an @ on Twitter at @seandps. Would love to hear any thoughts after you watch any of these movies that made my list.
And what will be my eventual #1 movie in 2017? I have a nice list of must-see movies, so hopefully I will walk out more positive than negative with each one. Could we see another Lego (Batman) movie or perhaps the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 taking another high spot on my list? I guess we will have to wait about a year to find out. So stayed tuned.