Top 10 Films of 2016

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Garrett Stiger

Garrett is an entertainment professional living in the Los Angeles area. In his free time, he's a shark hunter, Jedi Knight, Kaiju wrangler and dog owner. He also edits and contributes to movie discussions at 3byThree.

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43 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    I never watch movies the year they come out.
    Therefore, literally the only movie I watched that came out last year was: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday
    It was a fun romp, well worth the watch — even though it was a movie that was never supposed to get released (Blame Maybe for that).Report

  2. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I very much appreciate this list. Movies come and go so quickly these days and all of these films sound great.Report

  3. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    The only one on the list I’ve seen is Kubo and the Two Strings. I heartily endorse it.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      Do you imagine Kubo being good for an almost 4-year-old? Mayo is at a point where he can follow along with the plot of a movie, so something with relatively linear action that isn’t too complex works for him. He also struggles with conflict in films, particularly characters that are truly mean… the archetypal evil incarnate villain who seems motivated by nothing more than wickedness and sadism, as this behavior is (thankfully) foreign to him. I don’t necessarily shelter him from such things but recognize difficulty digesting them in a meaningful way.

      (This is another reason I was so impressed with the storytelling and character development in “Moana”… even the supposed “bad guys” had motivations that made sense rather than just being a bunch of sociopaths you were supposed to hate and whose demise you were supposed to root for.)Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy says:

        There is a fair amount of violence (including the death of a parent!) in the film.

        For a 12 year old? I’d recommend the movie without hesitation.

        For a 4 year old? I’d seriously ask you to watch the movie yourself first because I could easily see it being very traumatic.

        But I say that as a kid who was wrecked by Watership Down.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’ve only seen Kubo and The Wilderpeople.

    I agree with Doctor Jay on Kubo. It’s an absolute delight and I find that it has surprising thematic depths and when you get into “the moral of the story”, it’s downright amazing. Wonderful stuff. HAVE KLEENEX HANDY.

    Hunt for the Wilderpeople is one of the best little “male bonding/coming of age” movies I’ve ever seen. Sam Neill is perfect and Julian Dennison is perfecter. I don’t know about you, but I fell in love with Rima Te Wiata in the first few minutes. She was… dang. I’ve run out of adjectives.Report

  5. Bill Murray brings his…Bill Murrayness to the role of Baloo the bear. He’s wry, humorous and lovable.

    So it’s a remake of the Disney movie, not an adaptation of the stories. Sad.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Interesting list.

    My favorite movie of the year was Our Little Sister by Kore-eda Hirokazu. Only technically new because it made the arthouse run this summer but came out in Japan in 2015.

    I’m disappointed that this movie found a typical art house audience in the United States (meaning people older than 55 and me). The movie dealt with a lot of themes that should be universal but in some very un-American ways. There are four sisters with not great and very neglectful parents but the sisters just dealt with this more in sorrow and in anger most of the time. I feel like the American variant would be more in anger and rebellion than in sorrow.Report

    • I’m sorry to say that I haven’t seen the film, but I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for writing!Report

    • Saul Degraw: typical art house audience in the United States (meaning people older than 55 and me)

      What’s the mechanism behind how that ends up happening?Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @vikram-bath

        I have no idea. Probably multiple reasons.

        Arthouse movies usually play in smaller theatres that can’t compete with your Alamo Squares and Multiplexes.

        Arthouse movies often don’t have huge advertising budgets and marketing campaigns.

        I also think it is partially cultural. Boomers were in their 20s when the arthouse scene was at its prime. You had Truffaut, Rohmer, Kurosawa, Bergman, Goddard, etc. making movies. It was cool to see these movies and Hollywood was slowly starting to be daring and more adult. I don’t know if this is true anymore. I discovered the stuff by being an arts obsessed high school and college student and living near a major city and having liberal parents who encouraged it.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          @saul-degraw There used to be some cultural cachet you got by being into things like independent or foreign films, high modern art, or non-mainstream taste in general. I’d say it lasted all the way from the boomers to the Clinton years with some changes in what gave you cultural cachet. For instance being into foreign movies might have been bigger in the 1960s but indie movies were where the cachet was in the 1980s and 1990s. When the Internet really began to unravel the mass market, this sort of cachet disappeared because the mainstream disappeared.

          You can’t be cool because you like non-mainstream things when there isn’t much of a mainstream these days. I don’t even think that the Marvel movies and other blockbusters are as really mainstream in the way that Hollywood movies of the past were because the genre choice is smaller. In the past you had mainstream movies of all genres. Now anything other than a blockbuster or kid’s movie is non-mainstream.Report

  7. Avatar Joe Sal says:

    10 Cloverfield Lane was good.

    Arrival was a good one if your into alien+temporal weirdness.

    American Honey, just couldn’t make it past the first 5 minutes of that one.

    I tried to like Fences, but it was just too basic for what I have come accustomed to what Denzel usually does. Now Magnificent Seven that was the stuff, even better than the Equalizer IMO.

    Sully was really good if your into technical analysis of stuff, excellent movie and acting.

    Hacksaw Ridge, I wasn’t expecting to be as good as it was, really good story but of course heavily into the gore of war.

    Independence Day was kind of the same as the first with just some of the new alien tech dialed in.

    Star Trek Beyond was a good one.

    Jack Reacher: Never Go Back was ok, it was trying way to hard to be sweet.

    Gods of Egypt was almost too much in CGI land, and I like some CGI.

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I was expecting kind of a B movie here, but it was alright.

    Deepwater Horizon, if your into running cascade failure, this is the one. A really good movie, my favorite of the year.

    Jason Bourne was on par with the other ones.

    The Great Wall was a good one.

    Finest Hour, also a really good movie.

    London has Fallen, about the same quality as the last one.

    13 Hours, really good movie especially if you like those Alamo-ish type shootem ups.

    Still don’t know what to think of Suicide Squad.

    Warcraft was pretty awesome even though I haven’t had any previous exposure to that genre.

    Midnight Special was gritty and took awhile to get to the ending where it unfolded really nicely.

    Max Steel was kinda meh

    Ben Hur was kinda meh, and I really wanted it to be more than meh.

    I like Rogue One, good stuff.

    Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, well hell yes, every time.

    That’s what I got.

    Anyone seen The lost city of Z?Report

    • Thanks for writing! I need to catch up with most of these titles. I really liked “Arrival” until the final 10 minutes or so. Just didn’t feel that it stuck the landing.Report

      • There was one rather odd facet of that last bit in “Arrival” which didn’t ring true. With that said, it used an unusual narrative device to the very best effect I could imagine, and Amy Adams was glorious, and there was an extraordinary amount of ambition and imagination and thought that went into the aliens.Report

    • Avatar InMD in reply to Joe Sal says:

      Resident Evil’s primary flaw was that, based on the ending, it was clearly not the final Resident Evil. I left the theater feeling misled. At least we can rest assured we will get another one in a few years, or whenever Mila decides she needs another addition to her house.Report

  8. Avatar aaron david says:

    Ya know, as I round out my 40’s, going to the theater has become less and less… fun. I don’t think I went in ’16, and only once or twice in ’15. But thanks for putting this list together, as it makes me want to sift through the chaff for wheat, as you show us its out there.Report

  9. Avatar George Turner says:

    My favorites of 2016 include

    Airlift an Indian movie about the largest air evacuation in world history, getting over 100,000 Indian citizens out of Kuwait in 1990 after Saddam invaded.

    Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or Highwater, and Hidden Figures, three movies that start with ‘H’.

    Lion, the true story of a lost child from India growing up in Australia and then finding his home village on Google maps.

    Passengers, which didn’t get such great reviews but which I thought was delightful.

    Zootopia, which had a plot that was interesting to adults.Report

    • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to George Turner says:

      My wife and I saw Hidden Figures last weekend, and I can say it’s the best movie we’ve seen since La La Land (ha! 2 very different films that happen to both be very good).

      I remarked to her on the drive home that I didn’t know whether to be uplifted or appalled. It caused me to think of the intellectual waste that has gone on for centuries in this country. Think of what a paradise a country as rich as ours could be if we put our minds to it.Report

    • I need to see some of these, but I really liked “Hell or High-water,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Zootopia.” Thanks for writing!Report

    • I enjoyed Zootopia, but probably missed some of the fine points while trying to watch around the three-year-old sitting on my chest.Report

      • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Cain says:

        Zootopia is a parable for our times.

        *** spoilers ahead ***

        A bunny rabbit, Judy Hops, wants to be the first bunny cop, kind of like Donald Trump wanted to be our first non-politician, businessman President. But then it reveals that the sweet looking sheep (Hillary Clinton) is actually an evil politician bent on total domination and multiple acts of specicide, having convinced herself that there are “super predators” (black males) out there and that anyone bearing arms (the NRA) must be separated from society, preferably into death camps.

        Crisis averted and justice restored, the big orange maned one is restored to the Presidency and peace reigns across the land, except for the incompetent boobs at the DMV.Report

      • Michael Cain: I enjoyed Zootopia, but probably missed some of the fine points while trying to watch around the three-year-old sitting on my chest.

        Perhaps you didn’t. Was the three-old playing cops and robbers?Report

    • I thought “Passengers” earned its mediocre reviews. It looked beautiful, but there was only about five minutes of actual story.Report

  10. Avatar InMD says:

    10 Cloverfield Lane was quite good but in terms of horror/sci-fi I thought the Witch was the best thing in theaters this year. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another movie as effective at putting the audience in another time. Unfortunately they marketed it like a run of the mill jump scare type of film and horror fans were disappointed to find something else, even if that something else was far better than the standard Blumhouse stuff being released.Report

  11. Avatar Kolohe says:

    This past year, the wife and I saw Star Wars TFA, Rogue One, Hidden Figures, and La La Land. (We also Singing in the Rain for the 65th anniversary showing)

    Rogue One was much much better than TFA. Both Hidden Figures and La La Land were very very good, but both in my mind were just below the hype for each (just barely in the case of Hidden Figures, a bit more in the case of La La Land). That is both had some visible weaknesses that I think could and should have been fixed, but are otherwise excellent in all other areas.Report

    • Avatar Garrett Stiger in reply to Kolohe says:

      I liked “Rogue One” as well. Though it didn’t have the polish of “The Force Awakens,” it was certainly more bold. It forged its own path and broadened the mythology.

      I was surprised by how much I liked “Hidden Figures.” Movies based on real events can feel like dusty history lessons, but not that one.

      Thanks for writing!Report

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