I saw fewer movies overall in 2016 than I did in 2015, so there are only a handful that didn’t make either list for me this year. I thought about doing some catchup for stuff I was still interested in, but I’m gonna let this list stand as just my favorites that I was actually able to get to within 2016.
Sofia Boutella carries this movie for me. I’m so ready for Star Trek to go back to being a TV series though.
I’ve heard people argue that the bad singing is an intentional choice to make the movie feel more real, but I just don’t think they pulled it off well. It’s an idea I actually really appreciate and have seen done successfully before. (Everyone Says I Love You and Romance & Cigarettes are two of my favorite moves.) The problem is that this movie doesn’t commit fully to that idea and still tries to be a large old school musical, which it just doesn’t pull off at all.
The high points of this film that work for me really work though, as much as all the stuff around them bothers me. “City of Stars” is a good song and that main little piano riff just eats into me. This is a movie I should love that just didn’t fully come together.
A stage play disguising itself as a movie. It’s good, I just would have preferred a movie.
The closest thing to Hackers in 2016, I really appreciate how Nerve goes for it, even though it’s real dumb and cringey at times. Honestly the thing that holds it back for me is that its teenage characters are such believably shitty teens that I kinda hate them. Not completely but y’know, fuckin’ teens.
Somehow dumber than the original, this is just one of those series where the dumber it gets the more I like it. There are some diminishing returns in the sequel, but Woody Harrelson plays his own evil twin brother in this movie. How can I not love it?
Objectively the worst move I saw in 2016, and also I think the lowest grossing movie I’ve ever seen in a theater having only grossed a little over four thousand dollars total. But I just had such a good time watching this, it felt like a special treat made just for me. This is one of those movie just fails face first into being a real fun time.
Yes I did just put Maximum Ride and the movie where Kevin Spacey turns into a cat above Oscar contenders Fences and La La Land. Nine Lives is stupid and funny and has some great Christopher Walken bits.
The only movie I saw in a theater twice in 2016. Warcraft gets some spectacle stuff really right, although it does get plenty of other stuff wrong. There’s so much lore cut out, some stuff is changed in ways I don’t like, and I don’t think that this movie fully lives up to the better CGI cutscenes Blizzard has put out over the years, but whatever this movie was fun. I really liked watching Gul’dan drink people.
Did this movie actually happen? Was this real? Was there really an animated movie about talking food that turned out to be a parody of religion and ended in a giant food orgy?
Probably not right?
My favorite version of Spider-Man any live-action Marvel movie has managed so far is a big plus for this one. This movie faced the problem of adapting a comic book story that I frankly hate, and it mostly came out ok. The plot doesn’t really make any sense and the stakes never quite feel right in hero vs hero fights, but there’s fun action here and we do at least eventually get to a Captain America Iron Man fight with real emotion tied into it. This was ambitious and messy in a way that ultimately came together for me.
Stephen Chow asks the important questions like “what if the Little Mermaid had been an assassin?” and “what if instead of actually getting human legs she just got her tail sliced in half so she could waddle around in shoes?”
This movie is held back by obvious ADR that bugs me, but other than that it’s wild and very funny.
“If you can’t respect Batman at least respect yourself.”
A good violent crime thriller that shows signs of being great. This is a movie that solves all its problems by having everyone get murdered into a huge pile of corpses at the end and y’know there’s some catharsis in that.
Great stop-motion animation, some well done gut wrenching emotional scenes and some solid kids movie adventure fun make this movie work. Some of its messaging stuff is muddled and the ending doesn’t quite work for me, but this is impressive filmmaking.
Sure Deadpool is a funny movie, but it’s how good the romance stuff is that really impressed me here. I knew this movie would go for the comedy aspects of the character, but I wasn’t sure they’d find the heart so I was pleasantly surprised. It still runs aground the structure issues of so many comic book movies, where it ends with Deadpool fighting a dude who basically has his same power set. But they found the core of the character and made a fun movie, so that’s incidental.
A really good horror movie that’s unfortunately about a piece of shit I don’t really care about. There’s just so much craft on display here, and even a bunch of funny scenes upfront. This is like watching an ancient tragedy, with a main character who just barrels forward into his own demise.
Not quite as good as The Purge: Anarchy, but a decent sequel. This one ups the stakes and fills out the world a little more, with much better supporting characters. Just a solid action movie.
A sequel that’s even better than the original. James Wan knocks it out of the park with his directing this time around, I really love how this movie looks. It’s kind of a standard possession movie beyond that, but it’s got charming characters I rooted for.
What a weird fucking movie. I love how Swiss Army Man never backs down from its weirdness, even when it could have and a lesser movie would have. A movie about depression and loneliness that also understands the value of a good fart joke.
Paul Verhoeven delivers an incredibly well made thriller that’s real fucked up. This movie opens with a rape and gets darker from there. Not for the faint of heart.
Some of the best spectacle of the year. Rogue One‘s climax is an all timer. I don’t really care about these characters and I think it takes a little too long to get there, but fuck. Rogue One taps perfectly into that part of me that just wants to smash toys together.
Two movies in and Fede Alvarez is already one of my favorite directors. I love how relentless his movies have been and the way they just keep going and pushing forward, testing the heroine’s endurance. I didn’t love this as much as I loved Evil Dead but this is a solid followup that only serves to confirm the affection I already had for him as a director.
Paterson is a pretty low key movie, but it does such a great job at making you feel the crushing weight of reality as one thing after another falls down and weighs upon the titular character; the way routine can be comforting and soul crushing and the simple things that can help make it all feel manageable again.
8. The Handmaiden
One of the few movies on this list I never wrote up a full review for, The Handmaiden comes from director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Stoker). This is a movie that’s hard to talk about without spoiling, as the twists and turns of the plot are a big part of the appeal. This is a great thriller where things are not what they seem.
One of the best Zombie movies I’ve ever seen. Also one of the best train movies. I think this had the best final moment of any movie this year.
Another great thriller, this one also has a great train scene. This is more of a classic spy thriller that separates itself with some brilliant sequences and great set pieces.
A great adventure tale that blew me away with its visuals while also being an effective musical.
A wild coming of age tale that really connected with me. Delivering on great characters and dialogue, and giant silly spectacle where teenage metaphors are allowed to materialize as crazy action reality.
Incredibly charming and funny, this is the kind of crazy comedic and violent detective story that Shane Black was made to tell.
This is a fucking perfect crime thriller. Hell or High Water is an amazing film.
No spectacle wowed me this year the way Shin Godzilla did. Hideaki Anno managed to make Godzilla fresh, and surprising and terrifying in a way he hasn’t really been since his very first movie. Pushing forward, retelling stories in ways that feel new, that’s what I want from fiction, that’s what I like.
Giant monsters with atomic breath that shoot lasers are pretty neat too though.
Thank You For Your Time.