Parker's Favorite Movies of 2016
2016 was a decent year for film overall, the summer was a bit of a bust, but we still got some gems and some very different films. Here are my ten favorite films of the year in no particular order.
The Nice Guys
I loved the Nice Guys. It was the kind of film that felt tailor made for me. A buddy crime thriller/comedy set in L.A. in the 1970s directed by Shane Black. It was a film that I was excited for and that met my expectations. Maybe it’s not the greatest film of the year, but it’s something I can watch over and over again.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Part of what makes Rogue One so good is its ensemble. I love ensemble films, and seeing such a stark and grounded rendition of the Star Wars universe is wonderful. Gareth Edwards was able to take a sweeping and fantastical world and make it feel extremely human and real. I want to see more science fiction, and more blockbusters, take a cue from this film.
Hell or High Water
I was pleasantly surprised by this film, twice. The first time I saw it was at the end of a rather dismal summer for films. I was cautious about it, but instead it turned out to be one of the best film of the summer. I was surprised by its Best Picture nomination. There’s not really much about the film that screams Oscar bait, it’s stark and honest, human and compelling, and an intense ride with great performances from Ben Foster, Chris Pine, and Jeff Bridges.
Deadpool was a long time in the making, and I’m thrilled that it finally made it to the screen. In a year dominated by a grimmer breed of superhero films; Deadpool managed to bring the levity and fun that most other blockbusters failed to. It’s irreverent, it’s violent, and it’s exactly the kind of cure we need to films like Suicide Squad.
Arrival was a very welcome film this year. After a swathe of stupid, and, more often than not, VERY stupid films, along came Arrival. It’s smart, tense, and thoughtful. Since I saw Sicario, Denis Villeneuve became a director that has my attention, and Arrival doesn’t disappoint. It’s also a film that is able to be both intelligent and compelling. It’s the kind of film that there ought to be more of.
Manchester By the Sea
Before I saw this film, I had multiple friends tell me how boring they thought it was. Now, I didn’t take all this at face value (as a film geek, I am often compelled by what many call boring), but I was aware of these criticisms when I watched it. I was never bored when watching. It’s a beautiful, moving, and often agonizing human drama. It’s human in a way that can be hard to watch, but Kenneth Lonergan’s writing and directing make it something that I couldn’t take my eyes off of.
Moonlight is a film that took me more than one viewing to really appreciate. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt after the first time, it left me a little cold, but after I watched it again I didn’t have any doubts. It’s a remarkable film that, aside from being brilliant, is also topical. It’s extremely modern while still feeling timeless. It’s a film that will mean as much in twenty or thirty years as it does now.
I’m very glad this film got the recognition it did, although I wish it had gotten a bit more. It’s the kind of horror film that creates a consistent atmosphere of tension. It makes you nervous. It’s also very well acted, combining both terror and genuine human drama from veteran character actors like Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie, as well as newcomers Anya Taylor-Joy and Harvey Scrimshaw.
I’ve met quite a few people who don’t like Jackie, more than don’t like it; they think it’s bad. I was disappointed in how little notice this film received. I thought it was excellent. A unique film in the way it was told. It’s also wonderfully acted. Portman was my favorite for best actress, to no avail. It’s a film I hope gets a major reevaluation and rediscovery down the line, and I think it’s something more people should see, especially if you’re planning on making a biopic.
La La Land
La La Land is a film that I was extremely excited for well before its release, and it didn’t disappoint. It feels both classic and new at the same time, and it has a timeless quality to it that a lot of films lack. Damien Chazelle has quickly become one of my favorite directors. Although I don’t think this film is quite as good as his previous one, Whiplash, it’s still incredible. It captures the feel and style of classic MGM musicals better than anything since they fell out of style.