Above the Film's Top 10 of 2016
With the Oscars upon us, I've decided to list out my top 10 films of 2016. There are plenty of Oscar nominated films this year that I, unfortunately, have not seen yet. However, of all the films I've seen over the last year, I believe this to be my strongest picks of the year. I hope you enjoy them and look forward to hearing your opinions on my picks, as well as your own best of 2016 film picks.
10. Captain America: Civil War
Captain America: Civil War is quite honestly the best Marvel movie to-date. Are those bold words? You bet, but I stand by them. Civil War took Marvel to the next level. It had all the hype of The Avengers franchise, but lost absolutely none of the luster. It hit the audience right where it needed to, in the heart, and the fandom. Character development is something that Marvel films have never had an issue with. We’re introduced to a couple new heroes in this film and none of them felt rushed or stagnant. The fight scenes are some of the best in any superhero movie, the dialogue is comic book perfect. If you haven’t seen Captain America: Civil War yet, you’re missing out on the best Marvel movie to date.
9. Don't Think Twice
Mike Birbiglia is a brilliant stand-up comedian who happens to be a brilliant filmmaker. It is not too often that those two correlate but Birbiglia has managed it before with Sleepwalk With Me and has managed to nail it once more with Don’t Think Twice. Don’t Think Twice is a perfect look into the world of New York improv, and it truly is a perfect look. (This is coming from someone who’s studied improv for ten years.) Birbiglia’s characters in Don’t Think Twice are what make the film an especially momentous viewing. Each character brings their own quirks, passion, and flaws into the scene and everyone plays to the highest of their intelligence. Don’t Think Twice is a film that anyone interested in the arts should see. It oozes passion and love like no other.
8. The Conjuring 2
If you’ve read my review of James Wan’s The Conjuring 2, you’ll know that it has climbed the ranks of my favorite horror movies, now sitting in the number one spot. The Conjuring 2 capitalizes on everything the first film did correctly, and refuses to fall into any of the failings that the first film may have done wrong. If you’re a fan of the horror genre, it’s impossible to bypass any James Wan film, but it’s a sin to bypass The Conjuring 2.
I stated that Captain America: Civil War is the best Marvel movie to-date. That is still true, since technically Deadpool is not a Marvel movie; it’s a Fox movie. Under the Marvel umbrella though, Deadpool takes the cake and eats it too. As a film that was years in the making, with a grueling history of limbo and terrible alternate character timelines (I’m looking at you X-Men Origins: Wolverine, you should be ashamed of yourself). Ryan Reynolds did what he promised the fans he would try so hard to do. He created the end all version of the comic book character, gave him his own movie which builds beautifully and never misses a shot, and he did so with the perfect balance of Deadpool humor and aggression.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Moana will most likely take home all the Oscars it’s nominated for. The question is whether or not the film is deserving of them. In short? Yes, absolutely. Moana is a beautiful, refreshing, new Disney film with some of the best musical stylings from Lin-Manuel Miranda and team. The voice acting in Moana is heart-wrenching and passionate. The characters are loving and interesting. The film is absolutely gorgeous cinematically and graphically, as well. Moana is an amazing step up from the likes of Frozen and even beats out Tangled in terms of cinema.
5. Hell or High Water
Hell or High Water was a surprise success for me, as well as many other movie goers. Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Bridges lead this tale of modern day woes out west. Pine and Foster are more than believable as two brothers who are trying to survive in an economy that makes it increasingly difficult to do so. The scenery of the film is beautiful and truly plays into the world of Hell or High Water. Even Jeff Bridges is somewhat understandable as he continues to don his completely guttural southern accent.
4. Don't Breathe
My review of Don’t Breathe on the website is pretty straightforward. This film surprised the hell out of me. From the characters, to the acting, to the cinematography, Don’t Breathe truly hits all the checkpoints of an excellent suspense horror film. Stephan Lang’s performance as The Blind Man is mesmerizing, Jane Levy’s turn as Rocky is captivating. You’re left to wonder who you should root for throughout the film. Each character is flawed in more ways than one, and director Fede Alvarez does a superb job keeping the audience in the dark, along with the characters.
3. The Lobster
There is nothing I can say here about The Lobster that I haven’t already praised it for in my review. Colin Farrell’s independent film is a masterpiece of existential cinema. The Lobster tells a beautiful story while never giving you all the information at once. It’s an amazing ride to go along for and well worth it. The narrative of The Lobster truly lands itself in its own realm. If you can handle strange and bizarre cinema while realizing that you may not understand every nuanced moment, The Lobster is a spellbinding whirlwind of intriguing storytelling.
2. Kubo and the Two Strings
My love for Laika Entertainment continues to grow and grow with each movie they release. Kubo and the Two Strings takes the lead over Moana in this list, not because of some biased love for Laika though. Kubo takes the lead because it’s the most well put together story of any animated feature I’ve ever seen. Kubo takes the environment of ancient Japan and leads it down a path of respect and well inspired craft. The stop motion animation that Laika Entertainment has crafted with Kubo and the Two Strings is other worldly compared to other companies and even compared to Laika’s previous films. Laika continues to show that they make films out of love and passion, rather than profit, which garners all the more respect from myself and all my friends who I know love Laika just as much as I do. While I do believe that Moana will take the Oscar this year for Best Animated Feature (due to its Disney tag), I truly believe Kubo and the Two Strings to be the superior film.
1. Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea is not only my favorite film of the year, it’s the only film to ever receive a perfect score (10 out of 10) on Above the Film. While I won’t delve into what that is here (you’ll have to read the review here), I do want to praise this film one final time before the Oscars approach us this month. Manchester by the Sea is a beautiful masterpiece of cinema. From it’s glorious storytelling ability, to its humane look at the realism of these characters, everything that Manchester set out to achieve, it does so with flying colors. Casey Affleck deserves this Oscar, as does Lucas Hedges. These two bring some of the most realistic acting of the year onto the screen. Along with Michelle Williams and an all-together stellar cast of others, Manchester by the Sea is by far my favorite film of 2016.