These Are My Favorite Films of 2016
1.) Green Room
Brutal, cruel, nasty, mean as hell – these are just a few ways I could describe Green Room. I knew right away when leaving the theater it would be hard to dethrone this movie as my favorite of 2016. Few came close but after many internal debates the decision was made to place this at the top. A quietly powerful and unexpectedly seething performance by Patrick Stewart fills Green Room with an undercurrent of dread. Stewart and his gang of skinheads torment and torture punk band The Ain’t Rights throughout the film, striking viewers with vicious scenes of ultra-violence. Not many working directors pull off suspense and revenge like Jeremy Saulnier, and I cannot wait to see what projects he has lined up for the future.
Nothing else on this list impacted me emotionally the way Arrival did, which left me in tears for oh, the last half hour. An instant sci-fi classic from Denis Villeneuve that featured an underappreciated performance by Amy Adams, Arrival blew me away. Without going into spoiler territory, it was refreshing to see this approach to alien lifeforms in a story. Movies have taught us to assume when aliens arrive they’ve come to kill us all, but Arrival brilliantly subverts those expectations.
3.) La La Land
A romance about movies that becomes a movie about romance, La La Land predictably swept me off my feet. I’m a sucker for musicals and the chemistry between stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is off the charts in this movie. With an outstanding soundtrack featuring original songs that are still stuck in my head, La La Land deserves every ounce of praise and awards being heaped upon it.
4.) Swiss Army Man
When I first heard of the premise of Swiss Army Man I was immediately sold. Daniel Radcliffe as a farting, talking corpse? Count me in. What I didn’t expect was such a touching love story underneath all the rumble guts. Paul Dano again shows his mastery of the craft by giving a complex, wounded performance as a lost soul whose savior lies in the form of a bloated corpse washed up on a beach. This is a wholly original film and Radcliffe should have been nominated for an Oscar, dammit.
5.) The Witch
I never thought the breakout star of 2016 would be a goat named Black Phillip but here we are! The Witch does not mess around and lets the viewer know that in the opening scenes, when a literal witch in the woods bathes in the blood of a newborn. From that moment until the mesmerizing finale, The Witch claims its stake as an essential film in the horror lexicon.
6.) The Lobster
One of the more original screenplays in recent years, The Lobster left me wanting more. I would love to dive further into this world and see its mythology expanded. As it stands, this is a hilarious and sharp dystopian satire that I hope upon hope more people seek out in the future. Colin Farrell gives an excellent performance as a pitiful man looking for love and if he doesn’t find it in a certain time limit, well, he’s turned into the titular lobster. When people say there are only sequels and remakes nowadays, I tell them to expand their horizons with films like this.
7.) The Wailing
A small village is overtaken by mysterious illnesses while the locals are caught between the forces of good and evil. That’s about as well as I can set up The Wailing, an under the radar and nearly three hour feature that grips you tight and doesn’t let go even after it’s over. You’ll be left with questions and fear because this is a movie filled with malicious spirit.
8.) The Nice Guys
More Ryan Gosling in the top ten! Gosling and Russell Crowe are the duo I never realized the annals of comedy needed. They are pitch-perfect together as wise cracking private investigators patrolling 1970s Los Angeles. I feel like The Nice Guys didn’t get the love it deserved from audiences and hopefully I can convince a few more people to check it out. If you doubt Shane Black at this point in his career, you’re just wrong.
9.) Hell or High Water
A modern western with unforgettable performances, Hell or High Water gets down and dirty as it follows two brothers robbing banks and the Texas Ranger who is hell-bent on hunting them down. Jeff Bridges is the standout as he breathes life into another character as only he can. Chris Pine and especially Ben Foster are no slouches as the equally sympathetic and despicable criminal brothers.
10.) The Greasy Strangler
I’m not even really sure what to say about The Greasy Strangler. There are few words to describe it and honestly, this movie just needs to be experienced. I would only recommend this to my closest and trusting friends who have the same sense of humor as me. The Greasy Strangler is bizarre and disgusting and as it ended I couldn’t decide if it was a one star or five star affair. It certainly is full of memorable quotes and scenes, and believe it or not, actually has kind of a sweet story underneath the layers of grease.
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