Stormy's Top Ten of 2016
1. The Witch
I have discussed my love for Robert Eggers’ THE WITCH here before on our “Greatest Horror Movies Since 2000” list. What I didn’t say is that the moment I watched it for the first time, I knew it was my favorite film of 2016. I adore witches because they represent ultimate female empowerment. As someone who grew up among anti-intellectual Christianity with its rules for female behavior, I can relate to Thomasin’s desire to escape the shackles of religion. A story based on actual New England folktales, The Witch perfectly captures the paranoia that led to our infamous witch trials, but also presents witches as real and complex people who have chosen to join Satan in rebellion against the standards of God.
2. The Lobster
Set in a dystopian society in which single people are sent to a hotel for the opportunity to find love or else be transformed into animals, Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster boasts a script both superbly written and unique. The narrative is at the same time hilarious and deeply heartbreaking, always giving the audience some insight into the sinister world we are dealing with while never letting us in on more information than its characters have access to. I give this movie two head nods to the right and three full body turns to the left.
3. The Greasy Strangler
I could feast on this movie’s ass all night long.
4. The Handmaiden
Park Chan-wook is one of my favorite directors, living or dead. Everything the man does is a masterpiece, and The Handmaiden is no exception. What begins in this film as a fairly simple con artist scheme evolves into something unexpected and far more intriguing while dripping with tasteful eroticism empowering to its female leads.
5. The Wailing
Holy shit, guys. It has been a long time since I’ve seen suspense done so well in a movie. Bit by agonizing bit, Na Hong-jin peels the layers of his story back, and with each new piece of information, I inched closer to the edge of my seat. And then that finale, hoooo buddy, I don’t know that I’ve ever been more satisfied in my life. That’s all I’m saying about it, you’ll just have to see for yourselves.
6. Green Room
Here’s a conversation I had the other day:
Husband: (Singing) We’re going down, down in an earlier round, and Sugar, we’re going down swinging.
Me: Please no.
Husband: What, you don’t love Fallout Boy?
Me: If I wanna listen to punk, I’m gonna listen to punk.
Husband: Like Green Room punk, not pop-punk.
Me: Yeah, Green Room but like, without Nazis.
Husband: The Ain’t Rights, but not the Alt-Rights.
There are a few things I’m a fan of in this world, and three of those are punk, horror, and Patrick Stewart. Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room manages to make punk and Patrick Stewart terrifying and therefore a horror success you need to see.
Based on Ted Chiang’s 1999 short story, “Story of Your Life”, Arrival follows linguist Dr. Louise Banks as she attempts to communicate with an alien race that has descended onto Earth. However, Arrival is not an “alien movie” so much as it is an exploration of what might happen to the concept of free will if a person were able to know the outcome of their decision before he or she made it.
8. Swiss Army Man
Who knew an absurdist dramedy featuring a farting corpse with an erection doubling as a compass could be a vehicle for a heartwarming message about love and sincerity? Swiss Army Man successfully uses “taboo” or “impolite” subjects like bodily functions, sex, and death to remind us we are all imperfect, flawed people who would all be much better off if we weren’t afraid to be honest with ourselves and others. P.S. Vonnegut fans, unite!
9. Hell or High Water
A western in the vein of No Country for Old Men, Hell or High Water follows two brothers who begin robbing banks to rectify problems of their pasts and in doing so, find themselves in a messier situation than they originally intended. This film is a study in how far people may be willing to go once they take their first leap into the morally ambiguous or wrong. However, there is no rest for the wicked.
10. The Invitation
The Invitation is probably not a movie you had on your radar unless you actively seek out indie horror, but it definitely should be on your to-do list. The protagonist, Will, attends a dinner party held by his ex-wife and her new husband and there is something unusual going on, though it takes Will and the audience by extension, the duration of the evening to figure out what it is. The Invitation will have you captivated and questioning the motives of everyone involved and the reliability of Will’s perspective until the final act.
The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Ln., La La Land, Moonlight, Little Sister, Train to Busan, Don’t Breathe, Hush, The Neon Demon