The year 2016 has finally come to a close, and was one in particular that everybody was ready to be over with. Without going into too much detail, the films this year weren’t especially strong either compared to the past few years with only a couple actually being spectacular.
But even for how disappointing the year was, it’s worth noting, even necessary, to look at the best 2016 had to offer. These were the most dazzling, complex, and most importantly, entertaining to watch, and it’s time to countdown the top five films of 2016.
It’s worth mentioning that I didn’t see everything the year had to offer, being both a good and bad thing, including “Silence,” “Sully,” “Kubo and the Two Strings,” and “Jackie” just to name a few. And this list isn’t based on Rotten Tomato scores, amount of awards won, and so forth; these are my personal thoughts on these films and ones I enjoyed the most.
5. “Captain America: Civil War”
Starting both phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this top five list, “Civil War” is one of the best Marvel films to date.
It’s great to see our favorite heroes go toe-to-toe with one another, but it’s also great, and more important, to see the dilemmas play out with each character’s perspectives on the issues at hand. It doesn’t make one side appear completely right or wrong, viewers will understand both sides and may even switch one’s own thoughts on the issues the film discusses.
Continuing from the surprisingly well-received sequel, “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” “Civil War” also continues events that happened then, as well as other events from “Age of Ultron” and just about every other Marvel movie, like most good sequels should do.
Combine effective drama, incredible action, and everyone’s favorite characters, “Civil War” delivered nearly everything Marvel fans wanted, making this the most solid superhero trilogy to date. I’d recommend it, but let’s face it, you’ve probably already seen it.
Having read the play by August Wilson, it was exciting to see the play be adapted to film. With the help of both the original playwright writing the screenplay and Denzel Washington in the director’s chair, who starred in the play alongside Viola Davis back in 2010, both winning Tony Awards for their performance, “Fences” is able to be lifted from stage to film with much satisfaction.
There were high expectations for the film version of “Fences,” and it delivered, giving viewers some of the best work in Washington (for both acting and directing) and Davis’ career. Everything felt real and didn’t do anything for the sake of Hollywood. It did it’s thing from beginning to end without steering away from what it set out to do, which was to be a faithful adaptation.
The film does feel like a play for the most part, as many characters spew out dialogue without much breathing room in between, but it doesn’t deteriorate any qualities of the film.
It does tend to drag as the runtime is pretty lengthy, but it’s really the only main issue with the film and can be seen as just a nitpick. It’s quite the experience for those who are interested.
3. “Kung Fu Panda 3”/"Zootopia”
This can be considered the six best films of the year, but it was really hard to choose as most of the animated films this year (until the end with titles like “Sing” and “Trolls”) were exceptional, and these two were among the best.
Both boast amazing visuals, voice cast, and strong messages, but present them for different purposes. “Kung Fu Panda 3” is more of a personal message in self identity while “Zootopia” is more broad and deals with prejudice, racism, and the will to make a better future.
Depending on what someone wants in a film, “Kung Fu Panda 3” is funnier and doesn’t go too serious during its plot whereas “Zootopia” has the better structure in its narrative and what it sets out to do for not only kids but adults as well.
Regardless of age or appeal, both of these movies are definitely ones to check out, animated films need to be recognized more than just “kids” movies as they can tackle more mature issues than a lot of live action films.
2. “Hacksaw Ridge”
For someone who hasn’t seen any Mel Gibson directed movies, “Hacksaw Ridge” makes me want to go see his other films as this one is really impressive in how realistic Gibson is able to capture war and give a good theme on beliefs without shoving religion into viewer’s faces.
Garfield has proven to be a very talented actor and shows his range as Desmond, but it’s the supporting actors who were most surprising as they’re played by people who typically play themselves like Vince Vaughn or someone who’s dull as a rock like Sam Worthington. But all of them give their best efforts and it shows, giving their characters more layers of depth.
Everything is tied together in a well crafted bow to give audiences one of the best war films in recent memory. Even for how crazy he may be, there’s no denying that Mel Gibson knows a thing or two with directing. Link to full review.
1. “La La Land”
Where in the past few years it’s been difficult to really point at a movie and say it’s the best of the year, “La La Land” is without a doubt the best film of 2016. Link to full review.
Directed by the same director and writer of “Whiplash,” “La La Land” tackles both the passion of art and dreams of success from one’s talents. These aspects are expressed masterfully with passionate directing by Damien Chazelle, powerful performances from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and memorable music.
It’s also refreshing to finally have a musical that isn’t trying to take itself so seriously like in 2012’s “Les Miserables” and 2014’s “Into the Woods” as well as harkening back to the musicals during the Golden Age of Hollywood. It’s not so much “La La Land” doesn’t take itself seriously, but does it in a much lighthearted way instead of being a dark epic.
The story has been done many times before, but it’s the film’s intentions and passion of what it’s doing that pulls the film through, making it easily the best film of 2016.