Manuel's Top 5 Films of 2016


A lot of people have seen 2016 as a very lackluster year filled with disappointments and train wrecks left and right. In actuality, it’s mostly the blockbusters that didn’t make the year all that great. But 2016 was still a year filled with incredible films that left me smiling the entire time and after leaving the movie theater. While I haven’t seen every film that came out, it was still very difficult to find the five films that affected me the most on the inside, the ones that left me smiling the whole time, and the ones that were just amazing.

5. “Deadpool”

After an insulting portrayal of the titular character in 2009’s “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” director Tim Miller and star Ryan Reynolds created a truly faithful adaptation of the “merc with the mouth.” Ryan Reynolds did the impossible and brought the 4th-wall-breaking mercenary to life with an incredibly charismatic performance.

The film does such a great job poking holes not only in general superhero-tropes, but also the X-Men franchise as a whole with clever comedic timing and brilliant writing. Most of the time, my eyes were filled with tears because I couldn’t stop laughing. The film feels a lot like it came straight out of a comic book. And once you add an R-rating to the mix, the sky’s the limit.

With help from clever comedic satire on the superhero genre, a brilliantly faithful performance from Ryan Reynolds, and the addition of an R-rating, “Deadpool” will certainly go down as an influential film for superhero films to come as well as one of the best superhero films of all time.

4. “La La Land”

I’m not necessarily a huge fan of musicals. I don’t hate them, but they never really connected to me. That was until I watched “La La Land,” and now I can’t stop talking about it. I fell absolutely in love with everything about this movie.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are a match made in heaven and work so beautifully with one another. Their chemistry, plus their performances, make them such bright and colorful characters. And who knew that they could actually sing?

The technical aspects of the film are just as big of characters as the two leads. The camerawork and cinematography are absolutely gorgeous and make the film both look and feel vibrant and electric throughout. And the music and choreography are so expertly done and make you want to dance along with them. This will certainly go down as a classic in years to come.

3. “Hacksaw Ridge”

Mel Gibson has gotten a lot of hate for quite a while now. However, it’s important to separate the art from the artist, and Gibson is an incredible director, and “Hacksaw Ridge” undoubtedly proves it. I was very excited to see the film, but I had a bit of concern if this was going to be another one of your standard war films. And boy was I wrong.

What the film does so well is act as two parts of one story. While the first half is a character study of Andrew Garfield’s Private Desmond Doss and how he gets through training and people who are against his ideologies, the second half is a heart-wrenching, gripping, intense war film with violence and gore that can go toe-to-toe with the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan.”

But the thing that makes this such an incredible film is Andrew Garfield’s outstanding performance, which will at least give him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. His performance plus Gibson’s masterful direction makes this one of the best war films in years.

2. Captain America: Civil War

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In 1980, we got “Superman II.” In 1989, we got “Batman.” In 2003, we got “X2: X-Men United.” In 2008, we got “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man.” Now, in 2016, we got “Captain America: Civil War.” Also commonly referred to as Avengers 2.5, the film does so perfectly what other similar films have a tough time doing: Creating a perfect balance of character, humor, drama, and action all at once.

It took Marvel eight years before they could create a film of this magnitude, and it was well worth the wait. “Captain America: Civil War” creates an incredible division between the ideas of Steve Rogers/Captain America and Tony Stark/Iron Man to the point where audience members had to choose between the two because the film does a great job creating valid points for both arguments.

And while the film does a splendid job reintroducing audiences to some familiar faces from the franchise, there are also great introductions to new characters, including a solid portrayal of T’Challa/Black Panther by Chadwick Boseman and quite possibly the best portrayal of Spiderman by Tom Holland.

With time, “Captain America: Civil War” will definitely end up as being one of the greatest superhero films to ever be created and will sit shoulder-to-shoulder with many other titans in the superhero genre.

1. Moana

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What you are looking at right here is a kids film on its way to becoming an absolute Disney Classic. “Moana” is everything anyone can want in a great movie, especially for an animated film.

“Moana” has so much going for it, like the incredibly talented voice cast of newcomer Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne Johnson bringing so much energy, charisma, charm, and depth to their respective roles of Moana and Maui while also providing some great singing voices to create absolutely incredible music. Add the fact that the film itself is just as beautiful and colorful as its two leads, and you’ve got an incredible film at your fingertips. It’s difficult to stop thinking and talking about this film because of the amount of heart and emotion that was put into the writing.

“Moana” acts as a great homage to classic Disney storytelling and animation and, in time, will sit side-by-side with some of the greatest Disney animated films to ever be put to the big screen, including the likes of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” “Pinocchio,” and more.


Moana herself will go on to be one of the best characters, not just Disney Princesses, in Disney’s entire roster and will be an inspiration for children everywhere to live their dreams and follow their hearts. It is a Disney Classic for a new generation of Disney-lovers and that is enough to make it one of the best of the year.