This year has been a mixed bag. From the celebrity deaths to mixed movie receptions to electing a celebrity president, there has been a lot to this year. However, there were some shining moments in the form of escapism in film. I will be listing my twenty favorite films of the year. Beware, spoilers and controversial opinions follow.
Author note: Of films released this year, I have seen 22 movies theatrically and 3 movies through streaming services. Here are the five that didn't make the list.
- Kung Fu Panda 3
- X-Men: Apocalypse
- The Secret Life of Pets
- Jason Bourne
- Nine Lives
20. Independence Day: Resurgence
As someone who has never seen the original, I found this film to be a fun, cheesy summer action flick that wasn't fantastic, but it was enjoyable. Jeff Goldblum and Brett Spiner were the only two really notable, A-list performances. Lots of cool ideas in this movie, but it was ultimately a cheesy, fun action flick in the vein of Jurassic World.
19. The Magnificent Seven
I am a sucker for a good western. Many would argue that this isn't a good western and would point me in the direction of Hell or High Water. Seeing as I didn't see that film, I'm going based on this film. Denzel Washington brings it in this film, as well as Ethan Hawke and Byung-hun Lee. Chris Pratt's star power is ever prevalent, however, he is not as brilliant as he has been in past films like Guardians of the Galaxy or Jurassic World. Overall, Seven is pretty decent action flick/modern western.
18. Finding Dory
This is not the best animated film of the year by any means. It was actually one of my most anticipated films of the year. Pixar almost always delivers (with the notable exceptions of Cars 2 & Brave) The film retreads a lot of the same ideas and story points of the brilliant original film, degrading what I consider to be Pixar's "B-Material" into just another bright, colorful, loud, obnoxious children's film. I was pretty disappointed, but I can't say this is Pixar's worst. It's not nearly close to being their best, either.
17. Now You See Me 2
I loved the original Now You See Me, so of course I was excited for the sequel. In my opinion, this film was one of the top five summer films. I was disappointed with the news of Isla Fisher's departure, but Lizzy Caplan is fun replacement. Woody Harrelson plays a much more prominent role, along with Dave Franco and Mark Ruffalo, while Jesse Eisenberg takes a back seat to a stellar Morgan Freeman and an interesting Daniel Radcliffe. The film was very good entertainment, but unfortunately, I enjoyed more films than this one.
16. Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them
This was my first foray into Harry Potter's wizarding world and I was still able to pick up on the little easter eggs and references. Eddie Redmayne was fantastic as Newt Scamander and the rest of the cast was stellar as well. The plot was fun and I enjoyed this film a lot. I am thorough supporter of Eddie Redmayne to become the thirteenth Doctor after seeing his 11th Doctor impersonation throughout this film.
15. Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad was fun and had some pretty great performances by Will Smith (Deadshot), Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn), Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang), & Jay Hernandez (El Diablo). Jared Leto's Joker is interesting and Viola Davis plays a great Amanda Waller. Ben Affleck and Ezra Miller's cameos as Batman and The Flash are stellar.
14. Captain America: Civil War
Contrary to popular belief, I think Civil War is one really amazing scene with some really amazing performances, and then the rest of the film is boring. I believe it's a great film, but it's not as amazing as everyone is saying. It was fantastic the first viewing and really bad the second. I enjoy it but it is not the best film of the MCU, nor the year.
13. Central Intelligence
Never have I laughed so hard at a movie. The action stylings of The Rock mixed with the comedic prowess of Kevin Hart is the stuff of greatness. This film fell into my top three films of the summer, but it just couldn't beat out some of the other films that came out later and earlier in 2016.
12. The Accountant
Ben Affleck's second best performance of the year is found in an action-packed, intelligent film that had a lot of heart and fun elements. Anna Kendrick and JK Simmons were stellar, along with an unprecedented performance from Jon Bernthal. The Accountant was stellar.
11. Star Trek Beyond
One of my most anticipated, yet skeptical films of the year, Star Trek delivered massively with tons of fun action and back-to-basics Trek storytelling. Lots of the new timeline's history is explored and the mythology is fleshed out. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and its great performances from Simon Pegg, Sofia Boutella, and the rest of the cast. My favorite summer flick!
10. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice
The extended cut of BvS greatly enhances the film. The first viewing is a bit of a turn off, but upon multiple re-screenings, the film, which is so densely packed it's hard to take away anything the first time, improves.I believe this film is superior to Civil War, because the story is better.
9. Hail, Caesar!
This isn't the Coen Brothers best film, but their even their worst film is better than most of Hollywood's top blockbuster films combined. The film is a love letter to classic Hollywood and features great segments and excellent performances from Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Tilda Swinton, and Frances McDormand. The Coens are geniuses and, while not their best film, is one of the best of the year.
Zootopia is easily Disney's best release since The Lion King! The characters are new and inventive and the film has great messages and is a social commentary on the current times. This film is dark and has very noir themes and feels.
7. The Jungle Book
This film takes the subpar original film and transforms it into an innovative classic. The film has great performances from Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, and Idris Elba and has a great story that totally surpasses the original cartoon. The innovative CGI cast makes this film the best looking film of the year.
I ranked this film above Zootopia because of the incredible performances from The Rock and Auli'i Cravalho, interesting Polynesian mythology, and the year's best soundtrack (composed and written by Lin-Manuel Miranda). Moana is a masterpiece.
This was the year's biggest risk and biggest surprise. The film is hilarious and has a simple revenge plot and the year's best comedic performance from Ryan Reynolds.
This film was one of the best films of the year, purely for originality and entertainment value. Chris Pratt was fantastic and his chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence was magnetic. The film meshed the genres of drama, romance, and thriller all with sci-fi and created a beautiful tale that enraptured me from start to finish.
3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This is the third best film in the franchise, beating out Return of the Jedi, The Force Awakens, Revenge of the Sith, Attack of the Clones, and The Phantom Menace. The film features great performances from Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Guy Henry, & Riz Ahmed. Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Jimmy Smits, and James Earl Jones make a great supporting cast. The cameos are great and the ending flows perfectly into the original Star Wars.
2. Doctor Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch was born for this role. The MCU's best offering to date also solved the superhero third act of crisis by introducing a new element. The film's cast is stellar, featuring the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch and his supporting cast of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen, & Tilda Swinton. The film had great direction by Scott Derrickson and excellent writing by Jon Spaihts, Scott Derrickson, & C. Robert Cargill.
1. Sing Street
This film was the best of the year, hands down. The film succeeds, with a tone in the vein of a John Hughes film, thanks to excellent writing, dialogue, and direction by John Carney (Begin Again, Once) and terrific performances by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Kelly Thornton, Jack Reynor, and more. The music in this film features some of the best written songs of the decade with original tracks like "Up" and "Drive It Like You Stole It". The 80s set Irish film is fantastic and the best of the year.
So that's my list. What do you think? What was your favorite movie of the year? Let me know in the comments below.