As 2016 comes to close and we settling into the first few weeks into 2017, it’s time to go through my list of movies I saw in 2016 and pick the ten best titles. This year’s total was 69 new movies, and for those new to my lists, that includes all new movies, no matter when they came out. So the easiest step in the process is weeding out the older movies, but then comes the hard part. It took a few passes, but I finally have my top ten, so sit back and grab some popcorn, because here comes my top ten movies of 2016…
As a bonafide horror supergeek, 2016 was a phenomenal year. Aside from a collection of great films, horror has dominated TV and pop culture as well, with hit shows like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Scream Queens and Black Mirror. While horror fans are usually passionate about their genre, sometimes to a fault, a shocking thing happened this year. More than a few mainstream horror films received critical acclaim. Plus, between the countless streaming services out there, horror films are now more readily accessible than ever before. I was also privileged to attend two horror film festivals in New York, FEARnyc and the New York City Horror Film Festival, where I took in countless new independent feature-length and short horror films.
So, without further ado, I present my list of the Top 10 Horror Movies of 2016 (and some honorable mentions) below.
Regret and “what if” scenarios consumed many of the narratives on this list of my Top 30 Movies of 2016. Grief isn’t so much a novelty in cinema. It has been confronted thousands of times before, but the way it was handled this year was remarkably beautiful. The year’s best films didn’t hide the fact that their specific characters were going to face mighty obstacles that threatened to suffocate them. It seemed very intimate and personal watching how these films perceived their characters confronting grief and confusion. It’s as if the directors of these films know us so well. They capture what it is to be human.
The two brothers in Hell or Hight Water are beaten down by our financial institutions…what if they robbed them back? Regret and confusion follow a young boy around until he is a grown man in Moonlight, and still no signs of either ever leaving. What if Captain Sullenberger obeyed protocol and turned the airplane around instead of landing it safely on the Hudson River? We probably wouldn’t have the movie Sully. And what if O.J Simpson willingly admitted to murdering his wife we wouldn’t have the sprawling eight-hour documentary O.J.: Made in America. And an overwhelming amount of regret is the central theme in Right Now, Wrong Then.
Now that 2016 is behind us, it’s time for me to reveal my favorite Movies of 2016. On a global level, the year 2016 will go down in history as a difficult one, where we lost a lot of talented people and there seemed to be an overall negativity in the air (thanks in part to the general election here in the U.S). On a personal level, 2016 was not only difficult, but sorrowful, as I lost my father to cancer. My dad loved movies, and every time we got together, we would discuss the films we had recently seen. Dad got sick early in the year, so we didn’t get to have our usual movie pow-wows.
My top movies are always of the blockbuster, superhero, scifi/fantasy variety, with some comedies sprinkled in, because I like to rewatch movies, so I tend to pick more uplifting titles as “favorites” — therefore, I’m not saying my list is of the “best” movies, they are just the ones I enjoyed the most and will likely rewatch to my heart’s content.
The annual ritual of narrowing down hundreds of titles to a definitive “Top 10” Movies of 2016 is a cruel but necessary discipline as a film critic. Over the past 12 months, I’ve seen more than 100 new releases. That’s over eight days spent watching new movies, and I’m happy to report that 2016 has been a great year for cinema, despite reports that “film is dead.”
This year, we saw new work by visionary filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Denis Villeneuve, Park Chan-wook, J.A. Bayona, and Joel and Ethan Coen. We witnessed noteworthy performances by Casey Affleck, Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone. And we were entertained by emotionally engaging, visually impressive blockbusters like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Captain America: Civil War, and Doctor Strange.
Below are my 10 favorite films of 2016, accompanied by a list of 20 honorable mentions, making for a list of 30 must-see movies that kept my cynicism and negativity buried beneath hope and joy. I hope these films will move, inspire, and reinvigorate you in the same way!