Best movies of 2016
Posted December 31, 2016
MOVIE LAND 2016 — As the year comes to a close, our movies guys, John and Dave Clyde, take a look back at the year that was and pick their favorite films of the year.
This isn’t just a list of what the “best” movies of 2016 were, but rather the brothers have split it up into categories and give their top picks for each.
Without further ado, here are the picks for the best in film from 2016:
Best animated film
John’s pick: “Zootopia”
I think it was actually a really solid year for animation and there were some really beautiful films released. I loved Dave’s pick, and from a technical standpoint, I’d have to say “Kubo and the Two Strings” is one of the most amazing films I’ve ever seen. At the end of the day, however, I had to go with “Zootopia."
This movie struck a chord with me and I loved the noir feel and the great messages the writers implemented without hitting us over the head with it. I laughed so many times, jumped at moments and felt all the feels once or twice as well. I think this is one of the best films Disney Animation has put out in a very long time.
Dave’s pick: “Kubo and the Two Strings”
This year has seen several good animated movies and a couple outstanding ones worth talking about. My pick this year in this category is "Kubo and the Two Strings.”
What makes "Kubo" stand out the most to me is the fact that it was the only major studio release of a stop-motion animated movie this year. I would argue that Kubo is probably the most beautiful stop-motion animated film ever made to this point.
The story and its message of connection to our familial past was thought provoking and shown from a new perspective. My biggest complaint with "Kubo" was with the voice acting of Matthew McConaughey who didn't seem to fit the character very well for me. Fortunately, McConaughey was able to redeem himself as the voice of an ambitious Koala bear in the animated movie "Sing" which released later in the year.
With the level of technical and artistic detail captured in this film, "Kubo's" unique story was able to shine more brightly than the other animated films of 2016.
Dave’s underrated pick: “Ouija: Origin of Evil”
After a lot of thinking about what I considered to be the most underrated movie of 2016, I finally settled on "Ouija: Origin of Evil." I know, I am just as surprised as you. Let me explain why.
I don't think I would have ever gone to see "Ouija" this year if I had what I thought was a better option at Halloween time. I had the opportunity to review this movie before it came out and declined because it looked lame. I noticed, however, that it was consistently getting good reviews so I gave it a chance. I was not dissapointed.
"Ouija: Origin of Evil" is a prequel to the film "Ouija" that came out a few years ago and was not commercially very successful. Fortunately, the direction the filmmakers took on the second installment was clever and excellently executed. The movie had just the right mix of story and scares with enough creepiness to keep you coiled in your seat, ready to jump at any moment.
With a PG-13 rating, the movie was accessible to a wide audience, but did not seem to catch on like it should have. After seeing this film, I have a new go-to Halloween horror film that I wouldn't have any problem showing my teenage children.
John’s overrated pick: “Captain America: Civil War”
I thought “Captain America: Civil War” was fun and entertaining, but I do not think it deserved a 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and I do not think it was the end-all-be-all superhero film so many claimed it to be.
The movie had issues, there was no real story and it was basically everything we’ve seen Marvel do before— just more superheroes were added to the mix. I didn’t hate this movie and I’m sure I’ll watch it again now that it’s streaming on Netflix, but it wasn’t the incredible film many critics and fans would lead us to believe.
The one no one saw, but should have
John’s pick: “Sing Street”
The 2016 Sundance Film Festival gave us some great films, a few of which are on this list, including Dave’s pick in this category. Let it be known that Dave’s pick for this category is one of my favorite films of the year.
Another Sundance film, I really enjoyed this year that not nearly enough people have seen, let alone heard of, is “Sing Street.” The film weaves the tale of a teenager in 1980s Ireland who is trying to make up for the chaos in his own life by starting a band.
The movie is full of heart and humor and more than a few catchy tunes. I was all in on this movie and loved the characters, story, humor and heart. This was a real delight and one that people should make a point of checking out.
Dave’s pick: “Hunt for the Wilderpeople”
What can I say about this film but, "Go see this movie!"
"Hunt for the Wilderpeople" is such an underappreciated movie. The film about a young boy, juvenile delinquent Ricky Baker, who tries to outrun the law with a reluctant foster father played by Sam Neal is full of heart, comedy and drama. I ended up seeing this movie at least five times for various reasons and have recommended this film more than any other this year.
This is a great film for almost everyone 12 to 13 years old and up.
Dave’s pick: “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is almost too easy to recommend as my favorite blockbuster of the year— but not just because 99 percent of the planet has already seen it and it has made obscene amounts of money.
"Rogue One" to me was more than just a money mill for Disney. I loved the story and the chances Disney had to take to wrap up the film in a satisfactory way to tie in "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope." In my review, I place "Rogue One" as my third favorite Star Wars film, just behind "The Empire Strikes Back."
John’s pick: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
I am not a huge Harry Potter fan. That’s not to say I hated the films, but it’s not like I was really excited when a new one was about to release. However, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” caught my attention with the trailers and made me a big fan of J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.
The film was exciting and adventurous and I was in awe of everything from the story to the set design. This is a movie that I will be happy to give multiple viewings and watch years from now. When it comes to big-budget blockbusters this year, I had the most fun watching “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”
Best supporting performance
Michelle Williams for best supporting performance was an effortless choice for me in this category. Williams has always been a favorite of mine going back to 2005. In "Manchester by the Sea," Williams plays a wife and mother who is forced to move on with her life after a horrible tragedy. Williams carries her character perfectly as she struggles with what it means to reconcile life with unimaginable loss.
In a film that required 100 percent commitment from everyone involved, Williams delivered a depth and believability, that without, the film could not have been the same.
"Manchester by the Sea" is rated R for language throughout and some sexual content and is not suitable for all ages.
Let me start by saying I actually think Michelle Williams’ performance in “Manchester by the Sea” is nothing short of phenomenal. She deserves every single bit of praise she is getting and will get for it. I knew Dave was picking her, so I thought I’d give you something else.
I have chosen young Sunny Pawar’s performance from “Lion.” This film is really beautiful with stunning performances including Dev Patel’s, but Pawar stole my heart. The young boy speaks no English and is new to acting, but his portrayal of a young boy lost in a world much too big for him to comprehend is mesmerizing. I loved this movie and young Pawar is a big reason for that.
Second best film of the year
Dave’s pick: “Arrival”
The second best film of the year is the place where John and I begin to differ in opinion. While I think "Hell or High Water" was a story excellently told, "Arrival" holds my top spot for second best movie of the year.
"Arrival" for me is one of those fairly rare films where the filmmaker takes a chance on how the film is presented. If the choice works, the film will be something wonderful and new. If the choice does not work, it will just feel odd and out of place. I felt like director Dennis Villeneueve took that gamble and won.
"Arrival" by way of sound, score, story and acting, managed to evoke old feelings from me in a new way. For me, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. For a finer sifting of the details as to why I loved this movie, see my review from a few weeks ago.
I really like Dave’s pick and think “Arrival” is one of the smartest sci-fi films to hit theaters in a very long time. With all of that said, however, my second favorite film of the year is “Hell or High Water.”
This modern day Western is expertly written and superbly acted. The movie is funny, thrilling, heartbreaking and captivating from start to finish. What put this over “Arrival” for me was the depth of each character and the moral ambiguity you’re left with once the credits roll. “Hell or High Water” should seriously be considered as the best picture of the year.
"Hell or High Water" is rated R for some strong violence, language throughout and brief sexuality and is not suitable for all ages.
Dave and I saw “Manchester by the Sea” together and once the credits rolled, we looked at each other and knew immediately that Casey Affleck gave the performance of the year. His honest portrayal of a man fighting demons while tackling new challenges left us speechless. The authenticity with which he plays Lee Chandler is probably the best performance we’ve seen by any actor in recent memory. Not only should Affleck be nominated for the best actor Oscar, but he should win.
It’s hard to put into words what Affleck put on the screen, but it is a performance that needs to be experienced to fully appreciate and understand.
Best film of 2016
John and Dave’s pick: ”Manchester by the Sea”
Again, John and I could not disagree on this pick. As we walked out of the theater, we kept chatting about what we had just seen, but we couldn’t stop ourselves from talking, despite the fact that it was bitterly cold outside. Then for days afterward, we continued to text back and forth discussing the nuances to the film and its deep emotional ties.
“Manchester by the Sea” will stick with you longer after the movie ends, and it will be hard to get out of your head. Both John and I agreed that “Manchester by the Sea” is the most authentic and realistic film we’ve likely ever seen. The characters are rich and reminiscent of people in our own lives who we continue to think about and hope for their continual happiness long after our relationship ends.
The screenwriting and direction from Kenneth Lonergan is heading into a realm of uncharted territory. He lets the film be real and honest. When most directors would call cut and reshoot a scene because of a flubbed line or a dropped Kleenex, Lonergan keeps moving forward and captures real life through his camera lense.
“Manchester by the Sea” is a special film that we believe is the best movie of 2016.
What are your favorite movies of the year? Let us know in the comments.
John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. John also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome and it just so happens that these are the three things he writes about.