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The 5 best films of the year so far

Posted August 17

Editor's Note: The article was written on July 12 so anything released after that was not included on the ranking. It also does not include movies that are rated R.

MOVIE LAND — 2016 is a little more than halfway over. As far as films go, this year has been fairly underwhelming compared to years past.

It seems that the theme this year has been sequels, reboots and rehashes of old ideas. With that being said, we have seen some really unique movies released as well as worthy sequels.

Here is a ranked list of the top five films of 2016 so far.

5. Midnight Special

With movies like “Mud” and “Take Shelter” on his resume, Jeff Nichols had a lot on his plate concerning his most recent film, “Midnight Special.” While “Midnight Special” was met with a varied critical response, it was able to stand out as one of this year's best movies.

Midnight Special” follows the story of a man whose son begins to manifest special powers. With the government and others after his son, this father must find a way to keep him safe while on the run.

This movie asks a lot of it’s viewers, which can be tricky. It asks you to go along with the story, even though you’re not getting all the answers. Some people won’t be able to handle that and understandably so. It’s hard not to have all the answers. But there is a strange familiarity in being in the dark, because in life, we don’t always get the closure we want.

This is a beautiful film with strong parental metaphors. “Midnight Special” won’t work for everyone, but if you’re into science fiction with a taste of mystery, you should check this movie out.

Midnight Special” is available on Blu-ray/DVD and VOD.

4. 10 Cloverfield Lane

Who knew we would get a Cloverfield movie this year? Well, good thing we did. “10 Cloverfield Lane” is the latest chapter in the Cloverfield universe, which is apparently a thing now. The film takes place in a rural community where a woman wakes up in an underground shelter with two men who claim the outside world fell victim to a chemical attack.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” is one of those movies where the less you know, the better. I understand this may be difficult since it's been out for a while now and you have probably seen trailers and posters (some of which blantly spoil the movie.) But if you somehow didn’t hear about it, avoid all trailers and other potential spoilers and just go watch it.

This movie masters the art of suspense and constantly keep the viewers on their toes. “10 Cloverfield Lane” toys with your emotions in the best way throughout and is definitely one of the most intense movies in recent memory. The best part is that “10 Cloverfield Lane” was directed by first-time director, Dan Trachtenberg. This guy has a bright future ahead of him and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

10 Cloverfield Lane” is available on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD.

3. Sing Street

Sing Street” may have slipped under the radar for most people because it didn't have a wide release. It played in only a select number of Utah theaters, so chances are, if you don’t follow film closely, you missed it. “Sing Street” takes place in Dublin, Ireland, in the 1980s. It follows a young musician who gets through the drama of daily life using music.

The story is fairly paint-by-numbers, but it transcends mediocrity due to it’s fantastic writing and great music. It feels like a love letter to the '80s, complete with silly costumes and ridiculous hair and makeup. "Sing Street" may not have anything new to say in particular, but it's very relatable. Everyone has felt alone at sometime or another or wished the circumstances surrounding them were better.

I earnestly hope more people get the chance to see this film. It will easily put a smile on your face and will evoke feelings of nostalgia.

Sing Street” is available on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD.

2. Zootopia

It’s not really that big of a surprise that a Disney movie is one of the biggest and best films of the year so far. They just can’t seem to do any wrong. “Zootopia” is a rare film that both adults and children can enjoy. And not only enjoy, but reflect on and extract important ideals.

Zootopia” tells the story of Judy Hops, a young rabbit with big dreams. As a new recruit of the police force, Officer Hops and her fox friend, Nick Wilde, must team up together to uncover a huge conspiracy.

At its base, “Zootopia” works as a buddy cop movie. It’s fun, has an interesting story, and the characters have great chemistry. But what differentiates “Zootopia” from a good film and a great film is it’s message. “Zootopia” hits a lot of issues like racism, classism, inclusion and much more. This seems like a lot to handle, especially for a movie targeted at children. Despite the odds, “Zootopia” not only manages to pull it off, it’s a homerun. The messages it conveys never comes off as heavy handed, which can be difficult when working with such deep themes.

Zootopia” is an instant classic that will be enjoyed from generation to generation.

It is available on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD.

1. Captain America: Civil War

There will definitely be some controversy with this pick, but to ignore the most recent entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be an egregious mistake. “Captain America: Civil War” takes place after “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Steve Rogers and his newly assembled Avengers are off fighting the bad guys and trying to keep the peace. After an accident in Wakanda, the UN decides that the Avengers shouldn’t be able to act so freely, which puts a divide between Tony Stark and Captain America.

Marvel Studios is firing on all cylinders with “Captain America: Civil War”, and all credit goes to the director duo, the Russo brothers. They manage to juggle the many characters, set up future films, and still stay focused on the task at hand, which is not something to take lightly. It may appear seamless, (which is part of the genius) but a lot of work went into assuring all these aspects could be handled correctly.

Captain America: Civil War” is not without its faults though. Marvel Studios seems to struggle with having memorable villains, and "Civil War" is sadly, no different. The villain is fairly one dimensional and lacks that certain charisma that comic book villains are so well known for. Aside from that, "Civil War" is a near perfect film. It has dazzling visuals and deals with deeper themes like what freedom means, and the darker side of super heroes. This may be the best Marvel film to date, but with so many worthy competitors, it’s too hard to make a definitive decision.

Captain America: Civil War” will be available on Blu-ray/DVD on Sept. 13.

Do you agree with the ranking? What are your favorite films of the year so far?

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