27 February 2017

The (Official) Top 10 Movies of 2016

So, here it is:  For this dude, on this day after the Shyamalan-mindfuck-of-an-ending to the 89 Annual Academy Awards ceremony, it is neither "La La Land" nor "Moonlight," so chill it with that debate. Both are great movies, and I am one who finds both teams of filmmakers to have taken everything with perfectly fair amounts of confusion, frustration, and, ultimately, class and grace.

End of that.

As for Casey Affleck winning. Hell yes!! Denzel looked pissed, but he has his. Casey has put in solid work for years, was unfortunate to have been previously nominated in a unreal year for movies back in aught-7, and really deserved a statue for "Manchester by the Sea," in which he committed one of the most naturalistically pained performances I've ever seen, if I even have. I guess the ole bring-up-something-from-almost-a-decade-ago-to-slander-the-popular-actor campaign didn't work.

End of that.

Good for Emma! Good for Viola!!! Good for Mahershala!!!! Great for Damien!!!!!!

End of that.

Now on to the actual Best 10 (because 9 is a stupid odd number, and I'm a traditionalist but not really because there are 12 movies listed below) movies of last year, 2016, a GREAT year for movies.

Here we go:

Honorary Award:  The One Movie That Everyone Should See

dir. Ava DuVernay

Because it is the most perfectly drawn argument (complete without sickening bias) I've seen in an American documentary in a long time. The prison system in America is, to be certain, another form of slavery, and, with the new administration in Washington, I can't imagine it will get better. It's the most important movie of 2016.

Ten (Tie)

"The Handmaiden"
dir. Park Chan-wook 


"The Witch"
dir. Robert Eggers

Because women deserve to "live deliciously," as much so as any filthy old man or stuffed-shirt society might have it, and because these movies are both perfectly designed visions, unmatched period pieces.


dir. Pablo Lárrain

Because of Mica Levi aka Micachu's haunting-ass score. (Good God that music!) I've never been so bombarded and then so perfectly put at ease. A story told to perfection with a lead performance from Natalie Portman that is nothing short of awe-inducing.


"Everybody Wants Some!!"
dir. Richard Linklater

Because of Willoughby, the pot-head ballplayer who waxes philosophical about deep Pink Floyd cuts, and because its funny other than that. And it features a cast of relative unknowns who most certainly should be known.


"The Edge of Seventeen"
dir. Kelly Fremon Craig

Because it features Hailee Steinfeld with the single best female lead performance of 2016. Because it is so natural, even when the writing gets a bit too teen movie-y. Because I laughed so much at its honesty and felt so much of its truths and knew I was watching one of the lasting teen comedies. And the national treasure that is Woody Harrelson.


dir. James Schamus

Because of Logan Lerman's Marcus Messner, the Jewish college boy in a midwest of Gentiles, and his chemistry with (and lust for) Sarah Gadon's Olivia Hutton, the coed we all once stupidly fell for. And because Tracy Letts is the best screen actor everybody should've known would be.


"Hell or High Water"
dir. David Mackenzie

Because it is brooding and funny and fun and sad and real and unreal and fucking perfectly written, directed, shot, and acted, acted by three of our finest in a year when the two who should've gotten the recognition didn't by way of everybody loving Jeff Bridges at awards shows. I mean, I get it though.


dir. Denis Villeneuve

Because it is a thinkin' man's sci-fi (my fave!) that features the most perfect blend of directorial vision, cinematography, editing, and sound design, including but certainly not limited to Jóhann Jóhannsson's bonkers score, all year. (That it only won an Oscar for Sound Editing is a travesty, even if that is perfectly deserved.)


"La La Land"
dir. Damien Chazelle

Because I didn't have more fun or feel more alive at the movies than I did BOTH TIMES I went to the theater to see this musical masterpiece. This movie will be cherished forever, the type of movie I already plan to show my kids one day...and I don't have any kids.


"20th Century Women"
dir. Mike Mills

Because Mike Mills just gets me. Plain and simple. And because this is the most visually pleasing drama of the year, working on the brain in the same way as memory. Also because it is hilarious and true and HONEST about so many things. And because the soundtrack kicks ass. And that Jimmy Carter speech. And the late 1970s period elements reach perfection level.


"Manchester by the Sea"
dir. Kenneth Lonergan

Because on re-watch I realized that Kenneth Lonergan's ride through the grief-filled world of a sad man is the best told story of 2016. Because it works as a novel would. Because of the wheels on that gurney, the scene! THAT SCENE! where Michelle Williams chokes into those lines about things she once said, the pain of a teenager who so deserves whatever pleasure he can find and the near redemption that sad man almost reaches. Because I lost my Dad a week before I saw this. And it gets it so right. So right. It's a beautiful film. The most beautiful of 2016.

If you want to see the complete rankings of all the 2016 releases I saw, all 62 of 'em, click here.

Here are some titles I regret missing (and plan to get to):

"I am Not Your Negro"
"Nocturnal Animals"
"O.J. Made in America"
"Southside With You"
"Toni Erdman"
"X-Men: Apocalypse"

Until next year...


  1. I am usually 12-18 months behind the times. That said, I've seen three of the movies on this list--Arrival, The Witch, and Hell or High Water. It would have to be a substantial year indeed for these three not to make my eventual top-ten.

    1. Look forward to hearing your thoughts on the year when you get caught up.

  2. "Shyamalan mindfuck" can't describe what happened last night. The best term I can use is "CATASTROFUCK OF A PLOT TWIST." I went 16 for 24 in my Oscar predictions.

    La La Land isn't my #1, & neither is Moonlight; however, they are in my top 10.

    I'm so glad Casey won. Denzel looked absolutely pissed. And I'm glad that the whole digging-up-something-from-the-past-for-now thing didn't work either.

    I'm surprised Moonlight isn't in your top 10.

    We share 7 out of 10 (or 12) films in your top 10 (13th, The Witch, The Handmaiden, & The Edge of Seventeen didn't make my top 10), 4 out of 5 films in your top 5 (Hell or High Water didn't make my top 5), & all 3 films in your top 3. So, although I did post my top 25 on Saturday, I did make some edits to after some re-thinking yesterday. Here is the new revised list:

    25. Patriots Day - Because it's a great film about one of the worst tragedies in recent memory.
    24. Captain Fantastic - Because the cast is amazing.
    23. Zootopia - Because it's the best animated film of the year.
    22. Paterson - Because it finds poetry in the smallest moments of life.
    21. Don't Think Twice - Because it's one of the most honest comedies of the year.
    20. Miss Sloane - Because it's one of the most important films of the year.
    19. Elle - Because it's the best foreign-language film of the year.
    18. Sing Street - Because the music in the film is amazing.
    17. Fences - Because it's an excellent adaptation of one of the greatest American plays.
    16. The Nice Guys - Because it's a hilarious action-comedy.
    15. Silence - Because it's one of Martin Scorsese's best of the century.
    14. Lion - Because it's a great film about an astonishing true story.
    13. The Edge of Seventeen - Because it's one of the best coming-of-age comedies I've ever seen.
    12. Hacksaw Ridge - Because it's one of the best war films in recent memory.
    11. Hidden Figures - Because it's an excellent film about a story that should've been told a long time ago.
    10. Jackie - Because Natalie Portman's performance is amazing, & the period elements are amazing.
    9. Everybody Wants Some!! - Because it's the funniest film of the year, & it's one of Richard Linklater's best.
    8. Hell or High Water - Because it's the most enjoyable crime thriller in recent memory.
    7. Nocturnal Animals - Because it's the most aesthetically pleasing film of 2016.
    6. The Lobster - Because it's the weirdest film I've ever seen.
    5. Arrival - Because it's the best sci-fi film I've ever seen.
    4. Moonlight - Because its poetic power is unforgettable.
    3. La La Land - Because it's the best film musical I've ever seen, & Emma Stone is a national treasure.
    2. Manchester by the Sea - Because Casey Affleck gave one of the best performances of the century.
    1. 20th Century Women - Because it's my favorite film of all time.

    You need to watch a lot of those titles you've missed from 2016, & I need to watch a lot of them, namely Christine, O.J.: Made in America, Southside with You, Toni Erdmann, & Tower.

    1. Great list. Moonlight was close for sure. Wish I'd been able to get The Lobster in the Top Ten. Too much good last year.

  3. Love this list! Everybody Wants Some got a whole lotta love in the first half of the year, but it dropped off the radar by the end of it so it's nice to see it get some love.
    I'd love to hear your thoughts on Paterson when you get round to watching it :)

    1. Thanks! Still need to see Paterson. Will catch it soon.

  4. I love that you have The Handmaiden, The Witch, Hell or High Water, La La Land, 20th Century Women and Arrival on here. I agree about 13th. Everyone should see that.

  5. No love for Moonlight? I'm surprised to not see it on your list and see Jackie on there. Jackie was pretty average in my opinion, although Portman gave a spectacular performance...better than Stone's in my opinion.

    1. Moonlight was damn close. Like 11 or 12. I found nothing average about Jackie. I've never seen a movie like it ever, mostly due to Mica Levi's score. And agreed. Portman >>>>> Stone last year. I like that Stone won though.

  6. Great post! I need to move Manchester by the Sea closer to the top of my priority list. I am so sorry about the loss of your dad. I know how horrific the grief of losing a parent can be. <3

    1. Thanks! And thanks for the compassion. Much love.

  7. Seeing Manchester so high up really makes me wanna see it but all those Oscar clips during the ceremony made it look like such a sad movie...but I will eventually see it. Love seeing The Handmaiden and Hell or High Water here, both in my top 3 of the year

    1. Right on. You ended up liking Manchester, right?

  8. Great picks here. Love to see Everybody Wants Some!! pop up on another list! I wish that one got a better release.

    1. Thanks, man. Everybody Wants Some!! is an all timer for me. I've already seen it a dozen times and want to watch it everyday.