Here’s a look at my picks for the Top 10 movies of 2016. Of course, while I do see a lot of movies— 58 this year, and that’s just theatrical releases— I’m not able to see every movie that comes out, and so this list is limited to only those movies I have seen.
We’ll start with #10 and count down to #1:
10. THE INFILTRATOR
Excellent performance by Bryan Cranston powers this crime drama which tells the true story of how U. S. Customs Official Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) went undercover to take down a Columbian drug lord.
9. THE JUNGLE BOOK
Loved this remake of Disney’s animated THE JUNGLE BOOK (1967), and I’m a huge fan of that original 1967 animated classic. Special effects here were amazing, and I really liked how director Jon Favreau made this family friendly film a serious hard-hitting adventure.
The role Ryan Reynolds has been waiting for. Sure, this vulgar, violent tale isn’t for everybody, but the humor is spot-on. My second favorite superhero movie of the year. Best part is it is so unlike other traditional superhero movies.
7. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
My pick for the best superhero movie of 2016. Plays much more like THE AVENGERS 2.5, rhis exciting tale pits Team Captain America vs. Team Iron Man, and the rift between these two friends comes off as real and believable, something that the similarly themed BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016) failed miserably at. The scenes with newcomer Tom Holland as Spider-Man are off-the-charts good.
6. EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
Hilarious comedy-drama starring Hailee Steinfeld as a seventeen year-old dealing with life as a teenager. Things get complicated when her best friend starts dating her older brother. Topnotch script and direction by writer/director Kelly Fremon Craig.
Now we get down to my picks for the Top 5 movies of 2016:
5. HANDS OF STONE
Critics panned this movie, but I absolutely loved this boxing pic about boxing champ Roberto Durant. Edgar Ramirez gives a spirited performance as Roberto Durant, and he’s supported by a fine cast which includes Robert De Niro, Ruben Blades, and Usher Raymond as Sugar Ray Leonard. Excellent movie, much better than critics gave it credit for, although admittedly I am a sucker for boxing movies.
4. HELL OR HIGH WATER
Easily could be my pick for the best movie of the year, this impeccably made crime drama follows a Texas crime spree by two brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner Howard (Ben Foster) with an old Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) hot on their trail. Features fantastic peformances by the three leads. Jeff Bridges is amazing as always, and the same can be said of Ben Foster, and it’s also fun to see Chris Pine get to do a whole lot more than when he plays Captain Kirk in the rebooted STAR TREK movies. Riveting direction by David Mackenzie, and a phenomenal thought-provoking script by one of my favorite screen writers working today, Taylor Sheridan.
Easily the most efficient film of the year, SULLY, starring Tom Hanks, and directed by Clint Eastwood, clocks in at a brisk 96 minutes, and not a minute is wasted. It tells the emotionally riveting true tale of pilot Chesley Sullenberger, aka “Sully,” and his decision to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River. It’s an amazing story because all the passengers on the plane survived, and the film makes things even more compelling as it follows the subsequent investigation by officials who questioned Sully’s decision to land in the water in the first place. SULLY features another remarkable performance by Tom Hanks, and yet another superb directorial effort by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood is 86 years old, and yet SULLY plays with as much energy, oomph, and emotion as if directed by someone half that age. I left the theater incredibly impressed.
2. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
This film could also have been my number one pick of the year. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is a finely acted drama, led by two powerhouse performances by Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, about a man Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) thrust into a life-changing situation as he finds himself having to care fo for his deceased brother’s sixteen year-old son. His life in a shambles due to an earlier traumatic event, Lee knows he’s not the man for the job, but since there is no on else, he pushes himself to live up to his brother’s wishes and care for his nephew. Atmospheric direction by writer/director Kenneth Lonergan, with a script that is as honest and believable as they come.
And now, for my pick for the Number 1 movie of 2016:
- LA LA LAND
My pick for the Best Movie of 2016 also happened to be the last movie I saw in 2016, LA LA LAND. What a fabulous way to end the calendar year! LA LA LAND is an absolutely wonderful movie.
I loved the energy writer/director Damien Chazelle brings to this one. The opening dance number on a gridlocked L.A. freeway dazzles, and the film never looks back. Emma Stone gives the best performance of her career to date, imbuing her struggling actress character Mia with so much raw emotion and quirky pizzazz she’s one of the liveliest characters I’ve seen on screen in a long while. Ryan Gosling is just as good as jazz musician Sebastian in this uplifting almost magical musical which follows Mia and Sebastian through a romance in which they help each other achieve their artistic dreams before reality ultimately sets in, forcing them to make decisions which affect their future. A remarkable movie and genuine crowd pleaser.
Hands down, LA LA LAND is the Best Movie I saw in 2016.
Okay, that about wraps things up for today. Thanks for joining me in 2016, and here’s to another fine year of movies in 2017!
Thanks for reading!
Books by Michael Arruda:
TIME FRAME, science fiction novel by Michael Arruda.
IN THE SPOOKLIGHT, movie review collection by Michael Arruda.
FOR THE LOVE OF HORROR, short story collection by Michael Arruda.