It’s almost Oscar time, the night where we award the film that covers the most popular social issue on the internet from the previous year. (Truly, when was the last time the best movie of the year won best movie?)
So, since the nominations for best film are never quite right, I’ve made it my annual tradition to compile my own list of the year’s best. Here are my 10 favorite movies of 2016.
10. Paterson: I actually just saw this film very recently when I had an afternoon to kill. I figured ‘At the very least, Adam Driver is always entertaining’ and went in with pretty modest expectations. Halfway through, I never would have expected it to come close to my top 10. Overall, the story doesn’t have much plot and mainly just follows the life of a New Jersey bus driver who writes poetry over the course of one week. But for some reason, this film just got to me on a personal level. I spent the entire day after questioning whether I had more to offer, but am just wasting my life in a mediocre career because I’m too afraid of failing. Because this simple moving picture was able to get to me so much, I couldn’t possibly leave it off of this list.
9. Hacksaw Ridge: Oh nooo, how dare I put something with Mel Gibson’s name on it on here! So many biographical dramas are hard to sit through, but this here is a story worth telling. As always, Gibson doesn’t hold back on any of the gore in this story of how a pacifist won the Medal of Honor in WWII. Truly just brilliantly told and a must-see.
8. Silence: I read this book a couple of years back when I heard Martin Scorsese was finally in production with this faithful adaptation of a powerful novel by Shūsaku Endō. As somebody raised in a strict, Catholic environment this one really hit home, but I truly think this a story that can leave people of all creeds and backgrounds walking away with something.
7. Hell or Highwater: Often when I see a film like this come out my initial thoughts are “Great, here’s another Texas crime drama where a really good looking dude does a deep, generic southern accent and then gets shot by an old sheriff in the end.” And while parts of that statement might be true, this one was well worth the price of admission. Truly there were times I was on the edge of my seat, and confused whether to root for the cops or criminals. Plus Jeff Bridges is just awesome.
6. The Edge of Seventeen: I hate to copy every critic on Rotten Tomatoes and say “reminiscent of a John Hughes’ film” but it’s just so true. The always reliable Hailee Steinfeld really knocks it out of the park in this awkward, coming of age dark comedy that presses on all the weird emotions that come with being a pain in the ass teen trying to find your place in the world.
5. Lion: This one really reminded me a lot of Slumdog Millionaire, and weirdly made me want to adopt and Indian kid. Just an overall awesome true story that, for once, makes modern technology feel like a blessing. Plus, I gotta say, Dev Patel does a killer Aussie accent.
4. La La Land: I have to admit, I am a little disappointed that this movie is getting so much more love than Damien Chazelle’s last film Whiplash, but still found this to be such an enjoyable watch. Truly a celebration of a by-gone era of music, dance, and cinema. Most likely it’ll clean up at the Academy Awards, but I have no qualms with that. It’s hard to root against a team of Chazelle, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, and John Legend.
3. Land of Mine: This is a story I had never heard before I saw this picture. German soldiers sent to Denmark after WWII to remove land mines buried on practically every beach in the country. Going in, I was half expecting a Tarantino style revenge film, but it was anything but that. It doesn’t take long until you find yourself emotionally attached to these kids and rooting for them to somehow make it back home alive.
2. Nocturnal Animals: I can’t remember the last time I watched something that made my heart beat so fast for such an extended period of time. A three-arc story that comes together for an experience that is both visually and emotionally fantastic. Tom Ford proves he can direct, and Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon dominate on screen as usual.
1. Sing Street: “Who the hell are you to tell me what to do? You wear a dress and tell me not to wear brown shoes.” For months after I first saw this film I couldn’t go a day without recommending it to somebody. John Carney really captures the mindset of a teen who has yet to be been ruined by life, and still believes through music, and love he can concur anything. The tunes are awesome, the dialogue is hilarious, and the conclusion will touch your heart. Truly a shame that this brilliant piece of Irish film has been shutout by the Oscars.