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Opinion: The top ten movies of 2016

Your rating: None Average: 2.8 (12 votes)

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So, anyway, it’s June 2017, which is a great time to talk about the movies of 2016.

Preliminaries

I’ve done this five times before, the ground rules should be clear, but a quick reminder for the uninformed: all movies are my choices, not Flayrah’s, choices are not necessarily furry, movies came out theatrically in 2016 and that’s about it. Usually I do a list of preliminaries, but I’ll save that for Twitter; I don’t remember how to code the boxes, and I’ve changed accounts so I can’t just copy and paste the code, anyway.

Now, without further ado, let the bodies hit the floor!

10. Kung Fu Panda 3

“Wings of disagreement.”
Directed by Alessandro Carloni and Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Theatrical release date – 1/29/2016

The curse has been lifted! This is the first direct sequel to a movie on a previous list to make it on to my top ten list. Seeing as how Kung Fu Panda 2 was ranked at number three by me back in 2011 (and that top three was tight, by the way), coming in at number 10 is a bit of a come down. It just wasn’t as good a movie as the previous two movies in the franchise.

Which is not to say it’s not good; after all, it’s still in the top ten list. It was also a great start to the year for furry movies. A high note that would soon be surpassed, but still a high note. There were a lot of talking animal movies out this year that were very popular, but very few made it on my list. But these characters are still unmissable any year.

9. Suicide Squad

“There's just one teeny problem. You messed with my friends!”
Directed by David Ayer
Theatrical release date – 8/5/2016

Here’s one of my few real disagreements with the critical mass, so get out your popcorn, this might need some unpacking. To explain, I’d like to talk about my choice for worst movie of the year, Captain America: Civil War (and for the record, I have not and probably never will see Batman v Superman, so please don’t think this is a Marvel vs. DC thing). Adding X-Men: Apocalypse (also skipped), three of the four big ensemble superhero movies this year were about friends becoming enemies.

Especially given how this year played out, my objection to those movies is completely ethical. If even our fantasies can’t come together and just like each other, what chance do we have in reality? But then there’s Suicide Squad; a movie with massive technical flaws but that is at heart a movie about enemies becoming friends. &*%$ you, Captain America, you’re the reason Trump is president.

8. Green Room

8.jpg“I know what it is. My desert-island band.”
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Theatrical release date – 5/13/2016

Hey, speaking of characters that really should be punching Nazis instead of their friends, it’s Green Room, the brutal story of a punk band who find themselves fighting for their life after witnessing a murder committed by Nazis. It’s a brutal death march of a movie, and effectively takes the usual horror movie spot on my list.

You know those postmodern movies where they set up an obvious hero and then kill him or her off first? Yeah, this movie has a way better trick; a character who by genre convention you know is dead before the end of the first act suddenly becomes one of the most important characters in the movie. Because just like in real life, there are no redshirts.

7. The BFG

7.jpg“Your madjester, I am your most humbug servant.”
Directed by Stephen Spielberg
Theatrical release date – 7/1/2016
This movie was a pretty good amalgamation of Roald Dahl and Stephen Spielberg. Spielberg’s trademarks feel diluted by Dahl’s, and vice versa. Spielberg brings a lighter touch to the proceedings than the children’s author. Thank goodness for that.

I remember the story being darker than this movie ended up being. I’m okay with that. More than okay. I just praised my yearly horror movie pick for not killing a character off. I was in a mood last year. It was 2016. We were all in a mood.

6. Sully

6.jpg“This is the Captain speaking. Brace for impact.”
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Theatrical release date – 9/9/2016

Speaking of movie amalgamations, here’s one that seems to combine Tom HanksCaptain Phillips (which I liked) and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper (which I didn’t); stories of “real American heroes” who inspired the nation, one way or another. It doesn’t really matter to the ranking, but of the three biopics’ subjects, Captain Sullenberger seems to be the most genuinely humble.

This was also my middlebrow Oscar hope for the year. Well, here’s looking at 2017, anyway. I managed not to get a single movie on this list that went along with the Academy’s Best Picture nominees. First time that’s ever happened.

5. Star Trek Beyond

5.jpg“I like the beats and the shouting.”
Directed by Justin Lin
Theatrical release date – 7/22/2016

Boy, I did not like the trailer for this movie. The choice of the Beastie Boy’s “Sabotage” was questionable. I mean, this is a franchise over half a century old, and we’re getting all nostalgic for a movie that isn’t even a decade old? Really?

But then the actual movie came along, and it made perfect sense. It was really the perfect song for the perfect moment. And it was a real Star Trek movie in a way Star Trek movies, especially the reboots, rarely are. It’s about this cast of characters, and for the first time in the reboot, we get more than a Spock/Kirk bromance. Bones and Spock actually interact! Thank you, director of Fast and Furious movies! Did not expect to write that!

4. Rogue One – A Star Wars Story

4.jpg“I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me.”
Directed by Gareth Edwards
Theatrical release date – 12/16/2016

Who says you have to pick between Star Wars and Star Trek? But, speaking of arbitrary divides, this is a very divisive movie. Perhaps character and plot could be tighter, but the truth of the matter is that, like Suicide Squad, the themes are why those of us who love it do. Hope is obviously there, but for the first time since Han Solo’s blithe dismissal in the original movie, the Force is treated as a religion for a character, rather than a magic power.

And for the first, and probably last time, there are real stakes in a Star Wars movie. These characters aren’t important franchise characters, so they can die. Yeah, sure, there was a death in The Force Awakens involving a beloved character, but, honestly, I didn’t really feel much. But I felt things here. Hands down, the best Star Wars prequel ever!

3. The Jungle Book

3.jpg“Hey, guys.”
Directed by Jon Favreau
Theatrical release date – 4/15/2016

I really didn’t go into this movie expecting it to actually have something to say, other than possibly “hey, wasn’t The Jungle Book fun as a cartoon; maybe you’ll like it in live action, too.” But it actually did have something to say, which was basically “gosh, Mowgli wasn’t really much of a character in the old movie.”

This movie gives Mowgli a much less passive role; he makes his own decisions, and does things that the cartoon Mowgli never would have thought of. Things don’t just happen to him; he happens to things. And some of the things he can do are wonderful.

2. Deadpool

2.jpg“I know, right?”
Directed by Tim Miller
Theatrical release date – 2/16/2016

I think the best part of picking Deadpool as my second favorite movie of the year is that, going by precursor awards, it came this close to being the movie that connected the Best Picture field and my top ten. It was, for instance, the only Producers Guild of America pick that wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. Of course, in the end, it couldn’t even get a Makeup and Hairstyling nomination. Even Suicide Squad got one of those (and then won it). Anyway, enjoy your Sound Editing nomination, Sully.

So, I guess I should actually talk about the movie rather than its lack of Oscar nominations. It’s pretty funny, I guess. There’s a little bit more to it than that, but, I mean, it’s a movie about Deadpool. The funny thing is the important part.

1. Zootopia

1.jpg“Oh, so there’s a them now?”
Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore
Theatrical release date – 3/4/2016

Well, I mean, duh. All this movie had to do was not completely suck and it was going to make the list; all it had to do was be good and it would be top five. Pretty good, and it’s number one, easy. Of course, given the massive anticipation for this movie I had for this movie, it could also easily disappoint me even if it was pretty good, and find itself out of the running that way. So, it had better be really pretty good.

So, the fact that it was better than I expected is amazing. At first it seems cute and cuddly, but there are fangs under the fuzz (and deep, painful wounds under that). This movie somehow managed to get more and more relevant as the year went on; I repeatedly joked last summer if Trump wins, I’m moving to Zootopia. Well, so long guys. It’s been real.

Comments

Your rating: None

I finally am basically done with my top 10 list of animated films released in 2016, and two of them are on your list, Zootopia (which was my #1) and Kung Fu Panda 3 (my #9).

Your rating: None

...and, my list is posted, to any who may be interested.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Kind of confused you knocked Moana for cultural misappropriation, when it at least starred Polynesian actors in the two biggest roles, but not Kubo, which only featured Japanese actors in minor roles.

Not that I was big fan of either ("Disney princess that isn't like those other Disney princesses" is kind of becoming it's own annoying genre and Lin Miranda's music makes me gassy, and Kubo, well, I was really glad when my brother ended up admitting he didn't really like it all that much, because I was like, oh, good, it's not just me and pro-Zootopia awards bias), but really this seems like a pretty decent ranking.

Your rating: None

I think we are using different definitions of 'cultural misappropriation', both of which are valid aspects of a film to examine. You were referring to the culture of the voice actors cast in the roles. I was referring to how faithful Disney was to the traditional stories and characters Moana was based upon.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I have a feeling Your Name is guaranteed a spot on my top 10 for 2017 already.

Your rating: None

"&*%$ you, Captain America, you’re the reason Trump is president." I need more details on your reasoning.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

"you're the reason Trump is president" is the new "thanks Obama", duh.

Your rating: None

You'd be surprised how often I hear those two phrases in the same sentence, separated by a comma.

In that, it is greater than zero.

Your rating: None

2014 - "This movie is dark; it revolves around a group of Nazis so bad the other Nazis were all like, “Whoah, hey, tone it down!” infiltrating America’s government and defense forces in a scheme to rule the world by killing pretty much everyone; and they almost get away with it! But through it all, Captain America is Captain America; he fights for truth, justice and the American way. Things get dark, but he doesn’t. Captain America, heck yeah! (He wouldn’t like me cursing.)"

2015 - "Before we begin, I would like to point out that Joss Whedon totally stole my Captain America joke from last year, you guys."

2016 - "Especially given how this year played out, my objection to those movies is completely ethical. If even our fantasies can’t come together and just like each other, what chance do we have in reality? But then there’s Suicide Squad; a movie with massive technical flaws but that is at heart a movie about enemies becoming friends. &*%$ you, Captain America, you’re the reason Trump is president."

2017 - I am so sorry I ever doubted you.

(Of course, the current comics version ... is actually a Nazi-so-bad-the-other-Nazis-kicked-them-out right now, but that's actually due to the villains using a major magical plot device and not his fault, so he'll come around probably.)

Your rating: None Average: 2 (1 vote)

Not feeling this one

Your rating: None

I can't resist chiming in on movies, one of my favorite pastimes.

Actually I think its good to wait at least a couple months into the new year to consider the movies from the year before. This gives year-end movies time to marinate in the mind before they eclipse movies released from earlier in the year + allows for a grace period of catch-up with other movies might have missed.

Of your list I liked Star Trek Beyond and Deadpool the best (and one other that made my own top 10 below... guess which one!) The new Jungle Book (and also Pete's Dragon) left me kinda "meh". Green Room had a scene that almost made me pass out (I bet you know which gory part I'm thinking of.) Didn't catch The BFG or Sully, so no opinion on those.

Here's mine in ascending order...

10. The Witch
What this horror movie lacks in scares it makes up for in heavy, dreaded atmosphere. A lone family struggles with occult forces tearing them apart they cannot fully comprehend. Set in 1770's America with old English dialog to match. Oh, and a very underrated performance from Black Phillip, animal actor extraordinaire!

9. Finding Dory
Don't hate me for saying this, but upon initial viewing of I thought this surpassed Zootopia for anthro movie of the year. Yes, I know the plot is partially derivative of the same story in Finding Nemo, but darn it I loved it much more than I thought I was going to. It has since fallen somewhat with repeated viewings, but still a good movie, IMO.

8. La La Land
I know there's a backlash on this film for its the critical praise and Oscar attention (which it memorably lost to the well-deserving Moonlight on awards night), but it had a charm I couldn't resist despite some of its shortcomings (like forgetting it was a musical half-way into the movie!)

7. Don't Think Twice
Nice light comedy about friends in a improv group, and what happens when that friendship dynamic is upended when one is suddenly propelled into fame.

6. The Dressmaker
Quirky little indie comedy/drama from Australia (starring Brit actress Kate Winslet). Imagine placing a vengeful fashion designer in the environment of a "Spaghetti-Western". Sounds weird, but..

5. The Lobster
..is weirder still! This sci-fi movie should be of some interests to furries, as it asks the questions of our human protagonists: "What animal would you like to be turned in to?" The plot explores the chasm between single people and paired couples in the most hilariously deadpan way. Fans of Wes Anderson movies might like this one.

4. Sing Street
Infectious rock-musical of a teen in 1980's Dublin connecting with the new-wave music of the era as a means of forming a band to win the affections of the girl he loves. Sounds hokey, but I left that movie with a big smile on my heart.

3. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Much like Green Room this movie is tension-ripe with three individuals confined to a limited location, in this case an underground bunker. It doesn't help that one of these individuals is a conspiracy theorist (performed wonderfully by John Goodman) who might have a few screws loose. Even if you can guess where the story is headed the journey getting there is the nail-biting fun.

2. The Handmaiden
Korean/Japanese film about con artists taking advantage of a lone wealthy woman, but one of the artists unexpectedly falls for her, putting the entire plan into jeopardy. The film's structure essentially tells the same story twice, but from different character perspectives that reveal fascinating new plot twists in the process.

1. Zootopia
Is this really my #1 of 2016? Maybe, maybe not, but for the big screen, furry spectacle that it was its difficult for me to place it anywhere else. Nick and Judy had one of the best on screen chemistries of any duo this year, animated or not. Of course the movie wouldn't be memorable as it was if not for a script that, even without considering its timely race-relation commentary, makes for a simply good crime caper.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Deadpool
The Eagle Huntress
Star Trek Beyond
Anomalisa
Moonlight

GUILTY PLEASURES:
The Angry Birds Movie
Storks
(I know, I can't help it! I love my birdies, what do you expect?)

Your rating: None

Uh, Don't Think Twice is one I'm really conflicted on whether I even want to see it. I love Mike Birbiglia's stand up, but ... improv. Not a fan of improv comedy, and don't know if I'm going to be able to watch a whole movie about it.

So, I haven't seen it yet, but it's like I'm paralyzed about it.

Your rating: None

There are only a few key scenes of the characters performing their craft onstage. It's not a concert film, with most of the story happening off-stage. Part of what makes these characters amusing is that even when not in front of an audience they can't stop themselves from performing, even in some uncomfortably serious moments.

I wasn't familiar with Birbiglia's stand up prior to this film (nor have I seen his first movie Sleepwalk With Me) so this was a nice discovery for me.

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a red fox

New teeth. That's weird.