Opinion: The top ten movies of 2016
So, anyway, it’s June 2017, which is a great time to talk about the movies of 2016.
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
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.
“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
“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
“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.
“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 Hanks’ Captain 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.
“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!
“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!
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.
“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.
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.