Sunday, February 19, 2017

Best films of 2016

2016 was an interesting year for films. The comic book properties continued to deliver in terms of  box office revenue, some elevating the quality output, such as Scott Derrickson's "Doctor Strange", others simply not so inventive or interesting, such as Bryan Singer's "X-Men: Apocalypse". The Summer crop for big budget films, turned out to be quite mediocre, even with some great talent behind the lens (Duncan Jones's "Warcraft" was a missed opportunity), but the year ended with a few strong surprises from young directors and seasoned veterans, that made my list of great films for this year. I usually place my favorite film first on the list, and this year that place goes to Denis Villenuve's "Arrival".

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O'Brien, Tzi Ma, Abigail Pniowsky, Jadyn Malone, Julia Scarlett Dan, Larry Day

La La Land
Director: Damian Chazelle
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend, J.K. Simmons

Director: Pablo Larrain
Stars: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup, Greta Gerwig, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, John Carroll Lynch, Beth Grant, Max Casella, Corey Johnson, Caspar Phillipson, Ralph Brown

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Ciaran Hinds, Shin'ya Tsukamoto, Tadanobu Asano, Issei Ogata, Yoshi Oida

Director: Barry Jenkins
Stars: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Alex R. Hibbert, Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, Jharrel Jerome, Andre Holland, Patrick Decile

Kubo and the Two Strings
Director: Travis Knight
Stars: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, Matthew McConaughey, George Takei, Brenda Vaccaro, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Meyrick Murphy, Laura Miro, Alpha Takahashi, Minae Noji

The Neon Demon
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Stars: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Desmond Harrington, Charles Baker, Jamie Clayton, Stacey Danger

20th Century Women
Director: Mike Mills
Stars: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann, Thea Gill, Alison Elliott, Alia Shawkat

The Jungle Book
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Neel Sethi, Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken, Garry Shandling, Brighton Rose

Midnight Special
Director: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher, Sam Shepard, Bill Camp, Scott Haze, Paul Sparks, David Jensen

Special highlights should go to the following films that were equally impressive: Whit Stillman's Love and Friendship,  Robert Eggers' The Witch, Kleber Mendonca's Aquarius, J.A. Bayona's A Monster Calls, Steven Spielberg's The BFG, Andre Techine's Being 17, Park Chan-Wook's The Handmaiden and Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals. The films that simply failed on multiple levels include David Yates' The Legend of Tarzan, Anna Foerster's Underworld: Blood Wars and James Bobin's Alice Through the Looking Glass.