Best films of 2016

This is going to be a long post but I hope you enjoy it 🙂

So once again, here we are. 2016 has been a crazy year to say the least.

This year’s movies have been a reflection of a sentiment that our individual voices are important, and that different parts and groups of society have equally important stories to tell. It is a reflection, also, of the way that individual’s struggle to define who they are perhaps even more so in our world today. In times like these, the most important and difficult question is possibly, ‘Who are we?’ and ‘Where do we belong?’

My favourite films of 2016 are coincidentally (or not) reflective of that internal struggle. These films explored who we are in some shape or form, and offered different interpretations. Prominent are themes like coming-of-age, sexuality, the way we approach the world and the impacts that our social environment has on us. Another trend among movies this year is genre-blending which I think deserves great artistic merit. And I say this every year…but it’s true, 2016 was a great year for movies. I gave my top 6 films a 10/10, which is the most I’ve ever given since I started rating films since 2014. Most of them really spoke to me, so maybe 2016 might even be a special year for film when I look back.

Anyhow, enough of the blabbering. Here are my best films of the year (click the title of the film to see my review)

10. Lion

Beautiful.Simple.Touching. If 2015 had Room, then 2016 has Lion. Based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, who lost touch with his family in India after being adopted by an Australian family. Lion adapts his own experiences years later when he decides to look for his long-lost family with the help of his dusted memories and Google Maps. I cried so much in the cinema and it wasn’t surprising everyone in the theater was too. It is an uplifting journey through a tumultuous past and the power of undying love and faith that makes Lion one of the most moving films of the year.

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9. Victoria

Victoria is a film novelty even without discussing the film itself. Shot between 5.42 AM to 7.56 AM, this is a one-take, one-shot film through Berlin. Through the lonely streets soaked by yellow gas lamps, and the strobe-lit underground night-clubs, Victoria follows the story of a Spanish girl who spends a night with a few German guys she meets. The result is a night of unpredictable fun and sobering reality. Part coming-of-age and part heist crime thriller, Victoria made me feel uncomfortable and extremely exhausted with a pace and tension never experienced before. By the end, I was visibly shaken. This throbbing in-the-now film is excessive and crazy with all its hard-living characters, but there is profound reflection to be found.

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8. Fences

Fences, based on the play by August Wilson, is essentially about the failed American Dream and the people left behind in its ruthless reality. I liked the fact that Denzel preserved the style of a play and the dialogue which really is the heart and soul of the play. Fans of literarure will especially enjoy this. But it isn’t easy to watch. And still, even as it’s characters struggle to hustle in the world amid racial discrimination and systemic inequality, Fences shows that there is still value in living a life and there is joy to be found. Powerfully acted by Denzel Washington, Viola Davis and the rest of the cast, Fences is an ode to the hustlers out there.

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7.American Honey

American Honey, to me, is about roadtrip reflections, raging desires and rural America. As you can tell, it’s a pretty ambitious movie with a mixed bag of themes that intertwine and are frankly quite intriguing to me. Detractors of the film say it’s pretentious. But that always happens with films like that. It’s hypnotic even when it’s probably too long, and captivating even when nothing much seems to be going on. With a stellar modern soundtrack (mostly from unknown rap,country,pop bands), creative direction from Andrea Arnold and brilliant acting from Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf, American Honey is an open-ended journey of self-discovery underscored by the realities of social inequality in America.

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6.The Handmaiden

If you’ve seen Oldboy, then you would be pleased to know that Park Chan Wook has directed another outrageous film in The Handmaiden. Adapted from the British novel, Fingersmith, The Handmaiden is as gorgeous as it is depraved. It is dark, stylish, sensual and sexually provocative film that encompasses deception, class system and indulgence. It isn’t just deep, I was into this film throughout…clenching my teeth and reeling in shock. As the film progressed, it became clear that whatever I knew was basically false, and it’s best just to surrender yourself to Park’s psychosexual thriller. Through layers of misdirection and perversion, you’d be surprised at what lies at the beating heart of this darkness.

handmaiden

5.The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle was the best animated film of 2016. Hands down. I’m not even going to preface this with some nonsense like ‘in my opinion.’ (I’m kidding but seriously…) This is,by far, one of the most soul-searching films I’ve ever seen. And to have that in an animation film takes a lot of gut. The story is actually very simple.But the simplest stories can be the most thoughtful. A man finds himself shipwrecked on an island that is pretty much cut off from any form of civilization.  The protagonist is subject to life’s mysterious ways and the tides that catch him in its waves, sweeping him along its unknowable currents. At once a corporeal drama about our earthly existence and a surreal passage of life, The Red Turtle is immensely provocative, heartfelt and achingly beautiful.

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4.Girls Lost

The funny thing about Girls Lost was I saw this in ‘Art-House’ selection of films on a flight. At that point I was just really surprised the airline even had an art-house selection…what the heck?! Seriously, I wouldn’t have heard of it otherwise because it’s such a small swedish indie film that probably didn’t screen anywhere. It’s hard to even find it online, but if you feel adventurous, seek it out 🙂 Girls Lost is a sort of surreal mythic-esque film about a group of girls who chance upon this flower that gives them the ability change sex for a day. Girl’s Lost attempts to synchronize interactions with the outside world and the ones we have in ourselves. Amid the conflictions within our hearts and the nature of life, identity is a fragile thing constantly thrown about and unwittingly morphed. But we have to…as the film suggests(in my opinion)…hold on to the hope that we will one day grasp it and be make it ours. But there are so many ways you can view it, and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

For people that especially like films that upends traditional notions of gender and sexuality, this will be quite insightful.

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3.Paterson

Paterson is probably the most unpretentious film of 2016. No charades, plot contrivances and no person on or off screen that tries to sell you a story or an emotion; Nothing to tell you how you should feel or think. That’s why I love it so much. It just is. The story follows the life of a bus-driver (Adam Driver) and his routine at work, his conversations at the local bar, his love for poetry, his wife and dog. That’s it. Unremarkable? Well, you’d be surprised. Because it is in this very unremarkable mundanity of life, the drone existence of it all and its increasing meaningless (nilhilistic even) attributes that life is found. It is a celebration of the little things in our little lives. While the things we do may not be significant or grand, it carries all the weight of importance to our lives and the lives we touch.

Beautiful in simplicity, yet introspective and touching in unexpected ways. Extra points for the mega cute bulldog!

2.The Witch

I take pride in my love for The Witch which was that film that some of the mainstream didn’t ‘get’. It’s this allegorical tale of tragic fate, the falsehood of our beliefs, religious and social repression, and the ambiguous nature of evil. It wasn’t a horror film. It was an intense and cerebral screwball. It was so great because it was so cynical. At the end, far from just creating doubt in its characters, the film has seduced us into the very same pit of doubt. ‘Evil’ becomes a hauntingly abstract figment…strangely elusive and yet sympathetically human.

There’s Freud and Nietzsche and all kinds of readings and interpretations you can take away from the film, I just really really LOVED it. You don’t see films like that, films that go very deep into psychoanalysis.

If you’ve read (and loved) Henry James’ Victorian classic, The Turn Of The Screw, then you have to watch this.

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1. Moonlight

We’ve come to this point where I’ve been saying something along the lines of ‘I’ve never seen a film like that before’ for a number of films on this list. And well, unsurprisingly, I’ve also never seen anything like Moonlight. Moonlight is unconventional and groundbreaking but, more importantly, a timely breakthrough in the way minority groups are portrayed. It’s a story about a gay black boy and the difficulties he faces growing up in his community. Personally, I’ve never seen a film that spoke to me more than Moonlight has. And it’s not as if we come from the same place as the protagonist. But there is universality in this personal journey. It’s hard to describe a film about love, friendship, difficult circumstances, fate, the endless poignant search for who we really are. But if I could, in the same vein as how the movie ends, it’s this – We live a lifetime full of moments and sometimes, by choice or design, live moments that shape a lifetime.

A film that makes the emotions and interactions between characters its main subject-The result is a tender look at the human in every one of its characters and the same longing and affection we seek all our lives. Moonlight really touched me.

moonlight

Top 20 inluding honourable mentions ranked 11-20

  1. Moonlight
  2. The Witch
  3. Paterson
  4. Girls Lost
  5. The Red Turtle
  6. The Handmaiden
  7. American Honey
  8. Fences
  9. Victoria
  10. Lion
  11. Arrival
  12. Mustang (released in 2015 like Victoria, but I saw it in 2016. Fantastic film about female empowerment)
  13. Captain Fantastic
  14. The Little Prince
  15. Jackie
  16. Pete’s Dragon
  17. Under The Shadow
  18. Loving
  19. The Invitation
  20. Nocturnal Animals

best films of 2016 FINAL.JPG

 

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29 Comments Add yours

  1. Robin Write says:

    Nice list. Love that The Witch poster you found.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks man!! Appreciate it 🙂 Yeah, I just stumbled across it, I think it’s one of the alternate posters by A24. Really captures the victorian painting-like feel.

      Like

      1. Robin Write says:

        It does. Look for the photo of Anya Taylor-Joy with the goat’s head. LOVE IT!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. jwforeva says:

        Oh yeah I’ve seen that one 🙂 Wait I’ve seen one where she kind of hugs the goat from behind,not sure if we’re talking about the same thing. They’re all so haunting

        Like

  2. katelon says:

    Thanks for the list. I just saw “Arrival” last night and loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      No prob!! It’s always fun coming up with my favourite films of the year :)) Great! I was just in awe the whole time,it just missed my top 10!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks :)) Better than the past two years I feel. What films made your list?

      Like

      1. My list is been fairly similar; however, I would’ve stuck Nocturnal animals and Green Room into my top 10 instead of Lion and The Witch.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. jwforeva says:

        Cool :)) I couldn’t bring myself to like Green room though,guess it’s just not for me. Nocturnal was so mysterious, I really liked it too

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Solid list…I actually haven’t seen most of these! Victoria looks really interesting, but I don’t remember seeing this one anywhere, or even in theaters?? AND THE HANDMAIDEN! I keep slapping myself for not watching the screener while I had it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks :)) Yeah I had to find it online, it was actually released last year but only in Germany. It’s quite a unique movie and a very exhausting one.
      That’s just…shocking 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chris says:

    Very interesting top 20. Moonlight certainly moved me as well. Victoria impressed me for its uncompromising one-take style. There’s a sense of bad things might happen and the unpredictable story kept me on the edge of my seat. Curious to see what the director does next!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks Chris 🙂 Cool! Not many people watch indie/independent cinema enough,glad you loved them as much as I did! Yeah, I was just so tense throughout. Some people think the one take is a gimmick,but I thought it enriched the story. Me too! What made your top 10/20?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Chris says:

        Still working on my top 10. Victoria I count as 2015 as it was released in my country then. Top 3 of 2016 so far:
        1. The Neon Demon
        2. O.J.: Made in America (TV Mini-series)
        3. I, Daniel Blake

        Like

    2. Bobinsky says:

      Ii found Victoria online too. It was tough.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brenda says:

    Oh, the films should be very interesting. I saw only “Fenches”. I really want to see the “Girls Lost” description of this film intrigued. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      How did you find it? Yeah, I always like films with interesting concepts, Girls Lost is definitely one of them! Hope you can watch it somewhere, and please tell me your thoughts 🙂

      Like

  6. bloggeray says:

    I’ve only watched two of the 20 listed here, although I do plan to watch quite a few of the rest.
    Great job. This finishes your FANA series too, doesn’t it? Great work in watching, reviewing and awarding the movies. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks man!! And I’m glad you enjoyed the series! Actually I still have a few more categories to post,but I wanted to post this one before the Oscars 🙂 I hope you do!! And send me a link if you’re doing a best of 2016 list, I’m excited to know!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bloggeray says:

        You’re welcome, dude. Regarding the top-10 list, I don’t know. I’ve watched too few 2016 movies to honestly do a list like that, although I’d have loved to. Let’s see if I am able to do that or not. I’ll definitely inform you in case I did that.

        Like

  7. Keith says:

    Sadly Paterson and Silence didn’t land here until after the deadline for my list otherwise both would have made my Top 10. SO glad to see your enthusiasm for Paterson. Jarmusch is such a unique filmmaker. I’m still not with the masses on Moonlight but I love several other films you list. Also see a couple I need to track down. You have me very interested in them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      I was just reading you review on Paterson the other day and I’m gonna pen some thoughts down later! Glad you loved it as well, its a 10/10 for me. You just don’t get films that don’t try to be anything more than a snapshot of life. The understated nature actually makes it more meaningful. First Jarmusch film I’ve seen, are his other films like that as well?

      I saw Silence and I thought it was kind of awkward, I don’t know, it felt very heavy-handed. Oh, what part of Moonlight didn’t work for you? As you can see, I’m so #teammoonlight haha. Hope you get to see them,will be looking forward to your reviews :))

      Like

      1. Keith says:

        For me Moonlight fell over dramatically when Ali left the screen. Aside from some very intriguing camera choices the rest of film felt incredibly simplistic. Not terrible, but far from special (for me). I’m also not as keen on some of the performances. But I do appreciate people’s enthusiasm for it.

        Like

  8. I highly recommend you watch the old HBO series ‘The Wire’ if you ever get a chance. It takes the Moonlight type storyline to a whole other level and does it so much better and cognizently. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Hey Peggy!! 🙂 Oh cool, I’ll check it out asap! Thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The Vern says:

    Moonlight was a really good watch and I enjoyed the performances but I feel there were scenes lost in the movie. I know I need to rewatch it. I nominated you for a Mystery Blogger Award https://videovortex.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/a-triple-shot-of-mystery-blogger-awards/

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Bobinsky says:

    No 10 Cloverfield Lane… ah 😦

    Like

  11. Shimky says:

    Hi J!

    Many thanks for your list of faves. There are a lot I still haven’t seen, including Moonlight!

    I see that Manchester by the Sea is not mentioned. I really liked that one, as well as The Witch and Victoria. But I absolutely hated Nocturnal Animals!!

    JW FOREVA!

    Peace
    Shimky

    Liked by 1 person

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