Greetings, Movie Fans!
The time has finally come to reveal my ten favorite films from 2016. As I alluded to in my Top 5 Most Disappointing List (if you have not checked that one out yet, please do so!), this was a tough list to put together this year. Don't get me wrong, that's a wonderful problem to have. I would much rather painstakingly comb through a long list of nominees, weed them down to 10, and then struggle to put those in a satisfying order as opposed to having two or three clear-cut winners with the rest being used as glorified filler.
I thought about putting all ten here at once, though that could admittedly get a bit lengthy, so I am going to split the list in half.
Now, with plenty of material to go through, let's do this thing! Here are the first five films for my Top 10 of 2016:
10. THE JUNGLE BOOK
Perhaps once in every other blue moon, a remake so good will come out that it's not only a genuine pleasure to watch, but somehow also manages to improve upon its own source material. Case in point, I present you Exhibit A: Jon Favreau's "The Jungle Book" - an awe-inspiring visual spectacle that few others off the top of my head have managed to pull off successfully, and that's only the beginning. There's no debate that the original 1967 animated feature had plenty of qualities to love about it, including but not limited to, some very colorful characters and infectious song writing. It's also highly recognized as one of the final movies Walt Disney saw through before he passed away, so despite its numerous flaws like occasional recycled animation and a noticeable lack in plot, the original "Jungle Book" has always gotten a pass. What made this new imagining so smart is that Favreau and his crew of filmmakers recognized these issues and filled in the blanks by adding considerably more depth to the story, some darker themes particularly in regards to Shere Khan's character arc, whilst still remembering what made the original fun in the first place. The green screen effects are noticeable in rare instances, though outside of that, it is nearly unbelievable this whole thing was made in a Los Angeles studio and not the lush jungles of India. Highly recommended!
9. THE NEON DEMON
Full review still to come so I'll approach this a little more sparingly, but what I will say is that the new Nicolas Winding Refn's stylish horror-thriller is a immersive combination of dizzying and subtle visuals, a jarring '80s style score, purposefully understated acting to perfectly match its themes, and last but certainly not least, a certain level of grotesque that chills to the bone. We all know there are some films out there that have quickly polarized audiences and critics alike for one reason or another, but after finally get to watch them, it is hard to understand as to why or what the big deal was. "The Neon Demon", on the other hand, polarized its audience and it's completely understandable; this movie is not for everybody. I'd be willing to wager that even those with a casual interest will find their patience put to the test, but for fans of Refn's previous work and those that are up to the challenge, they might find a lot to love here, too.
8. THE VVITCH
Speaking of divided audiences, no other horror movie this past year came close to effectively doing just that quite as starkly as "The VVitch". It is rather ironic in its own right considering that the film starts off with pitchforks and exile, because it takes a brave soul to assert to a crowd of horror fans that it deserves to be recognized as a great film. However, before I'm asked to pack my bags and get out of town, allow me to say that I absolutely recognize and appreciate the naysayers side of the story - a lack in truth in advertising. The initial trailers gave the impression of a dark and dirty scarefest set during the glory days of Salem, and what we got alternatively was a slow-burning, Gothic tale drenched in religious zeal and paranoia. Now, I will not agree to the proclamations that "The VVitch" isn't horror at all, because that only makes me wonder if the same movie is being talked about. The creepiness is consistently lingering beneath the surface of this film, and with the aid of some wonderful directing by newcomer Robert Eggers, this was a superbly atmospheric piece of art. I have since then gladly added this to my collection and look forward to watching it again in the future.
7. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
A better Avengers film than "Age of Ultron"? Definitely. A Captain America sequel that surpasses "The Winter Soldier"? Unfortunately not. Be that as it may, "Civil War" was nonetheless one of the best blockbusters of the year, and now that 2016 is all said and done, the king of the summer movie slate and a satisfying ending to Cap's trilogy. Despite some of the apparent flaws of "Civil War", is anyone really going to contest how just how kick-ass that airport fight scene was? If anything, it should keep the faithful MCU masses intrigued as the familiar chapters of Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, and Thor appear to be coming to an end in the near future after the conclusion of "Avengers: Infinity War", and the Universe as a whole starts to move into more unfamiliar territory with Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, and The Inhumans. Outside of that, there's not a lot to say here. It's an action-packed thrill ride filled with Hollywood superstars that look all-too-natural in their respective roles by now. Chalk up another win for MARVEL.
T-6. ZOOTOPIA & MOANA
Yes, that's right. Every once and a while a Top 10 list gets a cheat, and this is mine. Despite being too very different films from Disney Animation that I highly enjoyed, I could not for the life of me pick one over the other. I loved the characters and social commentary from "Zootopia", and was equally impressed by the music (yes, I feel it does rival "Frozen"), animation, and lore from "Moana". Due to the spacing of their releases, I have had the benefit of seeing "Zootopia" multiple times now, while "Moana" I've only seen once, so a winner could edge itself to the top over the coming months when"Moana" gets its bluray release, though I certainly do not anticipate much of a change. Both collectively prove that creative irons are still burning hot at Disney, and I believe there is every reason to think this winning streak is going to continue for quite some time yet.
I hope you enjoyed the first half of my Top 10 list! Please stop back to see final five titles!