Okay, we’re picking up where we left off. If you missed it, here’s Part 1 with numbers 25 through 16! Moving on with . . .
The Top 25 Films of 2016
15. 20th Century Women
If not for its well-deserved Golden Globe nominations, I might have missed out on 20th Century Women. What a shame that would have been. This film, by writer/director Mike Mills, works on multiple levels and excels on all of them. A little bit of a comedy and a little bit of a drama, the film comes at the audience by daring them to look at life from the perspectives of the people around them, rather than just their own. There’s not an adult on the planet that wouldn’t pick up a little bit of wisdom from this film, and – despite being a quiet and lowkey experience – it’s also entertaining along the way. (Original post.)
14. Manchester by the Sea
Manchester by the Sea is a tough but rewarding experience. It has a reputation for being unrelentingly depressing, but if that had been the case, it would have come in lower on my list. The film is ultimately about the importance of family. Yes, sad things happen. But the characters also learn and grow and change in inspiring ways. At its heart, the themes of hope and love reverberate throughout the film. Throw some impressive performances and directing into the mix and Manchester by the Sea is a film that should resonate with anyone who has someone in their life that matters to them. (Original post.)
13. Hell or High Water
In what can most efficiently be described as a modern western, Hell or High Water tells the story of a pair of charismatic bank-robbing brothers who are trying to take the shortcut to a better life while being pursued by a pair of equally-charismatic law officers who are determined to catch them and hold them responsible for their crimes. The standout in this film is Jeff Bridges who, as Officer Marcus Hamilton, steals the show with his sly jabs at his partner and his raw skills in enforcing the law. The fact that a man can say such inappropriate things to a friend and still come off as undeniably likable is a testament to Bridges. The rest of the film is a quick-witted, fast-moving caper that’s always one step ahead of the audience. (Original post.)
“Break the conventions and act like it’s no big thing.” That must have been Disney’s mantra when crafting the masterpiece that is Moana. For the first time that I can recall offhand, Disney released an animated feature film with a female lead that didn’t even hint at or mention the possibility of a romantic interest. Pixar released Brave in 2012 which was similar in that regard. But, in that film, while Merida had no desire for a relationship, the very idea of a relationship was a large part of the story and directly led to the film’s primary conflict. In Moana, nobody even has love on the mind and Moana, herself, is allowed to exist as an independent character who just happens to also be a woman. And Disney never feels the need to call attention to it, which would just dilute the impact. It’s refreshing. Amidst all this is peerless animation, powerful music (not Frozen-powerful, but good, regardless), and excellent voicework. The story is fast and fun, while also sending a great message to kids and adults alike. (Original post.)
11. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Ohhhhhh, so close to making my Top Ten of 2016! Sorry, Star Wars, this year it’s the bridesmaid instead of the bride (or the groomsman instead of the groom. It works both ways, you know.). That’s not in any way a slam on the film, though. Rogue One delivered in all of the expected ways and then in plenty of unexpected ways, too. People whining about the digital versions of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin and Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia notwithstanding (people complain about anything that’s new or different. They’ll get over themselves.), the film thrilled audiences with old-school Star Wars action that harkened back to the original trilogy. And then it surprised audiences with its explanation as to why these characters were nowhere to be found in those classic films. There were plenty of potential reasons for that, and the filmmakers picked a difficult one to pull off in a barn-burning blockbuster. I salute them for not going easy on themselves. What wasn’t surprising was Felicity Jones delivering an outstanding, layered performance as Jyn Erso. All of this adds up to a superior film that left audiences wanting more. (Original post.)
And you’ll get more in Part 3 of my Top 25 Films of 2016! Until then, make sure you don’t miss it and follow us on Facebook!