Since I’m a passionate movie fan, I always look for movies that can enrich my artistic taste and my life in general. Like any other mean of arts, movies can convey profound messages whose purpose is to impact the audience, change them, and even influence a whole society. The year 2016 witnessed a flow of huge movie productions which included some major feature films. I’ve tried to cover as many 2016 movies as I could watch, focusing on motion pictures that were recommended by those who watched them; whether they are commercial or not. In this article, I enlist the top 15 movies of 2016, according to my own analysis and criticism:
15. Hacksaw Ridge
Genre: Biography/ War
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Hugo Weaving, Sam Worthington, Vince Vaughn, Teresa Palmer
Director: Mel Gibson
Duration: 139 min
Hacksaw Ridge is nothing but a good typical Hollywood movie. Mel Gibson, one of the best war and action Hollywood director, succeeds once again in showing the atrocity of war. Hacksaw Ridge, not that exceptional must-see movie, still has a very tasty ingredient in its script, which is the true story of a man who decides to go to war arm-less. Yes, it’s another Hollywood heroic movie that you will clearly see through the image of Christ in its main character although you can’t but fall in love with Andrew Garfield’s mesmerizingly sexy role. The film is a good-on for 2016, as such stories about peaceful warriors are needed to be told nowadays while trying to balance this bloody dark era we are living.
14. The Witch
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson
Director: Robert Eggers
Duration: 92 min
To see a creative and almost one of a kind horror movie in 2016 is really an exceptional event. Although watching The Witch takes us back to Shamayalan’s The Village, this movie succeeds in creating a whole new cold hearted experience. The Witch is almost free of surprising scary moments and direct thrills, yet it will make sure to keep haunting you for a couple of days after watching it.
Cast: Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Duration: 99 min
Though not the best Almodóvar movie, Julieta contains a personal charm. As usual, the movie is pivoted around a female leading character. As we move between her present and her past, Julieta is being played by two different actresses, each representing an age of her life, who you might confuse as being the same actress; either because of the great talent of both actresses, or because of the great character formation. Julieta movie is produced with an elegant cinematography and production design. Check it out.
12. Hail, Caesar!
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill
Director: Ethan and Joel Coen
Duration: 106 min
Hail, Caesar! is a 2016 satire movie directed by the talented Coen brothers. The movie intends to tackle and criticise corruption in Hollywood, politics, economy and media. Revolving around Shakespeare’s classic Julius Caesar, this black comedy conveys its message through a highly artistic Hollywood looking glass. The all-star cast captivates a certain group of audience who is interested in perceiving things as they truly are.
11. The Conjuring 2
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson
Director: James Wan
Duration: 134 min
The Conjuring 2 is no less interesting than its first sequel. Nevertheless, the excitement and fear are stacked in every minute of this film. The Conjuring sequel is this kind of horror movies that you wish to see more often. You’ll definitely write down this film on your list of best horror movies ever made. The Conjuring 2 is really well done, not only as a terrifying non-merciful experience but also as an exquisitely artistic piece.
Genre: Drama/ Crime
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Duration: 130 min
Elle, another feminist French movie, is a powerful tricky must-see. Isabelle Huppert, the stunning French actress, who has collected world-wide recognition through her career, in addition to numerous nominations and awards after Elle, plays the role of a very strong independent female who appears in the very first minute of the movie being raped by a masked man. It’s a pure drama that holds a lot of quick events that you will only start linking them together in the last part of the film. Really tricky yet very smooth; Elle is a movie you definitively have to add it to your to-watch-list.
09. Kubo and the two strings
Genre: Animation/ Fantasy
Cast: Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, Matthew McConaughey
Director: Travis Knight
Duration: 101 min
Kubo and the two strings, the best animated feature of 2016, so deeply, elegantly and perfectly done, is definitely a movie for all. Kubo, the one-eyed boy, struggling with his past and his scarred mother, finds his way through imagination, magic and talent, not to escape his reality, but to face it and conquer it.; it’s all about using your powers to understand your enemy with love and forgiveness, instead of destruction. A funny, breathtaking and transitional journey that Kubo takes, you have to join him on.
Cast: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Duration: 118 min
Paterson is a contemporary artist’s enjoyable realist diary, played by the underrated actor Adam Driver. If you’re a fan of suspenseful events movies that emit excitement of direct messages, Jarmusch’s new movie is exactly what you have to stay away from. All what is presented is an underground writer who’s living a monotonous life with his enthusiastic and creative wife, going everyday to his job as a driver, writing poems in his small notebook whenever he has the chance, doing the same details repetitively, talking very occasionally, but eventually, living satisfied and happy. Through this, as conclusion, Jim Jarmusch gets us to the point where we are convinced that everyone has the right to live his/her life the way they want; no rules, no obligations, as long as they are happy, especially if the protagonist is an artist with his genuineness.
Cast: Trevante Rhodes, Naomi Harris, Mahershala Ali
Director: Barry Jenkins
Duration: 111 min
Moonlight is the cheesecake of 2016 movies; edible, sweet but sharp. Perfectly made in every frame, every scene and every chosen colour, this movie travels in time, portraying the life of a young coloured boy, struggling since childhood with a harsh entourage that forces him to age stronger and tougher. Moonlight’s ending answers the question we all ask: Do such tortured people still have a space for love and tenderness in their hearts?
Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis
Director: Denzel Washington
Duration: 139 min
Fences is the best 2016 stage-to-screen adaptation. This is why what is presented is more of a theatrical play than a marvel flick, and to achieve that you need a powerful script and remarkable performances. These two are perfectly present in the movie. The fences in this movie are literally the ones that the lead actor builds around the house, representing moral fences that the lead actress insists on having as a symbol of stain. Viola Davis challenges Denzel Washington in the leading witty acting, delivering the character of two parents modelling the paternal influence on children; like father like son. Breaking the stereotypical image, Fences surpasses the boundaries of skin colour by dealing with an intra-racial issue i.e. parenting effect.
05. The Lobster
Genre: Comedy/ Drama
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Duration: 119 min
If you’re sick and tired of huge budget movies, and you missed feeling a bit nourished after watching a picture, there will be no harm trying The Lobster. It is that kind of movies that has a different and weird approach through satire. Talking about single people and how society flogs them, either directly or indirectly, and imposes very strict and inhumane rules on couples. A story that involves a hotel for singles dating, people who literally go to hunt people in the woods and single people being supervised, pursued and killed, The Lobster is written and directed in a “freaky” style, which isn’t any less chaotic than real life communities.
04. Swiss Army Man
Genre: Comedy/ Drama
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe
Director: Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Duration: 97 min
Swiss Army Man, the sweet movie. This film is made with a lot of sensitivity and love, even if it talks about farting, vomiting, masturbation and many other taboos. These taboos that are always shameful to discuss freely and decently, are being addressed by Daniels in a cute artistic way, very well performed by the two amazing young actors Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. Movies like this are what we exactly need in fighting lack of expression, especially when it comes to our basic daily needs. Swiss Army Man is highly recommended.
03. Nocturnal Animals
Genre: Drama/ Thriller/ Crime
Cast: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Laura Linney
Director: Tom Ford
Duration: 116 min
Nocturnal Animals is one of the best movies in 2016. This applies evenly to the script, the directing, the cinematography and even the acting. Tom Ford, the glam-director, was the perfect match for a movie that talks about a very rich successful unhappy wife, swinging between her present as she reads a book, the story that she is reading and her past i.e. the relation between her and the author of the book. Offering well-hidden messages between the shifts of stories, this thriller succeeds in keeping your eyes wide open in every scene until the very last minute, leaving you affected, ignorant of what might be coming next. The technical frames with the very talented square of actors, Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, feature them performing a very well-written movie that you shouldn’t miss.
02. The Handmaiden
Genre: Drama/ Romance/ Mystery
Cast: Min-hee Kim, Tae-ri Kim, Jung-woo Ha
Director: Chan-wook Park
Duration: 144 min
The Handmaiden is the best 2016 non-Hollywood movie. In it, you will fall in love with every frame, with every dress, with every corner and every word. A well-cooked script contains the best spices of designing and directing. Shifting between many characters’ perspectives, lost between many conspiracies, you have to wait anxiously till the end of this Korean film to get the whole picture. Meanwhile, you can also enjoy a lot of finger-biting erotic scenes that will haunt you, all under one title: Does true love exist?
01. La La Land
Genre: Romance/ Music/ Drama
Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Director: Damien Chazelle
Duration: 128 min
One of the exceptional movies of the decade. If you’re a fan of romantic musical classics, if you love watching a perfectly harmonious screen couple once again, if you’re into a burning love story though tired of the same boring script, if you’re one of the fools who still dream, you’re going to definitely adore La La Land. Damien Chazelle, the writer and director, is a complete genius. To make such a triumphant film with all its components, to win everybody’s heart and most of the world’s awards, all this and being in his 32 years only, is certainly a great hope for the state of cinema and its future. You’ll really enjoy all the vibes: the dancing, the songs, the script, the locations, the costumes, the colours…and most of all the characters. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling cannot make any better couple, and the characters wouldn’t have been represented in any better way without these two wonderful talents. Being a contemporary movie, La La Land succeeds in taking you back to the old days, dealing with a real life youth concern; How to make a living, how to pursue your dreams and what is the role of love in all of this nowadays.
This was my top 15 list of 2016 movies, according to my own experience in watching and admiring movies. At the end, I must add some honourable mentions, movies like Alone in Berlin, My Life as a Zucchini, The Light between the Oceans, The Red Turtle, Hello My Name is Doris, Manchester by the Sea and others, which are also interesting films you might enjoy watching.