Top 25 Films of 2016

Unlike many who posit best of lists at the end of the year, I assume no objectivity, and these aren’t the BEST films of the year. These are my favorites, and all of them are films I think are worth returning to in the future. The Witch is on last years list, and I haven’t seen Scorsese’s Silence yet, or I’m sure it would make this list. Some of the titles haven’t been released yet. Nevertheless, these were my 25 favorite films of 2016.


25. Battledream Chronicle – Alain Bidard

A sweeping, thrilling animated sci-fi epic, anchored by two strong female characters make the first ever feature film from Martinique a unique creature to behold. Bidard’s visual sense brings hand drawn animation into the twenty-first century, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.


24. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Gareth Edwards

Rogue One really thrilled me with visual panache and iconography. The Michael Giachinno score was suitably spectacular and I had a grand time in the Star Wars sandbox. (I liked it much more than The Force Awakens.)


23. Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice (The Director’s Cut) – Zack Snyder

It wasn’t until after I saw the actual cut of the film did I see what Snyder was up to re-making The Last Temptation of Christ with super-heroes. He throws together the biggest of DC’s universe shaking events with aplomb, and most of it not only sticks, it thrills. Best of all, Wonder Woman and her kick ass theme light my smile every time they appear.


22. When Black Birds Fly – Jimmy ScreamerClauz

More than any film I saw this year, When Black Birds Fly felt very transgressive. It’s shocking, political, blasphemous, crude, and nihilistic. Yet, the entire enterprise gives one hope for art. The whole picture is framed as a piece of propaganda for a strange future church. More than anything, it reminded me of Eraserhead in its conflagration of suburban “Heaven” and the hellish world of color on the other side of the wall. Not for the faint of heart. This film will offend you.


21. The Autopsy Of Jane Doe – Andre Ovredal

A brilliant narrative device and a pair (trio?) of stellar performances made this morgue tale one of the most frightening stories of the year. After seeing this film, a cat toy with a bell in it scared the shit out of me.


20. Blood Father – Jean-Francois Richet

Mel Gibson returns to form in this hugely entertaining blood feast. We need more like this.


19. Scherzo Diabolico – Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Bogliano returns with his blackest film yet, a comedy. With each precise musical cue and turn of the screw I kept asking myself, “Am I supposed to be laughing at this?”


18. Terror 5 – Sebastian Rotstein and Federico Rotstein

Terror 5 is the rare horror omnibus that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Each segment is strong on their own, but added together it reaches kind of political Fulci-esque climax that hit me in the feels. I was ready to rage against the machine as the dead take the city.


17. Split – M. Night Shyamalan

I can’t say anything about this film, because you haven’t seen it yet, but James McAvoy gives a performance for the ages, and Anya Taylor-Joy also turns in stellar work in Shyamalan’s best film in over a decade.


16. Last Girl Standing – Benjamin R. Moody

The cleverest American film of the year kept me guessing until I was rooting for the story to go where it did. A fine script and taut editing make Last Girl Standing sharp as The Hunter’s knife.


15. American Honey – Andrea Arnold

This riveting look at youth in Middle America left me breathless. The cinematic equivalent of getting in a van and going, wind in your hair, music up loud.


14. The Neon Demon – Nicholas Winding-Refn

The Neon Demon is an intoxicating cocktail of images and music that DEMANDS to be seen on the big screen. I felt like I was going to fall into the screen.


13. Everybody Wants Some!! – Richard Linklater

As only a mild fan of Linklater I was very surprised when he turned out what happens to be my favorite of his films. Everybody Wants Some is both specific and general in the anecdotes it uses to show formative days for these baseball players. Revisiting the weekend before college was a real fucking treat.


12. Hail, Caesar! – Joel and Ethan Coen

It was a good year for films with exclamation points in the title. Hail, Caesar is a fine throwback film, a classic film about a classic era, and stupendously funny. No film this year can claim such an electrifying ensemble.


11. Be My Cat: A Film For Anne – Adrian Tofei

This Romanian found footage film is some kind of marvel. Starring, written by and directed by Tofei, Be My Cat is based on a one-man show he created called “Monster”. The film, a strange slasher by way of portfolio piece to Anne Hathaway, is a new kind of brilliant. I was unnerved, but hooted and howled in laughter at his sick little film.


10. The Shallows – Jaume Collet-Serra

I love the “aquatic terror” genre, so I was already in the bag for this to begin with. I wasn’t ready for it to be a masterpiece of the genre. We are all running from this metaphorical shark at one point or another and circumstance wont free us, only our belief in our self, and a little faith.


9. Eyes Of My Mother – Nicholas Pesce

Along with The Driller Killer, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer, Eyes Of My Mother, attempts to create empathy and deconstruct psychotic behavior. It is a beautiful chilling portrait, the best horror film of the year.


8. The Handmaiden – Chan-Wook Park

The hottest film I have ever seen. Erotic and sleazy, refined and crude, The Handmaiden has it all ways and then some. Bells have never sounded so heavenly.


7. Elle – Paul Verhoeven

The world’s greatest provocateur hasn’t lost his touch. Elle’s constantly shifting moral perspective makes it a work of the highest sophistication, and Isabelle Huppert gives an all-timer of a performance.


6. The Nice Guys – Shane Black

Shane Black has been distilling the buddy comedy for decades now, and The Nice Guys might be the purest batch of the bunch. Exhilarating and hilarious Black is the best Hollywood has to offer at this type of entertainment.


5. Hacksaw Ridge – Mel Gibson

Another violent film about faith, Hacksaw Ridge is moving filmmaking. Gibson’s hand is so strong here; we see that we are losing filmmakers like him. There aren’t many who have so strong a voice and the tools to use it. Welcome back, Mel.


4. The Hunt For The Wilderpeople – Taika Waititi

What a life affirming film. There’s nothing like it. I really can’t compare it to anything. It reminds you to take life by the balls and have a laugh with it. I left this movie absolutely on a cloud.


3. Colossal – Nacho Vigalando

How does this movie even exist? The premise is so crazy that it would take a razor sharp mind like Vigalando’s to make it work. And work it does. It delivers that kind of magic Spielberg would produce on the regular in the eighties. Everything is note perfect, including the on the nose subtext. Vigalando is one of the best filmmakers in the world.


2. La La Land – Damien Chazelle

I’m no cynic. This film was like a drug. I loved the songs and the use of imagery together. It was a film I felt more than I watched and I was drunk in it for two hours. I feel it’s a new classic, which while borrowing from the past lends newness to the genre.


1. Nova Seed – Nick DiLiberto

I cannot say enough how much I love Nova Seed. Completely written directed and animated by DiLiberto, Nova Seed is as close to peering into a single imagination as can be. A throwback to early 80’s adult animated classics; Nova Seed exists in a genre the last entry of which may have been Don Bluth’s Titan A.E. I saw Nova Seed twice during Fantastic Fest, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. See this film!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: