Oscar time has finally arrived! This coming weekend, expect the academy to reveal their choices for what they consider to be among the best of 2016 for film. I have finished watching most of the films for 2016 and nearly all of the Oscar contenders. Instead of a prediction list (I’ll give you a hint; La La Land will sweep up and Casey Affleck/Emma Stone will win the big honors) I want to give my insight into what was the best of 2016. Making this list was difficult, I had to organize the list into a concrete top ten and here are some of the omissions that just missed the mark but shouldn’t be overlooked because of that. Here are my honorable mentions in no particular order:
10 Cloverfield Lane
What was the first great movie of 2016, 10 Cloverfield Lane solidified itself as a franchise as not only great sci-fi, but a superb movie to boot. Lead by excellent performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman, we get a personal story that revolves around survival, communication, and eerie circumstances rather anything full blown paranormal. For fans of the first Cloverfield there is a loose connection to the original that makes the film that much more unique. I expect great things for the upcoming third installment in the series: God Particle.
Don’t Think Twice
Don’t Think Twice works as a comedy but has much more depth than just the variety of great humor found within it. The undertones of success, failure, misery, and happiness are all present. For every positive aspect of life there’s a negative counterweight that grounds us to earth. This is told be a well-rounded cast that all share high points in comedy, though this differs in career. Don’t Think Twice is melancholy, often times depressing, but there’s a vital message and it’s executed expertly through great direction.
Fede Alvarez directed the gore-y Evil Dead Reboot (2013) and now he gave us one of the best horror/thrillers of the year. Don’t Breathe has some characterization issues and a weak opening, but the movie is stellar otherwise. Once plot-points are set-up the movie is unrelenting in keeping the viewer on edge. Alvarez has proven a master of building tension and expertly uses the camera and sound get the most effect out of each moment. It’s a great film that relies on utilizing the technology of making film to provide for the most extreme moments.
Midnight Special is another sci-fi that isn’t so much a sci-fi as it is about family. The performance from Michael Shannon is fantastic, per usual, and Jeff Nichols directs a mystifying world and environment where science fiction and the real world could realistically collide. Though Midnight Special raises some thought provoking questions, it has difficulty answering them or really satisfying the viewer. But for those that enjoy the journey more than the destination, this film is absolutely worth your time.
Swiss Army Man
Daniel Radcliffe plays easily the most obscure role of 2016 as a farting corpse that is used for a variety of things to survive by his friend played by Paul Dano. For as goofy as this movie is, it’s genuinely heartwarming. Seeing this relationship bloom and how each individual reflects on their experiences through life and with death at the doorstep makes for a touching movie that I don’t really know how to properly categorize. Part comedy, part drama, it’s one of my favorite of my year and might have cracked the top ten if it didn’t start to decompose near the end. but does thankfully end up very lively by the credits.