So, yes, faithful readers, at this point you can probably surmise that these annual countdowns are going to be the only regular posts on this blog. I have a few drafts that I've started, but life in 2016 was pretty busy for me. However, I still managed to make time to watch movies (go figure), and I still managed to piece together my own subjective list of favorite movies I watched this past year.
Now, once again, I must put a disclaimer that these are movies I saw for the first time in 2016 -- not necessarily films that were made in 2016. And I should also disclaim that I watched many of these movies using my old, reliable ClearPlay and the newcomer VidAngel. In fact, if you haven't read my previous movie lists from the past seven years, you should go back and read those for the rest of my disclaimers and header information.
For now, and without further ado, let's get into it!
10. Brooklyn (2015)
Brooklyn is a well-made film, but it seems odd to me that it was nominated for Best Picture. This movie is, essentially, a more dramatic version of Sweet Home Alabama. Nevertheless, Saoirse Ronan is outstanding in her role as Eilis, and the supporting cast is a delight to watch, as well. 'Tis a fine Irish film!
9. Nanny McPhee (2006)
I was worried that Nanny McPhee was going to be a cheap rip-off of Mary Poppins, but I was surprised how quirky, entertaining and original this film feels. It's a lot of fun. Emma Thompson is delightfully enigmatic, and the story is compelling enough to keep both children and adults interested. This movie was a pleasant surprise for me.
8. The Revenant (2015)
If you ever want to convince someone to not go camping, The Revenant would make a pretty effective argument. This film is raw and brutal and powerful, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu makes you feel like you're freezing and suffering alongside the characters as you're watching it. Leonardo DiCaprio pulls out some of his best acting chops, while Tom Hardy completely disappears into John Fitzgerald's despicable boots. This may not have won Best Picture, but it is certainly one of the most memorable films of 2015.
7. Sicario (2015)
Sicario is stressful - very, very stressful. And the scariest thing is that this film doesn't seem too far detached from reality. Emily Blunt gives a powerful and emotional performance, and Benicio Del Toro is mesmerizing as the mysterious Alejandro. This is not a movie that I can pop in anytime and enjoy, but it is a well-crafted piece of cinema.
6. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Captain America: Civil War is a lot of fun. This film expertly juggles action, drama, humor and multiple character storylines in a way that makes you almost forget that this is the longest Marvel movie to date. The plot is compelling and the actors play well off of each other. The ending isn't as satisfying as I had hoped it would be, and you have to have seen at least Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron to fully understand what is going on, but overall this is one of the best movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
5. Spotlight (2015)
Spotlight is a well-made and heartbreaking film. The actors, Mark Ruffalo in particular, do a great job of expressing the range of emotions required for such a sensitive topic. Plus, the story, though hard to watch, is absolutely compelling. I'm not bothered that this won Best Picture.
4. Gran Torino (2009)
How can a film be offensive and violent, yet charming and uplifting at the same time? I don't know, but Gran Torino sure pulls it off. Clint Eastwood plays a despicable character, yet you can't help but like him. It shows what a good actor Eastwood is - even if the rest of the cast struggles. I didn't expect to like this movie as much as I did.
3. Trainspotting (1996)
Trainspotting is a frantic, bizarre, hilarious and horrifying look into the life of drug addicts. The pacing of this film grabs ahold of you at the very beginning and doesn't let go. The story pulls you along, whether you want to follow or not. Plus, through the course of the movie, you end up simultaneously loving and hating the main characters - which is an impressive feat. In short, choose to watch Trainspotting.
2. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
The best part about 10 Cloverfield Lane is that it keeps you guessing. John Goodman does a fantastic job of portraying a character you don't know if you should trust or not, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a conflicted and effective protagonist. This is a clever, suspenseful and unique thriller that is definitely worth a watch.
And my #1 subjective pick for best movie I saw in 2016 is...
1. Room (2015)
Room is horrifying, beautiful and amazing. Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay both give very powerful performances that deserve every accolade they've received. Plus, the story is absolutely riveting. There were parts of this movie where I was unable to breathe. This film makes you feel all sorts of emotions. It's not an easy movie to watch, but it is well worth your time.
So there you go. As my wife pointed out, these are mostly pretty hard movies to watch, so, just in cast you need a little more variety, here are my honorable mentions from this past year: The Maltese Falcon (1941), Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Spartacus (1960), The Magnificent Seven (1960) and The Gift (2015).
Until my next post, faithful readers! Or next year. Whichever comes first. We'll see.