After spending 150+ hours watching movies in 2016, I somehow magically narrowed it down to my favorites! Here's what I loved, what I liked and what I am happy I saw for free:
1) La La Land
It's a movie for dreamers. The romantic, starry-eyed kind. The kind that see Emma & Ryan floating in the air & can just say "totally not believable, but pretty!" Or see the opening number on the 105 and marvel at how they closed a freeway in LA EVER! Or who don't mind that Emma Stone doesn't sound like Adele. For those who love seeing a love story about two people who do not have their shit together as much as they think they do; who are strong idealists, but love makes them weaker not stronger. This film touched me and reminded me that your true love is someone who pushes you and forces you to stick to your guns. It's a movie as only movies can be - it's a fantasy with one foot (not totally) planted in reality. So "here's to the ones that dream," as Emma Stone sings in "Audition" - cheers to those of you who love it! Cheers to Emma & Ryan & Damien & John Legend (whose big monologue was all improv btw!!!). And cheers to those of you who hated it - I don't get you, but I think I understand why the film disappointed you.
This one just made me SO emotional and is far and away the most universally liked of the Awards Season bunch...even more than La La Land, which can be pretty divisive. PLUS Dev Patel is really hot now so that might've been good enough. Nicole Kidman's performance and the beautiful story itself are a bonus.
3) Rogue One
Sorry not sorry that this is in my top 3 films of the year and of the Star Wars universe (even with the controversial reshoots & CGI). There was an actual WAR in Star Wars and the sheer intensity really moved me.
4) Hidden Figures
This one really shocked me. I'll be honest, I expected it to be a stereotypical historical drama and worried it would be kind of silly, but I was thrilled to see a really strong and powerful film! What struck me most was how many kids I saw in the movie theater - which I loved! This movie is EXACTLY what we all needed in the climate we're in today. Plus bravo to the trio of ladies who anchor this film Taraji P Henson, Octavia Spencer and, my personal 2016 MVP, Janelle Monae. The film doesn't work if they don't work and WORK they do! The idea that this is a story that the world didn't know for so long is almost criminal, but to see these three bring it to life was destined.
I can't quite put into words why this affected me so much, because it didn't fully sink in while I was watching it. But it stayed with me after. It stays with me now - and I still can't explain it.
6) Marvel's Superheroes - Deadpool, Captain America Civil War & Doctor Strange
(Yes, I know grouping them together is cheating. No I don't care)
- Doctor Strange: These were my favorite set of interviews of the year because the cast is so cool (Rachel McAdams & Tilda Swinton are everything you'd want and more). But it's mostly because Benedict Cumberbatch is incredibly kind! He was so generous with his time that he sat down for an interview with me twice because he was hot & uncomfortable for the first one and didn't like his answers.
- Captain America Civil War: This was everything I dreamed of + Spider-Man! It redeemed Age of Ultron, had the most bad-ass chase scene I've seen in a while & finally cast the perfect Peter Parker. Oh and it didn't have a terrible Martha plot twist another unnamed superhero battle employed.
- Deadpool: Ryan Reynolds is a marketing genius and someone should give him a bonus for going to Kevin Hart/Vin Diesel/The Rock levels for this film. He turned this character into an icon & took over social media & every commercial I saw before the movie came out.
I didn't want to see this, but I did it because I "had to". My boyfriend looked at me at the end of the film, saying "I think I forgot to breathe." It took me a second to respond and I realized that I'd forgotten too. It's rare that a sci-fi drama pulls off a crazy existential twist, but by the end, I thought I was just as enlightened as the characters.
8) Nocturnal Animals
I really really love Tom Ford and I was not disappointed in this film. I loved its twisty nature and the misdirects of the TV spots. But I loved most how it made me think about the choices and chances we make in life and the consequences we face.
9) Sing Street & Everybody Wants Some
Another tie from two of my Summer 2016 favorites. I cried so much at the end of Sing Street & am a little upset "Drive It Like You Stole It" isn't getting more awards season love. Everybody Wants Some was yet another hit for me from Richard Linklater. I've never been in a band or part of a baseball team, but I felt like both of these films were relatable on another level - they were just about life, relationships and growing up. Simple as that.
10) Hell or High Water
I've been a Ben Foster fan forever. I think he's crazy and I love just how crazy he goes for a role. I have NOT been a Chris Pine fan forever (probably holding onto some weird animosity from Princess Diaries 2). But this film solidified for me that Chris can be GREAT! In a film where no one is the an angel, you can't help but root for everyone involved. I'm so happy to see this. film remembered going into awards season, and not just for another incredible performance from Jeff Bridges.
My 2016 Individual MVPs (killed it in 2+ roles)
Amy Adams [Arrival & Nocturnal Animals]
Mahershala Ali & Janelle Monae [Moonlight & Hidden Figures]
Viola Davis [Fences & dare I say it Suicide Squad]
Glen Powell [Everybody Wants Some & Hidden Figures]
Michael Shannon [Loving & Midnight Special]
Loved It (A to Z)
- 10 Cloverfield Lane
- Bad Moms
- Bleed for This
- Hacksaw Ridge
- Jackie (loved Natalie but not so much the movie)
- The Jungle Book
- The Lobster
- Manchester by the Sea
- Midnight Special
- Patriots Day
Controversial but I Loved Them
- Popstar Never Stop Popping
- Ghostbusters (some of the most fully developed characters I saw in a comedy this year)
- Star Trek Beyond (finally the funny Star Trek film I was looking for)
- The Neon Demon (liked what Refn was trying to say & how it looked, but maybe trying too hard?)
- The Lobster vs Equals (hard not to compare these two dystopian romances...but The Lobster stuck with me longer & hit more interesting notes)
- Cafe Society (left me screaming at the screen - how are you not sure you want to be with Blake Lively vs Kristen Stewart when you're Jesse Eisenberg)
- Suicide Squad (there's a good movie in there somewhere, I know it. And at least there's Viola Davis & Margot Robbie. Plus I appreciate that even director David Ayer was disappointed)
- The Birth of a Nation (oh what could've been...)
- Alice Through the Looking Glass
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
- Free State of Jones
- The Girl on the Train
- Green Room
- Hail, Caesar
- How to Be Single
- Ice Age Collision Course
- The Infiltrator
- Jason Bourne
- Knight of Cups
- Kung Fu Panda 3
- The Magnificent Seven
- The Meddler
- Mr Church
- Now You See Me 2
- Office Christmas Party
- Pete's Dragon
- Rules Don't Apply
- Secret Life of Pets
- X Men Apocalypse
- Ben-Hur (except Toby Kebbell)
- Boo! A Madea Halloween
- The Boss (watch Kristen Bell in Bad Moms or on The Good Place instead)
- The Huntsman Winter's War (not bad, just not necessary)
- The Divergent Series: Allegiant
- Criminal (at least it reunited the cast of JFK)
- Keeping Up with the Joneses
- Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates
- Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice (still mad I saw it)
- Independence Day Resurgence (I look happy in the photo below...it was a BEFORE shot)
- Warcraft (not for me, except Toby Kebbell again, but it did LOOK impressive)
Need to See
- 20th Century Women
- The BFG
- Deepwater Horizon
- The Edge of Seventeen
- Finding Dory
- Miss Sloane
- The Nice Guys
- Sausage Party