Indie movies decidedly triumphant in 2016
The year the indies triumphed. Not one blockbuster, enjoyable as some exceptions were (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Deadpool,” “Rogue One”), managed to reach my top ten favorite movies of 2016. The year’s movies averaged out a B- grade, but the following films were all at minimum an A-. They outweighed the duds that were “Suicide Squad,” “War Dogs” and “Magnificent 7.”
At number ten, “Hacksaw Ridge” delivered an inspirational true story within the horrors of battle in World War II along America’s pacific front. The film’s only flaw amid the impeccable performances by its ensemble lay in the sluggish-paced first act. While it was crucial to defining the main character’s motivation, its lengthy scenes could have easily been trimmed down.
Number nine covers two films: “Deepwater Horizon” and “Patriot’s Day.” The two are directed by Peter Berg, starring Mark Wahlberg in the lead, and dutifully recount the horrors of the BP oil rig explosion and the Boston Marathon bombing, respectively. The action in both could have easily been exploited, but the connections made with victims in the films prevailed and were tastefully given priority.
If you are a fan of the director Edgar Wright, I could not recommend my number eight “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” enough.
The film’s director, Taika Waititi, brings a very similar quality to Wright’s in his dark humor and engaging storytelling. Waititi’s creativity and success with this film is the only reason why I have any remote excitement for his helming of “Thor: Ragnarok,” the third installment of Marvel’s least successful franchise. If you want a relaxing comedy, this is the one to watch.
Coming in at number seven is “Weiner,” a documentary that closely follows the unraveling of Anthony Weiner’s infamous scandals. It left me with a different outlook on his political career, twisting my attitude toward him from positive to negative, back and forth.
Scenes of his admirable and resolute representation on behalf of the middle class are followed by shameful actions and repeated public apologies. This deserves a viewing if you were at all amused or interested by his failings.
My number six would have to be the dark comedy “The Lobster.” Frequently hard to watch due to its disturbing content, the film is a symbolic perspective on what society deems are the parameters of a relationship. Purposefully repetitive and monotonous, the movie offers a look at a genuine, flowering love within a bleak and deceitful world.
“The Nice Guys,” my number five, is perhaps the most underrated film of the year. Buried in between the blockbusters in May, this Shane Black film delivers an action-packed buddy-cop comedy that delivers on every level.
The compelling acting and writing alone were worth the price of admission and warrant a strong recommendation after a beating in this year’s box office.
My number four is a film that audiences will either love or hate. I chose the former for “Swiss Army Man.” The unconventional use of various filmmaking elements made it a dark horse. The excellent writing allows for multiple valid, insightful and heart-warming interpretations that will repeatedly hit you on an emotional level, brought to life by Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe.
If you read anything about movies this month, you may be surprised that the following film is so low on my list: “La La Land” comes at number three.
Performed impeccably, filmed with stunning imagery and elevated by a refreshing aura of positivity in our tumultuous time, the only flaw I could identify was the occasional problem with the plot. However, the low points were few and far between, wrapped in a beautiful score that has remained an ear worm since I heard it in December.
“Hell or High Water” was flawless, yet only to a lesser extent compared to my favorite, leaving it at number two. Realistic down to every detailed scene, the film remained compelling and unexpected throughout.
My one wish for this movie is that Ben Foster get his deserved supporting actor acclaim come in the form of an Oscar nomination, compared to the usurped Golden Globe nomination for Jeff Bridges.
At number one, my favorite movie of 2016 has to be “Manchester by the Sea.”
The film had the best acting of the year in Casey Affleck and the rest of the ensemble, the unsurpassed script written by director Kenneth Lonergan and the most poignant arc of any film in 2016.
It follows a broken man whose life the audience can do nothing but empathize with.
The impeccable writing prompted a feeling as though I was intruding on a real man’s life. Throughout I kept quiet, as if any interruption would interrupt the characters. So if you haven’t seen any of these films yet, enjoy them amid the film wasteland that is January.