Here is my much awaited and long anticipated Top 10 list of the best movies of 2016. Along with my usual lamentation about having such a long dry spell between the beginning of the year and the end of the year. As a matter of fact most of the movies I saw and liked for 2016 I saw in January 2017. Having said that and be that as it may here is my list. I only listed films I watched. There may be other films I might have like better but I haven’t seen them yet.
1. La La Land
Kid, they don’t call it the boulevard of broken dreams for nothing. A bit of a slow start and a few draggy places in the middle but a very strong finish. This movie really delivers the goods. It broke all records with seven Golden Globes Awards. Excellent performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Interesting byplay about Jazz which just happens to be my favorite musical genre. Spectacular dance scenes. One I particularly liked took place at a planetarium (Griffith Observatory) which was featured in the iconic film Rebel Without a Cause. The stars go weightless and dance among the stars just to see what things are like on Jupiter or Mars. It was wonderful. Loved this film!
2. The Handmaiden
Korean film directed by Chon-wook Park
3. Hidden Figures
Directed by Theodore Melfi. Starring Taraji P. Hensen, Octavia Spenser, Janelle Monae
4. Cafe Society
Café Society, Woody Allen’s latest had me smiling all the way through. I thought the acting was very good. Even Steve Carell, who I never really cared for, is starting to grow on me a little bit. Kristen Stewart, who is everywhere, was believable as the love interest. Blake Lively was lively as Veronica, the other love interest. And Jessie Eisenberg sure plays a mean Woody Allen. But the real star of the show was the cinematography. And the cities. It was essentially a tale of two cities. Los Angeles and New York in the 1930’s. Guess who won? New York. Complete with that iconic shot of Manhattan from the Brooklyn side framed lovingly by the Brooklyn Bridge. Not since Manhattan have we been graced by such a beautiful image.
Denzel knocks it out of the park directing and starring in this film version of August Wilson’s play. Viola Davis gives an Oscar worthy performance.
Directed by Barry Jenkins. Starring Mahershala Ali, Sharif, and Duan Sanderson.
Moonlight is the story of a young black man growing up in a rough neighborhood in Miami. Great story telling and understated and compelling performances by all three actors portraying Chiron, the central character of the movie.
7. Manchester by the Sea
I don’t usually like tear jerkers but this one is exceptional. Casey Affleck can really act. Who knew? Beautiful cinematography of the Massachusetts sea town, Manchester.
8. American Honey
American Honey is a road trip movie about a teen aged girl from Muskogee who joins a magazine crew. Directed by British filmmaker Andrea Arnold. Starring newcomer Sasha Lane as Star, Shia LaBeouf as top salesman Jake, and Riley Keough, Elvis’ granddaughter, as the hard as nails crew leader. Great slice of life film about millennials coming of age on the great American open highway.
9. Hell or High Water
Directed by David Mackensie. Starring Ben Foster and Chris Pine as the bank robbers and Jeff Bridges as the Texas Ranger who goes after them. I liked this movie just because.
Directed by James Schamus based on the book by Philip Roth. I liked this movie because I like Philip Roth and I like movies based on novels. This gets included on my top 10 list because it is what I call a movie made for grown ups.
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.