It’s
that time of the year again: time for arbitrary and subjective ‘best of
the year’ lists for people to disagree with and argue over. I flirted with
the idea of expanding mine to 10, but why mess with tradition? I’ve been
doing top 8’s since 2009 in one form or another (this is the 8th annual top 8 list by the way, which is INSANE to me). It was another great
year for indie movies, but less-so for big budget blockbusters and
sequels. A lot of box office duds like ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ and ‘Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows′ landed with a thud this summer season, but it was a great year for small movies and new directors like Robert Eggers and ‘The Daniels’ (both of whose feature film debut’s are featured on this list). I know this is coming a bit late, because I tried to squeeze some last minute
movies into consideration (side note: it was REALLY difficult to find
and see some of the big awards contenders in San Antonio this year for
whatever reason, so I unfortunately didn’t get to catch Moonlight or
Manchester by the Sea, so those aren’t in the running here). I’ll stop wasting your time with this crap; here
are my 8 favorite movies of 2016, in no specific order.

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This movie is pure magic. In a year overflowing with loss, fear, and negativity, Sing Street is a shining beacon of hope, passion, and creativity. I don’t think I’ve seen a movie that captures the joy of creating art as well as this movie since School of Rock, over 10 years ago (also one of my favorite movies ever). With great characters, fantastic young actors (shout-out to Jack Reynor, who plays the most uplifting and supportive older brother in any movie I’ve seen) and a soundtrack that won’t leave your head for weeks, Sing Street will stay with me for long after 2016. (Also, Check it out on Netflix if you get a chance)

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I can’t believe I didn’t write about Shane Black’s ‘The Nice Guys’ on the blog, because this movie totally blindsided me. I expected a fun movie, but didn’t think I’d walk out with a new favorite comedy. Not only is it hilarious, with a career best performance by the typically-stoic Ryan Gosling, it has fun, energetic action and great characters. Since seeing it in theaters, I’ve watched it twice since, and this movie is just a blast, start to finish. Do yourself a favor and check it out if you missed it.

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I won’t say too much more about this movie, since I wrote about it back in July (you can read these older reviews I allude to up top, in the archives), but as I think I predicted at the time, this is still one of my absolute favorites of the year. It’s such an original creation, from the directing team of ‘The Daniels’, who come from primarily music videos. Not only is it hilarious and fun, but Swiss Army Man has one of the most profound messages in a film this year: Why let everything build up and fester inside? (like a fart, get it?) Just let it out, because life is short. Even if the prospect of ‘A guy befriends a farting corpse’ doesn’t sound appealing, please give ‘Swiss Army Man’ a shot.

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I wrote plenty on Arrival already, but I think it’s necessary viewing. In a world with rapidly evaporating empathy, the message of this movie becomes even more important going forward. If you watch only one movie on my top 8 this year, make it this one. It’s message of communication and the search for understanding between vastly different beings is more prescient than ever. Watch this movie. Please.

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Alright, if you know me, you knew this was coming. I love Marvel movies. I wrote enough on this one as is, but it blew my already high expectations out of the water. The Russo brother’s have done no wrong so far, and I can’t wait to see what they do with Infinity War/Avengers 3.

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This movie is absolute cinematic joy. From the opening frame of that long-shot musical number in the middle of traffic, to the bittersweet ending segment, Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’ is a beautiful work of art. It has it’s roots in traditional Hollywood musicals, with a contemporary love story, and great performances from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (again). Even if you don’t like musicals, like me, check this one out.

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It was a tough pick between this and ‘Green Room’, but when I think of which was the best horror movie of the year, I just can’t overlook The Witch. Robert Eggers, who I spoke about above, made his directorial debut with this movie, and that’s damn near unbelievable. Not only is this movie unsettling, oozing with paranoia, and rich in atmosphere, it doesn’t shy away from it’s subject matter. I said this in my review, but this movie, more than any other I’ve seen, is evil. Actually evil. There’s a reason the Satanic church openly endorsed this movie.

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I’m still working through my thoughts on this movie, because I just saw it last night (It’s partly why this list is coming out so late). Martin Scorsese’s latest is an emotionally and spiritually draining, dense dive into so many aspects of faith and religion. Even with it being so fresh in my mind, Silence was gripping from start to finish, with great performances from all, and incredible cinematography from Rodrigo Prieto. I hope to write more on this one soon, but this is a movie I’m going to be thinking about for a long time, and that’s definitely grounds for a spot on the ‘favorites of the year’, as far as I’m concerned.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Moana

Green Room

Captain Fantastic

The Handmaiden

Hell or High Water

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Don’t Think Twice

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