For all the flops and the bombs, and all the hypes and all the vibes, 2016 was an offbeat year for films. The year witnessed the falls of mega-franchise and sequels, but also saw the rises of smaller-scale gems. Controversy engulfed films on-screen and off-screen culminating in series of backlash to Oscars contenders; but, compassion has won over the fatigue audiences with the dormant genres awakening—say, musical, children literature and satire.
Among the finest gems of the year, Sinekdoks has hand-picked the top 20 films watched between the period of January 30, 2016 to January 28, 2017. While the numbers of films Sinekdoks has declined into 150 new films by the end of period, 2016 is still a very merry year with 13 films achieving 4 stars and around 20 others achieving 3.5 stars. Here’s the the list of Best Films of 2016 (with top 5 runner-ups)!
Runner-ups of the Year
To begin with, I present you the top 5 runner-ups consisting of some films that almost made it to the final 20. Discarding those films from my top list is a regret to me, therefore, this honorable mentions are made to appreciate these gems.
v. Hail, Caesar! (Ethan & Joel Coen)
Hail, Caesar! might not be Coen Brothers’ best, but it’s definitely a most Coen Brothers flick. It’s a Hollywood’s Golden Era tour directed with the brothers’ most exhilarating style.
iv. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards)
It’s a certified Star Wars story in and through.
iii. Fences (Denzel Washington)
It’s a well-adapted gems which still feels like its root with static blocking and page-long dialogues. Denzel Washington is fabulous as director and star.
ii. Moana (Ron Clements & John Musker)
Disney’s answer to sexism backlash is a powerful empowerment message, which challenges how far will Disney go in the future.
i. The VVitch (Robert Eggers)
The most harrowing yet enchanting witch film in recent years comes with a tribulation to teen angst. Robert Eggers makes an elusive, enigmatic, and hypnotizing spell which is hard to watch.
Best Films of the Year
Without further ado, what follows is a countdown of 20 best films by personal picks and review curated during 2016 (whether from full review on this blog or on letterboxd). You can click on the title of the movies to read my review of it.
20. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
Nobody is allowed to be single anymore; otherwise, they will be turned into animals. This fine-dressed, sophisticated, well-cooked Lobster is an entrée which proves a worth in Yorgos Lanthimos’ future career.
19. Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross)
Although it looks vibrant and classy, the idealistic yet though-provoking energy in Captain Fantastic makes it one of the most compelling parenting drama recently.
18. Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson)
When it comes to the saintly deeds the subject does in the war, this essential biopic is touching and uplifting as much as it is memorable. Andrew Garfield is powerful.
17. Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)
Raw and visceral, Tom Ford’s pseudo-revenge drama is well-written using multi-layered poetic justice that does not look elegant, but traumatizing.
16. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
Elle is disturbing and haunting. It’s flawed; it’s visceral; it’s unapologetic at best. It’s a showcase of Isabelle Huppert’s reaching a side of acting no one steps in and a fine comeback from provocateur, Paul Verhoeven.
15. The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook)
The Handmaiden is a kinky slap from Park Chan-wook to satisfy your fetish to his works. It’s a sexy breakthrough from his violent stigma.
14. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
Presented in three phase of lives, Moonlight challenges the ideal black masculinity with a luscious self-seeking of identity. Barry Jenkins is definitely a talent to watch over.
13. The Wailing (Na Hong-jin)
The Wailing puzzles you for a hundred minutes and scattered your feeling for another 40 minutes. It’s a rare, inept protagonist horror-thriller with clever, deceptive narrative. It’s an instant classic.
12. Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood)
Eye in the Sky stings with less action, but more series of legal and moral complexities in maximum intensity to question the moral value of the story itself. At the very end, nobody gets home smiling.
11. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg)
10 Cloverfield Lane has taken a ‘sequel’, even franchise development, into a new level. It’s completely original, savvy, thrilling, unpredictable, and cancerous at once, thanks to excellent performances from John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
10. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)
Everybody Wants Some!! is a vocal answer to cult case study presented by Dazed and Confused. Everybody just wants to have fun – highlighting their slogan ‘we are here for fun time, not a long time.’
09. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
Well-written, well-acted, well-directed, Manchester by the Sea is the ode to the bitterness of life. Casey Affleck’s acting is subtle and haunting; Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams’ supporting roles are also lasting.
08. Loving (Jeff Nichols)
Love might win in any way and any time it chooses to. Loving is a fine example of how love wins over adversaries subtly, without ever being over-dramatic or over-demanding. Loving is simply romance of the year.
07. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)
Adorable at worst and majestic at best, Hunt for a Wilderpeople is hilarious, warm and exhilarating. It might look like a reminiscent of Up, but its quality of being upbeat, uplifting and upgoing is like nothing you have seen before.
06. Your name. (Makoto Shinkai)
What started off as a sweet, quirky gender-swapping drama gradually turns into a heartthrobbing, splendid story of distant love. So distant it almost gets untouchable, but in the end, it shows its true nature: it’s mysterious, enormous, and most importantly, majestic.
05. A Monster Calls (J.A. Bayona)
A Monster Calls as a tale of acceptance and letting go feels much beautiful. It’s heartwarming. It feels very personal. And, most importantly, it won’t let go.
04. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
It’s a well-crafted Southern poetic justice—an instant example of how neat screenplay can make a film that works at many levels at once.
03. Sing Street (John Carney)
Sing Street sings, entertains, motivates, relives the dream; and, like brothers, it strengthens. There’s a fine line between Dublin, 80s bands, first love and Catholic school: John Carney.
02. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
It’s a palindrome of a story—a continuum, an order which can be seen forward from beginning or backward from the end respectively. Arrival is an elegantly eloquent.
01. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
La La Land, undoubtedly, is a bunch of happiness, blissful tunes and whoop-de-do wrapped in an ethereal rhapsody. It’s an exhilarating, feel-good musical that will take you to the stars and make you reluctant to touch the ground again, even if you’re not familiar with classic musical.
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