My Favorite Movies of 2016

Yesterday I went to see LaLa Land (normally a hater of musicals I can’t believe how much I loved it.  Like, seriously, loved) and as I walked out of the theater I thought that it will definitely be on my top 10 list of movies for 2017. Although really it was released in 2016 so it should be at the top of that list. But what about the rest of my Top Movies for 2016? What else on that list? I had to bust out a list of movies released last year to even remember what I saw (I don’t know whether that says more about the state of movies last year or my memory).

As a disclaimer, this is my list of what I liked best, not The Best Movies. While I see a lot of movies, I don’t see everything. I am partial to smaller movies and generally dislike explosions and violence as they are usually used gratuitously, not thoughtfully (I’m not a fan of most of the comic book genre for that reason).  I really hate lots of cussing (sorry, Leonardo! That means I never see your movies!) and feel like a movie should make the world a better place, or at least make me want to make the world a better place–whether it’s by making me want to be kinder or seeing the beauty around me or helping me appreciate people who are not like me. There are lots of people who think that movies should shock and make the audience think, and while I can support that idea, Hollywood and I don’t really see eye-to-eye on what that means. (I LOVE a movie that makes me think, but being shocked is not the same thing.) I really don’t care for depraved stuff. There is enough of that already in real life.

Also, there should be way more foreign movies on this list but I see most movies with my husband who has dyslexia and he has a hard time reading along with fast subtitles. So, alas, foreign movies don’t make much of an appearance. Next year I’ll do better!

After LaLa Land, my favorite movie of 2016  was Hunt for the Wilderpeople . This charming movie was super offbeat. It’s very different and a little odd but full of heart and humor. It’s from New Zealand and I thought it was wonderful. It was directed by Taika Waititi who made the absolutely hilarious fake vampire documentary What We Do In The Shadows. I won’t tell you what WIlderpeople is about because it will make you think, “Hmm, that sounds lame.” Just see it.

Arrival  This is definitely one of those movies that makes you think. A lot. While I claim I don’t like Science Fiction movies, I usually end up really liking a lot of them. This was an alien film but not in the typical “aliens are attacking us!” way. Like, there are barely any explosions. It’s a profound, moving and beautiful film. Amy Adams did such a superb job. I love smart, brave chicks.

Hidden Figures I was going to include this in next year’s “best of” list since I saw it last week. But since it technically came out in December, I’ll include it for 2016. First of all, this is the lamest movie title of all time. It is so vague that every time I would tell someone I wanted to see the movie they would just look at me with a blank stare. Anyway, do you love an underdog story (or three)?  You love smart and sassy ladies? You love historical stuff? You love pointy-toed shoes? You love snotty white people getting their comeupance? Then this is your movie. I loved it so much. It’s a great film for everyone to see but especially girls. Take your daughters (and sons)! Pharrell Williams did a fantastic job with the soundtrack; it’s catchy and perfect. Also, I adore Octavia Spencer and I feel like we could be best friends.

Passengers Again with the science fiction! This is my vote for “Blockbuster Movie That Actually Delivers”. It’s not going to change your life but it’s hard not to imagine what you would do in the same situation–you know, trapped on a space ship for a hundred years. Escapist big-budget-movie-going at its best. How can you not love it when it’s Jennifer Lawrence and  Chris Pratt?

Hacksaw Ridge I’m not a huge fan of war. I tend to be a pacifist and I don’t like fighting for any reason (except with my husband). So I was fascinated by the true story of a pacifist who voluntarily goes to war, refuses to fight and ends up being the most heroic person around. This was rated-R because there are people being shot and blown up left and right. Entrails and limbs go a-flying. But the hero of this movie is a godly and prayerful man and you just don’t get to see that very often in a movie. It’s a great example of someone willing to stand up for his beliefs no matter what. I would recommend this movie to anyone over 14, despite the R. (In the picture below, the skinny guy looking up is the real man the movie was based on.)

10 Cloverfield Lane Y’all know how much I love preparedness and the apocalypse and all that! Well, this was so up my alley! John Goodman is a creeper (and prepper) extraordinaire in this film. A young woman is hurt in a car accident just as “the world is falling apart”. John Goodman and his cohort rescue her by taking her deep into their underground bunker. But has the world actually fallen apart? Or is this guy just keeping her prisoner? It keeps you guessing until the end and is such a taut thriller. I pretty much needed to take a Xanax and do yoga after I saw this, I was so keyed up, emotionally.  But in a good way! (I had a few quibbles about the preparedness issues: they had on so many lights all the time! There is no way they would have wasted that much electricity, even if they’d had solar power. Also, they stored a lot of high fat foods that real peppers wouldn’t store because it would go rancid too fast. I enjoyed seeing all the Emergency Essentials buckets everywhere!)

Captain Fantastic This made me think a lot more than any other movie I saw this year. It’s ultimately about parenting and how we raise our children. In this film Viggo Mortensen is a newly single dad raising his six kids totally off the grid. They’re homeschooled and smart but have no idea how to live in the real world, which becomes evident (and pretty funny) when they return to regular American civilization for various reasons. They might be homeschoolers but they for sure aren’t Christian Fundamentalists; they have potty mouths from time to time. And Viggo Mortensen, being the ultimate hippy, walks around all nekkid at one point–and you see everything. This movie definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you are a more liberally-minded parent you might want to watch this one.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Who doesn’t love Tina Fey? Let me tell you this about funny people (I will include myself here because although I’m not Tina-Fey-funny, humor is still how I deal with things): funny people are deep, man. They don’t really want you to know that but it’s true. People think it’s just all silly and laughing all the time but there are deep feelings. So if you watch this movie thinking this is going to be some kind of Thirty Rock in the Middle East, you will be super off-base. Tina gets assigned to be a reporter in Afghanistan. So she goes and it’s crazy and scary and funny and trippy. There’s swearing and sex and drugs and violence in this movie but it all works together (mom, you won’t want to see this one.) It’s not as amusing as the previews made it look (I hate when that happens), but it ended up being more moving and insightful than I thought it would be. Also, it makes you glad not to live someplace war-torn. Also, men are quite rotten. Also, Margot Robbie is the prettiest person I’ve ever seen.

The Huntsman: Winter’s War I’m including this, not because it was really good. It wasn’t. But it’s my nominee for “Movie I Most Expected to be Stupid But Wasn’t”. I only went to see this because I wanted some popcorn and two hours of nobody asking me if they knew where their backpack/phone/jacket was. I had seen everything else and it was with a heavy heart that I actually coughed up $9.50 to see this. But it turned out to be interesting and pretty humorous.  And then that cute Chris Hemsworth is in it. As well as Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain who are both very talented.  The movie was a nice escapist romp, nothing more; but I’m giving it a place on my list just because it was the best bad movie that turned out to be pretty good.

What were your favorite movies of 2016?

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