The best movies of 2016 were full of well-executed CG, and all of them operated on multiple axes. Most of them were light-hearted and humorous, while also being deep and meaningful in other ways.
First, I’d like to take a moment to list some of the notable movies in 2016 I was not able to see. I plan on watching them when I can, but they were not considered for this list:
- The Handmaiden
- La La Land
- Nocturnal Animals
It wasn’t easy to find these films playing in the theaters near me, but I know I should inconvenience myself a bit more. Indie films are often so much better than mass market ones, even if this year didn’t feel that way for me as much as usual.
On with the The 5 Best Movies of 2016!
Zootopia carries a message that is extremely serious and timely, but morality plays don’t make good movies on their own. It also happens to be funny, well animated, well-written, and well-paced. Pace is something I don’t think a lot of critics really gave it credit for either. They crammed a lot of content into this movie without it ever feeling overly rushed or losing out on details.
Zootopia has also opened itself up for lots of debate, which is a great sign. A goal of any movie should be to provoke thought and conversation. People have been talking about Zootopia for months after its release, and I feel that is a great sign that it’s one of the best movies of 2016.
Moana has amazing style and music. The animation is incredible (that hair!) as we’ve come to expect from Disney/Pixar these days. The story was pretty basic, but the dialogue and art style set it apart from other 3D movies. You could really tell by the details and creativity that they did a lot of research for Moana. Dwayne Johnson, Auli’i Cravalho, and Jemaine Clement were all fantastic in it as well. The soundtrack is also pretty great (and available on Spotify last I checked). Moana is one of the best movies of 2016 because it was thoughtfully produced, heart-warming, and very entertaining.
3. Star Wars: Rogue One
Rogue One is an excellent addition to the Star Wars cinematic universe. As many have already remarked about it, it’s refreshing to have an entry that stands on its own. It spends much more time tying up loose ends than opening itself up for more movies to follow it. It focuses on a group of characters that leave an indelible mark on the large story arc of Star Wars, and portrays their desperate fight to keep hope alive in marvelous fashion. Rogue One is one of the best movies of 2016 because it was gritty and brutal in a way that contrasts with the sometimes overly polished presentations of Star Wars movies and TV Shows. I hope we get more like it in the future.
This movie is a masterpiece. It is exactly what Deadpool fans wanted, and it showed everyone what Marvel is capable of in R-Rated feature films. They explored Deadpool’s back story and re-built it into a narrative that makes WAY more sense (I say this as someone that’s been reading his comics for a long time) without losing the essential elements from the comics. This character is absolutely absurd, and many fans thought that he was simply impossible to capture in a mass market movie. But luckily for all of us, Ryan Reynolds is Wade Wilson to the letter, and he portrayed Deadpool perfectly. Deadpool is probably going to be the movie I re-watch the most often of all the best movies of 2016, but it just barely missed out on the top spot.
Aside: Other Marvel Movies
Dr. Strange and Captain America: Civil War were both solid flicks, but not unique or exciting enough to merit their own mentions on my list. Deadpool is — by far — one of the best movies of 2016, and probably the best Marvel movie yet.
#1 of the Best Movies of 2016: Kubo and the Two Strings
When I saw this movie in the theater, I had no idea it was all puppets. I was incredibly impressed with the film, even when I thought it was stylized CG rendering. It blew my mind when the credits rolled and it showed some behind the scenes footage of the puppets. It is an innovative presentation of an incredibly creative and touching story about a boy and his place in the world.
The story was wonderful and compelling. My eyes remained glued to the screen the entire time. The visuals were beautiful. I shed a few tears at a couple of parts. I cannot recommend Kubo and the Two Strings more. I believe it is the Best Movie of 2016.
I always enjoy the Coen Brothers, and this film was no exception. It’s a fun ride through the dramatic world of several show business characters that I was glad to have seen. I feel a little uncool putting it down here beneath 5 more mass-market movies, but this year I guess I needed more color and positivity in my entertainment. More hope, more escape.
The Jungle Book
In the same way that Moana is well-executed, well-acted, and entertaining, The Jungle Book fires on the same cylinders. While I did enjoy the movie, it simply didn’t have the same impact as the more original movies that came out this year. Anything featuring Bill Murray prominently will be enjoyable of course.
UPDATE: Arrival is the new #1 of the Best Movies of 2016
I can’t believe I missed this in theaters, but I saw it when it arrived on Amazon, and it blew me away. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I cannot recommend it more. If you love sci-fi at all, it is a MUST SEE. Amy Adams shines brightly in the best role I’ve seen her in yet.