Second Union

Second Union

The Best Films of 2016

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to my Best Of 2016 list! I’ll be discussing what I think are the best films of the year and maybe a few films that you all should shy away from. Let’s jump right in.


20. The Shallows

As much as it is scary, it’s also very thrilling and works as a survival story as well as a horror movie. This is another one I was surprised by, and I haven’t seen Jaume Collet-Serra’s other films, so it was fresh and exciting to see such beautiful filmmaking. Trust me, watch this film and you will see what I’m talking about. Filled with great visuals, there’s something in this for every horror fan.

19. Star Trek Beyond

I vaguely remember watching Star Trek: The Original Series when I was younger, and it was one of those rare experiences where you truly want more of something. I haven’t seen Into Darkness yet, but between the 2009 reboot and Beyond, quality-wise, the latter wins out. The villain Krall’s motivations aren’t exactly clear at first, but once they’re revealed (no spoilers), it makes for a more compelling experience.

18. Captain America: Civil War

Sure, it didn’t have the greatest villain or the most compelling subplot, but the third entry in the Captain America series proves that sequels can improve upon their predecessors, and this franchise dos it well, each one being better than the last. A great thing about Civil War is that it forced you to choose a side. The film also had some great acting, and once again, once the villain’s motivations are revealed, it becomes more emotional.

17. Deepwater Horizon

I haven’t seen any of Peter Berg’s other films. When I saw the trailers and TV spots for Deepwater Horizon, I’m going to be honest: I wasn’t interested. Usually films that focus on true events like this end up getting panned for bad writing and acting, but I was really surprised with this movie. It had some outstanding visual effects, great acting, and excellent dialogue.

16. The Edge Of Seventeen

An extremely funny coming-of-age film, The Edge Of Seventeen stars Hailee Steinfeld as Nadine Franklin, a seventeen-year-old girl who is shocked and furious when her best friend Krista starts dating her older brother Darian. Throughout the film, she loses a friend and gains a friend, all the while dealing with the fact that the world seems to hate her. This film didn’t look like it was going to be that great, but it surprised me with its great dialogue and acting, as well as the way it interprets how someone this age would feel.

15. Moana

Disney released a lot of great films this year, and Moana was one of them. Filled with humor, Easter eggs, and great character development, this film is great for children and adults alike. The studio’s animation keeps getting better and better, and the animation is in full swing. The music is also really good, and while I don’t appreciate the same Disney Princess clichés that showed up to the party, it’s still a beautiful and fun film.

14. ZooTopia

Another great animated movie, ZooTopia surprised me a lot with it’s stellar storytelling and its very well-developed characters. It has a lot of humor, and a sack of Easter eggs littered throughout scenes, but it’s surprisingly dark compared to other Disney films. ZooTopia may look like a Disney film, and has Disney’s typical “teamwork” and “self-empowerment” themes, but it’s unlike the studio’s other films in many ways.

13. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars has been a huge part of my life ever since my dad brought home the original film on DVD from Blockbuster one day. Bridging a gap between the infamous prequels and the original trilogy, Rogue One would show viewers how the Rebels obtained the plans for the Death Star. While it’s characters weren’t as well developed as I wished, the film’s special effects are gorgeous, and the acting and writing are both great.

12. The Jungle Book

I still recall the day when I watched the original Jungle Book when I was younger. I can also remember how I felt after seeing it. I felt like the air had been whisked out of me, and I was in a beautiful world where animals sang and danced. 7 years later, I was pretty darn excited for the remake. When I finally saw it, I was blown away. First off, to all you remake haters out there: this is leagues better than the original animated classic. And it’s practically all CGI!

11. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Another highly awaited follow-up to a series that has been out of the spotlight for a while, Fantastic Beasts makes for a thrilling experience simply because it doesn’t provide any need for a sequel and it evenly balances the development of its characters. I would’ve liked to see more of Newt’s titular beasts, but the experience that the film delivered made up for its minor shortcomings.

10. Sing Street

Sing Street was another film that really surprised me. While the age of good coming-of-age tales is over, that doesn’t mean there still can’t be some great ones. Sing Street fits into that category because it tells a story that’s very well crafted, and gives the adult audience lots of nostalgic things to gaze upon. With great music and costume design, and really good and funny dialogue, this is one you shouldn’t miss.

9. The Nice Guys

The Nice Guys is a bit of an unconventional pick, but if I were you, I would drop everything and watch this film right now. It’s funny, well-written, the action sequences are awesome, and it truly captures the time period of the 70s with such effectiveness that it almost seems real.The chemistry between Crowe and Gosling is also perfect, and the performance from Angourie Rice as Holly is awesome.

8. Hacksaw Ridge

I haven’t seen any of Mel Gibson’s other films, but the war drama Hacksaw Ridge really wowed me. Filled with striking, violent visuals, and a bleak aesthetic, this film certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. But it has extremely good writing, and nonstop action, making me like it even more than I thought I would. With great performances from Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughn, this film is an astonishing feat of film-making.

7. La La Land

I pretty much knew from the moment people started singing that I was going to love this film. It’s one of those films that you know you’ll love just by seeing the commercials and trailers for it. While the music and dancing are great, I loved the natural feel to all of it, and how it didn’t feel over-choreographed. I loved Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s performances, and the bright visuals made it all the more beautiful and fun to watch.

6. Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe as three racially segregated women in the 1960’s. Based on a true story, these women helped the NASA launch astronaut John Glenn into orbit around the Earth. With strong performances from all three leading ladies, along with a feel-good tone that carries throughout the movie. It’s still in theaters, so I recommend catching it before it leaves.

5. Hell Or High Water

This is one that you really need to have subtitles to truly understand it. Many people may look at it and say it’s a Western, but the truth is, it’s not. It’s a heist film, and a really good one too. It’s perfectly paced, with great writing and it shows that you don’t need gore to make a good and thrilling film. Dialogue is key, and that makes for a more compelling experience. But, if you’re there for the action, you aren’t going to get much of it.

4. Kubo and the Two Strings

I love animation, and I have since I was very young. Kubo and the Two Strings is without a doubt one of my my favorite films this year. It’s funny, well-written, and has a great story, along with beautiful animation. While people who don’t appreciate animation as much as others may have a hard time getting into it, the film is a amazing in its own right. This is destined to be an animated classic.

3. Arrival

Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Arrival follows a linguist named Louise Banks, who is tasked by the U.S. Army to communicate with aliens that have touched down all over the world. While it looks and breathes sci-fi, underneath the surface is a calm, beautiful spectacle that trades non-stop action for a deep and tremendous story. With extremely pretty visuals, and great writing, this is one you don’t want to miss.

2. Manchester By The Sea

Manchester By The Sea is a flat-out amazing film. Starring Casey Affleck, it follows a man named Lee whose brother has just died, leaving him with no choice but to take care of his nephew Patrick. While it isn’t death-stricken like Hacksaw Ridge is, there’s no doubt that this movie is one of the most depressing ones on the list. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that you better have a tissue box nearby while watching this.

1. Moonlight

Moonlight is a flat-out masterpiece. Chronicling the life of a black boy named Chiron, the film is split into three separate acts: each depicting an important part of his life. The hardships of growing up in a bad neighborhood, as well as being outcast by your peers for being gay, are present and make the film very emotional. With powerful performances from Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, and more, this is truly the best film of the year.

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