Reggie Peralta’s Top Ten Movies of 2016
We are going to look at movies that were released over the course of the 2016 and see which were the best. Such a list is, by its nature, highly subjective and based entirely on what this writer has or hasn’t seen, so it one shouldn’t get too hot bothered if they did not enjoy or appreciate the films cataloged below. In any case, let’s start counting.
10. The Bandit
When I first saw The Bandit, I went in without ever actually seeing Smokey and The Bandit. I still haven’t seen it to this day, but I remember the story behind it and its indomitable director Hal Needham all too well thanks to this unexpected gem from the 2016 San Francisco International Film Festival. As informative as it is inspiring, The Bandit is one of the best movies to come out this year and easily one of the best documentaries you can watch today.
9. My First Kiss And The People Involved
Not since Robert Altman’s Images have I seen a movie that evokes the same combination of bewilderment and anxiety that My First Kiss And The People Involved does. Although it doesn’t quite reach the heights of that film, the Los Angeles Film Festival contender is no less memorable with its unconventional narrative structure and unnerving story, both of which are realized in no small part by the haunting score that accompanies the disabled Sam as she tries to get to the bottom of an increasingly disturbing mystery at her group home. There is no way to tell when another film like My First Kiss might come out, so it behooves one to appreciate this beautifully jarring film all the more.
Historically, horror and comic book movies have been received poorly, often written off as the province of the immature and ill-adjusted. So imagine how hard it must be for a film that combines elements of the two genres as well as some from another – that is, film noir – to make a mildly decent impression. Yet against all odds, Abattoir manages to juggle these disparate parts into an imaginative whole that is bound to stick with viewers long after they see it.
7. Phantom Boy
Another feature that made surprisingly effective use of noir tropes was the animated Phantom Boy. Although it was technically released in 2015, the French film didn’t reach American theaters until last year, where it was dubbed into English by a cast headlined by Fred Armisen. The dub is well-done as it is, but Vincent d’Onofrio especially shines as The Face, the disfigured mastermind whom the titular character must stop from plunging New York City into chaos. Accessible enough for children and engaging enough for adults, it makes for fun family viewing.
6. The Conjuring 2
Viewers might have gone to watch The Conjuring 2 for the scares, but it is the interpersonal drama that makes this based on a true horror story sequel stand out. Leads Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga hold their own as dramatic presences against a cast of spirits and spooks, something that few horror movie protagonists can brag about.
5. Train to Busan
At this point, there is little that is redeemable about the zombie movie subgenre, but the little that is redeemable is superb. Train to Busan fits neatly into this category, building momentum like that of the train on which its hapless characters travel as their fellow passengers succumb to the growing epidemic and still finding time to tell a simple but potent story about family and redemption.
4. Frank and Lola
As moody as its male lead, Frank and Lola is one of the strongest character-driven features I’ve seen this year, if not ever. This brooding drama is worth watching for Michael Shannon‘s performance alone, which as I noted in my review for it is comparable to Lee Marvin’s similarly-stoic turn in the classic Point Blank.
3. Lights Out
Say what you will about horror, but when it’s done right it is spectacular. This is definitely the case with Lights Out, an endlessly gripping chiller which boasts a truly unsettling monster and is in this writer’s opinion the scariest movie of 2016.
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
By breaking from the uninspired pitfalls of its immediate predecessor, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has more than earned its spot on this list. Not to mention that this space-set war story restores a much-needed sense of weight and gravitas to the iconic series.
1. The Demons
Depressing, disturbing, The Demons makes for rough viewing, but it is absolutely worth weathering the constant sense of dread and second-hand humiliation you feel for young Felix. It can’t be easy making a movie about the cruelty of children (to say nothing of the cruelty of adults), but this Canadian coming-of-age drama shows that not only can it be done, but the resulting product can be as powerful as it is heartwrenching.