Despite a great deal of discussion to the contrary, 2016 ended up being a high watermark year for cinema. Whether you’re looking to see if your favorite made the list, or just checking on what great flicks you might have missed, ComicsVerse has got you covered with our list of 22 of the best films (in no particular order, because art shouldn’t be a competition, GUYS) from 2016. Click here to check out part 2!

Moonlight

MOONLIGHT (dir. Barry Jenkins)

“Who is you, Chiron?” A seemingly innocuous question asked to the protagonist of MOONLIGHT that holds the truth to the entire film. Barry Jenkins’ moving film is a reflection on that central question spread out through the course of one person’s life. That question takes many forms as he grapples with his identity as his youth gives way to adolescence and manhood. Jenkins takes us through three distinct moments in the life of the main character (played by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes, respectively). Each stage of Chiron’s life lets the audience slowly slip through the cracks to see his hidden vulnerability. It’s a film that is executed masterfully at every level of production, from acting to directing to score to cinematography (Hell, the craft service table was probably incredible too). If the film has any flaws, it’s that Jenkins moves us away from each stage of Chiron’s life, leaving the audience wondering what happened next and hoping for Chiron’s future happiness. Even so, this criticism speaks to the impeccable molding of the character by both Jenkins and the three actors who play Chiron.

Why it’s worth your time: MOONLIGHT is a rare film that expresses deep humanity without dipping into histrionics. It is both artful and understated; a cinematic portrait of a single human experience, centered by three fantastic performances. MOONLIGHT is a modern coming-of-age tale with a tender love story at its center, and a showcase for exciting talent to watch out for in the future of movies. (Brian Long)

The Nice Guys

THE NICE GUYS (dir. Shane Black)

Writer-director Shane Black (LETHAL WEAPON and KISS KISS BANG BANG) delivers once again with this hilarious action-crime-comedy. Set in 1977 Los Angeles, NICE GUYS tells the story of an alcoholic P.I. (Ryan Gosling) and a temperamental thug-for-hire (Russell Crowe) who team up to find a missing girl. But things get complicated when this hapless duo stumbles upon a criminal conspiracy involving murder and corruption.

Why it’s worth your time: THE NICE GUYS just might be the funniest film of the year. It’s a side-splitting joyride reminiscent of 1980s action comedies. The movie boasts a solid script co-written by the incredibly clever Shane Black. It features a slew of hysterical performances, spearheaded by Gosling and Crowe’s impeccable comedic chemistry. Just watching this duo play off of one another is well worth the price of admission. This wildly entertaining throwback is a refreshing alternative to the “explosions-over-substance” action flicks that dominate the current Hollywood landscape (I’m looking at you, FAST AND FURIOUS). It may have been a box office flop, but THE NICE GUYS is destined to become a cult-classic on par with the Coen Brothers’ 1998 comedic masterpiece, THE BIG LEBOWSKI. (Tyler Vertrees)

Civil War

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (dir. Joe & Anthony Russo) 

Whose side are you on?

Captain America in all his red, white, and blue American glory in CIVIL WAR. Bucky Barnes is going crazy, doesn’t remember that he killed Tony Stark’s parents (spoiler) — but, it was only because he was brainwashed by Hydra. The two sides consist of Iron Man and Captain America; however, you are either with one and against the other or with none at all. Iron Man is for superheroes being under a radar and Captain America is not, basically. They battle it out, Spider-Man is introduced, we get a little glimpse (more like a lot of glimpses) of Black Panther.  We get some kick butt fight scenes and above all, we get the brotherhood of Cap and Bucky… Oh, and Rhodes — let’s not talk about Rhodes. Action packed, plot and comic driven is what CIVIL freaking WAR is. Marvel does no wrong when it comes to action.

Why it’s worth your time: Why wouldn’t this movie be worth your time? I am talking action. I am talking Tony Stark in all of his Tony Stark glory. I am talking Bucky—one metal hand, motorcycle riding, Bucky Barnes. This movie gets a 10/10 for me, though I am biased since I could talk up anything Marvel does as if I was vouching for my own life. However, introducing Black Panther (played by Chadwick Boseman) was one of the best decisions Marvel could make, along with introducing the new and improved Spider-Man (played by Tom Holland). But, let’s be real here, the cinematic masterpiece that is CIVIL WAR played so well on those “special” scenes from the comic. I don’t believe any Marvel movie has played so well on specific comic scenes like CIVIL WAR did. And, can we just say, thank you Russo brothers for this one? Continue to keep doing you. I don’t know about you — but when I watch a film that looks so crisp I could reach out and touch the screen, I get excited. This movie was completely on point with not only the comics, but real life situations as well. It’s 2016, the year of movies and if you aren’t on the same level as Marvel, then where are you? (Shareca Coleman)

CLICK: How do DOCTOR STRANGE and CIVIL WAR explore Objectivist philosophy? Click here for our analysis.

De Palma

DE PALMA (dir. Jake Paltrow & Noah Baumbach)



Following one of the forgotten kings of the New Hollywood movement in the 1970s, “De Palma” reviews and dissects the life and work of Brian De Palma. Unflinching and honest, Brian De Palma sits in front of a camera and spills his heart out. The documentary follows the life of the eccentric director from his childhood with his unfaithful father, to his early films and friendships with some of the most powerful directors in the industry, to the highs and lows of his film career, to his views of his work as a whole.



Why It’s worth your time: This documentary is not the usual Hollywood fluff piece, filled with talking heads about how great a director is. There is only one interview subject, De Palma himself, and he is brutally honest about his work. The documentary goes movie by movie, and De Palma isn’t afraid to criticize himself. While the documentary continues, it begins to paint a picture of who De Palma is, and how he sees himself. Early footage shows him hanging out with his soon-to-be powerful friends (George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, old home video footage of him talking to Steven Spielberg on a car phone), and you get the sense that De Palma was left behind. While many of his “New Hollywood” contemporaries went on to great success and fame, De Palma has slowly been forgotten. He mentions several times in the film how he wanted to make his “one great film,” and, by the time of the interview, you can see that De Palma has all but given up on that ambition, that he understands where his filmography stands in cinematic history, and he has come to turns with the type of director that he is. This is a great film for anyone who is interested in the history of the “New Hollywood” movement, De Palma’s filmography, or how an artist sees his work, and, in their twilight years, how that artist reflects on their impact on the world.  (Spencer Brickey)

Swiss Army Man

SWISS ARMY MAN (dir. Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert)

SWISS ARMY MAN is a profound meditation on humanity’s relationship with its evolving social norms and expectations. It’s also a movie where Daniel Radcliffe plays a farting corpse. It’s also a movie where the farting corpse role is one of the best acting performances of the year. Needless to say, it’s a film that contains multitudes. As Hank (Paul Dano) plans to end his life after being stranded on a desert island, he spies a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washed up on the shore. In that moment, he decides to keep living, and it’s a good thing he does because the corpse turns out to be a “multi-purpose tool guy” who can perform any action from providing water to chopping down trees to using an erection as a compass. It’s 2016’s most humanist movie that also features poop jokes.

Why it’s worth your time: Worth saying upfront: SWISS ARMY MAN is weird, but it’s unapologetic in its weirdness. It’s weird in a way that feels genuine to the voice of the directors and not a twee affectation to appeal to the hipster indie crowd. In addition, Daniel Radcliffe’s turn as the flatulent dead man is a genuinely delightful performance that solidifies him as an actor capable of pulling off some great physical humor. This is a film that is truly unique in a sea of sometimes homogeneous independent film. (Brian Long)

The Lobster

THE LOBSTER (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)

From the twisted mind of Yorgos Lanthimos (DOGTOOTH), this surrealist comedy depicts a dystopian world where being single is illegal. All unmarried individuals are taken to a private resort where they are given 45 days to find their soulmate. If unsuccessful, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing. Displeased with his romantic prospects, recent divorcé David (Colin Farrell) escapes the resort, taking refuge with a group of fugitives who are intent on staying single. But he soon discovers that one of these fugitives (Rachel Weisz) could be the love of his life.

Why it’s worth your time: THE LOBSTER is a bizarre work of art, but whether or not you enjoy it depends entirely on your taste in film. Some will appreciate its unconventional elements: the pitch-black humor, hilariously stilted dialogue, surreal narrative, and its unique take on social norms. Others will find it a little too strange and rather off-putting. After all, this is a story told by an artist with a distinctly different point of view. The closest comparisons I can draw are David Lynch and Miranda July. Like these filmmakers, Lanthimos infuses his work with his own unique brand of strangeness. THE LOBSTER doesn’t cater to mainstream audiences. But if you’re a fan of off-kilter comedy and surrealist cinema, then you need to see this film. (Tyler Vertrees)

CLICK: The off-kilter comedy THE LOBSTER and its exploration of societal binaries.

Deadpool

DEADPOOL (dir. Tim Miller) 

No, seriously, DEADPOOL is a fantastic movie. This is the “origin” story film to beat for many other films to come (or as many as Marvel can milk out before people start to hate them). It’s about my main man Wade Wilson, also known as an “anti-superhero, sort of bad guy-slash-good guy when he wants to be” character. Wade Wilson, formally his real name, is a mercenary and, after a lame rogue experiment leaves him with cool healing powers, he goes on to (re)find the love of his life.  Oh, and did I mention that he had and currently still has cancer? And they said, “Well, you know what Wade… we can help with that. Just a little experiment should get the job done.” And, without a doubt, Wade said, “Sure, anything for my love. All is fair in love and war after all!” After he finds out that it was all BS and none of it was actually real, he goes on with Negasonic Teenage Warhead and Colossus to find Ajax cleaning supplies (or just Ajax).

Why it’s worth your time: Humor, laughter, sarcasm, and Salt N’ Pepa is why you’ll love this movie. I could say even though DP is an… well, you know the word for people who get on your nerves, but, they are also kind of funny too? Yeah, he’s that (an a-hole). However, he’s a good guy, I mean when you look past the whole killing innocent people thing. All and all, this movie is comical and worth a watch without a doubt. Ryan Reynolds makes sure to make you forget about GREEN LANTERN with his rendition as Deadpool. And, trust me, you should forgive him—because it’s one heck of a performance. Coming from someone who’s favorite superhero is DP, he puts on one heck of an overkill for Deadpool (but, in a good way). Plus, the film came out around Valentine’s Day and what is better than that? (Shareca Coleman)

Keanu

KEANU (Dir. Peter Atencio)



Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, two of the most talented comedians working today, have made the jump from the small screen to the big screen with their feature KEANU. Following Peele’s stoner Rell and Key’s uptight Clarence, the two must go undercover as the Allentown Bros, super effective assassins, to get back Rell’s stolen kitten Keanu from the leader of the “Blips” gang, Cheddar (Method Man). They quickly find themselves in over their heads as they bumble their way through dangerous situation after dangerous situation.


Why it is worth your time: “Key & Peele” was the best sketch comedy show ever produced (I’ll concede that it’s a tie with “The Chappelle Show”), and the two bring their amazing comedic premises and timing into their cinematic outing. Key and Peele bounce off of each other naturally, bringing awkward humor to a new high benchmark (Key’s “your name and an interesting fact” scene is an all-timer, and the Anna Faris scene is pitch black humor done right). This is a film made by two comedic geniuses in their prime, and should not be missed. (Spencer Brickey)

The Handmai

THE HANDMAIDEN (dir. Park Chan-Wook)

Park Chan-Wook is not only one of the finest directors of South Korea, he’s one of the best directors currently working in film. Full stop. Anytime a new film by Mr. Park makes its way into the cinema, it’s reason enough to buy a ticket. But if that isn’t enough to convince you, here’s the low down: After a brief foray into the English language (2013’s underrated STOKER), Park Chan-Wook returns to his native South Korea with THE HANDMAIDEN. The film is based on the novel FINGERSMITH by Sarah Waters, but Park and co-writer Chung Seo-kyung have moved the Victorian era novel to Korea under Japanese colonial rule at the beginning of the 20th century. The film starts off as a breezy con story, as Sook-he (Kim Tae-ri) agrees to pose as a handmaiden and help a fortune chaser (Ha Jung-woo) seduce Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee), a wealthy Japanese heiress. The plan goes well until Sook-he falls for the heiress…and then things get complicated.

Why it’s worth your time: The less known about THE HANDMAIDEN’s plot will make the unraveling nesting doll of a story even more fun. However, knowing the twists and turns ahead would not diminish Park’s masterful directing, the lush imagery (with Chung Chung-hoon on cinematography) and costume design (with beautiful period dresses crafted by Jo Sang-gyeong), and the wonderful, and surprisingly hilarious, central performances from Kim Tae-ri and Kim Min-hee. A period, con-artist, romantic tale of triumphant feminism. A movie desperately needed at the end of 2016. (Brian Long)

The Conjuring 2

THE CONJURING 2 (dir. James Wan) 

Now, I am not a fan of scary movies. If anything I refuse to watch them. I am sure HALLOWEEN was the last scary movie I even watched. However, THE CONJURING 2 was a darn good scary movie — I got spooked a few times in the theater, but all in all it was a major bonus of a film. This movie follows the first one, which was also good, and it is about a couple who finds ghosts or demons in the house of others. Essentially, they are paranormal investigators because most of the time families are lying about having a demon in their house. The film takes place in 1977 and “based on a true story,” as most scary movies are. I don’t know how believable the “based on a true story is,” but they do offer the real-life recordings at the end of the film. That being said, I was completely out that theater by the time they even started playing.

Why it’s worth your time: If you are into scary movies, or even if you aren’t, this one will get you. Why should you even waste your time with it? If you have noticed, many scary movies completely suck these days. They are terrible, have no plot whatsoever and the acting sucks. There are not many films that I have personally watched that were scary that have done anything for me… until now. This film is worth a watch and, if anything, watch with someone else if you do not like scary movies. I will get nightmares from those scary demons for the rest of my godforsaken life. (Shareca Coleman)

CLICK: The haunting real world inspirations for THE CONJURING 2

Rogue One

ROGUE ONE (dir. Gareth Edwards)



Here it is, Disney’s big gamble: A Star Wars film not connected to the Skywalker family, with no Jedis, lightsabers, or force powers. A Star Wars film about the rebellion, about the grunts in battle, fighting the ground war. A film that tested the waters of the Star Wars anthology film conceit. And a film that, by and large, succeeded beyond anyone’s expectation. Set in a universe still controlled by the empire, the film follows a ragtag group of rebels who band together to help stop the new, terrifying super-weapon known as the Death Star.



Why it is worth your time: As this film is still in theaters, I am putting a spoiler tag at the top so no one accidentally ruins it for themselves.

 

Spoilers Below


As a fan of Star Wars ever since I can remember (I still have that VHS boxset that doesn’t have any of Lucas’s “improvements” that I break out once a year), this was a perfect encapsulation of the original trilogy. While THE FORCE AWAKENS is its own film, focused on restarting the franchise, ROGUE ONE feels like the first Star Wars film to actually show the war. The characters, while slightly lean on characterization, fit perfectly into this war-torn world, stuck in a morally grey area as they try and fight a seemingly invulnerable enemy. These are characters that we care about, characters that we dread will not make it to the end.

Director Gareth Edwards creates a film that has an amazing sense of scale from top to bottom. The massive Star Destroyer hovering over the holy city, the AT-AT emerging from the smoke, the Death Star looming like a moon in the background, that massive damage caused by the Death Star weapon— all shot beautifully and perfectly. The final third of this film is the best action set piece in all the Star Wars films. Shot closer to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN than Star Wars (the outfits of the rebels are very reminiscent of Vietnam and WWII uniforms, and there is one scene in particular that immediately brings to mind a Huey Helicopter circling a Vietnamese enemy camp) the battle at the beach head was able to truly show the empire’s might and the emotional power of a resistance that fights a suicide mission. While they fight below, the battle above in the stars is the most beautifully shot space battle in Star Wars history (and the Hammerhead Corvette is the best ship added to the series since the Original Trilogy).

If all I have said still hasn’t persuaded the casual Star Wars fan out there, there is this: in a scene that lasts all of 2-3 minutes, this film made Darth Vader terrifying again. Shot like a horror film, we finally see what Darth Vader looks like to the common person— a monster, the literal boogeyman, an unstoppable evil force. As I sat watching ROGUE ONE with my father, who introduced me to the series at a very young age and who helped me create and foster a love for cinema that continues today, all I could think, as X-wings bombed Star Destroyers and rebels battled an assortment of Stormtroopers below, was “this is why I love Star Wars.” (Spencer Brickey)

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  1. Congelador 2016: Películas |

    December 30, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    […] ComicVerse: The 22 Best Films of the Year  […]

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