OK. I had all but given up on my favorites lists for 2016. I had tried compiling my list of favorite movies in the same manner I had in past years, where I do a little write up on each movie explaining its presence and positioning on the list; but since I hadn’t written reviews on most of these movies, I found myself writing far too much about each one. It was taking me far too long. I had put off my favorite music so I could concentrate on my movies. I had pretty much decided I just wasn’t going to do it this year when it occurred to me, I had the lists. Why don’t I just present the films the same way as I present the music each year, just list them and let them speak for themselves? Well, duh.
So, it may be a little late, but here are my 16 Favorite Movies of 2016. As usual concerning omissions, there are a great many films I missed that would surely have replaced some of these films on the list, but to be sure, these are all great films in a year that was filled with them. It was a pretty mediocre year for big mainstream films, but the independents were in rare form.
These films run the gamut, from Oscar contenders to surprise horror entries, from a nearly 8-hour documentary of an American sports legend whose life turned toward infamy to a costumed comedy of manners made by a master of the genre, from a classic 70s-style crime drama, to one of the most original premises for a movie I’ve ever seen, from a sci-fi thriller about linguistics, to the greatest performance of Sam Neill’s rather odd career. It was a great year for film, and I’m glad I didn’t pass up this opportunity to share my favorites.
Director/writer: Barry Jenkins
Producers: Adele Romanski, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
Based on the book “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney
Cast: Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali
Release date: Oct. 21, 2016
Running time: 111min.
Manchester By the Sea
Roadside Attractions/Amazon Studios
Director/writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Producers: Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Kevin J. Walsh, Lauren Beck
Cast: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler
Release date: Nov. 18, 2016
Running time: 137 min.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Producers: Shawn Levy, Dan Levine, Aaron Ryder, David Linde
Screenplay: Eric Heisserer
Based on “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma
Release date: Sept. 11, 2016
Running time: 116 min.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Director: Travis Knight
Producers: Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner
Screenplay & story: Marc Haimes, Chris Butler, Shannon Tindle
Voice cast: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey
Release date: Aug. 19, 2016
Running time: 102 min.
O.J. Made In America
Director: Ezra Edelman
Producers: Ezra Edelman, Caroline Waterlow, Tamara Rosenberg, Nina Krstic, Deirdre Fenton, Libby Geist, Erin Leyden, Connor Schell
Release date: May 20, 2016
Running time: 467 min.
Warner Bros. Pictures
Director: Clint Eastwood
Producers: Clint Eastwood, Frank Marshall, Allyn Stewart, Tim Moore
Screenplay: Todd Komarnicki
Based on “Highest Duty” by Chelsey Sullenberger and Jeffery Zaslow
Cast: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney
Release date: Sept. 9, 2016
Running time: 96 min.
La La Land
Director/writer: Damien Chazelle
Producers: Fred Berger, Jordon Horowitz, Gary Gilbert, Marc Platt
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt
Release date: Dec. 9, 2016
Running time: 128 min.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Director: Dan Trachtenberg
Producers: J.J. Abrams, Lindsey Weber
Screenplay: Josh Campbell, Matt Stuecken, Damien Chazelle
Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher, Jr.
Release date: Mar. 11, 2016
Running time: 104 min.
Director/writer: Robert Eggers
Producers: Rodrigo Teixeira, Daniel Bekerman, Lars Knudsen, Jodi Redmond, Jay Van Hoy
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson
Release date: Feb. 19, 2016
Running time: 93 min.
Hell or High Water
Director: David Mackenzie
Producers: Sidney Kimmel, Peter Berg, Carla Hacken, Julie Yorn, Gigi Pritzker, Rachel Shane
Screenplay: Taylor Sheridan
Cast: Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster, Gil Birmingham
Release date: Aug. 12, 2016
Running time: 102 min.
Swiss Army Man
Directors/writers: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan
Producers: Eval Rimmon, Lauren Mann, Lawrence Inglee, Jonathan Wang, Miranda Bailey, Amanda Marshall
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Release date: June 24, 2016
Running time: 97 min.
20th Century Fox
Director: Theodore Melfi
Producers: Peter Chernin, Donna Gigliotti, Theodore Melfi, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams
Screenplay: Theodore Melfi and Allison Schroeder
Based on “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali
Release date: Dec. 25, 2016
Running time: 127 min.
Director: Karyn Kusama
Producers: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, Martha Griffin, Nick Spicer
Screenplay: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Tammy Blanchard, Michiel Huisman, Emayatzi Corinealdi, Lindsay Burdge, Mike Doyle, Jay Larson, John Carroll Lynch
Release date: April 8, 2016
Running time: 100 min.
The Weinstein Company
Director: John Carney
Producers: Anthony Bregman, John Carney, Kevin Scott Frakes, Christian Grass, Martina Niland, Raj Brinder Singh, Paul Trijbits
Screenplay & story: John Carney, Simon Carmody
Cast: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Aidan Gillen, Jack Reynor, Kelly Thornton
Release date: April 15, 2016
Running time: 105 min.
Hunt For the Wilderpeople
Director/writer: Taika Waititi
Producers: Carthew Neal, Matt Noonan, Leanne Saunders, Taika Waititi
Based on “Wild Pork and Watercress” by Barry Crump
Cast: Julian Dennison, Sam Neill
Release date: Jun. 24, 2016
Running time: 101 min.
Love & Friendship
Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions
Director/writer: Whit Stillman
Producers: Whit Stillman, Katie Holly, Lauranne Bourrachot
Based on “Lady Susan” by Jane Austen
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Morfydd Clark, Jemma Redgrave, Tom Bennett, James Fleet, Justin Edwards, Jenn Murray, Stephen Fry, Chloë Sevigny
Release date: May 15, 2016
Running time: 93 min.
I also really enjoyed Into the Inferno, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition, Deadpool, Eye In the Sky, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Green Room, Hacksaw Ridge, Hail, Caesar!, High-Rise, The Jungle Book, The Lobster, The Neon Demon, The Nice Guys, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Trek Beyond, and The White Helmets