CINEPUNX BEST OF 2016: Film

Say what you will about 2016 — and many people already have — but it was a great year for film. 2016 saw the return of old favorites (Paul Verhoeven and Shane Black releasing new films), the continued dominance of comic book films and the Star Wars juggernaut, a host of new names offering, surprise, fresh ideas. Ideally, our list of films would be more comprehensive and shine a spotlight on more than just a handful of titles; alas, we were forced to whittle our much larger list of sixty picks down to a much digestible twenty-five. Such is the nature of Internet journalism.

Here, then, is Cinepunx’s list of Best Films of 2016:

25. DR. STRANGE
24. STAR TREK BEYOND
23. CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR
22. KEANU
21. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
20. THE WAILING
19. THE FITS
18. EVOLUTION
17. A BRIDE FOR RIP VAN WINKLE
16. BATMAN V. SUPERMAN
15. THE ARRIVAL
14. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
13. ROGUE ONE
12. LITTLE SISTER
11. THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

 

TOP TEN:

10. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

John Wren: “Personally, I think the Captain America films are the best of all the MCU series (Winter Soldier being the #1 of all of them). They are really only a little more than political thrillers that happen to have superheroes in them. Civil War is no different and was essentially Avengers 2.5 in with how many characters are in it. That, however, is its only downfall though. Too many characters that needed screen time kind of ruined the pacing a little. Overall, with the exception of Rogue One, I didn’t have more fun watching a movie than this one.”

9. THE NICE GUYS

Joey Breeding: “In a perfect world, you wouldn’t make me choose whether I wanted Crowe or Gosling as my ideal buddy cop partner.”

8. ELLE

Rob Skvarla: “A deceptive and mischievous film. On the surface, Elle is a dark thriller about sexual assault… but that’s not actually what the film is about. Once you move past the overt trauma, you’ll find that director Paul Verhoeven and star Isabelle Huppert have crafted a wickedly funny character study about a woman who refuses to be defined by anyone else’s terms, even as she must deal with multiple crises in her life. Huppert’s Michele is vindictive, petty, and reckless, attributes we don’t typically come to expect from a cinematic heroine, but in allowing Michele to embrace her many negative character traits and not sanding off the rough edges to make her likeable, Veroeven and Huppert have created one of the most complex and interesting characters of the decade.”

7. THE HANDMAIDEN

Rob Skvarla: “Equal parts romance film, historical drama, and revenge thriller, Chan-wook Park’s The Handmaiden is tonally schizophrenic. In a lesser director’s hands, this would mean a mess of a film. Park, however, is so skilled at manipulating expectations that the tonal shifts actually work to the film’s advantage, first by setting up the con, then by using sleight of hand (or, in this case, deceptive editing) to pull the rug out from under you. And that isn’t even touching on the imagery he packs into each frame; from the early compositions of the Japanese countryside to the later set design of a dingy torture chamber, the film itself mimics the tonal shift of the story by veering from splendor to horror.”

6. ZOOTOPIA

Nick Spacek: “After what seems like a century of Disney making movies that are problematic in terms of how they see gender and/or race relations, it appears the company finally clued into the fact that there’s actually stories to be told that manage to move the discussion forward in a way which speaks to children and adults both. Zootopia does all of this in a way which is nuanced, yet still has a heartfelt story at its core. It’s also adorable as hell.”

5. MOONLIGHT

Liam O’Donnell: “No film made me feel more, nor feel more deeply, than this film did. Dreamlike almost to the point of being hypnotic,yet deeply human and empathetic, this film moved me in a way I was contemplating for days afterward. There have been questions about narrative and authenticity and all manner of other criticisms, all of which I assume are written by robots. For me, this film was an experience, and emotional revelation, and I feel the deepest gratitude to have seen it.”

4. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Max Davis: “Came for Casey Affleck, stayed for Lucas Hedges.”

 

3. GREEN ROOM

John Wren: “How often do you personally identify with a great film? For me, rarely ever. But as someone in a band that has played some sketchy ass venues, this one spoke to me. Sure I’ve never encountered something quite on this level but I have had that “what have we gotten ourselves into” feeling of dread plenty of times. Even without the connection, this is just a really good, brutal thriller and really captures the DIY punk vibe realistically. RIP Anton Yelchin. You got your arm carved up in one of my favorite films of the year.”

 

2. HUNT FOR THE WILDER PEOPLE

Joshua Alvarez: “Hands down, this was my most favorite movie of 2016. So perfect. Sam Neil as Hec is sublime; Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker is absolutely perfect and they play off of each other in a natural and organic way. This movie hits on so many topics, from body image to personal responsibility and everything in between, all with a sense of humor that is succinctly Taike Waititi. This movie is a total triumph and warrants multiple viewings. There aren’t enough words in the English language to express how deeply I adore this movie.”

 

1. THE WITCH

Liam O’Donnell: “Fucking haunting, beautifully shot, a true atmosphere of dread. The most inaccurately reviewed movie by so many folks. Not boring, not uneventful, just meditative in its terror, and oddly accurate in much of it’s depiction of a time. Faith is a double edged sword.”

Joshua Alvarez: “This movie was a deeply disturbing exercise in terror for me. I get how some people weren’t so into it, but for me, it had all of the perfect elements to paint a horrific grotesque. Slow moving and deliberate, this was my favorite horror movie of the year. What can I say that hasn’t been said already? Chances are, if you’ve made it this far in reading the Cinepunx blog, then you’ve probably seen this also.”

 

Individual Lists:

Joshua Alvarez
10. All the Marvel movies that came out this year
9. Arrival
8. Zootopia
7. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
6. Green Room
5. One More Time, With Feeling
4. The Autopsy of Jane Doe
3. Keanu
2. The VVitch
1. Hunt For the Wilderpeople

Joey Breeding
10. Demon
9. The Autopsy of Jane Doe
8. The Eyes of My Mother
7. Ouija: Origin of Evil
6. The Handmaiden
5. The Nice Guys
4. The Witch
3. The Wailing
2. Green Room
1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Max Davis
10. Rogue One
9. Krisha
8. La La Land
7. Dr. Strange
6. Arrival
5. Green Room
4. The Witch
3. Manchester By the Sea
2. Jackie
1. Moonlight

Matt McCracken
10. Sully
9. The Wasted Times
8. Shin Godzilla
7. The Handmaiden
6. Creepy
5. Love & Friendship
4. Cemetery of Splendour
3. Elle
2. A Bride For Rip Van Winkle
1. Batman v. Superman

Liam O’Donnell
10. Krisha
9. Morris from America
8. Green Room
7. The Handmaiden
6. Cosmos
5. Little Sister
4. The Witch
3. The Fits
2. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
1. Moonlight

Rob Skvarla
10. The Eyes of My Mother
9. Pervert Park
8. The Lobster
7. The Handmaiden
6. Der Bunker
5. Sympathy For the Devil: The True Story of the Process Church of the Final Judgment
4. Little Sister
3. Elle
2. Evolution
1. The Witch

Nick Spacek
10. The Neon Demon
9. Ghostbusters
8. The Invitation
7. 10 Cloverfield Lane
6. Rogue one
5. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
4. Star Trek Beyond
3. Captain America: Civil War
2. The Nice Guys
1. Zootopia

Ivo Thomas
10. Everybody Wants Some
9. Midnight Special
8. Eye in the Sky
7. Zootopia
6. Hell or High Water
5. Swiss Army Man
4. Manchester by the Sea
3. Kubo and the Two Strings
2. Green Room
1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

John Wren
10. Moonlight
9. Dr. Strange
8. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
7. Arrival
6. The Autopsy of Jane Doe
5. Captain America: Civil War
4. Rogue One
3. 10 Cloverfield Lane
2. Green Room
1. The Witch

Rob Skvarla

Rob Skvarla

Robert Skvarla is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. His focuses include conspiracy culture, fringe communities, and new religious movements. He has written for Diabolique Magazine, Atlas Obscura, and Philadelphia City Paper, and served as a programmer for the Cinedelphia Film Festival.
Rob Skvarla
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