It feels like yesterday when Leonardo DiCaprio won his first ever Oscar for an unalloyed, riveting performance in The Revenant. It’s Christmas again and another year is about to end as we head closer to the awards season. But before that, let’s do a quick recap of the best Hollywood movies that released this year.
21) 10 Cloverfield Lane
A taut, tense, claustrophobic thriller, 10 Cloverfield Lane rode high on excellent performances from John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Not only did the film entertain in its crisp 90-minute runtime, but also established a strong foundation for the brand and films to come in the future.
Disney’s Moana is a fine example of the quantum leap we’ve taken with technology. Animated films weren’t everyone’s cup of tea but the recent technological innovation has changed the landscape. Moana’s visual inventiveness and evolved storytelling appealed to the eye and the mind. A blast of colors to clear the post Presidential election gloom!
19) Don’t Breathe
Don’t Breathe was an intense home invasion thriller that excelled in delivering genuine chills and thrills. Like it’s title, the razor sharp editing hardly gave a minute to settle. Stephen Lang’s performance and Pedro Luque’s cinematography made it an exhilarating watch.
18) The Nice Guys
Shane Black made an emphatic return to form with the year’s most hilarious film. The Nice Guys proved why buddy cop comedies are timeless. It teamed up two magnificent actors who enthralled with their effervescent charm and rib-tickling comic timing. Not only did the film render great entertainment with its black humor but also had a good enough story to segregate it from the slapstick genre.
17) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
J.K.Rowling and David Yates expanded the Potter universe with a new franchise last month. Fantastic Beasts was visually dazzling and emotionally satisfying as it boasted likable characters and an interesting storyline. Furthermore, the film was politically striking as it spoke in dozens about the first world problems albeit in a third world setting.
16) Midnight Special
Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special was a great blend of commercial and art house cinema. It portrayed a simple but deeply infectious sci-fi story that soared high through the wholesome effort of the star cast and the gripping camera work.
15) The Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight is a film which demonstrates, with cinematic flourish, the logic of brutality stitched in its every cell.
Tarantino confronts all the ugly things of life we like to hide behind a veneer of politeness and splashes it on the screen in his nihilistic, macabre fashion.
The relationship he strives to make with viewers is strikingly unequal; he taunts us, enjoying our mutual repugnance and perverse fascination towards these ugly things; he uses his movie as bait to document our betrayal towards our civilised selves. (By Soven Trehan).
14) The Witch
2016 was a phenomenal year for horror films. And The Witch was one of the most loved in the genre for its terrific attention to detail and the visceral atmosphere. Robert Eggers’ splendid directorial debut was thought-provoking and visually captivating. It challenged the genre tropes with its different, unsettling methods of building suspense and scary moments.
13) Everybody Wants Some
Everybody Wants Some was the much needed, refreshing break from disappointing summer blockbusters. Richard Linklater’s nostalgia-inducing college drama brought back fond school and college memories. Time is an important, recurring element in Linklater’s films. Like in the Before trilogy, this film too emphasized its value in our lives.
12) The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau’s delightful The Jungle Book pushed the visual-effects bar to an altogether different level. With just one actor in the film — the super adorable Need Sethi — Team Favreau created a world where everything felt so vivid and real. The film grossed almost a billion dollar on the box-office worldwide.
Long live Frozen! Disney unlocked a new achievement with Zootopia. It produced a film that had a great concept, suitable for all classes of the audience (some of it for adults, in particular) along with embodying state-of-the-art animation and rip-roaring dialogues. And frankly speaking, nothing gets better when cinema entertains and educates collectively.
One of the most awaited films of 2016, Ryan Reynolds’s dream project turned out a huge triumph, both for its lead actor and the superhero genre. Deadpool completely revamped the comic book movie-making and delivered kickass entertainment. I bet there are more fans awaiting its sequel than of Avengers: Infinity Wars orJustice League.
Director Pablo Larraín extracted the best from the Black Swan actress in this excellent Jackie Kennedy biography. It stands tall in the list, primarily because of Natalie Portman’s robust performance, and the technicalities which make it a must watch.
A disaster movie that’s rational and affecting is a rarity. Clint Eastwood’s Sully is arguably the most sincerely directed film of the year that adds substantial weight to ‘Miracle on the Hudson’ story. Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart gave memorable performances and there’s a strong chance that both might get Academy Award nominations for the same.
7) Hacksaw Ridge
Films based on real-life events always strike a chord with moviegoers. Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge was a stirring World War II epic that highlighted the story of unsung hero Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield who saved almost a hundred men in an unnerving battle. Incorporating invigorating themes of love and faith, and a splendid performance from Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge was top notch.
6) American Honey
In contrast to the usual fun-filled road trip films, Andrea Arnold’s American Honey was a stimulating film, rich in character development, built around its characters that intensely resembled the lives of the American women, (especially of its protagonist, played emphatically by Sasha Lane) that summarized their often sad and disturbing lifestyle. An unforgettable, evocative soundtrack and magnificent cinematography lifted the film.
5) Sing Street
This year we’ve seen some great musicals. And Sing Street was a terrific one. Director John Carney, who also gave us Once andBegin Again, delivered another profound, inspirational, coming-of-age film that entertained and enthralled. The immense positivity and irresistible charm of the cast makes it one of the best films of the year.
4) Hell or High Water
David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water emerged as this year’s biggest surprise. On the lines of No Country for Old Men, the film emphasized substance over style, with roundly-written characters. Actors Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges are in excellent form. Hell or High Water is more about the protagonists’ journeys than complicated storyline and subplots.
3) Captain America Civil War
This may be the first time since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight that a superhero movie is receiving such a high ranking. Well, it deserves so. Marvel’s much celebrated Civil War was the blockbuster movie of the summer. Russo Brothers excelled in every department in terms of delivering king size entertainment without insulting the intellect of the audience. Continuing from the equally excellent ‘The Winter Soldier’, Russo’s surpassed the gargantuan expectations of the millions of fans across the globe. The airport battle says it all!
Making smart sci-fi movies is no cakewalk. The recent Friday release Passengers is a fine example of that. Arrival was not only an intelligent film, but also well made. There is a magical touch in Denis Villeneuve’s films in how he tells his stories. Based on The story of Your Life, the film’s thought-provoking plot was strengthened by Amy Adams’s emotionally gripping performance and surreal soundtrack by Johann Johansson. It was one of those rare films where it’s hard to resist a standing ovation.
1) La La Land
Calling it the best film of the year has become a cliche now. Damien Chazelle’s follow up to his previous best Whiplash is a beautiful, hopeful, and an energizing film that encapsulates inspirational themes sugar coated with exhilarating and equally sober jazz music. La La Land also had the most beautiful beginning and ending ever. Let’s see how many Oscars it sweeps in 2017.
Notable Mentions: Queen of Katwe, The BFG, and Star Wars Rogue One.
Films to look out for in 2017: Daniel Blake, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Love & Friendship, Silence, Fences, Elle, Nocturnal Animals, 20th Century Women, O.J. Made in America. Which are your favorites this year? Tell us in the comments below.
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