Top 10 Movies of 2016 and 2017 Oscar Predictions

Ladies and gentlemen. Dames et messieurs. The time has come for my annual assessment of the year’s crème de la crème along with Oscar prognostications. 2016 was a year for dreams and aspirations. A year for lovers waltzing in a purple sky high above Griffith Observatory or a bus driver travelling through a poetry-riddled, ethereal New Jersey landscape. I found myself drawn to films that exist in an idealized version of their setting.

In a reality that was filled with nightmares, it was heartening to see so much optimism reflecting from the silver screen. To see people working together, whether they were teaming up with squid-creatures to enhance global communication or sorting out ideological conflicts like adults by, y’know, having a major brawl at an airport.

But, as with all dreams, we’ll eventually have to tear off our collective nightcap in order to make them a reality. Before we do, though, let’s hit that snooze button one more time and revel in the best 2016 had to offer.

10. Everybody Wants Some!!

everybody-wants-some

An effortlessly charming story of collegiate athletes squeezing as much enjoyment out of the few remaining hours before classes officially begin. Its breezy, plotless energy drives what could have been a problematic douchefest. Put simply, it’s Richard Linklater having fun.

9. Paterson

paterson

It’s the cinematic equivalent of a Sunday afternoon. There’s a refreshing lack of urgency mixed with a touch of melancholy. You don’t watch the movie as much as you feel it. The story doesn’t need to be described. Paterson’s more poetry than prose, anyway.

8. Captain America: Civil War

captain-america

With a plot shockingly similar to that other movie (which shall go unnamed), Marvel proves once again that they know what they’re doing. The central setpiece of the film, a bonkers fight at an airport, isn’t just the best action scene of the year, it’s the best superhero fight of all time. Thank God the Russo brothers have so much fun playing with their toys.

7. Elle

elle

As Michèle, a French video game exec, Isabelle Huppert gives the best performance of the year. Michèle’s conniving, calculating, and categorically cruel. Ice doesn’t run through her veins so much as solid concrete. Director Paul Verhoeven and Huppert never tell the audience how to feel about the character, who, after a horrific sexual assault, refuses to feel victimized or ashamed. The movie’s all the better for it.

6. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

wilderpeople

Taika Waititi’s joyful take on childhood. Simultaneously cynical and saccharine, Wilderpeople is the most unrelentingly funny movie of the year. What starts out as a foster home narrative turns into a surreal chase movie and, by the end, an all-out action film. Truly, Ricky Baker speaks for us all when he proclaims, “Shit. Just. Got. Real.”

5. Arrival

arrival

Once again, Denis Villeneuve proves why he’s one of the best directors working. He takes a complex sci-fi story and, through cinematic language, makes heady concepts incredibly accessible. Amy Adams is nearly flawless as the emotional anchor of the film and the editing is exquisite. If the last fifteen minutes don’t have you bawling, then you might be a heptapod who, as far as I can tell, are free of tear ducts.

4. Hell or High Water

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The best script of the year. Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan’s tale of bank-robbing brothers seems like it’s trodding familiar territory, but the story unravels assuredly into something wholly surprising and satisfying. Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster and especially Chris Pine are perfectly cast against a crumbling Texas landscape. Best of all, it manages to inject incisive political commentary into a pulse-pounding Western.

3. The Nice Guys

the-nice-guys

In Shane Black’s immensely enjoyable ‘70s-set detective flick, Ryan Gosling (who had a hell of a year) and co-star Russell Crowe prove that cops don’t necessarily need to be buddies to be crack wise while busting baddies (that sentence could be in a Chandler novel, right?) Action-comedy is a genre that, when done right, is probably my favorite genre. The Nice Guys does it right.

2. Indignation

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Logan Lerman astounds as Marcus, a quietly furious student at a small, Midwestern college in the ‘50s. The crux of the movie, a tête-à-tête between Marcus and the dean of his college (the infuriatingly talented Tracy Letts) is the best scene of the year. If I can give anyone a gift this year, it would be to see this criminally underrated gem.

1. La La Land

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From the opening car horns to the closing piano refrain, La La Land is a masterpiece. Emma Stone is radiant, Ryan Gosling is swoon-inducing, and Damien Chazelle’s direction is flawless. There’s much to say about why this movie is perfect, but it deserves the top spot because it celebrates what so many people seem to openly despise…the fools who dream.

And lastly, here’s the only Oscar ballot that matters. Look on, ye mighty, and despair.

Oscar Ballot:

Best Picture:

Will Win: La La Land

Should Win: La La Land

Best Director:

Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actor:

Will Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Should Win: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress:

Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land

Should Win: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best Supporting Actor:

Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Should Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress:

Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences

Should Win: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Best Original Screenplay:

Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Should Win: Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water

Best Adapted Screenplay:

Will Win: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Should Win: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Best Animated Feature:

Will Win: Kubo and the Two Strings

Should Win: My Life as a Zucchini

Best Animated Short:

Will Win: Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Should Win: Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Best Cinematography:

Will Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Should Win: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Best Film Editing:

Will Win: Joe Walker, Arrival

Should Win: Joe Walker, Arrival

Best Foreign Language Film

Will Win: Toni Erdmann

Should Win: Land of Mine

Best Documentary Feature:

Will Win: O.J.: Made in America

Should Win: O.J.: Made in America

Best Documentary Short Subject:

Will Win: Watani: My Homeland

Should Win: Watani: My Homeland

Best Production Design:

Will Win: David Wasco, La La Land

Should Win: David Wasco, La La Land

Best Costume Design:

Will Win: Mary Zophres, La La Land

Should Win: Mary Zophres, La La Land

Best Original Score:

Will Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Should Win: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Best Original Song:

Will Win: “City of Stars”, La La Land

Should Win: “City of Stars”, La La Land

Best Live Action Short:

Will Win: La Femme et le TGV

Should Win: La Femme et le TGV

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

Will Win: Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo, Star Trek Beyond

Should Win: Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo, Star Trek Beyond

Best Sound Editing

Will Win: Sylvain Bellemare, Arrival

Should Win: Sylvain Bellemare, Arrival

Best Sound Mixing:

Will Win: Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye, Arrival

Should Win: Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye, Arrival

Best Visual Effects:

Will Win: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon, The Jungle Book

Should Win: Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones, and Dan Lemmon, The Jungle Book

 

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