Best Movies of 2016

It’s that time of the year again! While this blog has been active for just over two months now, the tradition of summing the year up is not going to be skipped (especially now that it has its own domain!). Luckily, most of the movies I have had the pleasure to watch have been pretty good, and only a few were actually terrible (I’m looking at you, Now You See Me 2). Therefore, what can be better than making a list of the best movies of the year? These have been chosen by personal preference and represent the movies I’ve enjoyed the most, taking into account technical accomplishments, but not limited to them. Let’s start with number five!

NUMBER FIVE

Wild Tales proved a couple of years ago that Argentina/Spain co-productions could deliver great, crowd-pleasing films. This year, that fact has been reassured with At the end of the Tunnel, a thriller that tells the story of a paraplegic computer engineer, who finds himself involved in a dangerous affair upon discovering that a tunnel to rob a bank was being built right next to his basement.

The first act feels quite dull to be honest, as clichés can be found in every single frame during the first minutes. However, as unexpected twists start to happen, it quickly gets the attention of the viewer, and turns into an edge-of-the-seat experience as soon as the third act begins. The fact that everything happens in a single scenario makes it even more suspenseful and interesting, and the witty dialogue fits the tone perfectly.

Characters have a fairly developed personality, and the pasts of the protagonists are explored in a brief, interesting way that doesn’t feel forced or spoon-fed. Leonardo Sbaraglia, who I first saw in Wild Tales, plays Joaquín, the protagonist, perfectly, with the right amount of shades to be intense without feeling overacted.

It is a very nice experience, and one that I would recommend watching.

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NUMBER FOUR

As stated in my review of Paranorman, I owe you my thoughts on this movie, as Studio Laika’s latest film, Kubo and the Two Strings, is one of the best animated movies of the year. Featuring an incredible stop-motion animation unlike any other we’ve seen in theatres, it tells the story of Kubo, a young kid who embarks on a gigantic adventure to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past, with the help of a monkey and a beetle.

Beautiful, funny, tense, refreshing… Many words can be used to describe this movie, but the most appropriate is, without a doubt, magical. It may not be up to par with Studio Ghibli’s finest titles, but it definitely proves that Laika has a bright future, as their films have done nothing but improve every single time.

Some of the many twists that the script has are, unfortunately, quite predictable, but the journey the protagonist has to go through is utterly amusing regardless. Kubo boasts both an easy to understand message for the younger audiences, and more mature themes that will appeal the rest of us too. It is great for everyone.

Here’s the best thing I can say about Kubo and the Two Strings: it is Laika’s finest work to date. And that means a lot.

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NUMBER THREE

I already stated that this was one of the most surprising movies of the year for me, and after my review, there’s not much left to say about Arrival.

Denis Villeneuve’s film is deep, good-looking and mature, and features some of the most stunning visual design ever in a sci-fi flick. Instead of having a bombastic, full-blown action approach, the movie is purely based on conversations. To make this appealing, it has a cleverly written script that gets more and more interesting as it goes on, ending on a jaw-dropping climax that bends the reality of the characters’ life beautifully.

Amy Adam’s portrayal of the protagonist is probably the finest she’s ever done, as it has lots of subtleties that enhance her character, giving it a great depth and relatability. Other characters, while not being crucial to the plot, have been casted very properly too, with not a single weak performance in the entire runtime.

Escaping the clichés and typical plots from the genre, Arrival is not the typical science fiction film. A refreshing experience that anyone can enjoy, whether they love or hate the genre.

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NUMBER TWO

What an uplifting movie this was! The phenomenal new Disney princess, Moana, is everything we could ask for, as I wrote in my review.

The film tells the story of teenager princess Moana, who is selected by the sea itself for an epic adventure. She is voiced by a novice actress, who delivers one of the greatest voice acting performances of the year at the age of 16 (sixteen!). Dwayne Johnson joins her as Maui, a demigod whose muscles are outsized only by his ego. The chemistry between both characters is very interesting, and provides lots of exhilarating moments.

In addition, Moana takes the right steps towards a more appropriate standard for characters featured in family oriented films. From a feminist girl who has no need for men, to more realistically-shaped character models that do not promote unachievable beauty standards.

Incredible direction, amazing animation, breath-taking environments and some of the best original soundtracks in quite some time make Moana the perfect film to watch with the whole family. It is, without a doubt, the most joyful film of the year.

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NUMBER ONE

Nicolas Winding Refn is being a breakthrough in modern film-making, and while he hasn’t outdone himself since Drive (2011), he’s proven to be one of the most original directors in the industry. Boasting an alternative narrative, his latest movie, The Neon Demon, which I reviewed recently, is the most inspiring films of the year.

Jesse, a 16-year-old girl, discovers the dark world behind the beauty industry in this thriller, starring Elle Fanning (who was also 16 while filming). She did an amazing job when portraying the aspiring model, especially taking into account her young age, and was, in my opinion, the best new actress of the year.

The cinematography NWR offers is some of the most dazzling of the year, and probably of the decade. The use of colour and light is splendid, and provides a magnificent wrapping to this enticing picture. The director collaborates again with Cliff Martinez, whose marvellous score enhances the movie greatly.

Some will find The Neon Demon gross, as it features many disturbing scenes that are highly explicit, but it must be said that they are a huge part of the narrative, which is, once again, filled with metaphors and secret meanings.

It may not be a movie for everyone (in fact, it has truly polarised the audience), but it is one of the most interesting, exciting and thrilling experiences I’ve had the pleasure to watch in a long time, thanks to its out-of-the-box thinking.

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THANK YOU

That’s it! 2016 has been a good year in cinema, and while we haven’t had the pleasure to watch any outstanding films, there sure has been a bunch of very good ones. It seems that next year will be very interesting too, with movies such as Silence (by the legendary Martin Scorsese) and Dunkirk (by Christopher Nolan) coming out. Honestly, I can’t wait to check these and many others out, and of course, share my thoughts with you.

This has been a great year, and this blog has been a big part of that. Thank you for supporting me in this journey by reading and sharing!

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