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The Best Films of 2016

Another year, another list. But unlike most years, 2016 was one for the books and I truly thought my top 10 films of 2016 should encompass the realistic world in which we live. So the films that I picked are not only made by visionaries but are ones that show the beauty of humanity and those that remind us the most important aspects of life. Whether they are stories of people with vastly different background, opinions and experiences, we get a sneak peek into their world and into their shoes. And above all, I found comfort in other people's stories as they took me on an exhilarating ride from the heavens to hell, made me face my fears and even made me laugh to bring light to this crazy place called life.  So here we go!

Top 10

American Honey (Dir. Andrea Arnold)

Andrea Arnold is one of my favorite filmmakers because her films portray life in all its beautiful chaos accompanied by raw intimacy and electrifying performances. In American Honey, not only does it focus on a coming-of-age story of a free-spirited woman trying to achieve her own “American Dream” but it also shows a daring portrait of the socioeconomic landscape of America while focusing on the most underrepresented citizens. American Honey’s gritty reflection of America is uncompromising, relevant and a hopeful place as ever. // Full Review

Green Room (Dir. Jeremy Saulnier)

I can’t think of another film to come out in 2016 that reflects America’s political division amongst its citizens more accurately than in Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room. At the end of the day whether one is a punk rocker or a neo-nazi, Saulnier presents the vicious cycle of vengeance like a master covering all sides of the spectrum whether his characters are on the right or wrong side of the situation. Thinking that this is Anton Yelchin’s last film, the film shares an important lesson of fighting for what you believe in at all cost. Green Room is grounded in realism and it is powerful in its execution and style that makes it an unforgettable and scathing ride. // Film Review

Spa Night (Dir. Andrew Ahn)

Andrew Ahn perfectly captures a specific corner of the Korean-American experience set in Koreatown, Los Angeles, with his directorial debut, Spa Night. Watching Spa Night as a Korean-American, the film hit too close to home because my problems never felt more validated until I saw it on the big screen. I saw myself in David played by Joe Seo who delivers a powerfully restrained performance, who feels the burden of exploring oneself while trying to abide to familial obligations. Ahn’s acute direction  is finely tuned and hones on the specificity of the never before seen culture and stories of second-gen Asian Americans and that we desperately so need. // Trailer

The Fits (Dir. Anna Rose Holmer)

Anne Rose Holmer’s stellar debut film, The Fits, is an emotionally visceral, visually stunning and haunting meditation on the anxieties of adolescence. Newcomer Royalty Hightower is mesmerizing to watch, transforming Toni from tomboy to dancer, all while battling with her own complexities with identity and gender through assimilation. With Holmer’s singular vision, DP Paul Yee’s dreamy shots, and the intoxicating soundtrack, The Fits is an ethereal and spellbinding experience that viewers deserve and rarely see in cinema today. // Trailer

The Nice Guys (Dir. Shane Black) 

If anyone could make a thrilling and super-charged buddy cop comedy, it’s Lethal Weapon’s Shane Black with The Nice Guys. You have never seen either Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe quite like this who deliver terrific performances especially Gosling who makes a hilarious turn as an inept alcoholic detective. With hysterical one-line zingers, slapstick comedy and the terrific chemistry between Gosling, Crowe and newcomer, Angourie Rice, The Nice Guys is a sidesplittingly hilarious and refreshing neo-noir film you cannot miss!

The Wailing (Dir. Na Hong-jin)

There has been many groundbreaking Korean films to come out this year from Train to Busan to The Handmaiden but there has been one film that leaves the rest in the dust and that’s Na Hong-Jin's The Wailing. Na toys with our mind and turns the dial to a feverish 1000% in this occult murder mystery which expertly blends various horror genres including the supernatural, zombies, and possessions to say the least. The Wailing doesn't present a clear cut answer and it's not suppose to. It's the hellish descent into madness with a philosophical undertone that truly makes this film, one that will terrorize you many nights to come. // Favorites

Moonlight (Dir. Barry Jenkins) 

Once every few years, we get a film that is overwhelmingly stunning in its singular vision and originality that we wonder what did we ever do to receive such a gift? Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is that film and it’s easily one of the best films of the decade. The film’s poetic portrait tackles themes of identity, toxic masculinity, and isolation, which bursts with sensitivity and shows blackness in all its painstaking beauty. It’s exploration of the complexities of black homosexuality within the community and family has never quite been shown on screen till now and that’s something to laud about. // Trailer

The Invitation (Dir. Karyn Kusama) 

You already know a dinner party with your ex and her new lover isn’t going to go well. Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation amps up this “dinner party from hell” story with themes of grief and isolation to deliver a chilling story that you won’t forget. She crafts a suffocatingly tense psychological thriller with razor-sharp precision and  artistry. The Invitation is her most masterful and finest work yet. // Full Review

Toni Erdmann (Dir. Maren Ade)

There has never been a film like Toni Erdmann. It’s hard to begin to explain the brilliance of the film because the whole film is an accumulation of “You Just Had To Be There” moments. Maren Ade’s father-daughter story provides some of the most iconic scenes in recent cinema that will have you simultaneously tearing up from ROFLing till you choke and sobbing your heart out. It’s a film that is as outrageously silly as it is profoundly moving and makes us question the important aspects of life like human connection and humor. It's a rollercoaster of a film that you must experience to understand why Toni Erdmann is one of the greatest films of 2016.

Arrival (Dir. Denis Villeneuve) 

Based on the 1998 short story, "Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, Denis Villeneuve does the impossible and creates the most artistically intelligent Hollywood film. Accompanied by a booming score by Johan Johannson, Villeneuve crafts this ultra smart story that dares to ask big questions about life and actually answers them with nuance and meticulousness. Profoundly intimate and epic, Arrival is what Interstellar tried to be and failed. It’s hard to believe that a film like this was even made, but it’s one that came at a time to remind us that we need to stand united now more than ever, with empathy and understanding, no matter how alien and fearful our world may be.


Honorable Mentions:
Hunt for Wilderpeople
Train to Busan
Rogue One
Embrace of the Serpent
The Junglebook
Star Trek Beyond
10 Cloverfield Lane
The Witch

1 critiques :

Anonymous at: January 29, 2017 at 7:35 PM said...

Really good list! Definitely gonna check out Spa Night! Really pleased to see The Wailing in the list.

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