Top Ten Films of 2016

Mid-May isn’t too late to do a top ten of the year is it? I don’t think so, at least not when you’ve spent the previous year traveling the world! That’s my excuse anyways, for this super-late post on my favorite films of 2016.

2016 was not the strongest year for film. Due to traveling I didn’t see a lot; I was selective and only saw the good stuff, but even the best films I had issues with, they were the best because their strengths were so strong I was willing to overlook their weaknesses, but not because they were strong all around. I actually feel this way about a number of films every year, but usually I find enough great films that the “good but I had issues with it” films only make the bottom two or three in my top ten. This year, however, they made it all the way into my top three!

That being said, I still enjoyed a lot of what I saw from 2016, and regardless of quality, I had a great time seeing them all (have you ever gone to the movies in a foreign country, it is super-fun!).

I would like to note here that six out of the ten films below are the respective director’s first or second feature. And two more were a third feature. I did not set out for this, but I think it is a reflection of where the industry is, with established filmmakers moving to television or being relegated to franchise fare. It seems that you have to seek out new, fresh voiced filmmakers, ones who are still young and hungry, to find exciting filmmaking right now.

I should also note that there are still a couple popular/critically praised films I still haven’t seen from last year, like Hidden Figures, Elle, The Salesman, Moana, and probably some others that could make it onto this list once I see them. But I believe I’ve seen enough to put this out as it is.

Alright, no more preamble. Here’s my list:

10. American Honey

I’ve seen all Andrea Arnold’s films, including her shorts, and I have no idea how she does what she does. Her style is incredible, her films so raw and unique; as far as I’m aware, no one makes films like she does. As for this one, it is set amongst the young middle American door-to-door magazine subscription scene, a subculture filled with characters I’ve never seen on the big screen. But Arnold nails it, and this despite her being British; she’s a Brit but she understands America better than most Americans.

My only qualm with this film: it is two hours and forty-five minutes! It definitely overstays its welcome, being about forty-five minutes longer than it should be. I still recommend it though, just like I recommend all of Arnold’s work. She’s one of the most exciting filmmakers working today!

Read more of this post