There are still a handful of films from 2016 that I would like to get a chance to see before setting about to do my year end list, but it does not look like Silence, Jackie, or Paterson will be playing in Maine anytime soon. This is always the case, though, that there are a handful that I am unable to get to before the end of the year. However, this year, the majority of the ones I definitely wanted to see before 2016 closed I was able to get to, so this is the earliest I have been able to do this list and feel good about it.
Three people confined to a survival bunker after an attack on the outside world. Sometimes the monsters inside are as dangerous as the monsters outside.
A Bigger Splash
A couple, one a rock star and the other a documentarian, welcome an old friend and his daughter to their vacation home. Ralph Fiennes plays someone I would be tired of after five minutes, but his dancing is some of the best moments of the year in any film. Also, Tilda Swinton is a planetary treasure.
A family living deep in the woods on their own travels back into society for their mother’s funeral. Plays like a progressive hippie’s wet dream for most of the runtime, but ends in a sweet place. Viggo Mortensen is great as the father trying to do the best he can for his kids without compromising his values.
There’s also a lot of self-deprecating, self-referential humor about the disastrous first incarnation of Deadpool in the first Wolverine movie, as well as meta winks and nods to the audience about Reynolds, Deadpool, Wolverine, the X-Men, and even Reynold’s Green Lantern stint. There’s also some great breaking of the 4th wall, as part of Deadpool’s appeal is as a comic book character who is self-aware that he exists in a comic book.
Don’t Think Twice
A film I loved when it came out, but I just didn’t get around to reviewing, this ensemble about a tight-knit improve team that struggles when one of their members hits it big, Don’t Think Twice is funny, heart-aching, honest, and a bunch of other things. Great standout performance from Gillian Jacobs.
Taut, tense, and featuring a great cast (including the late Alan Rickman). Eye in the Sky is s great modern military thriller.
Based on a true story, Mel Gibson’s war movie plants a conscientious objector in the middle of hell on earth without a weapon.
I just caught this one a few days ago. A young pre-teen girl switches from boxing to dancing, and strange things start to happen to the girls in the dance group. Is something in the water? Is it a metaphor for being on the verge of adolescence? Regardless, young Royal Hightower shines in the lead role.
The Coens’ tribute to Old Hollywood. Also features one of the funniest scenes of the year. “Would that it were so simple.”
Another great comedy from Taika Waititi. A man and his foster kid go living in the bush and end up on the run from the authorities. Great to see Sam Neil in a comedy.
This thriller perfectly walks a tightrope between paranoia and the threat of something actually going and it’s amazing it is able to string it out as long as it does.
Key & Peele made this comedy that came out in the Spring. The third act falls apart a bit, but overall it’s very funny.
Worst family Thanksgiving ever. A recovering addict attempts to make it through Thanksgiving with the family and keep it together and mend fences with her estranged son and others.
Ewan McGregor plays the dual roles of Jesus and Satan as Jesus is on his way out of the desert in this fictional story. Beautiful landscapes and great work by McGregor.
Love & Friendship
The writing of Jane Austen and the direction of Whit Stillman is a perfect pairing. Kate Beckinsale gives a great performance.
Sometimes the most profound statements of love are the most simple and plainspoken. This film based on the real life story of the Lovings is simple but powerful. Could be an Oscar nominated performance from Ruth Negga too.
This was my favorite rom-com of the year. Not that I saw a lot of them. Anyway, Greta Gerwig is one of my favorite actresses, she’s terrific. Julianne Moore is amazing in this role. And a nice role for Ethan Hawke, who had a sneaky good year.
Our Kind of Traitor
John le Carre is a master of espionage thrillers. This one features Ewan McGregor as an ordinary British citizen who befriends a Russian money launderer while on vacation and gets sucked into the attempt to extract him before he and his family are killed. Stellan Skarsgard gives a great big performance as the Russian trying to defect.
A Star Wars story that plays like a classic war espionage movie, with a group sent on a nearly impossible mission to steal plans from the enemy.
Another tense thriller, this time featuring a menacing shark circling Blake Lively in a remote bay. Quite a few terrifying, nerve-wracking moments.