Hi folks. You may notice that I only blog about four times a year now when I need to make lists of the year's best. That's just the way I am now. I am a changed man. Alas, it is time for me to finally write my yearly list of favorite movies from the previous year. (List may change after I finally see a few more movies I want to see like Star Wars and Fences.)
The Eagle Huntress
The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Captain America, Civil War
Best Picture Nominees are noted with a *
20. MOANA (PG)
My favorite fully animated movie of the year. (Yes I saw Kubo.) Chalk full of comedy. An easy two hours spent with my kids.
19. MOONLIGHT* (R)
The best picture winner was easily my least favorite of all the nominees. I found the entire movie so depressing. I don't recall one positive thing that happens the entire time. That being said, there are some powerful moments in this film that made me reconsider the way I view the world. It reminded me of American History X in that regard. The acting was incredible. I wouldn't have voted for it for best picture, but I do think that it is deserving, if that makes any sense at all.
18. HELL OR HIGH WATER* (R)
Another best picture nominee. I loved the story and became wrapped into the lives of these two brothers. My wife commented that she didn't appreciate all the swearing, but if you can get past that, you will enjoy this modern western.
17 FENCES* (PG-13)
A late addition to the list. A slow movie that is sped up with amazing acting.
16. SING STREET (PG-13)
Perhaps I am undervaluing this movie. It was one of the first that I saw this year. This may sound sacri-movie-ous, but I enjoyed the music in this flick more than in La La Land. The performances by the young folks are great. A fun movie for sure. And the music is fantastic.
15. THE FUNDAMENTALS OF CARING (NR)
If you read my Paul Rudd movie review above, you will know that I love me some Paul Rudd in a purely non-romantic way. Paul Rudd makes this movie. It is a heartfelt performance, but the comedy still is there in droves. It's on Netflix, so most of you can watch it right this second. Do it. Do it now. (FYI: My wife also complained about the cursing in this one.)
14. THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (R)
Alright, if you liked Juno, you'd like this movie. It is extremely Juno-esque. In a year that there weren't a lot of good comedies, this one was the best. My favorite part of the film was the relationship between Woody Harrelson's teacher character and the main character. (Again, there is a fair bit of swearing in this one. My wife still liked it, but she said she liked in in spite of the swearing.)
13. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (PG-13)
This wasn't a comedy, but I laughed more in this movie than any others this year, including Edge of Seventeen. Not five minutes pass in this movie that I did not have a good, hearty laugh. It's rather violent for young kids, but my 10-year-old absolutely loved it.
12. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (R)
This was a bizarre film, but it rubbed me the right way. I think I was intrigued by the idea of raising my kids in the woods with no modern conveniences. I enjoyed the story and the performance by Viggo Mortensen. The kids in the movie also give terrific performances.
11. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA* (R)
Another best picture nominee. Great humor in this film. And lots, lots, lots of swearing, FYI. Somewhat depressing film, but there is hope hidden in it that is infectious. Casey Affleck deserved the Oscar. For me, this film held the most dramatic scene of the year when Affleck's character is approached on the street by his ex-wife. You'll just have to see it to see what I'm talking about.
10. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (PG-13)
The ending. The ending sucked. It sucked so bad. ALMOST ruined the entire film for me. However, there was so much great in this movie prior to the stupid ending, it still lands at #10 on this list for me. The biggest travesty of the Oscars this year for me was that John Goodman was not nominated for this role. He gave the best acting performance of the year. It's a downright shame. Stupid ending.
9. SULLY (PG-13)
I vividly remember the story of Sully happening and I doubted that they could make a movie about the incident that I would find intriguing for two hours. Well, they did and it's superb. Just shows that the power of great storytelling can make up for a lackluster story.
8. EYE IN THE SKY (R)
This was the most intense movie I saw this year. I was on the edge of my seat and by seat I mean couch, for a fill one hour and 42 minutes. A little bit illogical, the movie makes up for it in its absolutely gripping drama.
7. LA LA LAND* (PG-13)
I would have been totally okay with La La Land winning best picture. After all, it was probably the movie I left with the biggest smile. My favorite movie scene of the year was the song/dance scene over Los Angeles. Tremendous.
6. LIFE, ANIMATED (PG)
This is a documentary about a young man that has used Disney animated movies throughout his life to make sense of the world and to deal with his autism. You fall in love with the young man and if you don't at least have tears in your eyes at the end of the movie, you don't have a soul.
5. PETE'S DRAGON (PG)
For most of the year, I had Pete's Dragon as my favorite movie of the year. One person once told me, "But Abe, Pete's Dragon is the Coke Freestyle Machine of movies." I will vehemently defend this movie. This movie has such a sweet, simple message. It has an AMAZING performance by the young lead, completely opposite of the terrible performance by the young lead in Jungle Book. The story is so simple and sweet and it is perfectly executed. THIS IS THE BEST FAMILY FILM OF THE YEAR! I am not admitting to crying during Pete's Dragon. I'm not going to admit to it.
4. HIDDEN FIGURES* (PG)
I knew I'd love this movie from the second I saw the preview in theaters. And of course, most of you have seen it, so I don't need to sing its praises too much as you all know how great it is. I will add that during this movie I developed quite the crush on Janelle Monae. And then when I saw her in Moonlight, that crush grew stronger.
3. HACKSAW RIDGE* (R)
This is the first war movie I've ever seen that does not have a single swear word in it. Not one. My wife appreciated that greatly. The R rating is earned in the violence though. Even though the production was a little Disney-ish, I was deeply inspired by this true story.
2. ARRIVAL* (PG-13)
This movie may not be for everyone and I get that. I mean, if you hate being required to think during movies, this might not be your cup of tea. You may want to go watch the new Ghostbusters or Transformers movie. That might be more up your alley. But if you like to be challenged and to think deeply, this movie is for you. In other words, smart people like this movie. I was just barely smart enough to really love it.
1. LION* (PG-13)
Best movie of the year. If you disagree, I will fight you. Not only the best movie of the year, perhaps the best movie I've ever seen. I WILL admit to crying during Lion. I WILL admit to crying a lot. Perhaps too much. I cried through the whole dang thing.
This movie should have won best picture. In the future, when we look back on 2016, this movie will be the most beloved of all the nominees. I like that it was nominated, but it ticks me off that it wasn't really in the running. See Lion and then tell me you disagree and then we will fight.
And now... in the spirit of keeping good records, here is the list of my favorite movies of the past 5 years...
9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8. The Martian
7. The Revenant
6. Ex Machina
5. Ant Man
4. Inside Out
3. The Walk
2. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
10. The Hobbit
9. Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
8. The Theory of Everything
6. Big Hero 6
4. The Imitation Game
3. Big Eyes
1. St. Vincent
10. The Heat
8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
7. Despicable Me 2
5. Short Term 12
3. 12 Years a Slave
1. The Kings of Summer
10. Premium Rush
9. Moonrise Kingdom
8. The Amazing Spiderman
6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
2. Sleepwalk With Me
1. Safety Not Guaranteed