By Christian DiMartino
I know what you’re thinking: Blah blah blah bleh it’s 2016. Suck me.
I may be behind everyone. I realize that. But I was waiting to see The Hateful Eight and The Revenant on the big screen (I’ve had the chance to watch them for a few weeks, but I waited for the big screen). But I always am. I wait until I feel like my list is actually perfect. So, is it perfect? Eh.
A lot of you might gripe. Why? Well, a certain movie isn’t in the top ten. It’s a little movie about some war of the stars… I don’t know. Maybe you’ve heard of it. I also have not one, not two, but THREE ties in my top 25, so it’s really like my top 28. But I recently saw that New York Post had like five ties in their top 10, and if they can do it, dammit so can I.
25. Irrational Man: A lot of you probably didn’t see Woody Allen’s latest, and those of you who did probably didn’t like it. But I thought it was really good. Granted, after you see 40 Allen films, some of the plot elements begin to run together. Regardless, thanks to dynamite performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, and Parker Posey, an interesting premise, some truly funny moments, and a climactic scene that packs a mean, suspenseful punch, among another thing, I say Irrational Man is better than it was given credit for.
24. Ex Machina: Here’s another reason to gripe: Most probably have this in their top ten. Not I. Regardless, Ex Machina is an excellent sci-fi thriller, beautifully filmed, perfectly scored, and acted to perfection. It also makes an old premise seem new again. It also properly introduced us to Alicia Vikander, and quite a welcome it was.
23. The Diary of a Teenage Girl: What a ballsy movie. The film takes a premise as taboo as this one and handles it just as well as it should and could. Newcommer Bel Powley is a force to be reckoned with, and her castmates (Kristen Wiig, Alexander Skarsgaard) shine as well. The film is both funny and awkward, and it also features some of the best cinematography of the year.
22. Youth + Clouds of Sils Maria: The first tie. I pair these two together because both are excellent portrayals of aging members of the entertainment industry. Youth finds Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel at a retreat in the Swiss Alps, both coming to terms with the times. Clouds of Sils Maria finds Juliette Binoche as an aging actress in Europe, also coming to terms with her career. Both films are strange, but beautifully filmed, and feature some truly marvelous performances from the leads and supporting cast (Jane Fonda should be nominated for her brief work in Youth, Kristen Stewart does her best work in the other).
21. Shaun the Sheep Movie: Shaun the Sheep Movie is a wonderful animated experiment that works way more than it should. Featuring zero dialogue, the film manages to be funnier than a lot of comedies out there, and that’s truly saying something.
20. Brooklyn: There’s quite a bit of Oscar buzz surrounding Brooklyn. I’m not sure if it’s quite Best Picture worthy, but it is nonetheless an elegant and wonderfully made film, featuring a performance from Saoirse Ronan that will definitely send her back to the Red Carpet.
19. Amy: Amy is a brilliant documentary that painfully captures the life of the late Amy Winehouse. As one who wasn’t really a fan, I won’t deny the fact that by the end, it kicked me in the balls.
18. The Walk: Was there a need for this movie? Eh, probably not, since there’s already Man on Wire. Regardless, Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk is a gorgeous visual achievement to behold, featuring the best 3-D since Gravity. Joseph Gordon Levitt is a charmer as always, and the final moments of this film pack a powerful punch that you might not expect.
17. Spectre: Spectre got a lot of hate, and I admit that it has its plot holes and that it doesn’t live up to Casino Royale or Skyfall, but I still really enjoyed it. From the dazzling opening sequence until the very end, the film is a fun throwback to the Sean Connery days. And, need I remind you, that we have Christoph Waltz as the villain?! And of course, Daniel Craig is still the man. If this is indeed his last Bond film (and I hope it isn’t), at least he went out on a good note.
16. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: I guarantee some of you are throwing your arms up in hysteria. Don’t get me wrong: Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a dazzler, and a loving throwback to the Star Wars films we know and care about. It also features some great visual effects and it’s great to see some old friends back again. But it is a mild knockoff of the original film, and it has a few other things I could nitpick. But I won’t go there.
15. The Gift: Joel Edgerton’s The Gift begins like one of those obsession films that you see on the Lifetime channel or in the 1990s… and then it slowly evolves into something different. It’s a clever, effective little thriller with a lot to say, and with some great performances from Rebecca Hall and Jason Bateman. The final moments will stay with you long after it’s over.
14. The Big Short: I admit fully that I didn’t always understand what was going on in The Big Short, but yet what I gathered from it was effective enough. Who knew Adam McKay (Anchorman, Step Brothers) had it in him? This is one of the best written films of the year. It’s occasionally very funny, and the performances (particularly from Christian Bale and Steve Carell) are top notch. It’s the underlying tragedy of it all that leaves the biggest impact though.
13. The Martian: Most people think Ridley Scott’s The Martian is better than Interstellar. Um, no. But The Martian is a lot of fun, featuring a good performance from Matt Damon, great visual effects and cinematography, and a few funny moments. NOTE: A few funny moments DOESN’T equal a comedy, contrary to the Golden Globes.
12. Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation: I bet some of you are questioning my mental state, but come on, this movie is awesome. From the terrific opening plane sequence to the perfectly crafted underwater sequence (all of the action sequences are marvelous), to the great cinematography from Robert Elswitt, to it’s fun plot, this movie got the job done. Oh yeah, and Tom Cruise is still the man.
11. Carol: Oh, how I fought to keep Todd Hayne’s brilliant film Carol in my top ten. It’s just a tough year. Beautifully filmed, impeccably acted and directed, and sharply written, Carol is more than just that “Cate Blanchett/Rooney Mara lesbian movie.” Haynes sees the beauty in this story, and he handles it with elegance.
The rest is yet to be revealed…