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The top 10 films of 2016

Animation and musicals reign supreme

Lars Torres, Staff Reporter

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The following list comprises the 10 films of 2016 that made a massive impact on me on a personal level and also for most other people who enjoy the escapism of film.  Animation, musicals, thrillers, biographies and more made a great splash in the market last year, and here’s to hoping that there are many more to come over the years.  

  1. Fences
  • An adaptation of the classic play by famed playwright August Wilson, this film does have slight issues with adhering too close to theater methods, but it bypasses this by being a superb presentation and showcase of acting capabilities from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. The impeccable screenplay is lifted entirely from August Wilson’s play, and is a restrained and impressive directorial move from Washington. It is a brilliant exercise in pain, family drama and the realization of reality hitting you in the face.
  1. Sing Street
  • An overlooked gem that came early in 2016, this Irish production followed the story of a teenager who starts a band with a few schoolmates after being inspired by a music video from Duran Duran. Well-acted, well-written and joined by some creative, poppy songs, this pseudo-musical is brilliant in showcasing its love for the 80s and for music in general.
  1. The Nice Guys
  • Yet another underrated marvel, this film follows Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as mismatched partners who venture through 1977 Los Angeles trying to solve the “crime of the century” involving a conspiracy with the government and car manufacturers. This is an exceedingly funny buddy-cop film, and the chemistry between Gosling and Crowe makes the film flow wonderfully. Nearly every character is memorable in his or her own way. Almost flawlessly put together by veteran filmmaker Shane Black (of Lethal Weapon), this is a shining example of how to correctly and masterfully combine comedy and action.
  1. Hell or High Water
  • A caper set in the middle of nowhere Texas, this film is an interesting study in the state of the economy in more rural parts of the United States and how far some are willing to go to get what was wrongfully taken from them by the government. It is tensely plotted by director David McKenzie and writer Taylor Sheridan and the neo-Western stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. This film shows what you can do with a tried and true formula of the modern caper film, but done so well that you would swear no one has ever done it like this before.
  1. Hacksaw Ridge
  • This was the anticipated return of Mel Gibson to the directing chair. This film is based on the heroics and courage of Desmond Doss during the Pacific Theater of World War II. The performance by Andrew Garfield, who keeps the entire film lofted on his shoulders, is his best in years. While the film begins slowly, it gets kicked into high gear for the last hour. Once the film is over, you will be unable to move away from your seat after enduring the intensity of this film from a master of directing.
  1. Zootopia
  • An important film, not just for Walt Disney Animation Studios, but also for the modern age. This animated film touches upon social issues and matters with finesse and perfect subtext all wrapped into a mystery film involving prejudice and fear among the animals of Zootopia.  Finely voice-acted by everyone, Zootopia is a gorgeous and stark realization of reality looking back at us through animation.
  1. Kubo and the Two Strings
  • A masterpiece in animation, this film is a marvel to look at, animated with much care through the art of stop-motion animation, and is performed with fine dramatic heft by top performers Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey and Art Parkinson.  A beautiful rendition of ancient Japan, this film will stand the test of time.
  1. Manchester by the Sea
  • An achingly sad look at the lives of working-class people in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, this film takes a look at one man as he does his best to find a proper guardian for his nephew, a dark past keeping him from fulfilling the duty granted to him by his deceased brother.  A masterfully acted film, it rests entirely on the performances of Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges, who give it their all in this tragic film, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan.
  1. Arrival
  • One of the finest science fiction films in years, this film is a brilliant showcase for everyone involved and is currently director Denis Villeneuve’s most ambitious film to date, strongly contending as his magnum opus against his other equally amazing films in his filmography. Powerfully acted by Amy Adams, this film will keep you mesmerized. The stunning revelations will break you down and the strong core of the film will melt your heart.
  1. La La Land
  • Within the first five minutes of this film you realize you are in for a magical time. The film is a beautiful love letter to musicals, the city of Los Angeles, the art of jazz and the nature of relationships. Love is doing what is best for the other person in spite of what you want and everything else, a sad reality that is achingly and beautifully told in amazing musical renditions. The film features the best acting of Ryan Gosling’s and Emma Stone’s careers and is a fantastic calling card for writer-director Damien Chazelle. This film will make you cry and make you realize the beauty in both happiness and sadness.

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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source
The top 10 films of 2016