Peter’s Top 6 Films of 2016

As I write this, it’s the 17th of December, 2018.
One could argue that I’m running a little late.

Following 2015 – the best year of film I’ve been alive for – was a tricky act. How’d 2016 do?

Poorly. 2016 did poorly. Let’s go straight to the list!

1) Zootopia

Of all the new releases I saw in 2016, this is the only film that remains in my all-time top 100*. Zootopia even had a brief run as my favourite animated film of all time – I saw it multiple times in the cinemas, and convinced anyone I could to join me.

*which I fully intend to write-up someday.

I love this film. The world, the characters, the plot, the dialogue, the theme, the music – every part of Zootopia worked for me, and it’s a movie I’ll happily sit down and watch anytime, anywhere.

If I was only including films that I really loved…the list would stop here. However we only have two rules in this annual top 6 list, and since I’ve already broken the “annual” part…

2) Captain America: Civil War

Captain America: Civil War is probably the best film in the MCU. Heck, it might be the best superhero film ever made. It does something that I’ve been asking superhero films to do for a long time – instead of just presenting “good guy and CARTOON OVER-THE-TOP BAD GUY”, it gives us two opposing sides who both have a worthwile argument.

This is what (most) real-life conflict looks like – as much as we’d love our opponents to be cartoon bad guys, they’re often just…people. People with strongly-held convictions that happen to clash with ours.

I wish that the two sides had been given slightly more well-thought-out cases (instead of just “HE KILL MY PARENTS HE BAD MAN”), but I was so excited to see some Avengers-on-Avengers fighting that made sense. Amazing.

So why didn’t I love this film?

The punching. I am personally just so over punching, punching, punching. MCU loves to punch, for whatever reason. This film has a 30-minute punching fight scene, and I haven’t rewatched it since, simple because I find punching so thoroughly uninteresting.

3) Moana

2015 was the year I was introduced to Hamilton, and so I was verily excited to see a new Disney princess film with music and lyrics by Alexander Hamilton himself.

The music is great – I still listen to it on the regs. Some of the action scenes, super fun. The plot twist, really nicely set up and compelling.

Moana as a whole? Meh.

Like, it’s good – it made it to number three on my list. But it suffered from one of the same issues as Big Hero Six, a sort of reverse-Lord-of-the-Rings issue: it starts several times. Both Moana and Big Hero Six feature a protagonist who desperately wants something, then doesn’t want it, and then when the plot finally starts they want it again.

If you cut the first half-hour of this film out, I think it would be substantially improved as a movie. It would probably be worse as a sensitive representation of another culture, but as a movie I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

4) Doctor Strange

Even in 2016, I was a little superhero’d out, but for one main reason: the punching. As mentioned above, I am so over punching.

Doctor Strange starred an actor I liked in a cinematic universe I’m quite fond of, had some cool time manipulation stuff…and almost no punching. Big fan!

I’ve rewatched this a few times since, and it’s fine. Like, it does what it does well enough. It doesn’t set my world on fire, but hey – gimme a good movie with a punch-free superhero, you’ll probably make the list.

5) Deadpool

Does Deadpool punch? I don’t even remember.

Like the rest of the internet, I enjoyed Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds is always a treat (he may be my very favourite leading man), and while it used the same cookie-cutter origin story plot we’ve seen a dozen times by now, it had enough fun with it to be enjoyable. I haven’t rewatched this one since, but it’s on my list to revisit, especially when the sequel lands on Netflix.

6) Zoolander 2

Hoo boy, we were really scraping the bottom of the barrel here. Zoolander 2 was very much an “oh god I need to fill out the list” pick. The opening cameo had me in stitches, and then the film just sort of…kept going. I don’t think I would have put it on this list if I’d not finished it, but I seriously don’t remember anything else about this movie past the midpoint.

I remember thinking that they made some lazy decisions and the jokes missing about as much as they hit. Thus ends my glowing review for my #6 film of the year.

Runners-up, Noteably Absent, and Never-rans

Normally I split these three up, but it’s been two years, and for the most part, I don’t remember which films I saw in 2016 and which I saw later.

Finding Dory – This film was funnier than Zoolander 2. Hell, it was probably better-made film than Zoolander 2 in every way. I definitely saw it IN 2016 (in the cinema, even) – so why didn’t it make the list?

Basically, this film annoyed me enough that I didn’t want to include it in the list. Dory is a perfect sidekick – I really disliked her as a central character. Not only her arc, but the arc they gave everyone else – “be more like Dory! For some reason!”

Ugh. I’m getting mad just thinking about it. Yes, it’s a better movie, but this is my list and if a movie angers me I’m going to include it. Sorry Pixar.

(Sorry not sorry).

Hail, Caesar! – The Coen brothers consistently make incredibly good films that I never like. It’s not you, Coens, it’s me. At this point I just avoid their movies, masterpieces though they invariably are.

10 Cloverfield Lane – I only found out about this one once it hit the streaming services. I really enjoyed Cloverfield, but I’m still yet to get around to watching the…sequel? Loosely-related-other-film?

For whatever reason I’ve heard a lot about it in the last few years. Seems this one has weirdly stuck in film-goers’ memories.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising – So I really enjoyed the first Neighbors (even if I did prefer the title of the Australian version, “Bad Neighbors”). I rewatched it since having a kid (remember, I’m writing this from The Future) and holy crap it’s really good. They absolutely nail a bunch of parenthood aspects that I absolutely didn’t get the first time.

And so we immediately started watching the sequel (again, in 2018) and were just blown away by how GOOD it was. Due to the aforementioned kid, we haven’t actually been able to finish the movie, but the first forty minutes or so rocked our collective parental socks.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – I watched this one in 2018 (it feels like it never even got a theatrical release) and liked it well enough, but I wish they’d picked a tone and stuck with it. It probably would have knocked Zoolander 2 off the bottom of the list? So there’s a glowing recommendation for you.

Maybe I’m remembering Zoolander 2 as worse than it is. I must have put it on my list for a reason.

La La Land – of all the neverrans, this is definitely the film that would have made it highest on the list if I’d seen it in 2016. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but as a man who is in love with LA (and movie musicals) (and Emma Stone), this film scratched all kinds of itches. Really loved it.

Rogue One – The more time that passes without me rewatching Rogue One, the more it grows on me. A million words have been written on the relative quality of this movie, so I’ll just say that for the most part I agree with Lessons From the Screenplay’s take on it.

Partially because I didn’t see as many movies, partially because 2015 used up all the good-movie-oxygen, and partially because my tastes didn’t line up with the 2016’s releases, it was a disappointing year in film. Was 2017 any better? Stay tuned to hopefully find out before the end of the century!