Top 5 Movies 2016 Top 10 Films 2016

Five best films of 2016

There are more “black films” nominated for Best Picture in this upcoming Academy Awards compared to the previous year. But I’m sure the #OscarsSoWhite campaign from last year had nothing to do with it. I mean come on, — Moonlight, Fences and Hidden Figures — they’re good dramas with attempt to be socially impactful and great performances as well (particularly Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences) but excellent, groundbreaking, relatable and superbly entertaining films, they are not. Not to me at least.

I’ve seen all of the films nominated for Best Picture and some of the other highly rated ones as well but there weren’t many that instantly made me go, “Woah, this is definitely one of the best of year for sure!” Therefore it was easier to shortlist the films and yet more difficult to rank them. In overall, I would say this year’s list is much weaker than last year’s and definitely no where close to the year before that.

* Films are shortlisted and ranked based on my own criteria and personal preference only. If you’re looking for The Most Artistic/Indie Films or The Best Blockbusters of the Year list, you might want to look elsewhere.


5. Apprentice

(Released by GSC International Screens)

apprentice 2016 sg film still

One of the best and more purposeful Singaporean films I’ve ever seen. Apprentice is a highly compelling, emotional and intense drama of character complexities, moral dilemmas, compassion and family issues with suspenseful narratives, thriller-like scenes and a gripping sense that something or someone’s going to explode at any time. Admirably courageous and necessary, through the characters who work as executioners at a maximum security prison, the film explores Singapore’s unpopular capital punishment whereby even convicted drug traffickers are sentenced to death by hanging. >> Read full review


4. Manchester by the Sea

(Not released in Malaysia)

manchester by the sea still

One of those films that’d probably never be released in Malaysia simply because it’s not marketable to the audiences here unless it wins Best Picture at the Oscars, which I don’t think it would although nominated. However, it is definitely one of the least conventional and emotional films I’ve seen this year. It’s about a man who accidentally did something in the past and could not ever forgive himself for that. The film feels like a very real depiction of the nature of life’s disaster and no matter how others try to help, you just can’t ever be happy again. Though the film is also funny due to the behaviour of its vulgar characters and awkward moments, the story has no real redemption for its very devastated protagonist — which is exactly how life can be. The performance by Casey Affleck is just so good that it’s like I could feel how his character feels, which is very rare this year. Affleck for Best Actor for me.


3. La La Land

(Released in 2017)

la la land still

Won all seven awards that it’s nominated for at the Golden Globes, nominated a record-tying 14 categories in the 89th Academy Awards, and held high scores on all Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb and Metacritic, La La Land is certainly one of the best films of the year to a lot of critics and audiences alike, including myself who doesn’t particularly know how to appreciate musicals. It goes back the old skool girl-meets-boy roots, chasing for their own dreams, and ends poignantly bittersweet. It’s romantic, funny, artistic, has great music and plenty of beautiful moments. If you didn’t at least feel like crying at the end, something must be wrong with you. Fantastic performances especially in terms of acting by Emma Stone who’d most likely win Best Actress at the Oscars. If the Academy is going to stay predictable, it’s most probably going to win Best Picture as well and looking at the other nominees, I can’t say that I’d mind.


2. Sing Street

(Not released in Malaysia)

sing street still

It’s not American and it may not have A-list star actors, a big scale production and dozens of people breaking into a dance on their cars on the street but it’s highly relatable and nostalgic for all those who grew up in the 80s and those who started a band in high school to impress a girl. This Irish musical comedy-drama has a simple plot but a huge heart. Great music, genuinely funny humour, mature drama, massive charm, crazy optimism, and at the end before the closing credits where the film dedicates itself to all brothers everywhere, really hits me right in the feels. Sadly, Sing Street is completely snubbed by the Oscars. Not even the songs were nominated. Some old-timers with the Academy need some lessons about pop and rock culture. #OscarsSoSeniorCitizens

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1. Zootopia

(Released by Walt Disney Pictures)

zootopia still

Sorry, it’s not an unknown film. I didn’t review Zootopia ’cause I didn’t watch it until weeks after I was convinced by the later reviews and word of mouth. The promotional campaign and trailers certainly didn’t do it justice (that overplayed least funny sloth scene, come on). Zootopia is far more than a family comedy with cutesy animal characters. The film cleverly and very effectively explores themes of racism and stereotyping by using animals as example instead of skin colour. It’s thoughtful, creatively humourous for both adults and kids, and it’s highly rewatchable as well. It’s a shame that it’s only nominated in the Best Animated Feature category. Disney should be proud of themselves for making such a brilliantly entertaining and yet meaningful film. No romance, no princess, not a musical, without Pixar — and it’s still great. To me, it’s one of their best ever too.


Honourable Mentions

(in no particular order)

The Nice Guys (released by TGV Pictures)
The Wailing (released by 20th Century Fox)
– Arrival (released in 2017)
– Elle (not released in Malaysia)
– Fences (not released in Malaysia)

Highly Rated Films I’ve Not Seen Yet

(all not released in Malaysia except *)

– Patterson
– The Edge of Seventeen
– 20th Century Women
– Florence Foster Jenkins
– Loving
– Eye in the Sky*
– My Life As a Zucchini
– The Red Turtle
– (all the films nominated for Best Foreign Language)

>> View Top 5 Worst Movies of 2016
>> View Top 5 Movies of 2015

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