2016 was a crappy year overall, & I think we can all agree on that. But in terms of film, 2016 was one of the best years of film since at least 2007. Now, I will be announcing the 25 best films of 2016. Here we go!
★★★★★ - An excellent film about an amazing true story that is now more important than ever in today's political climate.
★★★★★ - One of Jim Jarmusch's best films, featuring an excellent performance from Adam Driver & a breakout performance from Golshifteh Farahani.
★★★★★ - The best animated film of 2016. It has amazing animation & an absolutely amazing message that is extremely timely.
22. American Pastoral
★★★★★ - An excellent & critically underrated adaptation of Philip Roth's classic novel, boosted by phenomenal performances, excellent cinematography, amazing costume design, excellent production design, & a beautiful film score.
21. Don't Think Twice
★★★★★ - One of the most real films of the year, this brilliant dramedy features great performances & honest direction & screenwriting from Mike Birbiglia.
20. Miss Sloane
★★★★★ - One of the year's most important films, with the always-amazing Jessica Chastain giving one of her best performances, & John Madden directing his best film of the decade.
★★★★★ - An excellent performance from Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy leads this stunning film filled with amazing costume design, excellent cinematography, & brilliant production design.
18. Sing Street
★★★★★ - One of the best coming-of-age films in recent memory. This film is filled with great performances, great direction, a brilliant screenplay, & one of the best soundtracks of the year.
★★★★★ - This amazing adaptation of August Wilson's iconic play features amazing performances from Denzel Washington & Viola Davis.
16. The Nice Guys
★★★★★ - One of the funniest films of the year, led by a hilarious Ryan Gosling, a fascinating return to form by Russell Crowe, a potentially star-making performance from Angourie Rice, & excellent direction & screenwriting from Shane Black.
★★★★★ - Featuring great performances & breathtaking cinematography from Rodrigo Prieto, this 28-year passion project is one of Martin Scorsese's best of the century.
★★★★★ - This is a great film about an astonishing true story. The performances are great, the direction is great, the screenplay is excellent, the editing is great, the film score is great, & the cinematography is amazing. (Also, the fact that Rooney Mara is in it made me love this film automatically).
13. The Edge of Seventeen
★★★★★ - One of the best coming-of-age comedies I've ever seen. The cast is amazing, & it's an amazing filmmaking debut for Kelly Fremon Craig.
12. Hacksaw Ridge
★★★★★ - Filled with some of the best war scenes in recent memory, this excellent return to form for Mel Gibson features a great performance from Andrew Garfield, great editing, & excellent sound design.
11. Hidden Figures
★★★★★ - An excellent film filled with great performances, great direction, a brilliant screenplay, & an excellent soundtrack.
10. Nocturnal Animals
★★★★★ - An absolutely brilliant film featuring an excellent performances, great direction & screenwriting from Tom Ford, excellent cinematography, amazing costume design, beautiful production design, & excellent makeup & hairstyling.
9. Everybody Wants Some!!
★★★★★ - The funniest film of the year. This definitely ranks as one of Richard Linklater's best films, along with Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight, Boyhood, & Dazed & Confused.
8. Hell or High Water
★★★★★ - One of the best crime thrillers in years. The cast is spectacular, especially Ben Foster. The direction by David Mackenzie & the screenplay by Taylor Sheridan are both amazing. And the cinematography by Giles Nuttgens is absolutely stunning.
★★★★★ - The best foreign-language film of the year. Isabelle Huppert gives her best performance ever. Paul Verhoeven directs his best film yet, & David Birke's screenplay is brilliant. This film went to places I never thought a film would go. All at once, it's disturbing, thrilling, & hilarious.
6. The Lobster
★★★★★ - The weirdest film I've ever seen. Colin Farrell gives an excellent performance, & Yorgos Lanthimos's direction is amazing. But the best part of the film is Lanthimos & Efthymis Filippou's brilliantly funny screenplay.
★★★★★ - It's the best sci-fi film I've ever seen. Amy Adams's performance is beautifully nuanced, & Denis Villeneuve's direction is amazing. Eric Heisserer's screenplay is brilliant. The cinematography is stunning, the editing is amazing, the production design is breathtaking, the sound design is amazing, & the visual effects are the best I've seen in a long time.
★★★★★ - The most fascinating coming-of-age film I've ever seen, filled with amazing performances, excellent direction by Barry Jenkins, an excellent screenplay by Jenkins & Tarell Alvin McCraney, amazing editing, excellent cinematography, & an amazing film score.
3. La La Land
★★★★★ - The most beautiful film of the year. The performances are excellent. The direction is excellent. The screenplay is amazing. The cinematography, editing, costume design, production design, sound design, & makeup & hairstyling are all phenomenal. But the film score & the original songs are the most amazing part of this film. This is one of the best film musicals ever made.
2. Manchester by the Sea
★★★★★ - One of the most real films of the year, this features the best male performance of the year from Casey Affleck, a breakout performance from Lucas Hedges, & an absolutely heartbreaking performance from Michelle Williams. Kenneth Lonergan's direction & screenplay is beautifully understated. The editing from Jennifer Lame is excellent. And Lesley Barber's score is hauntingly beautiful.
1. 20th Century Women
★★★★★ - This is the best film I've ever seen. Annette Bening gives the best performance of the year, & the best of her career. Elle Fanning & Greta Gerwig give their best performances yet. Billy Crudup gives his best performance since his performance in Almost Famous. Lucas Jade Zumann gives an amazing breakout performance. Mike Mills's direction & screenplay are absolutely amazing, building off the promise given by his previous masterpieces, 2005's Thumbsucker & 2011's Beginners. The costume design, film editing, production design, cinematography & makeup & hairstyling are phenomenal. And the film score by Roger Neill is the best of the year. I've never felt as big of an emotional connection to a film as I did here. I cried tears of joy when I saw this film. The characters in this film felt so undeniably real, as I encounter people like them every day. This is a film that will stick with me for a long time.