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12.27.2016by: Chris Bumbray

Chris Bumbray's Best Movies of 2016!

And so ends another year…

In retrospect, I have to say, 2016 started off with a real bang as far as movies are concerned, with a superlative Sundance selection and some solid arthouse and mainstream releases. For the first time in as long as I remember, more than half of my top ten comes from movies that premiered in the first six months of the year, which is unusual as most of my list usually comes from TIFF.

One thing that’s interesting is how, this year anyway, there’s no clear-cut favorite for me at the top of the list. While I’m happy with the order, fact is you could re-arrange it any way you want and I wouldn’t be too bothered, as I liked all pretty much equally. I’m not sure if that fact disappoints me or not, as I usually have one clear favorite, but so it goes.

Agree or disagree? Strike back below!

Runners-up

20. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY: Reaction among fans is divisive, with some putting it up there with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (ridiculous) while others despise it. I really liked it, although being a product of my time I can't quite put it up there with the original trilogy.

19. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS: If you can make it past the first five minutes, NOCTURNAL ANIMALS is a provocative thriller that says a lot about the relationship between the artist and their audience. Also, Michael Shannon is amazing as a kind of 21st century Doc Holliday.

18. GREEN ROOM: Jeremy Saulnier's film takes on a tragic edge, with Anton Yelchin's tragic passing a few months ago so fresh in our minds. That maybe taints the film a bit, but it remains a shocking horror-thriller, with a terrific performance by Patrick Stewart where he's cast way against type.

17. LOVING: Jeff Nichols made two great movies this year, and Ruth Negga, cast opposite Joel Edgerton, gives one of the year's finest performances in this fact-based civil-right's era drama.

16. MOONLIGHT: Director Barry Jenkins put himself on the map big-time with this gorgeous drama about a young, gay, black male coming-of age in the midst of crushing poverty and homophobia.

15. WAR DOGS: To me, this feels like the movie Todd Phillips has been working towards his whole career, with Jonah Hill giving a particularly good performance. It's Martin Scorsese-lite, but that's not a bad thing.

14. ELLE: Paul Verhoeven's return-to-form is a provocative melodrama (not a black comedy as some have said) about a woman's rape and the aftermath. Isabelle Huppert is Oscar-worthy.

13. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME: Some were disappointed that Richard Linklater's follow-up to BOYHOOD was so straight-forward, but to me this coming-of-age comedy is one of the more purely enjoyable films of the year.

12. THE AGE OF SHADOWS: Some of the most exciting cinema these days hails from South Korea, and Kim Jee-woon's (I SAW THE DEVIL) period spy flick is a good example of that. If your only exposure to Korean cinema is SNOWPIERCER, this one is a good place to start (as is the recent TRAIN TO BUSAN).

11. DEEPWATER HORIZON: Peter Berg made two great fact-based dramas this year, with the discipline of DEEPWATER HORIZON (and the scale of it) inching it ahead of PATRIOTS DAY, but not by much. Both are superb, and Berg is a master of the genre.

10. Blood Father

I guess the inclusion of BLOOD FATHER is going to turn some people off right away, as it was so low-profile, with a tiny VOD release this summer, it barely made a dent as far as movie news went. If the distributors had held it until after Mel Gibson’s HACKSAW RIDGE comeback it might have done better, but no matter. As far as legit action-thrillers go, this B-budgeted European production (by MESRINE’s Jean-François Richet) was the best of the year, and a triumphant badass return to form by Gibson. It’s nice to see him in a vehicle worthy of his talent, and hopefully more people will catch-up with this badass gem.

9. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Despite a slow release, Taika Waititi’s HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE wound-up being something of an indie success story this summer, raking-in over $23 million world-wide against a tiny $2.5 million budget (although it looks like it cost way more). A fun, fast-paced adventure comedy, it gave star Sam Neill a great part, while young Julian Dennison steals plenty of scenes. It also boasts the year’s best soundtrack, courtesy of the band, Moniker.

8. The Nice Guys

Twenty years ago, THE NICE GUYS would have been considered a commercial film. A Joel Silver-produced action flick with a script by Shane Black (who also directs)? Yet, nowadays, this star-driven action-comedy is almost considered an art-house indie just because there aren’t any superheroes, and, gasp, it's set in the seventies. All told, watching it was just about the most fun I had in a movie theater this year, and it’s a shame more moviegoers didn’t embrace it, as Ryan Gosling/ Russell Crowe could have easily spun this off into a franchise. So be it. At any rate, it’s a gem.

7. Hell or High Water

HELL OR HIGH WATER was a movie none of us really saw coming, although in hindsight perhaps we should have. With STARRED UP’s David Mackenzie directing and SICARIO’s Taylor Sheridan writing the script, after receiving a Cannes berth we should have known it was a cut above. Then again, movies like this go to VOD all the time, even if they’re well-received. Bolstered by career-best performances by Chris Pine and Ben Foster, and some prime Jeff Bridges scenery-chewing, HELL OR HIGH WATER went on to be the indie breakout hit of the year, and one that looks likely to earn some major Oscar love. Me, I’m just psyched to see Sheridan’s latest, WIND RIVER, when it plays Sundance.

6. Arrival

I just knew ARRIVAL would be great. People didn’t seem so sure, with folks buzzing about how Denis Villeneuve’s movie didn’t make Cannes this year, with many saying “ooooh, it’s in trouble” and “it’s going to be his first flop.” Think again. Not only did ARRIVAL blow critics out of the water at TIFF (totally overshadowing the other Amy Adams movie, NOCTURNAL ANIMALS) but it also broke out big-time amongst mainstream audiences, racking up $87 million domestically – pretty amazing for such a cerebral film.

5. Manchester By The Sea

It’s funny how things work out. Back at Sundance, the talk of the town was Nate Parker’s BIRTH OF A NATION, which broke acquisition records at the fest when it sold to Fox Searchlight, with everyone prematurely proclaiming it would be a sure-fire Oscar winner this year. History showed otherwise (although I think Parker’s film is fine), but the real masterpiece of the fest, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, was almost overlooked. Amazon and Roadside Attractions wound up paying a pretty penny for it, and it looks like they’re going to get their money’s worth. If there was a better performance than Casey Affleck’s this year, I didn’t see it.

4. La La Land

I saw LA LA LAND just as the buzz around it started to hit a fever pitch. It was actually a few days before TIFF, shortly after it played Telluride, where Tom Hanks stopped a press conference for his own film, SULLY, to talk about how much he enjoyed Damien Chazelle’s MGM-style musical. It was right after this that the Canadian distributor arranged a pre-TIFF screening for those of us attending the festival, on what I think may have just been a Blu-ray rather than a full DCP, but it didn’t matter – Chazelle’s film was a miracle, with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone cementing their reps as the great on-screen couple of our time.

3. Sing Street

SING STREET gave me the biggest cinematic chill of the year. I remember it well. I was sitting in the Eccles Theater at Sundance with some of the other journos covering the fest, thoroughly enjoying the charming Irish musical I was watching. “Damn,” I thought to myself, “that John Carney sure can make a movie.” Then, the “Drive It Like You Stole It” number hit, and I fell in love. It was the most bravura moment of filmmaking I saw this year and thoroughly guaranteed this love letter to the eighties and MTV would rank high on my top ten.

2. Hacksaw Ridge

Some took issue with me awarding HACKSAW RIDGE a perfect score. Was it a flawless film? I’d wager not. What is? Sure, it has some of the old war movie tropes, and director Mel Gibson’s obsession with carnage is, at times, disturbing. However, it shook me more on an emotional level than anything else on this list, and I wager it's one I’ll return to a lot over the years. I’m glad Hollywood has once again embraced Gibson’s work, because there are few people out there that can make a movie like he can.

1. Midnight Special

My editor, Paul Shirey, was shocked when I told him MIDNIGHT SPECIAL would be taking the top spot on my list this year. He found it hard to believe that I hadn’t seen a better movie this year, and in-fact, I have seen better movies, but not one that I enjoyed quite as much. To me, director Jeff Nichols and leading man Michael Shannon are in the midst of the most exciting director/actor combo since Scorsese/De Niro, and this ambitious ode to eighties sci-fi is like a dream come true for fans like me. There’s so much about this film I adored, from the look, to the performances and the score by David Wingo. If you missed this one (and it seems a lot of people did) please take the holidays to check it out.

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+0
11:32AM on 12/28/2016
1. Hell or High Water
2. Deadpool
3. Blood Father
4. Don't Breathe
5. The Jungle Book
6. The Nice Guys
7. Zootopia
8. Rogue One
9. Finding Dory
10. The Conjuring 2
1. Hell or High Water
2. Deadpool
3. Blood Father
4. Don't Breathe
5. The Jungle Book
6. The Nice Guys
7. Zootopia
8. Rogue One
9. Finding Dory
10. The Conjuring 2
Your Reply:



5:40AM on 12/28/2016

my 2016 top 10...

Precisely 216 movies seen at the movie theater in 2016 (probably more by the end of the year, but no many chances to change the ranking)
My top 10 :
1. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME (Richard Linklater)
2. FREE STATE OF JONES (Gary Ross)
3. SILENCE (Martin Scorcese)
4. L'OUTSIDER (Christophe Barratier)
5. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (Matt Ross)
6. ARRIVAL (Denis Villeneuve)
7. COMANCHERIA (original title : HELL OR HIGH WATER, David McKenzie)
8. DON'T BREATHE (Fede Alvarez)
9. NERVE (Henry Joost and Ariel
Precisely 216 movies seen at the movie theater in 2016 (probably more by the end of the year, but no many chances to change the ranking)
My top 10 :
1. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME (Richard Linklater)
2. FREE STATE OF JONES (Gary Ross)
3. SILENCE (Martin Scorcese)
4. L'OUTSIDER (Christophe Barratier)
5. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC (Matt Ross)
6. ARRIVAL (Denis Villeneuve)
7. COMANCHERIA (original title : HELL OR HIGH WATER, David McKenzie)
8. DON'T BREATHE (Fede Alvarez)
9. NERVE (Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman)
10. THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (Derek Cianfrance)
Your Reply:



3:44PM on 12/27/2016
Really interesting list. I like it a lot more than I have other years but I have to admit I can't really comment without having seen most of these. I am thrilled to see The Nice Guys and Hacksaw Ridge (probably the years two most underrated films) on here. I will say Midnight Special is a very surprising number one. not going to criticize as Bumbray has a right to put whatever he wants on his list but I wasn't really a huge fan period. That being said at the very least it did have probably
Really interesting list. I like it a lot more than I have other years but I have to admit I can't really comment without having seen most of these. I am thrilled to see The Nice Guys and Hacksaw Ridge (probably the years two most underrated films) on here. I will say Midnight Special is a very surprising number one. not going to criticize as Bumbray has a right to put whatever he wants on his list but I wasn't really a huge fan period. That being said at the very least it did have probably the single best opening scene of any movie this year.
Your Reply:



5:52PM on 12/27/2016
My opinion on Hacksaw Ridge was that it didn't get nearly the recognition critically or financially that it deserved. I know critics overall gave it positive reviews but it doesn't seem to have really the kind of energy or push for awards that it should. I'm not even sure it will get much recognition from the Oscars but it sure as hell deserves to be included at the forefront of every discussion on the topic.
My opinion on Hacksaw Ridge was that it didn't get nearly the recognition critically or financially that it deserved. I know critics overall gave it positive reviews but it doesn't seem to have really the kind of energy or push for awards that it should. I'm not even sure it will get much recognition from the Oscars but it sure as hell deserves to be included at the forefront of every discussion on the topic.
4:03PM on 12/27/2016
THE NICE GUYS was in fact underrated, but HACKSAW RIDGE? How?
THE NICE GUYS was in fact underrated, but HACKSAW RIDGE? How?
3:46PM on 12/27/2016
I should also mention once I have seen them I expect Fences and Silence to join Hacksaw Ridge at the top of my list.
I should also mention once I have seen them I expect Fences and Silence to join Hacksaw Ridge at the top of my list.
2:37PM on 12/27/2016

What no Ghostbusters?

I thought it was 8/10 material?
I thought it was 8/10 material?
Your Reply:



2:34AM on 12/28/2016
Did you really just ask me if I wrote something when you can easily read that I did?
Did you really just ask me if I wrote something when you can easily read that I did?
7:18PM on 12/27/2016
Did you really just say "the art of trolling?" Jesus Christ...
Did you really just say "the art of trolling?" Jesus Christ...
6:12PM on 12/27/2016
Glinda go find your safe space little snowflake, because YOU also find every opportunity to respond to either my posts, or others who trash on Ghostbusters.

You obviously don't understand the art of trolling or making fun of someone. I have friends who like Transformer movies, and I give them a hard time with little quips like this from time to time. But such a delicate little girl mentality like yours I guess can't comprehend guys razzing on each other.

Go buy a coloring book while you
Glinda go find your safe space little snowflake, because YOU also find every opportunity to respond to either my posts, or others who trash on Ghostbusters.

You obviously don't understand the art of trolling or making fun of someone. I have friends who like Transformer movies, and I give them a hard time with little quips like this from time to time. But such a delicate little girl mentality like yours I guess can't comprehend guys razzing on each other.

Go buy a coloring book while you are at it.
3:39PM on 12/27/2016
@Vits - sergeantsnugglez is just using this as an opportunity to bitch about that 8/10. He does it every chance he gets. One day his grandchildren will be hearing about that time back in 2016 when Chris Bumbray gave Ghostbusters that 8/10 and it ruined poor Gramps' life.
@Vits - sergeantsnugglez is just using this as an opportunity to bitch about that 8/10. He does it every chance he gets. One day his grandchildren will be hearing about that time back in 2016 when Chris Bumbray gave Ghostbusters that 8/10 and it ruined poor Gramps' life.
3:30PM on 12/27/2016
Oh Shit!
Oh Shit!
2:43PM on 12/27/2016
I don't know about you but, to me (and Chris too most likely), "best" means at least 9/10, while "worst" means at most 2/10.
I don't know about you but, to me (and Chris too most likely), "best" means at least 9/10, while "worst" means at most 2/10.
2:32PM on 12/27/2016
Solid list. I also have La La Land, The Nice Guys, Hell or High Water, and Arrival in my top ten as well.
Solid list. I also have La La Land, The Nice Guys, Hell or High Water, and Arrival in my top ten as well.
Your Reply:



1:53PM on 12/27/2016

Glad to see Sing Street in there!

My list (so far):
Sing Street; Nice Guys; Don't Think Twice; Moonlight; Arrival; The Handmaiden; Rogue One; Deadpool; Civil War

I was going to see Hell or High Water. I kept telling myself that. But somehow I just never made time for it.
My list (so far):
Sing Street; Nice Guys; Don't Think Twice; Moonlight; Arrival; The Handmaiden; Rogue One; Deadpool; Civil War

I was going to see Hell or High Water. I kept telling myself that. But somehow I just never made time for it.
Your Reply:



1:45PM on 12/27/2016

.

I don't remember ever hearing "people" say Arrival would be a failure. But you think you did, and you sure showed them by having it in your list...
I don't remember ever hearing "people" say Arrival would be a failure. But you think you did, and you sure showed them by having it in your list...
Your Reply:



1:42PM on 12/27/2016

Love the top two picks... I'd have Rogue One at #3

Midnight Special is a cerebral movie that deserves a much larger audience than it found. I think Mel Gibson will get appropriate attention, but what he created is a masterpiece and should be recognized as one. (Note: I have not seen Silence yet) Its a solid list regardless. I probably will never see Simg Street or La La Land but I get it.
Midnight Special is a cerebral movie that deserves a much larger audience than it found. I think Mel Gibson will get appropriate attention, but what he created is a masterpiece and should be recognized as one. (Note: I have not seen Silence yet) Its a solid list regardless. I probably will never see Simg Street or La La Land but I get it.
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1:53PM on 12/27/2016
"I probably will never see Simg Street or La La Land"
Why not?
"I probably will never see Simg Street or La La Land"
Why not?
1:36PM on 12/27/2016
My personal Top 20 list has nine of the same films on it, with La La Land my personal #1. The other 11 that didn't make it onto your list were (in alphabetical order): 10 Cloverfield Lane, A Bigger Splash, Captain America: Civil War, Captain Fantastic, Christine, Don't Breathe, The Handmaiden, Jackie, Kubo And The Two Strings, Marguerite, and The Shallows.
My personal Top 20 list has nine of the same films on it, with La La Land my personal #1. The other 11 that didn't make it onto your list were (in alphabetical order): 10 Cloverfield Lane, A Bigger Splash, Captain America: Civil War, Captain Fantastic, Christine, Don't Breathe, The Handmaiden, Jackie, Kubo And The Two Strings, Marguerite, and The Shallows.
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1:32PM on 12/27/2016
The Edge of Seventeen is without a doubt my favorite movie of the year. It was great emotionally and it was also very funny. Also Woody Harrelson was awesome.
The Edge of Seventeen is without a doubt my favorite movie of the year. It was great emotionally and it was also very funny. Also Woody Harrelson was awesome.
Your Reply:



1:29PM on 12/27/2016
Manchester By The Sea was so damn boring. I thought the movie would be interesting because of what the story is about, but oh how wrong I was. Complete boredom.

And I was really looking forward to Sing Street because I loved Begin Again. Sadly though it was just a 6 out of 10.
Manchester By The Sea was so damn boring. I thought the movie would be interesting because of what the story is about, but oh how wrong I was. Complete boredom.

And I was really looking forward to Sing Street because I loved Begin Again. Sadly though it was just a 6 out of 10.
Your Reply:



1:22PM on 12/27/2016
Sing Street and Midnight Special flew under my radar. Gotta check them out
Sing Street and Midnight Special flew under my radar. Gotta check them out
Your Reply:



12:47PM on 12/27/2016
Great list. I keep forgetting about Blood Father. It was so fun seeing a pissed off Mel Gibson again (on screen).
Great list. I keep forgetting about Blood Father. It was so fun seeing a pissed off Mel Gibson again (on screen).
Your Reply:



11:29AM on 12/27/2016

No Silence?

Granted I haven't seen it yet either because it's not releasing for a couple of weeks in this area but I remember you really looking forward to Scorcese latest. Have you seen it yet? If so I'm just curious to know what you thought of it.
Granted I haven't seen it yet either because it's not releasing for a couple of weeks in this area but I remember you really looking forward to Scorcese latest. Have you seen it yet? If so I'm just curious to know what you thought of it.
Your Reply:



1:39PM on 12/29/2016
CO-SIGN. I so want to see A Monster Calls and Silence in the theater both of which are 2016 movies but both don't release nationwide until next month.
CO-SIGN. I so want to see A Monster Calls and Silence in the theater both of which are 2016 movies but both don't release nationwide until next month.
3:39PM on 12/27/2016
This Bullshit studios pull is so infuriating. Let's release it at the last minute so it can qualify for next years Oscars. I still remember how American Sniper was one of the highest grossing films of 2014 despite making 90% of that in 2015! It makes it near impossible to actually make a top 10 list until the Oscars have officially aired. This year has been particularly awful. I was hoping Michael Keaton would make a legitimate run for Best Actor but that isn't happening since the Founder
This Bullshit studios pull is so infuriating. Let's release it at the last minute so it can qualify for next years Oscars. I still remember how American Sniper was one of the highest grossing films of 2014 despite making 90% of that in 2015! It makes it near impossible to actually make a top 10 list until the Oscars have officially aired. This year has been particularly awful. I was hoping Michael Keaton would make a legitimate run for Best Actor but that isn't happening since the Founder has been pushed back into January.
+1
11:27AM on 12/27/2016
I enjoyed Midnight Special, but I think not as much as you did. My favorites were Sing Street, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Nice Guys, Hell or High Water, Rogue One. I really liked Blood Father, War Dogs, Jungle Book, Zootopia, Moana, Life animated, Captain Fantastic, Dont think twice. Still have to see La La Land, Arrival, Hacksaw and Manchester by the sea.
I enjoyed Midnight Special, but I think not as much as you did. My favorites were Sing Street, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Nice Guys, Hell or High Water, Rogue One. I really liked Blood Father, War Dogs, Jungle Book, Zootopia, Moana, Life animated, Captain Fantastic, Dont think twice. Still have to see La La Land, Arrival, Hacksaw and Manchester by the sea.
Your Reply:



11:22AM on 12/27/2016

Sing Street

FINALLY someone lists Sing Street! Did no one else see this movie? Best film of the year BY FAR. Also, great list otherwise. Nice Guys, Midnight Special, Wilderpeople..Solid.
FINALLY someone lists Sing Street! Did no one else see this movie? Best film of the year BY FAR. Also, great list otherwise. Nice Guys, Midnight Special, Wilderpeople..Solid.
Your Reply:



11:32AM on 12/27/2016
Why do you say that? A bunch of people mentioned in the "What was your favorite movie of the year?" poll and it got a Golden Globe nomination.
Why do you say that? A bunch of people mentioned in the "What was your favorite movie of the year?" poll and it got a Golden Globe nomination.
11:29AM on 12/27/2016
Totally agree with you. Sing Street #1 of the year
Totally agree with you. Sing Street #1 of the year
+1
11:13AM on 12/27/2016

Great list

Midnight Special, Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival, Blood Father, The Nice Guys, Deep Water Horizon and War Dogs are all big favorites of mine too (LOVE Blood Father being on this list!). I'm one of those who didn't care for Everybody Wants Some but I may give it a second watch at some point.

Several I still want to check out (La La Land today), Rogue One, Hell of High Water, Manchester By the Sea and now adding The Age of Shadows and Moonlight.
Midnight Special, Hacksaw Ridge, Arrival, Blood Father, The Nice Guys, Deep Water Horizon and War Dogs are all big favorites of mine too (LOVE Blood Father being on this list!). I'm one of those who didn't care for Everybody Wants Some but I may give it a second watch at some point.

Several I still want to check out (La La Land today), Rogue One, Hell of High Water, Manchester By the Sea and now adding The Age of Shadows and Moonlight.
Your Reply:



-1
10:43AM on 12/27/2016
6/10 - EVERYBODY WANTS SOME; WAR DOGS.
8/10 - MANCHESTER BY THE SEA; ROGUE ONE; SING STREET.
9/10 - MOONLIGHT; THE NICE GUYS; NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.
6/10 - EVERYBODY WANTS SOME; WAR DOGS.
8/10 - MANCHESTER BY THE SEA; ROGUE ONE; SING STREET.
9/10 - MOONLIGHT; THE NICE GUYS; NOCTURNAL ANIMALS.
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