Best Movies of 2016…So Far
Selected by the staff of Movie Rehab
The Witch – Robert Eggers’ directorial debut is a haunting and disturbing portrait of a 17th century family whose life in the New World is torn apart by the supernatural. And although The Witch has been met with mixed reactions from horror fans, the film’s slow-burning nature makes the chilling ending all the more satisfying.
10 Cloverfield Lane – John Goodman gives the performance of a lifetime in this sort-of spinoff to Matt Reeves’ monster masterpiece Cloverfield. The film’s tagline – “Monsters come in many forms” – is the perfect way to describe this tense and claustrophobic thriller that has almost instantaneously become a cult classic.
The Conjuring 2 – Now maybe you can blame this choice on the fact that I’ve been a terrible movie-goer so far this year, but James Wan’s follow up to his mega-hit horror film is as scary as they come. Wan consistently comes up with new ways to terrorize his audience, without ever compromising the familial drama that makes up the majority of his films.
How to Build a Time Machine – Canadian Documentarian and host of the FilmJunk podcast Jay Cheel’s follow-up to his 2011 debut Beauty Day explores the time-related obsessions of two men. One, Dr. Ron Mallett, Theoretical Physics Professor, strives to push the boundaries of our understanding of time in a life-long search to prevent his father’s untimely death. The other, Rob Niosi, is a stop motion animator who’s spent several years striving to build the perfect replica of the titular prop from the 1960 classic: H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. I caught this at Hot Docs 2016 in Toronto and found it a fascinating exploration of obsession, creation, and our relationship with time.
The Nice Guys – A Shane Black directed black comedy about Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a mismatched pair of private eyes in 1970’s Los Angeles – that should be all the description necessary to convince you to see this film. It’s fun, beautifully shot, and full of great action. The Nice Guys didn’t do well in theaters, but it’s bound to remembered as a classic.
Hail, Caesar! – The Coen brothers have again given us a film full of wonderful moments, fantastic slapstick humour, and an incredibly convoluted and hard to follow plot (and that’s half the point). I thought Josh Brolin was the easy stand-out as the Hollywood studio fixer – who does what he can to keep the well-oiled machine that was the film industry of the 50’s running.
Captain America: Civil War – This film managed to put a stop to my decline into superhero fatigue after realizing just how similar all superhero films really are. Civil War is the Avengers films that Age of Ultron should have been. The stakes have been raised – not by an easily defeated robot or a faceless army that will destroy the Earth in a matter of moments – but by the tension created that ultimately divides the Avengers in two. The Russo Brothers do a terrific job with memorable action scenes once again, and also Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans manage to effectively create emotion for the audiences to care about these super humans.
Zootopia – Zootopia is the newest installment in the Disney Revival that has continued since 2009’s Tangled, which I think is their best yet. The film is charming, beautifully animated, has terrific world-building, and contains great moral lessons for younger audiences about race, gender and the idea that no one can stop you from becoming what you want, unless what you want to be is a furry. In that case: stop.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TUR-Don’t worry, I’m kidding.
The Conjuring 2 – This scary flick continues the slow revival of the horror franchise following the first installment, It Follows, The Babadook, and the Insidious franchise. Director James Wan once again breathes life into the horror cliches, showing how he is a master of his established genre. The film follows the Warrens and a haunted family that aren’t just throwaway, annoying characters. Not only is the film full of terrific scares, but it also has quite a lot of heartwarming moments that were quite unexpected, One scene in particular will likely go down in horror movie history as one of the most unnerving scenes in recent years and you’ll know exactly the scene when you watch it.
Sing Street – Overflowing with charm, humor, poignancy, and most notably, a collection of knockout original songs, this coming-of-age story provides an encapsulating image of life as it was for a music-loving teenager in 1980’s Dublin: equal parts angst, joy, hardship, and love. Director John Carney once again hits it out of the park by doing what he does best – constructing an original, emotional, and undeniably entertaining film from an otherwise familiar premise.
Green Room – Green Room is more than just a gruesome, riveting, and taut thriller – it is also an intelligently written, powerfully acted, and surprisingly artistic film with glints of dark but effective humor and genuine humanity. The entire cast and crew rises to the occasion – the late Anton Yelchin shines in his endearing role opposite the truly sinister Patrick Stewart. The cinematography by Sean Porter is perfectly claustrophobic – and the product is terrifying and ultimately unforgettable.
Midnight Special – A film of absolute transcendence and an ambition matched by the sheer talent of director and writer Jeff Nichols, Midnight Special is a haunting and provocative science fiction film which provides powerful mystery and endless thrills despite a relatively intimate progression. With intriguingly developed characters and a deep understanding of the emotions it wants to convey, this film is a must-see for all filmgoers, and one which demands repeat viewings to find the heart at the core of its ambiguity.