Look, we know you have a lot of places to go to get your “Top 10 Lists” on. Hell, there are entire publishing industries built on them. But we’re glad you’re here anyway, however many or few of you there may be, to share in our year at the movies.
To be clear, what follows is only the movies we, after roundtable discussion and voting, liked best. We’re not claiming these are the best, there are probably at least a few 2016 movies that are technically better, and there are certainly many that are more acclaimed. You might even hate some of the movies in our Top 10. That’s great! That means you care! This is just what we liked, the 10 movies we liked best this year, the ones that gave us the highest highs and the lowest lows, the ones that made us feel and meant the most to us — the brightests of the bunch.
Our Top 10 Movies of 2016
A great, great horror-thriller, and best of all, it really says something bad about our society. Read our review >>
It’s perhaps not surprising that, eight years after Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel movies are all starting to feel the same, but on its own Doctor Strange was very enjoyable, and it had just enough new to say that it made you think. Y’know, if you were in a thinking mood. Y’know, if you have enough thoughts in your brain to not automatically disregard movies like this. Read our review >>
Train to Busan
This zombie movie from Korea isn’t all that original or creative or even that remarkable, but there’s just something about it that makes it a lot of fun and somehow better than most of everything else we saw this year.
Manchester by the Sea
Also known as “Sad Things Happen: The Movie”, Manchester by the Sea is downbeat and a real tearjerker, but it’s also funny and involving and oddly uplifting if only because it doesn’t feel like a movie that’s lying to you. Read our review >>
We walked out of Nocturnal Animals wondering about what we’d just seen and why anybody would want to see it, but literally the next day we couldn’t stop thinking about it, and the day after that we realized it would probably be in our Top 10. A truly disturbing movie in the most wonderful, wonderful way. Read our review >>
Star Trek Beyond
In a year where Captain America, Iron Man, War Machine, the Falcon, the Winter Soldier, the Black Panther, Hawkeye, the Black Widow, the Scarlet Witch, the Vision, Ant-Man, and Spider-Man (!) all got into a big fight, it was Star Trek Beyond that was, pound for pound, the best action movie of the year. Surprisingly progressive and yet shrewdly respectful of its forebears. Read our review >>
10 Cloverfield Lane
For a long, long time last year, 10 Cloverfield Lane held on to the title of best movie of 2016. Now obviously it didn’t quite make it all the way to the end in that position, but it’s still an extremely well-crafted movie, entertaining, pulse-pounding, memorable, and f*ck that ending. Read our review >>
La La Land
With half of us in love with musicals and the other half very much against them, the prospect of La La Land had us divided all year, but after seeing it, we all agreed that it was going to place extremely high on the 2016 Top 10. Almost mind-blowingly good, uplifting and heartbreaking all at once. Read our review >>
People like to say all sorts of things about Arrival. It’s been called “ambitious”, “smart”, “extraordinary”, and “heartfelt”, but really, we liked it because we liked it. It spoke to us. And you would get that joke if you saw it. Read our review >>
Swiss Army Man
None of us here expect you to love or even like Swiss Army Man; some people won’t even sit through it. But out of all of the movies we saw this year, this was the one that hit us dead centre in the “feeling” bone(s?) without ever feeling cloying or manipulative. It’s the type of movie we would proclaim “a triumph!” if that wasn’t such a cliche to do so. Read our review >>
Everybody Wants Some!!
This quasi-sequel to director Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused is almost impossible not to like. It’s just too bad it was so pointless.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Possibly the one movie on this list we’d actively recommend you go see if only because it seems the one you’re least likely to go out and do so. A weirdly stupid movie but not at all a movie for the stupid. Read our review >>
Kubo and the Two Strings
With its deep mythology and tragic premise, we really loved the first half of the movie, but the second half fell off a little bit too much for Kubo to make our Top 10.
The Nice Guys
Delightful and cynical at the same time, if you haven’t seen The Nice Guys, the latest from writer-director Shane Black, you really should. But probably watch Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (his 2005 action thriller with Robert Downey Jr.) first. It’s a little better. Read our review >>
The worst movie we saw in 2016
It’s a tie!
Sausage Party isn’t offensively bad (at least not to us it wasn’t), it’s even got a few really great laughs (mostly in that first trailer), but it was such a waste of time that it’s hard not to feel bad after seeing it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
There’s only so much you can ever really expect from a movie like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (especially a Michael-Bay-produced TMNT), but maybe the worst thing about this 2016 sequel to the latest reboot to the franchise is that it hinted at trying harder and knowing better with some of its plot elements but still chose to be so stupid in the end. Read our review >>
The most over-rated movies of 2016
You can feel that it’s good, you can feel that it’s important, but it’s a small, intimate movie and it’s not so good that you have to like it. “A game changer”, “a flat-out masterpiece”, “the best movie of the year”, “Sweeps you up in a wave and leaves you in a place you never expected” (all quotes I literally saw in a commercial for it as I was writing this)? Yeah, no.
Hell or High Water
It’s a good movie, but the only really remarkable thing about Hell or High Water is that it’s so solid all throughout. If you go in expecting “Top 10” stuff from it, prepare to be disappointed.
Nothing wrong with Deadpool, it’s perfectly enjoyable and one of the most laugh-out-loud movies of the year, but its humour is really disjointed and scattershot, and we can’t help thinking that the widespread positive reaction to it is least partly because of how sick people have become of the usual Marvel movies. Read our review >>
The most under-rated movies of 2016
Perfectly fine movie. No idea why critics were so hard on it.
Suicide Squad isn’t a good movie, almost explicitly so, but it wasn’t such a catastrophe that it needed to be called out as that awful. Or to put it another way, it may be a turd, but it’s not 100% a piece of crap. Read our review >>
The 2016 movies we missed but meant to see
- Captain Fantastic
- De Palma
- Hacksaw Ridge
The 2016 movies we did see but wish we hadn’t
Movies that missed our deadline for 2016 Top 10 consideration
- Hidden Figures
- Live by Night
- A Monster Calls
And all the other movies we saw in 2016
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
- The Boy and the Beast
- Captain America: Civil War
- Deepwater Horizon
- Don’t Think Twice
- The Lobster
- The Magnificent Seven
- Memento Mori
- Midnight Special
- Other People
- The Revenant
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
- Sing Street
- Theater of Life
- War Dogs
- X-Men: Apocalypse
With the multitude of mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and celebrity deaths, the state of the local Edmonton economy, and the election of one of the most outwardly racist and obviously unqualified American Presidents in history (not to mention the entire sequence of events leading to it), there are compelling reasons to look back at 2016 and call it one of the worst years in history. And y’know what, that’s probably right. But doesn’t it feel like every year is the worst year in history? Every year more people die, more people are killed, more people lose the means to support themselves, and more people who should never be given power are somehow elected into those positions.
But there’s a bright side to this year too, and that bright side is that there’s still a future for us all to see and meet and join, one where we land that job we’ve been waiting for, one where we meet that person we’ve been looking for all of our lives, one even where the Oilers are in a playoff spot at the start of the new year for the first time in ten years, and at the very least Donald Trump can’t be voted President again this year. It’s in that way, perhaps, that movies and stories, are so important: They show us something brighter, something greater, something good that can exist or at least can be found, even if only in our imaginations, because fictional worlds still matter and fictional people can have an effect in the real world.
Or whatever. 2016 sucked. But 2017 can’t be worse. Right?