The Top 25 Greatest Films Of 2016

2016 managed to be a rough year across the board but despite all that some great films were released. This is a countdown of the greatest films of the year.

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Countdown of the Twenty-Five greatest films of 2016

By Carter Bagley

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Last night was the annual ceremony where Hollywood comes together and awards some of the greatest films of the past year. To celebrate the 89th Academy Awards I’ve put together my personal favorite films of the calendar year of 2016.

Movies That Almost Made It

“Indignation” – James Schamus, 2016

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“Zootopia” – Byron Howard & Rich Moore, 2016

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“War Dogs”- Todd Phillips, 2016

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“Sully” – Clint Eastwood, 2016

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“Sully” Review

Now Here It Is, The 25 Greatest Films Of 2016

25. “The Accountant” – Gavin O’Connor, 2016

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A film I didn’t expect to like as much as I did at all was “The Accountant”. It’s the perfect example of what an action movie should be and it gives me hope for the future of the genre. From start to finish it was emotional and exciting and I’m excited to see if this film could get a sequel.

“The Accountant” Review

24. “Star Trek Beyond” – Justin Lin, 2016

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The latest film in the “Star Trek” universe managed to be action-packed while having the same feel and tone as the classic TV series. Justin Lin did an outstanding job on his first film for the franchise and since I had a lot of fun with this one I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

23. “Green Room” – Jeremy Saulnier, 2016

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An amazingly suspenseful and brutal horror film that has one of the most original and terrifying plots in recent years. With a great performance by the late Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart portraying the scary and intimidating bar owner, “Green Room” manages to be intense and memorable.

22. “Snowden” – Oliver Stone, 2016

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This film was bound to be controversial from the moment it came into fruition but I think people overlooked the film way more than it deserved. “Snowden” was a very well made film with an excellent performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

“Snowden” Review

21. “Oasis: Supersonic” – Mat Whitecross, 2016

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An all inclusive documentary on one of my all-time favorite bands so I may be biased here but it’s definitely a powerful and well made documentary.

“Oasis: Supersonic” Review

20. “Doctor Strange” – Scott Derrickson, 2016

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Marvel continues to entertain mass audiences with their crazy visuals and great storytelling. “Doctor Strange” is different than the rest though and manages to stand completely on it’s own as an original and fun film.

“Doctor Strange” Review

19. “Lion” – Garth Davis, 2016

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Another film I saw very recently and I’m glad I caught it in time because it’s a beautiful, tragic and redeeming tale of family that will make anyone tear up just a little.

18. “Moonlight” – Barry Jenkins, 2016

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This film has received a lot of love and praise and took home the statue last night (after an unfortunate mixup) and despite being good I don’t think it’s the greatest film of the year by any means, but that doesn’t take away at all from it’s good qualities.

“Moonlight” Review

17. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” – Gareth Edwards, 2016

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Another year. Another “Star Wars”. This one, however, isn’t another sequel and instead tells an unconventional story that isn’t perfect but manages to be completely thrilling and entertaining.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” Review

16. “The Jungle Book” – Jon Favreau, 2016

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There’s no way in hell I expected to love this film as much as I did. This adaptation of the classic Disney film and novel may be the best one yet and it’s the perfect family movie for anyone to love.

15. “Hell Or High Water” – David Mackenzie, 2016

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An unexpected success story, “Hell Or High Water” is a thrilling and smart heist movie set in small town America and despite it’s small setting and simple premise what it has to say is by no means small.

14. “Don’t Think Twice” – Mike Birbiglia, 2016

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A relatable and simple film set in the world of improv comedy. It doesn’t have much to say but it says what it tries to in such a lovely and entertaining way that it will have a soft place in your heart after you watch it. The cast is fantastic and fun and “Don’t Think Twice” is simply just a fantastic film.

13. “Hacksaw Ridge” – Mel Gibson, 2016

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Mel Gibson’s comeback film that’s brutal yet inspiring and tells the true story of Desmond Doss, a man who’s courage and moral compass is so admirable that you can’t help but at least enjoy this film.

“Hacksaw Ridge” Review

12. “Hunt For The Wilderpeople” – Taika Waititi, 2016

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A film that I didn’t get a chance to see until recently but it was totally worth. It’s quirky and odd but completely deserves your attention.

11. “Everybody Wants Some!!” – Richard Linklater, 2o16

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Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to “Dazed and Confused” is just pure entertainment that’s funny, charming and filled with classic music that’ll take you back to a time that’s passed… even if you never lived it to begin with.

10. “Arrival” – Denis Villeneuve, 2016

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Denis Villeneuve is a masterful filmmaker who’s made great film after great film and “Arrival” is no exception. I just can’t wait until I get a chance to see his take on “Blade Runner”.

“Arrival” Review

9. “Midnight Special” – Jeff Nichols, 2016

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Directed by Jeff Nichols who is starting to become one of the greatest filmmakers of his generation after directing “Take Shelter” and “Mud” which are each brilliant in their own right but now he’s topped himself with a compelling modern sci-fi film that proves he’s poised for great things still.

8. “Swiss Army Man” – Daniel Kwan & Daniel Sheinert, 2016

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A movie that must be seen on it’s insane premise alone. It could’ve easily sold itself on shock value alone but instead it uses quirky comedy and the excellent performances by it’s two leads to craft an odd yet effortlessly charming story.

7. “Captain America: Civil War” – Joe & Anthony Russo, 2016

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Another film that’s gotten a lot of hate from the time of it’s release until now but after rewatching it, it still stands as a near perfect blockbuster and one of the greatest superhero films to date.

6. “Nocturnal Animals” – Tom Ford, 2016

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A movie that was a bit divisive in many ways but it’s incredibly clever and packed with powerful performances.

5. “Deadpool” – Tim Miller, 2016

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A near perfect action-comedy, Ryan Reynolds pushed this thing along for years and it turned out perfectly. If you haven’t seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and go see it as soon as possible.

4. “Manchester By The Sea” – Kenneth Lonergan, 2016

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One of the saddest but most powerful films I’ve seen in a long time. Casey Affleck really amazes here and completely deserves all the praise he’s receiving.

“Manchester By The Sea” review

3. “The Nice Guys” – Shane Black, 2o16

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Hilarious. Entertaining. Overlooked. This film needs more attention because it’s truly amazing and Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe make an incredible duo. Go watch “The Nice Guys” if you haven’t already.

2. “Sing Street” – John Carney, 2016

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Horribly marketed by the Weinstein Company upon release and overlooked this is a lovely little film that sadly will be forgotten about. Though to the people who saw it, it left it’s mark and to me it’s simply one of the most personal films I’ve seen in years.

“Sing Street” Review

1. “La La Land” – Damien Chazelle, 2016

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This is one of those films that will get tons of hate for a little while and for some reason it’s kind of cool to hate it. This seems to happen to a couple movies every year but while others are released to praise and later get swallowed by the hate this one will be one to overcome it. “La La Land” is a beautiful and entertaining tale that will one day go down as a Hollywood classic. There’s simply no other film that belongs at this spot.

“La La Land” Review

Classic Reviews: “Running On Empty” (1988)

“Running On Empty” is a forgotten masterpiece about a young man who must determine what he wants to do with the rest of his life, and either choice has dire consequences.

Review of the great Sidney Lumet’s over-looked, coming-of-age gem “Running On Empty”

By Carter Bagley

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The late Sidney Lumet is one of those filmmakers that despite making some truly incredible films (Twelve Angry Men, Serpico, Network, Dog Day Afternoon, The Verdict) is very far from being a household name, and probably never will be which is a real shame. He’s always been a master filmmaker and his films like “Twelve Angry Men” and “Dog Day Afternoon” are some of the best films ever made in my opinion. Out of his entire filmography however, it’s his 1988 coming-of-age masterpiece “Running On Empty” that doesn’t get the attention it deserved. It stars River Phoenix, Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti, and Martha Plimpton and the whole film rests on the shoulders of the then 17 year old River Phoenix who is nothing short of phenomenal in the film that got him his only Academy Award Nomination. The film follows Phoenix as 17 year old running_on_emptyDanny Pope who lives on the run with his fugitive family and his younger brother Harry. His parents Arthur and Annie Pope (Judd Hirsch & Christine Lahti) committed a political crime in the late 60’s and have been on the run from the FBI ever since. Moving from school to school and town to town their whole lives, Danny and Harry have no real sense of normal and have only had their family for support their whole lives. Although when Danny comes to another new school for his Senior year, things start to change when he befriends his music teacher, Mr. Phillips, who shares his passion for piano. As he starts to fall in love with Mr. Phillip’s daughter Lorna and starts to see what his future might hold for him he begins to realize that he has to choose between his love and his passion or his family before he continues on with his life. River Phoenix proves himself as a phenomenal performer in this film as many of his scenes completely steal the film. That’s nothing bad on Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti however as they also deliver great performances as good people who are still dealing with the repercussions of something they did 20 years prior, albeit in very different ways. The movie flows together extremely well and it has very subtle moments that you can tell were ultimately building up to the final scene in the film that determines Danny’s future. For whatever reason this film has been forgotten over time, probably because of River Phoenix’s untimely tragic death in 1993 and he never got a chance to become the biggest star in Hollywood that he was on his way to becoming. Unlike Leonardo DiCaprio’s early films which have only grown in worth as he became the star he is today. I advise anyone who loves coming-of-age stories to check out this gem as soon as possible because “Running On Empty” is a forgotten masterpiece about a young man who must determine what he wants to do with the rest of his life, and either choice has dire consequences. It’s full of heartwarming and heart-wrenching moments that make you feel many emotions for this good family stuck in this awful situation. Phoenix was definitely a star in the making and it’s hard to believe that he was just a teenager in films like “Stand By Me”, “The Mosquito Coast”, and “Running On Empty” because he delivers authentic human performances that most adult actors couldn’t even pull off. He had a natural screen presence and acting ability that we may never see again. Whatever people want to say about his family and his life decisions, he was a real talent and we’ve missed out on some extraordinary performances as a result of his untimely death at the age of 23. Nonetheless, this is an unforgettable film with excellent direction, well-paced writing, and human performances that anyone can relate to.

Rating: 10/10