Warning! Warning! Read the disclaimer below and save a starving African kid’s life.
- This article is written based on the Malaysian movie calendar. In other words, La La Land, Silence, Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, Hacksaw Ridge, etc. aren’t out in cinemas yet. #ThankYouMalaysia
- Some of the movies on this list may make you go, “Bruh! Those movies were released in 2015! Check IMDb you idiot.” Again, this list is based on the MALAYSIAN movie calendar.
- I did not catch every single movie that was out in 2016 – that feat would be very much impossible.
- These are not my movie reviews. Therefore, I am not going to analyse each movie in depth, but rather write random thoughts that pop in my head regarding my favourite movies of the year.
- I am a film lover first, film critic second. A random piece of information which may or may not be of importance to you.
- Art-House purists, get your pitchforks (or keyboards) ready.
Before getting to the actual meat of the article, here are some movies that almost made my list.
- Sing Street
- 10 Cloverfield Lane
- Kodi (Tamil)
- Sausage Party
- Kubo and the Two Strings
Now that we’ve got that sorted out, let’s get straight to the good stuff. Here are the top 15 best movies of 2016.
Inside Out, was my fourth favourite movie of 2015, ahead of films like The Imitation Game, Ex Machina and Birdman. It’s an incredibly smart movie, the smartest of 2015. Heck, I even compared it to The Matrix.
Moana isn’t like that. But this does not mean that it isn’t special. Moana is an exceptionally fun movie, one that gave me goosebumps in more than a couple of occasions. The songs are great. One song will remind you of Frozen’s ‘Let it Go,’ only, better. There is another song that will make your ears jizz. The animation is beautiful, perhaps the best of all time.
The best part of this movie though, is its tendency to poke fun at the whole concept of “Disney Princesses.” For years now, Disney has produced classics revolving around princesses / damsels in distress. Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, etc. But here, lead character Moana says, “I am not a princess!” in a tone of disgust. Surely, I can’t be the only one who finds the irony amusing.
What a feminist past couple of years it has been.
14) Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon is the first of many biographical films on this list. My God, has Hollywood run out of ideas or what? But that’s a story for another day. What we have on our hands here is the best disaster movie of all time.
This is the second-time Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg are working together, the first being the brilliant, Lone Survivor that came three years ago. Deepwater Horizon is about a worldwide scandal that created an environmental disaster – the worst oil spill in American history. Unlike Lone Survivor, this is a movie that caters to everyone, even the most casual of viewers. But, this doesn’t mean that it’s layer less nonsense.
A lack of nuance prevents this movie from being higher up on the list. Regardless, this is a realistic, thrilling, action-packed movie that is also surprisingly, emotional.
This is my favourite movie in the Rocky franchise. Fine, there are merely two good movies in this franchise – Rocky (1976) and Creed. Everything in between ranges from good to fairly entertaining to regurgitated ballsacks.
As far as sports movies go, Creed is fairly cliché. You know, by the end of the movie, the protagonist is going to be triumphant. It doesn’t matter. Because the performances steal the show here. Michael B. Jordon is excellent as Apollo Creed’s son. But, the real star is Slyvester Stallone. Stallone, reprising his role as Rocky Balboa, serves as a trainer to Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Johnson. Stallone can actually act? Who knew. Sure, he can show-off his Godly abs and beat people up. But actually act in a dramatic role? Wow.
Side note: This is only 30-year-old Ryan Coogler’s second feature film. He’s definitely one to watch out for. I’m confident 2018’s Black Panther is going to be one of MCU’s finest films.
12) The Hateful Eight
The fact that The Hateful Eight made my list is no surprise. The fact that it isn’t higher up, is. This is Tarantino’s eighth film as writer and director. It is also probably his worst. Maybe. It’s as if Tarantino knows he’s a genius and therefore thinks it’s alright to be overly self-indulgent. I’m usually against studio interference and script doctors, but this is a movie that could have used some serious vetting.
Don’t get me wrong, The Hateful Eight is not a bad movie, of course it’s not. It’s Quentin motherfucking Tarantino! But, it’s a very good movie that should have been a great one. The first 30 minutes is completely pointless. Only once all the characters have arrived at the cabin, does the movie really begin. So, one has to wonder, why have the first 30 minutes at all?
One particular scene stands out: a monologue sequence involving Samuel L Jackson talking about torturing a guy via blowjob, among other stuff. It is GOLD! And, it does a bloody good job reminding you of why Tarantino is one of the best directors / scriptwriters alive today.
I remember watching Million Dollar Baby many years ago – I was 11 years old, way before I became the guy who sits on my ass watching movies all day – and thought to myself, “Okay, this is the most boring sports film ever! I’m out!” I watched Million Dollar Baby again a few years ago, this time I fell in love with Clint Eastwood as a director.
Eastwood is one of a kind. His movies do not shout, nor do they show off. The performances are subtle and never Oscar-bait. The characters do not randomly burst out and there is never a moment where things get unnecessarily dramatic. Some people might find his movies boring, as I did when I was a kid. But if you love movies, then you’ll see as I do now: Eastwood is a special talent.
In Sully – starring Tom Hanks as a pilot who lands his plane in the Hudson river in order to save his passengers and crew – Eastwood does it once again. The most thrilling incident happens right at the very beginning. From then on, it’s all character exploration. The actual plane crash takes a backseat to the happenings after the plane crash. And like other Eastwood films, it’s bloody refreshing.
10) Hell or High Water
Hell or High Water is a small film about two brothers – Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) who, in desperation to save their family ranch, resort to robbing banks. But this isn’t a heist film. And if you go into this movie hoping to watch an action/thriller about robbing banks, you may be disappointed. Sure, there are edge-of-the-seat type thrills in this movie, but that’s hardly the point.
Hell or High Water is most importantly, a movie about relationships. The relationship between two brothers, the relationship between two police officers, the relationship between husband & wife, and the relationship between father and son. The script, written by Taylor Sheridan, is as they say, tight as fish pussy. Sheridan does a great job in fleshing out each and every character. He does a better job, writing the dialogues.
It will most probably win Best Writing for Original Screenplay at the 2017 Oscars, deservedly.
9) Train to Busan (Korean)
The first out of the three non-English films on this list. It’s funny, when people think of the Korean entertainment industry, they think of pretty boys and Barbie dolls dancing to ‘Sorry Sorry.’ And if it isn’t that, then it’s either a lousy episode of Boys over Flowers or a hopelessly unfunny episode of Running Man.
No guys, the Korean film industry is nothing like that. In fact, the Korean film industry is churning out some of the best movies of the now. Oldboy, anyone? Train to Busan is another one of the great movies produced by Korea. Not only that, I think I can boldly proclaim that this is perhaps the best Zombie movie ever made, regardless of language. Yes, I’ve watched Zombieland, Shaun of the Dead and World War Z. Yes, they’re great. No, I’m not retracting my statement.
And just like many other movies on this list, there are layers to explore in Train to Busan. This is the IMDb synopsis:
While a zombie-virus breaks out in South Korea, a couple of passengers struggle to survive on the train from Seoul to Busan.
But Train to Busan isn’t just a zombie action-thriller. It is also a social commentary on what makes us human.
8) Steve Jobs
Seriously?! This movie shouldn’t have flopped so hard at the box office. Look, I’m not saying it should have gotten Transformers, type numbers. I’m not silly, I know we live in a messed-up society. But, it should have made more than it did.
The Social Network directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, had a 40 Mil USD budget and grossed over 220 Mil USD worldwide. The Big Short (a movie that you will find higher up on this list), had a 28 Mil USD budget and grossed over 133 Mil USD worldwide. Steve Jobs is helmed by Danny Boyle – 127 hours, Slumdog Millionaire – and is written by the same genius who wrote The Social Network. How on earth did this 30 Mil USD budget movie only gross 34 Mil USD worldwide? One word. Marketing! Watch the trailer above.
Bland, isn’t it? Well, this horrible sorry excuse of a trailer does not in any way reflect the actual movie. This movie, just like every other movie written by Aaron Sorkin, is a scriptwriting clinic. Movies consisting of mostly dialogue, can, and more often than not, does, turn out to be a draggy affair. Not when it’s penned by Aaron Sorkin, though. This guy can do no wrong. Here, he proves it once again.
7) Dangal (Hindi)
Oh look! Another biopic.
Dangal, directed by Nitesh Tiwari is a film that revolves around ex-wrestler Mahavir Singh (Aamir Khan) and his two wrestler daughters, on their journey towards glory, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. But that’s merely scratching the surface.
Dangal is first and foremost a feminist film about overcoming oppression. Every time Geeta Phogat (Fatima Shaikh) slams her opponent on the mat, it doesn’t just win her points, rather, it’s also a giant middle finger to all her doubters. Because that’s what Dangal is truly about. A middle finger to anyone who says women only belong in the kitchen. A middle finger to anyone who says women should get married young and serve their husbands. A middle finger to anyone who says women are beneath men.
Side note: Dangal is a Walt Disney Pictures production. In addition to minting money from its animation movies, the MCU and Star Wars, Disney is now also making money from Bollywood films? Wtf?
6) Eye in the Sky
This one surprised me. Eye in the Sky is helmed by Gavin Hood, the dumbass that made X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Yeap, he’s the guy that sewed Deadpool’s mouth shut (well, technically the scriptwriter did, but he was a part of that team). And because of that, this movie should have sucked. It didn’t. It’s great!
Eye in the Sky is about very real people with very real decisions to make. Should they launch a drone strike on wanted terrorists or should they bring them in for questioning, when it is near impossible to bring them in for questioning? Should they launch a drone strike on wanted terrorists who are currently prepping for a suicide bombing mission, when there is an innocent child around the premises?
Deadpool should get a Best Writing for Adapted Screenplay nomination at the Oscars. But it won’t, cause the people making these decisions are losers. Screw it. You know and I know, that this piece of crap is genius.
Studios across Hollywood are, for years to come, going to look at this movie and learn from it. Unfortunately, they’re going to learn wrongly. Studios are going to assume that ‘R-rated equals great,’ ‘comedy equals great,’ ‘violence equals great.’ Nay, that’s not what made Deadpool great.
Deadpool is great because it is a passion project. Ryan Reynolds, who plays the titular character and in is charge of this project, LOVES the Deadpool comics. The director, Tim Miller, LOVES Deadpool. The Scriptwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick LOVE Deadpool. As a result,every single line in the script was crafted with love and passion. Every single frame was painted with love and passion. This is why Deadpool ended up being the great movie that it is. The fact that Reynolds and co we willing to take massive budget cuts to maintain creative control and prevent studio interference says a lot.
#FeminismCounterThree – because Deadpool gets assfucked by his girlfriend wearing a strap-on.
4) The Big Short
The Big Short is my second favourite biopic of all time. The first being The Social Network. One thing both these movies have in common is, its ability to make its audience care about something we otherwise wouldn’t care for nor comprehend. The Social Network, concerns programming, while The Big Short, economy.
The Big Short is uniquely directed in a documentary-esque fashion by Adam McKay. But the true MVP here are the scriptwriters. The Big Short is written masterfully by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay comprising of perfectly written characters, humour that blends well with the drama and AMAZEBALLS DIALOGUE, very much deserving its Best Writing for Adapted Screenplay win, at the 2016 Academy Awards. This is a movie that hooks you in from the get go. In my review, I wrote:
“The movie starts off by spewing one jargon after another – mortgage backed securities, bonds, subprime loans, tranches – and a bunch of statistics that, unless you’re doing Bachelors in Finance and/or jacks off to The Wall Street Journal, you will probably understand jackshit. The narrator then says, “Does it make you feel bored? Or stupid? Well, it’s supposed to.” Followed by, “Here’s Margot Robbie in a bathtub to explain…” It is at this very moment, I knew, The Big Short is probably gonna be one of my favourite movies of the year.”
PS: I’m disappointed that it didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars as well. It should have. But Spotlight is a fine movie too. Thankfully, it wasn’t Revenant.
3) Captain America: Civil War
HOLY SHIT! Captain America: Civil War is not number one on the list??!! Honestly, it was really difficult for me to rank my top three. I could just have a three way tie for first place, but that would neither be fair nor fun. So, here we go!
Captain America: Civil War is the best comic book movie since The Dark Knight. It seems Disney-Marvel Studios have struck gold with the pairing of the Russo brothers (directors) and Markus & McFeely (Scriptwriters). Captain America: Winter Soldier was great, this is greater.
One of my biggest worries heading into this movie was whether or not the scriptwriters and directors would be able to juggle such a huge ensemble cast. Making everything look cool is one thing, making the whole thing purposeful, is another. Needless to say, they knocked it out of the park.
The ‘Airport Sequence’ is mind blowing. We all know that. But, that’s not what I’d like to highlight here. After watching Captain America: Civil War many times, the thing that really sticks with me is how it makes you flip-flop between supporting Captain America and Iron Man. Both sides make compelling arguments about freedom to do what you think is right, government regulations and friendship. If a comic book movie makes you think like this, you know you’re witnessing something special.
2) Pink (Hindi)
About six months ago, I posted this on my Facebook wall.
It’s funny how parents always tell their daughters to sit properly, dress properly, cover up. “No tank tops!” “No short shorts!” “Keep your legs closed young lady!” “Don’t go clubbing!”
But, never do they tell their sons to keep their dick in their pants.
And that is exactly what Pink is all about.
In one scene, Amitabh Bachchan who plays a lawyer tells the court:
“We should save our boys, not our girls. Because if we save our boys then our girls will be safe.”
Preach! Pink, directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury is a film that I can see myself watching over and over and over again. This isn’t just a movie about defendants (sexual harasser) versus victims. At its core, this movie is about LIBERALISM VS IGNORANCE. This is Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s open letter to the public, a brilliant one at that.
Funnily enough, Pink could have easily been a self-righteous sh*t show. Scriptwriters Ritesh Shah and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury could have easily painted the female victims as innocent girls who live with their parents, come back home by 10pm and pray 12 times a day. And I would have punched myself in the stomach repeatedly until I puked blood. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.
The victim, played by Tapsee Pannu, is an independent woman who earns her own living and rents an apartment with a couple of friends. She parties. She consumes alcohol. She’s not a virgin (she’s had a few sexual relationships in the past). In other words, she’s a regular young adult we can relate to. But, none of this means she wants to have sex with every tom, dick and harry that comes her way. If a girl smiles at you, it doesn’t mean she wants THE D. If a girl touches you, it does not mean she wants THE D.
Most importantly, consent is important. It doesn’t matter if the she’s your friend, girlfriend, wife or heck, even a prostitute. If she says “No” it simply means “No.”
Great thing is, Pink doesn’t just touch on sex. It discusses many other issues that revolve around the double standards that exists between male and female.
1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Watching the end credits of Rogue One roll for the first time, I thought to myself, “This is a very good movie and would most likely end up somewhere in my top 10 best movies of 2016 list.” And then I watched it a second time. And a third time. And I thought about it. And I thought about it more. And I thought about it a little more. I thought about it in the shower, I thought about it before I slept, heck, I even thought about it while I was beating off to Tori Black. And here we are – number one on my list. Guys, this is a great movie.
Rogue One is the ultimate Star Wars fan film. It is very much like watching the extended parts in The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition. But, one of the biggest complaints I’ve been hearing is “This is not a Star Wars movie!” And yeah, I understand. Usually, a Star Wars movie comes with Skywalker family drama, lengthy lightsaber duels, Padawans, Jedis and the likes. Rogue One has none of that.
Rogue One puts the Star Wars universe under a microscope. It is first and foremost a movie about politics. The Empire isn’t your typical cliché movie villain who does bad shit, because why not? The Empire represents real world evil, like Terrorism and Nazis. Civilians are oppressed and suffering on a street level.
Rogue One is also smart with the moralization of its characters. In the real world, not everything is black and white. Sometimes good people have to make some morally questionable decisions, for the greater good.
“Dude, enough of your crap. What about Vader?!” you ask. There is a scene that comes right at the very end. If you’ve watched the movie, you know what I’m talking about. One of, if not the greatest moments in the Star Wars franchise. HOLY FUCKING SHIT! Gareth Edwards has won me over with this one.
#BiopicCounterSix. Rogue One is based on a true story. The force is real! I dare you to tell me otherwise.
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