2016 was dominated with hits like Captain America: Civil War and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, among many others. With these hits pulling in the majority of the box office take for the year, it’s easy to miss some of the films that came out in between. While they may not have made as much money as others in 2016, these 10 films are some of the best of the year.
10Swiss Army Man
Independent films have a knack for taking an odd premise and making it both mesmerizing and sympathetic; Swiss Army Man tackles this with poise and hilarity to create one of the best films of the year. Hank is suicidal after being lost at sea, and as he is about to hang himself, he notices a corpse that has washed up on the beach. The corpse becomes his only friend as he fights for survival in an attempt to free himself from the island.
The body is used as a fart-propelled jet ski, infinite water source, and a compass via the corpse’s erection as it slowly begins to reanimate. The film was well received by critics and audiences alike following its premiere at Sundance, though several people walked out due to the flatulent nature of the comedic storytelling. Despite its use of body humor as a plot mechanic, the film is a lighthearted comedy that is fun and fulfilling.
Cafe Society is Woody Allen’s film for 2016 and stars Steve Carrell, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Blake Lively, among others. Like most of Allen’s work, the film was critically successful but released to a limited audience, so you probably missed it. The film is an homage to the New York City nightclub of the same name and the 1930s lifestyle in the big city.
Cafe Society is a romantic comedy set in Los Angeles involving a young man who moves to the west coast to work with his uncle, a talent agent in Hollywood. He quickly falls in love with his uncle’s assistant, who initially helps him settle into Hollywood. After their affair ends in disappointment, he returns to New York and opens the titular nightclub, which becomes a home for high society and gangsters. The film was received positively and was released via Amazon, a first for Allen.
8Hello, My Name Is Doris
Sally Field stars in this romantic dramedy about a woman in her sixties who tries to put the moves on a younger coworker. Field plays a woman coping with the loss of her mother, whom she has lived with her entire life. She is a hoarder and something of a recluse but ultimately finds infatuation with John, played by Max Greenfield, who is barely half her age.
The story plays out the fantasies of the older woman and the younger man amid the reality of her trying to woo him while becoming his friend. She gets mixed up in his love life and makes a mess of things, but Field plays a sympathetic woman who is just looking for love. Like all of her roles, she knocks this one out of the park, and the film is definitely worth checking out.
Midnight Special, Jeff Nichols’s fourth full-length motion picture, features Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, and others. It’s a sci-fi tale about a family escaping from a cult and the government after discovering that young boy Alton, played by Jaedon Lieberher, has special powers.
The story follows the escape and survival theme while Alton develops his powers and enlightens the audience to a greater world than the one they thought they knew. The film has been described as Spielberg-esque science fiction. Midnight Special is, in many ways, an homage to Spielberg’s hits, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T., but maintains its own sense of mystery and wonderment, making it a standalone film everyone who enjoys the genre should definitely watch.
The Lobster is another sci-fi entry very well received by critics. It won the Jury Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, and it wasn’t until 2016 that the film saw a limited release. The Lobster won numerous awards and received praise from critics and audience members alike.
The film tells the story of a man who was dumped by his wife and needs to find a new partner. In this dystopic world, people are required to find true love within 45 days or they are turned into the animal of their choice and released into the wild. David attempts to find his new love through some romantic misadventures before he flees society and joins up with a rebel group called The Loners who have abandoned romance. Of course, David meets an enticing female member of the group, and the expected happens.
The Witch is another indie film shown at a 2015 film festival that wasn’t released until 2016, and it’s likely you missed it due to its relatively limited release. The story takes place in the mid-17th century in New England, where a man named William is threatened with banishment from the puritan plantation. So he takes his family and moves to the outskirts near a forest, where strange and malevolent things begin to happen almost immediately.
The children insist that the family’s goat speaks to them, and various items begin to go missing. The film develops quickly into a horrific tale of witchcraft but explores the themes of devout Christianity coming to terms with witchcraft and the devil himself. The Witch is both an incredibly well-made horror film and a religious exploration about the fear of God and the influence of evil.
Krisha was met with massive critical success when it was released, though few people saw it. Having made less than $155,000 at the box office, it might be a surprise to end up on a list like this, but the movie was so well received, this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Krisha is based off a short film of the same name and was funded via a Kickstarter campaign aiming to raise only $10,000.
The story is about a woman in her sixties named Krisha who has battled drug and alcohol addictions her entire adult life and has become estranged from her family. She reaches out to her family claiming to be sober and offers to make a Thanksgiving dinner for them. While some see her as reformed, others are far more dubious, and the familial conflicts that arise make for a riveting story of drama and compassion.
3Kubo And The Two Strings
It’s rare that a big-budget animated film would make it on a list of movies you might have missed through the year, but there has been some serious animated competition in 2016 with the release of Disney’s Moana, Finding Dory, and Zootopia. Those films were excellent, but if you saw them instead of sitting down and watching Kubo and the Two Strings, you have done yourself a disservice.
Kubo and the Two Strings is a 3-D stop-motion animated film about a young man named Kubo, who has magical powers and a missing left eye (it was stolen). He goes on an adventure with a monkey and beetle that takes the audience on a wonderful ride through ancient Japan. The film was highly rated by the majority of critics and is a must-see for anyone who loves animated adventures appealing to all ages.
Sing Street is an Irish musical comedy film about a young man who starts a band to impress a girl. After meeting the young lady in his new school, he tells her he needs a model for the music video he is shooting with his band, which he then goes on to form with his friends. They develop a romance as the band strays into success and develops several original songs. This all happens amid family difficulties and the inevitable relationship issues expected in this type of film.
Sing Street was extremely well received by critics and has achieved a great deal of success internationally. The film incorporates the musical aspect alongside comedy to provide a wonderful film everyone should definitely see. The accompanying soundtrack is also a must-hear and truly captures the themes of the movie, even earning a nomination for Best Song at the Critics Choice Awards.
1Manchester By The Sea
Manchester by the Sea was a late release in 2016, having its wide release on December 16, but many people missed out due to the release of Rogue One that same week. The film stars Casey Affleck, Gretchen Mol, and others in a story of loss and pain revolving around a young man whose father recently died.
Take a box of tissues with you when you check out this wonderful story, which has been described as being incredibly sad by the star. Though the subject matter is sad and at times depressing, that shouldn’t deter anyone from seeing this beautiful film, which has been incredibly well received among critics the world over. The film has been nominated for dozens of awards still pending with several wins already under its belt. Manchester by the Sea is quite possibly the best pictures of the year.