The Best Movies of 2016 (So Far)
2016 is halfway over, if you can believe it. How quickly time flies!
All this week, we’ll be sharing our 2016 (so far) favorites: songs, albums, movies, TV shows, and stories. Today: movies! I asked all of Celebuzz’s editors to send me their three favorite movies of 2016. The results are pretty diverse and include mentions of Beyoncé‘s Lemonade (it’s a movie in addition to being an album!), O.J. Simpson: Made in America, Deadpool, 10 Cloverfield Lane, and a whole lot more. Read on to see what everyone chose.
O.J. Simpson – Made in America
This five-part, nearly eight-hour documentary by ESPN Films is a thrilling, must-see project that expertly tackles “The Trial of the Century,” what led to it, and what came after. As with American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Made in America sheds new light on the infamous murder trial and provides new context about the verdict and all of the star players. But Made In America dives deeper into the volatile racial divide that has been simmering (and, at times, exploding) in America since the 1960s. The documentary features illuminating and often shockingly-candid interviews with a wide and impressive variety of personalities from the trial, the civil rights movement, the sports world, and more. Another way in which it differs from American Crime Story is that it goes beyond the trial and explores its aftermath, including the slow, messy, and humiliating downfall of Simpson, who is currently serving jail time for a convoluted crime unrelated to the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.
Lemonade: The Visual Album
As I was struggling to think of three movies released in 2016 I actually saw and liked, my colleague Mia reminded me that, hey, Beyoncé’s Lemonade should count as a movie. Because it is so much more than a long-form music video: it is a film. Most music videos, as they are produced today, offer nothing more than a colorful flash of spectacle, meant only to drive up streaming views and therefore bolster chart positions. This therefore makes most music videos boring and unchallenging. But with Lemonade, Beyoncé elevated the art of the music video to a level so far above what had come before, it’s hard to think how anyone (Bey included) could ever top it. The Lemonade film adds layers — as well as actual content like poetry and spoken — to the album, turning a narrative of a woman struggling with her husband’s infidelity into to a highly political meditation on love, loyalty, and the struggle of being a Black woman in America.
The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film saw its official wide release on January 1, 2016, so though it was out in some places before Christmas, it counts as a 2016 flick. It is certainly not my favorite Tarantino film — I’ll always be a Kill Bill man, myself — and I don’t think it earns its nearly three-hour runtime. That said, it’s still, after all, a Tarantino film; that means it’s brimming with incredible performances, striking visuals, and memorable dialogue.
I love love stories, even the most eclectic, dark comedy ones. Set in the future, Colin Farrell’s newly-single character must find a suitable mate within 45 days of his residence at The Hotel, or else he will be turned into an animal of his choosing and released into the wild (aka The Woods). There’s an escape, Loners, and eventually a love story despite the disturbing tale, with the storyline also directly calling to mind the fakeness behind the way we date on apps nowadays.
A Bigger Splash
This erotic thriller takes place in a mediterranean villa on a remote island off of Italy with a bunch of impossibly beautiful people (Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts and Ralph Fiennes). Sold, am I right? It’s visually gorgeous, ripe with sensuality, and Swinton is just as magnificent as ever.
How to Be Single
Give my taste a free pass: I watched this on the plane, okay? And since I haven’t really seen too many 2016 films, How to Be Single it is! As you may be able to tell, I personally love Dakota Johnson, having seen her in both A Bigger Splash and Fifty Shades (the latter of which I unironically enjoyed her in; I found her hilarious and charming in that annoying geeky way). And when the movie started off with Johnson’s newly-single character cabbing her way into NYC with that Manhattan skyline in the background, and Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York” playing, I just knew everything I needed to know about this movie.
Zootopia threw me for a loop from here to the moon and I don’t think that I’ve fully recovered. It was not the sophomoric children’s movie that I was expecting. Instead, it covers every evil in society — the pay gap, racism, domestic violence, etc. — in such a way that children can digest it. Disney hit it out of the park with this one. I just wish that there were more films like this during my childhood.
This is one of the three newly-released movies that I’ve seen in 2016. Was it good? No, not really. But if for no other reason, you must watch the scene at the end of the movie wherein top fashion figures, including Tommy Hilfiger, Anna Wintour, Valentino and Alexander Wang, assemble for a hooded Eyes Wide Shut-type ceremony. On top of fulfilling all of my wildest fantasies, it might be the only time that you’ll see Wintour wearing head-to-toe black.
Lemonade: The Visual Album
Beyoncé’s visual album might not conform to the standard conception of a “movie,” but Lemonade’s inertia as a journey through experience of a woman scorned qualifies it for cinematic consideration. Beyond its tabloid-worthy personal aspects, it dives deep into themes of betrayal, love, blackness and feminism with poetry and visual grace. It deserves the Emmy nomination that could arise in its future, and the Queen can skip the line if this honor comes to fruition.
Jelani Addams Rosa
Captain America: Civil War
Full disclosure, I’m not an action movie kind of girl and hadn’t seen any of the other superhero movies that preceded this one, so when my mom asked to see it for Mother’s Day, I wasn’t expecting much. Surprisingly, I ended up loving the movie! The ensemble worked really well together, and the movie did a good job at including enough background information to keep clueless people like me in the loop. It was so good, I might actually go see a Marvel movie on my own next time.
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
Judge me, but I loved Neighbors. I thought it was hilarious and so I had high hopes for the sequel. It wasn’t as funny as the original, but then again sequels rarely are. But I can totally get behind feminist theme, and it reminded me of my sorority days in the best way possible.
Finding Nemo fans waited 13 years for the second installment, and it was well worth the wait. Ellen Degeneres was absolutely flawless in her reprisal of everyone’s favorite forgetful fish, and the writing seamlessly appeals to people of all ages.
Being an adult, I’m normally in the “Disney is for kids” camp. However, Disney has managed to churn out movies are anything but just for children — Wreck-It Ralph, anyone? — and Zootopia is no different. Though filled with lovable animal characters, the movie is layer with timely and cultural relevant subtext that really hits home for grown-ups. You bet I had a long think on the drive home about this.
Eye in the Sky
Watching someone buy bread has never been so nerve-wrecking. Centered around a drone strike, it raises the question of civil casualties and the price of war as military officials and politicians debate over whether or not they should bomb a home housing one of the world’s most wanted criminals knowing full well that an innocent girl will die in the crossfire.
The Jungle Book
Like many cynics, I had my doubts when I first heard that Disney was remaking The Jungle Book and chalked it up to another cash grab through a half-baked idea. Now, after actually seeing it, I’m left with egg on my face. The visuals alone puts this film over the top of most movies in 2016. Cinematically beautiful with great story-telling, it’s a movie that adults and children can — and will — enjoy.
10 Cloverfield Lane
I dream of stumbling upon movies like this. A story with enormous implications but told through a very minimal lens. Yes, it’s about aliens invading. But really, it’s about our own fears and suspicions about each other told through a contained, razor sharp thriller.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos is gonna be a lot of fun to watch in the coming years. His first film Dogtooth was a heady examination of the family unit. Now, his second film is pitch-black comedy disguising a jaw-dropping love story.
This new horror film breaks all the rules. The dialogue is archaic, the violence is minimal and the setting is grim and stark. Yet the experience is spellbinding. Robert Eggers’ commitment to detail and his confident touch make every scene wholly eerie. And you will never forget the final scene.
Initially I had my doubts about Deadpool, but the film and Ryan Reynolds exceeded my expectations. Humor goes a very long way in making comic book movies stand out, and it’s the fact that Deadpool is constantly laugh-out-loud funny really helped make this a truly enjoyable movie.
Eye in the Sky
A riveting thriller about the perils of drone warfare, directed by Gavin Hood and starring Helen Mirren, in a fierce performance as Lt. Colonel Katherine Powell, who is ready to order a strike. But at Whitehall, Lt. General Frank Benson (the late Alan Rickman) is surrounded by waffling politicians who are horrified to see, via drone, an adorable little girl selling bread right in front of the targeted house. Shot in real time, this is definitely on-the-edge-of-your-seat filmmaking.
This is a fascinating look at the self-destruction of former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner. As almost everyone knows, Weiner’s meteoric political career was ended by a sexting scandal in which he, sometimes under the pseudonym Carlos Danger, sent dick pics to various women. The filmmakers have provided a brilliant window into the impact of the contemporary media circus on public life.