5 Films We Loved In 2016

– by Joseph Medina

Welcome to The Top 5, where every week, we list five things for a given topic. These topics can range from "5 Things We Liked About The Power Rangers Teaser Trailer" to "5 Things We Want (Or Don't Want) In Ben Affleck's The Batman."

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5 FILMS WE LOVED IN 2016


Admittedly, 2016 seemed like a year poised to do amazing things. This was, after all, the year that we’d have more comic book movies on our plate than we knew what to do with, and it would be the official year that the DC Extended Universe would get underway at full speed. Between that, the release of Deadpool (which had been at a production standstill for a solid half decade), and the capper of Bryan Singer’s second X-Men trilogy, it seemed poised to take the world by storm.

Things didn’t turn out as well as we’d hoped on many fronts. The DCEU started off with a thud — with both of their films falling short on critical and fan praise — and X-Men: Apocalypse went on to receive a worse critical reception than X-Men: The Last Stand.

Yet despite some of those disappointments, there were plenty of films to help make up for it. Sure, we’ve hit the season where Oscar bait films were rampant, but we figured we’d let the Oscars themselves take care of that. For this list, we figured we’d stick to wide release films that had some element of spectacle on screen.

So here we go! 5 films we loved in 2016!


ZOOTOPIA


We’ve talked at length about Zootopia in the past before, but it’s definitely a flick worth mentioning again when talking about top films for the year. This was a movie that really only needed to succeed on one level. If it had merely worked off the strength of its premise and plot alone, we’d be in good shape. However, not only did the talented folks over at Disney manage to create a compelling mystery plot, but they also did so with astute social commentary.

That’s right, on a secondary level, Zootopia manages to be an amazing parallel to race relations in the U.S., and even more surprising is how little they bother putting any sort of veil on the subject. Rest assured, said commentary is blatant and in-your-face, almost at a level where it’s uncomfortable and lazy on their part. Regardless, between the quality storytelling and positive message, it easily snags a spot in this year’s top 5 for us.


DEADPOOL


This one is probably the biggest surprise of the year. For years we had seen the slow and steady uptick in the budget required to make a successful superhero flick. You need look no further than Batman v Superman’s $250 million budget to see that we’ve hit a potentially dangerous peak, and there seemed to be no end in sight. Luckily for us, we had Deadpool.

In an era of multi-hundred-million dollar blockbusters, Deadpool dared to be a mid-budget superhero film. Rather than emphasize pure spectacle, the film focused on its unique and irreverent tone and script, which hosted a bevy of four-letter expletives, and Ryan Reynolds’ winning personality. While it may have had a relatively generic throughline, it changed things up just enough to be interesting, putting a spin on the superhero genre that was poked fun all while showing reverence to the entire Hollywood trend.


ARRIVAL


This is a film that quickly rose to the top of my personal list of anticipated films after the trailer dropped. In an age of explosions and alien invasions, a film that focused on the communication aspect of alien contact was a unique one. Would the movie have the courage to actually follow through with this approach? Would they be able to make it interesting for an entire feature film?

Luckily for us, the answer was a resounding success on both fronts. Not only did the filmmakers manage to focus the film on communication between two species, but they managed to make it the single most compelling piece of cinema I’ve seen this year. That in and of itself would have been more than enough, but throw in the “twist” at the end and overall message, and I think we have a bona fide science fiction classic on our hands. Director Denis Villeneuve proved once again that he is the master of filmmaking. 


CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR


I know we pretty much say this with every Marvel film that comes out, but if there was a Marvel film that could have broken its hot streak, this was it. Yes, with more Avengers in the film than either Avengers film, it was obvious that Captain America: Civil War would essentially sell itself. Audiences would come out in droves no matter what — at least for the first weekend. Its successive weekends, however, would largely depend on the reception from critics and audiences, and man did it deliver.

Some how, some way, the writers were able to juggle 12 characters. They gave each of them a moment or two to shine without overcrowding the narrative with an overabundance of motivations. Instead, they opted to focus on Captain America and Iron Man, and give everyone else just enough motive to take their respective side. What resulted was an intriguing popcorn thriller full of great action, fun fan service, and as Kellvin would say, “a whole lotta of heart.”


ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY


Like Captain America: Civil War above, this was another film that could have very well blunted enthusiasm for its respective franchise. Though, unlike with Civil War, the ramifications of this failure would be all the more impactful. Where Civil War had the strengths of 12 other films to fall back on, as well as the promise of countless films to come, the success or failure of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story would have repercussions that would influence the franchise’s overall direction. Could Lucasfilm actually rely on these standalone films as a viable way to push the franchise?

Yes. Yes, they could — so long as the end product was actually good. And it was. Yes, the film may have had more reshoots than even the most optimistic of optimists (me) would feel comfortable admitting, but the finished film speaks for itself. While not perfect, the film had a strong narrative, memorable characters, and more than enough original trilogy callbacks to make the most hardcore of fans pass out from delight. Yes, the movie had perhaps more fan service than was needed, but the fact that it was all attached to an already-strong film made it something I could accept. It wasn’t as though they’d tried to throw sprinkles on a pile of crap and call it an ice cream — which is what this film easily could have been.


What’s your favorite film of the year? Let us know your thoughts down below!

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Column, Featured, Film, LRM Exclusives, Pop Culture, The Top 5 Zootopia, Deadpool, Arrival, Captain America: Civil War, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Scoops