Mike Ryan’s 10 Best Films Of 2016

As people like me are wont to do, I have made a top ten list of my favorite movies of the calendar year 2016. Good riddance to this horrible year! And I picked 10 because everyone else picks 10. It is a nice, round number and sometimes it’s not the worst thing to conform. Oh, but I have 11! Well, that’s great, but most people pick 10 and I’m going to pick 10. Picking 11 would just cause more work for me anyway.

So, ahead, are ten things I liked in 2016. More specifically, these are ten movies I liked in 2016. More specifically: my favorite! Maybe we have some in common? Maybe we don’t. Such is life. We’ll make it through. Here is my list (and be sure to check out the Uproxx staff list, too):

10. Rogue One

I debated including this longer than you could possibly imagine. What a dumb thing to debate! It’s a debate against myself about Star Wars. But I just saw it the night before I’m writing this list, so it’s a fresh “fun” experience. But as pure enjoyment goes, it’s hard for me to deny that I was thoroughly delighted while watching Rogue One. (Well, mostly.) But, anyway, it was a delight to live in the world of Star Wars again, filled with imagery almost too spookily reminiscent of the original film. I wanted to keep this off my list because I thought it was too obvious. But, whatever, I was lying to myself: of course Rogue One is in my top 10.

9. Hidden Figures

I really hope Hidden Figures gets more attention this awards season. Sure, it’s not the brooding drama that some of the other film in contention are (or whimsical quasi-musical), but it is a feel good, crowd-pleasing film about three women who helped change the world by sending a human being in orbit around Earth. I promise that if you see this movie you will leave in a good mood. (And, hey, that’s a pretty good deal right now.)

8. Captain America: Civil War

What a hoot. Yes, yes, Marvel Studios is often criticized for its perceived assembly line of how to make a superhero movie. Well, have you tried checking out some of those other non-Marvel Studios superhero movies? Marvel knows what it’s doing: interlacing fun, drama and levity into its films. And that airport fight between the two teams still makes me smile. These type of movies are not easy, yet Marvel keeps cranking out fun summer entertainment in a summer that was pretty bleak!

7. Popstar: Never Stop Stopping

Here’s a film I wish more people had seen. I suspect this will become a cult favorite, like MacGruber eventually did. (If you need a future cult favorite, you should hire Jorma Taccone.) Anyway, if nothing else, I want this here as proof I was on this bandwagon early. (Also, this is by far my most listened-to soundtrack of 2016.)

6. Sing Street

I thought about writing, yet again, a sort of angry paragraph about how no one saw this ovie and it didn’t get a proper release and all that kind of jazz. Instead, here’s the video for “Riddle of the Model,” which is glorious in all its ‘early ‘80s kitsch. Let’s all watch this and smile.

5. Everybody Wants Some!!

I know this is sacrilege, but I’ve now seen this movie three times and I’m fairly sure I like it better than Dazed and Confused. “Oh, how dare you!,” you say. “Oh, so you think Richard Linklater hasn’t improved as a director over the last 23 years?,” I retort back. It’s a lean and mean Dazed and Confused. A film made by an obviously more experienced filmmaker wanting to have a little bit of fun after the epics that were Before Midnight and Boyhood. And Everybody Wants Some is pure fun. It should just be titled “Pure Fun.”

4. 20th Century Women

When I first wrote about this movie I compared it to Almost Famous. Part of me regrets that. (I interviewed Mike Mills recently, an interview that will publish next week, he makes it clear Almost Famous was not an influence, which doesn’t surprise me.) But, whatever, it’s just that vibe. (Well, and Billy Crudup has his full Russell Hammond haircut.) And 20th Century Women has that special vibe of a movie you know you’re going to watch anytime it’s on.

3. Moonlight

Of all the movies that came out in 2016, this is probably the one I think about the most in quiet reflection. (I realize I just set up an image of me meditating while thinking about Moonlight. This would be inaccurate, but I don’t mind people thinking I do that.) I’m very happy this movie has found an audience. It’s one of those movies that, while watching, it’s easy to assume that it might get lost in the shuffle – which happens so often to beautiful, quieter films like Moonlight. But that’s not what happened and Moonlight seems poised to make a real run to the Oscars. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and it deserves all the accolades it’s receiving.

2. La La Land

Just thinking about this movie again makes me happy. Then it makes me sad. Then it makes me happy again. I know, I know: the La La Land backlash is currently in full swing. I don’t care. This movie makes me happy. This has been something over the last few weeks I’ve taken more to heart because, well, it’s pretty terrifying out there right now. Don’t take things that make you happy for granted. And if the thing that makes you happy doesn’t make someone else happy, well that’ not your problem. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this impromptu lecture. (TL;DR I like La La Land a lot.)

1. O.J.: Made In America

I love this debate about if O.J.: Made in America is supposed to be a movie or a television show. Honestly, if it somehow won a Grammy for Record of the Year, I wouldn’t complain. Just give it every award. It’s the story of our country over the last 50 years, told through the lens of O.J. Simpson. It’s one of the most remarkable films I’ve ever seen. This should be required viewing for students. It should be required viewing for everyone. It is a masterpiece.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.