Top 10 Best Films of 2016

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This is my personal list of the best films of this year. I loved all of the movies on this list, or really liked them, and recognize they are good films. This list is my opinion, it’s alright if you don’t agree. There were a lot of movies I liked this year so this list took a while to get down to ten but that’s why I have honorable mentions lol. I haven’t seen everything that came out so some things aren’t on here unfortunately. Click HERE for my worst list.
Also, not every film on this list I did a review for, but the ones I did, I will put a link.
Honorable Mentions: The Jungle BookThe Neon Demon, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Lobster, Eye In the Sky, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
My Top 10 Best Films of 2016
10. The Boy and the Beast 
 the-boy-and-the-beastI didn’t do a review for this film, but this is an anime film. Chris Stuckmann said it best it’s like Karate Kid with anamorphic animals. A human boy finds this world, he doesn’t have a relationship with his father and he ends up becoming the apprentice to this bear like man. It’s so beautifully animated, the characters are fantastic, and while they’re not all “good people” I think they’re all likable to the point where you can’t help but feel connected to them. Especially Ren, the main character. I loved his relationship to his mentor, it came off antagonistic a lot but you could tell they cared about each other. It’s very emotional and heartfelt but I do think it’s very interesting, especially the third act. It’s kind of weird but it’s great.
9. Kicks
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I loved this movie, but it was so under the radar that I don’t think many people saw it. However, I loved the cinematography, I thought the direction was great because it felt like I was actually there alongside Brandon trying to get his shoes back. Oakland looked real. I thought Jahking Guillory did a great job holding his own in this role, I hope to see more from him in the future. The story is a bit basic but the journey this character takes over something that seems so trivial is amazing because in this world, those shoes mean something to him. I also loved the idealism of the astronaut being there. It’s a very unique film.
8. Swiss Army Man
SWISS ARMY MAN (2016) Daniel Radcliffe and Paul DanoI actually debated with myself a lot about doing a review for this one but I ended up not doing it because it’s so hard to get my thoughts out about it. But it’s so good. It’s weird, believe me it’s weird, but Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe work so well together, it’s hilarious, it’s emotional and kind of sad in many areas but it’s also kind of uplifting. The music is FANTASTIC, probably one of my favorite elements about the film. The cinematography is so crisp and clear. Definitely check this one out.
7. Fences
fences-header-photoI think is a great character study film. Between Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the talent and emotion explodes from the screen. August Wilson is a fantastic writer and these characters are complex human beings. Outside of a few editing choices, I think the direction is great, I loved how the camera would sometimes view the characters from a window, or through the tree branches, or through the fence… it was amazing. I do think it was a bit wordy but the words are magical, they build these characters up in ways that allows them to be understood. All of the characters are interesting people. Viola Davis though, she’s a powerhouse.
6. Moana
 disney-moana-mauiI don’t think it’s any surprise that this is on my list because I adore Disney. The music. THE MUSIC! The animation! The visuals! Moana and Maui BOTH are so great characters! The voice acting, Auli’i and Dwayne were both so good here. THE MUSIC! The animation! This is classic Disney, sure the story is basic but the wrapping is amazing because while we’ve heard the story before, the culture used, the way the story is told, the music used to tell it is all so new. Disney needs to keep moving forward like this, new cultures and have the voice actors be people who mirror those characters.
5. Deadpool
 deadpool1-gallery-imageThis film was very necessary in for comic book films. I do believe it’s a great film and the experience in the theater was so fun that it’s unforgettable. This is definitely something that’s rewatchable over and over again. I think it was necessary because so many comic book movies could have been rated R, should have been rated R but of course ya know, general audience and stuff. But Deadpool IS and that helps the future of these films, they shouldn’t be so scared anymore. PLUS, Ryan Reynolds owns this role, the inclusion of Colossus and NegaSonic Teenage Warhead was great, their chemistry together and then their chemistry with Wade is gold. The humor, the opening scene ALONE is gold. I loved it. I had such a great time, I don’t think I laughed so much at a superhero movie in forever.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings
kubo-and-the-two-strings-international-posterI looooove this movie. Laika is amazing! The animation in this film! Look at the picture! Look at it! The main three characters are absolutely amazing and so interesting. Kubo is your “hero” of course, but he’s a storyteller who uses magical origami to tell them. His instrument is the object in which he uses to channel his magic. He embarks on a quest to find a magical armor and the journey is so much fun. Along the way we meet Monkey and Beetle whose relationship is so humorous, playful and sometimes antagonistic but they work together because they both end up caring about Kubo. The eyes are so very important in this film and the animation and design, spectacular. Also the music. Wow. I saw this movie earlier in the year and I have not forgotten about it. I think it’s one of Laika’s best films and one of the best animated films I’ve seen.
3. Captain America: Civil War
captain-america-civil-war-key-artFirst of all, I love the MCU, I love superhero films and this is one of the best. What Marvel Studios has done is create this world, and these characters where they are so likable, relatable and so emotionally grabbing that in this film, there is no way (unless you are just soo biased) that you do not flip flop sides or at least understand where the other is coming from. I am unwavering Team Cap BUT the script was so well written in terms of this rift in the Avengers that I could not believe that I was understanding Tony’s side (unlike the comics where he’s just a douche). Both Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. do so well. The inclusion of Black Panther and Spider Man were stellar choices, they weren’t underused or overused and it helps continue to build this world. The film was funny but it was also emotional. The action scenes are top notch, the airport scene and the end fight between Cap, Bucky and Tony was so gut-wrenching that I almost cried. There are a few plot elements that are questionable but I do believe it was handled very well here. This is my second favorite Superhero movie ever and it’s definitely one that I would watch quite often.
2. Zootopia
 cft6aicuiaaf-juThe way I feel about Zootopia… such a clever film. Very different from what Disney usually gives us and I loved it. I think Zootopia has a lot of hidden gems. Judy and Nick are great interesting characters, they both are very different and work so well together. Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman were great in these roles. The music is nice and the song is catchy, the animation is beautiful, the world created in this film is expansive. There is so much more than can explore, I hope they do. It’s hilarious, that slot scene gets me every time, it’s emotional, I think I’ve cried each time I’ve watched it. The underlying message is relevant and I don’t think they do it in a manipulative way. I think they handled it for an animated film with class. I personally think it’s more for adults than for kids but kids will enjoy it and I think adults will appreciate what it’s saying. A definite must watch.
1. La La Land
la-la-land-audition-14I actually flip flopped between this and Zootopia for a while. If you’re a musical lover, this film is for you as it’s a love letter to musicals but more importantly, it’s a love letter to those people who are dreamers. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling who have such great chemistry together, this film highlights those people who go out in search of their dreams but they also have to figure out their lives as well. Will they follow their dreams and rule out love or will they try to have both? Is it possible to have both without one being pushed back. The music here is so beautiful, all of the songs are original and I think they’re so dreamy. The cinematography is beautiful. I have never been to L.A but I think this film make it look so… lol grand. The characters are also very well written, it’s impossible to dislike either Mia or Sebastian, and I think it’s impossible to not understand them. You have to. If you’re not a fan of musicals, that’s alright because this film is not a song every second, nor is it just random singing, it has a purpose. It fits with the story, it propels it forward and honestly, it’s not like there’s a ton of singing in it. But the music, dancing, singing is a character in itself. La La Land is a feel good movie and as a dreamer, this is my favorite film of the year.

 

I hope you enjoyed this list. If you agree, let me know in the comments below, same if you don’t. What films of the year do you have on YOUR list? There is a lot I missed this year but I also think I did a great job in what I saw lol. If you haven’t seen any of these, please check them out! Also, check out my blog for other reviews!
Don’t forget to like and follow!

Happy New Year!

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Movie Review: Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

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*Summary: Kubo lives a quiet, normal life in a small shoreside village until a spirit from the past turns his life upside down by re-igniting an age-old vendetta. This causes all sorts of havoc as gods and monsters chase Kubo who, in order to survive, must locate a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary Samurai warrior.
Pros:
Cast and Characters. There’s a lot of characters in the film but there are only three that really matter. Well, kind of four, but mainly three.
  • Charlize Theron as Monkey. First of all, I love Charlize she’s awesome, her voice is very commanding and in this particular animated role, she plays a monkey charm that was brought to life as a protector for Kubo. Her voice has a very motherly charm to it, as well as remaining firm and stubborn. Her delivery of the character’s lines helps the dialogue hit strong. Very easy to screw this character with the wrong voice actress. She is pretty badass, in every sense of the word. Monkey’s humor is dry and sarcastic which makes her a perfect foil to the Beetle character.
  • Art Parkinson as Kubo. I was actually watching San Andreas with him in it earlier, so I was pleased to see him doing this movie. Kubo’s character is a young boy, about 11, I think, and he is a storyteller. He has the ability to magically control paper (origami) to help his stories, which is already cool, and as the story progresses, he begins to mature and progress himself. This is very much a story of discovery for him. His design was also pretty great. The actor, is about 14, and he projects such youthful playfulness in this role, I’m glad they got someone who is right in the middle, not to young whose voice would be too high, or someone too old (or with a too mature sounding voice) because Kubo is still young but he basically takes care of himself. I think that voice would have some age to it, as well as a bit of roughness while maintaining youth. Hope that wasn’t confusing, I just think it all balanced out well. Plus, when Kubo was telling his story to the villagers, the way he would get right into character, ah it was amazing.
  • Matthew McConaughey as Beetle. I just want it to be known that I was legit surprised to see that he was this character because I didn’t know beforehand. I’m being nice and telling you now lol, if that matters. Beetle is where a lot of the light humor comes from and he balances out the group. With Kubo’s youth and wide eyed nature, Monkey’s motherly stubbornness, Beetle brings in a lightheartedness. His character has memory issues so the things he decides to “remember” or decide to say are delivered hilariously. The dialogue back and forth he has with Theron was done very well and they played off each other well. I wonder if they managed to record together at all.
The Animation. Oh my goodness, it’s spectacular. It’s by the same people who did Coraline, it’s stop motion animation and it’s amazing. The detail done on each character, down to the eyes. The eyes are a big part of the story and the animators made sure the audience knew it. Kubo’s in particular. They’re so beautiful, I kept remarking about it to my friend whenever someone’s eyes widened in fear, anger or narrowed, or shed a tear. It was just beautiful. The attention to Monkey’s fur, it looked like shreds of paper (which is what made me think in the trailers she was one of his paper creations come to life), or Kubo’s hair and how it looked in water or how it moved in the wind. Ugh! I could totally gush. There are villains of course, and the animation on them, as they weaved in and out of shadow, or mist… man!
The Musical Score. Like I always say, music can make or break a film and the music here is lovely. Since Kubo uses a musical instrument to channel his magic in order to tell his stories, we’re often gifted with hearing him play on his Shamisen. It has a very unique sound so it was nice. However, the actual soundtrack was amazing. Definitely a soundtrack I would buy. Dario Marianelli is amazing (he composed the score for Pride & Prejudice (2005) which I adore so sooooo many points!).
Two Villains Subordinates. Without spoiling too much, there are kind of a group of villains in the film but there are two we see the most, kind of. They resembled ghosts in a way, due to the nature of their movements etc. It’s two women and they operate like ghosts! It was so creepy! It was amazing! The animation around them, the voice acting, the music! GAH!
The Friendship/Camaraderie. This is very much a journey that all three characters must embark on together. Yes, it’s mostly Kubo’s story but Beetle and Monkey are integral to him surviving the quest. Most of the film, deals with them trying to find this magical armor worn by the great warrior Hanzo and the chemistry between the three characters is great. As mentioned above, between Beetle’s charming and endearing presence and humor, Monkey’s stubborn and sarcastic nature, and Kubo’s childlike innocence and mature strength, it works. The film is definitely carried on their backs and it succeeds.
The Emotion. Not gonna say a lot on this because I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s some emotion here and it’s heart felt, you may shed a tear.
The Humor. This could also be considered a con but that depends on what type of humor you enjoy. I enjoy dry, sarcastic and witty humor which there’s a lot here. Between the dialogue between characters (mostly from Monkey) and the animation done on the faces, or the actions of characters reacting to things, it’s pretty funny.
The Story. I want to just go into detail but I won’t, but the story is an interesting take on the “hero’s journey” trope and it’s very creative.
Cons:
Anticlimactic . Such a shame because the rest of the film is great, but the climax  could have been so much better. Kubo has to face off with a villain and the conversation beforehand was pretty great, but the actual altercation was kind of lame and I could see something so much better. It didn’t need to be grander, but the villain turns into something that I don’t think he needed to. I mean, he could have but later when things got to challenging because it seemed like he played his trump card too soon. So when our hero discovers his strength, it’s because the villain got even more powerful.
The Story. Also in the pros but it’s here mainly because it gets a little muddled in there. It’s hard to know exactly why there are certain motivations for certain characters, even if it’s explained, it’s not explained well, I mean, the film didn’t have to blatantly lay it out for me but while most of the dialogue is good, some of it gets a little choppy that prevents the narrative from flowing as well as it could.
Overall, Kubo and the Two Strings is a fantastically animated film, with a beautiful musical score to accompany it. The voice acting fits well with the characters and a majority of the characters themselves, are likable and relatable that it’s easy to like them. The chemistry between them is strong. The humor ranges, some may like it, others may not. There is humor for adults and humor for the kids. It is visually stunning, the attention to certain pieces of detail stand out, especially the eyes on the characters. However, the story does falter a bit in it’s narrative, it can appear a bit choppy preventing it to flow as well as it should. The last third was a bit anticlimactic but the film finishes on a happy yet somber note. Highly recommended. Young kids may get a bit bored, it’s animated but it might be a bit too… exposition-y for them.
Rating: 4.69 out of 5 stars.
Have you seen Kubo and the Two Strings? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below! Don’t forget to like and follow this blog for more reviews!
Much love.
*Summary from Imdb