TC Candler

The Top 10 Films of 2016

1. La La Land

Cinematic perfection!  I was already convinced that I was watching greatness when Mia stopped outside the piano bar restaurant, framed by red neon lights, and she heard her theme being played inside.  Dozens of magnificent scenes later, including one of the most perfectly pitched endings since “Casablanca”, this incredible musical love story immediately entered my Top 10 Films of All Time.  This is a classic that will stand the test of time… a crowd favorite… a critics favorite.

10 / 10

2. The Lobster

Colin Farrell stars in this off-the-charts quirky story of a lonely man sent to a hotel for single people only.  If he doesn’t find a mate in a couple of weeks, he will be transformed into an animal of his choosing.  He chooses a lobster.  It may sound a little nuts… but that is part of the charm.  Nothing really makes sense, but if the charm sweeps you off your feet, “The Lobster” will be one of the most memorable films of the year.

9.6 / 10

3. The Handmaiden

Legendary director Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy”, “Joint Security Area”, “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”) applies his genius visual touch to the famous 2002 novel, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.  “The Handmaiden” is a gorgeous, sensual film about infidelity, lies, pacts, revenge, lust and betrayal.  It is perfectly suited to the South Korean cinematic sensibility.  The first 30-mins confused me… but the film slowly worked its magic until it all came together in a riveting and orgasmic final act.

9.6 / 10

4. Allied

You’d think a film with a cast this good, and a director as beloved as Robert Zemeckis, would be extremely well received.  However, “Allied” flew under a lot of people’s radar.  It wasn’t well publicized and seemed to get lost in the awards season shuffle.  However, I loved it.  Brad Pitt delivers one of his best performances ever.  Marion Cotillard is the best actress alive today and is superb here.  The story is an old-fashioned espionage thriller, gloriously shot against the backdrop of WWII.

9.6 / 10

5. Nocturnal Animals

Two fascinating parallel stories take place almost simultaneously in “Nocturnal Animals”.  Each story would be worthy of its own wonderful screenplay.  Jake Gyllenhaal nails his role and Amy Adams is typically awesome in hers.  There was a moment during the ‘road scene’ where I genuinely had to pause the film to gather myself and my nerves.  And the ending is exactly how it needed to be.  Great filmmaking!

9.5 / 10

6. The Birth of a Nation

This film disappeared off people’s radar for two reasons — It was preceded by an Oscar winning “12 Years a Slave”… and there was a controversial story about the director / star right as the film’s release was imminent.  However, based on its own merits, Nate Parker’s epic slave rebellion story is magnificent.  It is devastatingly sad, gorgeously shot, and really thrilling.  I think it is far superior to “12 Years” and deserves a much larger audience than it ultimately received.

9.3 / 10

7. Everybody Wants Some!!

Many have called it a spiritual sequel to “Dazed & Confused” by the great writer / director, Richard Linklater.  The movie is laugh-out-loud funny and nostalgically familiar to anyone who went to an American college in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s.  The characters are so recognizable.  We each have friends who align in personality with every one of these guys.  I had such a good time with this film — and you will too.

9.3 / 10

8. Indignation

A non-religious, introverted Jewish boy (Logan Lerman) starts his freshman year of college in 1950’s New Jersey.  He meets a beautiful fellow student (Sarah Gadon) and they awkwardly, belatedly begin a relationship.  The dean of the college (Tracy Letts) takes a suspicious and interfering interest in the student.  Soon, it seems the entire world is against his choices, morals, ideas and his love.  “Indignation” is a delicately balanced clash of societal pressure and free will.  Superb!

9.3 / 10

9. Train to Busan

Zombie films wore out their welcome quite a long time ago, but, every few years, someone finds a new angle and revives the tired genre.  This South Korean thriller from director Yeon Sang-ho is one of those.  The film brilliantly takes its time getting to know the principal characters before letting all hell break loose.  That way, the audience really cares about the outcome… not just the action or effects.  It is equal parts terrifying and heartbreaking.  It is an all-time classic disaster epic.

9.2 / 10

10. The Light Between Oceans

A 1920’s lighthouse keeper and his wife live a solitary life on a remote island off the coast of Australia.  After trying unsuccessfully to have a child for a few years, their prayers are answered when an infant washes ashore in a small rowing boat — clearly a result of a tragic shipwreck.  They take her in, raising her until they find out the shocking truth.  With a beautiful score and soaring performances from Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander & Rachel Weisz, this is a glorious and haunting film.

9.1 / 10

(Please Scroll Down the Page for More — Acting Awards / All Movie Ratings / The Worst 10 List… etc.)

Best Actors of 2016

1. Nate Parker – The Birth of a Nation
2. Colin Farrell – The Lobster
3. Ryan Gosling – La La Land
4. Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
5. Cédric Kahn – After Love
6. Logan Lerman – Indignation
7. Michael Fassbender – The Light Between Oceans
8. Tracy Letts – Indignation
9. Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
10. Trevante Rhodes – Moonlight
11. Jake Gyllenhaal – Nocturnal Animals
12. Adam Driver – Paterson

Best Actresses of 2016

1. Emma Stone – La La Land
2. Alicia Vikander – The Light Between Oceans
3. Sarah Gadon – Indignation
4. Natalie Portman – Jackie
5. Bérénice Bejo – After Love
6. Kim Su-an – Train to Busan
7. Marion Cotillard – Allied
8. Rachel Weisz – The Lobster
9. Kim Tae-ri – The Handmaiden
10. Amy Adams – Nocturnal Animals
11. Elle Fanning – The Neon Demon
12. Hayley Squires – I, Daniel Blake

The GOOD

(Other Good Films Released This Year)

Café Society

9.1 / 10

Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively & Steve Carell riffing a Wood Allen script that entertains from credits to credits.

After Love

9.1 / 10

Bérénice Bejo & Cédric Kahn are magnificent in this delicately observant French film about a married couple with kids approaching divorce.

The Neon Demon

9.1 / 10

Nicolas Winding Refn directs this cynical psychological horror film that is never afraid to get intensely strange… verging on the insane.  

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

9.0 / 10

I delayed seeing this movie because I presumed it wasn’t much of anything.  Spurpisingly, it turns out, “WTF” is frequently funny and occasionally profound.

Arrival

9.0 / 10

A gorgeous sci-fi about the importance of communication, juxtaposed with an intimate character study of a grief-stricken mother played by Amy Adams.

Paterson

9.0 / 10

Adam Driver plays a bus driver called Paterson, in a town called Paterson, in a film called “Paterson”.  This is a poetic gem — zen and peaceful.

Hell or High Water

8.9 / 10

Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine are stand-outs in this bank-robbery manhunt thriller.  There are some nice underlying messages about Wall Street here.

Moonlight

8.8 / 10

A lovely film with spectacular cinematography.  It is not the masterpiece that some critics jumped the gun in announcing.  Get back to me in twenty years.

Manchester by the Sea

8.7 / 10

This tragic story is riveting to watch because of two superb performance from Affleck and Williams.  It is not the kind of film I would ever watch again.

The Invitation

8.7 / 10

A low-budget, independent thriller with an admittedly contrived premised… It won me over with some nice twists and a terrific ending.

Amanda Knox

8.7 / 10

A stunning documentary about the wrongfully convicted American caught up in an antiquated Italian legal system.  A fascinating case!

Swiss Army Man

8.6 / 10

Any film with a corpse that can double as a jet-ski and a chainsaw — and still manages to be profoundly moving — is a winner in my books.

Snowden

8.6 / 10

A nicely made thriller about American hero, Edward Snowden, as he exposes the NSA’s terrible technology.  It is exciting and revealing.

Don’t Think Twice

8.6 / 10

What happens when one out of a group of stand-up comedians makes it onto “Saturday Night Live” — to the jealousy, the friendships, the loyalty etc?

The Age of Shadows

8.5 / 10

Song Kang-ho stars in this Korean – Japanese historical espionage drama.  It is gorgeously shot and will have you on the edge of your seat.

David Brent: Life on the Road

8.4 / 10

Ricky Gervais brings back his legendary “The Office” managerial character, as he sells toiletries and heads out on ‘tour’ with a hired band.  Hilarious & Sad.

I, Daniel Blake

8.4 / 10

An infuriating situation, captured with great acting and assured direction, with an old man struggling to acquire governmental assistance.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

8.4 / 10

Not my favorite genre… but this one really managed to spook the hell out me.  It takes its time and sent shivers down my spine.

Hacksaw Ridge

8.3 / 10

Mel Gibson has directed three masterpieces… This is not quite up to that standard, but it is still thoroughly worth watching.

De Palma

8.2 / 10

For fans of the great director, this is a special treat as “De Palma” discusses his films and career in a simple, but fascinating documentary.

Midnight Special

8.1 / 10

The strength of the film is the direction and the ominous mood.  The story is hard to swallow and the resolution is shaky… but it had tons of style.

Under the Shadow

8.1 / 10

This Iranian psychological thriller is one of the most effective examples in its genre over the past few years.  It was chilling!

Colonia

8.0 / 10

Emma Watson stars as a woman voluntarily entering a horrific cult in order to rescue her boyfriend.  Set in 1973, this is a tense thriller.

10 Cloverfield Lane

7.9 / 10

This claustrophobic thriller in the “Cloverfield” universe delivers some nerve-wracking moments and some solid performances. 

The Finest Hours

7.8 / 10

I didn’t expect much going in, but “The Finest Hours” was an exciting true-story rescue in rough seas.  Holliday Grainger is a star.

13th

7.7 / 10

Ava DuVernay directs an infuriating look at the ridiculous and horrific American prison system and the racial politics that shape it.

Shin Godzilla

7.7 / 10

The Japanese versions are always a million times superior to any of the American remakes.  This is no exception.  Satomi Ishihara is great here.

Weiner

7.6 / 10

I have to say, despite all of his shortcomings, that Anthony Weiner would have been one of the great politicians of our time.  This doc is tragically great.

The Ones Below

7.5 / 10

This is a cold-hearted, chilling thriller about creepy neighbors and family tensions.  It effected me emotionally to merit a solid thumbs-up.

Tickled

7.5 / 10

What a bizarre documentary!  It follows a tickle fetish culture perpetrated by a truly mysterious figure.  Genuinely uncomfortable viewing.

The Girl on the Train

7.5 / 10

Obvious trying to capitalize on the “Gone Girl” success, it never quite matches that level.  However, Emily Blunt & Haley Bennett are both superb here.

Blue Jay

7.5 / 10

Mark Duplass & Sarah Paulson star in a B/W small-town relationship story.  It’s a film that requires patience and attention, and it rewards in the end.

The Wailing

7.4 / 10

A supernatural horror from South Korea, this movie is cinematic and scary and consistently intriguing.  It is good, if a tad over-long and self-serious.

Jackie

7.3 / 10

Here is an example of film you watch specifically for one tour-de-force performance.  Natalie Portman is outrageously good as Jackie O.

Your Name

7.2 / 10

A tremendously popular Anime, “Your Name” is gorgeous to behold and highly original.  Unfortunately, it drags in the second half and stumbles to a close.

Imperium

7.2 / 10

Daniel Radcliffe is great as an FBI agent who goes undercover in a white-supremacy group.  It has some very tense scenes, but feels like a TV movie.

The Fundamentals of Caring

7.1 / 10

Every years seems to bring one quirky indie road-trip movie with likable characters.  Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez and Craig Roberts are all good here.

The Trust

7.0 / 10

Over the past decade, most of Cage’s films have been atrocious.  This is a rare exception, co-starring Elijah Wood.  It is cheap, fun entertainment.

Miss Sloane

6.9 / 10

Jessica Chastain is a cutthroat lobbyist who decides to take on the gun lobby.  The message is fantastic.  The film is decent.  Chastain is brilliant.

How to be Single

6.8 / 10

Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann are tons of fun in what I would classify as a “perfect airplane movie’.  Easy to watch.

Triple 9

6.6 / 10

A huge cast all do good work in this “Training Day”-lite version of good cops, bad cops and worse criminals.  Perhaps a tad manic, but does the job.

The Wave

6.5 / 10

A Norwegian disaster flick about a small town in the path of a Tsunami.  Everything before the disaster is great stuff… but it stumbles to a conclusion.

London Has Fallen

6.4 / 10

“Olympus Has Fallen” was an awesome guy action flick.  “London Has Fallen” is a far weaker, much less believable, but still watchable version.  

The Shallows

6.4 / 10

The sole reason to watch this is the privilege of seeing Blake Lively majestically wearing a bikini for 90-mins.  The shark stuff is mildly exciting too.

Jason Bourne

6.4 / 10

Even though it is the weakest of the “Bourne” franchise, it still delivers enough action and thrills.  Unfortunately, character is severely lacking.

The Edge of Seventeen

6.3 / 10

Hailee Steinfeld & Woody Harrelson deliver some occasionally great scenes in an intermittently intelligent and observant film about teenage struggles.

Patriot’s Day

6.2 / 10

What could have been a pathetically patriotic and all-too-soon movie about the Boston bombing, actually turned out to be pretty watchable.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

6.1 / 10

Better than “Return of the Jedi” and any of the ‘prequels’, “Rogue One” is one of the better entries in the tired franchise’s history.  It actually had emotion.

The Average

(Forgettable Films in the Middle of the Pack)

Elle

5.9 / 10

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Inferno

5.8 / 10

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Passengers

5.8 / 10

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Suicide Squad

5.5 / 10

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Demolition

5.5 / 10

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The Infiltrator

5.5 / 10

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Love & Friendship

5.5 / 10

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Eddie the Eagle

5.2 / 10

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Zootopia

5.2 / 10

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The 5th Wave

4.8 / 10

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The Witch

4.8 / 10

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople

4.8 / 10

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The BAD

(Movies That Just Didn’t Work on Any Level)

Blood Father

3.9 / 10

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The Accountant

3.8 / 10

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Keanu

3.7 / 10

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Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

3.7 / 10

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My Scientology Movie

3.7 / 10

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Right Now, Wrong Then

3.7 / 10

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Mojave

3.4 / 10

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Knight of Cups

3.1 / 10

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Deadpool

2.9 / 10

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The Magnificent Seven

2.9 / 10

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Deepwater Horizon

2.7 / 10

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Queen of Katwe

2.5 / 10

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Star Trek Beyond

2.4 / 10

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Sundown

2.2 / 10

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The Worst of the year

(Hate-Filled Pieces of Crap)

The Nice Guys

1.9 / 10

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Sully

1.8 / 10

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Special Correspondants 

1.8 / 10

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Money Monster

1.7 / 10

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The Do-Over

1.7 / 10

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High-Rise

1.6 / 10

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Nerve

1.5 / 10

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Zoolander 2

1.5 / 10

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Independence Day Resurgence

1.3 / 10

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Green Room

1.1 / 10

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

1.0 / 10

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Don’t Breathe

0.8 / 10

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Renesse

0.4 / 10

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Now You See Me 2

0.2 / 10

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The Brothers Grimsby

0.1 / 10

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Yes… There is a Section Lower than the Worst Movies of the Year!
I Present a List of Films That I Absolutely Refuse to Watch… (Because I am a Pretentious Film Snob).

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