Top 10 best movies 2016
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Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Notes: Well, even though it was maybe not completely flawless, it wasn't far from it and I can't remember the last time I saw a movie combining so perfectly drama and comedy. Seriously, this movie was so funny, it was very often much more hilarious than most of your average comedy. And yet, it was dealing with a really tragic story but, somehow, this mix worked miraculously well. I think that, even though the acting was quite impressive, I enjoyed most of all the writing. Indeed, the two main characters (an uncle and his nephew) were just so fascinating, with so many layers, and their dialogues were just pure gold. The ending was also very effective without forcing these characters into a more traditional happy-ending. More than 15 years ago, I was lucky enough to see 'You Can Count on Me' when it was released, it was just great to see Kenneth Lonergan making such an impressive come-back and the guy displayed once again that he has a gift to show the complex relationships within a family.
Notes: Since I kept hearing some really good things about this movie, I was really eager to check it out. Well, eventually, I wasn't disappointed, that's for sure. Basically, it was pretty much a flawless drama that worked on all levels. Indeed, I was at first quite impressed by its visual style which was sober but also so effective and, yet, they managed to make some rather simple scenes like a character smoking beautiful to look at. Then, you had the score which was a perfect mix between classic and modern. So, the directing was really strong but the performances were just really fine as well from all the actors involved. Another thing I really appreciated in this movie was how deep and complex all the characters were displayed. Eventually, there was something really hearbreaking about this tale and it displayed how merciless such environment can be, especially if you show any kind of weakness. It raises such questions like should we always be true to ourself even it will probably result in our own destruction or should we adapt in order to survive?
Notes: In this age, when we are getting closer and closer towards a major super-hero overdose, this movie was actually what this genre needed. Indeed, basically the makers rejected both the dark and gloominess delivered by DC and the brainless popcorn entertainment produced by Marvel and they went for something really different delivering one of the most messed-up and entertaining super-hero features out there. Sure, there was indeed an origin story, also a rather generic romance and even some pretty badass action scenes, but, at the end of the day, they hardly cared for the plot, neither was I, and instead, they focused on the hilarious jokes and oneliners delivered by the Merc with a Mouth which was a great move.
Notes: Well, eventually, this movie really did hit me like a truck. Indeed, my own life was just so similar to what was going on with the main character, it was just uncanny. Basically, more than 12 years ago, I left France to go living in the Netherlands where my father was born and raised and I usually go only once a year back to France to see my parent, my brother and my sister so I pretty much knew what the guy was going through. Indeed, from the moment Louis gets inside, all hell breaks loose, you understand right away why the guy decided to take off without looking back and this situation was just so damned recognizable. I can understand that many viewers would find these characters borderline unwatchable, especially Antoine played by Vincent Cassel at the top of his game but, in my opinion, it was one of the best depictions of a dysfunctional familly I have ever seen.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
Notes: I have to admit that it actually took me a while to really get into this story. Indeed, before watching the damned thing, I didn't watch a trailer and I didn't even read a synopsis so, at first, I thought it would be another rather straightforward tale of a young man going to war like so many others I have seen before. Obviously, it was really pleased that, for once, it was actually dealing with a medic, a guy who refused to even hold a rifle. Indeed, we never talk about them but those guys are just crucial in a battle and most of them are just heroes, even maybe more than all these soldiers trying to kill as many enemies as possible. For Andrew Garfield, 2016 was quite a banner year after his already impressive performance in 'Silence'. To conclude, Mel Gibson has made a name as a director after making some really violent movies and, this time, even if he still delivered some gruesome but impressive battle scenes, he decided to focus on the least violent soldier but also the most courageous and inspiring man ever witnessed on a battlefield and the end-result was just really impressive.
Notes: Since I'm a huge of fan of Martin Scorsese, of course, I was really eager to check this flick but there were a couple of things that worried me about this project. First of all, even though Scorsese had announced that he will direct this movie, he kept pushing it indefinitely to release something else and, when it finally seemed that he would finally get it done, I had the feeling that it was partially because he was contractually obligated and also to finally getting done with it. On top of that, it wasn't exactly a huge critical success when it was released so, to be honest, I had lowered my expectations and I thought it might turn out to be a minor effort for this great master. Well, even though it was definitely one of his least accessible movies, the damned thing was actually quite spellbinding to behold. The fact that I have always been fascinated by the subject of religion certainly did help and I thought that this movie was a really interesting study on faith and on how, at the same time, it can be completely misguided but also really inspiring.
The Red Turtle (2016)
Notes: First of all, the whole thing was just gorgeous to look at but I wouldn't expect less from a Studio Ghibli production. Same thing about the soundtrack, it was just mesmerizing, and I always enjoyed a movie without any dialogue. Eventually, it was one of the most poetic movies I have seen for a very long time. And, yet, I have to admit that the whole thing kind of lost me when the turtle became a woman. I do understand that the makers had to do something otherwise it would have been just another tale about a stranded guy on a desert island but I wasn't completely sold. I mean, just before that, the guy actually killed this red turtle which was the only violent act through the whole movie but, somehow, even though what he did made sense (who wouldn't react like this in such a situation?), I wasn't so sure about the outcome though. I mean, it felt to me as if this man was somehow rewarded for killing this turtle by getting some really nice-looking red-haired woman which was slightly awkward. Still, it remained a rather fascinating animated picture.
Notes: At last, after 10 long years, Paul Verhoeven finally came up with a new directing effort and I was really eager to check it out. Obviously, the critics won't miss the fact that it was rather misognist as the women seem to almost enjoy to be brutalised to the point that they might even fall in love with the perpetrator but Verhoeven has never been a subtle director in this area. Eventually, what won me over was this fascinating main character, perfectly played by Isabelle Huppert who is still one of the best French actresses. Indeed, during the whole thing, you are never sure if you should despise this manipulative ice queen bitch or admire this attractive incredibly sharp woman. I also loved the fact that the whole thing was never about finding who did the deed and it keeps going on in some unexpected very dark corners after you found out who it was. The only major problem I had is that there were probably too many characters with their own agenda and, as a result , they kept adding layers upon layers of various conflicts and intrigues and it was just too much too handle for this movie. Still, even though it wasn’t flawless, I thought it was really captivating and I hope we won't have to wait another decade to see something new from this fascinating director.
Notes: Right now, according to IMDb, this is the best movie released in 2016 (I'm not sure if it will last but we'll see soon enough) so you can't argue that I did not try to show the best movie possible to my filmclub. It's just a shame that it didn't turn out to be really amazing. I mean, I thought it was visually really neat, Amy Adams gave a solid performance and I really loved the fact that they put the focus on language and the difficulty and the importance to be able to communicate with a possible Alien life form. As a result, it was probably one of the most minimalistic Science-Fiction features I have seen but it wasn't a bad thing, in the contrary. Unfortunately, of course, I'm familiar with this old gimmick of creating an ominous mood and keeping the audience for as long as possible in the dark but, at some point, they have to deliver an explanation and such movies very rarely manage to end up in a satisfactory manner. In this case, it was not bad but I thought that, when this first encounter should have been a worldwide historical event, its impact was reduced to one single human being. What was actually the impact on the rest of the world? In what way was this event something really life changing? Anyway, even though it didn't completely blow me away, it was still a decent SF feature.
La La Land (2016)
Notes: Well, unfortunately, pretty much as I expected, even though I did like it, I can't say it really blew me away. Basically, it mostly had to do with the fact that I never been a fan of musicals and even though this movie was probably one of the most interesting musicals I have seen, it still didn't manage to make me fall in love with this genre. On the other hand, my wife, who is a die-hard fan of classic musicals, liked it even less. Anyway, from a technical point of view, it was a very well made and beautiful movie and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone both once again delivered some strong performances. However, like in most musicals, the story was just too generic, especially for a running time above the 2 hours, and even though Gosling and Stone were fine, I can't say I really cared for their characters. Maybe I should give it a 2nd chance at some point but, for now, I think it is rather overrated.
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