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  • Bryan W. Alaspa

The 10 Best Movies of 2016

2016 was a great year for movies. It was a crappy year for a lot of other things, but when I was putting together this list, I had 11 movies that I loved. However, the general standard is 10, so I had to make a hard cut.

There are a few movies I have seen on Best Of lists that I still have not gotten to. The foremost of those being Hell or High Water, starring Jeff Bridges and Chris Pine and routinely being compared to Bonnie and Clyde. So, given that, this list could potentially change.

2016 was interesting because it was the year movies really did come from a variety of places. It was also the year that, for me, the best movies were mostly family films. Two of my favorites were only made available on Netflix and one was conceived, financed, directed and released exclusively for them.

So, in my opinion, as a movie fan, here were the 10 best movies of 2016:

10. Deadpool - I loved this movie when it was out, but it only achieved a kind of greatness when I recently watched it again and it was even funnier the second time around. Raunchy. Crazy. Silly and just vastly entertaining, this was the superhero movie I didn't realize I was craving until I saw it. Ryan Reynolds was made for this role and it shows. Such a good time, so funny, so incredibly crude and so not for kids.

9. Captain America: Civil War - talk about fun. I did not read the comic book series it was based on, and that was just fine. It was an Avengers movie in all but name and was one of the few superhero clashes that totally lived up to the hype. It also gave the first really terrific and accurate version of Spider-Man yet captured on film. Great action, acting and story. Marvel continues to do the films right.

8. Finding Dory - it was not as great and landmark as Finding Nemo, but it was fun, funny, touching and

a great time. This time we get introduced to a smart-ass octopus that pretty much stole the show and should get his own movie if they do a third. It was not as good as Nemo, but it managed to recapture enough of it for it to be one of the best of the year.

7. Pete's Dragon - I loved the original. We had the soundtrack album and my brother and I knew the words. This movie had me and my wife on the edge of our seats, crying and then cheering. Both of us were surprised by how much we enjoyed this movie and how it pulled at our hearts and made us believe in magic - and dragons - again.

6. Secret Life of Pets - Yep, had a total blast at this one. I had even more fun watching this one than I did Dory and that surprised me. It did not get the critical love that Dory did, but who cares? It is also the best performance by Kevin Hart ever.

5. Hush - a horror film directed and produced exclusively for Netflix. Released in April, it starts as a familiar story of a woman alone in a house, terrorized by a ruthless and brutal killer who has her trapped. The hitch here is that she's deaf, which adds a tense element to it. It explores familiar horror tropes, but manages to be tense, taut and different, too. An excellent thriller for late at night.

4. Doctor Strange - The first time ever, for me, where the movie version of a comic book character was better than the comic book version. Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme brought something that I always felt was missing from the comic book version - humor. I loved this movie with its reality-warping effects and magic and had a blast throughout. One of the best Marvel movies so far.

3. Kubo and the Two Strings - The people who brought you Coraline and other stop-motion movies did this one and it is a wonder to behold. You will not believe that it is all stop-motion as it weaves a tale of magic and wondering, growing up and accepting your place in the world along with the fact that although those we love me be gone, they are always still with us. Exciting, funny, amazing and just a great film all around. It is criminal this did not do better at the box office.

2. The Little Prince - This was a hard one to move to 2nd place and held the top spot for me for the entire year until the movie at number 1 came out right at the end. This movie is one of the best animated movies ever. Period. It was supposed to get a theatrical release, but the studio dropped it for reasons unknown. Netflix picked it up and - thank GOD! If you know the book, you will still love this version of the story. It will make you cry. It will change your outlook on life (it did for me) and it will amaze, dazzle and make you smile. A movie for kids and adults and just one of the finest examples of animated films ever. A modern classic.

1. La La Land - Yup. Top of the list for me. I didn't see it until 2017, but it came out in 2016, so it counts. A modern musical with its feet firmly planted in the great musicals of the 50s. Emma Stone has never been more beautiful and Ryan Gosling never more roguish. The songs are great, the dance numbers fantastic, the performances first-rate. It is a story that is wondrous, magical, heart-breaking, toe-tapping, funny, silly, heart-warming, sad, happy and has that thing - that little thing - that thing that made me love movies when I was a kid and the first real films I ever saw were musicals. Just the balm a bad year needed - this reminder that movies should take us beyond what we see and hear every day and that they are a magic thing, filling us with hope and wonder.

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