This year’s top 10 is nowhere near as top heavy as last year’s was. There was nothing this year as phenomenal as Mad Max: Fury Road. And I don’t see a movie I liked as much as Inside Out falling anywhere near 7 on this list, though if I were to do last year’s list again I don’t see Inside Out falling to 7. Still, the movies I’ve seen this year have had a fairly high floor even if most of them didn’t rise above middling. I definitely saw a lot more movies, though a lot of that was me making a point of seeing new stuff that came to Netflix and the like. So my list of new movies seen stands closer to 50 than last year’s 20, but I would say I liked to some extent or another about 30 of those movies. Here are my Top 10:
10: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Cut – This is only the so-called Ultimate Cut, the extended version. After seeing it I have a hard time understanding how they ended up with the cut they originally released. The long cut – 3 hours – fixes nearly all of the story problems that the original had and provides a lot of context for many of the movie’s more incongruous scenes. Most of what it added back were scenes showing what Clark and Lois were up to throughout the movie, which makes Superman’s journey through the movie actually work. With this cut I really enjoyed the film.
9: Moana/Zootopia – I can’t choose between the two of these movies. Disney is on a hot streak, and both of these films continue it. I’m not sure Zootopia’s metaphor holds up to scrutiny, but it is a charming world with fun characters. Moana’s limited number of characters is more than made up for in the just sheer delight that is on the screen. They are both excellent.
8: Captain America Civil War – This one kept sliding down the list as I made it. I remember liking it quite a bit coming out of the theater, but the few times I’ve thought of it since haven’t raised my opinion of it. I guess I really need to see it again, but right now all that are really sticking in my mind are a few outstanding scenes.
7: Kubo and The Two Strings – There are some parts of this movie that didn’t quite work for me, but animation is so beautiful and the parts that do work are so strong that I can’t bring myself to get hung up on the quibbles.
6: Arrival – Smart, methodical science fiction with an excellent star performance from Amy Adams. It is good to see a movie like this that doesn’t rely on explosions to tell its story.
5: Star Trek Beyond – I gave a solid review to Into Darkness, but upon rewatching I think I side more with the general opinion of that movie than I did a few years ago. This Star Trek feels like an amped up episode of the show. Sure, things are bigger than they need to be and there seems to be one scene missing with the villain to make his whole deal really work, but the rest of it is so good it doesn’t matter. This was the most fun I had at the movies all summer.
4: Rogue One – Recency bias maybe, but this was one of the most purely pleasurable movie going experiences of the year. The only thing holding it back from being among my favorite Star Wars movie is the downplaying of the music. Still, a Star Wars movie that emphasizes the war part of the title is just different enough. It has lots of great performances – I loved Donnie Yen – and one of the best climactic battles scenes I’ve ever seen. It is just great.
3: Hail, Caesar! – Even a lesser Coen Brother’s movie is a treat. I’m not even sure how lesser this one is. It won’t be counted among their masterpieces, but I can see myself going back to watch it much more readily than True Grit or Burn After Reading. It is mostly an excuse for a bunch of big name actors to play out bad versions of classic Hollywood movies and it is just a lot of fun to watch.
1b: The Nice Guys – I am really sad I missed this in the theater. It is does just about everything right as these two detectives do everything wrong. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are great and the rest of the movie just works.
1a: Love & Friendship – Unlike anything else on my list or anything else I saw this year, this movie is amazing. It is hands down the funniest movie I saw this year, with a lot of funny actors giving performances that are at the same time restrained and hilarious.