The Chimes’ Top 50 Movies of 2016: 35-21

Our Top 50 Movies of 2016 list continues with the second installment, numbers 35-21.


Kyle Kohner/THE CHIMES

Kyle Kohner, Writer

The Chimes’ 2016 50-movie roundup that started yesterday carries on with these 15 standouts.

35. “A Bigger Splash” – A dark and sensual romantic drama by all accounts, “A Bigger Splash” features a complex love triangle between characters played by Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes and Matthias Schoenaerts, with Dakota Johnson thrown in the middle. Swinton’s performance as a mute, Ziggy Stardust-esque rock star and Fiennes’ obsessively offbeat yet charming role as a former love interest make this film’s slow burn worthwhile.

34. “Born to Be Blue – Ethan Hawke’s eclectic Hollywood resume reached a high with fulfilling roles in “Maggie’s Plan” and “The Phenom,” but his most magnetic performance of the year came via his portrayal of jazz legend Chet Baker. His performance as the dwindling talent carries this rather slow biopic and may very well go down as his best thus far.

33. “Hidden Figures” – Despite an awry script and another lackluster performance from the dry Kevin Costner, this film spotlights a spirited acting ensemble and an inspiring true story that pays close attention to facts while highlighting the crooked cruelty of the Jim Crow era in addition to the hectic Space Race and NASA’s struggle for integration.

32. “Hunt for the Wilder People” – Before blowing expectations out of the water, “Hunt for the Wilder People” seemed to have the usual predictable story about an orphan who looks up to an older man as a father figure. However, director Taika Watiti’s modest comedy has brutal honesty spewing from every character, and with the reemergence of actor Sam Neil as the father figure alongside breakout child actor Julian Dennison, “Hunt for the Wilder People” proves one of the funniest films of the year.

31. “Hail Caesar!” – Although it stands as one of the worst movies they have put out, the Coen Brothers have never churned out a bad film. Their dark comedic genius consistently ascertains their position in Hollywood filmmaking. “Hail Caesar!” pays homage to the golden age of Hollywood. Unfortunately, many critics do not understand the elaborate inside joke the Coens created, resulting in negative reviews. Nevertheless, a great ensemble, led by Josh Brolin and emerging star Alden Ehrenreich evokes laughter and contentment.

30. “13th” – Director Ava Duvernay continues to exhaust the emotions of her viewers. Fresh off her beautiful debut film “Selma,” Duvernay empowers many and brings to center stage the ceaseless disenfranchisement of African Americans through this blood-boiling documentary. It highlights the continual Republican agenda to mass incarcerate black males.

29. “The Light Between Oceans” – The first tears I shed in theaters in 2016 came via Derek Cianfrance’s tear-jerking drama. “The Light Between Oceans” stars Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander. Fassbender takes emotion to a tangible realm and authentically portrays a man with regret, weakness and love. The decision he makes as a husband, many can relate to while Vikander drives viewers to understand what being a parent truly embraces, including the devastating sacrifices that come along with parenthood.

28. “Weiner” – One of the most provocative documentaries of its kind, “Weiner” follows infamous New York Representative Anthony Weiner’s attempt at redemption after a sexting scandal derailed his image as a viable candidate to lead his people. Directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, “Weiner” perfectly encapsulates the modern-day Shakespearean tragedy in which the once promising political authority became plagued by his own lustful desires.

27. “Captain Fantastic” – Director of “Silicon Valley,” Matt Ross depicts the struggle of parenting through the most extreme circumstances as Ben, played by 2016 Oscar Nominee for Best Actor Viggo Mortensen, raises his six children in the wilderness alone in the way he thinks best. All the while, he deals with sudden suicide of his bipolar wife and mother of his children. Whether one aligns with the ideas of capitalism or socialism, Viggo Mortensen as the titular Captain Fantastic persuasively sells to the viewers’ ideology that modernized civilization and its inherent systems of government are toxic and those who mindlessly abide in it are falsely living. A film this unexposed that can manipulate at such a high degree deserves recognition.

26. “Green Room” – Just two months before meteoric talent Anton Yelchin passed away, Studio A24 released “Green Room,” with the young Yelchin as the star of this indie hit. Although deemed a thriller, the violence throughout the film crosses into horrific territory. With Green Room, never have I become more unnerved in theaters. Few films achieve such a visceral reaction, and Green Room accomplishes that feat. Only those with strong stomachs should watch this film, as it certainly brings an unrelenting aura of apprehension and brutality. Its blood-curdling nature never becomes dubious or obsessive akin to Grindhouse films, making for one of the best horror films of 2016.

25. “The Little Prince” – Snubbed from an Oscar Nomination for best Animated Feature, Mark Osborne’s screen adaptation of a children’s book has a unique magical style and animation quality. With the recent slew of films from Disney Pixar, it becomes increasingly burdensome to find computer generated animated movies that have as much art direction and heart as this one, as it goes to places I have never seen done before. The Little Prince smoothly combines CG with claymation under imaginative cinematic direction.

24. “Christine” – Rebecca Hall outfits perhaps the finest performance by an actress in 2016, leaving many speechless. Her portrayal of a mentally perturbed journalist who struggled to grasp the world she lived in proves unmatched. This film follows the riveting, albeit troubling life of an ambitious but mentally disturbed journalist Christine Chubbuck, whose gradual descent into psychological despair is put on full display on live TV, providing for one of the most kept-quiet moments in live television history.

23. “Hell or High Water” – Instead of opting for the pretty penny, “Hell or High Water” harkens to the days when filmmakers focused on telling intriguing stories. It represents another small indie flick indicating that in today’s film industry, independent film has the litmus standard for a great movie. This film upholds itself as engrossing, as it unravels its story with complexity and intelligence while featuring a well-rounded group of characters. This Western/noir is a fun experience and effortlessly validates its Oscar nomination for best picture.

22. “Toni Erdmann” – Arguably the favorite to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, the German entry has fervent comedy in every facet. The film’s comedic moments surely inspire tears of laughter at times while other moments are eccentrically satirical and sometimes abruptly unorthodox.  Even though this film has a three-hour runtime, it maintains interest in its ingenious European satire. Toni Erdmann emphasizes family values and the struggle of shifting relationships in the workplace and within families, all brought to center by a prankster father’s love for his unnecessarily busy daughter and his efforts to connect with her.

21. “10 Cloverfield Lane” – Eight years after J.J Abrams’ cult sci-fi film “Cloverfield,” director Dan Trachtenberg, with the help of Abrams, unleashed a surprise “blood relative” to the 2008 film. This thriller’s build-up intensely culminates towards dredging one’s nails into the armrests of the theater seats. The majority of “10 Cloverfield Lane” takes place inside an underground bunker, dramatically creating an incomparably claustrophobic climate. The X factor of this early 2016 prize came via John Goodman, whose cryptic and bone-chilling role stands as one of his most notable performances.

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