The Chimes’ Top 50 Movies of 2016: 20-11

Our Top 50 Movies of 2016 list takes another step closer to number one with the second installment, numbers 20-11.


Max Heilman/THE CHIMES

Kyle Kohner, Writer

20. “Everybody Wants Some!!” –  Richard Linklater, the man who brought the ‘70s with “Dazed and Confused,” delivers the overtly hilarious and feel-good ‘80s’ younger brother in “Everybody Wants Some!!” In the past, Linklater has proven that he is a master of memorable and engaging dialogue, accruing from meticulously developed characters, which create a genuine connection between the characters and the audience, and Everybody Wants Some!! furthers that trend. Similar to most of Linklater’s’ projects, the plot is purposely nonexistent, Nonetheless, its coming-of-age message burrows much deeper than either “Boyhood” or “Dazed and Confused.”

19. “The Witch” – Horror returns to its original glory, marked by the emphatically disturbing Puritan period piece, “The Witch,” directed by Robert Egers. Before this foreboding masterpiece, horror directors far too often abused jump scares and loud noises. Instead, “The Witch” eschews the conventional as its horror develops from an ominous slow burn, creating psychological torment and genuinely terrifying junctures with an ending that continues to haunt my memories of this film.

18. “American Honey” – One of the biggest snubs from this year’s Academy Award Nominations, Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey” poignantly encapsulates the mysticism of the American Dream in a complex and artistically mesmerizing story of a woman who bids to flee a life of Midwestern poverty and abuse by traveling in a commercial van with outcasts, selling magazines to make an unconventional dollar while falling in love with Shia Labeouf along the way. Labeouf’s charismatic and eccentric performance attests to the hype that encompassed his brief, early career success, which preceded a psychotic induced hiatus before this film.

17. “Hacksaw Ridge”- Mel Gibson’s Oscar Nomination for Best Director elicited many furrowed brows. Gibson’s tainted past should still warrant a ban from any award season recognition, even though he has routinely demonstrated his niche for a visually and emotionally merciless movie. Brutal may be undermining the visceral power of “Hacksaw Ridge” as the added set pieces along with piercing sound-mixing really cut deep, making for the best war film since “Saving Private Ryan.” Gibson’s faith-based thematic elements maintain prevalence, working coherently and never coming off as preachy. In addition to Gibson’s ornate direction, Andrew Garfield’s blossoming relationship with Christ on set really emanates from his role as the film’s protagonist Lt. Desmond Doss, culminating into one of the most powerful portraits of 2016.

16. “I, Daniel Blake” – Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning “I, Daniel Blake” has little plot conventionality, with importance placed upon a character study of the abnormally kindhearted working class man named Daniel Blake. This Cannes Film Festival darling exposes the cold truths behind everyday life. With normal pains juxtaposed against satiric moments simultaneously, the insipid credibility behind these struggles extends itself as the film’s strength. Loach’s award winner transcends “Socialist propaganda.” In fact, “I, Daniel Blake” underscores the flawed British welfare system, which highlights the many problems of a greed-driven capitalist worldview. This film reaches beyond revelation of corruption as it additionally exhibits the mutual connectivity of banal living of humans with gender, class and race aside.

15. “The Neon Demon” – The mastermind behind “Drive,” Nicolas Refn Winding spellbindingly unveils the destruction of casual cinematic viewing naiveté in “Neon Demon”— a nightmare doused in neon lights and glitter with morose imagery emanating with an abrasive energy that stretches the mind with relentlessly surreal force. As soon as I thought this film reached its resolution, Refn further misconstrues audience expectations with an inexorable sequence so earth-shattering, words or a simple explanation could not achieve justice for this otherworldly thriller.

14. “Kubo and The Two Strings” – Laika, the stop-motion animation studio which cranked out timeless pieces in “Coraline,” “The Boxtrolls” and “Paranorman” in the past 10 years, devises a uniquely blended film that expounds upon the morals explored in their back catalogue, while exploring palatably alluring themes. Travis Knight’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” winsomely stands out contrary to its Disney counterparts like no other, making its mark as an imperative film of real visionary animation.

13. “La La Land” – Damien Chazelle surprised many in 2014 with the best film of that year in the hypnotic “Whiplash.” In 2016, Chazelle burrowed his way into audience’s hearts with a musical. While not worthy of 14 Oscar nominations, “La La Land” still purports the perfect embodiment of a satisfying venture. It has it all. Audiences will cry, they will laugh and they will delight in a carefully crafted homage to the transcendent expertises of French auteurs Jacques Demy and Vincente Minnelli. Thankfully, Chazelle never belittles the audience with a novel idea of “dreams.” “La La Land” offers more than a compilation of jaunts and duets across Hollywood Blvd. Rather, it possesses heart and hard themes. Instead of forcing a cathartic experience out of its viewers, it invites viewers to ponder upon the realism of relationships and the hard truths about artistic aspirations.

12. “Swiss Army Man” – This off-kilter yet heartfelt comedy about a talking, decaying dead body has and will continue to garner caustic, misconstrued criticism for its “immature” absurdity that gave way to many walking out on The Daniels’ debut project at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016. Nevertheless, its notorious imagery will cement itself as a cult classic, as it relentlessly stimulates, whether the response is positive or negative. Beyond all the jokes about flatulence and disparaging innuendos, the titillating, kindred performances of Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano will pierce the hearts of audiences’ dearth of insular minds.

11. “Silence” – Shot In 35mm, Martin Scorsese‘s all-encompassing faith-based epic once again showcases his savvy for immersive world-building. “Silence” centers its attention around the impenetrable faith of two Portuguese missionaries who set out in search of their mentor through the inexorable environment of imperial Japan. Besides the underlying Scorsese factor, the most alluring aspect of this film is how it coalesces Hollywood and Christianity flawlessly. Although “Silence” successfully melds secular Hollywood and faith, it unfortunately gives way to an obvious slow burn, which tends to become slightly overbearing. However, an attentive mindset fulfills expectations as the most meditative viewing experience of 2016.

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