Ranking movies is silly.

zf_best_films_of_2016_web_squareEveryone agrees on this. But lists are perennially popular, and a top ten “best” or “worst” list of movies from the past year can inspire great passion in movie devotees and casual fans alike. I read these lists to find movies I might have overlooked, and I read to laugh. Boy, do I laugh.

Now it’s your turn to marvel, agree, disagree, wince, and laugh at my list. Are we doing Honorable Mentions? If so, I’d like to point out I loved Captain America: Civil War, Neon Demon, Hail, Caesar!, Zootopia, oh…we’re not doing Honorable Mentions? OK. Then I won’t mention those films.

Let’s start with the BEST FILMS OF 2016! (These films that impacted me the most. And no, I didn’t see every movie released in 2016, ya goof.)

10. Moana


Make way for one of the top films in Disney’s canon, featuring an inspiring lead character, no romance, a non-traditional story, and incredible, heartfelt songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda.


9. Kubo and the Two Strings


A meditation on grief in the face of death, Kubo is a strikingly original work of art that treats its young audience with respect from the opening scene. The jewel in Laika Studios’ crown.


8. 20th Century Women


There’s an honesty found in this quirky film that sticks with you. Spend enough time with these characters and they truly come alive. Mike Mills offers a vibrant, funny, moving film with career-best performances from all involved.


7. Jackie



Through a framing device, non-linear storytelling, a discordant score, and Natalie Portman’s astonishing lead performance, Chilean director Pablo Larrain orchestrates a biopic unlike any you’ve seen before.


6. Arrival


A gut-punch of an ending set up with smart science fiction storytelling, Arrival illustrates that Amy Adams continues to be one of our great working actors, Jeremy Renner continues to be one of our great underrated actors, and Denis Villeneuve continues to be one of our best working directors.


5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Be careful not to choke on your aspirations, Director.” *Mic Drop*


4. Sing Street

Making the all-important "Riddle of the Model" music video.

John Carney knows how to make movies about music. The director of Once and Begin Again outdoes himself with Sing Street, a coming of age movie that should feel familiar; since we all lived it.


3. Moonlight


Masterfully moving through three stages of a young man’s life, Moonlight doesn’t shy away from bullying, sexuality, drug use, forgiveness, anger, love, or any other tough subject matter most films don’t know how to handle.


2. The VVitch


One of the most disturbing films I’ve ever seen. Uncomfortable, intense, all around scary. Director Robert Eggers proves himself a master of mood and pacing. Oh, and I believe the ending can be taken a few different ways.


1. La La Land


Seeing La La Land for the first time on the big screen had a profound effect on me. I was in tears. I was dizzy. I was happy. I was devastated. I watched it for the second time on the big screen, and this time I was elated. Joyus. Choked up. Melancholy. It’s the reason we love movies. La La Land is not only the best film of 2016, it’s one of the best ever made.


*Didn’t screen in time for consideration: SILENCE.


What about the WORST FILMS OF 2016? (e.g. the ones I disliked the most.) BEHOLD!

Masterminds, War Dogs, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Dirty Grandpa, The Angry Birds Movie, Collateral Beauty, Office Christmas Party, Money Monster, Deepwater Horizon, Inferno