Updated: Mar 30
Let's talk about what a “Top 5” list means: first, the distinction between “best” and “favorite” is very important. There is no perfect movie. There are movies that venture close, but none can truly be perfect by nature; they are art and art is subject to opinion. Now let’s talk about “favorite.” The reasons why I choose to like, love, hate or despise a movie is complicated, and most likely derives from deep-seeded complications with my childhood or love life. What I’m trying to say is: these are some of my favorite cinematic experiences of this year. Everyone likes a movie for different reasons, and you’re all entitled to your opinion. Unless you think Batman v Superman was a good movie, in which case I am judging you and think you are an insane person. Alright, let's get into it…
Honorable Mention: The Jungle Book
The 1967 cartoon version of The Jungle Book was never my childhood favorite. I watched it like everyone else did growing up, but young little BaeBae was more about The Lion King and Aladdin. After seeing director Jon Favreau’s interpretation of the story, this has become one of my favorite Disney movies. Idris Elba’s Shere Khan is one of the best on-screen villains I’ve ever seen. All of the characters, excluding Mowgli, are digitally created, and the quality of their design is unprecedented. The Jungle Book is a movie that grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go until the credits. This movie gives me faith in Disney’s live-action reimagining of Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King in years to come.
5. Don’t Think Twice
For full disclosure: one of my many passions in life is Improv Comedy. I’ve been taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) for the past year and have fallen in love with the art form that encourages being a dingus on stage. Don’t Think Twice boasts a great cast of UCB alums and is a painfully accurate portrayal of what this comedy culture is like. It’s both a very accessible movie, for newcomers to the art of Improv, and a movie for people like me, an aspiring improviser.
Arrival’s execution is immaculate. The plot is huge. First alien contact is a tried and true trope, but its scope is narrow; we experience the entire story through Louise Banks’ (Amy Adams) point of view. The film is all about communication and language. There’s no giant space battles here, and that’s why I enjoyed the film so much. It was an intimate sci-fi story. The major “twist” of the film is excellent, and will make you want to view it again and again.
3. Rogue One
I feel strange throwing this movie on the list, not because it wasn’t amazing or deserving of its acclaim, but did I love Rogue One, or do I just love Star Wars? Have I become poisoned by its nostalgia? Regardless of my existential crisis on the matter, I really did feel like a ten year-old watching this movie and that’s hard to do. Our benevolent leader here at Story Screen, Mike Burdge, likes to call movies like this “popcorn.” You get what you get and you know what you’re getting even before you get it. It's how you get it that's important. This Star Wars flick had things I’ve always wanted to see in this universe. A side-step in the typical Skywalker family drama that gives us a war film. A dark, brutal war film.
2. Swiss Army Man
Swiss Army Man is a movie I’ve always wanted to exist, but never thought would. When I heard the mumblings of a movie featuring Daniel Radcliffe playing a farting corpse, I was smiling from ear to ear at the premise. The movie successfully stays aloof and strange while also grounding the action of the film in real human emotion. It’s a ridiculous notion, to make an audience empathize with a corpse for an hour and half, but that’s exactly what this movie is, ridiculous.
1. The Lobster
Though it came out towards the end of 2015 in Ireland, we here in the States didn’t get to see the flick until 2016, so I’m throwing it on the list because: ‘Murica. Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurdist look into the idea of love is one of the most viscerally uncomfortable movies I’ve ever sat through. After viewing the flick, I left feeling like someone tore my heart out and calmly said, “Welp, you’re not gonna need this anymore.” This is exactly why it’s the number one movie on my list. One of the objectives of a film is to elicit emotions from a viewer. The Lobster makes you feel dread, despite being a story about love. Without spoiling the film, I will say that there is a moment of hope for these characters, but even then it is painfully stripped away by the film’s conclusion, leaving you with your jaw to the floor and in need of a hug.
Robert has a degree in Screenwriting and Playwriting and works in multiple genres. He's just your typical man-child who enjoys most things nerd culture. You can follow him on Twitter @RoBaeBae