The Best of the Best in Film in 2016, Part 1

All right, 2016. Yer done. At long last. Yesterday I looked back inside of you and pulled out the worst of the worst of the cinematic garbage that you shoved into my eye sockets and out my butthole. I didn’t appreciate that, 2016. That wasn’t nice. You know I like movies. Why you gotta make me hate movies like that?

Thankfully, you weren’t all bad, 2016. As a matter of fact, you gave me many movies that I loved. Were you the greatest year in film history? Certainly not. But you kept kicking out the jams month after month and offered something that everyone could love. After all, this was a year with possibly the most punishing tale of Catholic suffering ever conceived, as well as a dead corpse comedy defined by existential fart jokes. That’s pretty diverse. I like.

Here’s a collection of awards and nominations for all my favs of the year. All choices are selfish. No trophies will be awarded to the winners. However, if any of the winners see me on the street, they get one free high five from moi. Just let me know. You earned it.

And now, on with the awards…

Best Picture: ‘La La Land’

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There were more complex movies in 2016. There were movies more meaningful, more culturally relevant, more serious in intent. However, there was no movie more moving, more life affirming, more technically ambitious, more cinematic, more pleasing, more magical, or more satisfying than ‘La La Land’. The film will send you out of the theater elated with a spring in your step, infatuated by both life and movies. That Chazelle kid is talented. He made a movie that I should have hated into something I adore. It’s also a darker vision than most might admit, just one so exquisitely executed for maximum joy that it’s hard to notice.

Runners Up: ‘Arrival’, ‘Elle’, ‘Everybody Wants Some!!’, ‘The Lobster’, ‘Green Room’, ‘The Handmaiden’, ‘Manchester by the Sea’, ‘Midnight Special’, ‘Moonlight’, ‘The Nice Guys’, ‘Paterson’, ‘Sausage Party’, ‘Silence’, ‘Swiss Army Man’, ‘Wiener-Dog’, ‘The Witch’

Best Actor: Paul Dano, ‘Swiss Army Man’

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In a year full of fantastic stoic performances by depressed dudes locked in existential crises, no one did it better than Paul Dano. Granted, the man was born with a natural hangdog expression that made him perfect for these roles. But dammit, he really went above and beyond the call of duty for ‘Swiss Army Man’. Dano is essentially the entire movie and has to play it as big as a cartoon and as small as a broken toy. It’s a beautiful performance, possibly the actor’s best. Too bad the movie is a comedy. Otherwise critics would have noticed how good he was and piled on the awards.

Runners Up: Casey Affleck (‘Manchester by the Sea’), Josh Brolin (‘Hail, Caesar!’), Russell Crowe (‘The Nice Guys’), Adam Driver (‘Paterson’), Joel Edgerton (‘Loving’), Colin Farrell (‘The Lobster’), Andrew Garfield (‘Silence’), Ryan Gosling (‘The Nice Guys’), Alex R. Hibbert/Ashton Sanders/Tevante Rhodes (‘Moonlight’), Tom Hiddleston (‘High-Rise’), Matthew McConaughey (‘Gold’), Sam Rockwell (‘Mr. Right’), Michael Shannon (‘Midnight Special’)

Best Actress: Sally Field, ‘Hello, My Name Is Doris’

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Speaking of amazing performances that were overlooked because the actors had the audacity to be funny, let’s talk about Sally Field in ‘Hello, My Name Is Doris’. The movie was sadly ignored in general, but Field in particular gave one of her finest performances in years, maybe even in her entire career. She plays a broken and lonely woman who never grew up for a variety of reasons and is now about to enter the world. Saying why or how would spoil one of the most delightfully amusing movies of the year that everyone with a pulse should experience. Well, provided they like to smile, laugh and cry.

Runners Up: Amy Adams (‘Arrival’), Kate Beckinsale (‘Love & Friendship’), Kirsten Dunst (‘Midnight Special’), Rebecca Hall (‘Christine’), Taraji P. Henson (‘Hidden Figures’), Sandra Huller (‘Toni Erdmann’), Isabelle Huppert (‘Elle’), Anna Kendrick (‘Mr. Right’), Ruth Negga (‘Loving’), Susan Sarandon (‘The Meddler’), Hailee Steinfeld (‘The Edge of Seventeen’), Emma Stone (‘La La Land’), Meryl Streep (‘Florence Foster Jenkins’), Rachel Weisz (‘The Lobster’)

Best Supporting Actor: Tie – John Goodman, ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ & Patrick Stewart, ‘Green Room’

Read original review: ’10 Cloverfield Lane’
Read original review: ‘Green Room’

Yes, a tie. I couldn’t decide and both performances were so similar that putting them together was easy enough. What we have here are the two best villainous performances of the year by two of the most unlikely actors. First is John Goodman, who was essentially responsible for the entire success of ’10 Cloverfield Lane’. He ditched all of his charming teddy bear tendencies to deliver a hulking and disturbing figure (with hints of empathy only as audience misdirects) so terrifying that the giant space alien at the end of the movie (spoiler) feels cuddly by comparison.

Then there’s Patrick Stewart, using his iconic chrome dome and Shakespearean training to deliver a Neo-Nazi who’s horrifying because he’s so unexpectedly level-headed and controlled. These gents crushed it. They never need to play villains again. This covers it.

Runners Up: Mahershala Ali (‘Moonlight’), Tom Bennett (‘Love & Friendship’), Kyle Chandler (‘Manchester by the Sea’), Alden Ehrenreich (‘Hail, Caesar!’), Adam Driver (‘Midnight Special’), Ralph Fiennes (‘A Bigger Splash’), Charlie the Goat (‘The Witch’), Lucas Hedges (‘Manchester by the Sea’), Jaeden Lieberher (‘Midnight Special’), Sam Neill (‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’), Issey Ogata (‘Silence’), Daniel Radcliffe (‘Swiss Army Man’), John C. Reilly (‘The Lobster’), Craig Robinson (‘Morris from America’), Wyatt Russell (‘Everybody Wants Some!!’), RZA (‘Mr. Right’), Sam Shepard (‘Midnight Special’), Michael Shannon (‘Nocturnal Animals’)

Best Supporting Actress: Ellen Burstyn, ‘Wiener-Dog’

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It’s a shame that people don’t pay attention to Todd Solondz anymore. Not only is he the finest caustic comedic voice and chronicler of the tragedy of the human condition in American film, but he also works remarkably well with actors. Better than most. His latest (and criminally underappreciated) feature ‘Wiener-Dog’ is an anthology movie filled with juicy roles for actors who deserve it. None are better than Ellen Burstyn, who pops up at the end of this exploration of life and death to personify a wasted life ready to die. She starts as a dark joke hidden behind sunglasses, then grows into the most heartbreaking character to hit screens this year. Burstyn is one of those actresses who’s incapable of a bad performance and this one is even better than her usual standards. It’s too bad no one noticed. Hopefully that’ll change over time.

Runners Up: Rose Byrne (‘The Meddler’/’Neighbors 2’), Olivia Colman (‘The Lobster’), Viola Davis (‘Fences’), Julie Delpy (‘Wiener-Dog’), Kate Dickie (‘The Witch’), Golshifteh Farahani (‘Paterson’), Kathryn Hahn (‘Bad Moms’), Naomie Harris (‘Moonlight’), Scarlett Johansson (‘Hail, Caesar!’), Kate McKinnon (‘Ghostbusters’), Julianne Moore (‘Maggie’s Plan’), Imogen Poots (‘Green Room’), Michelle Williams (‘Manchester by the Sea’)

Best Director: Martin Scorsese, ‘Silence’

Martin Scorsese is probably the greatest living filmmaker, so it makes sense that he’s also the best director of 2016. Now in his mid-70s, Scorsese should be slowing down. Instead, he keeps mounting some of the most ambitious projects of his career. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ will likely remain Scorsese’s final masterpiece, but ‘Silence’ is one hell of a passion project. From the first shot it’s clear that Scorsese isn’t fucking around with this one. He’s going big. He’s going bold. He’s going beautiful. He will disturb. He will provoke. And you will leave shaken. Falling somewhere between ‘Kundun’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’, this is one of the most disturbingly powerful explorations of faith ever filmed. It’s a movie that only Scorsese could make and one that he clearly had to make. May he never stop until the day he dies.

Runners Up: Damien Chazelle (‘La La Land’), Scott Derrickson (‘Doctor Strange’), Robert Eggers (‘The Witch’), Jim Jarmusch (‘Paterson’), Barry Jenkins (‘Moonlight’), Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (‘Swiss Army Man’), Richard Linklater (‘Everybody Wants Some!!’), Kenneth Lonergan (‘Manchester by the Sea’), Jeff Nichols (‘Midnight Special’), Park Chan-wook (‘The Handmaiden’), Nicolas Winding Refn (‘The Neon Demon’), Jeremy Saulnier (‘Green Room’), Todd Solondz (‘Wiener-Dog’), Paul Verhoeven (‘Elle’), Denis Villeneuve (‘Arrival’), Ben Wheatley (‘High-Rise’)

I’ll bet you think that’s the end of my awards this year since those are the only Oscar categories that Vegas cares about. Not so much! Way more to come. Buckle up. There’s another article on the way later today.


  1. Chris B

    Me and my wife are catching La La Land this afternoon. Normally I don’t care much for musicals, but I really enjoyed Whiplash and the buzz for La La Land is too much to overlook. I hope it lives up to the hype!

    Gotta disagree with Patrick Stewart in Green Room, I thought his casting was the weakest part of the movie. Part of what I liked about Blue Ruin so much is how it was all cast with unknown actors. Stewart will always be Picard…

  2. Heck YES Sally Field! Why she’s getting overlooked by every awards organization is beyond me. Hello, My Name Is Doris currently my #1 movie of 2016.

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