It is the year of 2017, January is almost over, and I still have not talked about my favorite films from 2016. Last year was a rough year: Unqualified people getting a place in politics, multiple of idols dying, and I can even say that 2016 was the year of disappointment for films. Expectations were raised, films were hyped but most of them did not meet these said expectations. Although 2016 was a bad year in general, there were still films that made that year bearable. I watched a total of 103 films (not all were released during 2016) and here are my 6 favorite films of 2016.
La La Land
Taking the number one spot on this list is none other than Damien Chazelle’s movie musical, La La Land. Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, this tells the story of two dreamers lost n the city of dreams and struggling to find their big break.
La La Land is getting a lot of Oscars buzz and created a bunch of critical receptions from critics all over the world. Believe the hype – this is one of the greatest films of 2016. This is the kind of film that leaves you clutching your chest and breathing heavily because of its masterful execution. From the directing, setting, visuals, music, and acting, this film hits all the notes and proves to be an experience one should not miss.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The first of the Star Wars standalone films, Rogue One revolves around a group of rebels trying to gather information regarding the Death Star and how to destroy it.
Arguably the best Star Wars film to date, Rogue One presented a new set of characters in just a couple of hours and made it possible for everyone to fall in love with them. Every character, every sub-plot is interesting and captivating. The directing and the cinematography were top notch. I did have doubts before seeing this because of its controversies but I am glad to say that this is a well-executed film with great technical aspects and narrative.
Mercury is Mine
An official entry in the 12th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival, Mercury is Mine revolves around the relationship of two characters: Carmen (Pokwang) and Mercury (Bret Jackson). They were living peacefully but as all things do, things went haywire and it changed their lives in ways they did not expect.
This film is funny, interesting, and above all else, absurd. The first half of the film is heartwarming and a feel good film (except of course for the murder part) but then things started to unfold and honestly, it became more interesting from then on. Mercury is Mine won best screenplay and it is deserving of that recognition. The structure, dialogue, and story as a whole is enough to captivate the audience and leave an impression that will last for a while. Other than the writing, this film has great cinematography and visuals as well. The color and the shots are visually stunning and some scenes even looked like a painting that you just want to hang on your wall.
Overall, Jason Paul Laxamana’s Mercury is Mine is a gift to all moviegoers that demands to be treasured.
The Asian films that has been bagging the Best Foreign Film in various film festivals, Park Chan-wook’s erotic psychological thriller is a thrilling experience. Following a con man, a maid, and a Japanese heiress, The Handmaiden is a web of plot twists with multi-layered characters and a complex yet easy to follow structure.
The production design, cinematography, directing, writing, and music are all top notch. The Handmaiden is a beautiful film but the element that makes this film beautiful is not just because of its gorgeous visuals but of course, its story. As the story starts to unravel itself, the viewers get more and more tangled in this web that is smoothly created by the characters making it impossible for anyone to take their eyes, mind, and hearts out of the story.
The Nice Guys
A criminally underrated and overlooked film of 2016, Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is an action comedy film starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Set in 1970’s Los Angeles, it is a witty, well-written film that is a fun and exciting adventure.
The Nice Guys took me by surprise and it is amusing that this is even part of my favorites list. Personally, I do not enjoy comedy most of the time but surprise, surprise, The Nice Guys is here. It just shows that this is a well-directed, well-executed, and funny film. The characters are interesting and their dynamic was really great and funny. The contrasting personalities of the lead characters helped in making their dynamic effective.
It is funny, it has great pacing, and it is well-directed. What a shame that so few people went to see it.
Another Filipino film on this list is Kusina directed by David Corpuz and Cenon Palomares. This follows Juanita’s life from being an innocent child to a mature woman. Set in her kitchen only, this deals with a lot of themes such as family, love, and sacrifice.
Refreshing, odd, and strong. This film is one of the few films that definitely stood out during the 12th Cinemalaya Film Festival. It was hard to follow at first but the smooth transition and beautiful lighting helped in leading its audience to follow along a simple yet realistic and complex story about life, love, and motherhood.
And there we have it. Those are my favorite films of 2016. I am glad to say that this is an exceptional year for me in terms of immersing myself to the world of cinema. Here’s to hoping that 2017 will be a great one as well.