Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Rocker and Halls Reviews: Our Favorite Films of 2016

Posted on January 22, 2017 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

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Google Images

By John Rocker and Aaron Halls, Free Press staff

Hello readers! A quick disclaimer: This list is completely our own opinions. There is no right answer to the question of what the best films of 2016 were, so if you see that a film that you love isn’t on here, it’s okay. You loved that film for a reason, just as much as we love these films. Thanks for reading!


J: Sing Street: Director John Carney’s musical disguised as an homage to the music of the 1980s. It’s about fulfilling your dreams and learning what it takes to achieve them, and that may mean going far from home to someplace new. The music is the clear standout of the film, as each song feels stylized and different. My personal favorite is “Drive It Like You Stole It,” which is a great sequence in and of itself. I couldn’t help but smile as the film drew to a close.

A: Hell or High Water: The dark horse film of the year for me: This Neo-Western about two bank robbing brothers and the law enforcement officials that are after them. Filled with great cinematography and complicated characters, this film, directed by David Mackenzie, had me hooked from the  first scene until the credits rolled.


J: Arrival: This well-constructed science fiction film by Denis Villeneuve is more about humanity than it is about aliens. There is a piece of music used in the film called “The Nature of Daylight,” composed by Max Richter. This piece fits the film so well, and upon re-listening to the track, I can only think of the powerful scenes that accompanied it in the film. I knew leaving the theater that I would want to see Arrival again.

A: Manchester by the Sea: A small scale character study about a man forced back to his hometown after his brother dies perfectly walks the line between comedy and tragedy. Directed by Kenneth Lonergan, this film depicts several scenes that feel like an emotional gut punch as well as scenes that had me laughing out loud.


J: Nocturnal Animals: Written and directed by Tom Ford, this film is multi-layered with stunning visuals and a story that takes a hold of you from the very beginning. It’s a film about revenge, but also regret, and is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. As Susan (Amy Adams) reads through Edward’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel manuscript, the connections to her past become apparent, and it’s fascinating. Backed with phenomenal performances, this is an enthralling film from beginning to end.

A: Captain America: Civil War – The Russo Brothers succeeded against all odds creating a compelling third entry in the Captain America franchise. When a government law divides The Avengers into separate teams lead by Iron Man and Captain America, a satisfying film unfolds featuring personal stakes, giant action set pieces and a whole lot of fun while also introducing new characters such as Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU.


J: Swiss Army Man: I never thought a film about a farting corpse would be so high on my list of favorites. There is no way to describe it other than saying there is nothing like it. This film, directed by the duo known as Daniels, is about what it means to be alive, and that includes the positive and negative parts of it. With strong performances, a memorable acapella score, absurd visuals and a hilarious script, this film stuck with me long after I watched it.

A: La La Land – This film follows an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) and jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) as they try to achieve their dreams in Los Angeles. La La Land dazzles with an optimistic spirit, a catchy soundtrack, with beautiful cinematography and exciting dance numbers. This film had me feeling more exuberant upon leaving the theater than any film from the past year.


J: La La Land: This film is crafted with passion and care by Damien Chazelle, also the director of Whiplash. It has the feel of a classic musical, yet has some elements that modernize it. It glamorizes living in Los Angeles and then brings in the harsh reality to ground it. I’ve seen this film twice in theaters and have listened to the soundtrack multiple times, and it hasn’t gotten old for me.

A: Arrival – With its smart sci-fi plot about a linguistic professor making first contact with mysterious aliens, this film offers great cinematography and fantastic performances led by Amy Adams. Arrival is a film that not only feels personal, but commentates on human communication, earning it the top spot on my list.

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