The MacGuffin’s Top 10 Films of 2016

2016 was another great year for films, and the writers on The MacGuffin all had their own favorites.  This top 10 list for 2016 was narrowed down from 43 films that the writers all thought were worthy.  There is a tie for both #6 and #7, and many writers did not have a chance to see films that are not in a wide release yet (A Monster Calls, Paterson, Lion).  The push to get films considered for awards season also results in them not reaching the general public before the end of 2016.  Here is The MacGuffin’s Top 10 films of 2016:

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1. Moonlight

From Allen Almachar’s review: “Some might see this and compare to it Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (2014) which also followed a young person through different ages. Moonlight is better in the way Jenkins shows us how pivotal moments cause a ripple effect in a person’s psyche. The final third is the strongest, because we can see how everything that has happened helped mold Chiron into an adult. His lack of positive re-enforcement, combined with a distorted view of what it means to be a “man” forced Chiron down a path that is heartbreaking. The real sadness is how Chiron is unable to cope with his feelings. He’s unable to let his true side come to light: he is playing a self-appointed role, hiding in plain sight. Of the three actors who play Chiron, Trevante Rhodes has the benefit of a full life behind his iteration. Ashton Sanders plays the role with anger and confusion (very well, I might add), but Rhodes plays the adult version with a hardened longing. We know there is tenderness inside him, but it’s covered by a metal shield.”

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2. Arrival

From Sarah Ksiazek’s review: “Beyond the story details of Arrival, there is a need to talk about how it was filmed. Denis Villeneuve along director of photography Bradford Young and the rest of his crew have not made this film look like the typical blockbuster, big budget alien invasion film we are so used to seeing. I would not even qualify Arrival as a blockbuster. It is art. It is set in Montana (actually Quebec, Canada) using an open field surrounded by hills or mountains along with the rolling clouds and fog. This lends the pod to being more mysterious and beautiful and devoid of modern noise. Comparing the setting with say New York City, it would become a different film. Also worth mentioning is that lighting of scenes is dim. To me, the lighting made it more real, less sensationalistic. Focus is also used as a tool to draw your attention away from a conversation or an action and place it on the person or thing the audience should be focusing on in that moment. The focus drives the important moments or things you should be keeping in the back of your head as the film progresses.”

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3. La La Land

From Allen Almachar’s review: “Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (2016) is many things, but most of all it is a celebration. It basks in the wonder and excitement of young love, the optimism of the dreamer, the nostalgia of classic Hollywood, and the emotion of musical fantasy. Chazelle – whose last film Whiplash (2014) took a cynical look at the extremes musicians take for perfection – makes a complete turn with this musical romance. There is heart bursting at the seams in every frame. In a time where uncertainty and division has invaded the public consciousness, here is a picture that reminds us of the goodness of people, that there’s warmth and kindness still left for us to embrace.”


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Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

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