Last week, The Academy Awards announced their 2017 nominees. Among them, the standout film is “La La Land,” netting a total of 14 nominations, making it tied for the most nominations ever received with “All About Eve” and “Titanic.”
There were many nominations in the various categories to non-white actors, after the backlash the awards received last year for their all white nominees. But this is not the only way the Oscars are outdated. Best Actor? Best Sound Design? Best Editing? These categories are stale and boring. Instead, I made my own categories for the best films of 2016, designed to be a bit more entertaining than these old standards.
Best Date Movie: “Sing Street.” This captivating, coming of age story is about Irish teenagers forming a new wave band in the ‘80s. It is the perfect movie to take someone out to. “Sing Street” is fun, heartwarming and above that, good. John Carney’s third feature will win over even the awkwardest of dates.
Most Aesthetic Movie: “The Neon Demon.” Nicolas Winding Refn is a director whose use of color will always intrigue me, and his most recent effort is perhaps his strongest in this field. The purples and reds that fade in and out of this film are beautiful and striking. Anyone who is looking for film as visual art will not be disappointed.
Best Kids Movie: “Moana.” Up against tough competition such as “Zootopia” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” 2016 truly was the year of fresh and original animated children’s films. All three are compelling and worthwhile, leaving little time to tropes and well-worn territory they instead tell captivating stories in fresh new worlds. What makes “Moana” go above and beyond “Zootopia’s” real world connections and “Kubo’s” incredible art design is simply the joy that “Moana” leaves the viewer with, along with a few great songs stuck in your head.
Best Horror Movie: “The Witch.” Horror this year was another tough category. “The Invitation,” “Green Room,” and “The Alchemist Cookbook” all vied for this top spot but in the end, nothing I saw this year was as fresh and new to the genre as Robert Eggers’ “The Witch.” Set up as if puritanical fears in the new world were revealed to be true, “The Witch” is not the easiest watch with the old English language, but it is well worth it and a truly horrifying film.
Best Documentary: “Tower.” Innovative and fresh, “Tower” is all about one of the first school shootings to ever occur in 1966 when a sniper climbed to the top floor of the University of Texas tower and shot into the crowd. What makes the film so interesting is that it is told almost entirely through rotoscope. Another tough watch, but one even more rewarding than “The Witch.” “Tower” takes a look at the first of what is now a common violence we must deal with as modern day Americans.
Best Superhero Movie: “Midnight Special.” No, the best superhero was not “Captain America: Civil War,” “Dr . Strange,” or, for you contrarians, “Batman v. Superman.” Instead it was Jeff Nichols’ long awaited follow up to 2013’s Mud. “Midnight Special” is about a boy with strange powers that must be saved from a cult. “Midnight Special” is a bit better than Nichols’ other film that come out last year, “Loving,” though both are more concrete examples that we are dealing with a modern master of the craft.
Worst Movie: “Suicide Squad.” Oh man, what a misfire. DC’s attempt to right the ship that started to go down with “Batman v. Superman,” this film is a shockingly awful disaster that seems almost impossible to get so much wrong. From boring characters to miscast actors (Jared Leto, please calm down), “Suicide Squad” is barely watchable and entirely not worth the effort.
Best Movie: “Moonlight.” All right, I had to sneak in one category that the Academy shares, but the beautiful and intense art of “Moonlight” is something that has to be praised, again and again. The coming of age story of a black, gay youth in ‘80s Miami is everything one can want from the world of cinema. It is THE film of 2016; few films can even reach what it attempted on screen. Exactly what the world needs in cinema today, “Moonlight” is a masterpiece that will keep on giving for years to come.