January 23

James A. Molnar: Gold Knight’s Top 10 Movies of 2016

By James A. Molnar

2016 was a year of cinema that stood apart from the increasingly volatile world in which we find ourselves. In some, we learned just how hard the world can be and in others, we learned to dream again.

My favorite films of the year brought something magical to our world, whether it was a dragon or other creatures or a wonderful woman named Doris. They also brought dancing and singing. My favorite of the year told us we need to understand and communicate better with one another.

Here are my Top 10 films of 2016:

10. “Captain America: Civil War”
A beautiful collage of Marvel properties includes a marvelous appearance by Spider-Man. This is the Avengers sequel we were looking for and didn’t quite get.

9. “Room”
While it came out in theaters in 2015 for Oscar contention, I didn’t see it until 2016 and it has stayed with me. This is a stunning portrayal of love in the harshest of circumstances, where a mom raises her son in the roughest of situations yet he still knows love and kindness. The simple yet complex story is a revelation.

8. “Pete’s Dragon”petes-dragon_400
This beautiful live action adaptation of the Disney Classic is magical. The dragon is breathtaking and the bond between him and the orphaned Pete will make you bawl. Then, there’s the wide-eyed preservationist played wonderfully by Bryce Dallas-Howard. She completed the film that while saccharine is exactly what you’d expect and hope for.

7. “Hail, Caesar”
A picture about pictures. An enjoyable and sometime oddball look of the studio system set in the 1950s, featuring gorgeous cinematography and editing along with beautiful music. Josh Brolin is perfect as Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix. This is a love story to the glamour of classic Hollywood and I ate it up.

6. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
We return to the wizarding world and it was worth the wait. Eddie Redmayne is wonderful and so are his fantastic creatures. The visuals are also stunning. This film could not have been technically achieved when the first Harry Potter film came out. Can’t wait to continue our journey!

5. “Zootopia”
A wonderfully beautiful movie about a society with different animals and personalities, all made whole by a small bunny who believes in herself. This is a breath of fresh air in an increasingly scary, overly political world.

4. “Hello, My Name is Doris”
Doris is my spirit animal. She is shy, weird, quirky and totally loveable. Sally Field and Max Greenfield have wonderful chemistry in a story about a woman finding her voice and purpose later in life. Her best friend is the pugnaciously fun Roz, played to the T by Tyne Daly. And yes, a cat makes frequent appearances so I’m in love. The plot isn’t the reason to see the movie, it’s the trio of characters. This movie reminds me of the spirit of the series “Ugly Betty.” You root for Doris and you immediately fall in love with her.

la-la-land-alt_4003. “La La Land”
In a year full of mixed emotions and turmoil, “La La Land” adds warmth and joy. The nostalgia and preposterousness of this movie musical was a wonderful way to bring an end to the year.

2. “Hidden Figures”
Tell me a story about NASA and you’ve got my attention. Tell me a story about smart, strong black women and you can have my heart. From laughter to anger to crying, this story brings out all of the emotions.

1. “Arrival”
Let’s start by saying that Amy Adams is everything. The best quality of any superb science fiction drama is self-discovery, either through the characters on screen or with the viewers in the audience. This is more than just an alien movie and that’s why it succeeds so well. I’ve named it my best of 2016 because it dared to defy the genre and tell us about humanity and our insecurities, while giving us a message of connectedness and commonality.

James A. Molnar is Editor of The Gold Knight