Exclaim!'s Top 16 Films of 2016 Best of 2016

Exclaim!'s Top 16 Films of 2016  Best of 2016
Maybe we just craved the escapism, but for all of the terrible stuff that happened in 2016 there sure were some fantastic films. From surprising comedies to modern musicals to spine-tingling horror films to singular dramas, these are Exclaim!'s top choices for the year in film. 

16. Everybody Wants Some!!
(dir. by Richard Linklater)

Indie film great Richard Linklater's latest feature was initially billed as a "spiritual sequel" to Dazed and Confused, but it's so much more. Part college party comedy, part underdog sports drama, part coming of age movie, Everybody Wants Some!! perfectly captures the intoxicating experience of life after high school and all the joy and confusion that comes with finding yourself. This should be required watching for anyone in their early 20s (or anyone who doesn't appreciate the complexities and nuances of pitching, because that shit is really, really hard. )(Read more.)
Matthew Ritchie

15. Under the Shadow
(dir. by Babak Anvari)

Babak Anvari's Under the Shadow is a startling directorial debut, an incredibly tense political horror that feels physically and emotionally claustrophobic. Set almost entirely within one apartment complex during the Iran-Iraq war, Shideh (a magnetic Narges Rashidi) and her young daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi, in a promising debut) begin experiencing horrors both inside and outside their home. Every ambient sound and claustrophobic shot is imbued with Shideh and Dorsa's restless frustration and mounting fear as evil slowly begins to build around them. Under the Shadow is masterful at marrying real-life fears with the supernatural, until the audience is no longer sure which is more scary. (Read more.)
Laura Di Girolamo

14. Swiss Army Man
(dir. by Daniels)

When it premiered at Sundance last year, Spike Jonze-superfans-turned-music video directors Daniels' debut feature film was met with massive walkouts. But Swiss Army Man rewards viewers willing to watch past the opening scene, in which Paul Dano, stranded alone on a deserted island, rides Daniel Radcliffe's fart-propelled corpse across part of the Pacific Ocean to safety. Yes, there's a lot of farting, rogue boners and fart-powered weaponry, but Swiss Army Man is also about real emotions, namely love and friendship. Personally, I'd take it over a Whit Stillman movie any day, but maybe I just really like the idea of Harry Potter vomiting gallons of stagnant water into another award-winning actor's mouth. (Read more.)
Matthew Ritchie

13. Midnight Special
(dir. by Jeff Nichols)

For his first film since 2012's critically acclaimed Mud (and first for a major studio), American filmmaker Jeff Nichols decided to stray from the southern character dramas for which he became known for and make a stylish sci-fi film. Casual moviegoers couldn't quite connect with its unfolding narrative and weird ending, but, much like Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, Midnight Special will stand the test of time thanks to its message, moody vibe and mysterious story. This one will leave you thinking. (Read more.)
Matthew Ritchie

12. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
(dir. by Taika Waititi)

Taika Watiti's Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a true original from moment one, offering a delightfully offbeat take on an unlikely family dealing with loneliness. Julian Dennison shines as Ricky Baker, a preteen juvenile delinquent whose curiosity, endless optimism and a hilarious ineptitude for dealing with the New Zealand bush makes him the heart of the film. As he tumbles about the wilderness with surly foster father "Uncle Hec" (an equally wonderful Sam Neill), each teaches the other about friendship, family, loss, and "the skuxx life." Hunt for the Wilderpeople is so fresh and grounded that it succeeds at balancing emotion with silliness, quirk with sincerity, and is sweet without a hint of schmaltz. (Read more.)
Laura Di Girolamo