2016 will go down as one of the suckiest years we've seen since Michael Bay first decided to attend film school, but fortunately, life doesn't always imitate art. Sure, critics were quick to call out the usual wave of mindless blockbusters that clogged up our cinemas, but among the disappointments — including a certain comic book film whose title sounds like Through Your Side Bod — 2016 was actually a far better year for movies than people might realize.
Earlier this month, we asked Movie Pilot readers to vote for their favorite movie of 2016 and the responses flew in thick and fast. After we finished collating each of your votes, we were happy to discover that some truly exceptional films were chosen this year.
From farting corpses and Polynesian princesses to law-enforcing rabbits and lesbian necrophilia, 2016 catered to every taste with an array of stunning movies that resonated with both Movie Pilot readers and audiences worldwide. Without further ado, here are the top 25 movies of 2016, as chosen by you.
Much like the aliens in the film, #Arrival descended upon cinemas with little fanfare, but caused a huge commotion once people realized the impact of what they'd seen. From the slow-burn twist to that Oscar-worthy performance from Amy Adams, Arrival is an exceptional piece of filmmaking that will stay with you long after first contact has been made.
2. Swiss Army Man
There's so much about #SwissArmyMan that shouldn't work, but the film that will forever be referred to as 'the one with Harry Potter's farting corpse' somehow transcended such base descriptions to become one of the most memorable movie-going experiences of the year.
3. Hunt For The Wilderpeople
Like an offbeat Pixar movie filmed in live-action, #HuntForTheWilderpeople is infused with the kind of unique charm that's all too rare in cinema these days. Let's just hope that director Taika Waititi will bring the charisma of this Kiwi coming-of-age-drama to his next project, Thor: Ragnarok.
4. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Shrouded in secrecy during the development stage, Dan Trachtenberg's follow up to the alien invasion film Cloverfield took us by surprise by improving on its predecessor, primarily thanks to its claustrophobic atmosphere and a chilling performance from John Goodman.
Just as comic book fatigue was beginning to set in, #RyanReynolds tore up the rule book and introduced us to a brand new kind of hero in #Deadpool, one who's more than happy to sever off his own hand, pull a ring out of his ass and stop mid-fight for a quick chat with the audience.
6. The Neon Demon
You can love it or hate it, but few can deny at least that #TheNeonDemon is a sumptuous orgy for the eyes. It perfectly captures the cruelty and #horror of the fashion world in all of its eye-popping, resplendent glory.
7. The Handmaiden
Anyone who worried that #Korean director Park Chan-wook wouldn't be able to match the brilliance of Oldboy need look no further than #TheHandmaiden, which tells an opulent and fascinating story of love and betrayal between two women in Japanese-occupied Korea.
9. Captain America: Civil War
Despite being Avengers 2.5 in all but name, #CaptainAmericaCivilWar somehow managed the impossible, balancing the huge ensemble of the #MCU with the personal story of Steve Rogers, all while making Ant-Man and Spider-Man somehow cool again.
10. A Monster Calls
A Monster Calls isn't the first film to explore childhood struggles through the realm of fantasy, but few are as affecting or downright devastating to watch. This gothic fable deserves to be seen by a far wider audience than the youth-oriented marketing would suggest.
Mike Flanagan has made quite a name for himself in the world of horror recently, helming both Oculus and Ouija: Origin Of Evil in the past few years. But no film captures the promise of his talent better than #Hush, a home invasion movie that stars a deaf women in the lead role.
12. Star Trek: Beyond
#StarTrek purists may object to Hollywood's approach in recent years, but Beyond remains one of the most purely enjoyable franchise releases of 2016, combining old school escapism with thrilling, state of the art special effects.
13. Closet Monster
Gay coming-of-age dramas are a dime a dozen in arthouse cinema, but Stephen Dunn's feature debut is a decidedly different beast than most, utilizing a killer soundtrack, Cronenberg-style horror and a talking hamster to create one of the most unusual #LGBT film we've seen in years.
14. Manchester By The Sea
While Ben Affleck has grabbed all the headlines for his involvement in the DCEU, his brother Casey has quietly snuck into cinemas with one of the year's most affecting performances in Manchester By The Sea, drumming up Oscar buzz for this tragic drama.
15. Doctor Strange
Marvel took a leap of faith with this one, adapting one of their lesser-known heroes in a magical yarn that boasts the most inventive villain take down in the history of the MCU. Come to #DoctorStrange for the Inception-style visuals, and stay for the dizzying fight scenes.
16. Don’t Breathe
The success of #DontBreathe seems almost as unnatural as... well, not breathing. Yet, out of nowhere, this story of a blind man defending his home from intruders became one of the most successful horrors of the year. We'll never look at a turkey baster in the same way again.
17. Nocturnal Animals
It's been seven years since Tom Ford first dazzled us with A Single Man, but in the time since his feature debut was released, the director has refined his skills in Nocturnal Animals, enlisting A-list stars such as #AmyAdams and #JakeGyllenhaal to bring the haunting thriller to life.
Few horror directors are as divisive as #RobZombie, but for fans who enjoy his distinctive brand of gore, 31 is a return to form, utilizing a carnival setting in even more horrifying ways than audiences have come to expect.
19. The Embrace of the Serpent
Psychedelic, violent, intoxicating... Few films deserve to be called truly original, but The Embrace Of The Serpent is a rare beast, following a bizarre friendship that forms between an Amazonian shaman and two forensic scientists in the jungle.
We all wish we lived in a world without humans from time to time, but who knew that the reality of this would be so much fun? From start to finish, #Zootopia is an absolute riot, one that contains enough fuzzy animals and important life lessons for the kids to enjoy, while throwing a knowing wink out to all the adults in the audience too.
Anthology horror films are a decidedly hit or miss affair, but the highlights of Holidays make up for the few weak links. After all, where else in 2016 would you see a mutant Easter Bunny, or a man electrocuted by a dildo sewn into his ass? Wait, maybe don't answer that one.
22. The Nice Guys
Few buddy comedies have ever matched the thrilling heights of Shane Black's Lethal Weapon series, so it's fitting that the man himself returned this year to direct The Nice Guys, which pitted Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe against one another in typically hilarious fashion.
23. The Lobster
The premise of The Lobster is easily one of the most bizarre that made its way to cinemas this year — but what else would you expect from Yorgos Lanthimos, the director behind the incestuous Dogtooth? For his English language debut, the Greek filmmaker toned down these sensibilities somewhat, instead exploring a dystopian future where those who can't find love are forced to turn into an animal of their choosing.
24. Hell Or High Water
Texan brothers unite in this modern Western from David Mackenzie, who reminds us once again that this genre is still far more relevant than it's often given credit for, especially when backed by powerhouse performances from Jeff Bridges and #ChrisPine.
25. Kubo And The Two Strings
From the studio behind Coraline and Paranorman comes yet another visual feast for the eyes, this time in the form of Kubo And The Two Strings. Few animated films are as bold or daring in both their visuals and storytelling, making Laika's latest offering one of the most original animated films you'll see this year or any other.
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Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise that some of the year's most popular films are surprisingly missing from the list, as ranking movies can be an extremely subjective endeavour. Financial hits such as The Conjuring 2 and critical darlings like The Witch, Finding Dory and Everybody Wants Some!! didn't make the cut unfortunately, but the vast array of quality movies on display here still proves that 2016 might not have been such a bad year after all.
Do you agree with the Movie Pilot readers? What was your favorite film of 2016? Let us know in the comments section below!