Best films of 2016: More lists!

SDG Original source: National Catholic Register

The Academy Awards are upon us, which means it’s time once again for my annual round-up of the best films of last year according to some of my friends and peers (see previous years).

By the way, if you missed my 2016 top 10, check it out.

This year I’ve collected 10 lists so far, plus mine. As always, the lists were chosen from a circle of friends and peers who are Christians and whose faith in some way informs their film writing. These lists (and, where available, the writing behind them) represent a cross-section of thoughtful film appreciation among Christians, and, while my remarks below emphasize the commonality, there is also a significant diversity of thought.

Looking over the lists below, I’m pleased to note that a striking consensus developed around three films that just so happen to be my top three films of 2016.

Listed on a whopping 8 of 11 lists, no film was picked more often than Silence, my no. 3 film. Right behind it, with 7 mentions apiece, are Cameraperson (my no. 2) and Paterson (my no. 1). (Of these two, Cameraperson is the better loved, two no. 1 picks, two no. 2 picks and a no. 3 pick.)

No film got 6 picks. After the top three, the next most honored was Hell or High Water, with 5 picks. A few made four lists (The Fits; La La Land; Love & Friendship; Moonlight; The Witch) or three (Arrival, The Neon Demon; Toni Erdman).

​All the overlap makes the unique choices more interesting. Among the more personal picks are Certain Women, Green Room, The Handmaiden, Rams, Sunset Song and We’re the Superhumans. (My own two picks duplicated by no one else were both foreign animation: The Red Turtle and April and the Extraordinary World.)

Here are the lists, with my rankings noted in parentheses where applicable.

Evan Cogswell (Catholic Cinephile) has a top 10 with runners-up and more:

  1. Silence (no. 3)
  2. The Witch (no. 8)
  3. Cameraperson (no. 2)
  4. Paterson (no. 1)
  5. The Handmaiden
  6. Our Little Sister (runner-up)
  7. Hell or High Water (honorable mention)
  8. The Edge of Seventeen
  9. Love & Friendship (no. 6)
  10. Certain Women

Gareth Higgins (Movies and Meaning, The Porch) has a fuzzy top 10 (12):

  1. Silence (no. 3) / We’re the Superhumans
  2. Moonlight
  3. Embrace of the Serpent
  4. Rams
  5. Queen of Katwe (no. 10)
  6. Paterson (no. 1)
  7. Lemonade
  8. Arrival (no. 9)
  9. Knight of Cups
  10. Rules Don’t Apply / Hunt for the Wilderpeople (runner-up)

Christian Hamaker (Schaeffer’s Ghost, Crosswalk) has a top 20:

  1. Knight of Cups
  2. Everybody Wants Some!!
  3. Hacksaw Ridge (honorable mention)
  4. Sunset Song
  5. The Neon Demon
  6. Things to Come
  7. American Honey
  8. Toni Erdmann
  9. Hell or High Water (runner-up)
  10. Born to Be Blue

Josh Larsen (Filmspotting) has a top 10:

  1. Hail, Caesar!
  2. The Fits (runner-up)
  3. The Lobster
  4. Cemetery of Splendor
  5. La La Land
  6. The Neon Demon
  7. Moonlight
  8. Cameraperson (no. 2)
  9. Toni Erdmann
  10. Loving (honorable mention)

Joel Mayward (Cinemayward) has a top 20:

  1. La La Land
  2. Tower
  3. Sing Street
  4. The Fits (runner-up)
  5. Moonlight
  6. Hail, Caesar!
  7. Cameraperson (no. 2)
  8. The Innocents (honorable mention)
  9. Hell or High Water (runner-up)
  10. Knight of Cups

Kenneth R. Morefield (1More Film Blog) has a top 10:

  1. A Monster Calls
  2. La La Land
  3. Newtown
  4. Hell or High Water
  5. Manchester by the Sea
  6. The Edge of Seventeen
  7. Tower
  8. Loving (honorable mention)
  9. Captain Fantastic
  10. Starving the Beast

Victor Morton (Rightwing Film Geek) has a top 10 with honorable mentions and addenda:

  1. Cameraperson (no. 2)
  2. Manchester by the Sea
  3. The Witch (no. 8)
  4. Love & Friendship (no. 6)
  5. Everybody Wants Some!!
  6. Hell or High Water (runner-up)
  7. Silence (no. 3)
  8. Kate Plays Christine
  9. Paterson (no. 1)
  10. Julieta (honorable mention)

Jeffrey Overstreet (Looking Closer) has a top 20 at Letterboxd:

  1. Cameraperson (no. 2)
  2. Paterson (no. 1)
  3. Silence (no. 3)
  4. I am Not Your Negro (runner-up)
  5. The Fits (runner-up)
  6. Hell or High Water (runner-up)
  7. Fences
  8. Lemonade
  9. The BFG
  10. The 13th

Lauren Wilford (Bright Wall Dark Room) has a running list at Letterboxd:

  1. The Lobster
  2. The Witch (no. 8)
  3. Arrival (no. 9)
  4. La La Land
  5. The Innocents (honorable mention)
  6. The Neon Demon
  7. Green Room
  8. Love & Friendship (no. 6)
  9. Swiss Army Man
  10. Silence (no. 3)

Alissa Wilkinson (Vox, formerly of Christianity Today) has a top 21:

  1. Moonlight
  2. Cameraperson (no. 2)
  3. O.J.: Made in America (no. 5)
  4. Toni Erdmann
  5. Paterson (no. 1)
  6. Manchester by the Sea
  7. The Fits (runner-up)
  8. Silence
  9. Under the Shadow (runner-up)
  10. Things to Come
More Lists, You're the Top