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The Films of 2016

It's time for the 20th annual Matt Awards!

I've always loved movies, and have always disagreed -- to a greater or lesser extent -- with the choices of the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Therefore, The Matt Awards are here to showcase what I consider to be the best in cinema every year. It is, of course, another list of truth from yours truly.

2016 was a very good year for movies. There was a diversity of content, tone, acting, directing, cinematography and mood. There was, truly, something for everyone. This made it very difficult for me to decide on precise favorites, but I've managed to do so. I highly recommend the following selections, even the choice for Best Picture which is, admittedly, a bit quirky and doesn't make for conventional viewing.

So, without further adieu....

Best Horror Film: The Conjuring 2

This is a category I started last year, and 2016 sees it continue with a movie I found to be filled with a constant sense of dread. This sequel, set in England, was about as creepy as it gets. A few other films should merit an honorable mention, though I consider them to be more thriller/suspense than horror. They are: Don't Breathe, 10 Cloverfield Lane and The Witch.

Best Visual Effects: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Like The Force Awakens the year before, Rogue One wins this category based on its stellar and seamless combination of old school, physical sets, and computer-generated graphics. They make for a realistic, gritty fantasy world. More movies should follow suit.

Best Score: James Newton Howard, for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I've listened to this score countless times, and enjoyed it all four times I watched the film. Jaunty tunes and soaring themes filled with such joy.

Best Song: The Riddle of the Model, from Sing Street

While La La Land certainly has its share of nice tunes, nothing beats the catchy songfest that was Sing Street. Some folks consider Drive It Like You Stole It to be the best song from the movie. They would be wrong. This one is tops, hands down.

Best Screenplay: Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, for Swiss Army Man

A man stranded on an island gains a fresh perspective on life and love from a farting, talking corpse. That's the high concept pitch for Swiss Army Man, and it works. Not only is it strikingly original, but the script proves to be effectively moving and enlightening.

Best Cinematography: Jarin Blaschke, for The Witch

The stark fields of old New England are realize in all their creepy glory in this film. The movie wouldn't be the same without its excellent cinematography.

Best Supporting Actress: Naomie Harris, for Moonlight

So many great performances to choose from here, including Tyne Daly, Lucy Boynton and Alison Sudol, to name just a few. In the end, I went with British actress Naomie Harris, who plays Paula, the strung-out mother of Chiron in Moonlight. She makes an unforgettable impression, and also proves that she's wasted as Moneypenny in the Bond series.

Best Supporting Actor: Andre Holland, for Moonlight

Mahershala Ali has (rightfully) received a lot of attention in this category from the official awards circuit, though I was most impressed by Andre Holland's performance as adult Kevin. His scenes during the third act of Moonlight are graceful and powerful, and he adds an extra dimension to the moving humanity of the story.

Best Actress: Emma Stone, for La La Land

While I think of this movie as being a tad overrated, there's no denying that Emma Stone does a lovely, wonderful job in her role, and really carries the film. I've seen the movie twice, and she is undoubtedly the best part about it.

Best Actor (tie): Michael Keaton, for The Founder  --and-- Daniel Radcliffe, for Swiss Army Man

In the 19 years I've been doing The Matt Awards, there's never been a tie. I'm not a huge fan of them, honestly, and they are very rare among the Academy Awards. Still, there's a first time for everything. 

Michael Keaton gives a tour de force performance as Ray Kroc, "founder" of McDonald's in The Founder. He is the the movie.

So much could have gone wrong with Swiss Army Man if Daniel Radcliffe had put a foot wrong as a corpse that is able to think and feel. As it stands, he carries the film with his deft performance.

In the end, I could not ignore either of these roles, so they both win.

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, for Moonlight

It can be frustrating, at times, watching a movie and wishing for a better camera angle, or that the scene had been done differently, or that the movie had ended on a better shot. Not so with Moonlight. What so many directors often get wrong, Barry Jenkins got right.

Best Picture: Swiss Army Man

Wow, this was a tough decision. Moonlight could have easily taken this, but Swiss Army Man was so different, so awesome, so emotional and, ultimately, made such a personal impact on me that it simply had to be my best picture. It is both a bizarre, yet very human film. I'm not sure you'll 'get' it, but at the very least give it a try. Or not. As you wish.

Following are my Top 10 favorite films of 2016:

1. Swiss Army Man
2. Moonlight
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
4. Hello, My Name is Doris
5. Hell or High Water
6. Sing Street
7. Eye in the Sky
8. Dead-pool
9. Paterson
10. Rogue One

And a quick recap of The Matt Awards:

Best Picture: Swiss Army Man
Best Director: Barry Jenkins, for Moonlight
Best Actor (tie): Michael Keaton, for The Founder
                           Daniel Radcliffe, for Swiss Army Man
Best Actress: Emma Stone, for La La Land
Best Supporting Actor: Andre Holland, for Moonlight
Best Supporting Actress: Naomie Harris, for Moonlight
Best Cinematography: Jarin Blaschke, for The Witch
Best Screenplay: Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, for Swiss Army Man
Best Song: The Riddle of the Model, from Sing Street
Best Score: James Newton Howard, for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Best Visual Effects: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Best Horror Film: The Conjuring 2

So, there you have it. When compiling this list, it became dishearteningly apparent that I had, for the first time in years, not seen a foreign or animated feature, so those categories are missing this year. It is an embarrassment I hope not to repeat in future.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go see these movies!


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