The Best Films of the Year (So Far)

With the summer nearly halfway finished, and the last of the sizzling blockbusters -- and Ghostbusters -- flying into theaters, it's time to take a look back at some of the most memorable films of the year so far. While I may not have seen every film that's graced the screen this year yet, there's a good handful that left a unique impact on me. Here are just a few of my personal best films of the year: 

Spoiler Alert! Your good pal Deadpool may make an appearance...
The Revenant - While this wilderness thriller spinning the tale of frontiersman Hugh Glass may have technically released last year, I first witnessed this film and all its brutal glory in January of this year. With a superb cast, including the likes of Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, and a brilliant array of shivering cinematography, The Revenant was one of my most anticipated films of 2016. Thinking of it now, with it being the first Academy Award-winning role for DiCaprio and possibly one of the most beautifully-shot films of the year, this gripping tale of revenge and redemption kicked major ass.  

Good on you, sir. All you had to do was eat raw
bison and sleep in a horse.

Deadpool - Speaking of kicking major ass, one film that I couldn't possibly leave off my list was Deadpool, the Valentine's Day treat for every comic book fan alive. While it might not be as artful as The Revenant, Deadpool was definitely equal to the frontier thriller in my anticipation. Offering up a comic-accurate version of the famous "Merc with a Mouth" Marvel fans have been dying to see since...well, forever, full of crude wit and a fantastic cast led by Ryan Reynolds, while Deadpool wasn't the biggest superhero film to drop this year, it's certainly one of the best. 

The Witch - While I might not be a huge fan of the horror genre, another film that had a lasting impact on me earlier this year was the New England-set thriller The Witch. Catching my attention right away with its independent production and chilling trailer that offered up a slightly-less paranormal feel than most clichéd horror films today, the nail-biting debut of director Robert Eggers ended up being a captivating slow-burn thriller with enough frightening 17th century horrors (and eerie cinematography) to keep me watching.  

10 Cloverfield Lane - As with The Witch, I discovered yet another immensely ambiguous and amazingly frightening tale in Dan Trachtenberg's 10 Cloverfield Lane. Acting as a distant cousin to 2008's alien-invasion flick, Cloverfield, this thrilling debut managed to not only sell audiences with its own story outside of its 2008 namesake, but was also able to sell audiences on as simple a plot as three people trapped inside a bunker. With powerful performances from both John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and a fantastically-wound plot that revealed nothing until it absolutely needed to, this semi-sequel offered up one of the most intriguing thrillers of the year.

Eye in the Sky  - A late entry to my list, the low-flying political thriller that was Eye in the Sky -- based around the complications faced by a lieutenant general and a colonel as they order a drone strike on a group of terrorist in Kenya -- managed to pique my interest with its unique outlook on modern warfare. While it may have been directed by the same guy who churned out 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the acting alone in the film was enough to make the film memorable. With rock-solid performances by Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, and the late Alan Rickman as well, Eye in the Sky might have flown under the radar for some, but for fans of riveting political nail-biters, it hits its target with little to no trouble.   

Hardcore Henry - Just like the great battle between superhero films like Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there are always a number of bold and audacious contenders for the best action movie of the year. While this month's Bourne sequel might say otherwise, one of the coolest and most memorable action films of the year has to be Hardcore Henry. Unexpectedly brilliant in its grisly violence and subtle plot points that made it stand out from your typical shoot-em-up, this first-person showdown between one man (or robot?) and the vicious world against him made for an awesome movie-going experience.

Captain America: Civil War - While the first massive cinematic battle between Batman and Superman on the big screen may have been one of the most anticipated events of the year, the unfortunate lackluster debut of the superhero epic was no match for the sublime face-off between two of Marvel's biggest names in Captain America: Civil War. Ultimately the best Avengers film since the 2012 phenomenon (even without being an actual Avengers film), the massive showdown between the feuding sides of Tony Stark and Steve Rogers -- intertwined with a fascinating political focus -- was just the superhero film I wanted to kick off the summer. Introducing not only a new Spidey, but also one of the most investing heroes we've seen so far in Black Panther, Civil War kicked ass.

Looking sharp, Vision.

Finding Dory - Just as Pixar's last summer hit, Inside Out, did, this summer packed another emotional punch with the sequel to 2003's Finding Nemo, a genuine spin-off that evolved not only the lovable character of Dory, but also the expansive and fishy world in which Pixar sets its underwater stage. With hilarious performances by Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks, as well as the film's new cast, and a whirlwind of adventures in and out of the sea, Finding Dory offered up a brilliant picture that both kids and adults can cherish equally.

What's your favorite film of the year so far? Is it Batman and Superman duking it out? Colin Farrell turning into a lobster? Andy Samberg rapping? Let me know in the comment section below, and remember to follow my blog for more reviews and other exciting things coming soon!

Also stay tuned next week when I escape the addictive realm of cinema and take a look at one of the many riveting TV shows taking over the small screen. As its second season kicks off, I'm going back and reviewing the first season of USA Network's critically-acclaimed series, Mr. Robot. Be sure not to miss it!

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