The Best Films of 2016 Streaming on Netflix/Amazon Prime
2016 is almost at an end, and with that brings a close to a stellar year in feature filmmaking, with tons of fantastic offerings from a wide variety of genres. But if you're feeling behind in terms of what's been released this year, don't fret, as we've compiled a top 10 of the must-see 2016 films, all of which are currently streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Without further ado...
The debut feature from director Robert Eggers, The Witch is a puritan-era horror film which takes its sense of terror from the stylings of the classical tradition, feeling at times beholden to the work of F.W. Murnau with the icy touch of Ingmar Bergman. Following a family banished from their town for being suspected of witchcraft, they attempt to resettle outside of the woods, but before long are subjected to the actions of the terrifying beings living just outside their reach.
Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier crafts an engaging and certainly tense thriller about a punk band who agree to play a gig at a neo-Nazi club out of desperation, only to later witness an orchestrated backstage murder, and suddenly become trapped inside with no escape. While not for the faint at heart, the film provides an amazing villainous turn from Patrick Stewart, and a wonderful performance from the sadly departed Anton Yelchin, that makes the film worth watching on its own.
Once and Begin Again writer-director John Carney crafts this semi-autobiographical story about a young boy (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) living in Dublin during the mid-1980s, forced to move to a new school amidst ongoing problems in the state and within his own family. Inspired by the musical trends of the era, he decides to form a rock band with his fellow classmates, in the hopes of impressing an aspiring model (Lucy Boynton). With a story that moves between several emotional beats, both high and low, and a soundtrack that combines several hits of the decade along with some amazing original songs (that deserve attention come Oscar season), its a great, heartwarming film worth taking a chance on.
Love & Friendship
Whit Stillman's adaptation of Jane Austen's novella Lady Susan reunites Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny, the stars of his 1998 sensation The Last Days of Disco, in another kind of period-setting that works to full effect. When Lady Susan Vernon (Beckinsale) arrives at the estate of her in-laws to avoid a recent bout of public scrutiny, she becomes determined to find a new spouse for her daughter, as well as herself. Full of wit and charm, and some standout performances, it's a remarkable and pleasing film, which may also stand to be one of the best Austen adaptations to date.
Morris from America
This coming-of-age dramedy from Chad Hartigan features an amazing turn from comedic actor Craig Robinson, as a father who takes his son to Germany for career-related purposes. The two struggle in their own ways to adapt to a new culture; Morris (Markees Christmas) trying to assimilate his love for rap music in an environment that is more geared towards techno and EDM, and his father, Curtis, who is trying to get over the recent loss of his wife. Mixing together deft humour and sullen heartbreak, it's a remarkable under-the-radar feature that is worthy of more attention.
This indie drama from Dennis Hauck tells the story of a private investigator (John Hawkes) who becomes involved in a circle of rime and sleazy characters. Notable for being composed of five single takes, each running approximately twenty-two minutes, its a uniquely composed film with a story thats equally as engaging.
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids
Jonathan Demme, director of some of the greatest concert films of all-time like the Talking Heads' Stop Making Sense, films the final performance of Justin Timberlake's 20/20 Experience Tour in Las Vegas. With resounding visual flair and attention, the film puts the viewer right in the throes of each song, in a way that elevates the performativity of Timberlake and the massive ensemble of instrumentalists and dancers. While its the kind of film that really benefits from being watched on a big screen, it's just as captivating and engaging at home. Even for those who aren't big fans of Timberlake's music, it remains a compelling, spectacle-driven experience that should not be missed.
Selma filmmaker Ava DuVernay helms this documentary about the injustices present in the American prison system, and how the structure of the system allows for slavery to persist through the racial biases of mass incarceration. Made in secret and not officially announced until right before its premiere at the New York Film Festival, DuVernay's film explores the issue from all angles with a host of interviewees, taking apart layers of history to show just how American society has come to this point, and how it has become a predominant issue in waves of protests such as Black Lives Matter.
Ben Wheatley, the British director who has made some of the most interesting and polarizing films of the last few years (Kill List, Sightseers, A Field in England) returns with this adaptation of the 1975 novel by J.G. Ballard, about a luxury apartment building which becomes the stage for class warfare between the occupants living on the top floors and those regulated to the lower areas. At times, feeling like a riff on David Cronenberg's Shivers (the director previously adapted Ballard's Crash in 1996), it boasts an immensely talented cast including Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss, and is worth checking out for the sheer insanity it devolves into.
Karyn Kusama's horror-thriller involves a couple (Logan Marshall-Green, Emayatzy Corinealdi) attending a dinner party hosted by a group of estranged friends, of whom have become members of a new age group called The Invitation, that uses philosophy to help deal with grief and pain. As the group's motivations are very suspect and mysterious, what begins as a quiet and relaxing get-together quickly involves into a tense and suspenseful mystery about the intentions behind this gathering and the consequences that lie ahead.