Sarah's Top Ten Movies of 2016, Approved by Her 7-Year-Old
The biggest joy I had at the movies in 2016 was sharing them with my daughter, Fiona. Some of you have perhaps read my Passing the Buck column and have a small window into her movie watching preferences, so I thought that I would make my best of 2016 list all Fiona Approved.
Full disclosure: my criteria for films that are appropriate for my 7-year-old isn't going to line up with a lot of other parents' criteria. Trust me, every judgement you may want to hurl at me, I've already heard and taken into account before I took my daughter to see these movies.
So, in order of Fiona's favorite to least favorite, here they are!
"I really like Nick [Wilde]."
Fiona's favorite movie of the year includes her favorite thing: animals. As a young woman who aspires to be a tiger (or a lion, or a dragon) when she grows up, this one was a hard one to top, and 2016 offered nothing that moved her quite as much. With the message of equality and inclusion, I couldn't be happier that she took so much to it. Zootopia took the discussion of race that's been running through the evening news and presented it to the youth, in hopes that they will do better with it than we, as adults, did.
"I liked ‘Shiny’ and ‘How Far I'll Go.’ They're good songs."
Fiona has never resonated with the princess crowd. She didn't even like the movie Brave. So when she took a shining to 2016's Disney animated musical, Moana, I was pretty thrilled. Not only is it a fun movie that kept her entertained, but it had a chief's daughter didn't need anyone to save her. Finally, a rough and tumble Disney "princess" for rough and tumble little girls. Fiona also gives special mention to the chicken, Heihei, for being hilarious.
3. Kubo and the Two Strings
"I liked the music and stuff. I liked Beetle. He was funny and cool."
The heart wrenching tale from Laika Studios comes in next. The visuals are stunning here. Fiona was especially impressed and interested in how the stop motion animation was done. The story about family brought tears to my eyes, and I hope she can relate to the feelings of love and togetherness it fosters throughout.
4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
"I liked the beasts, especially the Swooping Evil. That was a really cool monster."
Recently, we have been reading through the Harry Potter series with Fiona. In fact, she was Harry Potter for Halloween in 2016. Fantastic Beasts really played into her love of animals and fantastic creatures on this world. Again, this film taps ever so gently into themes of racism, acceptance and community where you least expect it. With repeating themes like this throughout children's cinema this year, it's almost as if we're directing a message, that once failed, to a new audience. Hopefully, it works.
"I like the girl with the white hair. Holtzman. And the dragon ghost." I don't have the heart to tell her it's supposed to be a devil ghost, not a dragon ghost.
If you let the vocal hatred for this movie keep you from the theaters, then cinema has truly reached a sad state of affairs. Coming out of the theater, not me, Fiona or my husband Caleb had a bad thing to say about it. The comedy kept all three of us in stitches the whole time, and the action kept Fiona engaged. What's more, it gave Fiona an entire cast of badass ladies to look up to.
6. Doctor Strange
"I like the cape."
Amidst the slew of recent superhero movies, this Marvel feature brought something new and exciting to the screen. Doctor Strange's smaller story evoked the beloved Defender's origin story in both a very new and very faithful way. Fiona has also been seen practicing her magic hand gestures and pretending to use a sling ring which is always a good indication of whether or not something made an impression on her.
"I like the unicorn that farts money. What? It's funny. I like the music, too."
Fiona believes comedy to be the highest order of entertainment. She first became aware of Deadpool from comic books and little cameos in Marvel cartoons. After receiving lots of attention for cosplaying as a tiny Deadpool at Wizard World Portland in February 2016, she was hooked. She didn't see the film in theaters, but when we got it on Blu-ray we watched it at home, having her cover her eyes at key moments. Irreverent and goofy, Deadpool is every 7-year-old's dream superhero. Just replace talk about bonkers with talk about farts and you're golden.
8. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
"Darth Vader was amazing."
Fiona didn't love Rogue One, but she liked it enough thanks to K-2SO and Darth Vader's small but ample role. I'm certain she'll want to view it again when she doesn't have to sit through the whole thing, but the emotional weight and devastation just doesn't carry the weight for her. I am happy to report that she did enjoy the plucky main character, Jyn.
9. Captain America: Civil War
"I liked Black Panther, Spider-Man and Ant-Man."
This one isn’t everyone's favorite Marvel film. While it didn't top Fiona's list either, when Black Panther appeared for the first time, Fiona jumped up and down in her seat. Simply the visual of Black Panther was enough to send her into fits of joy, the news that he was going to have his own movie was almost more than she could handle. While Civil War didn't stick with her a whole lot, it did get her excited for a couple of future Marvel films featuring Spider-Man and Black Panther, and opened up her catalogue of superhero knowledge even more.
10. Star Trek Beyond
If it wasn't apparent by now, Fiona really loves creature design. As an aspiring artist, she spends hours at a time drawing dragons and other mythical beings. Star Trek Beyond has a smorgasbord of beautifully designed beings from space beyond Earth, which she is especially fond of. Add in an exciting script, lots of action and the beloved crew of the Enterprise, and she couldn't tear her eyes away. Showing Fiona the Star Trek films is always a treat for me. When she was only 2 years old I would ask, "Who is the captain of the Enterprise?" To which she would say, "Captain Kirk!" "And who's his first mate?" "Spock!" Fiona knows the series is important to me, and perhaps that tempers her tolerance for it, but it's nice to have something to pass on.