Thursday, March 9, 2017

2016 In Review: The Films

Better late than never seems to be my blogging style these days. Approaching on two months since my favorite books of 2016 post went up, the film half is finally making its appearance.

At the beginning of 2016, I made the decision to make a list of every movie I watched that year so I could keep better track of the ones I saw and look back. It is somewhat incomplete, because I know I forgot to write down some, but most of them are recorded and I hope to keep better track this year.

Anyhow, here is a list of my top 10 films watched in 2016. Please note, that, after much debate, I have decided to only count films I saw for the first time. I’m going to talk about re-watched films at the very end because Singing In the Rain.

The Gunfighter (1950). Gunfighter Jimmy Ringo kills a young man in self defense and leaves town, traveling to another town where he hopes to be reunited with his family before the young man’s three brothers catch up seeking revenge. Starring Gregory Peck and featuring a stellar supporting cast, this western moves along quickly and packs an emotional punch.

Little Annie Rooney (1925). In a way 2016 was the year of silent movies for me and this one came out as one of my favorites. Mary Pickford is luminous and adorable. And this film contains what might be one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have ever watched. Watch it.

Casablanca (1942). I finally got around to watching this classic and why it took me so long I will never know. Claude Raines, Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Heinreid, S.K. Sakall, and other familiar members of the Warner Brothers studio lot comprise a cast that made this the classic it is. And did I mention Claude Rains? His performance in this is superb.

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). This intense drama based on the Nazis war crime trials that took place after the war packs a mean punch, only this film narrows down the focus onto German judges who were put on trial for their actions during the Nazi regime. An outstanding cast led by Spencer Tracy includes Burt Lancaster, Maximilian Schell, and Richard Widmark who are more than ably supported by Marlene Dietrich, Montgomery Clift, and Judy Garland.

The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935). Set on the Erie Canal as the railroads were beginning to flourish, a riverboat cook, born and raised on the river, falls in love with a farmer determined to find himself a farm to live out his dreams. Starring Janet Gaynor and Henry Fonda, this film took me by surprise and ended up delighting me.

No Highway in the Sky (1951). Scientist Theodore Honey has a theory about why a new airplane has been crashing and while en route to investigate the crash site, he finds himself on one of the planes he believes to be defective. With a cast that boasts Jimmy Stewart with Glynis Johns and Marlene Dietrich supporting, how can you go wrong? A thoroughly engrossing film.

The Shop Around the Corner (1940). Another classic I finally got around to watching, I had previously seen the musical remake In the Good Old Summertime starring Judy Garland. Two shop clerks get off on the wrong foot and dislike each other intensely, while falling in love with each through an anonymous correspondence. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan.

The Kiss of Death (1947). A film noir directed by Henry Hathaway, the plot follows ex-con Nick Bianco (Victor Mature) as he assists in helping the assistant DA collect evidence against his psychopathic former prison mate (Richard Widmark). Cast also includes Karl Malden in a bit role, Coleen Gray, and Brian Donlevy.

Desk Set (1957). Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn star in this romantic comedy where an efficiency expert finds his match in a researcher at a broadcasting company's reference library. I’ve been told Katharine Hepburn’s character’s job in this movie is what I should have been if I had lived in the 50s. I love looking up random facts and I usually remember them.

And tied for tenth place, I’m going to go with The General (1927) and Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) two silent comedies starring Buster Keaton. Keaton is another silent film discovery I made in 2016. His serious take on slapstick comedy is film gold.

And now it’s time for honorable mentions. (You didn’t think you would get by without them, did you?)

First, I will go with two films that were re-watches for me but secured much higher rankings in my list of favorite films the second time around: The Great Escape (1963) and Singing In the Rain (1953).

I honestly lost count of how many times I watched The Great Escape in 2016. I first watched the recorded off TV copy that is my family’s and was horrified and aghast to discover the screen had been cropped from its glorious widescreen into a pan and scan. *ahem* I will refrain from ranting on the atrocity that is cropping widescreen films. Anyhow, it was shown on TCM in all its widescreen glory a couple of days later and all was made right. The Great Escape stars an all-star cast in a WWII POW escape story based on actual events.

I first saw Singing In the Rain maybe seven(?) years ago but was not a massive fan. I honestly did not understand why it was such a classic. My younger sister and I decided to re-watch it one night and fell head over heels for it. It is a classic for a reason. It is such an exuberant film! The main cast includes Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor all at their finest. I highly recommend it.

Three more honorable mentions that I greatly enjoyed were: It’s Always Fair Weather (1955), The Four Feathers (1939), and Journey For Margaret (1942).

What were your favorite films watched in 2016? And what have been some standouts so far this year?

All photographs via Pinterest.


  1. Wow, I've actually seen only three of these—Casablanca, No Highway In the Sky and The Shop Around the Corner. We just re-watched the latter a couple weeks ago for the first time in years and it was even funnier than I remembered! The Gunfighter looks interesting, but I've been sort of avoiding that because I got the impression it was a bit of a downer.

    You might have seen it already, of course, but I did a top-five list back in January:

    1. Only three? I'm surprised! I actually discovered No Highway In the Sky through one of your yearly film roundups a couple of years back. I really want to get my hands on the book, which is sadly out of print right now in the States. But, then again, I am on a book buying ban so maybe that's a good thing for me right now.

      I really enjoyed The Gunfighter. It studies its characters more than many other westerns I've seen. But I can understand your hesitancy. The ending is rather sad. It is really good though, in my opinion.

      I did see your post! The only one on your top five I haven't seen is Yellow Sky. Which I probably need to see. Can I just say you're the only person I know who's even heard of Greyfriar's Bobby. It is a sweet, unassuming film. And your honorable mention, You Can't Take It With You is a family favorite! One of Capra's finest!


Thank you for taking the time to comment! I really do appreciate it. I do have a few requests or rules: no profanity (let's keep things PG, people), no spam, and please keep your words kind. "If you can't say something nice, do not say anything at all." — Thumper in Bambi (1942)

If you do disagree with what I say, say it kindly and civilly. I will remove any comments that do not comply with any of these rules.