2016 strong for film industry: “Rogue One”, “La La Land” top year’s best

Jaden Piner as Kevin in a scene from the movie “Moonlight” directed by Barry Jenkins. (A24 Films/TNS)

Emily Cole

2016 was an epic year for moviegoers of all ages. After last year’s awards season was marked by a lack of diversity in film, movies offered a vast array of actors and stories in 2016. The list of exceptional films from 2016 is long, but a few films really spoke to the social climate of what most would consider a year for the history books.

At the start of the year the box offices were dominated by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which was released in 2015 but stayed at no. 1 for several weeks. The film is the first to come from the “Stars Wars” franchise in 10 years, but remains one of the highest grossing movies of all time. Starring women and actors of color, “The Force Awakens” diversified the galaxy far far away and brought back the nostalgia of the original Star Wars trilogy with excellent direction. 

2016 was also an unexpectedly exciting year for the cartoon genre. While “Finding Dory” appealed to children, it also catered to an older crowd as the kids who grew up loving “Finding Nemo” rushed to the theaters to see the sequel. Similarly, “Zootopia” took viewers by surprise with its mature themes about police profiling, prejudice and polarization. Both films are among the highest grossing movies of the year and stayed on top by proving that children’s movies offer something for everyone. 

Comic book franchises also had a fantastic year in the box office as “Suicide Squad” brought new and old fans to the franchise. With Jared Leto, Margot Robbie and Will Smith, the star studded cast brought a lot to the table and was supplemented by an extremely successful movie soundtrack with popular names. 

In a year where antiheroes got to save the day, “Deadpool” also experienced extreme popularity. While new superhero movies are coming out all the time, Ryan Reynolds gave us something that other films of the same genre are lacking: comedy. With a dark sense of humor “Deadpool” became an instant classic of a kind all its own. However, in a year with much need for escapism there was also a need for informative entertainment. 

In the documentary “13th,” director Ava DuVernay sheds light on racism and the disproportionate amount of African-American inmates in the American prison system. Following a summer plagued by polarizing violence and police brutality, this eye opening film made a statement and recieved accolades for bringing an unpleasant truth to the public eye at a relevant moment in history. 

Halloween came early when summer ended strong with a wealth of horror films. While highly anticipated films like “Blair Witch” didn’t live up to their promise, the psychological thriller “10 Cloverfield Lane” came out of nowhere and went straight to the top of the film charts. “The Conjuring 2” and “Don’t Breathe” also had several high grossing weekends and positive feedback by critics and moviegoers alike. 

While 2016 consistently produced extremely successful films, some of the best were saved for last when several huge blockbusters were released for the holiday season. The year began in a galaxy far far away and ended there as well as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” took over ticket sales in the month of December. While this diverse and exciting story was expected to be as popular as it was, two underdog films came out of the blue to end 2016 with a bang. 

Audiences all over the nation escaped to a nostalgic technicolor world with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the Damien Chazelle directed film “La La Land.” Filmed in cinemascope, this movie musical payed homage to classics of the golden age of American film while boasting an impressive soundtrack and cast at the same time. 

The drama “Moonlight” also amazed audiences at the end of a whirlwind year. The film tells the story of a Miami boy growing up and struggling with love and accepting his sexuality during the war on drugs era. Both “La La Land” and “Moonlight” won big at the Golden Globes, bringing an end to another year of cinematic magic.