10 Most Significant Films in 2016

manchesterSophisticated audiences and new filmmakers eventually learn that they need to know how to “read” a film. It’s a technique used by artists that understand the significance of cinema—not TV, video or streaming, but CINEMA.

Some say it’s a lost art form that faded once the marketing boys took over Hollywood and tried to capitalize on sequels over art. However, many who watch art house films or participate in the industry have held onto the techniques. In fact, I’d say that everyone who is truly serious about the art of cinema knows how to “read” a film or they’re trying to learn as fast as they can.

The top most significant films of 2016 that reveals and strengthens that art of cinema are listed below. I tried to put them in order of their significance to the industry, although my personal biases would want to tweak the list order ever so slightly.

1. Manchester by the Sea
2. La La Land
3. Moonlight
4. Hell or High Water
5. Sully
6. Fences
7. The Jungle Book
8. Deadpool
9. Hacksaw Ridge
10. Captain America: Civil War

If you’re a super fan, you’ve already seen these films. And, if you’re a filmmaker you’ve already chatted up other filmmakers on the significance of the films. But, if you call yourself a filmmaker and haven’t seen any of these films, I’ve got to question how you define filmmaker. Maybe you’re just a video guy that shoots up concepts and releases coolness, rather than being an advocate of the cinema.

I don’t mean to sound snooty about it, but there is a big difference between the person who understands that art of cinema and its significance in the molding of our societal norms verses the guy who’s just out to watch a flick after dinner.

Copyright © 2017 by CJ Powers

6 thoughts on “10 Most Significant Films in 2016

  1. I have not seen Manchester by the Sea, but seems like half the people I’ve talked to thought it was amazing and the other half thought if was one of the most boring movies they’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what to make of that, but find it interesting. Probably belongs in the same category as The English Patient.

  2. Are these films here based on your opinion, or a list that you’ve seen somewhere? Curious why Deadpool is on the list? Some would question why Captain America is on the list too. And if you were reordering them, as you indicated early in your article, how would you order them? Have you done a “Top 10 films of 2016” list anywhere?

    • Hey Paul,

      “Deadpool” was culturally significant since it was the first anti-hero that was welcomed as a role model in the U. S. and worldwide. He was the first successful main character in cinema that was embraced because of his rudeness, sarcasm and bad mouthing. In fact, he was so well embraced that Deadpool 2 is in the works with 3 not too far behind.

      Captain America is a patriotic conservative who always did what was right for the people based on the norms that Americans held dear. In “Captain America: Civil War” the film changes or distorts what Americans now hold dear and the Captain is positioned to battled against the new norm of what is “right.” In the next film the plans are to take it a step further and have Captain go against all conservatives because they are “wrong” in how they think. In other words, this film takes a highly conservative character and makes him liberal (The new conservative) based on today’s norms.

      Each film on the list has made a significant impact culturally according to numerous sources and cultural lists that I whittled down to this culturally significant list. I’m quickly realizing that some readers are assuming that its a top ten list of movies to see, but it isn’t. It is a list of films that made significant inroads into changing our culture.

      “Me Before You” was a film I’d put on the list and I’d put it near the top. This is a love story about a young vivacious woman and a hunky quadriplegic that draws the audience in to desire the couple getting married and living happily ever after. Their lives both get enriched as their dates increase in passion and “unconditional love.” The audience emotionally fights for what’s best for the couple, only to learn that what they thought was best was selfish. This demonstration of “love” was purposefully done to teach the audience a simple “truth”—If you love them, you’ll not be selfish, but instead you’ll help the couple to euthanize him as part of their life choices. The film made $207MM, significantly impacting viewers with an idea that encourages euthanasia.

      “Sully” is about people, who by definition ten years ago would be considered heroes, that lose their lives as they know it because they did not do the politically correct thing in the moment, but instead did what I hope most feel was the right thing. Our PC culture today is laced with people being “punished” for having an opposing viewpoint. Brexit and our country’s recent election prove that many people are unable to voice their opinions without consequences until they are in the voting booth. While this is culturally significant, it wasn’t a new concept for 2016 so I felt it should’ve been lower on the list.

      Any way, I could go on, but the important thing is that filmmakers need to understand where our culture is headed and more importantly be the ones driving our culture to a good place. Everyone in the industry agrees that film changes our culture and what we saw on the silver screen in 2016 will be what we culturally have to face in the next decade. These topics must be explored and answers found to help guide people to a healthy place. From this list, churches can quickly learn how the people are being taught to think and act. This gives them a head start on preparing godly answers that will bring healing and redemption to their communities, rather than changing their theological position to meet the new cultural “norm.”

      Based on the patterns I’ve seen in the cinema over the past few years, I’ll suggest that over the next decade sexbots will be demonstrated in film and they’ll be physically introduced into our society within one generation later. The patterns are already there, which gives churches plenty of time to figure out how to share biblical messages that will either curtail those events from happening or help people understand why they should not participate when the social movement begins. Frankly, feminists should also dread this future and find ways to hinder it.

      The movie “Future Shock” came out in 1972 and painted a cultural picture of homosexual marriages. Numerous films followed, making the idea “acceptable” to communities at large. One generation later, same sex marriage was legalized. On Christmas eve I sat behind a gay couple at a candle light service and watched the one man fondle the other’s hair as they ushered in the birth of Christ. The church bulletin made it clear that the church was open to all who come to worship. A couple years ago the church demonstrated this same openness by praying to “mother” god.

      This spring “The Shack” will be released as a faith-based film with the hope of changing our culture. The film is far from being theologically sound and the filmmakers don’t care. Having a black woman play mother god is a part of the filmmakers taking “artistic license.” They have no clue how many people will hesitate to attend a faith-based film in the future since there is no clear definition for the genre.

      Paul, you’re a filmmaker with two films under your belt. Have you ever looked at your stories to understand what significant role, if any, they will play in our cultural evolution? All too often faith-based filmmakers take their job too lightly and end up with a film that makes no inroads to our culture at all. My challenge to you—study the language of film and create something that will stir our cultural toward what you think is a life filled with love, hope and faith. Let go of creating idealistic presentations that outsiders can’t understand and make something that is so real it gives the unbeliever a road map to walk out of their misery and into the light.

      • This was wonderful! Precisely what I love about filmmaking, storytelling, and your blog. 🙂 Thanks for explaining your reasons for the two films and I can readily see that. Yes, it is so true that what we see on the screens directly relates to and reveals cultural direction. I do try to select films I make or work on in hopes they will have some impactful voice in the marketplace of ideas. With Unbridled with tackled the difficult and currently raging blight of sex trafficking, and with The Reliant we’re exploring the breakdown of society and God’s role in catastrophes and how both Christian and non-Christian should view those times (such as a 9/11). I’m currently working with a fellow producer to get a pro-life film funded and it has an approach in the storytelling that is unique within that subset of anti-abortion movies. I continue to study the language of film and am looking for the timely work that God would have me to pour my creative energies into. Thanks for all you’re doing to be a voice for truth in film and media.

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