The 15 Best Movies of 2016

7 of 16

Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

10. 10 Cloverfield Lane

The previews for 10 Cloverfield Lane did a phenomenal job of living up to the term “teaser.” It gave us just a taste of what the tone was, but kept the audience entirely in the dark about the story itself. We all knew it was connected to J.J. Abrams’ “Cloverfield” series, a franchise he’s mentioned as hearkening back to The Twilight Zone, but no one could have foreseen him living up to the work of Rod Serling.

10 Cloverfield Lane, for at least an hour of its runtime, works like a tightly wound radio drama. Three disparate people are stuck in an underground fallout shelter because, as far as they know, something bad has happened outside. That’s the plot for at least 90-minutes before the studio-mandated Cloverfield stuff sets in. You watch the characters try to get along and make a home with the feeling that they’re walking on eggshells from horrors both outside their surroundings as well as within.

On its own merits, this is a masterful suspense film that deconstructs gender in subtle ways. Mary Elizabeth Winstead excels as a heroine, crafty and smart without needing to be seductive. John Goodman is terrifying as the shadowy Howard, the bunker’s owner. Many pundits proclaimed Goodman as Oscar-worthy back in January, and how I wish that was a possibility. I can’t wait for Abrams’ next standalone film in the Cloverfield franchise, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and set for an October 2017 release. If it’s anything like 10 Cloverfield Lane, we’re all in for a treat.

Next: Captain Fantastic