The Vimeo Blog

More Posts

Vimeo presents: The Top Videos of 2016

Vimeo Curation
December 13, 2016 by Vimeo Curation Curation

2016 has been, well, eventful. In a year marked by the departure of too many of our “Heroes” (shout out to the Starman!), political upheavals around the world and the untimely demise of the headphone jack, it was especially refreshing to dig into this year’s archive of Staff Picks and revisit some of the brightest moments from the year that was. That’s not to say this was an easy task, though. Sifting through the millions of videos that were uploaded to Vimeo this year and whittling them down to a digestible list of “the best of the best” is probably impossible and definitely insane. But we gave it a shot, like we do every year, and we’re really pleased with the results.

In many respects, 2016 was a turning point for Vimeo. Bolstered by our first full slate of Vimeo Originals and our new Staff Pick Premieres program, Vimeo has never been a more formidable viewing destination. Whereas filmmakers were previously hesitant to share their festival shorts online, Vimeo has emerged as the preferred platform for launching the best short films on the internet. It’s no coincidence that some of the jury prize winners from this year’s Sundance Film Festival and SXSW appear on this list.

That said, many of the videos on our list eschewed the festival circuit altogether and went straight to Vimeo. As curators, there’s a unique thrill to discovering a video on Vimeo, sharing it with the community and then witnessing it go far and wide across the internet with audiences reacting the same way we did when we first watched it.

We hope you enjoy our favorite videos from 2016 half as much as we did. Even though 2016 might have seen many low points on the whole, we’re so grateful that it’s been a great one for creativity, for exciting new voices steadfastly putting their work onto Vimeo for us and the rest of the world to enjoy and to discover. 2016 will be a tough act to follow in more ways than one.

Action Sports

When We Were Knights from GoPro


Vimeo On Demand Best Action Sports:

Vice Versa from The Orchard


MANOMAN from Simon Cartwright


Vimeo On Demand Best Animation:

Pear Cider and Cigarettes from Robert Valley


Her Friend Adam from Ben Petrie


Vimeo On Demand Best Comedy:

Uncle Kent 2 from Factory 25


4.1 Miles from The New York Times


Vimeo On Demand Best Documentary: 

Thank You For Playing from FilmBuff


HYPER-REALITY from Keiichi Matsuda


Vimeo On Demand Best Drama:

Always Shine from Oscilloscope Laboratories

Eye Candy

2016 AICP Sponsor Reel - Dir Cut from Method Studios



Stylo G x Jacob Plant “Bike Engine” from Keith Schofield


Vimeo On Demand Best Music:

Toro Y Moi: Live From Trona from Primary Colors


China: A Skier’s Journey from Jordan Manley


Outstanding pieces of art, no? There is more where that came from! Visit this page for a list of the best Staff Picks from months past.


Myles Thompson Plus

Appreciation of art is subjective. Therefore, while these may be great videos, they are not by any means 'the best' of the year.

Sam Morrill Staff

Agreed--it's a subjective enterprise, or as we described it in the blog post an "insane" task. That said, subjectivity is what makes Staff Picks, well, Staff Picks. Otherwise, you're left relying on play-counts and algorithms, which don't make for very interesting curation in our opinion.

In the same way that the film that wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards isn't objectively the best film of the year, the same applies for this list--it represents the best videos on Vimeo from 2016 in the eyes of those tasked with choosing them, in this case the Vimeo Curation Team. We're pretty proud of this list, which represents countless hours of watching and deliberating, and we hope you enjoy our selection.

stan schwartz Plus

oh please. anything that has to do with the vimeo staff picking what they consider to be "quality" is an absolute joke.

J. C. Doler Plus

Is it not obvious that they're Vimeo's choices for 'best' of the year? They're certainly not purported to be Vimeo's idea of what everyone will agree are 'the best' of the year.

Dan Hartney Plus

Gees. Chill. You can't please everybody. That's life. Lesson to learn. Great videos - thanks Vimeo Staff for drawing our attention to them. Lets hope 2017 keeps the spirits high.

Myles Thompson Plus

Sam: the headline at the top of the page is 'Vimeo Presents the Top Videos of 2016' and in the mail sent out you wrote 'Now presenting: 2016's best videos' rather than 'we present some our favourites of the year,' which would convey an entirely different message. Since you compare the selection to the Academy Awards, I assume you want to establish a platform like the Academy Awards for online content? Possibly an actual competition would be a better idea. The Academy Awards are essentially a competition rewarding specific technical disciplines as well as broad categories such as Best Picture. You have to submit your film and there are specific rules which determine eligibility. But I'm not sure the Academy Awards are the best example. In the words of Julie Delpy, 'the Academy is full of corrupt Hollywood syndicates whose Oscar votes can be bought for the right price. Academy members always choose the same people and unbridled nepotism taints the awards circuit.'

Sam Morrill Staff

@mylesthompson I think you're getting a little too hung up on semantics. The term 'best' doesn't necessitate objectivity as I've pointed out. And to pivot to a critique of the Academy in response to my analogy is entirely besides the point (notwithstanding the fact that I agree that the Academy is a problematic institution).

I'll leave it here: You're totally free to disagree with our picks, but to chime in as the first commenter in order to pick apart our word choice is unfortunate.

Myles Thompson Plus

@Sam Morrill: Going round in circles here. Possibly you're determined to have the last word - but I'm sorry to say that your last post sounds quite patronising. As to your point: "the term 'best' doesn't necessitate objectivity as I've pointed out" - thanks Professor! I'll make a note of that. Why is my point about the Academy besides the point? Do I deserve an explanation? Apparently not. You mentioned the Academy and I then responded that the Academy Awards are a formal competition with a rigid submission process (as opposed to Vimeo, a content-sharing platform or whatever you want to call it). See what I mean about going round in circles? I suggested setting up a competition to honour those who submit content for appraisal by some sort of Vimeo Awards Academy but for some reason you didn't respond to either of these points but instead preferred to lash out at me for being the first to comment. Thanks Sam. Also thanks for granting the freedom to disagree with your picks. So much for being cool and playing nice. I'll leave it there.

John Donovan

Oh please! It’s a “Best of” list!!! If you don’t know what that means, leave your pretentiousness at the door and go back to kindergarten.

Vimeo Staff, thank you for taking the time it takes to curate “the best of” all the of uploads on the site for those of us who look forward to watching some quality Vimeo entertainment but don’t have the time to spend looking for them on our own.

Much appreciated!

Companhia de Canoagem (CdC) Plus

Some REALLY fantastic stuff!!! Well done staff! Dream job watching Vimeo all day!! :)

EDITED HERE: Hey, why people have to build a war over "just" everything??? A guy at Vimeo was chosen to pick some good videos and call them "the best"! Guess we all are smart enough to understand that it is IMPOSSIBLE to please everyone!! C'mon!! Relax man!!!

Ryan Powell Plus

I'm curious what made you guys pick videos by large corporations (ie. GoPro and The NYT) instead of pushing forward the individuals who use Vimeo as a platform to share their work? Not to put those videos down or take away from the people who worked hard to create them, but as companies that are certainly are not short on the resources to make such great things, I'm a little less impressed than if some community members getting together to make something equally great (aka the true roots of Vimeo).

Banganimation Plus

Exactly my idea. The fun of vimeo is getting less and less this way.

Sam Morrill Staff

Hey Ryan, with regards to the videos you referenced ('When We Were Knights' and '4.1 Miles'), I should point out that 'When We Were Knights' was co-produced by Camp 4 collective who have been active members of the Vimeo community for seven years (with four Staff Picks of their own) and Daphne Matziaraki who directed '4.1 Miles' is herself a Vimeo user and a student filmmaker (now shortlisted for an Oscar for this very film). Even though we typically strongly prefer to feature videos that are uploaded directly to the director's account, this isn't always possible given the complexities of who owns to the rights to any given film. Our position is, if brands like The New York Times and GoPro support independent creators and create exceptional videos (as they've clearly demonstrated they are doing), then we are happy to host their work and support it on the site.

Ryan Powell Plus

Fair enough. As I can relate to utilizing larger companies as a platform for my work (and employment) I totally get the politics of it all. Those just stood out to me. Thanks for responding :) Hope things are groovy over there at Vimeo HQ.

PS. Is this the "new-ish" form of the Vimeo Film Festival? Or are you guys going to do that again? 2012's film fest was so fun!

Sam Morrill Staff

This isn't a new Vimeo Festival per se, but we are hoping to expand the role of "awards" on Vimeo for 2017. Agreed that the 2012 festival was a ton of fun (and a ton of work).

Jeffrey Bowers Staff

Yeah, we featured 2,000+ animations this year and watched just a few thousand more around the site, but I'm sure there are some we missed. These really are our favorites though. I hope you find something that blows your mind in our list.

Michael Lockrey

Very disappointing to see that only 2 videos out of the 14 have been captioned (with an English track). Please lift up your game Vimeo - 14% is not good enough!

Sam Morrill Staff

Hi Michael, thanks for expressing your concerns. We agree that accessibility is of real importance and have strived to make Vimeo more accessible over the last few years by introducing closed captioning support wherever possible. That said, it is currently up to the creators to provide closed captioning tracks and many creators simply lack the resources to produce them. I will convey your concerns, though, to our team and hopefully we may be able to offer an automated option in the future.

Allen Bagby

I just roll my eyes at the "Best of" of anything from the social network companies. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc are all so so so Social Justice Warrior-minded do-gooders and EVERYTHING feels pathetically Politically Correct.

Allen Bagby

Thanks for the reply. But no, I haven't. Perhaps I am too biased. I'll give it a shot.

Sam Morrill Staff

I wouldn't characterize 'Her Friend Adam' or the Stylo G video as politically correct either. In fact, Stylo G satirizes PC culture pretty openly.

Jim Cummings Business

Allen,The Procedure was a runner up and there's a character in it that sounds like you!

Even/Odd PRO

Awesomely curated picks as usual! Couch time movie time coming up!

Scott Secco Plus

Yes! So happy to see @rupertwalker and @jordanmanley getting recognition for their absolutely superb work! Also, huge thanks to the Vimeo staff for watching and curating so many amazing films for us all to enjoy. Ignore the haters, you guys rule!

M. Woods PRO

Please consider including an experimental or avant-garde category.

Albert Price

The architecture is awesome--- the engineering eternal!

Rob Munday

What was the thought process behind picking 'Hyper Reality' as a drama? I mean it's a fascinating film, but I never would have thought of it in that category.

Daniel Latteo Plus

All are jokes. I agree. These kind of films wouldn't or couldn't cut it for a single second in a commercial market. Most of them are Avant-garde experiments; maybe visually interesting but not much else. Perhaps there's some talented videomakers among them but I do not see a single talented Filmmaker or Director.

Jeanette Bonds Plus

While I might disagree with some of the choices on this list I disagree with the sentiment that these films wouldn't function in a commercial market, that these are talentless filmmakers, and that most of them are avant-garde experiments. As another commenter pointed out many of these films have been produced by larger companies/commercial markets. And many of these films have done well in more traditional market-oriented film festivals. As for them being avant-garde, I don't see anything in this list that fits that would really fit that description. Perhaps you simply prefer more traditional modes of cinema and are not keen on the changing cinematic landscape.

Daniel Latteo Plus

I said what I had to say, and I stand by that. And I certainly speak as one of these filmmakers who seeks to improve his craft. A lots of these videos are too abstract to make a mark or a real difference in the commercial world of filmmaking. I have been to the AFM recently and I seriously doubt that any of these films (well videos is more appropriate) would be found to be viable there. And although I might enjoy some of them as experiments in videomaking, I'm not sure they would be good films. As far as changing the cinematic landscape I'm afraid you would need a lot more; you do that with Star Wars, Alien, The Exorcist, The Lord of The Rings (just to name a few). Everyone of these films changed the way films were made up until then.

Patrick Barton

Since these films are not made for the commercial space why would you compare them to it?

Dexter Walker

This comment section sounds a bit like a youtube comment section, I expect better from vimeo users. We should all be supportive of each other not criticizing everyone or the vimeo staff. Just make your own list if the staffs list doesn't line up to yours. I'm sure we could all show each other awesome videos that we've never seen before.

Dexter Walker

oh thats so hard, there is so much good stuff this year but some would be

Spectacle of the Real by Buck
Fatima Yamaha – Love Invaders
The Last Job on Earth - The Guardian
DJ Shadow ft. Run The Jewels - Nobody Speak
Mesh by Gunner

Bryant B. Lopes

Yes, well said. I got to this point in the comments section and I was also thinking, "Wait! Why are the comments sounding like Youtubers?! I thought everybody knew how hard it is to make something?--let alone choosing something not based on view count."
I just wanted to say, thanks Vimeo Staff!

Virginia balfour

Hi. I'm being told I can't watch the best documentary here in Australia. Can you explain why?

Meghan Oretsky Staff

Hi Virginia,

It looks like "Thank You For Playing" cannot be purchased in Australia. This restriction was set by the distributor of this film and, unfortunately, we are not able to change it.

I see that it's currently available on iTunes - perhaps try purchasing there?

Kika Tuff

Thanks Vimeo for drawing attention to some incredible videos! Hey folks, if you complain enough, maybe Vimeo won't offer Staff Picks anymore, and that would make me super sad!

marti garaughty

A couple of good ones I missed but not sure why a lot of these make it to your "best" list, although it's a matter of personal taste and preferences.

Aurora Blue

I loved Eye candy. Why not just enjoy the videos without picking things apart. If you only had six months to live would it really matter how something is titled? Would your bucket list say(A) Write a complaint about Vimeo's top video selections or (A) Enjoy some great vimeo videos with my best friend(s)?

Isaiah Headen

Thank you for the list. I will enjoy watching all of them. I'm just amazed that you guys watch sooo much content and somehow find a way to make a best of list.

Grant Cooper Plus

Apologies if this is a little long.

I recall reading an article some time back about how the author thought the wine industry was doing itself a significant disservice with its insistence that a particular $100 bottle of wine was better than a $20 bottle of wine. The commentator argued that the value of the wine was in the enjoyment of the experience, the feelings created while drinking the wine, not the price on the label.

Scenes of wing suited flyers look great in any video, but the inter-weaving of a story of friendship and loss, living a life of authenticity certainly evoked feelings and thoughts of friends in me.

Was "When We Were Knights" the best film of 2016? I am not a film critic, nor do I have the film making experience to be able to judge the film based on any, or all of whatever, film making standards that may exist. What I know is that I am better for having put aside 15 minutes of my day to experience a compelling story about a life lived.

Rick Stewart

I've always been amazed at people who disagree with other people's 'Best Of' lists.

I would be extremely disappointed if there were anyone in the world who came up with the same 'Best Of' list as me. No more books to read, music to listen to, poems to memorize, videos to watch ... so sad.

Mark Anthony Hauck PRO

The point is that there's never any real need to compile such lists in the first place.

Rick Stewart

I agree, there is no 'need' to compile these lists.

But I am grateful they are compiled, because it saves me a tremendous amount of time and energy, which I can devote to more productive things than 'sifting through the millions of videos that were uploaded to Vimeo this year and whittling them down to a digestible list'.

It's called specialization of labor, well described by Adam Smith, and it has made the world richer in ... oh so many ways.

Tanner Phillips

There also is no real need for you Mark to comment on his comment, nor to comment at all on this thread. And my comment is also void of a real point. That is the point. To share with one another with the hopes of building bridges and learning and growing. With the understanding that every bridge we build has the potential for having a troll take up residence underneath it. Welcome!

Mark Anthony Hauck PRO

I do not create to "build bridges" or "learn." Perhaps that's the difference between me and you and why you may find value value in competing with other artists.

Max Hodges

if this is the best Vimeo has to offer, it's good to know I'm not missing much by not coming here often.

Mark Anthony Hauck PRO

The futility and pretentiousness begins when using using trendy terms like "curate" to make the simple act of choosing among many seem like brain surgery.

Tanner Phillips

If I was to curate the futility and pretentiousness inherent in your comments it would result in one conclusion: Monkeys make horrible brain surgeons.

Mark Anthony Hauck PRO

I hope you've stocked up on the lip balm as your lips will be awfully sore after smooching so many bottoms.

robyn youlten

I don't think they are necessarily the Best of the Year..that's a difficult call...very interesting and well done but like...The Inconsistent Jukebox aka Barry Snaith's videos are incredible...that's just one off the cuff....thank you though for your choices.Peace.

Nick Stuart

Her Friend Adam was perfectly captured in her one line...."I'm filled with liquid poo.." which perfectly describes this twisted effort.

Tanner Phillips

Great list and thanks for taking the time to share.


Blessings ...there are in this WORLD of Millions yes Millions of Films made every day...the old HOLLYWOOD is DEAD. it is now just BIG SPECIAL EFFECTS.. so I respect all filmmakers...and it is a RARE fact with over 10,000 Film festivals ...that is the NEW Hollywood..make a film and get it in the FESTIVALS and Millions WIN Best Film...that is a REALITy in the PAST 20 ...this is a FAMILY gift of our MEMBERS ...and it would take weeks maybe Months to watch all the VIMEO BEST OF PICS... I have 18 Best Film Awards...and it is a blessing but now MILLIONS have BEST film Awards from so MAny FESTIVALS and SOCIAL Groups...and yes they all deserve a AWARD for their hard thank you VIMEO ...for the special Update...I am a gratetful member who loves all the Filmmaker souls that have shared their them or not...more Filmmakers now get a chance to get Awarded and Inspired,,,to do blessings to all and it's a different World...have a great Journey...

John Kopec Plus

Wow so much hate in these comments... Loved these videos! Of course I have my own list from 2016, but found it interesting and insightful to see what the staff from Vimeo picked. Good on you guys!

Shivangi Choube

amazing videos i love all videos of best in 2016 vimeo picked .This is a very interesting list of best vidoes of vimeo 2016 and I have enjoyed watching many of the videos contained on the website, keep up the good work and hope to watch some more interesting videos in the future.

Loop Films Plus

A great collection of work, wish we hadn't scrolled down to the comments though!

Oak Leaf PRO

A great curation of films and visual experiences, thanks as always Vimeo staff!

This conversation is missing your voice. Please join Vimeo or log in.