The year is over. It feels good to write that. The turmoil and disaster 2016 brought with it only extended to the film industry, especially when we think of some of the films that got made. I could talk about Gods of Egypt’s and Nine Lives for years and years without wavering in my absolute hatred towards them, but I want to focus on the glimmering lights that poked through the clouds; the films that escaped the 2016 curse and proved to be actually fantastic.
These are films that I’ve been able to see in UK cinemas or on VOD. Film’s like Moonlight, Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land I have yet to see because of their later release dates in the UK.
So without further ado my top 10 films of 2016.
10. Kubo and the Two Strings
My favourite animation of 2016 (yes beating Zootopia) is Kubo and the Two Strings. A wonderful storytelling epic that is simply beautiful to watch and admire more than anything. It features voice acting talents like Charlize Theron and Matthew McConaughey who are sensational. Laika, the animation studio behind Kubo, has yet to take a wrong step; I’m looking forward to their future animation domination.
9. Captain Fantastic
If 2016 wasn’t already full of such memorable performances then I believe Mortenson’s performance in Captain Fantastic wouldn’t have gone as much under the radar as it did. He is appropriately fantastic and his acting range covered the entire emotional spectrum. We felt alongside his grief, happiness and fear. The child actors in Captain Fantastic shine as some of the finest of this year. It is a heart wrenching film that does not descend into total depression but still manages to fill us with hope and pure joy. An amazing directorial debut and a unique script made Captain Fantastic a pleasure to watch.
The only un-English spoken film on my list is Julieta. Pedro Almodóvar is no name to be taken lightly. He’s been making films since the 80’s and the majority have been critical successes. He’s loved in his native Spain and he’s revered in the USA and the UK. Julieta is his best work in years. It is beautifully told in script, cinematography and direction. It has Hitchcockian elements to it and fantastic performances from its majority female cast. Truly a foreign gem that thankfully made its way across the pond to the UK.
7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
2016 could be remembered for the extortionate amount of reboots and sequels but it should be remembered for films like Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Taika Watiti’s hilarious epic in the New Zealand wilderness is so enjoyable. I hope this film has gotten him more recognition. 2016 deserved him and he delivered. He is the sole reason I am looking forward to Thor 3.
6. Hell or High Water
This high stakes drama felt like a classic western set in newer times. I’m a sucker for stories about brothers and the dynamic created by Chris Pine and Ben Foster as siblings was magnetic. I was really a fan of seeing Chris Pine dressed in something other than the yellow Star Commander shirt he’s donned for what seems like decades. Foster is incredible as his usual, under-appreciated, self. Both actors were perfect in their respective roles; each of which felt specifically made for them.
5. Captain America: Civil War
Captain America has been everyone’s second favourite superhero since his first, not so overwhelming solo film venture. But the Russo Brothers helped bring him into 2016 with style. Cap 3 is a high thrill film with explosive special effects and fight sequences. However, under all of that superficially delectable glory there is heart; heart that surfaces in the inner conflicts depicted between the characters. Never have superheroes been made to seem so real. It was really refreshing and that’s why it makes the top 5 with ease.
4. Rogue One; A Star Wars Story
A darker entry into the Star Wars catalogue of films. More seem to pop up every year but Rogue One managed to be different. It had a whole new set of characters, each of whom held their own on-screen and you didn’t find yourself wanting a wild Han Solo to appear. It felt gritty and large in scale without being large in ego. A great Star Wars film; a better film in general. I should take a moment to praise the exquisite CGI. The battle scenes only felt more real because of the amazing work the special effects team did making and perfecting every inch of what is shown on the screen.
3. Swiss Army Man
The best romance of this year came from Paul Dano and a farting corpse that resembled Daniel Radcliffe. It always gives me a thrill when an actor reaches out of their comfort zone. Radcliffe has been doing this ever since he left Hogwarts and his film choices have been very interesting. Some haven’t worked but who would have guessed his most remarkable feat would come from playing dead. The film is so unique you can’t help but fall in love with it.
2. The Nice Guys
I fell in love with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, director Shane Black’s 2005 venture, when I saw it for the first time. It was exciting, fresh, hilarious and trippy. The Nice Guys was everything I hoped for and more from Black. He managed to capture those same feelings in me that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang did. The Nice Guys was one of the funniest films of 2016. Black’s talent at creating buddy-comedies is unparalleled and I hope he continues.
1. Manchester by the Sea
My number one folks.
Having had the ability to watch it at the London Film Festival I was blown away. No film from 2016 has made me love film so much. There’s nothing more I can say that would do it justice. Truly breath-taking.
Here’s to another film-filled year in 2017.