Sunday, 26 February 2017

20 Best Films of 2016

It's almost March, and the Oscars are tonight, so it's about time I did this. Here are my Best films of 2016.


Honourable Mentions:

*Everybody Wants Some!!, an utter delight which skimps on plot to deliver believable friendships from lovable characters.
*Supersonic, a candid & hilarious documentary about the rapid rise of Oasis.
*Girls Lost, a engrossing & mystifying gender fluid fable, which effectively tackles timely issues.
*Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a wonderful addition to the franchise which expands the universe pretty well.
*Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a touching & laugh out loud adventure, which can be likened to a live action version of Pixar's Up (minus the talking dogs).


Other People film poster.jpg20. Other People

For his directorial debut, Chris Kelly does one heck of a job in delivering an emotionally affecting tale. Other People sees a struggling writer, wonderfully portrayed by Jesse Plemons, return to care his sick mother, unforgettably played by Molly Shannon. Kelly has a deft handling of the material, playing the proceedings in a manner that feels genuine and real, while delivering the moments with a genuine effectiveness, be they heartbreaking, or hilarious. By the end of it, you'll never hear Train's "Teardrops from Jupiter" in the same way again.

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19. Under The Shadow

Using war torn Tehran of the 80's as a backdrop, Babak Anvari delivers an effective piece of horror with Under The Shadow. But if one looks past the intriguing setting and the darn effective chills, there's a compelling tale about the fears of motherhood, which are exacerbated by the personal circumstances. People may proclaim the horror genre as dead each January, when the lazy genre entries tend to be released, but when better films like this get released, which aren't easily forgotten, and go out of their way to make viewers care, that will never be true.


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18. The Neon Demon

By this point, it should be no surprise what the greatest strengths of a Nicolas Winding Refn film are. From the opening moments, the hypnotic visuals and sumptuous score fills the senses, entrancing viewers into the world. What's delivered is a dark satire on the concept of beauty, as well as the industry itself, with an unsettling tone well balanced, before letting loose during the final act, where things go full on bonkers. The Neon Demon is one heck of an experience which will remain with you long after.




17. Zootropolis

It's hard to believe Disney were struggling to get a hit out just a decade ago, but their revival era continues with Zootropolis. The studios latest release is a heartfelt tale which delivers a thoughtful message, containing relevant commentary. spearheaded by lovable characters. Plus, it's pretty darn funny.




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16. Kubo and the Two Strings

With only four films under their belt, Laika have more than proven themselves to be a powerhouse studio in terms of quality films. Kubo and the Two Strings is the latest proof of this, the directorial debut by Travis Knight, the company President and CEO. What's been delivered is a visually breathtaking piece of work, powered by imaginative storytelling, brought to life through magnificently crafted stop motion, fantastic voice acting, and eye popping battle sequences.

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15. The Invitation


It's difficult to talk about Karyn Kusama's The Invitation, because it's a film best gone into knowing as little as possible. What I can say is how this is a gripping view on how grief is handled, fantastically delivered by the terrific cast, especially former lovers Logan Marshall-Green and Tammy Blanchard. An ominous atmosphere is carried throughout the picture, proving tense to an unbearable degree, never letting up throughout. But what'll stay with you is that chilling final shot.


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14. I, Daniel Blake

With I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach delivers a powerful indictment of the flawed benefits system, and how it fails those most in need of it. There's clear passion in getting across what's wrong here, as Loach sat down with real people who suffered, lending a feel of realism to the affecting circumstances. The amount of naturalism brought by the actors cannot be called performances, for they feel like real people we're witnessing. Balanced with the right amount of hilarity and poignancy, Ken Loach has crafted a heartbreaking picture one won't easily forget.

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13. Manchester By The Sea

The third directorial feature by Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By The Sea is a powerful take on grief and the long lasting effects it holds. Lonergan excels at delivering the moments of heartbreak, while doing just as well with the humorous parts. The cast deftly deliver in their roles, with Casey Affleck emerging as the standout, in a quietly saddening manner. He bounces well off a terrific Lucas Hedges, but Michelle Williams proves this is far from a one man show, putting forth a powerful portrayal with only one scene.



Green Room (film) POSTER.jpg12. Green Room

A claustrophobic cat and mouse game between Punk rockers and Neo Nazis, Green Room is a picture that leaves one unsettled. Utilising the confined setting and tense scenario, Jeremy Saulnier is intent on squeezing out as much tension as possible, which perpetuates throughout to deliver something entirely effective. The bursts of unflinching violence are effective in jolting viewers, leaving yet another reminder of the horrific scenario these characters are trapped in.

Two men against a cloudy backdrop, looking up towards a light source in the upper right corner.
11. Swiss Army Man

The phrase "you won't see anything like it" can get overused in regards to films, but when it comes to Swiss Army Man, let's be honest: where else will you see a child star portraying a farting corpse? Paul Dano terrifically portrays a man trying to make his way back to civilisation, while explaining the beauty of life to Daniel Radcliffe, who's pitch perfect as a talking corpse. For all its outlandish concept and embracing of the bizarre, it's a heartwarming story about friendship and loving life. Plus, it's very funny, and this even applies to the farts.

10. Sing Street

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The plotting may be familiar, but when Sing Street is such a humorous, heartfelt and fun time, it just doesn't matter. A picture as plucky and lovable as its own lead characters, brought to life by a talented cast, with one of 2016's best soundtracks.A great selection of tunes from the era, as songs by The Cure, Duran Duran, and Spandau Ballet help inspire Conor in his songwriting endeavours, and the band with their musical style. The results in the films greatest strength, the original songs. Each one is a fantastic creation, but "Drive It Like You Stole It" emerges as the clear standout, and the absolute best of the year. The lack of an Oscar nomination remains one of the great mysteries of recent years.

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9. Son of Saul

A harrowing picture that isn't easily forgotten, Son of Saul is astoundingly brought to life by director László Nemes. The camera uniquely mirrors the story, as both focus on the titular lead, working while the atrocities occur all around. The horrific realities of Auschwitz are delivered effectively, as glimpses are caught, or the acts are heard while taking place off-screen. While this is all happening, Géza Röhrig perfectly conveys how much of an everyday occurrence these horrors are to him, his expression being unchanged. What a horrifying idea.


A man and a woman dancing beside a rather bright streetlight, a city view stretches out behind them. The woman is wearing a bright yellow dress, her partner is wearing a with shirt and tie with dark pants.8. La La Land

The importance of entertainment can never be understated. Let's be frank, 2016 was a year full of depressing occurrences, which is why the enjoyment factor of cinema was such a valuable factor, and La La Land is just one of many enjoyable films. A love-letter to Hollywood, wonderfully acted by the glorious stars, with a phenomenal soundtrack, as well as fantastically choreographed musical numbers, brought alive with a wonderful elegance. On his third directorial feature, Damien Chazelle has made himself known as one of the strongest directors working today. An accomplished piece of cinema that will leave a song in your heart, and an urge to dance your cares away.

13th (film).png7. 13th

Taking to Netflix for her latest feature, Ava DuVernay does gripping work in tackling how slavery has never truly left, but merely been repackaged under the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. 13th explores the multiple laws which have been passed over the decades, which have served to target those who are poor and black. The proceedings which unfold in this relevant documentary are frankly stunning, as well as heartbreaking. One that will stay with you, long after the credits have rolled.



Eye in the Sky, Movie Poster6. Eye in the Sky

If you thought any of the horror releases were tense, then you haven't yet seen Eye in the Sky. The impeccable direction of Gavin Hood manages to ratchet up the tension throughout the picture, as one witnesses a game of hot potato being played with the possibility of civilian casualties. Where the films greatest strength lies is in how it refuses to pick a side in the drone warefare debate, leaving Guy Hibbert's screenplay to deliver compelling discussions, as both sides are debated to the best of their ability. A taut thriller which brings thoughtful discussion to a relevant topic, while leaving one tense at the uncertain proceedings.


Hell or High Water film poster.png5. Hell or High Water


Impeccably capturing the spirit of the old West, David Mackenzie manages to use it to deliver a taut, contemporary film in Hell or High Water. The strong script delivers a gripping tale, where details bleed through, making motivations and character details more clear as the running time passes by. Refreshingly, the banks are made out to be a clear antagonist, as opposed to painting the brothers as outright villains. It's this decision to favour character work and story telling over gun play which helps to make it so compelling, but the stunning cinematography and wonderful acting helps.


Official poster shows the Avengers team factions which led by Iron Man and Captain America, confronting each other by looking each other, with the film's slogan above them, and the film's title, credits and release date below them.4. Captain America: Civil War

Any temptation from Marvel to deliver a film only focused on the action and the massive cast isn't evident, as Captain America: Civil War focuses on taking these characters out of their comfort zones in an interesting manner. It's unbelievable how more characters appear than in either Avengers film, but they're utilised much better. Each character widens the scope of the dispute about accountability, with neither side portrayed as wrong, but given their own intriguing and understandable arguments. There's also an exciting all-out battle, where each character gets their moment to shine. But it all builds to the final act, carrying a destructive impact that's more personal than one expects.

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3. The Handmaiden

A multi-layered and duplicitous tale about love that would make Alfred Hitchcock proud, Park Chan-Wook has delivered something truly special with The Handmaiden. A compelling story where a 145 minute runtime feels half its length, turns in the story are genuine surprises and the emotional impact is stunning in its effectiveness. The acting is especially marvellous, with Kim Min-Hee and Kim Tae-Ri delivering masterful performances. A new South Korean classic.


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2. Arrival

An intelligent and absorbing piece of science fiction, Arrival manages to be more gripping through its dialogue than many action films do through their big set pieces. Focused on the importance of communication and understanding, a rather timely issue, the thoughtful plotting ensures the focus is never lost. Special mention is deserved for Amy Adams, whose powerful performance ranks among the very best of 2016.



Moonlight (2016 film).png1. Moonlight

A triptych depicting a soul-stirring tale through the life of our lead, Moonlight is one of the more heartfelt experiences in recent cinema. What Barry Jenkins has crafted is a timeless tale that transcends race and sexuality, about a character who feels isolated and lonely, containing moments and themes that are utterly relatable. The trio of Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders and Trevante Rhodes do magnificent work, portraying where Chiron is at each stage of his life, while putting across his want to connect with others. Special mention is deserved to both Mahershala Ali and Naomi Harris, whose performances elevate their characters from merely being cliched stereotypes. A powerfully acted and emotional story, this is a masterpiece.


Agree/Disagree with my choices? Be sure to voice your opinions in the comments below.

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