And so, we have come to the end of another great year for film – if you look in the right place…
Just to get a few things out of the way; some films I have sadly missed (Arrival) would have been on the list and you also won’t find any Star Wars or any Oscar players from earlier this year. Oh and no super hero movies. But, if I had to vote for one it would have been Captain America 3; the only super hero movie with coherency and that was still loose at its best.
So let’s get cracking!
15- Hunt For The Wilder People
I have loved Taika Waititi’s work ever since Eagle VS Shark and, most recently, with the sublime What We Do In The Shadows. But with this film, he’s clearly on a roll. It’s a joyous film that has elements of nostalgia but doesn’t drown itself in it. I can not wait to see what Waititi does with Thor 3. Hopefully he can make it not a complete waste of time!
14- The Jungle Book
Now if you know me, then you know I hate Disney. It’s corporate greed and smiley princesses leave a bitter taste in my mouth. But, no one can deny just how amazing this updated story is. The visuals are jaw-droppingly stunning, the character performances are perfect (specially Idris Alba), and it’s intense as hell! Easily this years best blockbuster. I did not think I’d be writing that a year later…
Another stunning year for documentaries (you’ll see a few pop up) and in fact there was at least another 5 I wanted to include. However, Weiner is perfect car-crash-film-making; it has all the ridiculousness of Veep but it’s completely real. Weiner is a detestable human being, but aren’t all great comedy characters?
12- Captain Fantastic
I love Viggo Mortenson, his work with Cronenberg is some of the best any actor can offer, the fact he rarely acts unless it’s actually something of value, is admirable. In this, he is just so likable and believable. Unlike his darker creations before, this just radiates warmth. It is a strikingly confident film from Matt Ross, with an ensemble that works beautifully together. These sundance indies can be detestable but this does something a lil’ different with the formula.
Now this is a documentary where describing it is an injustice. It just has to be seen, to be believed.
10- The Greasy Strangler
A bizzare, disgusting film that I haven’t stopped thinking about since watching it. Extreme in its nudity and grease, it really feels like a stupid film, buried in surrealism and hilarious comedy. In fact it’s probably the best comedy of the year.
An incredibly delicate film, that feels like Oscar-bait, it is made with so much class and restraint that you realise it’s just an old-fashioned drama. Two central performances that really should limelight and awards are both Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton. Jeff Nichols, for me, missed the mark on Midnight Special but with this, he reminds you just why he is one of America’s best working directors.
8- Kubo and the two strings
Ever since Coraline, LAika Studios have been releasing some of the best animated films of all time. Within 7 years each one has its own unique beauty to it. Kubo is just stunning from start to finish. It’s inspiring to see such beauty made from stop animation and the voice casting is just wonderful.
7- The Neon Demon
Nicholas Refn is one of the best directors in the world, he is also one of the most frustrating. Drive and Bronson are easily masterpieces but Only God Forgives was tedious at best. He is a true auteur and that’s why it’s so easy to dismiss his work, as most did with Neon Demon, but if you love Gialo and have a real appreciation for fucked up cinema then you’d be a fool to miss this film!
6- Don’t Breathe
Fede Alveraz is a rising star of horror, ever since his onslaught with the Evil Dead remake. I have been waiting to see what this genius was going to do next and Don’t Breathe doesn’t disappoint. It’s an original and brilliant concept that uses sound both terrifyingly and beautifully. Horror was on a roll in 2016 and this is easily one of its high points. It’s very encouraging to see good horror being received well and making money!
5 – Nocturnal Animal
A film that feels less like a film and more like an exercise in acting and story telling, pushing performance and narrative into something that is art. Yes, technically the film, on the surface, is not really about anything but without sounding too pretentious, it felt like this film was more of a deconstruction of story telling itself – and it was stunning to witness!
4- High Rise
I love Ben Whitely, an uncompromised genius in British cinema, who is finally getting the budgets and talent to work with (although generally his casts are always spot on). This film to me brilliantly represents just how split up this country is, especially after Brexit, and how ludicrous class differences are. It’s a film that some felt disappointment by and I really can’t see why. It’s cinematic poetry!
Ava DuVernay is slowly creeping up to be one of the most important directors working today. With Selma she made an incredibly powerful and intimate film that could have been so easily Oscar bait. But, with this, she’s made a documentary that may feel familiar but is so expertly crafted. It resurfaces a lot of anger at American citizen’s choices towards their black community. It is easily the best documentary of the year.
2- Hell Of High Water
I really did not expect to love this film as much as I did, but it’s near enough perfect. And, it all comes down to the timing of the film. To make a film about bank robbers in 2016 is brave and brilliant. The film is stunningly shot and three of the best performances of any year is just the icing on the cake. David Mackenzie always sort of never interested me, but after this I am invested in any film he makes next!
1- The Witch
For me the best film of the year should be something you’d consider to be one of your favourite films of all time. Now when a film like The Witch arrives, it fits this category but is also one of the best horror films ever made, period. I’ve been watching this film since its Sundance screening in 2015, hoping and praying for the reviews and buzz to justify the film. Oh boy they did! It’s both a beautiful art film and a nasty, gory, psychologically fucked up medieval old-school horror. But that is not all! It is also wired with with shockingly great performances! As it’s Roger Eggers debut film, anything he does now is highly anticipated!
So there we are, a great year for film. But, next year will be even better! Here are 5 films I can’t wait to see, summed up in five words!
5- Blade Runner 2049- Stunning. Sci-fi. Genius film maker.
4- Baby Driver- Edgar Wright. Genius. Genius. Jamie Foxx!
3- War Of The Planet of the Apes- Ground-breaking. Epic. Woody Harrelson!
2- Dunkirk- Nolan. Epic. Imax. Real Cinema.
1- Paul Thomas Anderson Fashion Film- PTA. Daniel Day Lewis. Done!