Favourite Films of 2016
I’ve compiled a list of my favourite movies from this year with the only criteria being that it applies to any film with a cinematic release in the UK during 2016. The top ten are ranked, but then the rest are just alphabetical order. As ever, I wasn’t able to get and see everything I would have liked, so my apologies for any glaring omissions.
The top ten:
- 1/ Rogue One : A Star Wars Story : Gareth Edwards’ stand alone Star Wars movie exceeded all expectations and proved to be both a thrilling and powerful war movie in its own right, as well linking in superbly to the pre-existing movies. Grittier and darker than all that came before it, this was a Star Wars movie with a difference. Special praise for Felicity Jones who is a strong and engaging as Jyn, Ben Mendelsohn who gives great menace as ever, and finally Darth Vader, for being an absolute stone cold badass.
- 2/ Hell or High Water : A neo-western of sorts that pits a pair of bank robbing brothers against a wily old Texas Ranger. Chris Pine and Ben Foster both shine as the wildly different siblings, and Jeff Bridges can do a gnarled old-timer better than anyone. It’s a tense and thoughtful movie which possesses a real emotional depth that unravels further as the movie progresses. With stunning cinematography, a great script and exceptional central performances, it’s an all-round captivating watch.
- 3/ Hunt for the Wilderpeople : A fun, warm and altogether charming movie here from Kiki director Taika Waititi that sees the unlikely duo of former juvenile delinquent Ricky Barker (Julian Dennison) and cranky old country boy Hec (Sam Neil on fine form) out in the wilderness and on the run from the authorities. The central duo share a wonderful chemistry and seeing them bicker their way across the New Zealand countryside is effortlessly entertaining. It’s not just a hilarious comedy though, it’s also a spirited adventure movie with moments of real poignancy.
- 4/ The Revenant : A visceral and brutal story of survival by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu which quite rightly also bagged Leonardo DiCaprio his first best actor Oscar. DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass is left for dead and must make his way through the unrelentingly harsh and unforgiving wilderness in order to survive. An incredibly atmospheric and powerful cinematic experience, it’s every bit as bleak as it is beautiful thanks to stunning performances and masterful direction.
- 5/ Deadpool : One of the most unashamedly fun and entertaining movies of the year. Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller combined to deliver a profane and outrageous action comedy that revelled in mocking more generic superhero movies. Reynolds is perfect as the obnoxious and sarcastic “merc with the mouth” and the film as a whole is a distinctly non-PG breath of fresh air.
- 6/ I, Daniel Blake : A hard-hitting and undeniably powerful critique of Britain’s failing benefits system here courtesy of Ken Loach. Dave Johns is superb as the central character, a good and honest man driven to despair by the red tape and bureaucracy he is greeted with when he is unable to work. It’s an eye-opening and incredibly relevant film that needs to be seen by as many people as possible.
- 7/ Room: Room is a truly haunting movie that lingers with you long after the titles have finished. If you’ve yet to see it, try do so knowing as little about it as possible. Brie Larson and young Jacob Tremblay are both incredible in their respective roles of determined mother and wide-eyed son, and both contribute massively to a film that is capable of being both incredible disturbing and difficult to watch, as well as being poignant and inspiring.
- 8/ Everybody Wants Some!! : Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused is set across a single weekend and revolves around the actions of a college baseball team as they bring aboard some new members and proceed to show them a good time. It’s a gloriously feel-good and upbeat comedy, all about having fun and sampling everything college life has to offer. As ever Linklater makes doing little or nothing look utterly compelling and his choice of soundtrack is flawless.
- 9/ Arrival : Intriguing and thoughtful Sci-Fi from director Denis Villeneuve which deals with what our first contact with alien life might be like. The focus is squarely on the issue of communication and linguistics however which allows for a more cerebral and thought-provoking movie than your standard Sci-Fi blockbuster. Villeneuve is proving to be a real talent and he gets to show his creative side throughout Arrival. The scenes set aboard the alien craft in particular stand out for their sheer inventiveness. It doesn’t quite land everything it tries as a movie, but it’s still an incredibly entertaining experience.
- 10/ Captain Fantastic : A hugely enjoyable comedy-drama which follows Viggo Mortensen’s father of six Ben as he attempts to raise his kids in isolation, far from the trappings of modern life. When the family are unavoidably forced to enter modern society, it shines a light on both the positives and negatives of Ben’s methods. It’s a funny and moving movie that has a great all-round cast but which is undoubtedly buoyed strongly by Viggo in outstanding charismatic form.
Also well worth a watch:
- 10 Cloverfield Lane
- Captain America Civil War
- Doctor Strange
- Eddie the Eagle
- Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them
- Finding Dory
- Green Room
- Kubo And The Two Strings
- Midnight Special
- Nocturnal Animals
- Sing Street
- The Big Short
- The Girl With All The Gifts
- The Lobster
- The Nice Guys
- Batman vs Superman
- Hail, Cesar!
- Independence Day : Resurgence
- London Has Fallen
- Suicide Squad
- X-Men Apocalypse