And here we are ladies and gents, the end of what has got to be the most interesting year of my life. I honestly wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me on December 31st 2015 that within the next 365 days…
- Donald Trump would be elected President of the United States.
- Princess Leia would be the first of the Star Wars trio to shuffle off this mortal coil.
- The Philippines would elect a President that would straight up murder 4000 of his own people AND still be popular.
- The UK would vote to leave the European Union.
- Batman V Superman would be one of the worst movies ever made.
- And Leonardo DiCaprio would finally win that damn Oscar!
But as is tradition for those of us in the film loving community, what follows is a list of films that I have found especially notable during the past 12 months.
When trying to piece together which films would make the cut, my only real rule was that the film had to have been released in the UK between 1st January 2016 and 31st December 2016. Unlike the BAFTAs, I don’t need to pander to the Americans and pretend the year ends in February!
So sorry to Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land, but maybe you’ll be on my list next year.
And before you ask… Why 12 and not 10?
Well… why not?
Special mentions: Spotlight, Deadpool, Truth, Anomolisa, 10 Cloverfield Lane, Marguerite, Life Animated, Golden Years (Also known as Grand Theft OAP), Where to Invade Next, Weiner, Finding Dory, Pete’s Dragon, The Girl with all the Gifts, Train to Busan, Arrival, Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, Your Name, Victoria, Hell or High Water.
Guilty Pleasures: Crazy About Tiffany’s, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Eddie the Eagle, Hardcore Henry, Bad Neighbours 2, Star Trek Beyond, The Shallows, Bad Moms.
My first entry into the Rocky franchise (I know, right!), I was a little concerned that having missed the previous 6 movies, the plot would be almost impenetrable to a newbie like me. Fortunately a great script from Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington meant that I was always engaged as I followed the journey of Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) and Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). Creed is, without a doubt, a stunning addition to the pantheon of sports movies.
Unlike Spotlight, Room has shown it was worthy of its various awards as, nearly 12 months later the journey of Joy (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) is still as powerful and moving as it was when first released.
Adapted from her own book of the same name, Emma Donoghue managed to craft one of the most emotional films released this year. Along with the Oscar worthy direction of Lenny Abrahamson, Room is a mighty example of how the love between a parent and a child can overcome the most dastardly of obstacles.
3) Bone Tomahawk
A rather overlooked film when first released, Bone Tomahawk is nonetheless a fantastic example of how an old fashioned Western can still be relevant in this age of expensive, overlong comic book dross.
Bringing together an A-list cast led by Kurt Russell, writer S. Craig Zahler has made an incredible directorial debut with only the most minimal of budgets. Accompanied by Benji Bakshi’s long sweeping shots of the beautiful yet deadly Californian desert, Bone Tomahawk is the best Western I have seen since 2010’s True Grit.
4) Zootropolis / Zootopia
It’s getting more and more common for Disney’s animated release to be superior to the annual Pixar release, and this year was no exception. Zootropolis is without a doubt the most imaginative film I have seen this year.
As has already been mentioned in hundreds of reviews, watching Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) fight through both society’s and her own prejudices is surprising relevant to our own world. While we can all argue whether or not this is the best animated film of 2016, I think we can all agree that this film contain the best “Sloth” related scene in cinema history!
5) The Edge of Seventeen
Might as well quote from my own review!
… (Steinfeld’s) performance can easily stand alongside other great teen portrayals (and) the interactions she has with the supporting cast are what help elevate this film into one of the best comedies of 2016… The biting wit and snappy rapport bring to mind a Joss Whedon level of dialogue and help cement The Edge of Seventeen as one of the best debut films of the 21st century.
6) Captain America: Civil War
“What an idiotic idea for a film” – What I said when Iron Man was released.
“This film’ll never work” – What I said when Avengers was released.
” Guaranteed Box Office Bomb” – What I said when Guardians of the Galaxy was released.
This film SHOULD NOT work. And yet, Christopher Markus and Stephan McFeely have done some of the best work of 2016 and written a script that not only gives decent roles to over a dozen characters, but never forgets that this is a Captain America movie and gives him his most intimate story yet. Knowing that almost all the creatives involved are now responsible for bringing Infinity War to the silver screen, its impossible not to have a sense of childlike excitement when thinking about the future of the Marvel Universe.
7) Sing Street
I’m not the biggest fan of musicals (which makes it all the more baffling that I have two of them in my top 12 list!), but Sing Street is a special case. Coming from the mind of Director/Writer John Carney, Sing Street is, on the surface, just about a boy meeting a girl. But a little digging shows off a love letter to the 80s accompanied by incredible performances from its young stars. Easily a five star classic in the vein of Moulin Rouge or Hairspray.
8) Adult Life Skills
Guaranteed to be the least seen film on this list, it’s disappointing that Adult Life Skills couldn’t find a bigger audience. (Though I suspect going up against The Secret Life of Pets didn’t help!) However this is a great comedic debut by Director/Writer Rachel Tunnard, and in Jodie Whittaker she has found a wonderful leading lady, able to deftly switch between the heights of hilarity and the rock bottom suffering that her character must endure.
A documentary that also doubles up as one of the most frightening horror films of the year? Who knew!?!
Tickled explores the niche market of “competitive endurance tickling.” Directors David Farrier and Dylan Reeve travel to America to find out what type of people would compete in such activities. But to say anymore would be ruining a stunning exploration of the human psyche. Quite possibly the best documentary of the year.
10) Popstar: Never Stop, Never Stopping
Only grossing $10 million off a $20 million budget, it’s a true shame to see that the newest project from the guys behind The Lonely Island is a Box Office Bomb. One of the wittiest satires of 2016, the film might not be for everyone; but I think most people will find a hilarious film that is guaranteed to become a cult classic.
11) Hunt for the Wilderpeople
What’s up with New Zealand? Last year was Deathgasm, the year before was What We Do in the Shadows. And this year, from Director/Writer Taika Waititi, is one of the funniest, yet most beautiful relationships between a man and a child. Sam Neil is perfectly cast as the grumpy Uncle Hec, and his chemistry with the younger Ricky (Julian Dennison) is next to none. Supported by several amazing character actors, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is well worth a watch.
12) Eye in the Sky
Alan Rickman fortunately doesn’t suffer the same fate as Raul Julia, as Rickman’s final film before his untimely death is one for the ages. Essentially a military thriller covering the issue of drone strikes, Eye in the Sky is a highly engaging and tense experience, guaranteed to stick in the mind long after finishing.
And that’s all from me in 2016 guys! I’ve only had this blog for three months, but it’s been a lot of fun writing all my reviews, my numerous movie related thoughts, and sharing the progress and achievements of my screenwriting career.
Also, a big thanks to the 8 people that have kindly been following my blog. It great to know that someone appreciates my work!
Have a safe and prosperous 2017 everyone!