Reviews of an Acute Cinephile.

My Top 10 Films of 2016

Happy New Year folks!

2016 has been quite the roller-coaster when its come to films and their quality, but it cannot be denied that for every horrid film released (*cough* BatPunisher v SuperSerious: Dawn of Martha *cough*), there’s also been a ton of really good films this year.

This is my personal (Emphasis on PERSONAL) list of MY favourite films that released in 2016. Your list is going to be different and I can guarantee that you’re not going to agree with all my picks. That’s totally fine –  Film is as subjective as an art form can get and I look forward to hearing what your favourite films of 2016 were.

Anyway, without anymore further ado, here goes:

Honorable Mentions (Movies this year that I really enjoyed but quite simply didn’t have space in this list for) – Deadpool, The Jungle Book, Green Room, Star Trek: Beyond, The Magnificent Seven, Deepwater Horizon and Hell or High Water

 

10 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them

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What can I say? Once a Potterhead, always a Potterhead.

I for one, am glad that J.K. Rowling decided to revisit her wizarding world as it was simply too interesting a universe to be left dormant. With David Yates’ return as Director and with Rowling herself writing the script, Fantastic Beasts expanded the wizarding world in interesting new ways, while telling a truly captivating story that managed to avoid the curse of being a prequel. Filled with beautiful creatures (That Occamy though) , some great acting, memorable characters and some really cool world-building, Fantastic Beasts earns its ties to the Harry Potter septology in a remarkable way.

Mischief Managed indeed!

 

9 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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Seems like this is the year of great prequels.

Now, I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan around- I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of the films but I’ve never been overtly interested in the lore – but that changed with this film. Rogue One simultaneously adds new depth and meaning to the original trilogy while also telling a self-contained story that features courage, desperation and sacrifice. A darker entry into the Star Wars franchise (seriously, some sequences in this film had echoes of great war films like Saving Private Ryan and Platoon), this movie also featured legendary screen villain Darth Vader in all his glory (For those who’ve seen this film, you know what I’m talking about). Needless to say, I was thoroughly enthralled from start to finish and I strongly believe you will too, regardless of whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not.

 

8 – Zootopia

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This year has been particularly good for animated films with almost every single one of them that released being worthy of being on this list. However, Zootopia earns its spot because of what it achieved – telling a story that simultaneously addresses real-world issues and manages to relay these issues in a way that appeals to children. Simply put, it doesn’t treat children like absolute idiots and actually respects their intelligence and ability to grasp concepts.

This is the sort of movie that kids and adults can learn a lot from. The animation, as always from Disney, is top-notch and the storytelling on display here, balancing humour and drama effortlessly, is amazing.

 

7 – Dr. Strange

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Marvel studios has been making great films for a while now so this should come as no surprise. Dr. Strange was a superhero film unlike any other. Sure, its overall origin story structure was something that we’d already seen many times before but the execution was truly a sight to behold. With truly imaginative visuals, an incredible amount of heart, an excellent performance from Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous character and a completely innovative and fresh third-act battle, Dr. Strange is a character that I definitely look forward to seeing more of in the future.

 

6 – La La Land

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After last year’s phenomenal Whiplash, Director Damien Chazelle’s latest picture proves that he isn’t just a one-hit wonder and is in fact, a true force to be reckoned with. A musical masterpiece, La La Land is a film that is simultaneously old-fashioned and yet post-modern. The songs themselves are truly memorable and faithfully serves the tale of two people trying their best to attain their dreams and the challenges they’re forced to face along the way. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s chemistry in the film is practically perfect and their talents are on full display here. I truly can’t wait to see what Damien Chazelle serves up next!

 

5 – 10 Cloverfield Lane

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When a movie fills you with anxiety for the entirety of its runtime, it can mean either one of two things – the film is a rollicking thrill ride from start to finish or it’s another one of those shitty comedies and the anxiety comes from the self-realization that you’re wasting 2 hours of your life.

Fortunately, 10 Cloverfield Lane is the former. Supposedly set in the same universe as 2008’s Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a truly suspense-filled film that is sure to send your heart racing. Featuring a truly terrifying turn from John Goodman and a Sigourney Weaver – like heroine in Mary Elizabeth Winstead, this film is a masterclass in storytelling and suspense. Now, I know the ending to this film is divisive but I thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it to be quite organic in context. Regardless, this is one hell of a good time and I urge everyone to experience it.

 

4 – Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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One of the most overlooked films this year, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a hilarious and yet, touching coming-of-age story about a boy and his kind-hearted-with-a-gruff – exterior foster father and their adventures together. I’m keeping the plot as barebones as possible for you to experience it and discover how truly fantastic the film is for yourself. From Writer-Director Taika Waititi (Director of the equally hilarious What we do in the shadows of the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok as well, for which I am incredibly excited ), Hunt for the Wilderpeople is quirky, full of wit and features bravura performances from both Sam Neill (I was so happy to see him after what seemed like so long) and child-actor Julian Denison while also being constantly laugh out loud funny. Check this one out as soon as you possibly can.

 

3 – The Nice Guys

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Shane Black as a writer I like. Shane Black as a director I love.

From the amazing Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang to the thoroughly underrated Iron Man 3, Shane Black infuses every single one of his films with copious amounts of heart, humour, clever dialogue and wit and The Nice Guys is no exception. Drawing out the comedic sides of stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling that I didn’t know even existed, The Nice Guys is the kind of film that is consistently entertaining and filled with amazingly quotable quips and dialogue. A special shout-out to Angourie Rice, who plays Ryan Gosling’s hilariously cynical and witty daughter.

It’s utterly sad that such original, innovative and truly entertaining fare hasn’t gotten the box-office response it deserves. So please, if you haven’t seen this modern classic yet, do yourself a favour and just watch it. Simply put – it’s amazing.

 

2 – Captain America: Civil War

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Yeah, yeah, big surprise.

But how could I not include this film? Civil War was a blockbuster unlike any other this year. Directed by the Russo Brothers, who also directed the equally awesome Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this threequel does the truly astounding job of balancing a large cast of characters, while simultaneously telling a story about a family being ripped apart. Supported by some truly amazing action set-pieces, some of the best acting I’ve seen from Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. to date and an emotionally driven third-act battle that truly makes you feel for the characters involved, Captain America: Civil War earns it’s spot on my list with ease.

Also, Spider-Man. That is all.

 

1 – Arrival

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It’s official, Denis Villeneuve is now one of my favourite working directors and I’m ready and willing to watch anything that he makes.

After 2015’s excellent Sicario, Arrival was the movie that made me realize just how much of a creative powerhouse Villeneuve truly is. A science-fiction movie that appeals to the mind and the soul rather than just the senses, Arrival tells a story that deals with themes deeper than a lot of science-fiction fare out there that try to be intellectual (I’m looking at you Interstellar) and the truly wondrous thing is just how amazingly paced and truly thrilling the film is for one that is dialogue-driven for a majority of its runtime. With breathtaking cinematography, a haunting score and an oscar-worthy performance from Amy Adams, Arrival is my favourite film of the year and I implore you to watch it if you haven’t already.

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