Best Films of 2016

I’ve seen a lot of films in the last year, perhaps the most I’ve ever seen in a single year. It’s phenomenal given how busy I’ve been. 

There were a couple of films I caught at the London Film Festival that I haven’t put in because they will be 2017 films. I may as well state that there is no way La La Land won’t make the list for 2017. It’s just that good.

I also decided I’d treat documentary films seperately because this year was the best in a long time for this genre. The top of the pile was probably Weiner, though there was a whole bunch of great efforts that will get their own article.

Here’s my top twelve, in alphabetical order:

Arrival


What I said:

“Arrival is one of the best films of the year. Gripping, intelligent, thought-provoking and stylish. A must see.”

Read the original review here.

Deadpool


What I said:

” It’s brash, it’s offensive and it’s graphic. It’s almost like a superhero film from an alternate reality, where the primary goal isn’t to sell action figures and lunchboxes. Its failings are more than made up for by how refreshing it was to see a completely different take on the genre.”

Read the original review here.

The Hateful Eight


What I said:

“This is a psychological mystery that isn’t afraid to maintain the whole story in complete isolation. It intertwines some laugh-out-loud moments with shocking gore in a way that only Tarantino knows how. It may not be his greatest achievement but it certainly doesn’t disappoint.”

Read the original review here.

Julieta


What I said:

“A beautiful work of art and a must see for anyone with a penchant for high quality cinema.”

Read the original review here.

Moana


What I said:

“The plaudits must go to Auli’i Cravalho, who comes in as a complete unknown and has delivered a lead performance that equals the best Disney has ever achieved. At just sixteen but with a voice as good as anything I’ve ever heard on stage, she has a very bright future indeed.”

Read the original review here.

The Neon Demon


What I said:

“This is a sensational film with a powerful leading performance from a girl just seventeen at the time of filming. Pairing this with such bold film making and the result was never going to be anything but an overwhelming success.”

Read the original review here.

Nocturnal Animals


What I said:

“If you’re interested in seeing Tom Ford’s latest then you need to know what you’re getting yourself in for. It’s a veritable misery-fest. And it’s absolutely breathtaking.”

Read the original review here.

Raw


What I said:

“Clearly, any film that can accurately depict a human devouring the flesh of a fellow human is going to turn some stomachs. It would be easy enough to nail the visual effects, make a shocking trailer and launch it out into the world. Where Raw will find wider success is the fact that there is a genuinely interesting and well-realised film beyond the surface, which justifies its critical praise.”

Read the original review here.

Room


What I said:

“It may not seem it but it’s a wonderful hidden gem, the quality of which will only become apparent once you’ve seen it. It is deliberately difficult but equally rewarding to witness. An early contender for one of my top films of the year.”

Read the original review here.

Spotlight


What I said:

“The film is now serving the same purpose as the original article: to shine a spotlight on a diabolical scandal that should have been eradicated decades ago. It is possibly the most important film you will see this year.”

Read the original review here.

Victoria


What I said:

“When I say one-shot, I mean one-shot: no trickery, no cut-aways, no cheating. That’s 138 minutes of film in one continuous take – a bold move that took three attempts to get right. It’s a glorious achievement and a wonder to behold, even though the film is perhaps flawed as a result of its own triumph.”

Read the original review here.

When Marnie Was There


What I said:

“Instantly it will strike you that it’s just as beautifully animated as anything we’ve seen before, with hand-drawn drawings taking us on the typically personal, solitary journey of the main character. Animation has seldom looked this good.”

Read the original review here.

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Best Documentary Films 2016

There were so many great documentary films unleashed on the world in 2016 that I felt it was worth pulling them out of my main list. 

The best of the bunch is Weiner, the completely bizarre fly-on-the-wall documentary of Anthony Weiner as he repeatedly details his own political career. The rest are more than worthy of a viewing.

Weiner


What I said:

“As a documentary, Weiner is about as good as it gets. It isn’t putting the pieces together after an event, instead getting lucky and being able to present a truly spectacular political scandal from the inside of the bubble. The characters are their interactions are as captivating as any fictional story.”

Read the original review here.

A Hard Days Night: The Beatles, The Touring Years


What I said:

“It is a truly brilliant piece of documentary film-making, managing to tell the familiar story with a flurry of individual memories that bring to life again a rise to stardom that has not and will not ever be replicated.”

Read the original review here.

Life, Animated


What I said:

“The film may take a look at only one man’s struggles with autism, but the focus shifts from him to those around him: his parents, his brother, his girlfriend, the professionals helping him through his condition. In this way, we see how his autism affects those around him. The result is arguably one of the most important films about autism ever made.”

Read the original review here.

Dancer

What I said:

“Most insightful are the interviews with his mother and father. Clearly huge sacrifices were made throughout his life to get him to where he is now. The film leaves it open as to whether either of them regret putting him through it, and it’s not something that ever really needs an answer. He certainly has a different life to the one he would have had if he’d stayed in Khersan, Ukraine.”

Read the original review here.

Sour Grapes


What I said:

“The film builds up a balanced picture of Kurniawan and the people he had been associating with in these wine tasting circles. It follows him as he befriends the self-professed ‘Angry Men’ group in LA over a period of several years, buying up key vintage wines, developing his palette to unrivalled levels and becoming a key player in the wine buying and selling scene. The results are nothing short of fascinating.”

Read the original review here.

The Hard Stop


What I said:

“‘The Hard Stop’ is one of the most important documentary films to hit the big screens this year. Out of necessity, it is rough around the edges. It has, at the heart of it, some of the greatest social themes facing Britain today. A riveting watch.”

Read the original review here.