Its quickly come around to that time of year yet again where I look fondly back at the last twelve months of cinema. 2016 has been one of the most bleakest and depressing years in recent time, not just in the movie world but also where current real world affairs is concerned with as well. We’ve lost more celebrities than in any other year I can remember, woke up feeling sick to the realisation back in June that Brexit will now become a reality in the UK, and history repeated itself in the States when Donald Trump won the U.S election as the next American president. God help us all.
New releases at the cinema didn’t turn out to be all that better in 2016 either, what with the summer at the movies being especially disappointing with its dire onslaught of unnecessary remakes and reboots. Thankfully though, I frequented the cinema less and less from April to August so it looked like I dodged a fair few bullets there.
My top ten of 2016 showcases the films that really mattered to me the most and made quite the impact it needed to. Hope you enjoy.
10. I, DANIEL BLAKE
You can check out my review on what I thought of I, Daniel Blake here.
9. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
You can check out my review on what I thought of Captain America: Civil War here.
8. GREEN ROOM
Director Jeremy Saulnier’s follow up to his outstanding violent and bloody 2013 indie film Blue Ruin that put a whole new spin on home invasion horror, Green Room is a lot more restrained but it is in no way less violent and brutal. When a punk rock band trying to raise money for themselves by playing at any gigs they can find accidentally stumble across a murder being committed at a Neo-Nazi skinhead bar, they’re soon thrust into a nightmare and a desperate fight for survival by the owners of the bar; led by a very scary and cold and calculating Patrick Stewart. Also starring the late Anton Yelchin, he gives here a really nuanced and well sustained performance as the leader of the band who must guide himself and his fellow band members out of this hellhole to safety before its too late.
7. SON OF SAUL
There may be quite a few films around that have centred on the different horrors experienced during the second world war holocaust but Son of Saul is a total different beast altogether with its film-making craftsmanship and visually impressive style. In this film, we see the horrors and terrors of Auschwitz in 1944 through the eyes of Hungarian-Jewish prisoner Saul Auslander as he is forced into slave labour, disinfecting the gas chambers at the concentration camp he is being made to work at, not to mention burning the corpses of his own people as well. It’s only when he notices a corpse of a young buy who he believes to be that of his own deceased son, that he decides to go against orders of his captors and and go on a dangerous journey to find a rabbi to give his boy a proper Jewish burial. The cinematography is what won me over about Son of Saul, it astounds me even now just thinking about it. It got a really limited release in cinema chains which was a crime unto itself, do yourself a favour and buy yourself a copy on DVD/Bluray and witness one of the best and most harrowing holocaust war films ever made from a first time full-length feature director.
6. SING STREET
The most refreshing and feel good smash hit to come out of this year, Sing Street can proudly add itself to the everlasting growing list of coming of age teen dramas that a lot of us can really relate to on such deeply personal levels of vying for such social acceptance. Set in the 1980s, the story is centred around a teenage boy growing up in Dublin, struggling with teen angst while at home with his family decides to start up a band of his own in the hope to impress and win the heart of the girl of his dreams. With a great 80s soundtrack that includes Rio by Duran Duran and Gold by Spandau Ballet, this is the perfect film for anyone who has such love for 80s notalgia.
Teaming up again with director Ryan Coogler since working together on the heartbreaking real life based drama Fruitvale Station, break out film star Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Johnson, the son to Apollo Creed – late friend and former boxing rival to Rocky Balboa. Stallone of course reprises his most famous role as the Italian Stallion, we see him at a place where he’s now widowed after the death of Adrian and works as the sole owner of their restaurant. After much badgering from Adonis, Rocky reluctantly takes on the task of being his trainer and mentor. There was a lot of talk of people wanting Stallone to win the Best Supporting Oscar for his performance, something I initially laughed off straight away. However, I shouldn’t have judged so early on before seeing the film as I can now understand why Stallone had received all the recognition he got. He most definitely should have won and its a shame he lost out to Mark Rylance for his performance in Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. As for the film, its a complete emotional knockout; one of the best to come out early 2016 and most deservedly warranted its rightful place at number 5 on this list.
4. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
You can check out my review on what I thought of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story here.
3. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
In Tom Ford’s long awaited follow up to his first directorial film effort in 2009 with A Single Man, this has proven to be a divisive movie for sure. Chilling and cold in its nature and storytelling, this is a bold and gut punching piece of narrative film-making that won’t be for everyone but if you can go with it for its labyrinthine story within a story structure, its deep and meaningful character study and an open ended finale opting itself for various multiple interpretations, you’ll be rewarded as a viewer for having soaked your brain from seeing such a rich, nuanced and enlightening film experience. With Jake Gylllenhaal and Amy Adams in absolute stellar leading performances, this film couldn’t escape from my mind long after it had finished. Superb.
You can check out my review on what I thought of Arrival here.
Lenny Abrahamson’s follow up to his brilliant and idiosyncratic 2014 hit Frank, and the film that deservedly earned Brie Larson her Academy Award for Best Leading Actress, is of course Room. No other picture this year has managed to break and shatter my heart into pieces quite like this one did. Based on the best-selling novel by Emma Donoghue – who also wrote the screenplay for the film – this emotionally devastating yet profoundly human drama unfolds inside the titular location which serves as both prison and sanctuary for mother and child. Newcomer Jacob Tremblay delivers a simply astonishing performance as young Jack, whose entire existence has unfolded within these walls, consequently clouding his sense of reality. The initial sequence in which he discovers there is a whole world outside of room is nothing short of breathtaking. Whilst Abrahamson’s latest can at times be a tough pill to swallow, it’s also a thrilling, uplifting, and ultimately life-affirming exploration of family, love, and discovery.