Oh 2016, you celebrity killing, establishment defying, kamikaze son of a bitch, what a year you’ve been.
2016 will be remembered for a long time to come and whilst the world at large appears to have lost its mind and the universe seems hell bent on taking away everyone we have ever treasured, there has been a lot to love in the year of film.
I’ve seen around 150 2016 releases this year and selecting my favourite 16 has taken me some time. Whilst there may be some I’ve missed (I, Daniel Blake, American Honey) I have done my utmost to watch as much as I can in preparation for this list.
So without further ado, here are my top 16 movies of the year. My bottom 5 of the year are listed below.
The Jungle Book
Son of Saul
Swiss Army Man
Everybody Wants Some!
16: Green Room
Blue Ruin director Jeremy Saulnier turned his attention to the horror genre earlier this year with thrilling results.
Starring the late Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots in lead roles, the movie is about a punk band who are forced to play at a neo-nazi bar, only to get caught up in a crime and locked in the venue’s green room, with the nazis outside baying for blood.
The film is a visceral gut punch, a throwback to exploitation movies from the 80s and a nerve shredding and efficient thrill ride.
15:10 Cloverfield Lane
Adapted from a script called ‘The Cellar’ and made under the code name ‘Valencia’ 10 Cloverfield Lane was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.
The links to the original movie are tentative at best, and the movie is far superior to the 2008 original. John Goodman is on Oscar worthy form as the terrifying Howard, a paranoid loner who has taken two people hostage in his bunker under the pretense that the world has been taken over.
The tension in this movie would make Hitchcock proud, with director Dan Trachtenberg expertly turning the screw until the movie’s big finale.
2016 give us one of the worst summer periods at the cinema, perhaps, of all time. But one movie that didn’t fail to disappoint was Shane Black’s The Nice Guys.
Starring Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as two misfit cops, the movies was an affectionate love letter to the neo noir movies of days gone by and was also last out loud hilarious, featuring several of the year’s best jokes.
13:The Hateful Eight
Tarrantino has never been one to shy away from dividing his audience and his latest offering, The Hateful Eight, split opinion more than any of his previous entries.
After the commercial success of Django Tarrantino returned to his roots with The Hateful Eight, giving us a dialogue driven who did it, that combined trops of the Western genre with the plot of Reservoir Dogs, what’s not to like? This was his best movie in years.
Denis Vilenueve is one of the most exciting directors working at the moment and his foray into the sci-fi genre this year with Arrival, may well be his best outing yet.
Showing that bigger isn’t neccessarily better Arrival is a thought provoking, and incredibly human movie that will make you both question the nature of the world we live and make you appreciate those around you a little bit more. Profound stuff.
11:Captain America: Civil War
2016 has been the biggest year ever for superhero cinema. With DC launching their own universe and Fox expanding theirs Marvel really needed to up their game this year.
With all the competiion you’d have thought Marvel may have been damaged this year, instead they come out looking even more unstoppable than they did 12 months ago. Whilst DC and Fox delivered duds Marvel expanded their TV universe in excellent fashion and gave us one of their best movies to date in Civil War.
Pitting their superheroes against each other, Jay and Anthony Russo gave us the best superhero movie since Guardians and also Marvel’s best action sequence to date.
2016 will be remembered for a lot of things, not least Donald Trump’s shock US election victory back in November. For Weiner, the documentary about the former New York Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, the timing could not have been better.
The documentary, filmed back in 2013 by Josh Kriegman, documents the rise and fall of Weiner following a second sexting scandal and is compelling viewing. Unfolding like a Shakespearean tragedy the movie is a must for anybody interested in American politics.
It’s quite ironic that the most human movie released this year starred puppets. Directed by Charlie Kaufman Anomalisa is the story of a man doomed to hear the same voice emitted from every person he meets, until one day he meets a woman called Lisa, who sounds different to him.
Riddled with pathos and melancholy Anomalisa is a magnificent movie that really explores the human condition and rewards multiple viewings.
8:When Marnie was There
Made in 2014 but only released in the UK this summer When Marnie was There is one of Studio Ghibli’s finest movies in recent memory.
The story of a young girl who befriends the enigmatic Marine when she goes to visit her family over the summer the film is in equal parts stunning and heart breaking. The film could be on this list for its final 10 minutes alone; have the tissues at the ready.
7:Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Taika Waititi is one of the most fun directors working today and Hunt for the Wilderpeople may be his best movie to date.
Rick Bailey, a young lad who has fell on the wrong side of the tracks, and his foster ‘uncle’ Hec make for the year’s most unlikely of heroes as they wonder into the wilderness to avoid being captured by the authorities trying to take Ricky back into care.
Full of warmth and wit , Hunt for the Wilderpeople was one of 2016’s nicest surprises.
6: Kubo and the Two Strings
2016 has been a hell of a year for animation and studio Laika threw their hat in the ring with perhaps their most beautiful movie yet- Kubo and the Two Strings.
Stop motion has never looked as stunning as it does here, whilst Matthew McConaughey, Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron and Ralph Fiennes provide some stellar voice work.
In a year where animation has reigned supreme Disney held onto their crown, giving us one of their best movies since the turn of the century.
The film, a story about a rabbit who leaves her home farm to make a name for herself in the big city, also turned out to be the most politically relevant movie of the year, dealing with xenophobia and corruption head on and in often hilarious fashion.
4: Nocturnal Animals
A woman leaves her husband, who years later, writes a novel and sends it to her. That is the basic premise of Nocturnal Animals, adapted from the 1993 novel Tony and Susan and directed by fashion designer Tom Ford.
Whilst the premise may not sound all too enticing Nocturnal Animals is a neo noir drama that switches being the deserts of Texas and the high life of LA. It’s a thrilling tale that hits you in the gut time and time again before coming to it’s wonderfully ambiguous end.
It also features some of the year’s finest performances from the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon and Aaran Taylor Johnson. And as you can imagine the film looks immaculate.
3: The Witch
2016 has been a fairly successful year for the horror genre, but no movie stood out as much as the debut feature from Robert Eggers- The Witch.
Playing out like The Crucible on steroids The Witch was a terrifying journey into the abyss that stayed with me long after the end credits had rolled. Credit must also go to the meticulous period detail that went into the movie as well. This truly was terrifying stuff.
2: Hell or High Water
The western genre has had something of a rebirth in recent years, and perhaps the best movie in that movement to date is Hell or High Water.
Directed by British director David McKenzie Hell or High Water is the story of two brothers who rob a number of banks all over Texas to clear their mother’s debts from the banks using the bank’s own money.
There is much to love about Hell or High Water. The script is the best of the year, Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster all give awards worthy performances and the movie is one of the most relevant of the year.
Comparisons have been drawn to the Coens’ No Country for Old Men, and dare I say it… I think this may be better.
1: Sing Street
For the most part 2016 has been a shit show. The world has lost its marbles and we seem to be dancing merrily towards some sort of disaster. Perhaps it’s because of this that Sing Street was my favourite movie of the last 12 months.
The story of a young Irish lad who forms a band to try and impress a girl is easily the most feel good movie of the year and it earns every damn moment. Full of charm, wit and hilarity, Sing Street has been my favourite film since the moment I first saw it, and I’ve seen it 4 times since.
It also features the year’s best sound track and some great performances. If you’re feeling a bit shitty about the shit storm that has been 2016, then go and watch Sing Street right now, you can thank me later.
And the worst….
5: Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass
4: London Has Fallen
3: The 5th Wave
2: Zoolander 2
1: Mother’s Day