2016 became an interesting year of film watching for me as I have personally had to change my cinematic viewing habits. This is due to the fact that I became a new father with all the responsibilities that fatherhood has bestowed on me. So with this in mind I have had to forgo my usual weekly cinema jaunts and instead I have been watching the 2016 releases via irregular Cinema trips, On Demand subscriptions (very useful), buying the DVD/Blu as soon as it has been release (great 3 month cinema to DVD/Blu window on most non blockbuster releases) and the occasional preview DVD which kindly fell into my lap. Compiling my top favourites of 2016 has been a real eye opener as embracing other avenues of watching newly released films has become more varied and very much a technological innovative trip. Do not worry, this devoted cinephile knows full well that the best place to watch any movie is at the Cinema and I was blessed with a few trips to those fabled picturehouses, with even a date at the London Film Festival, so sit back, relax and see what films I enjoyed in 2016…
15. Deadpool Director Tim Miller
As a Marvel comic book adaptation it was the usual studio set-up, for a grade B character but what makes this film a stand out example of how to make a comic-to-movie work, is the razor wit of the one liners, the comic timing of Ryan Reynolds and the whole cast and director do not take the making of this film seriously, which works a treat.
14. The Accountant Director Gavin O’Connor
This thriller has Ben Affleck starring as Christian Wolff a child with learning issues who grows up to become a top flight trouble shooting accountant during the day and a deadly killer-for-higher as his nighttime career. On his trail is a dogged old timer Treasury Department officer and his junior partner. If you can handle the premise then this is a film worth watching.
13. The Lobster Director Yorgos Lanthimos
The plot of this comedy drama is set in a near future, where single people, according to the laws of the country, are taken to a hotel, where they must find a romantic partner in forty-five days or they are transformed into beasts. Analogys are rife in this feature, but if you have seen the directors previous film, Dogtooth then you can appreciate where he is coming from. A very good cast as well play well with a very lateral script.
12. The Hateful Eight Director Quentin Tarantino
Okay a Tarantino film that I do like (including Jackie Brown (1998) his most mature work) plays well with Klondike era Spaghetti Westerns, Agatha Christie whodunnits and lashings of crooked sub Italian Western characterizations, with a score by El Maestro Ennio Morricone.
11. High Rise Director Ben Wheatley
This 1970’s near future set drama thriller is fantastically directed, well acted by the cool ensemble cast and the art direction is on the same fun levels that A Clockwork Orange had way back in 1971. The UK advertorial campaign was also well executed, with the UK film poster being very nice creation (see below).
10. Nocturnal Animals Director Tom Ford
I saw this feature only a few days before the end of 2016 and I really enjoyed what I had seen. It is a nice dark drama of a bored, bourgeois art director who is give a manuscript from her ex husband of this violent book, a revenge for an earlier incident they both went through. Good performances and an interesting opening credit scene and the most favourable of endings.
9. Hell Or High Water Director David Mackenzie
This film has a dogged performance form Jeff Bridges as a near retired Sheriff on the hunt for two outlaw brothers robbing banks in various Texan towns to pay off their mortgage. A telling plotline that sums up the camera shots of looming bill boars offering quick loans and credit cards throughout a once prosperous state. Bridges one liners and racial slurs are funny to hear.
8. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Director J.J. Abrams
Yes I know, it was released in 2015, but for this viewer I saw it both in December 2015, then in January 2016 plus the BluRay release in April, so it is in my list, crowbarred in, so to speak! Several parts A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back and a sprinkle of Return Of The Jedi, this is a film form a director who is a fan of the Star Wars mythology, though rough at the edges, there is a little glow that feels like a Star Wars film, only a little mind you, which works for me.
7. Son Of Saul Director László Nemes
When I saw Nemes’ film I was struck how well he focused on Saul throughout the film in a tight, claustrophobic !:37:1 aspect ratio, keeping the horrors of Sauls’ work in the concentration camp during World War II just out of the viewers eyesight, but enough to make you feel upset and horrified but what Saul sees. A film of true horror, but so gripping.
6. The Nice Guys Director Shane Black
Loved this film so much, the casting of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling reminded me of the old Bud Spencer/Terence Hill action comedies of the 1970’s-80’s, which incidental Crowe is a big fan of. Too clever for it’s domestic market, this film did well over here, but not enough to warrant a sequel! Shame.
-5.Miles Ahead Director Don Cheadle
A personal project for actor Cheadle, who wrote, directed and produced this great little biopic of Miles Davis, jazz muscian extrodinaire. I have spent the last year listening to alot of Davis’ work, especially the album King Of Blue, so this movie, about a semi fictional encounter between Miles and Ewan McGregors Scottish journalist is very funny to watch, layered with key flash backs and pointed attacks on the music industry. Well worth a watch.
-5. Tale Of Tales Director Matteo Garrone
This collection of three Italian medieval tales a screen adaptation based on collections of tales by Neapolitan poet and courtier Giambattista Basile: Pentamerone.It features another ensemble cast, from Salma Hayek, Toby Jones to Vincent Cassell, each tale touches upon the other, but never detracting from each other. This is Matteo Garrone first English language movie.
4. Youth Director Paolo Sorrentino
This is a fantastic film, set in a health spa in the Italian Alps and featuring a great cross performance from Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel and two long time artistic friends who meet regularly at the spa to wax lyrical about life, their children and the failures they have had to accept. This is also Paolo Sorrentino first primarily English language movie.
3. The Neon Demon Director Nicolas Winding Refn
Refn does Elizabeth Báthory, dog-eat-dog fashionistas on overdrive and the complete destruction of innocence. All done with so much neon in so many shots, this is Refn doing what he does best, dark, moody, violent with an electrifying syth score from Cliff Martinez.
2. Hail Caesar! Directors Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
This cool satire of the 1950’s Hollywood Studio system is so fantastically funny that I really did enjoy the Coens feature very much. Clooney plays a matinee idol actor, kidnapped by Communist sympathizers who convince him to join their group, at the same time Josh Brolins studio executive is keeping the lid on a pressure cooker blockbuster Sword ‘n’ Sandal epic with no leading man! Throw in some great cameos form Tilda Swinton amongst others and a classic scene with Brolin, a Cathloic priest, a Rabbi, a Greek Orthodox priest and a Baptist minister all discussing the merits of Jesus Christ on screen, classic.
1. The Assassin Director Hsiao-Hsien Hou
A poetic martial arts film with beautifully shot landscapes, wonderful performances and lyrical martial arts sequences, all shot in 1:37:1 aspect ratio. It all comes together perfectly this well produced Taiwanese, Chinese, French Hong Kong co-production owes much to the old classic Chinese political costume drams, infused with expertly stage martial arts scenes. A Beautiful film to watch.
So this is my top film list for 2016, a rather varied collection I think, but ably summing up some of the movies I like to be entertained by. As I have spent the year discovering other ways to view the latest releases, I have have lost none of the enjoyment of film and cinema. So with that in mind, I thank you for taking the time to read my list…