Thursday, 22 December 2016

My Top 20 films of 2016

20. Doctor Strange - Really enjoyed Marvel exploring psychedelic visuals, and the reversal of their usual climax. If Ant Man and Doctor Strange are second tier of Marvel superheroes I think I'm more of a second tier fan.

19. Learning to Drive - A sweet romance starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley. Doesn't re-invent the wheel, but the characters have lots of depth and Clarkson in particular is great.

18. Cafe Society - Jesse Eisenberg doesn't go too neurotic, Kristen Stewart is great, the film looks fabulous. If you're a Woody Allen fan this is like catnip.

17. I, Daniel Blake - Hard hitting, state of the nation film which should be being made by younger filmmakers. Luckily Ken Loach is still about to show them how it's done. Manipulative in place for sure, but great performances make this hit hard.

16. High Rise - From opinions I've seen you either love or hate High Rise. The ratcheting up of insanity really worked for me. Reminded me of Gilliam in many ways.

15. Snowden - Alongside The Big Short this is one of the most terrifying films of the year. I know there's a lot of stories about how this has been the year of horror with the hits Lights Out and Don't Breathe in the summer,but reality has become a lot scarier it would seem. There's some beautiful visuals in this one. Good to see Oliver Stone making politically angry films again.

14. Allied - This had terrible reviews which seemed to malign it for being too melodramatic, which is odd criticism for a melodrama. There are some great heightened moments, romance and surprising bursts of action. I loved its old fashioned appeal.

13. Eye in the Sky - One of the tensest cinema experiences of the year and a lot of it comes from just people talking in rooms.

12. Bridget Jones' Baby - A good surprise this. Had zero expectations, thought the first two were OK at best. Saw this one in a packed cinema that roared with laughter throughout, made for a great atmosphere and made me think that this was the best comedy of the year.

11. Pete's Dragon - A great kids film with a rural setting that really uses the force of nature as a theme throughout the film. Beautifully told and really emotional.

10. Zootropolis - A great and timely message in this fun, bright film which had me smiling throughout with some of the best characters of the year. Looking forward to seeing them in the inevitable sequels.

9. Eddie the Eagle -  Dexter Fletcher is becoming the go to director for British feel good cinema, and this ticks all the boxes to get you smiling, laughing, crying and then laughing with tears coming down your face.

8. Deepwater Horizon - A disaster film with the aesthetic of Friday night Lights. Takes its time to introduce the characters before it all falls apart in horrifying fashion. Another film with old fashioned appeal.

7. Midnight Special - Jeff Nichols with another hit. This one goes pure sci fi and the scale it reaches really surprised me. I felt this was one of the most magical films of the year.

6. Ghostbusters - This had the most punch the air moments of the year, and probably the character of the year in Holtzmann. Nailed the balance of scares and comedy.

5. The Witch - A truly primal horror film which scares with small elements. The attention to detail builds up a reality which makes you question whether events are caused through religious paranoia or something more supernatural. Chilled me to the bone in really strange ways, almost like a spell.

4. Sing Street - Great songs, characters, relationships and the most realistic depiction of writing songs with your mates when you're a teenager. Full of heart, I wish more people had seen this.

3. Hell or High Water - Great characters, dialogue and pacing. a story that builds and builds and makes you care about everyone, no matter how heinous they are.

2. Room - Still get shivers when I think of certain elements of this. Handled brilliantly to avoid being too tough a watch, as it unfurls it reveals it's positive heart.

1. Arrival - A film which presents the terrifying fear humanity has of everything and how dangerous it is. Looks at the darkest events that life can throw at you and asks if life, which can present so much pain, is worth living. Also it explores language and has aliens and a great performance from Amy Adams.