Best of 2016 – Films
Written by Admin on 19 December 2016
Here’s James’s list of Best Films for 2016. You can listen back to the podcast here:
20. LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP
A fast-paced and witty period drama with a stellar performance by Kate Beckinsale.
Follows the poet on a caper around Chile and into the wilderness, centring on the the policeman tasked with tracking him down.
18. THE INNOCENTS
Set at the end of World War II, this looks at the relationship between a female doctor and a number of Polish nuns who are with child, following the retreat of the German and Russian armies.
17. THE SALESMAN
A harrowing domestic tale set in the aftermath of a sexual assault, this was a fascinating look into both the lives of a young couple, and a window into contemporary Tehran.
16. NICE GUYS
Ryan Gosling finally got a vehicle to show off his considerable comic talents in this cop buddy comedy with a surprisingly funny Russell Crowe.
15. THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
A rollicking ride through the bush and the backcountry with the return of Sam Neill almost overshadowed by the excellent Julian Dennison.
A super-dark, bleak black comedy set in the cold dark winter of Iceland, with two feuding brothers trying to protect their prize rams from disease and authority.
13. SWISS ARMY MAN
The bizarre story of a man marooned on a desert island who befriends a farting corpse. Heartwarming. No, really.
12. HELL OR HIGHWATER
Southern-friend Texas cops and robbers story which escalates incredibly rapidly in the most American way possible.
11. DR STRANGE
With a name like Dr Strange, it’s not really a surprise that this is one of the weirdest entries in the Marvel universe. Benedict Cumberbatch is the doctor in question, with an excellent supporting cast, and some truly trippy CGI effects.
10. POPSTAR: NEVER STOP NEVER STOPPING
Unfortunately dumped straight to DVD in New Zealand, POPSTAR is the Andy Samberg vehicle that fans have been looking for since HOT ROD. He plays the totally unaware pop-star CONNOR4REAL, with a bunch of great cameos from various stars, and some fantastic songs from the Lonely Island crew.
9. ON AN UNKNOWN BEACH
Won’t be for everyone, but this “speculative documentary” blurs the line between art-wank and science film. Bruce Russell trawls his way around the Ferry Rd Charity Barn, whilst we watch the hypnotic footage of a camera in a research vessel looking at coral on the seabed.
Todd Hayne’s quiet, almost underplayed look at the relationship between a young woman who meets at older married woman whilst working in a department store. Looked sumptuous, and did forbidden love better than most movies with hetero couples.
7. LAND OF MINE
Brutal Danish film set in the aftermath of WWII, with young German POWs set the task of defusing thousands of mines on the stark beaches of West Denmark. Just because you know that people are going to blow up whilst defusing the mines, it doesn’t make it any less tense, or any less surprising when they do actually blow.
Brutally funny with great action scenes and just the right amount of self-deprecation, Marvel’s best film of 2016 made fun of the fact that the X-MEN were all off in another movie, but their absence was it’s strength.
This ensemble comedy with some of the funniest women on the planet didn’t disappoint. Chris Hemsworth showed that he has comedy chops, and Kate McKinnon finally got a chance to steal the show, though Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy got plenty of good lines too.
A very uncomfortable watch, but an incredibly powerful look at the aftermath of a sexual assault that is part mystery, part revenge thriller. Complicated.
3. NEON DEMON
Style AND substance from Nicholas Winding Refn, who looks at the shiny allure of Hollywood and the way it devours young talent. Some excellent supporting roles, with Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks and Jena Malone. Plus, it looks fucking amazing.
2. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Like NEON DEMON, this was a wonderfully stylish film, with a great resting-bitch-face cameo from Jena Malone. Amy Adams is the director of a contemporary art space who has to deal with the manuscript of a novel sent to her by her ex-husband. As she reads through the pages, we witness the story within the story. Are we seeing the story as it appears on the pages, or as she envisages it as she is reading it? The car chase scene in the novel is the most harrowing, uneasy 15 minutes of cinema I saw all year.
A very slow paced reflection of the life of a bus driver (played by Adam Driver) in Paterson, New Jersey. Nothing really happens, and it doesn’t really have to. It’s not about breaking out of the boredom, or seeking a path to greatness. It’s just a lovely look at at a guy, his partner and his dog that doesn’t try and ram home any message.