It’s about three months into 2017 so it’s perhaps best I release my top 10 list of 2016. I have not seen every potential top 10 film from 2016 but I can’t really wait much longer. A film’s year is decided by the year it went on general release in the UK or US.
Before we get on with the list here are a few honorable mentions
11. Swiss Army Man
12. Beyond the Gates
13. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
15. Manchester by the Sea
19. Eye in the Sky
20. Under the Shadow
Now the list proper:
I was quite surprised Jackie wasn’t nominated for Best Picture because I was sure it was certain to get a nomination. Instead the likes of Hacksaw Ridge, Lion, and Fences were nominated, which is a shame because Jackie is the best film of the four. Directed by Pablo Larrain, Jackie is about the wife of president John F. Kennedy before, during and after her husband’s assassination in 1963. Oscar nominee Natalie Portman impersonates Jackie Kennedy superbly, but a good impersonation will only get you so far. Portman’s performance has the depth to make you feel sympathetic for a person easily forgotten about amongst the political turmoil the assassination caused.
I, Daniel Blake is a powerful film from Ken Loach who directs his anger at the government agencies who fail to tailor their methods to the personal needs of an individual. Apparently a man who had recently suffered a heart attack is fit to work, and the treatment Daniel Blake receives at the hands of the job agency, that refuses to adapt to his needs, is infuriating. Hayley Squires and Dave Johns are brilliant, with the latter giving the film a much needed comic touch whilst still giving an emotionally powerful performance.
This slow but beautifully paced thriller is perhaps one of the better films released during a rather mediocre summer period for cinematic releases. The brotherly bond between the two siblings (played by Ben Foster and Chris Pine) is what gives this movie its heart.
Denis Villeneuve can do no wrong it seems, films like Incendies, Sicario, Prisoners and his 2016 film Arrival are all quite exceptional films, and Arrival might be the best of the lot. Eric Heisserer makes the most of the Ted Chiang’s short story, crafting a beautiful story that examines how the Earth would react in a first encounter situation. Amy Adams is superb as Louise Banks as we share her sense of wonder and astonishment at encountering this alien race.
6. Green Room
A sad pick at number six because it stars Anton Yelchin in one of his last roles before his tragic death at 27. Due to his supreme talent is not surprise he is excellent in what is a truly exciting and tense film about a rock hand that get holed up in a neo-nazi bar with thugs intending to kill them. Patrick Stewart goes against type, delivering a menacing performance in a villainous role that a voice like his was born for.
5. The Witch
Horror films are rarely this tense, and you won’t find many horror films better than this released this millennium (so far). What’s so appealing about the film is that it not only works exceptionally as a horror film, but as a character study as well. We study this family and their relationship with their religion which causes them to fear and mistrust each other. It’s an incredible film.
The winner of the Best Picture Oscar for the year 2016 is an incredible, semi-biographical tale of a gay black man growing up in a rough neighbourhood in Miami. Showing the isolation that Chiron must feel in a macho environment, that would see homosexuality as a sign of weakness, Barry Jenkins’ tale of isolation and identity was a deserving winning for the Best Picture Oscar.
A powerful and moving documentary that’s almost ironic in how beautifully made the film is. Directors Pete Middleton and James Spinney do a remarkable job at presenting a visual representation of blindness, and John Hull is such a brilliantly articulate man that he makes for a fascinating subject. Making a film about blindness, using a very visual medium, was always going to be difficult, but directors Pete Middleton and James Spinney achieved that with a remarkable beauty and sensitivity.
2. The Innocents
The Innocents tells a story that really doesn’t get the attention that it deserves, and that’s the experiences of women behind the lines, particularly when the enemy invaded the country. The Innocents is about a convent of nuns who are repeatedly raped by Russian soldiers and fall pregnant as a result. They seek the help of the doctor who must work alone as the nuns don’t want their secret to be let out as they feel ashamed for what has happened to them. The Innocents is an exceptional piece of cinema, raising awareness about the horrors those behind the lines suffered and raising awareness of those whose stories are often forgotten in a time of war. With death and destruction being found in many European cities, towns and villages it is easy for events, even of this horrific nature, to go unheard of.
It might be because I watched this in the perfect environment (as the last film at a horror film festival) but I loved this film so much that it sits comfortably at the top of the list. It’s quite easy for a zombie film to be forgotten in an overly inflated genre, but Train to Busan stands out with its strong themes, interesting characters, moving relationships and brilliant set pieces. It’s one of the best zombie movies ever made.