Films of 2016

Oh look, another Films of 2016 feature!

Zero points to me for originality, but there are a couple of reasons for doing it  – 1) It’s fun for me to do (and hopefully fun to read) and 2) I’d be genuinely interested to hear your favourites from 2016 (so please, post below, Twitter or Facebook!).

Disclaimer: I have missed loads of films this year, so there’s no Nocturnal Animals or Paterson, for instance.  Sorry.

Also, i’ll do a Turkeys of 2016 afterwards.  This post is only the good stuff:

10.  Son of Saul

One of my favourite things about working at the GFT was seeing films I otherwise probably wouldn’t have.  Son of Saul – a black-and-white Hungarian picture set in Auschwitz – was one of them.  The style – shot in narrow focus behind the main character – meant some of the horrors could only be heard which, in some ways, made it more terrifying.  Grim, but massively impressive.

9. Deadpool

I’m beginning to get a bit bored of superheros.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe films are all well done, but they feel very similar (peppy dialogue, terrible baddies, occasionally dull action sequences).  The DC versions, meanwhile, are outright dross and even X-Men couldn’t tempt me back this time.  So, thank f**k for Deadpool.  It wasn’t a brave new re-invention of the genre – it was still an origin story, after all – but it’s self awareness, entertaining main character and 18-rated action made it the most enjoyable superhero film of the year.

8. Anomalisa

Anomalisa is an interesting idea, really well executed.  It’s also one of the most visually unique films of the year, using puppets to tell the story of Michael Stone, whose life has become so bland that everyone sounds the same.  Ironically for a film using puppets, it’s beautifully judged in terms of human actions and dialogue. It also had the best, most natural, sex scene I’ve ever seen*.

*Once you’ve seen it you’ll know what I mean.

7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

I reviewed it elsewhere on this blog, but to sum up, this buddy story between a kid and his curmudgeonly foster parent is both very funny and utterly charming.  It loses it’s way a bit towards the end – it doesn’t quite know how to finish – but the first 3/4 are perfectly lovely.

6. Spotlight

An un-showy Oscar winner, telling an important story with an excellent ensemble cast.  Feels like an ‘old Hollywood’ film.

5. The Revenant

It looked stunning, the soundtrack was hauntingly good and it had a stellar performance from Leo Di Caprio at it’s centre.  The Indian attack at the beginning of the film was also one of the best scenes of the year.

4. 10 Cloverfield Lane

I loved 10 Cloverfield Lane.  John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were great and it was incredibly effective at both ratcheting up the tension and making you question what was really happening outside.  The ending was the only thing that let it down; not the final twist – I liked that in a The Outer Limits way – but the fact it showed you a bit too much.

3. Sing Street

I had to watched this twice in quick succession at the GFT and didn’t mind one bit. A film about growing up and chasing your dreams, it had an often funny, warm-hearted script, an excellent young cast and the best soundtrack of the year.

2. Hell or High Water

Both the best Western in ages and a sharp indictment of the American financial system, Hell or High Water saw two brothers rob banks to save the family ranch from being re-claimed by those very same banks.   With great performances from both Ben Foster and Chris Pine, as well as Jeff Bridges as the Sheriff hot on their heels, it pulled off the tricky feat of making you care about all the characters in almost equal measure.

1. Arrival

Sometimes films just come along at the right time.  I saw this a few days after Trump was voted in, so to watch a story which placed value in knowledge, compassion and co-operation was just what I needed. That’s not to say it doesn’t deserve to be Best Film anyway – it’s beautifully crafted, with an intelligent script that pack real emotional heft; it has a brooding, atmospheric score; the visuals are impressive and Amy Adams is terrific in the lead role.  Brilliant.


It was pretty hard picking 6-10, and there were a bunch of films that were almost as good this year.  So shout out to The Big Short, Love & Friendship, Train to Busan, The Witch, The Lobster, Green Room, Everybody Wants Some!!, Weiner, Room and The Nice Guys.

Comments/your films of the year welcome!