FEATURE: BEST OF 2016 The year's biggest film highlights
By Charliedavid Page, 26th December 2016
Feature. BEST OF 2016|THE YEAR'S BIGGEST FILM HIGHLIGHTS
By Charliedavid Page, 26th December 2016
2016 has been a mixed year for films on the big screen. With a lot more misses than hits, there have been some diamonds in the rough that have made the journey worth it. SWITCH's contributors take you through their top movies of the year.
Amy, Amy, Amy. Amy Adams was everywhere this year. ‘Batman vs Superman’ was an abomination (not her fault). And as much as I loved her portrayal as “woman reading a book” in ‘Nocturnal Animals’, I just couldn’t get over ‘Arrival’. Just kidding, ‘Nocturnal Animals’ was phenomenal, but I do loves me some sci-fi, and ‘Arrival’ blew me away. I mean, a sci-fi involving aliens that’s actually about the beauty of communication and time. Wow. The twists, the turns, none of which I saw coming - and I can always see them coming. Amy, you are a goddess.
It’s wouldn’t be my top 5 without at least one documentary on the list, and this year I just couldn’t go past ‘Tickled’. If you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t tell you much except that this wildly unique doco about Competitive Endurance Tickling (yes its actually a thing) has nothing to do with competitive endurance tickling. This is one of the most bizarre, intriguing, gripping and fascinating films I’ve seen in a long time. It definitely has to be seen to be believed, so believe me when I say it’s worth seeing.
3. 'HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE'
Why do I continue to underestimate New Zealand cinema when I am never disappointed by it? This year NZ indie comedy writer/director/producer/actor extraordinaire Taika Waititi not only released one of the most popular and funniest NZ films in history, he also got to shoot the latest instalment of Marvel’s ‘Thor’ franchise. Why? Because he’s a god, a Maori god. I’m pretty sure Disney’s 'Moana' is about him. I’m just sayin'. He’s all kinds of awesome, and so is ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’. Oh, and we also need to start casting its star Julian Dennison in everything please.
Not only did ‘Deadpool’ rock over $700,000,000 worth of audiences, but it rocked the cinema landscape as well. R-rated comic book movies are totally a thing now. ‘Deadpool’ caused DC to re-jig ‘Suicide Squad’ and Hugh Jackman has now famously taken a pay cut to make ‘Logan’ his X-Men swan-song R rated as well... for a completely different reason to ‘Deadpool’, but that just goes to show how far its influence goes. Ryan Reynolds dominated 2016 with just this single film, and even took home an Entertainer of the Year gong and a Golden Globe nom for his efforts. Suck it, ‘Batman vs Superman’.
1. 'SING STREET'
John Carney’s third love letter to music not only took us back to the 80s and introduced us to a group of unknowns, but he also provided us with one of the catchiest, toe-tappingest, awesome, rocking, pop songs in cinema. If you didn’t instantly purchase the ‘Sing Street’ soundtrack and then put ‘Drive It Like You Stole It’ on repeat, then there’s something wrong with you. ‘Sing Street’ made me laugh, cry, long for the 80s, rinse and repeat. I’m pretty sure I aggressively recommended this movie to everyone I came across, and I got to accost two of its stars when they were promoting the film for the SFF. It’s been a good year.
5. 'DOCTOR STRANGE'
The Marvel Universe has become so much more interesting with the latest handful of origin films, and the best of these since ‘Iron Man’ is by far the introduction of Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. No one else could have played this character as well, and the film itself reminded us Marvel fans why we’ve hung on in there, suffering through the disappointments. I can’t wait to see what happens next and how Strange will be integrated in the greater MCU. It doesn’t hurt that the supporting cast were superb and the writing engaging.
4. 'STAR TREK BEYOND'
I’d felt lukewarm about the other two instalments of the reboot of my favourite sci-fi franchise, but ‘Beyond’ changed that. Finally, a Star Trek reboot for Star Trek fans. Written by a team who understood the appeal of the original series (plural), ‘Beyond’ grasped elements of what makes ‘Star Trek’ special. The reboots still have a ways to go, but now they are certainly heading in the right direction.
3. 'HELL OR HIGH WATER'
Gritty and realistic, with some of the best acting I’ve seen all year, ‘Hell or High Water’ is a stark contrast to the other films on my list. It’s an honest and troubling commentary to the fate of many Americans after the financial collapse some years ago, and that while the public’s interest has waned, the hardship hasn’t. Much of what ‘Hell or High Water’ discusses can be applied to us Down Under, and it’s partly that which appealed to me particularly as someone who grew up on the land.
2. 'RED DOG: TRUE BLUE'
Once in a while, Aussies make very special films. Like ‘Red Dog’ before it, the prequel ‘Red Dog: True Blue’ tugs at your heartstrings while cracking a smile across your face. There’s not much more I can say that hasn’t been said by Brent in his review, so read that if you haven’t already. Then get thee to a cinema showing the movie (or the Blu-ray when it’s out) because this is a film that will join its stablemate in the Hall of Australian Classics.
1. 'HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE'
The Kiwis do films like no one else (just take ‘What we do in the Shadows’). Sam Neill and newcomer Julian Dennison carry this film from one hilarious scene to the next, with plenty of poignant and thought-provoking moments in between. But it’s the quintessentially Kiwi humour that appeals, the absurdity of it, and the absolute relatability of the film to Australians. ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ resonates, not only because it’s superbly written, but because the performances from all involved are excellent.
5. 'LA LA LAND'
It has its problems (the songs aren’t that memorable or integral, and the second act drags when it really shouldn’t), but there’s just so much to love about Damien Chazelle’s modern musical. His direction is utterly extraordinary, Justin Hurwtiz’s score is divine and Emma Stone gives her best performance to date. Even with its flaws, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head and already can’t wait to revisit it.
Though I wasn’t that enamoured of this film after my first viewing, its after-effect and a second viewing convinced me of what a breathtaking film it is. Denis Villeneuve delivers a deceptively simple science fiction film that explores hope and loss with enormous humanity, anchored by a terrific performance from Amy Adams, extraordinary cinematography and design, and a stunning score. This is a film that haunts you long after the credits roll.
3. 'THE HANDMAIDEN'
Any film from Chan-Wook Park is an event, and ‘The Handmaiden’ delivered beyond expectations. Masquerading as a period romantic drama, it suddenly kicks into gear as a glorious, delectably twisted delight, an act of master manipulation from a master manipulator. Every frame, every beat, every moment of sexual repression bursting forth had me breathless from beginning to end.
2. 'HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE'
If the past year was a surprise in any way, it was that so many films sought to capture a sense of hope and joy, and none did this more spectacularly than Taika Waititi’s little masterpiece. Practically perfect in every way, it proved that outrageous comedy and world-class filmmaking can go hand-in-hand. No matter how many times I see it, this film still leaves me beaming and crying with joy.
1. 'THE WITCH'
Though it divided audiences (and in particular, horror fans), no film this year left as great an impact on me as Robert Eggers’ extraordinary debut. Hypnotic, menacing and deeply disturbing, with staggering production design, superb direction and a powerful central performance from Anya Taylor-Joy, it brought the genre back to its deep psychological roots in the form of the ultimate Puritan nightmare. I count it among the greatest horror films of all time.
Charlie David Page
5. 'HAIL, CAESAR!'
The Coen brothers present possibly their most twisted of comedies in this tale which combines 1950s Hollywood, noir mystery, communists, religious reconciliation, love stories, cowboys and a music number. It looks stunningly timeless, captures a golden era of filmmaking, and contains more top-notch actors than have ever appeared in one film before, but watch it to see George Clooney in a Roman solider outfit for the entirety of the film.
4. 'THE WITCH'
It’s been a long time since we’ve witnessed a horror film like this. With a sinister presence eminating from every scene, this is less about making you jump and more about worming its way into your mind. A nightmarish vision of a family torn apart from the inside is captured with cinematic finesse by first-time director Robert Eggers.
3. 'NOCTURNAL ANIMALS'
Proving that 'A Single Man' was no fluke, Tom Ford delves into the dark world of thrillers in his second foray into film. Every frame is so precise, every scene is so fixating, every performance is so scintillating. Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon relish these meaty roles, showing off their true talents, and bringing a forceful undercurrent of terror to the screen.
2. 'HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE'
In what moves from heartwarming drama to black comedy to bizarre farce in the blink of an eyelid, Taika Waititi once again proves his skills as writer and director can create the most unique and most enjoyable films. Julian Dennison has shot to stardom thanks to his all-too-truthful performance, and will be one to watch out for in coming years. Paired perfectly with the always exemplary Sam Neill, the love-hate relationship between these two makes this the most entertaining 110 minutes walking around a forest you'll ever witness.
1. 'THE REVENANT'
It may be easy to forget that this film slipped into Australian cinemas at the very beginning of the year, but I loved this film so much, I saw it twice before it even came out. And it’s a hard film to say you love - it’s very raw and very confronting, and at times, uncomfortable to sit through. Yet the direction and cinematography are nothing short of stunning, and Leonardo DiCaprio is fixating despite being practically the only character on screen whilst being almost dead. There is no greater tale of revenge than this.
Did we get it right? Are we missing something? Leave us a comment on your thoughts for the best film of 2016.
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