So, today, I want to try something new. As you’ve probably guessed, I read a lot of books in my day-to-day life, and it’s something I enjoy a lot. However, I also watch a lot of films, and today I want to talk about the ones I saw in 2016 which I consider the best. I’m going to write it from 10-1, 10 being the worst and 1 being the best. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this, and let me know what your favourite films of last year were.
Disclaimer: There are a lot of supposedly good films which won’t be on this list (like Your Name, Moonlight, and some other films) because I haven’t seen them yet. I intend to see them in the future, though, and maybe there’ll be a post about those when I have seen them.
10) The Conjuring 2
James Wan has a pretty clear goal when it comes to film-making. He’s not trying to push the boundaries of cinema, or give commentary on any kind of political or social issue. What he is trying to do is create horror films that classic in style, even if they are pretty modern in their execution, and he does it with mixed results. The Conjuring 2 is his best effort since Insidious, and that was a fairly flawed film. For me, the only films he’s written that are worth watching are Saw and this.
9) Green Room
Jeremy Saulnier is a bit like James Wan in the way that he looks back to genre films of the past. The only difference is that he’s interested in revenge thrillers, not horror films. Green Room is pretty by the numbers, but it’s also a very tense and well-written film with a great performance from Patrick Stewart. This one may not be for people who don’t like violence, but if you’re looking for a thriller, then you could do much worse than this.
8) Sing Street
Considering his skill at making very feel-good musicals with a lot of character, I’m surprised John Carney isn’t more famous. Although this film isn’t quite as good as Once, it’s an improvement on Begin Again, his second film. What I like about this one is that it’s not afraid to be bittersweet instead of purely a feel-good film. If you’re a fan of musicals, and you’re interested in a film which is suitable for the entire family, then this is the one for you.
7) The Witch
When I saw this film, I thought it was going to be higher on the list, because it is great. The only thing stopping it being in the top five is the pacing issues in the middle of the film. But despite those issues, the film is incredibly atmospheric and scary, and the ending can be interpreted in a lot of ways. Also, this is nothing like The Conjuring 2. It’s very experimental and plays with traditional horror tropes, and the result is something very original. If you’re a fan of horror, this is a must-see.
6) Midnight Special
I went into this film with pretty much no idea what to expect. In fact, I think the only reason I went to see it was because I was going to see Sing Street, and it was sold out. But I was pleasantly surprised. Midnight Special is a pretty unique Sci-Fi film with good acting and a very tense plot. Imagine a more down-to-earth Stephen Spielberg film with a less commercial storyline – if that sounds like your kind of thing, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this.
5) Nocturnal Animals
The best thing Nocturnal Animals has going for it is how original it is. Although the film is adapted from a novel by Austin Wright, the way it was transposed onto the screen is pretty impressive. The acting in this film is great, too, particularly Amy Adams and Aaron-Taylor Johnson as Ray Marcus. This film is very dark and disturbing though, and includes a lot of violence, so be prepared for that.
This is another Amy-Adams led film, but it’s very different from Nocturnal Animals. In this, she plays a linquistics professor employed by the US government to decipher the language of an alien species who come to earth. I loved this film from start to finish, and I went to see it three times when it came out. The cinematography in this is amazing, and so is pretty much everything else about it. It’s also a very fresh take on the alien invasion genre. Without spoiling too much, all I can say is that the aliens are not really invaders.
3) Embrace of the Serpent
Embrace of the Serpent is probably the most unique film on this list. Shot entirely in black and white, this film transports you into its world pretty much from the opening shot. It gets across the feeling of being in the amazon rainforest so well, yet never feels exploitative. There isn’t really much I can say to sell this film. It’s the kind of thing you have to see to understand exactly what’s so good about it.
2) Under The Shadow
Under the Shadow is probably the least well-known film on this list, but it’s the best horror film I’ve seen in years. It’s scary and an incredibly intelligent and socially aware film. It’s short, but it never feels rushed. If it was any longer, I think it would have been fleshed out with unnecessary exposition or weak jump scares that you’d find in a less well-made film like Ouija: Origin of Evil. This is great stuff.
1) La La Land
It took me a while to decide which film to put first, but it couldn’t really be anything else. This is the latest film by Damien Chazelle of Whiplash fame, and if it doesn’t make you appreciate musicals, I don’t think anything will. The cinematrography in this is exquisite, the songs are great, and Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are fantastic as Mia and Sebastian. I went into this with reservations. I didn’t want to be disappointed because of the amount of hype the film was receiving, but from the minute the film began to the moment it ended, I was completely swept up in it. Go and see La La Land – I’m almost certain you won’t regret it.
So, there it is. My top ten films of 2016. What do you think? do you agree? would you like to see more of this kind of stuff on the blog? Let me know in the comments, I’m always interested to know what other people think.