Having seen fewer films than I normally see in a year, I had some difficulty coming up with 10 films ‘worthy’ of a ‘Best of’ List. Much happened in 2016, I suppose, that limited my movie outings. There are a few much hyped movies that I have not yet seen (such as Embrace of the Serpent, Hacksaw Ridge, the new Bourne movie and Notes on Blindness amongst others) that I will see in the near future that probably will have me rewriting this to some degree. I can’t see them all (and I try to avoid dome of them anyway).
You might notice some of the films on this list were originally released in 2015, but as I always say, I build my list on when movies are released in my part of the world. And some of these like The Revenant feel like they are 2015 movies even though they were not viewed by the general public until January of 2016, because they won 2015 awards. Not my problem. As always, the hardest part of the list was from 6 to 10, but here they all are.
#10 The Neon Demon I have liked most of Director Refn’s work ; his largely minimalist art house films framed with stark violent visuals. This is his most bare-boned film that I’ve seen and is one of those films that makes you question what you just saw. Some have called this a horror film (there is that bit of cannibalism… and regurgitating eyeballs and….), but I think its more satire/social commentary than outright horror. It’s definitely not supposed to be taken literally.
#9 Room A good-hearted film with disturbing subject matter. It may be a little fairy tale-ish given the reality of victims of this sort of crime, but… I liked it for the most part.
#8 The Family Fang A very odd little indie low budget movie. I didn’t like it the first time I saw it, but 3 more viewings later… It’s humorous in a dark sort of way about children and the parents that they’re stuck with, recovering from a damaging childhood…Or something like that.
#7 Anthropoid Just a claustrophobic account of the attempt to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich (central architect of The Final Solution) by Czech agents in their Nazi occupied homeland during World War II. This really captures the feeling of what it probably feels like to engage in a real and necessary suicide mission (as opposed to the lip service of the film that made my Worst 10 list). It’s not a feel good film in any shape or form, but it is very well made and captures a tone that I think few movies have.
#6 The BFG Just liked it. Had a weak third act, but he title character is unique in hismuttered warblings. It is a children’s book come to life, so I guess it doesn’t matter that everything doesn’t entirely make sense. Spielberg works as well with kids as any director as he does here with the adorable Ruby Barnhill as Sophie. Visually brilliant, there are some awesome set pieces from Spielberg’s depiction of London after midnight to the BFG’s home to the Dream Country past Giant Country. A great kids’ film as is the next one on my list…
#5 Finding Dory Took me a while to see the follow up to Finding Nemo, but it was worth it. Pixar wins again. Doesn’t quite deliver the level of laughs, nor reduce one to quivering blubbers (as many other Pixar films do), but still a solid movie about finding one’s home.
#4 Hail, Caesar! One of the Coen Brothers’ lighter, flimsier films, but still a lot of fun. Some critics stated that this was proof that the Coens hate Hollywood, but would that it were so simple (trippingly), I think it proves the opposite showing quite a bit of nostalgia for the way films used to be made strung together with Josh Brolin’s Christ-figure Eddie Mannix, washing away the sins of those under studio contract. Chuckled all the way through this.
#3 The Nice Guys Laughed all the way through this one. Very much in tone with the director’s first film Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, but maybe a lot funnier. For me, anyway. Neat to see Kim Bassinger Russell Crowe in another film, too (LA Confidential being that other one). I hope there’s a sequel.
#2 The Revenant Got DiCraprio his Oscar for portraying a guy having a really bad time of things and his quest for revenge. Ended how I thought it HAD to end to make this a truly great film in its own way. but, I remember flicks like The Outlaw Josie Wales made an entirely different statement on the question of revenge and they’re not wrong, either I guess. Tom Hardy probably should have gotten some awards for his role, also, but all of the cast did a top notch job, surest sign of a good director.
#1 Son Of Saul did some things that I have not seen onscreen. It follows the central character Saul, a Hungarian Jew, through roughly a day in his life as a Sonderkommando (see the movie for an explanation) in the the chaos of Auschwitz death camp run by the Nazis. The thing that really sets it apart from any film that I can remember is the way that it’s shot, remaining mostly in closeup after the opening shot where a soft spoken Géza Röhrig (portraying Saul) walks into focus from the blurred forest landscape. It’s amazing the number of subtle emotions that Röhrig gets across while keeping an extreme stoicism. The ending kept me thinking about the film for days afterwards. What’s strange, is that what I just said about the theme of revenge in The Revenant and the film’s statement of resolution was viable just as the opposite was true in other films such as The Outlaw Josey Wales… whereas here in Son Of Saul, the point of the film is entirely contradictory to my feelings on its ultimate statement if that makes any sense. i don’t think I can say anymore without talking about the ending, but in any case, even if I don’t agree with the point being made entirely, it’s still my #1 movie of 2016 (of the films from 2016 that I’ve seen thus far).
10 Cloverfield Lane * 13 Hours * A Hologram For The King * Anomalisa * Anthropoid * Arrival * Backtrack * Batman vs Superman: DOJ * The BFG * Bloodfather * Cafe Society * Captain America;Civil War * Captain Fantastic * Cell * Central Intelligence * Coming Through The Rye * The Confirmation * Criminal * Dad’s Army * The Darkness * Deadpool * Demolition * Doctor Strange * Don’t Breathe * The Driftless Area * Eye In The Sky * Everybody Wants Some!! * The Family Fang * Fathers & Daughters * The Fifth Wave * Finding Dory * Genius * The Girl On The Train * Green Room * Hail, Caesar! * Hell or High Water * The Huntsman: Winter’s War * I Am Not A Serial Killer * Into The Forest * Intruders * I Saw The Light * The Jungle Book * The Lobster * Midnight Special * Miss Peregrine’s Home For peculiar Children * Mojave * Money Monster * The Neon Demon * The Nice Guys * The Revenant * Room * The Shallows * Star Trek: Beyond * Star Wars:Rogue One * Son Of Saul * Suicide Squad * Sully * Synchronicity * Term Life * X-Men: Apocalypse * Zoolander #2