TOP TEN FILMS OF 2016

There are many films that have only just come out yet or I have missed, including Silence and Manchester to the Sea, but also countless others from around the world, a world I want to explore further in 2017. I look forward to what I uncover. As for my list, March isn’t too late, right? Right??

My list will not reflect the subjective ‘quality’ of a film. It will be based on films I felt the need to watch again and again; the films that mesmerised me the most and therefore stuck with me.


10

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ARRIVAL

The most intelligent and thoughtful sci-fi film I have seen since 2001. It may have minor flaws, but they sure didn’t stop me from seeing this one three times at the cinema. The cinematography, that score, those alien crafts… everything felt so fresh, and it was nice to see a sci-fi movie with my father where we talked for a long time after the credits rolled, trading our opinions. We both saw it a little differently, and I was a little disappointed with the very final scenes, but we both loved it and decided to see it again. It really is incredible how a film about an alien invasion can feel so human.


9

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EYE IN THE SKY

Alan Rickman’s last role will be remembered, not just because he was an incredible actor, but his last film was a powerful and relevant political thriller revolving around drone warfare. While I felt the accuracy of drone strikes was exaggerated, there is no doubt that the film grips from from the opening scene and does not let go. Helen Mirren is incredible as the hard-nosed Military woman who is calling the shots, as are her allies and enemies that are on the ground.


8

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HIGH-RISE

A fantastic socio-political film that is fuelled by insanity, High-Rise won me over with this pure madness and its visual beauty. The lower and upper classes are battling for supremacy in the modern-looking High-Rise – an ultimately fruitless task – and it is a battle that intensifies as the film grows. Conditions are insane, much like many of the occupants, and almost all of the behaviour becomes beastly – all of it routinely ignored. The irony that the song SOS by ABBA is covered twice in this movie is not lost.


7

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THE RED TURTLE (La tortue rogue)

A collaboration between Studio Ghibli and Dutch director Michael Dudok de Wit, the story is at the same time rooted in reality while still retaining the dream-like aesthetic of so many of Ghibli’s great films. A film free of any dialogue, as soon as it starts we are presented with incredible hand-drawn animation, as well as excellent sound design as we clearly hear waves slapping together, throwing around a nameless man and what is left of his boat. It is an arresting introduction, and from then on, even without words, it is hard to look away. Just what does The Red Turtle signify?


6

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CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

An extremely unique film, Captain Fantastic offers a little something for everyone. It is also an intelligently written comedy, with many humorous philosophical debates. It amusingly and thoughtfully makes a statement on what really is the best way to raise children in this era. Does it really matter that Ben’s children have no idea what Nike is, but do know what the bill of rights represents, and how to survive, right down to Ben’s youngest child? He doesn’t have the smoothest ride throughout the film, but you can’t help but root for the guy, and his family.



5

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THE WITCH

A Puritan family is banished from town for their beliefs (perhaps based on these events), forced to move to a farm that feels like the edge of the world, as from the opening the woods that line the farm are presented in an ominous fashion, almost creating a character that could serve as the scariest element of the film. What exactly goes on in there? Why can’t the children venture inside? Without warning, tragedy strikes. The family clings to their faith to prevent them from starving as their crops die, but it is that very faith that caused their banishment, while also dividing the family. A horror film has never said so much.


4

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SON OF SAUL

I have never seen a film like Son of Saul; it feels like so much more than a film. It is a heavy experience that repeatedly batters you over the head with its subject matter, and this is chiefly due to the way the film looks. Never has a film so effectively placed the viewer in the middle of horrific action. The way this film is shot is a reason to see this alone; it is essentially a moving portrait, as all we see in constant focus is Saul’s face, or the back of his head. Consequently, we are constantly seeing what Saul witnesses, or his reactions. And what he is experiencing is his own kind being forced to exterminate others of their own kind. If that isn’t horror, then what is?


3

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HELL OR HIGH WATER

From the standpoint of pure fun, this film was the best of 2016. Period. Flawlessly executed, a wicked sense of humour, oh, and we have Nick Cave and Warren Ellis arranging the score. The post financial-crisis is in the background, and the theme of poverty running through the brothers’ blood is evident and both of these are triggers for why these men are robbing banks. With some action packed, bullet-riddled scenes and a belting climax that isn’t only entertaining as all hell, it also packs some emotional heft, this is one to watch.


2

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HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

Both hilarious and touching, carrying a strong message about the treatment of young adults in New Zealand (and Australia for that matter), this is easily my favourite comedy since The Wolf On Wall Street. On re-watches I was consistently impressed with Julian Dennison’s comic timing, and his chemistry with old Aussie vet Sam O’Niell. It looks beautiful, it sounds incredible (and unique, get the soundtrack!) and above all else, its exaggerated ending was the icing on the cake, as many ‘youth welfare officers’ have very similar, authoritarian attitudes.

Kudos to Taika for going with the bombastic finale to nail the film’s point home, while still retaining that sense of humour to the very end. I shall be keeping a close eye on young Dennison, and with New Zealand film culture growing each year, I hope to see him in another home-grown production. Let’s hope that is a comedy!


1

THE NEON DEMON

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Perhaps the most divisive film released last year, with a rating of 57% on RT at the moment, this is easily my favourite film of 2016. Some violent critical responses to this film demonstrate just how effective it is in holding a mirror up to society and portraying everything that is ugly about a glamorous profession.

This has everything I look for in a film: thought-provoking material, incredible visuals that match an incredible soundtrack, and ambiguity abound, making repeat viewings a near necessity. The latter is probably why so many people dislike the film, but hey, its their loss!

They also may not have been aware that Refn explicitly hired two female screenwriters so that his film wasn’t an obvious masculine look into the profession.

Not only is this the perfect film for repeat viewings, but given the fact that it is filled is symbolic references, each viewing will reveal more about one or more characters. Another layer will be revealed. A new perspective on the story will be formed, one totally different from what you thought when you first saw that final scene. I’ve watched this five times since I bought the special edition blu-ray, and not once I have I been bored, nor have I failed to come out with a new understanding of the film. All this, and I still haven’t watched it with commentary from Refn and Elle Fanning yet!

The word pretentious is thrown around when talking about this film, and this perhaps may be true. But faulting a film for having a brain seems utterly ludicrous to me. This has gradually become my favourite film of the decade.



As for documentaries, I only saw a few, but there is certainly one that stands out and if I were to include it in my list, there is no doubt that it would sit comfortably at Number One

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ONE MORE TIME WITH FEELING

If I were to include documentaries in my list, this would certainly be at number one, as this feels like more than a documentary. Not only are we able to see Cave at his most personal, raw, uncensored self, but we also are privileged enough to witness (what certainly look like) the actual takes of all but one of the songs from the album that coincided with the release of this film. Given this album was made as an effort to process the grief of losing his son, the album and film are appropriately sombre; some of the album tracks are particularly haunting. The black and white camerawork is perfect, as it matches this incredibly bleak and grief-filled period of his life. Pairing this with his last film, 20,000 Days on Earth, is the perfect double-bill for any creative person looking for inspiration.

The blu-ray is out on March 3rd, don’t miss it!! You have never seen a documentary like this, music-related or otherwise. Having seen Cave and the Seeds live recently, I am counting down the days until I can get my hands on a copy of this extraordinary film. Any lover of music should see this film, whether they are a fan of Cave or not. He is a very unique individual; a true poet.


Honourable mentions:

Bad Moms

Dheepan

Don’t Breathe

Elle

Fences

The Founder

The Girl on the Train

Hail, Caesar!

Goldstone

I, Daniel Blake

A Month of Sundays

My Mother (Mia Madre)

The Nice Guys

Nocturnal Animals

Rams (Hrutar)

Sully

Swiss Army Man

10 Cloverfield Lane

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Your Name (Kimi no na wa)

 

55 Comments on “TOP TEN FILMS OF 2016

  1. March is definitely not too late! It’s so hard deciding when to do a list like this, because (for me, anyway) it can be 2 years later until I’ve seen all of the ‘good’ releases. Even now, I’ve only seen half of your Top 10! Glad to see Hunt for the Wilderpeople here though, that was my #1 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah Wilderpeople was just pure awesomeness. I work in community services so that really stuck with me.

      Hehe, and some of my list doesn’t reflect ‘good’. High-Rise and in particular my #1 were not popular at all.

      Like

  2. Nice list Jordan. We’re in agreement with The Witch, and The Red Turtle nearly made my list as well. Son of Saul was near the top of my list last year and is the most visually entrancing depiction about the Holocaust I’ve seen. Unfortunately I was not a fan of Dheepan though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice list Jordan, you’re a definitely a much more hip guy than me with what appeals to you. This is an interesting list with varied types of film and championing of some that have had mixed reviews. I hope to check them out soon. Don’t feel bad about not posting until March, a lot of Oscar bait doesn’t get here until now.

    Like

    • Yeah that was half the reason I waited, though I still missed a couple. Silence didn’t hang around long in SA so I’m really bummed I missed that on a big screen. Manchester tho is playing tomo, might go see it then.

      Hehe, I’m not sure about being hip!! But I do like to watch different stuff, not many genres I don’t like. Romantic Comedies and musicals, apart from that I’m up for anything. Hell, I sat through Enter The Void ;P

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, man. There was certainly an element of No Country for Old Men about it. I’m just surprised that it was a Scotsman who directed it. He had no right to capture the west so authentically. You’ve gotta champion your home grown talent, you know? 🙂

        Like

      • Haha! I didn’t know that. He certainly did an amazing job, it think its incredible the film actually got nominate for Oscars

        But then again, so did Hacksaw Ridge and Moonlight. =/

        Like

  4. Great post 🙂 I love it that somebody else has put High-Rise on their list of the Best Films of 2016. I finally posted my list of the best films of 2016 back in late January or early February of this year. In fact, I actually placed High-Rise at number one on my Top 10 Best Films of 2016 list. To me, High-Rise is a work of art. The film is a masterpiece on every single level imaginable in my opinion. Speaking of Nick Cave, did you know he did the music score for your number 3 choice Hell or High Water? That is another film of 2016 that I loved. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Like

    • You really need to see The Neon Demon. Even if you don’t like it, the film looks fucking incredible. Sounds incredible. It is hypnotic man, you gotta give it a try. But it is a like or hate movie for suuure

      Liked by 1 person

      • It certainly looks like my kind of movie. Hypnotic style regularly attracts my interest. Visuals are one of those things you can do so much with and let it get in your brain.

        Like

    • Capt. Fantastic was just great wasn’t it? So varied, I loved the philosophical arguments. It is certainly the opposite of a crude, brainless Hollywood comedy!

      Like

      • I couldn’t agree more. He was a misanthrope not just an extreme leftist. He made cases for both sides of the fence. I assumed it was an indie film.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes! That was part of made it so good. Incredibly well written. I was hoping Viggo might score an Oscar but that is just wishful thinking really.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahh, up and down Cindy, up and down. Injured myself twice in a row just after starting Brazilian jiu jitsu late last year, which was so depressing I didn’t fill that time with writing. I started in December and have only been to seven classes total =/

        Most of what I need to do is transcribe notes from when I was in there. But it is all so manically written, as I was insane in there… it goes off on tangents that make no sense…. its intimidating to sort through it all. If that makes sense? I need to force myself somehow.

        And thanks for the interest Cindy. Small things like that keep me going and make me realise that my story is worth telling.

        Like

      • My friend, you have life experience. Use it and breath life into a fictional character instead of trying to replicate you. Let a character breathe life into his own identity. Your experience will MN ake it authentic…..

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hmmm. I had never thought of it that way. The thing is though, my entire life has been an insane roller-coaster. This story is only a few months of the last 20 insane years, and its extremely personal and means a lot to me. I mean, I beat the addiction! So I can’t even imagine having someone other than myself as the main character.

        HOWEVER… what you said has definitely crossed my mind when writing short stories.

        In fact I created a few characters based on a lot of my past for a sprawling dystopian novel. That was six years ago, but since then we’ve been bombarded with YA dystopian stuff (Hunger Games, Maze Runner, Divergent etc) which put me off, as I didn’t want it to seem like just another dystopia book. But reading the notes I made years back…. I think I really need to finish this Archway story, then jump back into the world I was creating.

        Easier said than done though! But yeah, I’m determined to make my Archway story about me. Cos its all true, none of it is fiction. Or perhaps I’ve read too much Hunter S Thompson! ;P

        BTW, really, really appreciate the comments and advice etc. It means a lot 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had a writer’s block with my novel I’m currently writing. The POV was bothering me. I couldn’t get the parts to fit and I didn’t want to rewrite half the manuscript. I let it sit for a few months and when I went back to it, I was refocused and recharged. I know it sounds corny, but the book will speak to you . Listen to how it wants to be written instead of forcing the issue. A mild outline and let it go!
        Good luck,Jordan

        Liked by 1 person

  5. We share the same #1 and I too had praise for Hell or High Water. I hated High-Rise though (: Going to make a point of watching Wilderpeople and Captain Fantastic before I publish my own top 10. Moonlight didn’t get an honorable mention?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nope on Moonlight, I think its good, touching at one point or two, and well made, but certainly not this incredible, amazing movie that everyone should like. It simply reminded me of a few other movies that were somewhat similar, but this had a bit more glean to it cos it was very well shot. Still, I like films where, y’know, stuff happens. I also like characters who possess a personality ;P

      High-Rise is divisive for sure, much like The Neon Demon. I loved it though, its messy as hell for sure, but there is so much to take it, I love it! I love insanity, probably because I’m mad myself 😀

      Hope you like those two movies mate! I think they are both great comedies that put what Hollywood offers up to shame.

      Like

  6. You named some fantastic films here. I was especially glad to see Eye in the Sky mentioned. I always forget that it counts as a 2016 release when I’m looking back on the year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks mate! I have Khalid to thank for that! I saw his list and saw it there, which made me rewatch it. I had it at 11 but it had to go into the ten after seeing it again. Its so fuckin’ well executed.

      Like

  7. Great list! You and I have a lot of similarities including the indies Wilderpeople, Capt. Fantastic, and the VVITCH. I think we can both agree that 2016 was a fantastic year for indies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah last year was great for indies. Though that is always the case for me, cos that is mainly what I watch. If you look hard enough there will always be amazing films no matter the year. But in terms of indies getting more recognition, then yeah this yeah was awesome for sure

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes for Hell or High Water being so high! i had so much fun with this, it’s probably the most fun movie I saw out of 2016

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Awesome list. Really glad to see The Neon Demon at the top. Seen all the films on your list except One More Time With A Feeling, which I plan to see as soon as it hits DVD or streaming. Son of Saul, I have in 2015.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Son of Saul was a 2016 release for us. March I think. One More Time With Feeling has just come out on blu-ray, I have mine on its way 😀 😀

      Like

    • thanks mate! Yeah the Neon Demon is just one of a kind… I watched it for yet another time after posting this list. So good. I have my theories and its fun to watch it over and over >;D

      Like

  10. I do love reading other people’s lists!! It shows how much diversity is really out there amongst what people like and there really is something for everyone. you have 3 films on your top list that I thought were 3 of the worst.. And that’s what makes movie watching and writing so fun..everyone gets to like what they want.. I hope 2017 brings us all more of the same .. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      • High-Rise was indeed awesome 🙂 Whenever anybody mentions to you the words “Snowpiercer turned vertical” again, tell them that High-Rise came first back in 1975 as a novel by J.G. Ballard 🙂 And you are more than correct in stating that High-Rise is much much more. Once again, keep up the great work as always 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah man, that Snowpiercer turned vertical thing pisses me off. Its a straight dystopia movie. High-Rise says so much, while still maintaining that class struggle. Incredible film, I’ve lost count of the times I’ve watched it! I need to check out Wheatley’s older stuff. Looking forward to Free Fire too

        thanks for popping by! I need to re-add your site as a bookmark, I have so many I visit I sometimes lose bookmarks! Your site is my go-to if I want to watch a movie by a new (to me) director ;P

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Jordan, hope you are well. As you already know, I’m swamped w/ my film project but just wanna pop in to say hello.

    Glad we agree on ARRIVAL, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC and of course ‘WILDERPEOPLE’! In fact I recommended it highly to everyone I meet, including my lead actor who shot his sci-fi film last year in New Zealand!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe awesome! Wilderpeople is just so awesome. Good luck with your film, I’m so jealous!! I’m hoping to get something similar done, as my local film fest is big into helping local talent produce a whole range of different stuff. A mate and I have already started a screenplay, and it’d be cheap as hell to make as we’d only need one person. Hopefully it goes somewhere!!

      Again, congrats 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well it’s not always been fun Jordan. I’m still script revision process which can be hellish, but scheduling the talents/crew is a nightmare too. My film is ultra low budget which means it’s guerrilla filmmaking style, ahah. That’s good that you’re starting small w/ your friend. Best of luck w/ that project. I’m fortunate that I got a pretty prominent local actor as my male lead, which will boost the visibility of my film, but at the same time it’s tough too as he’s a very busy guy!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, good luck with all that. That sounds like the sort of stress I’d thrive on. Hopefully one day it happens.

        Keep up the good work Ruth 🙂 Can’t wait to see the finished product!

        Like

      • I’m not complaining btw, it’s all part of the process 😊 Well I’m still blogging a bit so don’t be a stranger 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • My life has suddenly gotten busier too, I’ve gone from sitting on my backside all day to working waaay more than I’m used to. But I still try to check out my go-to blogs 🙂

        Like

  12. Pingback: Top 20 films of 2016 + my awards + links – movies and songs 365

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