2016 was a year of extreme highs and extreme lows. It ended and began in the same way, with the deaths of incredibly influential celebrities who had achieved legendary status. In between didn’t really get any better and with the UK leaving the EU, far too many global atrocities happening and Trump being nominated as President of the United States…….REALLY? It was a shit storm of a year. They say it can only get better and whilst things look bleak, I can honestly say I’m looking forward to what 2017 holds. In 2016, I got to cover the London Film Festival for the second year running where I met some truly incredible people, I started a new job and met a pretty awesome lady. So extreme highs and extreme lows plus lots and lots of films to watch, some good and some not so good. With that, here are my top 10 best and worst films of 2016. FINALLY! (Sorry it’s so late!)
Top 10 worst films of 2016
The Hateful Eight
Why exactly did this film get any praise at all? It’s far too slow to begin with and then when we have each character in front of us, they spout utter bullshit. Ordinarily Tarantino’s dialogue is one on the finest aspects of his movies. Very witty, clever and enjoyable all whilst not making the audience feel dumb at all, however The Hateful Eight became incredibly dull very quickly after they droned on. Plus, at times, the movie felt as if Tarantino had dedicated this film to himself. The callbacks and references to previous films was astonishing. I really hope he’s taking a long break after this tripe.
Animated films have dominated the highest grossing movie list of 2016, with the likes of Finding Dory, Secret Life of Pets and Zootopia showing that things that don’t ordinarily talk can be wonderfully entertaining. How sad it is that with such gems being released, we have a turd like Sausage Party come out to audiences who shelled out enough cash for it to come 56th highest grossing film of last year. The jokes were offensive to the point of becoming unfunny, its forced use of racial and religious stereotypes felt dated, even its A-list cast couldn’t save it. What a waste of time.
This received critical acclaim and I’m starting to wonder if people were talking about this or Wiener. A dog which connects a bunch of unhappy people is a wonderful sounding story, however when the characters are as lifeless as this, then it becomes a painful look at actors who could be doing something so much better. Spoiler alert, the dog dies.
Independence Day: Resurgence
The 20 year wait for this sequel just wasn’t worth it. In 1996 the original Independence Day came out, a film which people love to his day despite its ageing VFX and corny lines, you’ll always hear how revered it is. Fast forward to 2016 and we see that the same heart, the same characters (minus the notably absent Will Smith), new threats and new actors just don’t quite carry the same weight as the initial film. The concept was almost clever enough to work, aliens were coming back to Earth after it had used their technology in order to ramp up its on defence. Sounds clever right? Well, no. It wasn’t, it was dumb, moronic and stupid. Stupid can be fun but not in this case.
DC has had a pretty terrible year critically what with the catch up job they are working on when competing with Marvel and the universe it’s built. The DCEU is Warner Bros. answer to Disney’s MCU, but whilst one started with a film in 2008 and has built its way up with interlinking stories and characters, the other tries to catch up by jamming in as many main characters as possible into its films. Suicide Squad constantly introduces its core cast, the primary villain lacked any real threat, the soundtrack barely fit the tone of the movie and after a few fleeting moments of greatness, it comes to a dull anti-climatic end.
Yes I know. Why is this on my list? Everyone loved it didn’t they? No, I didn’t. I came out of this screening utterly baffled as to why anyone would like this. Eddie Redmayne plays a man who is trapped in a woman’s body. The trailers looked moving beyond belief but when watching these hammy performances I just got angry at all of the accolades it was receiving. Eddie’s dual character performance was incredibly confusing. Would you personality change this much if you discovered the true you this late in your life? Would you completely stop supporting the person you love and become completely selfish whilst expecting others to rally around you? NO. NO YOU WOULDN’T!
A Day for Women
I’m all for pro women pro feminist movies which is exactly what this sounded like according to its description in the BFI LFF 2016 festival guide, boy were they wrong! They have some of the most irritating women to be on screen, m of which do nothing for the cause. It’s supposed to tell the story of a brand new swimming pool which has one day a week dedicated to women. An obvious but quite nice metaphor you’d think. Wrong again! This treats women like fragile objects who constantly need some form of validation and mix joyous news with sadness an awful scene set at the pool. Do not see this film!
An incredible let down but something that we should have seen coming after the events of Days of Future Past. At the end of the previous film, everything was totally fine, people who had died were alive, there was no event in between which some of the main cast. It was like The Last Stand didn’t exist, which is a lovely thought. So after all of that, making a film which takes place in between Days… and the present day is going to be very difficult, if not impossible.
Batman Vs Superman
*Sigh* We all expected a lot from this, and frankly I was really eager and apprehensive at the same time but the hype surrounding this movie wasn’t it’s ultimate downfall. What let it down was the brooding darkness of the world Zack Snyder created, and the characters it inhabited. Superman moped around, Batman was on a vicious killing spree of anyone in his way including the Man of Steel, but its okay everyone! They became friends after their mothers had the same name. Fucking hell, Snyder! REALLY?! There’s expectation and then there’s utter stupidity. This is the latter. Bruce Wayne’s motivation for killing Superman was perfectly laid out but this all went away once the Martha conversation happened. This along with the email attachment that contained teaser trailers for the other Justice League members, add in Jesse Eisenberg’s utterly terrible Lex Luther whose performance was clearly not researched and he carried himself throughout the film by making very odd and stupid noises. This film was a huge let down for fans and non-fans, made so long in order to make it appear epic. It wasn’t. At all.
London has Fallen
Fuckheadistan. Need I say more?
Top 10 Best Films of 2016
Who knew that a film which reveals the plot in its own trailer would be any good? Apparently that’s always been the plan when it came to the marketing according to the director, Lenny Abrahamson. The film, which tells the story of a woman who is kidnapped and gives birth whilst being held captive, created a world within the small confines no bigger than a shed. Jack grows up believing that this is all there is, nothing can exist outside, however he learns a lot a more once he escapes. Brie Larson gives an Oscar winning performance and Jacob Tremblay orchestrates what it’s like to be held up for so long as a child. The film explores the aftermath of escaping from your captor and what it does to you on the outside world. An incredibly moving film which is certainly worth your time and your tears.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
We’ve seen it all before right?? Good vs. Bad. Good always wins eventually. Well, things were a little grey with Rogue One, the first stand alone live action film from this franchise. The theft of the Death Star plans takes place in between Episodes III and IV and what Disney has managed to create is a Star Wars film like no other in its franchise. The scenes are harsher, Darth Vader is arguably more ruthless, there are constant deaths as well as the feeling of threat throughout the film. Franchise films would rarely make it onto a top 10 but there’s no doubt that this was a huge surprise and genuinely amazing to see.
Journalism made interesting and exciting, a film which truly deserved it’s title of best film at the Oscars 2016. Spotlight shows how journalists at the Boston Globe broke the news of the child molestation scandal which rocked the Catholic church. A strong cast including Mark Ruffalo, Rachel Adams, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schreiber as well as a smart script with a director who understands the material and the importance in its history.
Hell or High Water
A cast which includes Chris Pine isn’t always something you’d associate with being particularly interesting given his previous films mostly have him running and jumping around like any other action star. But to see him in Hell or High Water giving his best performance yet proves he has the chops for greatness. The film tell the story of two brothers being chased down by a couple of ageing local cops. Chris Pine is a father forced to become an outlaw like his brother, played by Ben Foster, to save their family’s ranch. They are being hunted by Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, with Bridges on the edge of retirement looking for this to be his final job. The film includes plenty to be shocked at as well as enjoy including on particularly brutal fight scene involving Pine and lots of witty dialogue. A really fantastically fresh injection into the Western genre and you’ll want to watch this just for the scene stealing waitress, I’ll say no more.
Captain America: Civil War
It’s not everyday that we get a superhero film which uses its characters so well. The MCU began in 2008 after the huge success of Iron Man, since then Marvel has built its universe through 14 films and it’s going to keep growing after Spider-Man joined, plus with the introduction of Black Panther and Captain Marvel on her way. Civil War showcased what comic book movies should be, they should have character development, they should make you care about them and have incredible performances. The story told isn’t the same one from the comics, which works in its favour. Joel and Anthony Russo’s second Marvel film surpassed all expectations, is considered the best movie in the MCU and went even deeper than ever before. Every time I watch it, it feels like it’s for the first time.
A franchise which should have died out a long time ago, Rocky comes back for the seventh time, but this time around the focus is on Adonis, son of the late and great Apollo Creed. The latest film in the franchise knows that it needs to bring in a fresh pair of fists if it’s to have a fighting chance of being any good. With that, director Ryan Coogler recruited in Michael B. Jordan to play the title character, a man sick of the job and life he has and wants to prove himself to be more than what he is. With a career defining performance from Jordan, and directed by the talented Coogler, someone who knows the material well and who has previously worked with Jordan on Fruitvale Station, it’s no surprise this one of the best films and biggest surprises of 2016.
I, Daniel Blake
If you have ever had to sign on for any form of benefits you will know how hard the system makes it. I, Daniel Blake shows how much they hold you back and don’t encourage you at all. I was signed in 2010, and during this time I started doing a non-paid internship. 100% non-paid. No money for food or travel. Pretty harsh and probably illegal but there you go. I was doing this off of my own back, I was proud of myself for putting myself out there and getting experience. But were they happy to see my progress at the job centre? No. They stopped payments and made life very difficult. That’s what is shown in I, Daniel Blake. The state doesn’t help you but people do. The lead character is played by Dave Johns who goes out of his way to help a young single mother. Hayley Squires stars at Katie who is new to Newcastle from London. She stands out as one of the best new actresses of recent times after her utterly heartbreaking performance. The pair bond over the struggles you go through when trying to make ends meet in any way you can. It’s a wonderful story which has one of the scenes of the year taking place in a food bank.
The power of Disney movies is shown in a moving way in the documentary Life, Animated. Owen Suskind was a diagnosed with autism at an early age and for a long time didn’t communicate properly with his family. For a long time his parents thoughts they had lost him until a life changing moment involving The Little Mermaid made them realise that he can communicate using Disney movies. This documentary not only shows the power of animated movies but also how if you love someone you will do anything to help them. A beautifully moving depiction of love, family, loss and determination.
Kubo and the Two Strings
The best animated film of 2016. Kubo and the Two Strings is by animation studio Laika who have released other films such as The Boxtrolls, Paranorman and Coraline. Their work in stop motion animation was one of many aspects which made Kubo into a roaring success. Yet another film which felt like it came out of nowhere, it tells the story of Kubo who has to locate the armour worn by his late father to defeat a spirit from the past. The animation is stunning and dialogue is funny and heartwarming. The fact that this has come out in a year with Zootopia/Zootropolis shows the strength of stop motion animation and that its spirit is still alive.
The film we needed in 2016. Arrival is like no other sci-fi film we’ve ever seen which shows how we need to communicate more in this world rather than attack one another. It is the very antithesis of Independence Day: Resurgence with the fact that this is not an invasion, this is something much more. When 12 space crafts arrive at different locations around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting all that the aliens are saying. The message conveyed is that of hope, that one day instead of being at war with each other, nations will work together instead. It’s a film which has been shot stunningly by DP Bradford Young with director Denis Villeneuve who was the man behind Prisoners and Sicario. A captivating performance by Amy Adams who has fantastic chemistry with co-star Jeremy Renner. Adams shows all that she feels in her eyes which are the most expressive pair in Hollywood, with any luck after five Oscar nominations, this will be her year.
Keep. It. Reel.