Another year, another batch of glorious films to add to the all-time favourites.
And, naturally, another round of DC disappointing pretty much everybody. No, you won’t find Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or Suicide Squad in my top 10. Or anywhere near it, for that matter. Creed, Doctor Strange, Hail, Caesar!, The Witch, Ghostbusters (yes, I liked Ghostbusters) and The Jungle Book also miss out, though just by the skin of their collective teeth (which can’t be said for the DC efforts).
Because, whilst the summer blockbusters might have underwhelmed, there’s still been plenty of goodness to go around. Note, however, that this particular list comes without me having seen some of the critical big-hitters yet; the likes of Nocturnal Animals, Manchester by the Sea and La La Land…so much cinema, too little time.
But alas, a top 10 I most certainly have, and there are a smattering of instant classics to be found in it. Enjoy!
10) Everybody Wants Some!!
Beer! Parties! Duuuudes. Richard Linklater follows up the hugely successful Boyhood with Everybody Wants Some!! (don’t forget the obligatory double exclamation marks), the “spiritual sequel” (whatever one of those is) to his 1993 film, Dazed and Confused. And it’s a doozy! It even manages to make the ’80s look cool. No small feat at all.
Charlie Kaufman certainly does enjoy slathering a touch of glumness into his movies. And in that respect, Anomalisa fits in nicely with the writer/director’s previous work: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Synecdoche, New York, Adaptation. It’s in the same existential vein as you might expect from the man, as well as being absolutely gorgeous, with its uncannily human stop-motion animation, and deeply smart, incredibly raw script.
8) The Revenant
The Revenant marks the earliest release of the films on the list, entering the big wide world way back in January here in the UK. And, of course, it finally bagged Leo DiCaprio his Oscar as well (aww). He sure can crawl through snow with the best of them. Not just an intense trek across the frozen frontier, it’s also picture postcard beautiful, and features one amazing CGI bear.
7) Zootopia/ Zootropolis
Ah, Disney, you wonderful bastards you! You’ve only gone and done it again. Zootopiopolismania (seriously though Disney, settle on a name!), the 55th animated feature from the giant studio’s imagineers is as layered and witty as any other film you’re likely to have seen in 2016.
6) Sing Street
A British musical with social and political undertones might not sound like your cup of tea, but trust me, it most definitely is. The Golden Globes may have snubbed Sing Street in the Best Original Song category (let’s be honest, the Golden Globes are just awful), however here’s hoping that the folks shortlisting the Academy Awards are a touch more sensible…because they have such a great track record of getting it right…right? In all seriousness, if you’ve not already watched this bundle of joy, hunt it down, and give it a watch!
5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
War unlike you’ve ever seen in the Star Wars series. Rough and ready, dark and gritty, Rogue One, slots comfortably in alongside its cousins of the franchise, borrowing from their traditions while forging its own path. If nothing else, Alan Tudyk’s new droid K-2SO is worth the price of admission alone, but on top of him you’ve got impressive battles and Darth Vader bundled in there as well.
4) Captain America: Civil War
Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, War Machine, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Ant-Man, Crossbones, Zemo, Spider-Man and a partridge in a pear tree. Civil War is stacked with characters. Somehow, someway it deftly balances its loaded slate though, allowing each of the heroes to shine, with lots of spectacular surprises, and heaps of genuine emotion. It’s not quite Marvel’s finest, but it’s not far off. The massive airport dual between Team Iron Man and Team Cap is the ballsiest action scene of the year, hands down.
3) 10 Cloverfield Lane
10 Cloverfield Lane gets its claws out, digs them in deep, and doesn’t let go for its near two-hour runtime. Central to its success is John Goodman, who deserves all the plaudits he’s had for his turn, and who frankly should be very much in the discussion come awards season. Claustrophobic, gripping filmmaking.
And still, there’s far more to Arrival than just a clever ending. Like, for example, the immensely intelligent scripting throughout, the thought-provoking message, and a touching performance from Amy Adams. It’ll have you sobbing within minutes, and in awe by the close.
1) Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Shit! Just! Got! Real! Spitting, running away, throwing rocks, kicking stuff, loitering, and graffiti – Ricky Baker didn’t choose the skuxx life, the skuxx life chose him.
An orphan from birth, Ricky (Julian Dennison) has spent his life being passed about between foster homes, until he lands on the doorstep of Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), out in the New Zealand wilderness. What he finds there is family, friendship, heartbreak, and a whole load of adventure. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is warm, funny, and just straight up fantastic.
Share your top picks for the year in the comments below!