Favourite Films of 2016: Part Two


We are almost at the end of 2016, so here are a few more of my favourite films from this year.

As with Part One, several of the movies I saw are technically 2015 films, but I only got to see them this year.

And before you ask, I still haven’t seen Son of Saul or The Lobster or Sully or Sing Street or many of the other films that are making everyone’s Top Ten lists.

Anomalisa

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Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion treatise on what it is to be human is strange, confusing, warm, moving and ultimately heartbreaking. Featuring excellent voice performances by David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Tom Noonan.

 

45 Years

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Charlotte Rampling delivers the performance of her career (and that’s saying something) along with an excellent Tom Courtenay in this quiet and quietly devastating marital drama.

 

Notes on Blindness

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I reviewed this wonderful documentary by Pete Middleton and James Spinney about God, faith and family for Film Ireland. Go look for it – it’s a moving meditation on blindness, and it has a distinct look (and sound) that breathes new life into that old standby of documentaries, the reenactment.

 

The Nice Guys

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It’s not subtle, but when has Shane Black ever done subtle? A gloriously politically incorrect slice of cheesy macho heroics, a buddy movie with two idiots (Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling), a confusing neo-noir comedy filled with all the tropes of the genre you’d expect, and  a remarkable Angourie Rice, giving one of the year’s best performances.

 

Room

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Emma Donoghue’s novel was supposedly unfilmable. Nuts to that. Superb.

 

The Revenant

THE REVENANT

Leo gets mauled by a bear and gets an Oscar for it. Tom Hardy mumbles menacingly. You’ll feel cold just watching it.

 

Rogue One

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Pick your take on it:

It puts the war in Star Wars.

It’s a space opera for grown-ups.

It’s the Saving Private Ryan of Star Wars films.

It’s not perfect (there are already grumblings that the finished film left out all the interesting bits from the trailers; maybe we’ll get a Director’s Cut) and the appearance of –SPOILER! – Grand Moff Tarkin (a CGI Peter Cushing) is distracting (he’s in the film too much for me), but those criticisms aside, this is a brilliant film.

Firstly, it’s properly diverse, featuring Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic and Black characters in a way that – as Kevin Smith points out in his lengthy review – feels organic, not just the result of a Hollywood executive’s nervousness about offending audiences by loading the movie with a lot of Caucasians.

Secondly, it looks and feels suitably gritty and genuinely battle-scarred; at times, it resembles Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket, and although I am sure there is tons of green screen stuff going on, there is also a heap of practical effects.

Thirdly, it has characters you care about, not simply archetypes (a criticism you could level at several Star Wars characters).

Finally, and this is a SPOILER, it delivers fully on its premise. This is, after all, the story of the rebels who steal the plans to the Death Star, and well, there’s a reason none of these characters has ever been mentioned in any of the films before …

… that reason is …

Everyone Dies.

I saw it with beanmimo in the Savoy and we were sitting beside a small child who had to be consoled by his parents at the end.

Hey, that’s life, kid.

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“No pat Hollywood ending! Everybody dies!”

 

Sicario

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Director of the moment Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival, the upcoming Blade Runner sequel) ratchets up the tension in this high-stakes drama about the Mexican cartel. Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin are all on top form in a film with a fantastic look (thanks, Roger Deakins), amazing sound, and an amazing score by Jóhan Jóhansson. A sequel is in the works.

 

Tale of Tales

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It looks amazing.

It gives old fairytales a new spin.

It’s very, very funny.

And it features:

Toby Jones lovingly raising a giant flea; Salma Hayek devouring a giant heart; and a priapic Vincent Cassel jumping on everything that moves. What the hell else do you want in a movie?

 

 

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