It’s one hell of a year full of real life horrors but today it’s time to try and forget that and think of all the good things. One thing this year’s been great for are movies. The summer blockbusters disappointed but everything else this year has been outstanding. So here is my list of my 20 favourite films of the year. This includes films that were released in the UK this year. A US release version will be released closer to the Oscars when I’ve had a chance to actually see the films.
Honourable Mentions (#20 – #11):
20. Eddie The Eagle
Eddie The Eagle is pure joy. The true story of the unlikely Winter Olympian from Britain, this film may be a little formulaic but it’s undeniably effective and inspiring. It’s got a pretty great 80s soundtrack too.
19. American Honey
American Honey keeps it real. It’s a new kind of coming of age that feels like someone just got a camera and followed around a group of people living on the road by selling magazine subscriptions to people. It’s like the film version of slow grunge music.
This first (and maybe not the last) documentary on the list, Tickled is about competitive tickling but goes down a rabbit hole that brings it into thriller territory. It’s scary and it’s all real. If we were to make an analogy between this and a fiction film genre, it would be a 70s conspiracy thriller. It’s fascinating.
I don’t love animated films but Disney won me over big time with Zootopia. The film is funny and well animated while also providing an important, progressive message that was desperately needed this year.
A carry over from the Oscars, The Hateful Eight is a very different film for Tarantino with it taking a similar structure to Reservoir Dogs but with the technical experience QT has obtained throughout his career. It’s divisive but I’m on the very positive side of the divide.
A very under-seen gem, Hunt For The Wilderpeople is extremely funny like Taika Waititi’s previous film, What We Do In The Shadows, but also expands what we can expect from him in terms of story and emotion. It’s hearty and very quotable.
Another very funny film with depth, Don’t Think Twice has a real power to it with characters that never fall into cliches and a premise that is rare yet extremely relate-able.
I wasn’t a massive fan of the comic book movies of 2016, although I didn’t hate the bad ones as much as some did. Deadpool was the only one that really just worked for me, with no caveats. It’s damn funny, really violent and a great twist on the comic book movie formula.
12. The Jungle Book
The original animation is my favourite animated film of all time so there was intense pressure on this movie for me. It delivered, even if it took me the second viewing to relax and really enjoy it. It’s visually stunning and filled with great vocal performances.
11. Swiss Army Man
Films that get booed at film festivals tend to be great. This one is. It’s wacky and extremely weird but the quirky nature works wonderfully well with the philosophical territory explored here by Paul Dano and a dead Daniel Radcliffe.
10. Green Room
Starring the late Anton Yelchin, Green Room is a white-knuckle thriller with scary suspense and some great practical violence. It’s contained and intense and well worth a watch, although it may understandably be too much for some.
And here we have another documentary. Ava DuVernay gave us the fantastic Selma a couple years ago and now she’s back with an equally powerful film with a social message. In the year of Trump, more people needed to see this doc.
It’s not perfect but The Nice Guys brings us the funniest performance of recent memory in Ryan Gosling and an engrossing noir mystery that only Shane Black can weave. It’s engaging on plenty of levels and would have gotten a sequel if people saw it.
Tom Ford astounded me with A Single Man and he does it again with the gorgeous Nocturnal Animals. It interweaves three stories with ease and even though one of them is fictional even within the film, it will have you grabbing your armrests and unable to breathe in extreme tension that lasts right through the entire film.
It won Brie Larson an Oscar and it should have won Jacob Tremblay one too (but he wasn’t even nominated). It’s a powerful film of two halves. While some felt the second half didn’t reach the same highs as the first, I completely disagree as I was weeping through most of it.
Kubrickian in style and almost Lynchian in its surrealism, High-Rise really isn’t for everyone. You may love it or you may hate it. I believe it’s pure genius from Ben Wheatley as you see a contained society collapse into madness inside a skyscraper with a dangerous class system.
It’s got flaws sure, but Rogue One: A Star Wars Story expands the lore of the beloved universe and goes fiercely beyond the nostalgia-propelled Force Awakens. It’s a great film on its own but it’s also something that manages to improve the weight and struggle of A New Hope in ways that I never imagined.
3. Sing Street
Sing Street is an 80s throwback with catchy songs, both old and original, and relate-able characters that’ll make you love this film. It’s infinitely rewatchable and if it doesn’t make you laugh and/or cry then you have a very cold heart indeed. This film is just perfect in every way.
But Arrival is the best sci-fi film of the year, with an intelligent new take on the genre and with real emotional power that is so brilliantly interwoven into the film, you may just find yourself crying like a baby. You won’t expect what this film gives you and that just makes it all the more genius.
And even though I proclaimed Arrival the best film of the year upon first viewing it, I was just forgetting one film. Creed was a January release in the UK and it gets better with every viewing. It’s the best Rocky film since the first as Michael B. Jordan earns the boxing gloves while Sylvester Stallone gives the performance of a lifetime which should have won him an Oscar. It’s fist-pumping inspiration in a film that is simply perfect and one of my all time favourites. I could never grow bored of this film. It is my most watched film this year and I feel no signs of giving it a break.
So what do you think? What are your favourite films of the year? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!