2016 IN REVIEW: MY BEST 15 FILMS OF 2016

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Every year produces some exceptional films, and 2016 has been no different. Now, while the mainstream tends to produce the usual middle of the road stuff, admittedly the best films usually come from overseas and must be sourced and then watched, sometimes with very little knowledge of the actual film itself. However, this risk and effort is often very much rewarded.

Now I of course have not been able to see as many films as I would have liked during 2016, and had I done so then this list may have of course been a little different.  However, of all the films I have seen with their UK cinema release date in 2016, these are the very best 15 that I have seen and are a diverse range of films that I would recommend to all film fans.

15. Julieta

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A real return to form for Pedro Almodóvar; featuring two superb performances from the actresses playing the younger and older protagonist, Julieta is a profoundly moving film that examines many aspects of the complexities of the human condition with a measured pace and understated intelligence. It certainly provides more questions than it does answers, but that is appropriate and makes for a more profoundly moving viewing experience.

To read my full review, click here

14. Mustang

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An engaging and beautifully made film that skilfully manages to be culturally specific, but also examine some very relatable themes. Mustang has often been compared to The Virgin Suicides, and though there are some obvious similarities in terms of its initial premise, this is a great film on its own terms. Featuring an array of great performances from its young cast, Mustang is a film that will capture the heart of all viewers.

To read my full review, click here

13. The Survivalist

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A film that proves budget constraints do not necessarily hamper a filmmaker’s vision; Stephen Fingleton’s excellent low budget post-apocalyptic drama keeps things suitably low key, but thanks to its taught storytelling and fantastically cinematic aesthetics, is a deeply gripping film.

To read my full review, click here

12. Men & Chicken

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The Scandinavian sense of humour is certainly a lot darker than the supposed humour that can be found in more mainstream cinema, but those who are willing to get on board with its darker, quirky and eccentric nature will find Men & Chickens to be one of the funniest films of 2016. Featuring some exceptional deadpan comic performances from some of Scandinavia’s most famous names, this is a film with a story that will keep the viewer guessing, as it is very unique and not afraid to take some dark and unusual turns, but is all the better for it.

To read my full review, click here

11. Rams

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Grimur Hákonarson’s lovely little comedy/ drama is one of those films that comes out of nowhere, but sometimes taking the time to seek out films from oversees can yield great rewards and Rams is a fine example of this. The unique Icelandic humour may not appeal to all, but those willing to go with that will find this comedy drama about to warring sheep farmer brothers a funny, engaging and indeed very touching delight.

To read my full review, click here

10. The Revenant

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A film that will probably be most remembered for being responsible for Leo finally picking up that deserved Oscar, however The Revenant is far more than that. Alejandro Iñárritu’s film may have a relatively simple story at its heart, but it is an expertly crafted survival film that is a gripping, raw, unforgettable and highly visceral cinematic experience that has to be seen on the biggest screen possible.

To read my full review, click here

9. Arrival

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Denis Villeneuve is definitely one of the most exciting directors working today, and with Arrival he has nailed yet another genre. Arrival is not only a very cerebral and intelligent film that relies on engaging ideas and discussions instead of expensive special effects, but also one that is very much a deeply cinematic audio and visual experience.

To read my full review, click here

8. Captain Fantastic

A truly unique film that manages to encapsulate a plethora of themes and ideas within its seemingly simple narrative of a father trying to what he believes is the best way to bring up his children; Matt Ross’s film is one of deep understated intelligence and observation, and contains various ideas that all viewers will be able to relate to their own lives and experiences, and this is one of the many reasons as to why it is not only deeply engaging, but will linger long in the memory of the viewer.

To read my full review, click here

7. Anomalisa

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An inimitable and also very important film that will relate with so many people because of its unique nature; Anomalisa simply would not have worked anywhere near as effectively if it were not animated. Anomalisa of course examines the very pertinent subject of mental health, but does so in a way that never trivialises it or feels melancholic for the sake of it. The film’s unique visual approach (which took three years to make) allows it to depict the mindset of its protagonist in an effective, profound and deeply moving way. Though it may at times admittedly struggle to fill its running time, Anomalisa is such an unforgettable and emotionally involving film of raw power, it means that is a very much forgivable flaw.

To read my full review, click here

6. The Club

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Pablo Larraín’s powerful and thought provoking drama examines some particularly dark, but also very important and relevant themes. The subject matter of paedophile priests and what the church does with them is certainly a difficult subject, but also it is one that is very complicated. The Club may be even more pertinent to those countries where religion plays a much bigger role in society (such as Chile where the film is set), but thanks to the understated storytelling and performances, even those us from predominantly secular Western countries will find The Club a deeply engaging and haunting drama of raw power.

To read my full review, click here

5. Embrace of the Serpent

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This exceptional Oscar nominated film from South America is one of the more unique viewing experiences of this, or indeed any year. It is not only a visual wonder, but also a film that examines many pertinent ideas and themes, and these are presented in a subtle and often quite varied way that allows the viewer to engage with them and contemplate them, and indeed make their own conclusions.

To read my full review, click here

4. Paterson

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Sometimes the most engaging films can be ones where very little happens within the narrative, and everything is about both context and the ideas contained within it. Though the narrative itself may seem simple, Jim Jarmusch’s latest is far from simple in terms of the ideas contained within it. Everyone will be able to find something within Paterson that they can relate to their own lives, especially those of us that dare to dream and feel we have more to give to the world than we currently do, while also learning to appreciate the simple but very important aspects of day to day life. Paterson is a film of such subtle observation and intelligence, that repeat viewings will undoubtedly reveal new ideas and thoughts.

To read my full review, click here

3. Nocturnal Animals

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How do you follow up such a great debut like A Single Man? Well, you make Nocturnal Animals; a unique, deeply layered and at times very dark film that truly gets under the skin of the viewer. Featuring top notch performances, Nocturnal Animals is put together in such a skilful way in terms of both the visuals and its storytelling, that it would suggest a seasoned veteran filmmaker is at the helm, and not someone only making their second feature. I can’t wat to see what Tom Ford does next!

To read my full review, click here

2. Notes On Blindness

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Sometimes the best films come out of nowhere, and Notes on Blindness is such a film. Using real recordings of the main character’s voice recordings of his account of going blind accompanied by actors lip syncing the words, the film’s unique nature makes it an even more raw, engaging and unforgettable experience that will touch the heart of all viewers.

To read my full review, click here

1. Son of Saul

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László Nemes’s Oscar winning film truly is a cinematic tour-de-force and example of a director utilising all the unique tools the visual medium of cinema has to offer; his Auschwitz-set drama is a relentlessly harrowing and emotionally exhausting drama that grabs the viewer with a suffocating and tight grip, and refuses to let go until the very end. It is however made this way for all the right and appropriate reasons and Son of Saul’s depiction of the horrors that its protagonist experiences will stay long in the memory of the viewer after the film has finished. Son of Saul is not only a great film, but a very important one too, and one that still lingers in my memory many months after viewing it.

To read my full review, click here

Oh, I almost forgot – Happy New Year to all!

About MoodyB

An extremely passionate and (semi) opened minded film reviewer, with a hint of snobbish.
This entry was posted in All Film Reviews, The Best of 2016, World Cinema and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2016 IN REVIEW: MY BEST 15 FILMS OF 2016

  1. vinnieh says:

    Nocturnal Animals and Arrival both impressed me a hell of a lot. As did the wonderful Amy Adams in both movies!

  2. dbmoviesblog says:

    Awesome list! Mustang and Captain Fantastic are so deserving to be on the list!

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