Top 10 of 2016
2016, let's be honest, was big heaps of steamy crap all round. This goes for movies too.
Towards the end of the year I had not seen enough good movies to warrant a top five list, let alone a top ten and so I set about trying to watch all the movies I'd missed, the movies that had been recommended to me and anything else I could find lying around.
I hoped to be pleasantly surprised.
Sadly, this was not to be and the more I watched, the more I just ended up confirming that 2016 was one of the crappest on record for movies. It's safe to say that there are a couple of films in my Top Ten that, in any other year, would not be there.
Also I am a fan of movies that entertain. Yes I demand they have good characters, decent plots, imaginative scripts etc. but if a film is just pacey and entertaining then it's going to get higher points from me than if it's ponderous, pretentious and pleased with itself, no matter how critically acclaimed and beautiful it may be.
There are also films I just didn't get round to watching, so if your favourite didn't make my list, tell me below in our comments section and I will get to it.
10. Hell or High Water
A well acted and well written, if fairly generic, dusty, cops and robbers movie.
It felt fairly redundant though, like a TV version of No Country For Old Men.
Had 2016 been better, this probably wouldn't have made the list, if I'm honest.
It's definitely worth a watch though!
9. London Has Fallen
Oh I can hear the cries of consternation and disbelief from here!
"What is London Has Fallen doing on this list? Have you gone stark raving mad?!"
"Surely best film lists should be filled with slow, pretentious, message movies full of people with disabilities crying or fighting against injustices while string music plays in the background!"
Well, honestly, I enjoyed the hell out of it. I was a big fan of the first one and the sequel delivered more bonkers action lunacy. I get that these 80s/90s action throwbacks aren't for everyone but I love the escapism, I love the over the top heroic, chest-thumpery of it and it's the best film series Gerard Butler has ever done.
Like Hell or High Water it wouldn't have made my top 10 had 2016 been better.
I will watch this again.
8. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Charming, funny and, in parts, ridiculous but I enjoyed it.
I honestly have very little to say about it. It was good, it kept me interested till the end and Sam Neil is always gold.
Sorry this Top 10 list isn't very good so far, is it.
This was one of the weirdest, most intriguing, most amazing and just downright brilliant Documentaries I've ever seen.
It's one of those docs that plays like a fiction film. Like a delightfully odd, yet deep and intriguing, fiction film but instead, it's absolutely true! This fact leaves you speechless and your mind well and truly boggled.
I am not even sure how to summarise what this film is about. I am both anxious not to give anything away but also confused as to where to start.
Basically, you should go watch it, if you want to read more of my spoiler free review, click here
6. Slingshot Cops
The imaginative and independent, New England duo of Charlie and Farley (Don't Let The Riverbeast Get You, Freaky Farley and more) have done it again!
Slingshot Cops has it all! It's got comedy, action, horror, suspense, supernatural stuff, romance, long words, an Eastern European, a crime pup called Pippy, local legend Jay Mayo, a fireworks dealer called Oilcan and so much more!!
5. Blood Father
I am not a huge fan of Mel Gibson the person but Blood Father is exactly the sort of film the aging action star should be doing from now on. I know lots of people love his directorial efforts but I can't get through more than 10 mins of any of them. Not my thing.
Blood Father, on the other hand, is my kind of thing and the weak-ish ending didn't spoil this smartly scripted, well acted, action, drama, road movie.
It also goes to prove that Mad Mel would've been so much better than the rubbish Tom Hardy in Fury Road.
4. Into The Inferno
Werner Herzog was a busy chap in 2016. He released two documentaries, Into The Inferno and Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World and one fiction film, Salt and Fire, although, if you know Herzog, he doesn't place much value in the distinction between the two.
I have, sadly, not seen Salt and Fire yet and must remedy that very soon but I did get to see both of his documentaries and where as I found Lo and Behold to be a bit of a mess and missing the point (and a point), Into the Inferno was sublime, classic Herzog.
Herzog again looks at Man's sometimes amazing and sometimes ludicrous relationship with the destructive indifference of nature. It's brilliant. Filled with fascinating insights and reactions, from the somber to the ridiculous, Into The Inferno features amazing stunning visuals and hypnotic music.
Well worth a watch.
3. La La Land
Hahaha well yes, ok, I am one of those. So predictable isn't it, to put La La Land on a Top 10 of 2016 list. It's so "not-edgy" of me.
There is so much revisionist reviewing going on around this film right now with the "Oh my god it's the best and most amazing film ever!!" crowd (mostly, I presume, people who have never seen many other movies, let alone musicals) fighting with the "it was ok, it wasn't amazing" lot who are either being genuine, which is fine, or trying to be too cool for a musical starring Hollywood's prettiest, in which case, they can go fuck themselves. Never ever try to be "too cool" for anything.
I don't believe La La Land is one of the greatest films ever and nor should anyone, is it the third best film of 2016? In my opinion, yes. Mostly, if I am honest, because it was a surprise. I knew very little going in, am not a huge fan of Ryan "mostly dull" Gosling, and I still haven't seen Whiplash (Director, Damien Chapelle's previous film).
The film was charming though, impressive and, where it mattered, spoke to that 'do I pursue my art/dream or do I pursue this relationship?' question that has plagued me personally, in the past, on more than one occasion. Luckily, now, I feel like I have the perfect balance.
The music is wonderful and the direction is very strong, evocative of the 1940s Hollywood musicals it's trying to ape. The acting, in the case of Emma Stone, is incredible and assured and, in the case of Ryan Gosling, impressive with the dancing/playing piano/singing live stuff but someone still needs to give him a kick up the bottom, so he stops just mumbling and looking vacant through the 'dialogue' scenes.
I still question whether it's better than the musical episode of Buffy and it's definitely no Grease 2 but, showing up during the tale end of one of the shittiest years on record, it was wonderful, delightful and pleasantly surprising.
2. The Trust
The true surprise of 2016 was hiding right under your very nose on Netflix in amongst the 13 other Nic Cage movies that are on there.
Nic Cage is both a blessing and a possible curse to The Trust, a Coen-brothers-like, dark, comedic, would-be heist movie. He's a blessing because he takes the script and the character and plays it absolutely perfectly. Yes, on occasion, he Nic Cages it up to the max but it's exactly what the role required and he does it in such a joyfully, delightful way, that I couldn't keep the grin from my lips. He's a curse because he's, nowadays, sadly, a walking meme with his movies unfairly derided and snickered at by people who have, probably, never gotten off their couch.
I, personally, will always give one of his films a chance because there's usually something entertaining lurking within and I couldn't have been happier that I did in this case.
Ably supporting the Cage train is the excellent Elijah Wood who, between this, Grand Piano and Cooties is equally doing some mad, fun genre work lately and I've not seen him be better than he is in The Trust.
There are underlying observations about the general downfall and corruption of society, especially within the police force and the town of Las Vegas, but it's never preachy and never overwhelms the characters, the plot or the comedy. It also manages to comment on other heist films without ever becoming knowing or smug. It's quite a tightrope the writer/directors and actors walk but they pull the trick off sublimely!
Stop reading this and go find The Trust and watch it. It's one of those films that every time I have suggested it to someone, they've come back to thank me or to comment positively on the movie.
You can hear more of what we thought on The Trust, by clicking here!
1. The Nice Guys
If you had told me 5 years ago that one day I would have a Top 10 that featured not one but two Ryan Gosling films I'd have slapped you in the mouth, Bogart style and called you a damn fool but then, 2016 rolled around and all the fucking rules changed.
I am a sucker for Shane Black films, mysteries and fat Russell Crowe. I have a rule and that is: If Russell Crowe is in shape, it's probably a crap film. Old, schlubby, scruffy, fatty Russell Crowe? absolutely perfect. Ryan Gosling, I'll finally admit, is good in this and it's definitely the best I've seen him be. He clearly needs to do more witty, well written, comedy, action films. It's clearly his calling. Throw away the tatty white vest and staring, vacantly, out of windows, trying to emote Ryan and come have some fun!
Shane Black, I presume, could write and direct these things in his sleep at this point. His films are just so effortlessly cool, funny, interesting and engaging. While many may see him as a one trick pony, if this is the trick, then he can keep doing it every other year for the rest of his life, as far as I am concerned. It's a bit like calling Agatha Christie a one trick pony.
I am not going to go on singing its praises, go watch it, it's Shane Black, it features Keith David, it's awesome, it's my movie of 2016 and I am glad that year is over.
Let me know why I am wrong, why I am right or what I've missed below. I still have a list of stuff I am catching up on but if I waited any longer to publish this then it would be 2018!