If you are reading this, then I’d like to congratulate you on making it through the absolute blood bath that has been 2016. This year will always be remembered as one in which we said goodbye to a plethora of stars like David Bowie, George Michael and Prince, and a particularly shocking and unwanted surprise was left under the Christmas tree at the end of this month with the heartbreaking double whammy that was the passing of Carrie Fisher followed the very next day by her mother Debbie Reynolds, a dagger in the heart of any cinema lover. Amongst the celebrity death carnage that has taken place over the last 12 months, there have, at least, been a few truly great movies that have helped to balance out all of the negativity and sadness. Here are Oh! That Film Blog’s top ten of the year, as always, determined by release dates here in the UK.
1. Hunt For The Wilderpeople
Ironically, my favourite film of the year is one I saw months after its release and therefore didn’t write a full review on. This New Zealand made gem is as close to a perfect movie as I experienced all year, the funny, charming, heartwarming coming-of-age tale about a foster kid who finally finds his forever family only for tragedy to strike and a series of wacky but poignant events to follow. If you haven’t seen it, make it one of your New Years Resolutions, an absolutely brilliant film.
2. Rogue One
I’m always going to be biased when it comes to Star Wars, but in the case of Rogue One, no bias was needed as the story of capturing the Death Star plans proved to be the best instalment of the overall franchise since The Empire Strikes Back! Much darker, much heavier than last year’s The Force Awakens, but still possessing of all of the wit and charm that is so quintessentially Star Wars. Made better for its standalone nature, but it certainly left me sad that we won’t be getting anymore adventures with Jyn Erso and company!
As well as being a crowning performance for the long deserving Brie Larson, Room also achieved the rare feat of finding a child actor who is genuinely sensational. Little Jacob Tremblay carries the incredible weight of Room’s heavy, sinister narrative effortlessly, leaving the audience to simply enjoy the incredible, sometimes cerebral, sometimes nail biting story. For a work of literature that many said could never be transferred to the big screen, this film was a home run and then some.
Another awards darling at the beginning of the year, Spotlight was a prime example of a film that I knew I was going to love due to cast and premise, that then went on to give me everything I wanted and more. These kinds of human adversity tales are among my favourites, and Spotlight was executed absolutely perfectly. In its central journalistic approach towards abuse wishing the Catholic Church, the film brought a new angle to a theme that has long been explored in cinema.
Anybody who reads this blog will know that I am nowhere close to being a comic book movie fan, but in 2016 I think I found my niche. I went in to Deadpool more curious than excited, but came out having had probably the most fun in a movie theatre all year. Ryan Reynolds’ Marvel universe renaissance could not have gone better with a triumphant performance as everybody’s new favourite anti-hero. If the success of Deadpool is anything to go by, then irreverent, R-rated superhero movies are here to stay and I’m not mad about it.
6. The Hateful Eight
Perhaps The Hateful Eight had the benefit of being a shining, irreverent, zany light amongst the downbeat, overly serious Oscar contenders of early January, but it stayed at the top of my list long enough to grab a place in my top ten. I’ll admit it’s not close to being Tarantino’s best, but the stellar cast and quintessential style of the writer/director are irresistible to me. Revisionist Westerns are a genre that I absolutely love, as will be further evidenced later in this list!
I honestly don’t care what any of the *many* angry fanboys have to say about it, Ghostbusters was everything I wanted it to be and more. I’m not saying that some of their points aren’t valid (well, the ones that aren’t purely misogynistic, anyway), I’m simply saying that seeing women like Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones, women that I totally love, kick ghost ass and be the leads in a summer blockbuster where they didn’t have to wear skimpy bikinis and “end up with the guy” was awesome. In fact, its the only film on this list that I ventured to see in the cinema more than just once.
8. The Revenant
Yay! Leo finally did it! Though I personally think that DiCaprio should have taken home an Oscar for his performance in Django Unchained, 2016 finally saw everybody’s favourite bridesmaid become the bride for his physically demanding role in The Revenant. It’s definitely a slow burn, it definitely takes some patience to fully connect to, but once you have found the sweet spot, The Revenant is an exhilarating and exhausting part survival drama, part pure revenge Western that cannot be forgotten in a hurry.
9. Bone Tomahawk
Bone Tomahawk definitely takes the prize for ‘film that came out of absolutely nowhere to blow my socks off’ of the year, an initial slow burn reminiscent of True Grit that ramps up in its final third to reach almost Mad Max: Fury Road levels of madness. The term hidden gem is almost too quaint for this movie, seen by almost nobody yet deserving of a huge audience. Make this one another task to complete in 2017!
Mustang was a Turkish entry in the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar category this year, losing out to Hungary’s Son Of Saul. The film about a group of sisters who begin to reach the age of arranged marriages and the loss of childhood is beautiful, poignant and devastating in equal measure, with shades of The Virgin Suicides making for a memorable and melancholy story about the hardships and outdated expectations of girls living in certain cultures and conditions.