2016 was a solid year for entertainment, with a good number of quality films, video games and albums releasing to the masses. Unfortunately (as with every year), there were plenty of what looked like quality films that I missed in the cinemas, such as The Revenant and Hunt For The Wilderpeople. So if you’re wondering why something isn’t on the list, there’s a good chance I haven’t seen it!
10: David Brent: Life on the Road
David Brent: Life on the Road saw the return of everyone’s favourite awkward office boss take on a huge tour of Berkshire region with his band Foregone Conclusion. Life on the Road is funny throughout, but not afraid to show its tender side, either. It’s classic Brent. Unfortunately, the plot gets a little predictable, and not enough is done with the larger cinema budget – it’s like a feature-length TV special more than a full on cinematic release.
9: Long Way North
From a mixture of the people involved with the unbelievably brilliant Song of the Sea, Long Way North follows a band of explorers headed by a young Russian aristocrats daughter in search of her famous grandfather and his ship, deemed missing and presumed dead. It’s a touching tale backed up by stellar animation. A film for all the family to enjoy. Only really let down by it’s English voice-cast.
8: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
A slow burner, but Rogue One: A Star Wars Story managed to save itself from its overly messy opening twenty minutes with a strong sense of action and danger. Possibly the darkest Star Wars film to date, with an eye for trying things the franchise had been afraid of up to this point. The emphasis on danger and war offered a refreshing take on the Star Wars formula backed up by a great lead performance from Felicity Jones.
7: Hail, Caesar!
The Coen Brothers’ latest isn’t their greatest, but it’s a fine film full of quality performances from all involved and a fantastic eye for detail. The pastiches of the film industry during Hollywood’s Golden Age are all pitch-perfect and often hilarious. The plot may get dragged down by side-stories that don’t add much outside of character building, but the characters are all brilliantly realised. Hail, Caesar! is George Clooney’s best film in years.
6: Eddie the Eagle
Who knew that a film about Eddie the Eagle could be so good? We all knew what happened, we all know and love the guy. That didn’t matter. We were on the edge of our seats, spurring Eddie on, just like his parents in the film. We laughed and cried with our favourite terrible ski-jumper. Sure, the film was highly dramatised, but that didn’t matter. Eddie the Eagle is a great feel-good movie.
Deadpool is offbeat, zany and completely balls-to-the-wall. A huge breath of fresh air in a superhero genre that’s growing stale at an alarming rate. Ryan Reynolds always spoke of his desire to create a movie based on everyone’s favourite fast-talking, foul-mouthed, fourth-wall breaking mutant slayer and what we got was quite remarkable. Deadpool doesn’t really take itself seriously and consistently pokes fun at the films around it with aplomb. Don’t be put off by the in-jokes, either, Deadpool is a very fun film.
4: The Nice Guys
The funniest film of the year was Shane Black’s love letter to the 1970s seedy side of America. Featuring stand-out and career best performances from Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, The Nice Guys is hilarious throughout. It draws comparisons to the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski, and I can see why. It’s just as funny and is about the investigation into the seedy underbelly of the USA for a missing person. The Nice Guys is a buddy-cop movie with a difference – they ain’t cops.
3: Kubo and the Two Strings
Featuring quite possibly the best animation since, ever, Kubo and the Two Strings is the latest impressive feature from the wonderful guys over at Laika studios. This is a piece of art. The visuals are sumptuous, and the plot, characters and music are just as good. This is a mystical journey for all the family, with action, intrigue and beauty found around every corner. If you must blink, do it now. You will not want to miss Kubo and the Two Strings.
2: The Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight is a stupidly long film, sure, but it’s also a ridiculously good one, too. Following the story of a group of disparate people trapped in a log cabin during a terrible winter storm, all seemingly after the price on Daisy Domergue’s head. It’s an expertly crafted film full of tension, intrigue and several fine performances. It’s a slow old thing, but The Hateful Eight is like the best prog-rock songs – it builds and builds into something truly memorable.
Denis Villeneuve is quickly becoming my favourite director. Prisoners, Sicario and now Arrival all showcase a director at the top of his game. Arrival may put some off with its slow pace, but this thinking-man’s sci-fi is essential viewing. Featuring a stellar performance from Amy Adams (how she didn’t pick up an Oscar nomination, I’ll never know), whose character is leading a language investigation in the United States of an alien species whose intentions are unclear. There’s a constant sense of unease throughout. Arrival is tense, magnificently shot, acted, edited and comes with a mesmerising soundtrack to boot. You must watch this film.
What’s that? You hate my choices, and by extension, me? Sound off in the comments if you’re angry and have nowhere else to be.