Top 25 Films of 2016

Irish Cinephile's Top 25 Films Of 2016

A new year and it’s time for another top 25 films of the year list of my personal favourites release over this side of the water in 2016. A few reminders before I begin, first being that this is my personal list and though I did enjoy quite a number of films as well this year (e.g 10 Cloverfield Lane) I couldn’t put it onto the list. Secondly, there will be some films here that were released this year that would have be screened earlier across the pond in the west (e.g The Revenant) that I have included in the list this year and there’s a few films that are only getting released this month that would be in the top list in many US critics 2016 list (e.g La La Land) that will not be included.

Here is the previous top 25 films of the year lists below:

Top 25 Films of 2014

Top 25 Films of 2015

Now here’s this years list of my personal top 25 films.


25. Swiss Army Man

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Swiss Army Man

Release Date: 30th September

Swiss Army Man has us focusing on a young man, Hank, marooned on an island, on the verge of hanging himself when he notices a corpse has washed up on the beach. After initially failing to resuscitate it, he returns back to attempting to hang himself. As the tide begins to wash the corpse away, Hank notices the farts propelling itself around on the water. Hank makes a run for the corpse, mounts it and rides it across the ocean like a jet ski, landing on a mainland shore. Hank begins to befriend the corpse, naming it Manny, only to discover that his new friend can talk and has a myriad of supernatural abilities…which may help him get home. From the films opening scene, it was pretty clear I was set for seeing one of the most unique films of the year and to just simply label it as a ‘film about a farting corpse’ is a genuine disservice to the story the film tells. Beaming with energy and imagination, the film primarily focuses on learning and appreciating the fact that it’s better to stay true to yourself and you’ll be happier for it, regardless of what society will think of you. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe are a terrific pairing, with the former giving a great performance while the latter provides one of the best physical acting performances of the year.


24. The Survivalist

Top 25 Films of 2016 - The Survivalist

Release Date: 12th February

The Survivalist sees Stephen Fingleton make his directorial feature in this low-budget, post-apocalyptic Northern Irish drama focusing on a nameless man secluded from the remainder of humanity in a forest when two women appear on his doorstep seeking refuge. The film has a very grim tone of how far humanity has fallen as we see how the three characters interact with each other and struggle to earn each others trust. The performances from Martin McCann, Mia Goth and Olwen Fouere are very good and also it’s worth mentioning just how good Damien Elliott’s cinematography work is on show here.


23. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Release Date: 15th December

The first Star Wars film to take place outside of the Episode saga which actually focuses more on the ‘War’ part of the title. Though it technically works as a link between the period of Revenge of the Sith and just before A New Hope, so you can argue with whether it’s a spinoff or a prequel until the Sun dies out, the film has us following Jyn Erso, who is located and recruited by the rebel alliance to work alongside Captain Andor on a mission to meet with an Imperial defector who claims that the Empire has created a superweapon that he calls a ‘planet killer’. While the film lack character development and has a questionable first half, it makes up for it with a thrilling finale that I thought is satisfying, with particular character highlights being droid K-2SO and Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Îmwe.


22. Mustang

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Mustang

Release Date: 13th May

Mustang is a Turkish film focusing on five sisters. We first meet them deciding to walk home instead of taking a van outside of school to enjoy the sunny day. Along the way, they play with classmates in the water at the beach, playing games involving sitting on the boys shoulders and trying to knock each other off. When they return home, their grandmothers scolds and hits them for having bodily contact with the boys, therefore ‘pleasuring themselves’ with them. When their uncle Erol learns of this, he becomes as equally furious as the grandmother, so much so that he forbids the girls from leaving the house, even for school, turning their home into a prison. The film quickly establishes the bond between the sisters and what may appear completely harmless to us, may come under much more scrutiny and disgust from their family relatives social and cultural views, to the point that we see each of their childlike innocence being broken as the film progresses as they begin to be married off one by one to a stranger without their consent. The screenplay from Ergüven and Winocour shows us the challenges women face when growing up in such environment, with Ergüven making the film flow seamlessly with its multiple arcs and well-developed characters. The casting of all the sisters work terrifically well together, with young Güneş Şensoy being the personal standout performer.


21. Embrace of the Serpent

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Embrace of the Serpent

Release Date: 10th June

Embrace of the Serpent tells two stories thirty years apart, both featuring an Amazonian shaman named Karamakate, who is the sole survivor of his tribe. In 1909, an ethnographer named Theo is very sick, is travelling by canoe with a westernised local he saved from enslavement on a rubber plantation named Manduca, looking for Karamakate’s help to search for the yakruna, the only cure for his disease. In 1940, an American named Evan meets an older Karamakate, who has forgotten the customs of his own people, to search for the same plant. Shot in black and white, Embrace of the Serpent is an exotic and mostly a spiritual tale within the heart of the Amazon, with us primarily focusing on a shaman and the weight of loneliness that he carries in being the last of his kind and we gradually begin to learn why he is judgemental of the foreigners who seek his expertise to locate the yakruna. Often times beautiful, and some times completely maniacal, the story of Embrace of the Serpent is one that gets better on repeated viewing, thanks to the direction from Ciro Guerra and the screenplay co-written alongside Jacques Toulemonde Vidal. The cinemagtography work from David Gallego is terrific and the performances are solid throughout, particularly from Nilbio Torres who plays the young Karamakate.


20. Demolition

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Demolition

Release Date: 29th April

Demolition has us following a young and successful investment banker known as Davis, who works at a firm founded and run by his father-in-law. He gets into a car accident along with his wife, Julia, killing her. As a vending machine malfunctions when he tries to purchase some chocolate as he recovers in hospital, Davis writes a latter of complaint to the vending machine manufacturer that includes venting some of his own personal experiences, leading to a series of conversations with customer service representative Karen Moreno, which leads to the both sharing each other’s life burdens. Jean-Marc Vallée’s film is one that resonated with me in how I could relate to Gyllenhaal’s character Davis and how he deals with his own personal grief. Critically mixed and generally mixed reviews from audiences, I was captivated by the film as Davis begins to deconstruct things around him as if he’s deconstructing his own psyche, with the film shining a light on mental health and it works primarily for you personally if you feel slightly attached emotionally to what is going on with Davis. Gyllenhaal as usual is terrific, as is Naomi Watts as Karen, with young actor Judah Lewis also providing a solid performance as Karen’s son Chris.


19. Zootropolis/Zootopia

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Zootropolis aka Zootopia

Release Date: 25th March

Zootropolis (also known as Zootopia stateside) was Disney’s latest critically raved animated feature that had us following rabbit Judy Hopps graduating through the academy and become the first rabbit officer, assigned to the Zootropolis department and is assigned to parking duty by Chief Bogo. Soon she finds herself on a case of locating a missing otter and is giving forty-eight hours to solve the case or resign as part of a deal she makes with Bogo. Along the way she crosses paths with a con artist fox, Nick Wilde, who happens to be a lead on the case. It’s a family-friendly animated film that plays as a detective tale with themes touching on equality, stereotypes and racism that have been discussed for a while now since the films release as to whether the way the film executed those themes were good or bad.


18. Deepwater Horizon

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Deepwater Horizon

Release Date: 29th September

Deepwater Horizon focuses on the BP explosion/oil spill that would become to be known as the largest environmental disaster in U.S history. On the 20th April 2010, an oil drilling rig operated by private contractor Transocean, is set to begin drilling off the southern coast of Louisiana on behalf of BP. We follow engineer Michael ‘Mike’ Williams and rig supervisor James ‘Jimmy’ Harrell arrive and surprisingly learn that the workers assigned to pout the concrete foundation intended to keep the well stable are being sent home early without conducting a pressure test, at the insistence of BP company man Donald Vidrine. Peter Berg has found his niche of making feature films based on true stories and Deepwater Horizon is an event like no other I’ve seen on the big screen this year. We get brief introductions into the characters before we dig deep into the story of supervisor Harrell and company man Vidrine butting heads over the pipe which leads to destructive and tragic consequences. The scene from the initial blowout to the final scenes is a cinematic marvel to watch as it feels so incredibly realistic in how the scenes are constructed as you feel the fierce heat coming through the screen. Mark Wahlberg is good in the role as Mike Williams, then turns great in the films final moments. The overall cast in general are very good, with the likes of Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O’Brien.


17. Deadpool

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Deadpool

Release Date: 10th February

It may have taken years to get it right, but boy did they! Ryan Reynolds reprised the role he portrayed back in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine though it was more memorable for how…uncharacteristic the character was from his comic origins. Here we get mercenary Wade Wilson being diagnosed with cancer and undergoes an experiment to cure his cancer, only to be injected with a special serum and subjected to various methods of torture to kick start his mutation. Now armed with new abilities and a new look, Wade Wilson adopts the alter ego Deadpool, he heads down the road of hunting down the man that nearly destroyed his life. The action sequences are well done, particularly the freeway one and Ryan Reynolds is terrific as Wade Wilson/Deadpool, sharing terrific chemistry with Morena  Baccarin’s Vanessa Carlysle. The comedy bits worked for me, particularly the fourth wall breaks when it came to taking jabs at the X-Men franchise.


16. Green Room

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Green Room

Release Date: 13th May

Green Room has us following a punk band named The Ain’t Rights that get a gig set up for them outside of Portland which happens to be a skinhead bar, set in the middle of the woods. Things take a turn for the worst for the band however when they witness a murder in the green room, leading to them battling for survival through the night while the bar owner, Darcy Banker, strategically plots how to eliminate the band entirely. Green Room is in its own way a horror film, as it all feels incredibly authentic and realistic the drama unfolds in front of us. The violence is pretty graphic and holds no punches, looking at how sharp box cutters are and how nasty dog attacks can be. Patrick Stewart is understated as Darcy, while it’s Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots performances that provide the emotional connection to be engaged with the characters and root for them to get out of the seemingly impossible predicament they find themselves in.


15. Captain America: Civil War

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Captain America: Civil War

Release Date: 29th April

When a battle involving the Avengers leads to the death of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, leads to the United Nations establishing a legislative bill, the Sokovia Accords, in which the Avengers will operate under a panel’s supervision and act when the panel deem it necessary. The Avengers become divided over the act, with Tony Stark leading the charge of supporting government oversight while Captain America is on the otherside of the coin,  feeling that they should remain free to defend humanity without government interference after his experiences with S.H.I.E.L.D/Hydra. The Russo Brothers do a tremendous job of getting the characters brought in a chance to shine at the right moments in this film and have it work within the realm of the story, adding new characters to the MCU with Boseman’s charismatic Black Panther and Tom Holland’s new take on Spider-Man, with the airport sequence being one of the most enjoyable sequences my inner-child has enjoyed seeing on the big screen all year. While the finale takes a leap in terms of how everything has to fit in to place to lead to that moment and actually raises a few more questions than answers, with also the fact the film’s resolution still feels safe compared to what it could’ve been, I still enjoyed this film alot.


14. The Revenant

Top 25 Films of 2016 - The Revenant

Release Date: 15th January

It’s the film that finally earned Leonardo DiCaprio that long-awaited Best Actor win from the Academy Awards, taking us to 1820’s America, following experienced explorer and hunter Hugh Glass, who is brutally attacked by a bear and is left for dead by members of his hunting team. We follow Glass’s desire to not only survive, but struggle through an exhausting revenge on the man that betrayed him the most, John Fitzgerald. Leonardo DiCaprio has to rely on portraying the character with numerous grunts, eyes and body movements to give the audience emotion that he can’t convey with words anymore and he does a terrific job in doing so as we go on witness this man being battered down by nature. Once again Iñárritu creates some great moments, from the battle sequences to the bear attack, while Lubezki’s cinematography work is terrific, capturing the beauty of the landscape with the grit of what proceeds on the ground.


13. Room 

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Room

Release Date: 15th January

Room introduces us to Joy and Jack Newsome, a mother and her five-year-old son. . However this isn’t your typical mother/son story as we realise that the pair of them are kept captive in the confinements of a shed, crowded with a bed, toilet, bath and small kitchen which they refer to as Room. As Jack curiosity grows, Joy’s resilience to their situation reaches breaking point as they begin to hatch a risky escape plan bringing them to face the world: one which Jack has never seen before and one which Joy hasn’t seen in seven years. Room is a really good gem of a film brought to us by Irish director Lenny Abrahamson, showing us in the first half of the film just how claustrophobic their space is and then showing us the wonder and how confusing the world is through the eyes of young Jack. It helps that the films two central performances here from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are absolutely terrific here, with Brie having to deal with a character that detests the ‘Room’ in which she’s known for seven years and then trying to adapt back into the real world she once knew while Jacob shines as a young kid who grew up in ‘Room’ and is comfortable living in it as it’s all he knows and just how scary the world is, becoming anxious and disorientated to the point he keeps asking when they’re going back to ‘Room’. While the film could be placed as a ‘gimmick’ by the outline of its premise, it never goes the direction that you’d expect it to go in terms of how the two handle the aftermath of their experience and the physiological trauma that have to deal with.


12. Creed

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Creed

Release Date: 15th January

Taken in by Apollo Creed’s widow, Mary Anne, after he loses his mother, Adonis grows up wanting to follow in his fathers footsteps in boxing. This leads him to moving to Philadelphia in the hope of getting his father’s old friend and rival, Rocky Balboa, to train and mentor him. It’s the Rocky spinoff I didn’t realise I wanted! While it’s true that the film is formulaic in its storytelling going by the Rocky films of old, Coogler manages to create a film that not only pays homage to what came before, but bring a freshness that has been lacking in the last few instalments and breathing new life into what now could easily spawn at least one sequel of us following Adonis Johnson. Michael B. Jordan gives a great performance as Adonis, particularly in how he adds vulnerability to Adonis’s tough exterior and shares great chemistry with Tessa Thompson’s Bianca, who also shines in this film. Sylvester Stallone gives a great performance as the weathered old man Rocky that has now lost everyone close to him and yet still has that charm that everyone loved about the character. The one take fight sequence that takes place is still one of my favourite scenes of the year.


11. Train To Busan

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Train To Busan

Release Date: 28th October

Train To Busan has us follow Seok-Woo, a divorced fund manager who begrudgingly accepts to take his young daughter Su-an to her mother in Busan as her birthday gift. They arrive at a station in Seoul to board the KTX, a High-Speed rail, which is also occupied by working-class husband Sang-hwa and his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong, a high school baseball team, rich but selfish COO Yon-suk, elderly sisters In-gil and Jong-gil, and a homeless man. Unfortunately for them however, someone else boards the train that happens to be have been bitten and is beginning to turn, leading to a struggle of survival for those on board the train heading to Busan. The train setting plays tremendously to the films strengths as we get a blend of Snowpriercer meets the 28 Days Later/World War Z fast-style zombies within a confined, claustrophobic environment and characters make some pretty smart choices to get around the horde inside the train. Seok-Woo’s character progression is one of the films strengths, with Gong Yoo providing a good performance in the role. Kim Su-an on the other hand becomes a revelation towards the final act of the film, providing one of those moments where I was transported out of the film for a second and thought ‘she isn’t acting’. Some good visual effects work on the zombie horde, in and outside of the train, as well as enough characters to root to survive, had me enjoy the film.


10. Spotlight

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Spotlight

Release Date: 29th January

Spotlight takes us back to 2001 where we follow the Boston Globe’s new editor Marty Baron urging the Spotlight team, a small group of journalists that investigate stories that can take up to a year to publish, to investigate the story about a paedophile priest in which a lawyer claimed that Cardinal Law, the Archbishop of Boston, knew that the priest was sexually abusing children and did nothing to stop him. The team dive into the allegations of abuse in the Catholic church which leads to uncovering decades-long cover-ups, sending shockwaves around the world and touching a wave of revelations around the world. This is the definition of an ensemble piece as everyone collectively gets a chance to shine, from Michael Keaton’s Robby leading the Spotlight team down the path of shocking discoveries, to Mark Ruffalo’s Mike gets emotionally involved as the investigation progresses, Rachel McAdams’s Sacha losing the last bit of connection she has to the church in which she attends mass with her grandmother and Brian d’Arcy James’s Matt providing the details in the investigation.  The film highlights that it is outsiders of non-Boston and non-Catholic ties that set the wheels in motion, as it were, with newly hired editor Marty Baron setting his sights on the story, played understatedly by Liev Schreiber, to the Armenian lawyer Mitchell Garabedian who is representing the victims played well by Stanley Tucci. The script is well written by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy that while the film relies heavily on its monologues and details in the investigation, it doesn’t feel that it lags at any point as you are engrossed in the story itself.


09. Eye In The Sky

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Eye In The Sky

Release Date: 15th April

Eye In The Sky is the latest film to be looking at the complexities of the latest stage in modern warfare – drones.  We come into the early stages of the ‘capture’ mission as the British, American and Kenyan officials await for high-level extremists to meet up in a safe house in Nairobi, which suddenly changes from a ‘capture’ to ‘kill’ mission as real-time video feed that shows that they have explosives and are preparing two suicide vests. With the mission changing from ‘capture’ to ‘kill’, it becomes increasingly more difficult as a young girl is located just outside the target building, therefor being in grave danger if it were to be struck by a missile. Gavin Hood creates this slow-burning paced, tension filled thriller as we go through multiple characters debating the complexities of the mission, arguing for the loss of life and counteracting with the potential loss of life. You’re given both points of view from various characters and the truth is that there is no definitive right or wrong answer, no black and white area to fall on here upon this subject let alone the mission. The cast here is well rounded with memorable performances from Helen Mirren as the Colonel who does care about minimising Collateral Damage but is willing to go ahead with the kill order for the potential number of lives that could be lost, Aaron Paul gives his best big screen performance since Smashed as the pilot that has his finger on the trigger to file the missile and the emotional turmoil he faces once the young girl comes into the ‘kill zone’ and Alan Rickman in tragically his last on screen role is terrifically understated as Lieutenant General Frank Benson.


08. Captain Fantastic

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Captain Fantastic

Release Date: 9th September

Captain Fantastic has us focusing on the Cash family, who are out living in the Washington wilderness. husband and wife Ben and Leslie are disillusioned with capitalism and American life, they choose to instill survivialist skills and philosophy in their children, educating them to think, training them to be self-reliant, pshysically fit and guiding them without technology and the ability to coexist with nature. Unfortunately when Leslie is hospitalised for bipolar disorder, she commits suicide. With her death, Ben and the children are is forced to leave his paradise and enter the world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent. We get to see how the Cash family interact with one another in their own realm of existence in the wilderness from the opening scenes and it’s when Ben moves them into the ‘real’ world following their mother’s death, we see not just how out of touch the children feel with society (particularly Bo and Rellian) and how Ben appears to be more of a menace than a responsible parent to the eyes of said society. There’s some wonderful scenes and dialogue tackling the different perspective viewpoints of parenting, whilst maintaining that indie vibe throughout. The overall cast is great, particularly Viggo Mortensen as the father Ben, with George MacKay shining for me as Bo. The final scene may also be one of the most beautiful endings of 2016.



07. The Nice Guys

Top 25 Films of 2016 - The Nice Guys

Release Date: 3rd June

The Nice Guys takes us to 1977 Los Angeles where we follow single father and licensed private investigator, Holland March, being hired by the aunt of a famous porn star named Misty Mountains to find her niece whom she persistently believes is alive, even though she died earlier in the week. March accepts the job which leads to him to tracking down a girl named Amelia, which puts him on a path with enforcer Jackson Healy, who is hired by Amelia to intimidate Holland to stay away from her. Healy learns that Amelia has disappeared and that March isn’t the only party interested in her whereabouts and the two of them team up to find Amelia before the thugs do.  The chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling is electric and their back and forth with the sharp dialogue penned by Black and Anthony Bagarozzi is in certain moments an absolute joy to watch. Jackson Healy is a role that Crowe could literally play in his sleep but he puts heart into the role, particularly in his interactions with Holland’s daughter Holly. Gosling at times is an absolute scene stealer as Holland March, he always had the quip to time his lines right which was hinted at appearing in the comedy Crazy Stupid Love and here he gets to show his physical comedy as well which I thought he done great with. Angourie Rice shines as Holland’s daughter Holly, who literally acts like the parent to her father since she lost her mother and picks up the detective skills from him as well as Jackson Healy when he arrives on the scene. At times the comedy killed me, which in typical Black style involves getting rid of a dead body, one scene involving a peaceful protest and also one that will appear random in text form until you see the film…President Nixon.


06. Kubo and the Two Strings

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Kubo And The Two Strings

Release Date: 9th September

Kubo and the Two Strings takes up to ancient Japan where we follow a young boy named Kubo, who lives in a cave on top of a mountain with his ill mother Sariatu. Everyday he goes to a nearby village and tells stories by magically manipulating pieces of paper into origami that moves whenever he plays his shamisen. He always returns home before sunset as his mother has explicitly warned him never to stay outside after dark. Unfortunately one time Kubo doesn’t make it back in time, leading him to being hunted down by his aunts aka the Sisters and his grandfather, the Moon King, who is searching for Kubo to to take his remaining eye after taking the other when he was a baby. In order to defeat his grandfather, Kubo must locate a magical suit of armour warn by his late father and is aided on his quest by his little wooden monkey charm brought to life by his mother and Beetle, a samurai who claims to have been an apprentice of Kubo’s father. The film feels like a tip of the hat to Hayao Miyazaki’s style of storytelling with animation, as it is set in Japan and uses Japanese folklore as the inspiration for the story. The main thing about the story of Kubo and the Two Strings is that it is a coming-of-age story, handling the subjects of dealing with the loss of a loved one, how death does not end a life or memory of that person and how strong memories can be. While the film is brimming with fantasy, at its core it’s an humanly emotional story that had me completely captivated throughout.


05. Sing Street

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Sing Street

Release Date: 17th March

Sing Street takes us to Dublin in 1985 where we follow a young boy named Conor, who finds out in a family meeting that in order to save money his is being transferred from his expensive fee-paying school to a free state-school called Synge Street, a Christian Brothers School. One day at school he notices a girl across the road named Raphina and in order to impress her, states that he needs a model for a music video that his band is making. We follow Conor trying to get a band together while also trying to win Raphina’s affection. Sing Street is a film that’s dripping with charm, likeable characters and, more importantly, a great/catchy soundtrack to entertain you throughout the films runtime. The romantic plot of Conor/Cosmo and Raphina is handled with care and I bought into it and the performances from Ferdia Walsh-Peelo and Lucy Boynton are great. While the film has the romantic plot, this film also has a plot of brotherhood that bursts through the silence of the musical numbers and the romantic journey. Jack Reynor probably gives his best performance to date as Conor’s older brother Brendan. He’s arc of being a first-born whose happiness is derived from witnessing his little brother living out a dream that he once craved for himself, hoping that his lost dream won’t repeat on Conor, which comes to a head during a heated scene of him telling his younger brother that he was once ‘A fucking jet engine’. Essentially Brendan is the brother you hope to have and yet the lost dreamer you don’t want to end up being. After his previous efforts with Once and Begin Again, John Carney knows what formula works best for him and I look forward to his next effort.


04. Nocturnal Animals

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Nocturnal Animals

Release Date: 4th November

Nocturnal Animals is a film that has us following a woman named Susan who receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband, a man whom she left twenty years ago and has send the manuscript titled ‘Nocturnal Animals’ in order to get her opinion on the material. As she reads the manuscript, we see how the material unfolds before us as we follow a man whose family vacation turns violent and deadly. As Susan continues to read the story, she finds herself recalling her marriage with Edward and confronting some dark truths about herself. The film is well directed by Ford, with beautifully dark cinematography Seamus McGarvey and the score from Abel Korzeniowski is darkly haunting as the film plays like two films for the price of one as we have follow Susan and where she is in her life and reminisces her past relationship with Edward in flashbacks and we see the fictional story of ‘Nocturnal Animals’ which Susan is reading. . Amy Adams is great in the role of Susan, with Ford seemingly suiting to capturing the most out of her facial expressions as she becomes disillusioned with her place in life currently and being captivated by Edward’s story. Jake Gyllenhaal is terrific also playing dual roles as Edward in Susan’s flashbacks and Tony Hastings in how Susan’s envisions Edward’s tale Nocturnal Animals. Michael Shannon chews up the scenery as Detective Bobby Andes, Aaron-Taylor Johnson for me provides the best performance I’ve seen from him to date yet as the utterly despicable Ray Marcus.


03. Hell or High Water

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Hell Or High Water

Release Date: 9th September

Hell or High Water takes us to West Texas where we focus on two brothers, Toby and Tanner Howard, who carry out early morning robberies of two branches of the Texas Midlands Bank. As we learn of their reasons for carrying out the robberies, two Texas Rangers,  Marcus Hamilton and Alberto Parker are landed with the case of bringing them down. Following up from his Sicario screenplay, Taylor Sheridan makes another great one here focusing on the bond of brotherhood, while also having to say about the modern state of affairs whilst the film contains a western tone. The directing from David Mackenzie is solid and the cinematography work from Giles Nuttgens on the landscape of West Texas is beautiful to look at. Ben Foster is the scene stealer for me here as the wild-natured brother Tanner, while Chris Pine’s performance as younger and more calculated brother Toby is one that impressed me moreso. Jeff Bridges provides a solid performance as Ranger Marcus Hamilton alongside Gil Birmingham’s Alberto Parker. While the film works well on a dramatic level, there is a few drops of comedy that worked well for me and that final conversation between between Pine and Bridges is one of my favourite scenes of the year.


02. The Witch

Top 25 Films of 2016 - The Witch

Release Date: 11th March

The Witch takes us to New England during 1630 where William and Katherine leave their church and plantation after a difference of opinion over the New Testament. They move away from the Puritan settlement with their five children and build a farm by the edge of a large, secluded forest. Things start to take a turn for the worst however when their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops begin to fail, the family begins to turn on one another. No film has managed to get under my skin and creep me out in a way that Robert Eggers directorial debut The Witch has. The score as well from Mark Korven helps elevate the films creepy, tension filled atmosphere alot and the cinematography work from Jarin Blaschke is great also. You can tell alot of passion went into this project from all involved behind the scenes and especially in front of the camera as the cast are terrific, from well-versed actors Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie, to a young cast that includes Anya Taylor-Joy, who is definitely an actress to look out for in the near future. There’s plenty of memorable moments in the film’s slow-burn storytelling, from paying a close eye to the goat Black Phillip to the chilling final scene.


01. Arrival

Top 25 Films of 2016 - Arrival

Release Date: 10th November

At number one it’s Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. As multiple mysterious extraterrestrial spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team is put together to investigate the UFO’s. Here we follow linguist Louise Banks being summoned by US Army Colonel Weber, partnered up with theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly, where they most discover answers quickly before humankind heads towards global war against the visitors. From the opening frame to the end credit, this is a wonderfully directed film. The entire first act had me glued to my seat, the buildup of the aliens landing, to the reactions without seeing one of the giant alien structures in full until Amy Adams’s Louise Banks is taken to the site is brilliantly done. The wide ariel shot given us the scale, the fog/mist in the area surrounding it, it’s one of those shots that will stay with me. The production design Patrice Vermette is great also and the score from Jóhann Jóhannsson is completely different from his previous collaboration with Villeneuve but just as haunting. Amy Adams gives a brilliant performance as Louise Banks, carrying the film entirely on her shoulders, bringing a sense of wonder and vulnerability in a rather interesting character study. The film goes all out with its final act in terms of the story it is trying to tell and for me it worked. She’s surrounded by a solid supporting cast, with Jeremy Renner’s physicist Ian Donnelly, Forest Whitaker’s Colonel Weber and Michael Stuhlbarg’s Agent Halpern.


That’s my list of the top 25 films of 2016.


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