My Top 20 (ish) films of 2016

Time for yet another 2016 list, mine! The top 20 movies I’ve seen this year and I’m acutely aware that I’ve not seen everything I wanted too, so this may well change in the future. The rule I’ve set is that it must be a movie that was released in the UK during 2016. It pains me to be strict as the best film I’ve actually seen this year doesn’t get a UK release until a few months into 2017.. come to think of it the second best film I’ve seen this year isn’t released until part way through January 17.

Will pop trailers under each one, maybe a few thoughts on some too.

1. Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Touching and truly hilarious, I could watch this movie on a loop for the entire day and not be bored. Give it your time, it’s now on Netflix UK.


2. Kubo And The Two Strings

Laika studios knock it out the park again. This story is magically told and beautiful in visuals. One of those rare animations that had a cinema of adult and children fully captivated.


3. Arrival

Smart. Not saying anymore so as not to spoil the journey Arrival takes you on.


4. Sing Street

Sing Street took me by complete surprise. John Carney’s previous films (Once, Begin Again) haven’t impressed me, but with Sing Street he gets everything right. Fantastic songs, an amazing cast of young & talented musician actors and a story thats relatable – he forms a band to try and get the girl. This reminded me of “Son of Rambow”; the joy of youth and creative experimentation perfectly captured in a quirky bottle.

And one final note – Jack Reynor gives a stand out performance. He makes the entire movie work, finding the performance that bridges the innocence with the reality of the family situation our lead finds himself in. It’s the kind of role and execution that I’d expect to find in a Cameron Crowe movie. Next year he’ll also make himself memorable in a small role in “Free Fire”, one to watch.


5. Captain Fantastic

What a movie. Managed to see it blind (no trailers and minimal reviews) and had it stuck in my head for days after. If you like the kind of movie that questions the what is the right and wrong ways of living, this is for you.


6. Spotlight

It’ll make you cry. It’ll make you angry. It’ll put you through the wringer as it does in one memorable scene with Mark Ruffalo. It’s simply a must see.


7. Room

Not the film you think it’s going to be. Remarkable.


8. Eye in The Sky

A near real time 90 minute story that will have you on the edge of your seat and then have you debating the rights and wrongs of modern warfare morality.


9. The Neon Demon

Another marmite inducing round from NWR. This just took my breath away, its a total onslaught of the senses. What does it all mean? Who knows, make your own meaning. After an encounter with the director a few months ago I don’t think he even knows what this is about. Regardless, it captured me enough to see on the big screen 3 times this year.


10. Adult Life Skills

An aim this year has been to see films as blindly as possible. And I can’t say I achieved that better than with Adult Life Skills – which was a surprise movie at the first birthday at Picturehouse Central. I was immediately drawn into the story of a 30 year old woman who lived in the shed at the bottom of her mum’s garden, stuck in a rut and making silly videos. It developed into areas of loss and gain that many of us (myself included) have experienced, leaving me both laughing and crying (often at the same time). A great British movie.


11. I, Daniel Blake

Ken Loach. Still making striking, socially relevant films. This may be one of his best and most important. It will leave you angry but before then it will completely cut you up. Bravo.


12. Edge of Seventeen

Another movie I saw relatively blind. After almost catching on holiday in New York, I took the effort to seek it in Santa Monica after a recommendation from Cameron Crowe. A side note: The Arclight in Santa Monica is a stunning cinema with ushers and rules and an introduction, proof that in LA they treat movie viewing with a level of respect that I respect.

I can see why Crowe loves this movie. It has traces of his movie work all over it. From the teen trying to grow up too fast (Fast Times), to the James L Brooks producing link (Say Anything), Kyra Sedgwick (Singles) as the mother trying to grapple with unruly and un-relatable children who are wiser beyond their years (Almost Famous) and the notable story of a characters journey to their own truths (pretty much all his work). Suffice to say I loved it. I’d recommend you seek this for a slice of classic Harrelson at his sardonic best.


13. The Big Short

Another surprise. Adam McKay doing something serious? Breaking the forth wall? All about the banking crisis of 2008? It all works. McKay uses comic elements to lighten and simplify the elements that caused global financial meltdown. I caught this numerous times theatrically, including one with a discussion of city financiers, journalists and McKay himself afterwards. Oh! It’s on Netflix UK. Watch it.


14. When Marnie Was There

Ghibli. Doesn’t disappoint. Nothing else to add.


15. High Rise

Yep. This is a head ***k of a film that deserves many viewings.


16. Green Room

This will hook you in and leave your breathless whilst occasionally having to view ‘behind the sofa’ style. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Patrick Stewart is a detriment to the film – though I can appreciate he got people through the doors to view – he just doesn’t live up to the fearsome character we’re told he is. On Netflix UK now.


17. David Brent: Life on The Road

Oh gosh. This had me squirming and laughing consistently. The songs too, just one Brent sized notch behind being truly great is what makes them so perfect. You’ll be singing them for weeks – just try not too out loud. As well as the humour you’re expecting, this really does have a touch of poignancy that nicely rounds Brent as a person. With Brent and Foregone Conclusion now selling out gigs surely this is a singalong classic in the making?


18. Pop star: Never Stop, Never Stopping

This got a terrible release treatment in the UK, in fact I watched it on a USA Blu Ray that I brought back from my trip. As with Brent, its outlandish and so wrong its hilarious. The songs too are genius. Another singalong film


19. Life, Animated

Life, Animated will give you belief in the power of movies. You’ll be in tears.


20. The Nice Guys

By no means the best Shane Black picture, but I really did enjoy this.


Special mentions for “The Beatles: The Touring Years”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”, “Midnight Special”, “My Scientology Movie”, “Ethel and Ernest”. Also to the new TV show I enjoyed the most this year, Cameron Crowe (third mention) and JJ Abraham’s “ROADIES” – one perfect tour with a family you don’t already know you’re a part of. Think of it as a full 10 hour movie rather than TV show. Great to see Brit’s Ralph Spall and Imogen Poots finally shine in something wonderful. UK friends can see this on Amazon Prime.