2016 was an interesting year for film. The blockbusters may not have delivered, but this year yielded plenty of indie gems and the horror genre also did particularly well. With that said, here’s what I’ve enjoyed the most so far this year:
1) 10 Cloverfield Lane
This still stands as the most visceral movie experience I’ve had this year. All three actors gave fantastic performances, and the filmmaking was brilliantly restrained but absolutely batshit nuts when it called for it.
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2) Sing Street
This is the Irish musical equivalent of Rocky. John Carney (the man behind Once and Begin Again) managed to cover the entire emotional spectrum: from glee to grief to poignancy to fist pumping triumph—the result is irresistible.
3) Hunt For The Wilderpeople
This movie isn’t just a good New Zealand film, it’s good full stop. It’s very funny and unabashedly fun, with the interplay between the infamous Ricky Baker and Uncle Hec forming the film’s heart and soul, without being afraid to deal with darker themes. My fingers are crossed for ‘egg’ references in Thor: Ragnarok.
4) The Witch
This may not have been the scariest horror movie of 2016, but it’s undoubtedly the most expertly crafted. The very definition of a slow build, The Witch is creepy to its core with not a single jump scare to be found.
It may seem pointless at this point to say that Deadpool was great, but I’m still going to. Visually inventive, violent and offensive; it was superbly memorable (in a genre which is quickly becoming forgettable) which is even more impressive given its small budget.
What Inside Out did for child psychology this film did for prejudice and race relations, brilliantly paralleling our own world. Disney continues to make bold, original choices when they could be rolling out Frozen 2, Frozen 3, and Frozen: Olaf’s Cool Adventure.
7) Like Crazy
A small Italian film from the NZIFF. This is one where you are guaranteed, like critics always say, to “laugh and cry.” The work between the two leading ladies was some of the best chemistry and acting I’ve seen all year.
8) Kubo & The Two Strings
Stop motion animation reached a new high with Kubo. Filled with beautiful imagery, it is an exciting adventure in a marvellously realised world which never ceases to be exciting, as well as charmingly off-beat.
9) A Perfect Day
This was my second favourite film from the NZIFF; a dark comedy based around four aid workers in the Bosnian crisis of the 90s. The film balances hard hitting war imagery with clever comic relief and the balance is perfect.
10) The Nice Guys
Pretty much no one went and saw this film, which is sad because I’d happily rock up for six more sequels. As if the seedy underbelly to 70’s Los Angeles wasn’t going to be fun in the hands of Shane Black (writer of Iron Man 3 and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).
Obviously there were more than ten films worth watching this year. These are some others worth checking out: The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War, The Conjuring 2, Finding Dory, Everybody Wants Some!, Star Trek Beyond, Captain Fantastic, Green Room, Swiss Army Man, and Lights Out.