Top 10 Best Films of 2016


Well, another year has been and gone but before we head into 2017 let’s look back on 2016 and review the year as a whole. It’s fair to say that 2016 will go down as the year when I had the best perspective to make a ‘Best and Worst List’. I may have not reviewed as much as I would have expected, but I did manage to get a lot more than before.

If you are new to the site and you haven’t looked at my 2014 and 2015 lists, I will go over the rules again. It must be a film that released in cinema’s or straight to DVD for a general release in 2016, therefore, films that were played at film festivals last year but didn’t receive a general release until this year will count. If they received a film festival release this year but did not receive a full theatrical release, it doesn’t count. This year, however, I also decided to include films that premiered on Netflix and Amazon Prime as well, though I might as well have not bothered entering that rule since none of the ones I saw were either good or bad enough to make the lists. I will say though, out of all the ones I saw, The Little Prince was the best and if you have a Netflix account I can recommend it. This rule also applies to what films qualify for me to review, hence, why out of all the films I saw at the London Film Festival this year, I only reviewed ‘Your Name’, which already had a confirmed theatrical release.

Taking all that into account, I may have reviewed a total of 46 years this year, but as of the half way point of 2016 I started adding mini-reviews at the end or my reviews, which I will be continuing into 2017, this meant, that because of my rules, I saw another 97 films on top of that, leading to a total of 143 films I saw this year. This is a staggering amount, however, I’m not sure I will beat that record in 2017 given that there is still no cinema in my home town of Chester and the train line between Chester and Liverpool is being worked on quite heavily so I may be going to Manchester more in the future to see films. Nevertheless, I don’t think I can give a better perspective that I can at this point in time, so, therefore, I am going to start by going over my list of what I thought were the best of these films.

The best films of 2016 have been amazing things to see. Whilst the majority of the year was taken up with rather mediocre or even downright awful films, the best films of the year were often the films that came out of nowhere but left a real lasting impact and some of these will probably be film that I will be talking about for years to come. Hell, I started filling my wall with tons of posters and many of them are films that have made this list or even made the honourable mentions. This, unfortunately, was the first year where my rule was rather annoying since many of the best films I saw this year were all at film festivals, including The Red Turtle which at least has been confirmed for a 2017 cinematic release and The Boy and the Beast, which Studio Canal seems to have in limbo, which I did manage to see at the showcase film festival in Birmingham and was meant to come out on Blu Ray and DVD in September, but at the last minute it has been cancelled without Studio Canal giving any press release and has still not received a release date, which is a shame because it easily would have made the top 10 list and it is highly recommended if you can find a way of watching it.

Despite the fact that there were a ton of big releases like Batman V Superman, Rogue One A Star Wars Story, Suicide Squad and Dr Strange and many other Blockbusters, it was mostly the Indie scene where the films really shone and many foreign language films presented some really interesting viewing this year. In fact, the best time to be going to the cinema this year was between April and May when some amazing films came out, though, that being said, the Summer still had a few decent hold outs and the end of the year at least gave us some films that were pretty dam good. Many genres did very well this year, horror films seemed to get their mojo back but this year’s stand out was animation. In fact, animation was so good in 2016 I could have done a top ten based on animated films alone, and believe me many of them nearly made the list.

Now, once again, here are the honourable mentions, these are the films that were very, very close to making the list, but didn’t quite work, but I think you should track them down because I think they are all very good. Once again, they are all in alphabetical order:

• 10 Cloverfield Lane:

I am not the biggest fan of Cloverfield but this latest entry was really damm good and a really creepy film. Check it out, it’s worth a watch. It didn’t make the list just because I felt there was one film that was creepier.

• April and the Extraordinary World:

A film that could best be described as Tintin meets Studio Ghibli. This was a prime example of how both animated films and foreign language films that came out in 2016 were really worth a watch and this one is no exception. Pick it up if you are a fan of Studio Ghibli or Steam Punk stories, it will appeal to you on both levels and it is currently available on DVD. It didn’t make the list, however, because the standard for animated films was so high this year.

• Florence Foster Jenkins:

Just missing off the list was the biopic of the woman that has been called the World’s worst singer but is an excellent biopic that stars Hugh Grant and Meryl Streep in the title role. It was barely just off the list, but it didn’t quite make the top grade that the top 10 best did, but I would seriously recommend tracking it down.

• I Daniel Blake:

A truly harrowing film, directed by Ken Loach, about the struggles and the cruel and idiotic bureaucracy of the benefit system. It will tug at your heart strings and it is a very relevant film. I couldn’t put it on the list, however, for the simple reason that I would never want to see the film again, but that’s only because it is so dam depressing. Special mention goes to the food bank scene which is already being talked about.

• Kubo and the Two Strings:

Kubo and the Two Strings, would have, in any other year, made my top 10 list, but there was only room for so many animated films on my actual list and I decided that Kubo was probably not going to do it. But this anime inspired stop motion film from America is really worth a watch. Check it out, your kids will love it.

• Sing Street:

If you love music, you owe it to yourself to see this one. It’s a very heart-warming film. It didn’t quite make the list, however, because I didn’t think it pushed the boundaries quite enough.

• The Danish Girl:

Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander give very good performances in the story of one of the first transgender people to receive gender confirmation surgery and his wife. It’s a very good film, but I decided it didn’t make the list because there were a couple of films that came out around the time that were just a bit better.

• The Jungle Book:

Jon Favreau does a really good remake of The Jungle Book and it’s a damn good Disney film who had a really good run this year. It didn’t make the list, however, because there were a couple of family films that I felt were slightly better than it, so I had to leave it off.

Finally, we now come to the actual list, I actually debated the top 3 for quite a while, there was no question in my mind about what was going to be number 1, numbers 2 and 3 I went back and forth on quite a bit, however, I think I have my definitive top 3 here. I fully went over it all and decided I have my definitive Top 10.

Number 10 – Arrival

Arrival came out towards the end of the year, but it was one of the best films I saw all year. This is astoundingly good science fiction with an excellent central performance by Amy Adams and I am very pleased that the director of this film will be directing the Blade Runner Sequel that will be out later this year. It shows how you can take a short story and really expand it to make one hell of an interesting piece. Even if you don’t like science fiction, you really might get something out of this because it’s more of a story about humanity and politics. It has an excellent screen play which is based on a short story and does it amazing justice. I go in to further detail in my review, although, that being said, I can’t go in to too much detail without giving away some of the films best plot twists which easily takes the prize of the best plot twists of the year.

Number 9 – Room

I saw this within 2 weeks of January and I already decided it was going to make the Best of the Year list, and the fact that it is only at number 9 shows how good the rest of the films are going to be. Room was nominated at the 2016 Oscars for Best Picture as well as Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actress for Brie Larson, which she rightfully got and her frankly brilliant performance in this adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s book who wrote the screenplay herself, which is phenomenal. The film uses a lot of its cinematography and its sound editing to really help tell the story and despite the fact that it comes off as a being a harrowing story of a mother and son locked in a room by a maniac, it’s actually not quite the film you were expecting, but in a really good way and I think people will judge it by first impressions and not see it on that basis, please do, it’s an excellent film. Special mentions should definitely go to Jacob Tremblay who gives on of the best child performances I have ever seen in a film and easily could have been up for Best Actor at the Oscars.

Number 8 – Mustang

Speaking of Oscars, this is a French film that was nominated for Best Film in a Foreign Language at the Oscars, but lost to the film Son of Saul, which I also reviewed. Mustang, however, was a much better film in my opinion, and easily should have won that Oscar. Mustang is a story that balances pessimism and optimism brilliantly and tells a really compelling story that still feels relevant in today’s climate. The story is about 5 sisters being taken care of by their grandmother and uncle who after being spotted by the neighbours, playing with boys in the Sea, are then trapped in their own home, which is turned into, and quoting a line from the film a “wife factory”. We see their bond get them through this harrowing time and their various stories of love, betrayal, dominance, hierarchies and even to a certain extent, enslavement. It may sound like this film is just going to be a harrowing gut punch from start to finish, but you would be surprised how well the screenplay manages to balance it out with some genuinely uplifting moments and I think many people will be surprised by the film’s ending, though in a pleasant way. You may not have seen this and you may not want to see a film with sub titles, but I would recommend trying to do so if you don’t normally, because this is very much a film that is worth it. It is available on DVD, check it out.

Number 7 – Zootopia

Zootopia, or Zootropolis which it was called in the UK for some reason. Zootopia is frankly a brilliant film and easily was Disney’s best output from this year. It’s an interesting take on modern day politics, prejudices and even kind of society in general and it’s all done through anthropomorphic animals, but in a very, very clever way. I absolutely adored the film. It tells one hell of a story that I thought was fantastic. Hats off to the directors and the screenplay writers for bringing the vision to life, but that’s not to dismiss the excellent voice acting performances that were given in the film and it’s almost guaranteed the Best Animated Picture Oscar, though I think there is one film that deserves it slightly more, I would not be disappointed if Zootopia took it home this year, I liked it that much. It would have been higher on this list any other year, but there were a couple of other animated films that were a bit better than it. I’m not sure that I enjoyed it more than Wreck It Ralph, but that’s probably because I am the video game guy. It’s currently available on DVD and Blu Ray, please add this one to your collection or if you see it on Net Flix, give it a go.

Number 6 – Deadpool

You can all lift your jaws up that this isn’t higher up on the list. If any film made this Top Ten list, I absolutely loved it and that’s no exception with Deadpool. This is easily the funniest film of the year. I haven’t laughed so hard at a film for a long time. This film is a fan boy’s dream and it makes me kind of sad that Tim Miller has announced that he won’t be directing the follow-up. Ryan Reynolds gives a perfect blend of actor and character in his performance as Wade Wilson/Deadpool, which has already earnt him a Golden Globe nomination and should get him a nomination for Best Actor at the Oscars in what is definitely his best performance to date. The screenplay is a loving nod to the comic and its fan base and everything about this film is a fan boy’s dream and the fact that this isn’t even the best Superhero film of the year shows how good the best of these were this year. Any other year and this would have been higher, but it is absolutely brilliant and congratulations for the Golden Globe nomination, I am absolutely rooting for you on that one. For the love of god, if you haven’t seen Deadpool, go and check it out now, just be aware though, if you are prudish you might have a bit of an issue with this film.

Number 5 – Eye in the Sky

This isn’t going in just because it’s the final performance of Alan Rickman in this film, it’s going in because it’s one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. This film should be put in a time capsule because it perfectly reflects modern day politics and modern warfare in a way that is both balanced and relevant. This is a very, very tense film, showing a drone warfare operation almost in real time. Director Gavin Hood does an amazing job building tension and gets excellent performances out of the cast, which includes Helen Mirren, Breaking Bads Aaron Paul and Captain Phillips Barkhad Abdi, but a special mention should definitely go to Alan Rickman who goes out on a brilliant film and it is well deserved for such a legendary name and by the end of it you will be really surprised that this came from the director of X Mens Origins Wolverine and the woeful Enders Game adaptation. It’s available on Blu Ray and DVD and just became available on Netflix. Seriously, see this one if you love good thrillers and good films. Gavin Hood should easily be nominated for Best Director at the Oscars on the basis of this film, but he will not get it and that’s really annoying.

Number 4 – The Witch

While this year was a pretty good year for horror films, anyone who saw my last 2 lists knows that there is always at least one horror film that I can point to, to say, well yes at least the genre has got something going for it with that film. Last year it was It Follows which I thought was an excellent film, but that has nothing on The Witch, which is, no joke, the best horror film I have seen in the decade so far. This is a truly frightening movie. This is the debut of the writer/director Robert Eggers and I will be very keen to see his next film on that basis because this film earnt him a prize at the Sundance Film Festival, it’s a phenomenal piece of work. The screenplay is also a period piece, and Eggers does his best work to make the film feel periodically accurate which shows a lot of time and research has gone into it. He lovingly creates this time-period and enjoys scaring you in a way that will make you feel incredibly uneasy. There are virtually no jump scares in the entire film, everything is built through the tension and atmosphere and it will constantly make you question everything. Their performances are all just fantastic as well. If you love good horror movies, you owe it to yourself to see this one. It did receive a bit of backlash when it came out, but I think that’s because people are so used to jump scare horror films that they are not aware that horror films like this can be made. Seriously, go into this one with an open mind, you will be all the better for it.

Number 3 – Captain America Civil War

Captain America Civil War is by far the best Superhero film of the year and it is easily one of Marvel’s best to date. This is everything that the Marvel Cinematic Universe aspired to be from the beginning and it has been fully realised here. It has tons of character, tons of plot, tons of extra’s to fit into its time period and yet the Russo brothers manage to pull this off perfectly. The film is phenomenally good. It’s an interesting character piece, it makes the Universe feel big and actually does a better job of it than the last Avengers film did. The fight scenes are phenomenal including the best action scene of the year in the Airport and in just 20 minutes it gives us the best on screen Spiderman we have had to date and I am looking forward to Tom Holland’s performance as Spiderman in the upcoming Spiderman Homecoming. If you love the Marvel Cinematic Universe and you haven’t seen Captain America Civil War then for the love of god get it now. This film does everything brilliantly and any other year it would have been my number 1 film. If you want more details about why I love this so much, go and read my review of it.

Number 2 – Your Name

Your Name was one of the films that I saw at the 2016 London Film Festival and it was the highlight of the festival for me. I absolutely adored this film. Director Makoto Shinkai gives us an excellent movie, that you can probably nit-pick, but I felt the raw power and emotion in this film and you can tell that Shinkai has done a loving job crafting this film. Many people have put a lot of emphasis on the body swapping element of the film, which is very well done, but I think it also has the effect of cheapening the rest of the film which is also done brilliantly, It’s a story of love, regret, and overcoming disaster and adversity and finding the solution when it seems impossible. It’s one brilliant film and if it doesn’t get a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, I will be extremely annoyed. I’m really looking forward to whatever Makoto Shinkai brings out next since this beautiful animated film is easily his best work to date. Oh and the soundtrack released by the band The Radwimps is fantastic. It’s not currently available, but it will be soon. Please, please try to see this film, even if you’re not into anime, because I think it will surprise you, and if you want to know more about what I really like about this film, go and read my review of it.

Number 1 – When Marnie Was There

Yes, if you saw my review of this, you saw it coming and I have been banging on about this film all year, but no film did I feel more love after seeing it this year than Marnie. I know it’s predictable of me to have 2 animated films be at the top 2 on my list and I know it’s even more predictable to have the Studio Ghibli film be number 1, but this is the last chance I get to give it and Studio Ghibli is going out on a brilliant film if that is the case. Director Hiromasa Yonebayashi adapts, from what I have heard is a brilliant book, into a phenomenal film. This is a brilliant story about outsiders finding love and comfort with one another and learning to make the most of the opportunities and the people around you. It’s told in a way that will tug at your heart strings, not to mention the gorgeous Studio Ghibli animation which I am sorely going to miss. By the end of the film I felt glad to be alive and I think it deserves to be more well-known and more recognised than I feel it has. It easily should have won the Oscar for Best Animated Film over Inside Out and its cast is just brilliant. The screenplay is well written and I couldn’t think of a single negative thing to say about it. I just adored it and the major thing that made it is the central friendship between Anna and Marnie and a really cool plot twist which I dare not spoil. While I was worried that the Studio Ghibli legacy was ending with this film, Mary Stewarts book Mary and the Witches Flower is going to be turned into a film this year by director Hiromasa Yonebayashi for the new Studio Ponoc which appears to have been made up of Studio Ghibli employees that still want to keep things going and from the looks of it, this film should be a lot of the same magic that Studio Ghibli gave us. I really hope to see it at some point because If Yonebayashi is this good having only directed one film prior to this, he will make another amazing film. If you haven’t seen When Marnie Was There, it is currently available on Blu Ray and DVD, though I would recommend the DVD in this case since some of the Blu Rays are defective and freeze up in the opening scene, though mine was fine.
Well that’s it for 2016. I have given out props to what I believe are the 10 best films of the year and if you haven’t seen them, please go and watch them. They are all fantastic films.
Now we move into 2017. Come back on 13 January where I will be giving my review of the latest film to get the Hollywood treatment of a video game adaptation “Assassins Creed”.

Thanks a lot for reading my lists. I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them and go and buy some of these in the January sales, also, keep an eye out for my Oscar picks list, where I will be giving out my opinion of what films should get the Oscars and what films have been overlooked.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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One comment on “Top 10 Best Films of 2016
  1. Ronnie. says:

    The Witch was a Fantastic Film,a brilliant Cast very well acted, One of the few Films I really enjoyed in 2016, another Film I really enjoyed in 2016 was the remake of Dad’s Army a brilliant remake with a Great Cast funny and a joy to watch. But it would have been very funny if Ian Lavender had said to Pike : ‘ You Stupid Boy. ‘Let me explain this, if anyone is Old enough like me to remember when Dad’s Army was originally on Television in the 1960″s and 1970″s or if any younger People have watched the DVD Box Sets of Dad’s Army, they will know ” You Stupid Boy ‘ was a ‘Catch Phrase’ the Late Arthur Lowe who played ” Captain Mainwaring used when ‘ Pike ‘ originally played by Ian Lavender did something Stupid.
    For me ” Arrival ‘ was a Boring, Rubbish Film, very badly Cast apart from the main Female Character investigating the Aliens who were Spidery type boring Figures behind a glass screen and the Dark Lighting throughout the film was dreadful, why couldn’t’ they have Natural Lighting instead ? I was moving about uncomfortably in the Chair for much of this dreadful Film, I should have left the Cinema early instead of staying to the bitter end.
    May I suggest instead of being Know as a Film Society which I think of as a Group of People going to the Cinema, the name be changed to’ Calvin’s Film Review. ‘

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