The votes are in! We’ve put together our top 10 films for 2016. We think it’s a pretty solid list, but let us know what you think!
10. 10 Cloverfield Lane
“Working with a microscopic budget and minimal marketing material, the film defies all conventional industry logic and wisdom. Not only is it a clever expansion of the franchise, it’s also an effective exercise in economical horror filmmaking. Despite such tight constraints, 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of the most terrifying, nail-biting horror films I’ve seen in a long, long time”.
9. The Handmaiden
“Unlike the vast majority of films released this year, it can honestly be said that Park Chan-wook’s (Oldboy, Stoker) latest film The Handmaiden is quite unlike anything you’ve seen before. Sure, there is the essence of a traditional tale of revenge flavouring the story, but the way it is presented, the characters it depicts and the unpredictable paths it leads us down make this a truly unique experience”.
8. The Witch
“Debut director Robert Eggers must have a little satanic power of his own, because he’s managed to (witch)craft the scariest film in recent memory, possibly one to be remembered alongside the all-time classics of the genre. Traditional jump-scares are abandoned entirely for a gloomy, ever-growing sense of dread. It’s a genuinely uncomfortable experience, but an incredibly effective one that won’t leave you anytime soon”.
7. Son of Saul
“Amongst the all-enveloping horror and turmoil, Nemes threads a touching and heartbreaking narrative of moral survival and solace. Unafraid to showcase the mechanical nature of death inside Auschwitz, Nemes also draws from themes of human strength and adversity to craft this emotionally shattering and chilling character study. Not only that; the accomplished filmmaking is guaranteed to render you speechless – for all the right reasons”.
“Despite its animated aspect, this is Kaufman at his least gimmicky. Here he drops his usual bizarre plot devices and twisted worlds in favour of the intimate scope of a mostly singular setting. He allows his characters to grow through lengthy conversations and monologues rather than strange events, and it results in his most human piece yet”.
5. Captain America: Civil War
“The true brilliance of Civil War isn’t the expertly choreographed action sequences (of which there are plenty) or the hilarious dialogue (par for the course at this point). No, the real home run with this film is that it doesn’t take sides. This might be a Captain America film, but both Steve and Tony give well-rounded, coherent arguments that are a by-product of their character development up to this point”.
“For someone who is convinced we’re not alone in the universe, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is about as close as I will get to first contact with an alien race. Brooding and utterly tense, it plays on our collective history of aliens in books, TV shows and movies. It plants a seed of apprehension in our minds before reassuring us that all is okay – not all foreigners come to Earth and immediately want to incinerate famous landmarks. Some of them might just want to talk”.
“Spotlight is an exercise in enormous restraint – there are no flashy visuals on display, no ravenous editing flair, no showy lighting or elegant cinematography; aesthetically, it has all the grandeur of a sitcom. It’s a wise choice, and appropriate given the difficult subject matter. This is a very raw experience, where typical big budget constructs are ignored entirely in favour of a dialogue heavy script and an excellent cast that is given the freedom to bounce off one another at a rapid-fire pace“.
2. Nocturnal Animals
“Most films, good or bad, will approach their conclusion with a limited number of options, and the enjoyment comes from seeing how cleverly, unexpectedly or satisfyingly they make the journey to whichever option they’ve chosen. So as Nocturnal Animals wound down there was something thrilling about the open water feeling; not only was I not sure what would happen at the end, I didn’t know what could happen at the end”.
1. La La Land
“Damien Chazelle’s La La Land states its intentions immediately, with a bravura musical number set in an LA traffic jam, captured in an unbroken shot that should be physically impossible. The film is an act of hubris, of theft, of relentless showboating and of love. It delights in bright, gleaming artifice, in the tools of communication only available to cinema, with the knowledge that the right image, set to the right music can swish straight past language and intellect and simply make you feel“.
Images courtesy of Paramount Pictures, Dreamwest Pictures, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Roadshow Films, EntertainmentOne Films Australia