Friday, 6 January 2017

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2016


2016 has been one hell of a year. Celebrity deaths. Political unrest. A Ghostbusters reboot. But let's not forget the good this year wrought - and there was a lot of good. Here's my top 10 movies of 2016


This year saw a dreadful selection of movies for the summer. Not only was the box office overall abysmal but for the most part the movies were too. I quite liked X-Men: Apocalypse (in spite of the naysayers) and really enjoyed Star Trek: Beyond, but other than the one underdog that made my top 10, they were really bad. So bad in fact, that they dominate the list of my worst of the year.

The big movies before and after the summer were pretty good though. Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War, Dr. Strange and Fantastic Beasts were edged out of my top 10 as I compiled it. So too were a lot of Disney's impressive catalogue this year.

Sadly, like every year I haven't seen everything. Films like Nocturnal Animals, Birth of a Nation and Silence have passed me by. That's probably down to the Netflix subscription I purchased in the middle of the year. Shows like Luke Cage, Stanger Things and Black Mirror could easily give any of these films a run for their money.

Anyway, let's get on with it. If you feel the urge to own a copy of any of my crazy recommendations, you can click on the poster to take you to the Amazon page. Enjoy.


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10
I ummed and erred about what to put at number 10. At one point Captain America: Civil War took this spot, and then I remembered The Witch was also released this year. After noticing that I'm thinking way too much about about this I scrapped them both and opted for The Invitation, a small but brilliant film whose reputation will surely grow as the years go by.

Karyn Kusama has never really caught on as a director. Girlfight, Aeon Flux and Jennifer's Body each have as many detractors as they do fans (I can take them or leave them). One could argue that each has nevertheless reached cult status to some degree. The Invitation at first seemed to continue in that vein but I've seen this gem crop up in conversation time and again, perhaps due to a timely placement on Netflix. It's a dark and foreboding horror thriller that gets more and more gripping as it goes on, culminating in a twist that's expertly crafted even if it's a tad predictable.

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01JH4FX6K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01JH4FX6K&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21">Swiss Army Man [DVD + Digital]</a><img src="http://ir-uk.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=thecollcham-21&l=as2&o=2&a=B01JH4FX6K" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
9
Who'd have thought a film filled with fart jokes and potty humour would be among my top films of the year? Usually this type of low-brow comedy would turn me off a movie instantaneously but for those who've seen Swiss Army Man, it's anything but low-brow. The story is about a repressed and depressed man stuck on an island with a talking dead man with some questionable (and apparently useful) body functions. As they spend time together, they realise life's not so bad. And those gross bodily functions that they were once afraid to let rip, are a natural part of life (as well as a metaphor for the enjoyment of it). A surprisingly likeable and poignant film with two brilliant central performances from Daniel Radcliff and Paul Dano.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LO7PSUE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01LO7PSUE&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21
8
The other movie released this year with Captain in the title was surprisingly enough not part of a superhero franchise. This dramedy about family, loss and the modern world sees Viggo Mortensen as the patriarch of a hippy family living off the grid in the middle of the woods. After the death of his wife and mother to their six children, he decides to take them into the real world to attend the funeral. What follows could easily have been a terrible fish out of water comedy, but instead we're treated to a satire on modern life that hits the nail right on the head (calling coke "poison water" definitely has a certain truth to it). Watch this if you want a bittersweet and original comedy.

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01MXXEEIM/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01MXXEEIM&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21">Your Name - Collectors Edition (Blu-ray + DVD)</a><img src="http://ir-uk.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=thecollcham-21&l=as2&o=2&a=B01MXXEEIM" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
7
The most recent movie I've seen on this list is far more than the sum of its parts. Your Name by Makoto Shinkai (5 Centimeters per Second) can be seen as yet another bodyswap comedy akin to Vice Versa or 18 Again. Yet unlike those forgettable 80's Hollywood movies, Your Name has a lot more to it. Two teenage strangers from vastly different sides of Japan randomly swap bodies. At first it's an embarrassing inconvenience and the two quickly figure out a plan to make it as painless as possible. When the mystical reason for it comes to light, it becomes an exciting race to save many lives. Studio Ghibli's When Marnie Was There could've easily taken this spot, but I believe that was released here in 2015. It's also a must see. Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli may not have closed its doors as planned quite just yet, but with Shinkai's latest I think we've found a worthy successor for when that time comes.

<a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01EJZHU3Q/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01EJZHU3Q&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21">Sing Street [Blu-ray] [2016]</a><img src="http://ir-uk.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=thecollcham-21&l=as2&o=2&a=B01EJZHU3Q" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
6
John Carney has a rather undefinable career. His debut, Once, was a surprise hit with an Oscar winning song and a popular West End musical. Yet no-one seems to rave about it anymore, even though there's every reason why they should. Sing Street is just as charming and just as unassuming, yet its popularity is still a lot smaller than it should be. The film is set in Dublin in the 1980s, smack bang in the middle of the Troubles. It's not about that though even though some of its consequences do creep in. It's a coming of age story about a boy with aspirations to be the lead singer of a band and his innocent crush on the wannabe model with "mysterious eyes". There's some dark themes purveying the edges of the film but this is no gritty kitchen sink drama. Instead we have a heart-warming film that has more in common with John Hughes than Ken Loach

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01H14QBQ4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01H14QBQ4&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21
5
In an incredibly disappointing cinematic summer, The Nice Guys was the one shining light. This is the kind of light-hearted comedy thriller for adults we don't seem to get from Hollywood any more. Two bumbling private investigators get together to investigate the disappearance of a missing porn star, despite her already being declared as dead. What follows is a plot written by a never-better Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Lethal Weapon) that holds its worth against any Elmore Leonard novel.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N2TFX7C/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01N2TFX7C&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21
4
I still love The Force Awakens, even though there's since been a bit of a backlash. It's plays very much on nostalgia for A New Hope and even emulates the same story beats from it. One could argue we desperately needed that after the terrible prequel trilogy. Nevertheless, whatever came next still had a lot to prove. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story did just that and then some. It proved that the stand alone stories could work in a big way. It proved Star Wars is adaptable enough to use the tropes of the war film while still bringing something new and inventive to the table. More reassuringly, it proved that there's some smart talent behind the franchise. Sure it's not without it's issues. The character building at the beginning drags on a little, and we're saddled with a female protagonist not nearly as memorable as Leia, Rei or even Queen Amidala (controversial!). What is there is a tense action film with some of the best scenes in the entire franchise. That Darth Vader scene is worth the price of admission alone, even without the stunning final act. I'm not sure if I like it as much as the Force Awakens, but it sure is close.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01N75L3RF/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01N75L3RF&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21
3
The biggest home-grown movie in the history of New Zealand is perhaps the most fun I've had in the cinema this year. Ricky, an orphan punk (or a punk by New Zealand's standards) is taken in by a new foster family in the middle of the countryside. The enthusiastic and loving Bella (played by the ever brilliant Rima Te Wiata - watch her in Housebound from a few years ago, you'll see what I mean) takes to motherhood with gusto while her husband Hec (Sam Neil) grumps around in the shed. Sadly Bella dies just as Ricky is getting used to having a family. Faced with the prospect of going back to the orphanage, he runs away into the wilderness leaving Hec to follow after. They bond during this excursion, but things take a turn when a social worker whose seen The Fugitive too many times is in pursuit. The movie is simply a joy from start to finish, topping many best of the year lists. And for good reason.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LTHKM96/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01LTHKM96&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21
2
Considering Disney kicked ass at the box office this year, it's surprising that a Disneyphile like me hasn't put any of their movies in my top 10 (Star Wars doesn't count). Zootropolis, Moana and Pixar's Finding Dory are all very good movies, but for me Kubo and the Two Strings tops them all. Laika's stop-motion epic takes the themes of a traditional Chinese Wuxia tale and adds their own distinctive spin. The animation is beautiful, the set pieces exciting and the story engrossing and emotional. An absolute classic. I'd be surprised if it doesn't win Best Animated Movie at the Oscars.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01MXEQRLW/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B01MXEQRLW&linkCode=as2&tag=thecollcham-21
1
In such a tumultuous year, we really needed Arrival. It was the perfect antidote to the dumb, half-assed movies that Hollywood has recently swamped the multiplex with. It also presented a positive spin on international relations, promoting peace instead of war. It tells the story of a linguist played by Amy Adams whose hired to communicate with aliens who have made their way to Earth. It's the same premise as Independence Day but this is no invasion. This is a smart science-fiction movie that doesn't rely on bombastic action sequences. The aliens are here peacefully, even if some countries don't see that. It promotes dialogue, not division - a prescient lesson needed for the real world too. Director Dennis Villeneuve has also proven that the Blade Runner sequel is in safe hands. I wouldn't be surprised if this gets a lot of attention during the awards season, even with La La Land getting all the buzz.


HONORABLE MENTIONS

A tense thriller within the Cloverfield universe. Not sure if that sci-fi connection is a good thing or not - it does make the ending seem like a different movie - but everything before that is great.

A good take on Roald Dahl's evergreen kid's book. Not Spielberg's best but good nonetheless.

Marvel's still going strong with their cinematic universe, and this is among their best. It could've been named an Avengers sequel for the number of heroes involved, but the impressive juggling of it's story make it very much Steve Rogers story.

The only comic movie outside of the MCU that was worth a damn (although I still liked X-Men: Apocalypse quite a bit even if it did nothing new at all). This is proof positive that many studio execs know jack about their industry. If a certain someone hadn't leaked the footage, we wouldn't have had this kick ass film. It's not on my list because Kick-Ass did it better :)

Every time I go and see a Marvel movie, I wonder if this is the one that will suck. Dr. Strange with its magic, multi-dimensions and racial (non-)controversies looked like it could the one to burst the bubble. Thankfully it didn't. It's an excellent action fantasy.

I love the Potter-verse, but Fantastic Beasts never quite reached the highs of Harry Potter (Prisoner of Azkaban). The advertising made it clear it was aiming for a more mature audience, but it still felt more childish than the last few Potters. I liked the simplicity of the plot (Deathly Hallows got bogged down by complicated plotlines frequently) and the enjoyable expanding of the wizarding world, it still seemed a tad too fan-fiction to me. Good fan-fiction though.

Pixar's aquatic sequel didn't need to be this good. What could've simply been a re-tread of Finding Nemo (and at times it threatens to be so) is actually a lovely story for the whole family.

The Coen brothers went back to doing the bizarre comedies akin to The Big Lebowski or The Man Who Wasn't There. Thankfully they've not lost their quirky funny-bone.

I've seen this a few times now with various friends and family members and I enjoy it quite a lot. The thing is I still can't see a reason for it to exist. The effects/animation are stunning with some of the best computer generated visuals put on screen, but it's ultimately pointless - like Cinderella before it and I suspect Beauty and the Beast will be afterwards.

The best surrealist movie I've seen in some time sees a single man played by Colin Farrell scrambling to find a partner before the powers that be punish him by turning him into a lobster. Yes that's the plot and yes, it's very good. (It was also release in 2015 in the UK but I missed it then so it's here now!)

From Steven Chow, the man behind Kung Fu Hustle, CJ7 and Shaolin Soccer comes his twisted take on The Little Mermaid. Or Splash. With a touch of Evil Dead. Apparently it's the highest grossing movie ever in China. Be warned, while it looks like it could be safe for kids, it's absolutely not.

A cerebral science-fiction that had Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) not directed it, it might've gone the family route. Think ET or Escape to Witch Mountain for adults.

Disney's latest Princess movie is a fun family film. It actually managed to keep a 3-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old hooked all the way through. High praise considering Finding Dory didn't.

The opposite of The Jungle Book. While I thought that remake good but pointless, Pete's Dragon is excellent. It takes the concept of the original and expands upon it with an emotional core that's truly heart-breaking. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the year is that this is considered a flop.

Another film that didn't do as well as it should've (although not a flop) is Justin Lin's first Star Trek film. In my opinion it is the best of the new iterations. It's an exciting Star Trek story in it's entirety while the other two took obvious inspiration from Star Wars (with a pinch of the MCU's proclivity towards mass destruction). RIP Anton Yelchin.

The best horror film of the year. It oozes an unsettling creepiness that stays with you long after you've seen it.

Or Zootopia to give the movie its birth name (there's a zoo somewhere in the UK that shares its title). A lot better than it has any right to be even if it may be a little too scary for the younger children.


WORST 5 MOVIES OF 2016

5
GODS OF EGYPT

How can such a bright and brainless movie come from the same creative mind who gave the darkly cerebral Dark City and The Crow? Gods of Egypt is a bafflingly ill-conceived movie. There was no need for the unnecessary attacks about cultural appropriation when there's plenty to make fun of in the movie itself. It low down on this list simply because you can enjoy it in an ironic way, like Troll 2 or an Ed Wood movie. Give it time and it will get the same kind of cult status. Faint praise though.


4
SUICIDE SQUAD

Upon my first viewing of Suicide Squad, I thought at least it had a coherent plot unlike Batman V Superman. It's a shame that plot was lazy, uninspired and generic as all hell. I thought Margot Robbie did a good job as Harley Quinn but I have no idea why she's part of the group. How can a scantily clad schizophrenic psychopath take on someone as powerful as the Enchantress with nothing but a baseball bat? They could've at least had a line saying they were using her to lure the Joker out of hiding or something. And speaking of Joker, how can you fuck up such an iconic villain? By far the best character in my opinion was Boomerang. He got the most genuine laughs out of me during the little screen time he had but even he was ineffectual to the overall plot. Everyone else was either completely forgettable or simply boring. That includes Will Smith.

3
BATMAN V SUPERMAN

Or what I like to call "The Death of The Death and Return of Superman". When it comes to physical comic books, I'm not particularly a fanatic. But the event that was Superman's death in the early 90s was so big that even I bought many issues. It was as much about the aftermath of his demise than it was about the Doomsday fight. It seemed like years before the inevitable return of the real Man of Steel. Batman V Superman cocked it up by tacking on the Doomsday fight on the end of an unconnected and confusing plotline. It at once asks you to know about comic book lore (the death of Dick Grayson's Robin) to understand some of the plot points while simultaneously pissing on others. All wrapped up in an uncohesive whole with an admittedly well choreographed fight in the middle (even if it was completely tensionless). The upcoming Wonder Woman has to be one hell of a movie to save DC's take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

2
NORM OF THE NORTH

Somehow a movie with the talent and budget usually reserved for those bargain bins that scatter every supermarket was given a cinematic release. This abortion of an animation has no reason to exist, or be seen by anyone. Thankfully I saw it on Netflix so didn't really pay for it, but I nearly regretted my subscription for this movie alone. Think I'll have to watch Stranger Things again to return the world to rights.

1
GHOSTBUSTERS

Be warned. I will rant about this.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm a bit of a movie geek. I'm also a huge fan of the original Ghostbusters and its underrated sequel, both being defining movies of my childhood that stand up incredibly well to this today. They were smart comedies with some decent scares and set pieces wrapped around a premise that had legitimate science and research behind it. Dan Akroyd wrote it because he was fascinated by the subject matter, even going so far as to declare he believes in the paranormal. He also happened to be a talented comedian at the top of his game. Ghostbusters 2016 was co-written by Paul Feig (also the director) who was hired because he was sympathetic to a studio head's political agenda.

Now there's nothing wrong with a movie having an agenda, even for a comedy. Nor do I have any gripes about one that strives to be something positive and different that young girls can look up to. What Ghostbusters did was attempt to do that at the expense of not just men (it depicts all males in an incredibly negative light) but more importantly the long standing fans of the franchise. This was not the sequel that has been teased for decades. This was not a return to the comedy style of the original. This was closer to something like a PG Scary Movie sequel. Or Pixels with ghosts.

I followed the controversy from the point the trailer hit. I like millions of others contributed to its dislikes on YouTube thinking it just a small expression of my opinion. Then it blew up and became political. If you hated this, you hated women became the narrative. I began to read the leaked Sony e-mails and the plot synopsis by the begrudged editor. I viewed the informative Midnight's Edge YouTube videos on the matter looking for any sign of sanity. Still Sony double downed on the "misogynist" rhetoric. Surely a bad movie can just be a bad movie?

When the reviews came in they were mostly positive. It gave me a little hope. I also liked Paul Feig's past filmography. He was also a creative force for Freaks and Geeks - one of the best TV shows of all time and one that understood the nostalgia of the 80s. I know Sony has a history of buying good reviews in the past even being fined in 2000 for it, but publications I trusted gave it four stars out of five. There's got to be something good about it, right?

Wrong. Every joke fell flat. The plot made no sense. The villain's motivations make no sense. Hell, everyone's motivations made no sense. It felt like there was no script as almost every line appeared to improv. Bad improv at that. This was an obvious cash grab to take advantage of the Ghostbusters brand (and the Pringles product placement). People talked about how funny Chris Hemsworth it. He's game I'll give you that but he's not funny.

When you have such an unbelievably stupid character, it breaks your suspension of disbelief. I guess if you like Chris in this, you're more likely to enjoy the film as a whole. If you find some-one who doesn't know how to use a phone, doesn't understand that glass is a barrier and confuses his eyes for his ears funny, the other jokes in the film will be hilarious. That's the only reasoning I can find to understand why some people like it.


I could've easily forgotten this terrible movie had it not been called Ghostbusters. Hell, were it not for the deliberate disparaging of their target audience I wouldn't be so incensed by it all. As it is, I consider it the worst movie of 2016. Perhaps even the decade.

Rant over. Stay tuned for my best / worst games of the year.

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