I’ve been through the whole rigmarole of how everyone hates 2016, so I won’t bother again. What I will say is that if you were disappointed with the celebrity deaths and the politics of this year, cinema was a great place to escape as there were tonnes of great films to see. Want proof? Go check out Mike Knight’s list as well. All of the films on his list are great and worthy of being on there, but most of them aren’t one mine, including his number one. That’s how good this year has been. Anyway, let’s roll with my top 10. Just a note, I class a 2016 movie as a film released in the UK in 2016 (Adam lives in the UK). So there.
10. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Everyone was shocked when it was revealed that a Cloverfield sequel was being made and released. We were then shocked all over again when we discovered that it was a truly brilliant film. Instead of the found footage monster film of the original, we get a claustrophobic thriller with a terrifying turn from John Goodman. Of course it does have a weak ending which feels a bit tacked on, but the rest of it is so tense, it’s easy to forgive. Underrated film.
9. Midnight Special
This year, everyone when nuts for the Netflix series Stranger Things for bringing back the classic dark 80s kids film. I loved it too, but what frustrated me was that there was another throwback released in the cinemas just a few months before that everyone ignored. It was Midnight Special and it was great. Ok, so this owed more to Flight of the Navigator than Monster Squad, but it was still worth investigating. The tale of a child with special powers being ;protected by his father was a touching one grounded in reality and emotion, yet it had the feel of something much bigger. Much unappreciated, check it out now it’s been a few months.
I hate it when people insult animation and treat as kids’ stuff, because in the right hands it can be very powerful and do things live action can’t do. Anomalisa proved that. Instead of taking us to a vibrant world like most in the genre, it goes in the other direction to show us how depressing life has got for it’s lead character. It then uses that to illicit powerful emotions from the viewer when something comes along that isn’t just mundane. It’s a clever way to use cinema and is a film that has real staying power in the mind, which should always be praised.
7. Captain America: Civil War
From an indie animated film to the biggest movie of the year. Marvel usually have a film in my final list because I’m a sucker for their films and they have an uncanny ability to deliver, unlike their counterparts at DC. Civil War further proves that building on the universe they have already built to not only deliver some brilliant action, but also tear at the emotional bonds between the characters. The fact Tony and Steve started fighting with each having good reason, a great improvement on the comic book it was based on, really does hurt after getting to know them for the last few years. And yes, that airport scene is perfect in superhero action and probably won’t be bettered for years.
I’ll admit, bias may be present here. I am a Journalism graduate, available to hire contract now, and there is a part of me that wants to go investigating and find a big break that will change the world. Ok more likely that I’ll end up covering a grandmother from Rotherham who’s irritated that a fox keeps knocking over her bins, but heyho. But in a year where newspapers have slided more into doing the worst kind of news and with the government considering putting draconian legislation in place which could damage the freedom of the press forever, Spotlight remains a fantastic advert for the art of investigative journalism. Showing the realistic way a team of journalists uncovered the extent of the abuse of children committed by priests in the Catholic Church, it was a fascinating jigsaw of a film that instead of allowing us to cheer at the big scoop, makes us horrified as we should be.
I realise that some of my lists can be a bit predictable as there is usually a Disney film on there. But instead of the admittedly great Moana and Finding Dory, I decided to plump for the amazing Zootopia. Because by all rights it should just be another anthropomorphized animal movie, especially with it’s very generic music track which it has to go with the film. Yet using the divide between predators and prey, it manages to tell a very complex tale about race, with topics such as discrimination and aggravtating factors all being explored. And this is all done in such a ssuch a way kids will understand and so will become an even more important film for preaching it’s message of tolerance and acceptance. And in times like this, we really need that.
4. The Witch
If you are doing the Adam Allcroft’s Top 10 Films bingo, here is the horror film, The Witch. It has been a vintage film for horror thanks to the likes of Don’t Breathe and Lights Out, but this atmospheric horror beats them out. I’ve always thought that to make horror work, you had to make it feel as close to us as possible. Yet this film does the exact opposite by making this film set in the early Puritan days of the United States feel as alien as possible by using authentic Olde English and that makes it even more terrifyling. It’s an out of the sticks The Shining where you are terrified by the atmosphere rather than jump scares and is a new horror classic.
A Rocky sequel shouldn’t even exist in 2016, never mind be this good. But here we are, in 2016 and we have a Rocky sequel that can match up with the originals. The story of Adonis Creed manages to find a new way to tell a boxing story which is stunning considering how many great films have been made in this genre. His journey to get out of his dad’s shadow and be judged in his own right is a compelling one, helped by the best acting of both Michael B Jordan and Sylvester Stallone’s career. The boxing matches are also amazing, whether it is the stunning one shot match in the middle of the film or the emotional roller coaster that is the conclusion. I need more of this franchise.
2. Green Room
On paper, this film sounds ridiculous. Patrick Stewart as the leader of Neo-Nazis? Maeby from Arrested Development being the singer of punk band? This is going to be so bad it’s good if anything right? No, it’s just so brilliant it’s good instead. This is one of the toughest watches of the year mostly because this film is unflinching in it’s violence, especially when the late Anton Yelchin gets his arm stabbed through a door by one of the Nazis, but it is worth it. This is a thriller that you don’t want to keep watching because of the bloody violence, but the story is compelling you can’t help but peek above the cushions you are hiding behind. This film will always be tinged with sadness as it showed the true talent of Yelchin before a tragic accident took him away from us, but at least one of his final films was one we will treasure forever.
If Room had ended at the halfway mark, which it could have easily done, it would still be on this top ten list. Up until then, it had been a claustrophobic take on a mother trying to do the best for her when confined to the smallest of spaces. It would have been a triumph of acting and tragedy, as the innocence of Jacob Tremblay’s Jack only helped compound how horrible the situation they found themselves in was. But where most directors would shout cut and call it a day, Room decided to go on and that’s where it became the film of the year. Just because the cameras have gone away and the big problem has gone away doesn’t mean that life gets easier and that’s what this film shows. It’s hard to praise this film without going into huge spoiler territory and I don’t want to do that as you should experience it for yourself, but Room‘s ability to show the power of a relationship between mother and son and how they can get through the worst things possible is why this is the best film of 2016.