I have a lousy memory and struggle to remember what we watched when, so this year I had a plan: keep a tally of all the films we’d watched over the year, then come December, I could do a round-up of my Top 5 Films!
Obviously, that’s based on MY films watched in 2016…you’ll likely tell me that some of them came out last year. In fact, some of them came out 20, even 30 years ago! What I haven’t done is include any rewatches – the ones on my list are all first time views for myself: 57 in total. An average of one a week isn’t bad!
The genres are all over the place, as we’ll pretty much watch anything, although if left to my own devices, I’d most likely be a full-on blockbuster/ sci-fi/ explosions/ horror viewer. But Sam loves quirky little Indie films, so I’m sure you’ll be able to tell which choices were made by whom (is that grammatically correct?)
So here we go… an insight into my viewing back catalogue of the last twelve months. I’d love to know what you think of the picks and whether you have seen them / agree with my Top 5. Drop me a line in the comments and give me your choices!
Starting the year in our newly built cinema, that is a mere 5 minutes walk from our house, we stayed in a wintery vein with Tarantino’s Hateful Eight. Enjoyable but nothing special compared to his previous offerings. Although dialogue heavy movies are a firm favourite with us.
Same could be said for Spectre… poor. And I should have probably given up on Paranormal Activty three films ago! But Straight Outta Compton, the biographical look at the NWA’s rise to fame, was a surprise hit for me, especially as it had a cracking soundtrack.
Yet it was Matt Damon’s virtually one-man show in The Martian that stood out this month…but would it be enough to make my Top 5??
A busy month for movies, with an oldie, two ‘rooms’, Hiddleston and Fassbender to swoon over, a creepy thriller, an interesting documentary and a ‘superhero’ that was not for the kids!
Each February film was enjoyable for different reasons, aside from The Keeping Room – I just found it bland and was left thinking, ‘is that it?’
An Honest Liar was a really interesting documentary, about the life of magician James Randi and his crusade to debunk faith healers and psychics – as a fan of Derren Brown (perhaps Britain’s answer to achieving the same thing), it was a great watch.
Deadpool didn’t disappoint as the wise-cracking, self-aware ‘hero’ and whilst the storyline wasn’t all that tight, I did love it for the more adult feel and being the only ones in the cinema apparently getting the in-jokes!
But Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay stole the show inside their Room. Taking away the traumatic subject matter and reason for their captivity, I found it to be quite a poignant insight on how children view the world, a bittersweet tale of growing up in adverse conditions.
Two dramatisations based on truth and two new offerings from a known origin this month.
I’m a big fan of the Rocky films and Creed was…okay. For me it didn’t capture enough of the old magic and I really think it’s time Stallone well and truly hung up his gloves.
The Big Short and Spotlight (Best Picture Oscar winner) had some excellent acting (with Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight being superb). And being based on true events made the watching all the more satisfying, despite the subject matter of the latter.
But as a fan of sci-fi, it was another ‘room’ that was the top choice of my birthday month, with 10, Cloverfield Lane. I loved the first Cloverfield offering, especially as the trailer kept everything hidden – a rarity these days. The trailer for this off-shoot movie had me with the warped version of ‘I think we’re alone now‘ but the film held its own, being much more about the forced relationships than the terror outside in the world. Loved it.
Thank goodness for Marvel movies…that is all!
Actually, that’s not entirely fair. Man from UNCLE was enjoyable – mainly because I like old spy films and love vintage fashions. And the concept of Timelapse (a camera that captured an image of the future, so you could kind of alter time) was intriguing, but it just seemed to lose its way too quickly.
But you can’t really compete with Iron Man and Spidey (SPOILERS!!), can you?!
WHAT on Earth was The Witch about? Weird, old English ramblings and not in the least bit scary. And as for Hail Ceasar, well I don’t think I’ve ‘got’ a Coen Brothers movie yet!
May’s choices were redeemed by a solid performance from Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, a tale depicting an Irish immigrant’s new life in New York (that won Best British Film BAFTA) and Disney’s musical Into the Woods. Like a fairytale version of James’ Cordon’s Carpool Karaoke, what’s not to like?!
Oh June, you promised so much with your small amount of movie watching. But despite being mightily pleased that Leo finally got that Oscar, I can’t help thinking it was to shut everyone up, as he has given far better performances than in The Revenant. I just wasn’t a fan.
Tomorrowland looked right up my street from the trailer and I did like it, but it could have been executed much better. Yes, it was a Disney film, so was always going to be slightly dumbed down for family audiences. I would have liked to see it play out with a grittier tone. Oh well…
This month, we saw two films starring the late Anton Yelchin: Star Trek and Green Room. One was much better than the other – whilst Green Room was an averagely good horror thriller, I was not on board with Sir Pat Stewart being evil. Still, nice geeky link to Star Trek I suppose…
Similarly, I wasn’t fully on board with Tina Fey playing a semi-serious role. WTF played out well enough, chronicling the true life events of reporter Kim Barker out in Afghanistan, but didn’t fully hit the mark.
Zootopia, on the other hand, was great! Wasn’t prepared for some on-the-nose social commentary to come out of an animated film. Funny and at times thought provoking, I loved it.
I’m not even going to mention the last one on the list, other than to say I HATE the Amazon’s entrance music and her costume. Give me spangly red, white and blue attire anyday!
Surprises from each of August’s list. Nice Guys was far funnier than I ever expected it to be and The Conjuring 2 gave me enough jumps to restore some faith in horrors. Plus, it star Vera Farmiga who I have a bit of a girl crush on, so that’s always a win!
Jungle Book, however, I was not looking forward to. I didn’t think there was a need for a live action reboot but they did a grand job! The effects were excellent and Neel Sethi, as Mowgli, was superb, acting against what I presume was very little.
But casting for voicing the main characters has to be commended – Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Sir Ben Kingsley and Christopher Walken provided the main ones. Even if you’ve not seen the film, I reckon you could guess who played the likes of Baloo, Bagheera, Shere Khan and King Louie from that list. Walken was, as ever, class.
Some utter duds this month with Warcraft and Neighbours 2 and Neon Demon (a twisted look at the world of fashion) was beyond weird. Nobody needs to see someone bleed out on the floor in some warped, exultant fertlity ritual. Or whatever it was. Far too Lars Von Trier for my liking!
But Samberg and the Lonely Island crew gave the laughs in Popstar and Girl with all the Gifts was a zombie-esque film from a different angle. Being mainly British gave it a flavour and grittiness of 28 Days Later, which will remain one of my favourite films in that genre.
Swiss Army Man has to be top for the month. A quirky Indy flick, starring Daniel Radcliffe as a dead body. That talks and wants to live and find love. Yes, it’s as bizarre as that description sounds, but it was also lovely and quite magical and sweet.
Halloween specials at the cinema gave us the oldest on the list this month, with American Werewolf. I can’t believe I’ve never seen it before but pleased I can finally add it to the lineup. A little cheesy and dated, it added to the humour and the transformation scene IS amazing, especially for its era.
Two documentaries in Weiner and Tickled. I think I sat through most of the former saying, ‘You idiot’ and the latter completely dumbfounded by what was unfolding. If you don’t know, Tickled is about the performance sport of endurance tickling and a scandal that arose around it. Just watch it, it’s compelling viewing!
But my standout for October was the delightful film from New Zealand, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Another fabulous performance by a child star (Julian Dennison), supported by Sam Neill in a charming tale of family and overcoming life’s obstacles, which was hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measures. A little gem of a movie.
What is it about horrors and having a cool concept but being unable to see it through? Both Lights Out and Don’t Breathe looked good from the trailer but lacked a decent ending. I much preferred the former, having a demon that could be kept at bay with light but it was nothing to write home about.
Hell or High Water was a decent siege / chase movie and Arrival’s quieter look at first contact with aliens had some interesting twists. However, for me, it was the animations that won. Having never been the biggest fan of Finding Nemo, I wasn’t all that bothered about Dory. However, maybe I was having an over-emotional day but I loved it and cried. A lot!
Kubo and the Two Strings was my favourite though – having the feel of a traditional folk tale and gorgeous stop-motion animation, it’s made me want to go back and watch the studio’s older works, such as Coraline and Boxtrolls.
A pretty poor end to the year regarding movies, if I’m honest.
Rogue One was the highlight and it was excellent but was a very different Star Wars outing, one that I’m not 100% sure I was ready to embrace. As a stand alone film, that gives a great backstory to a familiar ending, it tied up loose ends and had enough nods and Easter Eggs to keep die-hard fans happy. But it felt a bit like staying at your aunt’s house – you know they’re part of the family and will look after you, but it’s just not home…
The others? Well, Suicide Squad only gets any mention because of the soundtrack. Utter mess otherwise. And we watched the extended cut that is supposed to make more sense! Bridget Jones was typically chicky and flicky and fine. Secret Life was good, what I saw of it – we played it at school and I missed the ending due to an incident!
David Brent – meh. Some funny moments that would have worked in a British sitcom but that didn’t transfer to the screen and Krampus I had high hopes for but was disappointing. If only the characters had seemed to give more of a care about each other when they kept getting eaten by gingerbread men!!
A late entry for December (I only watched it last night) is Ethel and Ernest. It’s only had a limited cinematic release in the UK but aired as a BBC special on TV. An animated tribute to the parents of Raymond Briggs (of The Snowman fame), it’s a beautiful, poignant look at life and major events in the 20th century, through the eyes of two unremarkable people. I urge you to watch if you can…but have the tissues ready!
So, if you’ve managed to stick around through this gargantuan post (thanks!), it’s time to reveal MY Top 5 films of 2016…
In 5th place: Girl with all the Gifts tied with Rogue One.
In 4th place: 10 Cloverfield Lane.
In 3rd place: Swiss Army Man.
In 2nd place: Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
But the award for BEST MOVIE I’VE SEEN 2016 goes to ROOM.
Special mentions go to Kubo and the Two Strings, Spotlight and Ethel and Ernest and one film I missed and wished I hadn’t was Doctor Strange – the first Marvel movie we’ve not seen on the big screen. 😦
If anything, this exercise has made us watch more movies – TV shows are sooo good (GoT, Stranger Things, Westworld!!) we often neglect longer features. Must remember to keep a list again!
So, what do you think? Agree, disagree, never heard of them?! I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’d just want to wish everyone a fabulous New Year’s Eve – stay safe, enjoy wisely and here’s to a peaceful 2017. See you next year folks! 😉
Image Credits: imdb.com and movieden