Year is 2016.
Waiting for the Arrival.
This year was a pleasant surprise for me as on paper this seemed to be a decent but not exceptional year but it ended up to be the latter with lots of good films and 4 personal classics.
(Movies I liked)
This is my favourite documentary of the year in a genre that I have very few that I actually like. This one despite the intriguing figure that it explores it has a rather cinematic view that made it to look like a documentary but sometimes also a film.
42. Inner Workings
Disney’s short that I saw before Moana. This piece of animation is short yet very touching. It emphasises on why it is important for us human being to do jobs that we actually like and it is showing it in a playful and succinct way.
I’m not personally a fan of Disney’s princess films and this is my favourite. And not because it is diverse or any of that but it is very cute and emotional. I think the songs fit extremely well and the animation when it comes to photorealism is stupendous. Especially the scenes in the storm are jaw-dropping.
You’ve probably heard hymns about this film already. This film is a great achievement of independent film-making. How it can get a difficult subject and give it emotion. The cinematography and how the light shines on the skin of the actors is remarkable. My favourite story by far is the third with a very satisfying closure.
38. Midnight Special
Jeff Nichols films are very intimate and his second take on science fiction is no exception. Very much based on a family like Take Shelter and heavily inspired by Spielberg, Nichols gives his take on sci-fi/adventure with a bit more gloomy approach. Slow-burn as every single one of his films gets under the skin of this father and his mission to make his child happy. Thumbs up for the music.
Larrain’s first English film combines American indy film-making with his own personal surreal style. I get why some might find this boring but for me is a remarkable work how Larrain can turn a Biopic that on paper looks dull into a type of horror film. Mica Levi’s score has a huge contribution to make the atmosphere eerie. Also the car scene has one of my favourite tracking shots of the year.
36. Don’t Breathe
Fede Alvarez gets a slasher genre and turns it all around. It makes it a slasher from the perspective of the victim. Very gripping and I appreciated how Alvarez used the blindness to create tension in his scenes.
Christian Mungiu is famous on his criticism on Romanian society and politics. This one focuses on a family and the ethics of the family in a difficult situation. Mungiu really makes you to hate characters in every movie in a very natural way and this succeeds very well.
Another film from the Greek weird wave. I personally didn’t like Attenberg but I found Chevalier innovative, fascinating and the “weird” acting fits very well with the atmosphere and the mission of the film. A would say this film is the twin sibling of The Lobster as it tries to achieve the same result as the former.
33. Little Men
I was not familiar with Ira Sachs but I was impressed how he used his cast in this film. Especially the kids who the heart and soul of all this. Add this to your list you like coming of age genre.
32. The Salesman
Asghar Farhadi goes back home and crafts another effective story that plays between drama and thriller. Farhadi’s movies are all about characters and their motivations and here is no exception. If you liked his previous films there is no surprise here. And if you are a newcomer this will be a great introduction to his universe. Not my favourite of his filmography but a great addition.
In the hands of another director this probably would have a dull movie. But Eastwood gives a heart in this movie. A passion through the words carried very effectively by his protagonists. Every word weighs and you feel it. This also has a very well crafted sequence, the plain crash. I wish I had seen this in IMAX.
30. Green Room
Saulnier’s best movie to date. It takes a rock/metal concert and turns it into a thriller. Sounds great as a concept, right? Well yes and Jeremy really gives you all those vibes. Gripping but also entertaining.
29. Captain Fantastic
This is why I like Sundance film festival. Because it takes this little stories that you have seen in classic or foreign films and gives them a contemporary and makes accessible to the new age. Viggo really moves this film but there are many revelations. This is similar to Dogtooth but way more accessible.
This movie comes from my home country. It’s a story about erotic infatuation and it being projected brilliantly. An introvert and not very social guy gets infatuated with a young girl and we can see his struggle into this. The struggle of a man who hasn’t had this experience in the past. Moving in it’s own way and the last scene with Economides is a great closure.
27. The Age of Shadows
A historial thriller by one of the great directors of suspense. This movie I think has some pacing issues maybe because I wasn’t very educated with the era it was projecting. But the suspense sequences that Kim crafts are impeccable. Hands down.
26. Kubo and the Two Strings
Laika’s best movie in my opinion. Travis Knight creates a visual feast here. The production design create a magnificent balance between eastern and western style. Also one of the best villains I have seen in western animation. State of the art stop motion animation.
25. 10 Cloverfield Lane
One of the many surprises of 2016. I disliked the first Cloverfield and I was not looking forward to this. But to my surprise this film takes a different turn from the first one and becomes one of the most gripping thrillers of the year. A lot has to do with the script and the performances. It gave also some Lost vibes!
A touching story about a guys who is looking for his biological mother. This one strips so effectively how an adopted son can find piece by finding his biological mother. I liked also the fact that the family that adopted him are not assholes which is a cliche we’ve seen countless times. Yet they are supportive and love him very much. Exceptionally shot, especially the part in India. I would prefer a better role for Rooney but it’s a tiny reservation.
23. Hacksaw Ridge
I can’t believe how a cheesy screenplay can be so wonderfully directed. Some of the lines in this movie feel forced but damn the direction of the action scenes is stupendous, not only because they are gripping they also move you emotionally.
(Movies I loved.)
22. Pete’s Dragon
I’m not a fan of Disney’s live action films, though this is a glorious exception. A family movie that touched emotionally like no other Disney film. Maybe because I love animals, maybe because of the songs, or maybe because of the cuteness that the direction aims for. I doesn’t matter, it’s touching!
21. Train to Busan
This is what this trash film World War Z should have been. And it costs a fraction of this movie. I could never believe how a zombie movie(a genre I dislike to be honest) could be so much fun and entertaining. You can watch this movie in a loop really. It’s that good!
20. A Monster Calls
I heard good reactions about the book but I’ve never read it. A Monster Calls uses 2D animation and live action techniques around a very emotional coming of age story. I was visually stunned by the animation and captivated by the narration by Liam Nesson. But most importantly I was moved by the story of that kid and his mother. I couldn’t expect to like that much.
19. Hell or High Water
I liked it less that Sicario but it’s another instalment in this unofficial trilogy. More of a western film, I liked how dirty it looks and feels. Chris Pine convinced me in this film that he can act, really well.
18. I, Daniel Blake
The best British movie of 2016 by far, Ken Loach hit my emotional cords with this story. It’s quite bleak as it should be, it has a scene that breaks your heart but nothing feels forced. It poses political issues in Britain from the perspective of a poor family. Must watch.
17. The Handmaiden
Another stellar film by the master Park. I love South Korean thrillers because they can come up with a thriller from every setting you can imagine. Here we have an erotic period film that looks like a thriller. You will be gripped and erected for sure regardless of your sexual preferences.
16. Nocturnal Animals
This is the film with my favourite sequence of 2016. I’m talking about car sequence which is nail biting as hell. This film has many explicit images and looks quite bleak and both are big compliments on the film. The production design and costumes are very classy. I felt only the ending was not so cathartic, but still good.
15. Sing Street
Another film that caught me by surprise. A coming of age story with so much warmth, ate it up. Charming, romantic with all these aspects that I love in this genre. The music is perfectly fitting with the tone of the film.
14. The Wailing
I love spiritual horror films when they make the occult so believable and not non-sense. And the Wailing projects perfectly the occult side of Buddhism in a frenetic way. Dark and absorbing with a hell of a ritual sequence!
Gradually I’m becoming a fan of Disney animation and Zootopia is my favourite film to date. An homage to cop and crime genre through the lenses of Disney animation. Such a clever and fun story with probably my favourite main character in any Disney movie.
12. The Edge of Seventeen
I very rarely laugh in American comedies, most of them feel forced to me. But not this, I laughed out loud in so many scenes! Another great coming of age with all the troubles that young teenagers face and not in US I have to say. Great ending!
I probably believed that I’ve seen any kind of thriller setting. Nope, this is a family drama turned into the thriller, heavily based on it’s camera work but also editing that fluctuates the pace to create tension. A fantastic debut.
10. American Honey
I’ve probably have said it somewhere else, I think Andrea Arnold is the my favourite director on creating erotic tension between characters and this is no exception. Also what I love is how honest her films are when they depict her characters.
Another great surprise of a movie that I didn’t know it existed. And yes this is the year of coming of age films. Another one which follows the struggle of a young dancer to go to the bolshoi. She crosses countries, meets new people but what it stays in the roots of our soul. Magical film.
8. Toni Erdmann
When this movie got great reviews I was nervous that I won’t like it. This movie is so clever, even if I don’t speak German this movie made me laugh with the performance of the father. This guy was fabulous. And a sequence that I’ll remember for a long time!
7. Land of Mine
This is the most masculine film of the year. The film that depicts how male bonds are created through struggle and how they deeply rooted are especially in the army which is one of the most volatile environments. A fantastic depiction of army training.
6. The Witch
A new voice is coming in the horror scene. This movie looks so authentic that I cannot tell if these people are actually actors or came from that year. Bleak atmosphere as it should be, it feels almost like a Greek tragedy where through suffering a person reaches catharsis.
This movie is so simple, yet so profoundly touching. I felt that I got in the head of an artist, in the head of chaos so impenetrable that other people cannot comprehend. It’s so magical how an artist absorbs stimuli from his environment. This film penetrated me fully.
(Movies I adored.)
4. La La Land
I was never a fan of musicals, this film made me appreciated them. Should I say more? I loved that it looked and sounded contemporary and not like the rest of the musicals which try to show via image and sound that has been done in the past. Also once again Damien’s characters are so interesting and I love how the male characters are not crybabies in a genre where they usually are.
I used to be a Christian but not anymore. Silence didn’t make me believe again if you’re expecting to hear that. But it let me step in the head of a guy who has found his path and his faith is everything he has. Very spiritual, harrowing and stunningly shot. There is a scene that will grab you by your neck and it is earned 100%.
2. Manchester By the Sea
What so say here, this movie is an emotional explosion, a film that stuck in my stomach for a long time. The unbearable burden of this person utterly penetrated me. There are two scenes that I couldn’t handle the emotional punch, it was too much.
A masterpiece of science fiction. An amazing short story that couldn’t think that could be filmed and I have to say that the movie is even better. An amazing feat of storytelling, from the story which crushes competition in hard science fiction to the exceptional execution that makes the story flow and work. I’m sure that there are many cuts that would make the movie not to work properly. This is how perfect is the editing.