Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Listomania! My Favourite Films of 2016

So if 2014 was all about the eyes and 2015 was all about the ears, then 2016 was The Year of The Divertissement.

Escapism: the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.

It’s been a trying twelve months. And not because of our shared shit spectacle of the BowiePrinceBrexitTrump variety. It’s been a trying twelve months for other, more personal reasons. It hasn’t been terrible, but it has been tough and I’m bone-tired - and so my cinema-going needs were different this year. I didn’t particularly desire cinema that made me think - I craved cinema that made me feel something (and let's just take it as read that the two aren't mutually exclusive). I wanted the prima materia of the movies - that ineffable Good Stuff that provokes an emotional response -  and the darkened auditoria didn’t let me down...

..."I like the beats and the shouting". The USS Franklin takes out a swarm of attack ships by harnessing the devastating destructive power of “classical music” - the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage - in Star Trek Beyond. "Good choice"...

...Overweight high-school outcast Robbie “The Rock” Wierdicht busts some serious moves in the shower to En Vogue’s My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It) in Central Intelligence - a cuddly warm grin of a movie that provides refreshing evidence that mainstream, big-budget Hollywood comedies can still be kind-hearted, body-positive and genuinely funny without coating themselves in a filthy patina of casual racism, sexism, homophobia or hackneyed "bro" antics…

...Chris Hemsworth. Melissa McCarthy. Kevin’s job interview in Ghostbusters. Michael Hat...

...I had something in my eye watching Creed, I thrilled at The Purge Election Year and Don’t Breathe, I took inordinate pleasure at Abbott & Costello references in three of the year’s finest movies (Arrival, Paterson and The Nice Guys), I sought out and embraced the joy of the movies…

So. Here we go. In no particular order, my twelve favourite films of 2016:

Creed (Ryan Coogler)

Some Creed stats:
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes dance numbers: 1
Times I almost burst into tears: 2
Uncontrollable excitement: 2
Uncontrollable grinning: lost count
Some of these estimates might be a bit low (apart from that Harold Melvin one - that's pretty accurate)

Elle (Paul Verhoeven)

Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)

High-Rise (Ben Wheatley)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)

Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)

Only Luddites Left Alive. “There’s always another day, right?”

Room (Lenny Abrahamson)

Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)

The Big Short (Adam McKay)

The Nice Guys (Shane Black)

A film so simpatico with my predilections and obsessions that it felt like Shane Black made it just for me. Ryan Gosling absolutely nails his Lou Costello riff, and I'm a sucker for a Jim Rockford Easter egg. Outstanding - My favourite film of the year. (Later on in the year, John Michael McDonagh’s disappointing War On Everyone landed. Whilst The Nice Guys is a rye-soaked Rockford Files riff, War On Everyone is an over-stylised, faux-nihilistic, not-as-funny-or-clever-as-it-thinks-it-is Streets Of San Francisco.)

The Wailing (Goksung) (Hong-jin Na)

Train to Busan (Busanhaeng) (Sang-ho Yeon)

Bubbling under my Top Twelve, the now-customary Close But No Cigar:

10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg)
Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
Central Intelligence (Rawson Marshall Thurber)
Chicken (Joe A. Stephenson)
Hail, Caesar! (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight)
Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven)
The Club (El Club) (Pablo Larraín)
The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra)
Tickled (David Farrier and Dylan Reeve)
Your Name (Kimi no na wa.) (Makoto Shinkai)
Zootopia (Zootropolis) (Byron Howard and Rich Moore)