It’s time for my top films of 2016, and this year it wasn’t all about the superhero blockbusters for a change (except for one of them!). From Japanese anime that isn’t from Studio Ghibli to a Japanese anime that was announced to be Studio Ghibli’s last, to Disney and more Disney and even a Disney classic adaptation, 2016 was definitely an accomplished year for animation. And let’s not forget about those incredible book adaptations, which make up nearly half of my top 20. It certainly was an impressive year!
This year I’ve watched 563 films (42 released this year and 319 for the first time). That’s 47 films on average per month, and 11 on average per week. My most watched directors are Steven Spielberg, Alfred Hitchcock, and Tony Scott and my most watched actor is Owen Wilson.
And here are my top 10 films of 2016. This list changes constantly so you can view an updated list on my Letterboxd page.
10. When Marnie Was There
Review to come.
With the novel told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, Room is told with the same narrative style as the film unfolds from Jack’s point of view. Jack knows nothing but the 11×11 square room that he has grown up in, as the story focuses on his struggle to come to terms with the thought of even a single blade of grass existing outside of the walls he is imprisoned in.
8. The Danish Girl
From the director of The King’s Speech (2010) and Les Misérables (2012), yet again alongside cinematographer Danny Cohen (with this being their fifth collaboration), The Danish Girl is a beautiful piece of filmmaking that tells a powerful and incredibly unique story. Hooper and Cohen are the perfect filmmaking duo. Hooper’s work is always beautiful to watch, and The Danish Girl is no different. The cinematography is as well captured as one of Lili and Gerda’s paintings in the film, with the stunning backdrop of Copenhagen’s harbour further complimenting their style perfectly.
7. The Revenant
Since the release of the first trailer, I have been eager to see this film because of the strikingly beautiful visuals that have stood out from the very beginning. Even from these mere few minutes of footage, it was obvious that The Revenant was going to be something special. With cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, as well, who has won the Academy Award for the past two years with the films Birdman and Gravity, hopes were high that The Revenant wasn’t going to ruin his streak of success.
Such a simply made film, but that just shows how an exceptional story is all that you need sometimes. Although we cannot forget the brilliant cast in this either, of course, as they each give exceptional performances to brilliantly tell this true story. Set in the newsroom, following the characters investigative journalism efforts, the film keeps you gripped throughout to reveal some shocking truths.
It’s not often that a superhero is foul-mouthed, crude, gore-loving, and sadistic – although it is occasional that they are gruesomely disfigured, egotistic, and mentally unstable – but 2016 is the year of the anti-hero, and the “Merc with a Mouth” just became one of our favourite superheroes of them all.
4. Your Name.
Review to come.
Based on a brilliant short story by Ted Chiang, Arrival isn’t just a story about aliens; its science fiction setting is merely a background to something much bigger. The film adaptation expands way beyond Chiang’s minimal plot, but it still uses the aliens’ arrival as a means to look at how we evaluate our own lives and being. It’s is not a science fiction story about conflict, action and futuristic technologies, it is about everyday ideas and ways of thinking.
2. The Light Between Oceans
After reading The Light Between Oceans and finding out that one of my favourite directors, Derek Cianfrance, would be directed the adaptation and that two of my favourite actors, Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, would be staring in the lead roles, I couldn’t have been looking forward to this film more.
Sometimes film adaptations of your favourite books can go awfully wrong, but sometimes they can also become one of your favourite films. The Light Between Oceans is now one of my favourite everythings!
1. The Hateful Eight
When it comes to Tarantino you know what to expect, and The Hateful Eight delivers on all counts. It’s gruesome but equally hilarious, it’s over the top but genuine, and it sticks with you for a while afterwards.
As always, The Hateful Eight is incredibly well moulded and unfolds like a staged play. Set mainly in a single room with a group of well-developed characters reacting off each other, Tarantino’s incredible dialogue takes centre stage. Beautifully filmed in 70mm, as well, you get to see much more of these characters and their surroundings, making these characters feel somehow closer than they normally would, which adds to the excitement when their blood is splattering all over the place.