Well well well, 2016 eh? It’s been a bit bloody ludicrous hasn’t it? Personally, professionally, nationally, globally, politically, artistically…from Bowie to Brexit, it’s been, well, bollocks. This year has been an unpredictable shit storm of nastiness, so thank goodness that the world of cinema keeps on turning and only occasionally turding – *Cough* AB FAB *Cough*. I have probably watched fewer films than usual at this point in the year (blame real life and The Walking Dead), however, it’s still been pretty tricky trying to narrow my favourites to five, which bodes well for the final end of the year list.
So here we are, if you’ve not seen these yet, check them out.
Ben Wheatley, armed with a slightly bigger budget and a fantastic screenplay by long term collaborator Amy Jump, has gone and done it again, with this superbly stylish J.G Ballard adaptation. Divisive, debauched and boasting the greatest ever ABBA cover, High Rise cements Wheatley’s place as one of the most exciting British directors around.
The most uplifting film on this list and the only one which gave me cheek ache from grinning. There’s no room for cynicism here in this tale of teenage lust, longing and loneliness. Directed by John Carney (of Once fame) and set in 1980s Dublin, Sing Street is a film which captures the electric, infectious power of music, make-up and friendship and the fact that when you’re young and in a band, anything is possible.
See here for my thoughts on this touching and strange Icelandic black dramedy.
The VVitch: A New-England Folktale
An excellent directorial debut from production and costume designer, Robert Eggers. This low key, low budget, 17th Century folk horror is an unnerving, uneasy watch with a standout performance from a rather terrifying and memorable goat named Black Phillip. Shot over a period of only twenty five days and with dialogue taken from the writings of the time, Eggers creates a stark sense of authenticity and a simplicity of pace too often ruined in modern horror films with what film critic Mark Kermode describes as “quiet, quiet – BANG!”. Despite the somewhat disappointing ending, the acting, cinematography and soundtrack are all superb and I highly recommend the special edition coloured vinyl, if you’re that way inclined. Very much looking forward to seeing the next project from Eggers and crew.
Disney Animation Studios continue their winning streak from Wreck It Ralph, Frozen and Big Hero 6 with Zootropolois (or Zootopia in the States). It’s got all you could ever want from Disney when they’re at the top of their game; jaw dropping animation, likeable characters, a hilarious non patronising screenplay and a message with a good heart. In this case, be inclusive and celebrate diversity, which is a message more important than ever now. Yet the film’s strength is that it doesn’t sacrifice the characters or the jokes to make that point, it’s just neatly there in the slightly less than sub, subtext.