The Oscars are upon us which brings in the final nail in the coffin of the films of 2016, meaning all discussion of last years films are usually brought to a close and we look ahead to 2017 and see what is different. For the past few weeks I’ve been playing catch up with a lot of films last year had to offer for my own. Even though I’ve missed quite a few that I wish I could’ve seen namely “Paterson”, “Toni Erdmann”, “The Handmaiden”, “Hell or High Water”, “20th Century Women” and “Certain Women” among others, I figured I’ll see them all in their good time. So why lists? Well I guess they’re fun for one thing, but I know it’s difficult comparing one film to another, it’s hard saying one film is the best, and I’ve seen my share of great films this year, in face 2016 has been a fantastic year for films in general, it was hard narrowing down a top ten. So as you will see I didn’t stop with a top ten as I couldn’t leave out some gems that garnered my attention. So without further adieu, here are my top ten films plus ten more for good measure.
1. Silence: A special film in so many ways, this started as a passion project for director Martin Scorsese, something he’s been trying to get off the ground for almost 30 years. There were rumours when Scorsese would begin filming it, but countless delays almost made it seem like it would never see the light of day. Finally the time came where cameras would role on this masterpiece of filmmaking. The film tells the story of Jesuit Priests who travel to Japan to find their old mentor who, it is rumored committed the sin of renouncing his faith which is something unforgivable. Scorsese has battles with religion and spirituality before most prominently in “The Last Temptation of Christ” and “Kundun”. But the idea of faith, God, sin, and redemption has found its way in his less obvious films right from the very beginning with his first feature “Who’s That Knocking?” and onward to “Mean Streets”, and “Raging Bull”. “Silence” continues that ongoing struggle we see with him, it’s personal film making on an epic scale, something we see very little of these days. Scorsese has talked of film being like a religious experience for him, just listen to his countless discussions, very few filmmakers carry that passion in them. “Silence” didn’t garner the type of awards attention Scorsese has become accustomed to over the past few years now, instead the Academy chose to award a more straight forward less complex Christian fable with “Hacksaw Ridge” which is shallow by comparison. I believe “Silence” will be regarded as a classic in later years and ranked among the very best Scorsese has to offer.
2. The Lobster: A deadpan comedy directed by the eccentric Yorgos Lanthimos, this sets up a world I have never would have envisioned before. Sort of a post-apocalyptic society where all people must find a mate or else they are transformed into an animal of their choosing. Hilarious, dark, sad, strangely romantic, with an ending that leaves you wondering about the idea of love. A comic masterpiece.
3. A Monster Calls: Sometimes you just judge a film by counting the tears it leaves at the end. Last year “Room” did it, this year it was this wonderful film. So many great family films were made this year, but this was the best. A moving story of a child who’s mother is slowly dying. A great many family films have dealt with grief, but this one pulls no punches, I was a wreck by the end.
4. Love and Friendship: Whit Stillman’s adaption of Jane Austin is in my opinion, the best Jane Austin adaption I have ever seen. Funny, witty, and sophisticated, this is the type of escape film they used to make all the time when audiences hungered for such things. Kate Beckinsale is a wonder, she owns every scene she’s in.
5. Nocturnal Animals: Tom Ford’s wildly entertaining, darkly funny, and twisted tale of love, revenge, and art.
6. The Witch: A dark atmospheric horror folk tale, doesn’t rely on jump scare but rather that feeling of dread. Also a tale of a girl growing into womanhood and how scary that can be.
7. Moonlight: Small, poetic, intimate, and quiet look into a life of a young man growing up in a tough black neighbourhood and coming to terms with his sexuality. Barry Jenkins creates a cinematic sensory overload and it’s quietly moving.
8. Hail Caesar: The Coen Brothers’ latest is a comedy but the second most spiritual film made this year after “Silence”. Hearkening back to golden age Hollywood, the Coen Bros. turn away from nihilism to find something to believe in: the movies! This is their “Sullivan’s Travels”.
9. Knight of Cups: Terrence Malick will always be a man who will never be everyone’s cup of tea, but I am in love with his movies. Like David Lynch, Malick becomes more experimental as he grows older, if you can believe it creating an almost empty landscape for his characters to interact. The story is non-linear mostly told in voice-over, but feels personal, and intimate.
10. Manchester by the Sea: Powerful, long story of grief, and moving on in life. Despite all this, the film is full of warm humour, deep humanity, and understanding. A very feel good movie.
And the 10 more are….
11. Sunset Song
12. La La Land
14. Kubo and the Two Strings
15. The Invitation
16. Midnight Special
18. Pete’s Dragon
19. The Nice Guys
Martin Scorsese: Silence
Barry Jenkins: Moonlight
Yorgos Lanthimos: The Lobster
J.A. Bayona: A Monster Calls
Tom Ford: Nocturnal Animals
Denzel Washington: Fences
Colin Farrell: The Lobster
Ryan Gosling: The Nice Guys
Casey Affleck: Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield: Silence
Kate Beckinsale: Love and Friendship
Sally Field: Hello My Name is Doris
Ruth Negga: Loving
Viola Davis: Fences
Taraji P. Henson: Hidden Figures
Best Supporting Actor:
Michael Shannon: Nocturnal Animals
Tom Bennett: Love and Friendship
Alden Ehrenreich: Hail Caesar
Lucas Hedges: Manchester by the Sea
John Carol Lynch: The Invitation
Best Supporting Actress
Naomi Harris: Moonlight
Rachel Weiz: The Lobster
Michelle Williams: Manchester by the Sea
Angeliki Papoulia: The Lobster
Sigourney Weaver: A Monster Calls
Love and Friendship
Manchester by the Sea
A Monster Calls