My Top Ten Films of 2016 (Released In The UK!)

top 10It’s that time of the year where film bloggers blog about their Top 10 Films of the Year. I’m a film blogger (a lazy one at that!), so I like to jump on the bandwagon! So here are my Top 10 Films of the Year (released in the UK, remember!)

  1. 10 Cloverfield Lane

How appropriate! This one came out of nowhere after a trailer whet everyone’s appetite. Was it a sequel to Cloverfield? Was it set in the same universe? Did it have anything to do with Cloverfield? To tell you would spoil it if you haven’t seen the movie. My enjoyment relied on not knowing anything about the film. The trailers revealed little, in a ‘less is more’ approach that many film companies could learn from. I might as well not see ‘Passengers’ because I feel like the trailers have told me the entire story! But all we gathered from the trailer for ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ was that a girl was being kept in a nuclear fallout shelter by John Goodman. The film itself is an exercise in suspense and thrills. You never quite know where the story is going, but there are always hints for the observant viewer. The final act may either take your suspension of disbelief too far or end the story perfectly. But the first two acts are undoubtedly brilliant. A suspenseful thriller that will have you raking the arm of your chair.

  1. Sausage Party

For anyone who wanted to know what 15 rated Pixar film would look like, ‘Sausage Party’ is their answer. All groceries can talk, apparently, and they think that being purchased by humans will take them to “the Great Beyond”. It’s a comedy that delivers laughs in spades when it fully embraces its crude and immature nature. Although the middle part drags, the beginning and the end will have you splitting your sides in laughter and looking at the screen, mouth agape. The final act is absurd, disgusting and unlike anything you’ve seen before. ‘Sausage Party’ has a central message about the absurdity of religion and the theory of an afterlife, and while the message is not subtle, who needs subtlety when the main characters are a hot dog bun and a hot dog? The only comedy I saw at the cinema this year that had me howling with laughter.

(Click here for my full review)

  1. The Hateful Eight

I promise I’m not doing this on purpose! Like all modern Tarantino films, ‘The Hateful Eight’ may be half an hour too long and in need of an editor. However, the first time you watch the film, you hardly notice that it’s a bloody long film! Tarantino’s dialogue is second to none, and that’s never so apparent here. There’s action in this film, but everything you need to know is conveyed via the dialogue. Some monologues go on for too long, but always keep you interested. Tarantino makes the best out of a stellar cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Lee, Tim Roth and Bruce Dern, among others. It may be more suited to a stage performance, but Tarantino uses his eye for visuals to increase the feeling of isolation. It’s a Western that delivers something different from what you expect.

  1. Zootropolis

At the moment, Pixar have nothing on Disney in terms of quality films (yes, I know Disney own Pixar, but they are technically separate entities!). Zootropolis had me on the trailer (yes, that moment with the sloth!). But the film was so much more than what the trailer promised. Yes, it had humour in abundance. Yes, that sloth scene still makes me laugh whenever I think about it. But at its core, ‘Zootropolis’ is about community and segregation. Judy Hopps, a bunny, makes it to the Zootropolis Police Department. She is ridiculed and assigned as a parking warden. Of course, she is capable of so much more, but her peers think less of her because she’s a rabbit. And that’s a modicum of the prejudice on show in ‘Zootropolis.’ At a time when xenophobia is running wild in the UK and the US, Disney put out a film that espoused social harmony over prejudice and intolerance. Not only that, but it’s funny, visually eye-opening and a jolly good detective story. It’s so many things packed into one film that it shouldn’t work. But it works wonderfully.

  1. High-Rise

My expectations for this film were sky high, as I adore the works of J.G. Ballard. Not only that, the previous two adaptations of his works (‘Crash’ and ‘Empire of the Sun’) are brilliant films. ‘High-Rise’ may not have met my lofty expectations, but it was still a cracking film. It may have emphasised the black humour and absurdity of the book rather than the underlying critique of society, but you end up surrendering to“logic more powerful than reason.” Characters come and go, events occur for no apparent reason, and there is no real main character. Just like the direction, everything starts out sterile and calm, but the camera begins to spin around and shake devolving into an almost handheld camera-like atmosphere. ‘High-Rise’ is more than the sum of its parts. Just as Ballard rallied against the norm of novel writing, Ben Wheatley rallies against the norm of film-making. There are times when patience is tested, but it’s a film unlike anything you’ll have seen this year. Possibly the most accurate adaptation of the spirit of a Ballardian novel ever.

(Click here for my full review)

  1. Captain America: Civil War

For me, this was easily the superhero film of the year. ‘Deadpool’, while offering laughs, did not deliver on its promise to subvert the superhero genre. ‘Batman vs Superman’ wasn’t a total disaster. ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’ was a total disaster. But ‘Captain America: Civil War’ built on the legacy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to deliver spectacular drama involving the superheroes that we’ve followed for the past eight years. Tony Stark and Steve Rogers were always headings towards a fight. And we finally get to see that. For me, this represents the epitome of the MCU. Yes, there are bone-crunching fights (but these are very impressive, more in the vein of ‘Ong-Bak’ than a typical superhero melee), but it’s the characters and the drama that drive this film. We’ve learned to care about our heroes over eight years, and to see them fall apart is gut-wrenching. The plot may be a little convoluted, but so’s the plot of ‘The Dark Knight,’ and that’s universally recognised as a classic superhero film. When the talking gets too heavy, there’s always an action scene to breaks things up. If any film has a better action scene than the ‘airport melee’ this year, I’ve yet to see it. Not only that, but the final battle is a personal fight, rather than a CGI mess of destruction. And for that alone, ‘Civil War’ should be applauded. But it should be applauded for much more than that.

(Click here for my full review)

  1. Arrival

As with ‘High-Rise,’ my expectations for ‘Arrival’ may have been too lofty. The critical response to ‘Arrival’ was overwhelmingly positive, and I braced myself for the science fiction film of the decade. And while that may not have happening, I still saw one of the most vital and important films of any genre this decase. ‘Arrival’ is all about communication, but more specifically communication between humans and aliens. Aliens who’ve just arrived in grey Easter eggs (and that first reveal of the alien ship is one of my film scenes of the year. Just beautiful). Amy Adams as Lousie Banks plays the interpreter, faced with a nigh-on impossible task of translating an alien language that looks like a coffee ring stain. She knocks this performance out of the park, able to convey the deepest emotion with a mere and subtle squint or movement. If nothing else, her performance rates as one of the best performances in a science fiction film ever. But, like ‘Zootropolis,’ ‘Arrival’s’ central message comes at a time when we need it the most. It’s communication that can build a bridge between us and the aliens, but some people just want to attack the aliens without any understanding. It’s communication that can resolve any problem without the destruction that violence causes. ‘Arrival’ arrived just when Trump won the Presidential Election. Trump’s campaign was built on racial hatred and division. It came in a year when my fellow Britons voted to leave the EU. In a time when communication seems to be the last thing on anyone’s mind, ‘Arrival’ came out and told everybody that violence is the last resort. We should talk out our differences instead.

(Click here for my full review)

  1. I, Daniel Blake

For the mere emotive power of film, look no further than the food bank scene in ‘I, Daniel Blake.’ It’s cruel and viscerally upsetting. It made me feel physically sick, more than any horror film I’ve seen in years. The central character, Daniel Blake, may have only been peripherally involved in the scene, but it’s still one that haunts me. And that’s only half way through the film! ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is about a man who loses his disability benefits in the new Tory-imposed system of welfare. Yes, he may have had a heart attack and be liable to have another one with strenuous activity, but he can still walk more than fifty metres so is okay to work. Ergo, no more benefits! He meets up with Katie, a single mother of three who’s denied JSA. Together they try to survive against the odds of Tory Britain, a nation that despises those on benefits. There’s no doubt about it, ‘I, Daniel Blake’ is a powerful film. It’s one that makes you want to rise up against our Tory overlords and take back our country. Not from immigrants, of course, but our rulers that are systematically tearing down the welfare system to hit those who can’t defend themselves. Daniel Blake’s situation is one that many must face (and have faced) across the country, and we are often too blind to see it. That’s why we need Ken Loach’s rage against the Tory machine. Blake, played by Dave Johns, is naturally likeable, so to see him face the Kafka-esque trials of the Tory welfare system instantly raises the rage-ometer. It’s a difficult watch, and at times not necessarily an enjoyable one, but that’s not the point. It’s a film that all Britons should watch, to make them aware of what happens outside their little bubble.

(Click here for my full review)

  1. Creed

Yes, we Brits got this a lot later than the Yanks did. But for a franchise that’s on its seventh film, ‘Creed’ proved that ‘Rocky’ still comes out swinging when it needs to. I thought ‘Rocky Balboa’ made any sequels redundant, but ‘Creed’ managed to usurp my expectations. It may just be a glorified remake of ‘Rocky’ with black culture superimposed, but it tries and succeeds in being something a little bit grander than its building blocks. Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son can’t stay away from boxing, and moves to Philidelphia to ask his dad’s best friend, Rocky Balboa, to train him. After some hesitation, Rocky caves in and trains him. Of course, Creed is picked out to fight the World Boxing Champion (or whatever they call it!). Sylvester Stallone gives a career-best (and heartbreaking) performance as Rocky, pulling out all the stop to emote (just thinking of that scene where he’s talking to Adrian’s gravestone makes me well up). His emotional sub-plot also tugs the feels. But Michael B. Jordan as Creed is just as impressive, managing to be as mesmerising as Stallone was in the first Rocky. You may know where the story’s heading, but the ride proves that just like Rocky Balboa, no matter how hard the franchise is hit, it will keep moving forward (and for my money, it’s a better seventh entry in a franchise that ‘The Force Awakens…but that’s a story for a different time!)

(Click here for my full review)

  1. The Neon Demon

There could be no other contender for Film Of The Year in my eyes. While films like ‘Arrival’ and ‘I, Daniel Blake’ had powerful and important messages, ‘The Neon Demon’ offered no messages, or several messages, depending on your interpretation. But what you do get is a gothic fairy tale nightmare that’s the visual spectacle of the year. Like ‘High-Rise’, it’s unlike anything you’ll see this year, and that’s not because of the necrophilia scene. Repeated motifs and symbols, all-seeing eyes and pyramids, blue and red; your head will go dizzy with the amount of stuff packed into each scene. ‘The Neon Demon’ represents a filmmaker at the peak of his visual storytelling power. Nicolas Winding Refn is not prepared to settle for anything less than beauty. In a story about the fashion industry, that isn’t necessarily the best way to critique the fashion industry. But that’s not the point, is it? ‘The Neon Demon’ is a story, a story that is told in scenes of exquisite beauty (the ‘runway’ scene is simply beautiful. My favourite film scene of the year!). It’s a triumph of style over substance, of course, but the style is unparalleled. It’s complemented by the soundtrack of the year, from Cliff Martinez. From the moment I sat down to watch it to the moment the credits rolled, I could not take my eyes off the screen (even the same for a second viewing). And I could not say that about any other film this year.

(Click here for my full review)

Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Let me know in the comments below!

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12 thoughts on “My Top Ten Films of 2016 (Released In The UK!)

  1. Grog the Ginger December 28, 2016 / 2:11 pm

    Great to see High Rise and Creed on the list! Didn’t like Neon Demon but great list apart from that 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gavin December 28, 2016 / 4:40 pm

    Great to see Neon Demon at the top, love NWR and his films and this one is top notch. Wasn’t won over by Creed, or totally wowed by Arrival as good as it was. Great list tho!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hammy Reviews December 28, 2016 / 4:42 pm

      Cheers! Creed just hit me in the feels! Made me well up more than a few times!
      But no film impressed me more than The Neon Demon…Refn’s best film?

      Like

      • Gavin December 28, 2016 / 4:47 pm

        Hard to say, I loved Only God Forgives, Drive is pretty special, but The Neon Demon may just take it. So far…. Interesting to see what comes next!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. All Things Movies December 29, 2016 / 6:47 pm

    Interesting top 10 man, completely different to mine! I’m pleased creed was on there – that was a great film!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Caz January 1, 2017 / 10:42 am

    Very interesting as The Neon Demon made the top spot on my Worst Film of the year list, it certainly seems to be a very strange film to see who loves or hates it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hammy Reviews January 1, 2017 / 11:28 am

      Yeah, a very polarizing film! But every time I watch it I’m mesmerized

      Like

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