I saw 43 films this year (three of them twice). Thank you world of cine pass (and two airlines). The only film I might still see this year is Edge of Seventeen, if I can find the time while I’m in Cape Town. I’ll let you know if it dislodges anything on this list.
This isn’t a top ten, becuase, bwah, who wants to decide that. But it is categorised.
the ‘if you don’t like these films we can’t be friends’ films
(more accurately: the ‘if you see it, don’t like it, but don’t understand why I do, we probably shouldn’t be friends’ list)
- Arrival – hello, have you spoken to me recently? I freaking love this film and the way it makes me think and feel.
- The Queen of Katwe – you, guys, this film is so lovely. It was everything I wanted from a ‘young girl triumphs over the odds’ story set in one of Kampala’s slums. Did you know people could achieve things without white westerners coming to save them? Now you do. Also, you must stay for the credits.
- Hail Caesar – the Coens made a movie about religion, politics, and entertainment, like it was just for me. Highlights include Channing Tatum tap dancing, a scene where a Priest, a Rabbi and a Vicar theologically vet a film, and the most unexpectedly moving explanation of the gospel you’ll see in a film all year.
- Knight of Cups – I like Terrence Malick, and that is not stopping, no matter how wilfully obscurant and artsy he is determined to be. Over-privileged middle-aged white men are often terrible, and so is Christian Bale’s character in this, but Knight of Cups is one of the best depictions of limited, human, perspective, I’ve seen on film, and it’s gorgeous.
the ‘I expected to really like these, and you know what I did’ list
- Rogue One. I was delighted by how emotionally satisfying I found it. I loved Force Awakens, but I tend to flip between favourite films when I re-watch it now. Rogue One I want to watch in its entirity.
- High Rise. Thoroughly solid adaptation of the Ballard novel, that really got at the concentrated weirdness of living cheek-by-jowl with other people, and at the dangers of rigid stratification. With bonus added creepy songs.
- Everyone Wants Some!!. Richard Linklater does college baseball, and unreformed 80s dudebros have never been this charming.
- A United Kingdom. Unfussy, solidly good drama with a story to tell that told it well. In case you didn’t know, Britain’s history is often not that glorious: something that bears repeating in the Year of our Brexit: 2016.
the ‘well these were a delightful surprise for me’ films
- Creed. I have never seen a boxing movie I enjoyed (But, I’ve never seen Raging Bull). This was heaps of fun.
- Midnight Surprise. I was enjoying it mightily, and then it literally took my breath away at the end.
- Love and Friendship. I am solidly pro-snappy, sarcastic, adaptations of Jane Austen.
- Eye in the Sky. The trailer was terrible, and then it got some good reviews on my favourite film review shows, and I went. One of the most uncomfortable ‘what would you do?’ films about the “War on Terror” that exists.
- Swallows and Amazons. Could have gone so badly wrong. Didn’t. Swallows and Amazons forever!
- Anthropoid. I’d never heard of it until Murphy and Dornan turned up on Wittertainment to promote it, and then I thought: hey World War II drama with good people in it, let’s give it a shot. It turned out to be really really solid
the ‘films I saw on planes and wish I’d seen in cinemas’ films
- Sing Street
- Hunt for the Wilderpeople
- Kubo and the Two Strings.
All of these films gave me Altitude Adjusted Lacrimosity Syndrome. I endorse them heartily. I recommend not watching them on an aeroplane.
the ‘films I was disappointed by’ films
- Captain America: Civil War. It was just fine. Except it wasn’t really a Captain America film, and it didn’t do its ideas justice. Steve is wrong, fyi, until he’s right about Bucky. Tony is right, but does the things in all the wrong ways, until he’s wrong, and carries on being wrong in all the wrong ways. Also, I’m still laughing at the idea that the UN could produce a treaty THAT fast THAT secretly.
- Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. It was moderate. Magical New York was lovely to see, as long as you didn’t look at it too hard because once you do it’s all going to fall down. I’m officially bored of Eddie Redmayne, but there was Colin Farrell in a suuuuuuper swish suit so that was fine. Until it wasn’t. If you’ve seen it you know what I mean.