Well, you don’t need me to tell you that 2016 stung. I won’t list all the horrors last year offered, nor will I state all the ways in which the world has never been better. But, through all the good, the bad and the unbelievable, we’ve had film to keep us sane. We escaped into animation, travelled the globe with the wonders of world cinema and saw the good guys come out on top in the London Mayoral election. Oh, and with superheroes.
The year was bookended by interesting, engaging cinema, but this summer was a let-down, especially in the multiplexes. Hopefully 2017 is a step-up, but before we skip merrily into the joys of January, we must wave goodbye to a year gone by. Before we can suckle on Silence, munch on Manchester by the Sea and lap up La La Land, we must remember. So, here goes:
2016 gave us a peek back into the unique mind of Charlie Kaufman. No other could have pulled this off quite like Kaufman, just as he may’ve been the only person on the planet able to make Being John Malkovich. The surreal ordinarity found in the life of a customer service expert is made only more striking by the use of puppets. The 3D-printed faces portray a depth of emotion which is often hard to believe. Anomalisa is an amazing, brilliant, crippling, bizarre piece of art, made by a master of making the abstract so very human. #GivePuppetsaChance
9. Rogue One
Star Wars came back, but in the least Star-Wars-y form we’ve ever seen. A near-perfectly-formed single entity, linking the old to the new, Rogue One kept the necessary cameos to a minimum whilst pushing the new, diverse characters to new heights. It’s pure magic because it doesn’t have to set anything up for the future. The shackles were off, and oh boy did Gareth Edwards and co. take the ball and run with it.
Ambitious and pretentious in equal measure, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight spoon-feeds his vision of a modern spaghetti western, with predictably violent results. The outside traps in, with the majority of the film taking place in a single room, bubbling over a mixing pot of racial tension and justice. The intermission, overture and Ennio Morricone’s score gave The Hateful Eight a one-of-a-kind feel. It was the cinema ‘event’ of the year.
In a year short of laughs, Hunt for the Wilderpeople offered up around 75% of our yearly-recommended-intake. Taika Waititi pointed his lens at a troubled young teen, a chief mischief-maker, and chronicles his adventures with his new father-figure. One thing you won’t be short of is laughs: this one’s a little bit special. And it’s coming to Netflix UK.
A quintet of amateur actors play a group of lively, optimistic, vibrant pre-to-teens, pushing the boundaries in action and language in the face of an oppressive hand. The world is one familiar to Erguven and in her debut feature she holds back to hit harder than any shock horrors. Its messages are clear and thoughtful, accusatory but measured, acting to inform rather than enrage. Film is Erguven’s tool, and she uses with precise, yet forceful dexterity.
5-1 will be along shortly, but before that, my Worst of 2016 is up next. Thanks for stopping by.
Images courtesy of ign, slashfilm, hitflix, theverge and curzon-artificialeye respectively.