Welcome back! Or, if you haven’t seen Part One and my Worst of 2016, Welcome! On New Years Day I counted down 10-6 of 2016’s best offerings and today I’ll let you into the secret of 5-1. So, here goes: The best films from 2016. It’s an illustrious bunch.
It is rare that a film comes along which feels so vitally important, whilst totally lacking grandstand.
Liev Schreiber’s Marty Baron says that most of the time journalists are just stumbling about in the dark. Spotlight tells us that even when the light flickers on, people will choose to ignore that which they’d rather not see. It deserves not to be ignored.
4. The Assassin
Hou Hsiao-hsien’s latest offering is a martial arts film featuring scant combat. Death is sparse and there is no bloodshed to be found. Instead, The Assassin is slow, quiet and patience is needed, but in a world of on-screen destruction, devastation and dino-snores, this slice of solemnity is the rightful solution.
The Assassin is hypnotic, transporting our informationally saturated minds to a decelerated period of custom, honour, respect and of thought. The film simmers without feeling the need to boil, giving preference to its magical imagery and the significances too subtle to always see. A very special film, so subtle that you may miss its dagger’s entry.
Unflashy and undramatic, Ryan Coogler’s Balboa breakout unfolds the story of Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, telling a human story departed from the glitz.
Simply put, Creed is a near-perfect incarnation of what this reboot should have been. Creed is not just a worthy successor to the Rocky masthead, not just the best boxing film of the decade but one of the greatest sports films of the modern era.
2. Son of Saul
Ambitious, gripping and haunting in equal measure, László Nemes’ debut feature shows a flicker of the Holocaust through the incomprehensible struggle of a Sonderkommando, a Jewish prisoner tasked with emptying the gas chambers. Its focus narrows into one of legacy, family and hanging on to humanity in a place where all roots turn to ash. Words can barely do justice.
Director Denis Villeneuve had wanted to make a science-fiction film for thirty years before Arrival. It was worth the wait.
After the mysterious appearance of extra-terrestrial vessels, dotted around the world in seemingly random locations, the US turn to two tentative scientists to make contact. While the rest of the world gears up for Mars Attacks, America sends in Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams).
Adams’ language expert and Jeremy Renner’s mathematician are not action-science types; leaving Goldblum-esque eccentricities back at home. They are careful and precise, reflecting Arrival’s deft script.
Arrival is a tale of co-operation, which takes wistful liberties with notions of time and the human journey. It is outwardly optimistic, revealing truths we all know to be present, and embracing them with warmth. Villeneuve comforts us, and departs from the darker themes of his latest pictures.
It is a marvel; a spectacle never reliant on spectacle, daring to push further with smartly constructed narrative drive. It rocked me to my core, I don’t think I blinked in the last fifteen minutes but to clear the tears from my eyes. Arrival‘s ambition, passion and talent has helped draw together a once-in-a-decade picture, blowing everything around it out of the sky.
Thanks for stopping by! Let me know your favourites of 2016 in the comments below, and I’ll see you back here soon! Keep rockin’.
Images courtesy of collider, mubi, utbgeek, Curzon Artificial Eye and Telegraph respectively.