Saturday 31 December 2016

My favourite films of 2016

As I saw only just over 10% of the films released in this country over the last twelve months, this can hardly claim to be a definitive list of the best films of the year. If I'd managed to see all those I'd wanted to see the list would certainly be looking very different. Be that as it may, here is my annual appraisal of the ten films out of the 83 which I did see and which I enjoyed the most, in approximate ascending order.

10. 10 Cloverfield Lane - Altogether unexpected, chilling, claustrophobic thriller with a dash of alien-type horrors.

9. Eye in the Sky  -  gripping and authentic-feeling terrorist saga set in Kenya

8. La Chambre Bleu - Another 'hemmed-in' piece leaving one gasping for air. Beautifully achieved with lingering questions tantalisingly left unanswered.

7. David Brent - Life on the Road - just had to include this somewhere, with Ricky Gervais on high form despite not having his familiar supporting cast, and yet delivering more (deliberate) laughs than I got from any other film this year.

6. Youth - remarkably watchable 'sunset' vehicle for Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel which I hadn't expected to enjoy even half as much as I did.

5. Nocturnal Animals
Cleverly constructed and realised thriller with a suspended ending which will frustrate some but which I loved. And Jake Gyllenhall - is he capable of making a film that's less than 'good'? Not so far.

4. Little Men

Near-perfect human interest drama with lovely ensemble casting, Greg Kinnear leading the honours, though only by a short nose. Managed to win me over quite easily despite the inclusion of two youngish boys among the major players, something which would normally have sounded warning bells.

3. Spotlight

Another 'ensemble' film with its entire cast on blazing form, dealing with the infuriating subject of R.C. Church cover-up of historic child abuse. The subject haunts one, just as it ought to, this film doing a tremendous service in keeping it in public consciousness.

2. I, Daniel Blake

Anyone who fails to be profoundly moved by this Ken Loach-directed saga of unemployment and the frustrations of officialese when trying to survive on state-handouts for the disabled can only be lacking a pulse in their arteries. Brought me closer to genuine tears than any other film I've seen this year - a once in several years rarity in any case.

1. Julieta

What can one say? Pedro Almodovar excels even himself, which alone is some achievement, in this flawless, mysterious tale with perfect casting. After seeing it I was, very unusually, totally lost for words to describe the experience. Quite took my breath away.

Finally, of course, we have to nominate the suppurating, pus-filled boil of the year. There were rich pickings indeed, but eventually I just could not avoid going for 'Batman vs Superman', a film which annoyed me to death from the moment I'd first heard of the concept of making these two heroes fight against each other. I'm by no means an avid comic-book hero fan, but even I knew that this was going to be nothing short of sacrilege. Such characters exist only in the hermetically-sealed environments which justifies them. They must be totally oblivious of each other. It just does not work any other way. Putting them together, and even worse, as foes, was unforgivable - and watching the whole sorry mess played out on screen only confirmed the blindingly obvious. Talk about scraping the barrel for a new 'gimmick' to draw in the crowds! Trouble is, to my regretful amazement, it worked for them, darn it - though taking less at box-office than anticipated. So a small mercy!

Wishing every single one of my readers the happiest of all New Years. See you in 2017!


  1. Great list, many of these I've never seen so I'll have to keep an eye out.
    And that Batman mess? Oy! The only redeeming part about it was Henry Cavill.

    1. Quite so, Bob - though even H.C. couldn't anywhere near balance it its travesties. If ever a film deserves to be forgotten about, 'B v S' was it. Only trouble is is that's why it won't be forgotten in a hurry.

  2. Hi ya Ray, just wanted to say thank you for your blog posts and comments over on mine. I love reading your posts and that you have taken part in my book read a long. That really means a lot to me.

    I wish you and the kitties a fabulous 2017! let the good times commence! Love Sol xxx

    1. Thanks so much for that, Sol. It hardly needs saying that I wish you the same (and more) for the coming year when all our 'challenges' will surely be greater than the ones we've faced in 2016.
      Also hoping that there'll be a lull in the seemingly endless line of celebrities and other worthies who are leaving us, if only to stop our collective heads from reeling!
      Best wishes to your close ones too, of course not forgetting (how could one?) the latest furry addition to your family, bless him.

  3. Your #1 choice came as no surprise, but your #10 pick did. Eager to see "Julieta" but unfortunately it seems to have been completely ignored here. Not even available on VOD or the streaming services. One website says the DVD might be available in March, so we shall see.

    Since my two favorites in 2016 "Mooonlight" and "Manchester By The Sea" were not on your list, I have to assume you have not seen them. Hope you get to them in 2017.

    Wishing you and your loved ones: Health, Happiness and Contentment in the New Year.

    1. Paul, a very happy NY to you too - though with all the waves already being produced, not least by Pres-to-be 'T', I wonder how far into 2017 our hopes will last. But certainly on a personal level I do absolutely wish you no end of positives, highest on the list being, of course, good health.

      Now 'Manchester' only opens here in two weeks and I've heard so much about it that it's one of my must-sees.
      I've heard less about 'Moonlight' which doesn't start here until mid-Feb, but reading up on it it sounds well worth a peek - not to mention your own thumbs-up.

      I've got here beside me my draft short list of films that I made out before settling on my Top 10. Would you like to see the ones which just didn't quite make the final cut? Already having some regrets about not including at least some of them but one has to draw the line somewhere:-
      Florence Foster Jenkins
      Money Monster
      The Shallows (my most regretted omission!)
      Wiener Dog.

      Enough of 2016. It's a NEW year!

  4. Happy New Year to you my dear. I haven't seen a single one of your top 10 this year. I'll have to take them as suggestions for mile high viewing selections all except for Spotlight as that subject matter is too close to home for me to deal with.
    May 2017 bring you health, prosperity and happiness my dear.

    1. Your wishes are greatly valued F.B., just as they always are. I do appreciate your visits here even though it seems you may not be as avid a cineaste as some others of my other followers are. It's always good of you to take the time and occasionally to comment.

      Take it as a given that I most sincerely wish you in return all that you are wishing me, with good, lusty health being the Number 1 desire of all - as it surely ought be for everyone. It's a requisite without which it becomes so much harder to enjoy the rest.
      I wish the same to all those close to you, with an extra-special mention of your ever-so-lucky brood of doggies. I can well imagine the comfort and solace each of them must bring to you - making the trying times easily bearable for what they give you in return, simply by just being themselves.
      The happiest of years in 2017 to all!

  5. I wish you a splendid new year!

    1. You too, Dr Spo - in spite of the doleful seeds that have been sown in 2016 which threaten to grow and, scarily, even flourish in this new year. But certainly on a personal level I do most sincerely wish you and Someone and Harper a thoroughly enjoyable, satisfying and - above all else - healthy 2017.

  6. I have not seen a single one of your top 10 picks...I admit I am not a faithful filmgoer. I read your blog, though, b/c I do so enjoy your writing; and reading your reviews makes me realize I need to get out more often...

    Best wishes for a happy new year!

    1. With much gratitude for your wishes, Elle, I wish for you the very same, and with bells on!
      I don't disbelieve you when you praise my writing but I do find it extraordinary that you should say what you do as I am quite ashamed to re-read them once I have 'tweaked' the grammar and spelling to get it 'right'. I'm often appalled at my limited vocabulary and the over-use of cliched phrases, such that I've often been sorely tempted to delete them so as to prevent anyone else having a read. But if they serve a purpose in getting people interested enough to, perhaps, explore the films by actually seeing them, then maybe they do serve a useful purpose. However, I think in any case that I'm coming to the end of the road of my review writing - not quite yet, but cinema-going is getting significantly more onerous in several respects as time goes on. But due warning will be given of the 'end' when it gets closer.
      'See' you later - and thanks again or your kind words.

  7. I've only seen a few of these films, but I have complete faith in your assessment of them. I'll look forward to seeing more of them this year - and enjoying your reviews.

    Wishing you and the Kitties the very best of everything in 2017!

    1. Thanks, Jon, but my list really only reflects the tastes of one person and is no more valid than that of any other individual. However, I'm still flattered that you have such belief in them, and I cannot deny that they are honest and take no account what other people may think of the same film.

      Thanks too for your kind and generous wishes for the coming year, to which I wish precisely the same for you and the little ones. I only hope that that in one year's time we'll be saying "Boy, wasn't that a good one!" If it turns out to be the case there'll be no one happier - or more surprised - than me, but let's give it a chance.
      All the best to you.

    2. Unfortunately I can't remember the last time I had a really good year. Growing old is a curse, Ray.....but we can dream, can't we?

      I do hope that you're healing from that very nasty fall. I'm still suffering from back pain from when I fell on the ice.

    3. Yes indeed, Jon, growing old is a tragedy, especially when ones mind is as active as a twenty-year old yet one is aware that ones body is crumbling around one.
      I have my first hospital appointment to have my jaw examined at the end of this month, six months and a day after the accident (don't ask why it's taken so long!) but there's been no pain since a couple of days after it happened. However, it still looks ghastly - worse than it actually feels - and I still try to talk through closed lips like a ventriloquist to avoid frightening the horses. But, at long last, we could be on the way to repair work.
      And are you receiving treatment for your back? It sounds far worse than my experience was. At least mine doesn't feel bad and I can just about do all I did before - but I think that that doesn't apply to you. Sounds really horrible, considering ones back is central to all ones functioning. Please don't fall over again, and I've no doubt that you're being extra-extra careful so that it doesn't happen. Best wishes so that you quickly get to the time when you can put the injury to the back of your mind, if not to have it banished altogether. A consummation devoutly to be wished! - though perhaps a very big ask.

  8. Ray,
    Have you seen "Florence Foster Jenkins?" You know what would be helpful? If you listed all your posts on the right side of your blog. Blogspot has that capability.

    1. Yes, I have, Ron:-

      I'm trying to do what you suggest with Blogspot but not managing so far. I'll keep trying to work out how to do it. I agree it would be helpful, to myself as well.Thanks.