We asked JFC writers Sam Johnson, Anna Williamson and Jonathan Falconer what their top five films were for 2016. Here's what caught their eye...
This film follows pretty much the same format as every other Marvel film; good guys versus bad guys, internal struggle and obstacles occur, then good guys win. It's a winning combo. It was a gamble whether putting all the heroes together in one film again would work, but any film with Chris Evans (hot), Scarlett Johansson (hotter) and Robert Downey Jr. (hottest) is a winner for me.
4. Imperium (Dir. Daniel Ragussis)
This is maybe the first film where I don’t constantly refer to Daniel Radcliffe’s character as “Harry”. Radcliffe is totally convincing as Nate Foster, the FBI agent who infiltrates a group of white supremacists. Interspersed with real footage from rallies and KKK activities, this film was incredibly tense from beginning to end. Terrifying subject matter, excellent movie.
3. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Dir. David Yates)
I was sceptical that this film could live up to the hype, and while I don’t know if it quite managed it, I still loved it. The love story seemed like an unnecessary addition, but the imaginative creatures, engaging characters and outstanding CGI more than made up for it. At the end of the day, anything that keeps the Harry Potter magic alive a little longer is alright by me.
2. Finding Dory (Dir. Andrew Stanton)
Sequels can be tricky, and since Finding Nemo is the best-selling DVD title of all time, this sequel really had its work cut out. But Disney/Pixar rose to the challenge and created yet another magical, loveable, adorable hit. All your favourite characters from the first film make an appearance, plus some hilarious new ones. Fishy fun for all the family – again!
1. Hail, Caesar! (Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)
It’s not that this film doesn’t have a plot, it’s just that it’s ended up being the least important thing about the film. Which sounds like a negative, but is actually just because everything in this film – from the cast, to the set, to the production – is outstanding. It’s beautiful, and dazzling, and genuinely funny. Without a doubt, my favourite film of 2016.
5. Deadpool (Dir. by Tim Miller)
I went to see Deadpool with my Mum. I’m not sure if that’s testament to the quality of our relationship, or the quality of the film. Maybe both. Deadpool brings superhero movies away from the grim-dark themes we’ve seen in recent years to refocus them as campy, sometimes fourth-wall-breaking pieces of entertainment similar to what we saw during their birth and initial rise to prominence.
4. Batman: The Killing Joke (Dir. by Sam Liu)
Based upon the infamous 1988 one-shot graphic novel by Brian Bollard and Alan Moore, Batman: The Killing Joke is a faithful and beautifully designed retelling of the story with identical comic-cell to film-shot mirroring. It is a real sight to behold, and a real treat for old-school fans. Those who have played the Batman-Arkham game series will be familiar with Mark Hamill reprising his role of the Joker. Truly chilling.
3. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dir. Dan Trachtenberg)
Spiritual successor to 2008 found footage monster film Cloverfield, 10 Cloverfield Lane takes elements from the story of the original but flips the structure and turns itself into a psychological thriller. John Goodman stole the show for me in his hair-trigger portrayal of Howard. I don’t want to say too much, but go in blind and hold tight.
2. Finding Dory (Dir. by Andrew Stanton)
Disney/Pixar have the perfected the art of plucking at my heartstrings and Finding Dory is no exception. A sequel to the 2003 Pixar classic Finding Nemo, Finding Dory explores Dory’s background and history a bit more while providing the quick witted dialogue and quality story we expect of Pixar. Though I think it wasn’t as strong a story as Pixar’s original Finding Nemo, Finding Dory keeps up the caliber and delivers on the tears.
1. Ghostbusters/Suicide Squad (Directed by Paul Feig/David Ayer)
I’m kidding. Oh dear god, I’m fucking kidding…
1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Dir. by Taika Waititi)
I saw this with my Mum as well… there’s a trend developing here. From the same director as What We Do In the Shadows comes another cult-Kiwi flick. It follows the introduction of juvenile delinquent and problem-child Ricky Baker (played by Julian Dennison) into the independent and isolationist life of ‘Uncle’ Hec (played by Sam Neill). Full of belly laughs and inward chuckles, the film wins you over with it’s clever writing and well-paced story. For me, it’s the must-watch of the 2016.
Honourable mention: Rogue One
5. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dir. Dan Trachtenberg)
A minimal, Hitchcockian psychological thriller, Trachtenberg’s film is a follow-up to the 2008 monster movie in name only, swapping out the giant monster for claustrophobic tension. John Goodman is perfectly cast as someone who can appear to be utterly threatening, yet trustworthy and comforting at the same time.
4. Wiener-Dog (Dir. Todd Solondz)
Independent filmmaker Todd Solondz returns with this spin-off from his 1995 film Welcome to the Dollhouse. With an ensemble cast, and made up of a series of vignettes connected by the adventures of the titular dachshund, Solondz’s film beautifully explores themes of love, disappointment, age, and death.
3. Arrival (Dir. Denis Villeneuve)
Dennis Villeneuve is swiftly becoming one of the best filmmakers around. His latest offering is this psychological sci-fi which functions much like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, except much more stylish and pared-back, and with a much more balanced approach to the more sentimental elements of the plot.
2. The Witch (Dir. Robert Eggers)
Robert Eggers’ directorial debut is a stark fairy-tale set near the forests of New England in the 17th century. Bleak, beautiful cinematography and a Ligeti-reminiscent score are utilised alongside a narrative wherein witchcraft and puritan religious fervour are explored through inverted audience expectations and profoundly disturbing imagery.
1. The Childhood of a Leader (Dir. Brady Corbet)
Actor Brady Corbet’s first feature film, inspired by Jean-Paul Sartre’s short story, is a timely cautionary tale of the germination fascism. A claustrophobic setting, a performance reminiscent of The Omen’s Damian from newcomer Tom Sweet, and a pummelling score from the legendary Scott Walker create a taught, icy parable.