Another year is complete and as I've done in the past, the time is perfect to publish my top 10 and bottom 10 films of 2016. You can look at previous lists over the past 20 years by clicking here.
We covered the list on 612ABC Breakfast several weeks ago and took talk back calls from listeners. You can hear the full podcast here.
Starting with the bottom of the barrel, honourable mentions go to Dirty Grandpa, Nerve, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, Sunset Song, The Wait, Bad Santa 2, The Boss, Ice Age: Collision Course and Ride Along 2.
But my worst 10 of 2016 in reverse order are…
10. Up for Love (out Dec 1) is an odd French film about a woman who falls in love with a man but has conflicting thoughts about his short stature. It struggles to mix goofy comedy with heartfelt drama and ends up being a disappointment.
9. Blair Witch (out Sep 15) is a dull sequel to the 1999 original. The lead up is too long, you won't care about the characters, and the "scary" finale gets tired quickly.
8. Office Christmas Party (out Dec 8) has a small number of laughs but for the most part, it's a limp comedy. It focuses too much on a dull story about "saving the company" and less on the outrageous Christmas party that features prominently in the advertising.
7. Zoolander 2 (out Feb 11) is dreadful. It's a shame because the original was so entertaining. The characters are trying far too hard to make these jokes work. Even the surprise cameos feel uninspired.
6. Mother's Day (out Apr 28) is a ridiculously simplistic comedy about a group of women dealing with problems. These cliché-laden films have become tiring and despite best intentions, there's nothing remotely uplifting about them.
5. A Hologram For The King (out Jul 28) is a strange, unfulfilling drama about a struggling IT salesman (Tom Hanks) to travels to Saudi Arabia to complete a career-saving business deal. We're given brief glimpses into his past to help build a necessary backstory but they don't offer much.
4. Now You See Me 2 (out Jun 2) is an elaborate trick. Audiences will be duped into paying money to see a film that makes no sense.
3. Point Break (out Jan 1) is a poorly conceived remake of the 1991 original. An extreme sport loving FBI agent tries to take down a mysterious group of "Robin Hood" style criminals. Some subplots go nowhere (e.g. the love interest) while others make little sense. Very disappointing.
2. The Choice (out Feb 4) is a dreary romantic drama based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. It's hard to say too much without giving away plot details but it's about two unlikely people who fall in love and have to overcome adversity. It's the kind of movie where everything feels forced.
1. David Brent: Life of the Road (out Aug 25) will not revitalize the career of Ricky Gervais. I wanted to walk out of the cinema after 10 minutes but stuck with it to see if the repetitive jokes actually got any better. They did not. Every scene feels the same.
Now let’s focus on something more positive – the best films of the year. Honourable mentions go to The Big Short, Carol, Deadpool, The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Conjuring 2, Julietta, Elle, Bad Moms, Don’t Breathe, American Honey, Snowden, The Jungle Book and Zootopia.
But my top 10 films of 2016 in reverse order are…
10. I, Daniel Blake (out Nov 17) is the story of a 59-year-old from the UK who finds himself unemployed and ineligible for welfare after suffering a major heart attack. Cinema has the power to open our eyes to the world’s issues and offer a path forward if we’re willing to take it. This film is a great example.
9. Embrace of the Serpent (out Jul 28) is the first film from Colombia to be nominated at the Academy Awards for best foreign language film. It's a beautifully shot drama inspired by the travels of two explorers who befriended a group of Amazonian tribes during the early 20th Century. Providing a voice to a group of people seldom seen on the big screen, this is a must-see.
8. Truman (out Aug 11) is one of the best films I've seen that covers the subject of death. It follows a man dying of terminal cancer who spends 4 days catching up with an old friend. Ricardo Darín and Javier Cámara and it's easy to see why this emotional piece won the Goya Award (the Spanish Oscars) for best picture.
7. Hunt For The Wilderpeople (out May 26) is the best film yet from director Taika Waititi. It follows a troubled boy and his disgruntled foster father who go on a hike across remote New Zealand for unusual reasons. Every character has a splash of quirkiness that makes them distinctive and memorable.
6. The First Monday In May (out May 12) is a superb documentary that follows the creation of a fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the organisation of a gala ball in support of it. Director Andrew Rossi has shot some fascinating "behind the scenes" footage that makes this a compelling view from start to finish.
5. Nocturnal Animals (out Nov 10) is from director Tom Ford and is a beautifully told tale of revenge and the struggle to escape one's past. The performances are superb (Michael Shannon is tipped as an awards season contender) and the film is also to be admired for its colours, lighting and imagery.
4. Anomalisa (out Feb 4) is a rarity - a stop-motion animated feature pitched at adults. It's no surprise that it's come from the creative mind of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich). The film follows a depressed writer travelling to Cincinnati for a public speaking event. It's a great conversation generator and I’m still reflecting on its style and themes.
3. Sing Street (out Jul 14) is set in 1985 and follows a high school student from a poor neighbourhood in Dublin who forms a band to win the affection of a girl. This is a simple, funny, sweet, beautiful film. Directed by John Carney (Once), it's filled with great 1980s music and a bunch of new songs that I'm still humming. A movie for anyone and everyone.
2. Spotlight (out Jan 28) is based on a true story and follows a team of investigative journalists as they dig deeper into the Catholic Church's cover up of child abuse in Boston. The script highlights the tough challenges that journalists face and the performances of the cast cannot be faulted. This is one of the best films I've seen in many years.
1. Brooklyn (out Feb 11) is set in 1952 and follows a young Irish woman (Saoirse Ronan) who immigrates to the United States. Battling homesickness, she meets an Italian guy determined to win her affections. This is a sweet, moving, gorgeously-shot tale that has the perfect balance of comedy and sentimentality. The characters are honest and genuine too.