A Turkish-French film from Cannes 2015 that was nominated for an Oscar last year which gives far better insight into the reality of life in Turkey than any of the news reports about the failed coup on President Erdoğan or the continued terrorist attacks that seem to be happening every other weekend. Mustang tells the story of five young girls all being brought up as conservative, cloistered beings as they are married off one by one by an abusive uncle and compliant mother look on.
9. Pete’s Dragon
It’s the children’s film that everyone should see from 2016! This isn’t a million miles off the wonderful Jungle Book reboot, but there’s a depth and wonder missing from Jon Favreau’s reboot. And hey who would complain about spending time with Robert Redford, Bryce Dallas Howard and a cuddly CGI dragon.
8. The Revenant
This represents the class of 2015 with a little tip of the hat to other Oscar contenders Spotlight and The Hateful 8. What more can we say about Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film that hasn’t been uttered already, with those incredible performances from Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio burned into your brain as indelibly as the incredible visuals from cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.
7. Little Men
Ira Sachs’ follow-up to Love is Strange is the film about the New York rental market you didn’t know you needed to see from 2016.
The Amy Adams representation in the top 10. In a year that was a bitter disappointment for blockbusters and science-fiction cinema alike, thank you to Denis Villeneuve and Adams for creating a film that allowed us to think about how we communicate, to ponder existence and meaning, and invoke some memories of the TV series LOST.
5. The Witch
It’s incredible to think that Robert Eggers’ ‘New England Folktale’ The Witch was his first film and yet feels so fully formed and is undoubtedly the best horror film of the year – bonus points for such historical and linguistic attention to detail.
Pedro Almodovar gets his mojo back. After the disappointment of I’m so Excited, this is a heavy dramatic work that’s less funny, camp and outrageous than some of his work but can sit alongside All About My Mother and Talk to Her as his best films.
The twin peformances of Emma Suarez and Adriana Ugarte as Julieta as a young and middle-aged woman are wonderful, as we span her life over 32 years.
3. I, Daniel Blake
A film about poverty and getting lost between the cracks of the system. This is a return to form by a supposed-to-be-retired-now Ken Loach with his regular screenwriting colleague Paul Laverty. It’s not a film that’s necessary anti-Tory or pro-Brexit, but exists to show us that for all the streamlining and technology that is meant to make modern life easier for everyone, sometimes people get left behind when the human, compassionate side of things is left out.
A divisive film but for me it’s a poem, it’s fantasy, it’s a film about the beauty in mediocrity, and the complexities of mundane things around us.
1. Everybody Wants Some
In Everybody Wants Some, Richard Linklater made a film about the experience of the first week of college for a baseball team in 1980. Politics are non-existent, poverty is non-existent, race is non-existent. In a year of a lot of darkness, it’s an absolute joy. (Full Review)
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