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Live for Films: The Top Films of 2016

The year has almost come to an end and what a year it has been. We have seen the passing of Legends, various elections, breakthroughs in science and a great many films. Some were good, some were bad and some were just bizarre.

Some of the Live for Films team put together their top 5 films of the year and you can check them out below. What were your top films of 2016?

Sarah Louise Dean

Everybody Wants Some!!

Nobody saw one of my favourite films of 2016, which is a crying shame. Planetarium by Rebecca Zlotowski is a love letter to French cinema hiding a gut-wrenching message about WW2. An ambitious film that met all expectations, starring a cross-dressing Natalie Portman.

Of the films that had a wider release, I choose the following as my picks of the year:

5. Snowden -Oliver Stone: I don’t know if this is Stone’s latest masterpiece or simply a first-class study in paranoia, but I’ve been covering cameras and unsubscribing ever since. Imagine if The Social Network swallowed the red pill.

4. Bridget Jones’s Baby – Sharon Maguire/How to be single – Christian Ditter: I am cheating here because it’s not often that two great rom-coms come along in one year. Both genuinely funny (with thanks to Emma Thompson’s and Abby Kohn’s witty scripts)without patronising the audience and with subject matters that are en pointe.

3. Hail, Caesar! – The Coen Brothers: Continuing a theme of movie titles with strange punctuation, this is a bold study of Classic Hollywood (and for me, miles better than La La Land). With a break-out performance from Alden Ehrenreich, it’s old-school satire that doesn’t leave a bad taste. Highlight: Channing Tatum’s mesmerising tap dance routing.

2. Everybody Wants Some!! – Richard Linklater: As a movie about rich, entitled baseball jocks at College, it should be awful, but I left the cinema grinning – Linklater knows how to portray pure, unadulterated fun better than any other.

1. Arrival – Denis Villeneuve: My absolute film of the year by my current favourite director. Villeneuve brings suspense, drama and emotion to sci-fi with a haunting performance from Amy Adams and a likeable Jeremy Renner. Vibrant and heart-swelling, it may be my film of the decade so far.

Alas, my worst movie was The Girl On The Train. An absolute travesty full of schlocky tropes and no one to root for (with apologies to Emily Blunt who tried her best). I just didn’t care what happened and, to me, that’s worse than hating a movie.

Phil Edwards

Putting together these end of year lists always makes you realise just how many films you missed. There are probably many more great ones that would make my list, but I just never got a chance to see them. If I do this list again in a few months or years time I am sure there will be some changes, but for the moment this is my top 5 for 2016:

5. Blood Father Mel Gibson plays an ex-con, recovering alcoholic who ends up having to break his parole in order to save his daughter from drug dealers. A return to form for Gibson in a film that packs a surprising amount of humour between the violence. Great support from William H. Macy, Erin Moriarty, Diego Luna and Michael Parks.

4. The Hateful EightQuentin Tarantino’s mashup of The Thing, Westerns and a solid murder mystery is full of great turns from all involved. It looks beautiful, has great dialogue, and you sadly get to see the destruction of an antique guitar. Sadly there are only a few more Tarantino films heading our way so we have to savour them when we can.

3. Hell or High Water – Two brothers head out to rob banks and then get chased by Sheriff Jeff Bridges. No, it’s not a Rick and Morty Two Brothers movies, this one is an old school Western wrapped up in the plight of today’s modern day farmers as the banks close in. Great turns from all involved, but Chris Pine and Ben Foster are incredible.

2. Arrival – A twisty turny, emotional, uplifting, alien movie. Amy Adams is luminescent in the film and shows others how to act without needing to say a word. A masterclass performance and stunning work from Denis Villeneuve. It got me excited for his Blade Runner 2049 movie.

1. Hunt for the WilderpeopleTaika Waititi wrote and directed this absolute gem of a movie, based on the book Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump. Sam Neill and Julian Dennison play “Uncle” Hector and Ricky Baker, a father figure and son who become the targets of a manhunt after fleeing into the New Zealand bush. Brilliant dialogue, delivered by great actors standing in incredible landscapes gives us a fun, uplifting movie that will bring a smile to everyone.

Amanda Keats


As per my Twitter feed, here are my top 10 for 2016. NB: (LFF) marks London Film Festival viewings not out till 2017:

5 is the haunting Mustang. The bonds between sisters, the pressures of societal expectation. Incredibly brave filmmaking.

(LFF) 4 is the delightful musical extravaganza La La Land. Gosling and Stone are spectacular once again. Joyous, warm. Completely enchanting.

3 is the cheeky, and delectably naughty Deadpool. Perfectly meta, funny and such a pleasure to watch.

(LFF) 2 is the stereotype-smashing Moonlight. Flawless cast, with a story sure to captivate and enthral.

1 is the award-winning Room. A difficult subject matter, sensitively explored. Flawless.

Piers McCarthy

Train To Busan

5. The Nice Guys – Shane Black returning to noir, crime and the buddy cop scenario. There’s a reason he’s paid for these films, and a reason why we keep watching them – hilarious. Out of everything this year, here’s hoping for a sequel.

4. Green Room – Nail-biting, ultra-violent, and completely engrossing.

3. Everybody Wants Some!! – Richard Linklater returning to the college days that we glanced at in Dazed And Confused and Boyhood. So much fun, with a wonderful soundtrack (as per normal for Linklater), and some great discoveries in the young cast.

2. Train To Busan – Aside from Green Room and Don’t Breathe, nothing has had me on the edge of my seat more this year. Simply put together, with a few elements of sheer awe, and overall a fantastic horror/thriller.

1. Victoria – Stunning one-shot thriller that is unique next to everything else released this year. All the performances are amazing, and it’s tone, structure and pacing are expertly handled.

Alan Simmons

The Witch

Runners Up

  • Point Break – the dumbest, funnest film of the year.
  • Deadpool – the coolest, funniest film of the year.
  • Bone Tomahawk – the gore-iest, hairiest film of the year.
  • Zootropolis – the cutest, fuzziest film of the year.
  • The Conjuring 2 – the scariest film that also featured Patrick Wilson singing an Elvis song-iest film of the year.


Best of 2016

5. Captain America: Civil War

Featuring dream match-ups, inventive scrapping, and plenty of those trademark Marvel killer one-liners, this was some of the purest joy felt emanating off the screen this year, and showed the DC Extended Universe whose playground this still is. Captain America: Civil War is not just the best Captain America movie; it is the best Avengers movie: rollicking, glorious and heartfelt.

4. The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight’s Ultra Panavision 70mm presentation was exquisite, and brought the prestige back to cinema-going. This, coupled with Tarantino’s fully-loaded, razor sharp-spurred writing and masterful direction, made for a savage and magnificent modern classic.

3. The Witch
The horror in The Witch was one of primal fear, isolation, abandonment, and wrongful condemnation by those you love. There are no cheap tricks or jump scares – just abject psychological terror. It felt like it could go, or end up, anywhere, before unleashing a satisfying, satanic, spine-crumpling resolution of madness and carnage.

2. Green Room

Green Room was a meat grinder of a movie, a masterclass in pacing and suspense, breathless and brutal and punctuated with acts of harrowing violence that will leave you wincing and squirming. The confrontations are messy and real, and the consequences are sickening. No one walks anything off – wounds sustained gape and squirt and hurt like hell. Tough and intimidating, Green Room is flabbergastingly good filmmaking, full of spit and aggression.

1. The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon was absolutely brilliant. NWR’s direction was enthralling and entrancing, it looked so immaculate you could eat your dinner off it, and Jena Malone was fearless and fabulous.

Worst of 2016:

  • Zoolander 2 – Why?
  • Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Eurgh.
  • Suicide Squad – This is Katana! She’s got my back! I would advise not getting killed by her! Her sword traps the souls of its victims!
  • Ghostbusters – I stuck up for this for a year, and then it was unwatchable garbage.
  • Cabin Fever – Whyyy?

Most anticipated 2017

  • King Kong: Skull Island – Tom Hiddlestone AND King Kong. Unf.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming – Your Friendly Neighbourhood Fuck Yeah.
  • Thor: Ragnarok – Thor and Hulk intergalactic road trip ALSO with Tom Hiddlestone and from the director of What We Do in the Shadows? Yes, mate.
  • Star Wars: Episode VIII – STAR WARS EPISODE VIII.
  • The Fate of the Furious – Vin Diesel goes rogue! Statham takes his place!! Helen Mirren possibly fires a bazooka while ramping a Lamborghini in another Lamborghini!!!

Adam Truscott

I’m regularly shot down for including films that were released in the current year, but that were available to see the year before. As a result, I’ve ditched anything I’ve been told is contentious. So The Revenant // Hateful Eight // The Witch // Bone Tomahawk // don’t make the cut. If they did, they took 2016 and ran with it, and it was never really fair on anyone else. Bonefide classics, one and all.

On the basis they’re cut, it has to be these;

  • Arrival
  • Nice Guys
  • Neon Demon
  • Midnight Special
  • Hell or High Water

I was seriously tempted to have Suicide Squad: Extended Edition, but didn’t want to help the internet implode on itself after the year we’ve all had.

I also thought standard hypocrisy and general film snobbery meant all of the following were HUGELY underrated and are highly anticipated for me in 2017 in glorious 4K;

*Deepwater Horizon
*Magnificent Seven (So close to the top 5)
*The Accountant
*Finest Hours
*Triple 9
*Star Trek Beyond
*Tarzan (Deal with it)
*Miss Peregrine
*Batman V Superman: Extended Edition (Deal with it)
*Passengers (Deal with it)

In terms of crime against cinema – Grimsby is a film I’ll never forget. Wow.

And finally, for possibly the first year ever, Tom Cruise was responsible for my biggest disappointment. Jack Reacher: I’ll Never Go Back And Watch It Again. The sinking feeling I have is that he make it two years running with The Mummy. Gritted teeth emoji.

He’ll have to go some to top my first week of 2017, mins…

Silence // A Monster Calls //Live By Night // La La Land and Manchester By The Sea. That might by 2017s top five, right there!

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