Tuesday, March 14, 2017

EDITORIAL: James Takes A Look Back At His Favorite Films of 2016

I know, I know, it's March, the Oscars are over, who still cares about 2016 right? Well, I do, because I have never been a part of the usual rush at the end of December in giving out the "Best Films of the Year" lists without really having had a good look at the whole spectrum of films of the year.

Now of course, I will never in my life be able to see every film that came out in 2016, nor can I say that I've seen everything I wanted to see, but 92 films in, I can confidently say that this year I got a lot covered and took my time to do so as it is hard, because of distribution, to see everything that's worth viewing by the end of December. 

So without further ado here are my favourite film of 2016. What was looking like a stale year for cinema in late August actually turned out to be a more than welcome one, with a beautiful diversity of great filmmaking in different genres and what I am sure will go down in movie history as the year in which good horror started to have a massive resurgence. 

Before I unveil my picks, here are (in no particular order) some Honorable Mentions:

Manchester by the Sea, Dir. - Kenneth Lonergan
Nocturnal Animals, Dir. - Tom Ford
10 Cloverfield Lane, Dir. - Dan Trachtenberg
Moonlight, Dir. - Barry Jenkins
The Edge of Seventeen, Dir. - Kelly Fermon Craig
20th Century Women, Dir. - Mike Mills
Paterson, Dir. - Jim Jarmusch
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Dir. - David Yates
Elle, Dir. - Paul Verhoeven 
Captain Fantastic, Dir. - Matt Ross

Now, on to the list! 

10. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR, Dir. - Joe & Anthony Russo

I loved this picture so much, what it does best for me is simply how much its transcends it genre and just feels like a straight up action film and, if I may, one of the best we're had in years. The action is stunning, it alive and raw, driving the story at every beat and hooking you on your seat. Plus the final confrontation pulls off a double climax (incredibly hard to do) and gives a final emotional punch which has hit me harder the more I've watched this amazing action film. 

9. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME, Dir. - Richard Linklater

I'm a Linklater fanboy, I don't care, his touch is just something that hits my heart every time. Once again he manages to paint a poetic picture of life and does it with incredible fun, this film is touching, emotional, funny and as always with this guy's work it sticks with you and plays with your thoughts. The cherry on the top for me is how much I learn about filmmaking from Linklater, I love this guys work with all my heart. 

8. SING STREET, Dir. - John Carney

Too much has been said on the beautiful innocence of Sing Street, I won't add to it. This film gets you on a really emotional place and at the same time it is a great coming of age story with so much fun and such great music, once again a great lesson in filmmaking from 2016.

7. DON'T BREATHE, Dir. - Fede Alvarez

Out of all the great horror films of the year there was no question, from the moment I saw it, that "Don't Breathe" wouldn't be the best one. I went to the cinema and I was not ready to be physically affected by this insane amount of tension and release this film had. This is a majestic effort in the craft and has stylish touches around it that make it all the more gory and terrifying. 

6. THE HANDMAIDEN, Dir. - Chan-Wook Park

I was floored by this erotic thriller. It is satisfying and engaging from so many points of view. The editing and the camera work are smart and intense, it never lets you rests for the whole of its 145 minutes and it pays off in the best way possible with a real, touching emotional punch in the middle of a dirty, erotic tale that has many mysteries inside it and a fantastic self referential touch. 

5. ZOOTOPIA, Dir. - Rich Moore & Byron Howard, Jared Bush

This was the third film I saw this year and it was the first one that I knew would end up in this list. I have seen the films many time and with every viewing have enjoyed it so much more. The way it crosses genres, the smartness in its comedic touches, the depth of how the message is relayed without ever screaming it at you and the bets part ironically being how good of a cop mystery it is, this animated film is a gem and deserved its Oscar fully. 

4. THE NICE GUYS, Dir. - Shane Black

I have seen it three times, I have laughed myself crazy every single one. Ryan Gosling in this film is Oscar worthy material. Just as my previous pick this film is layered and smart in ways you cannot notice even after multiple viewings. I want another 18 of these films even if I know I'll never get them. This is a buddy cop masterpiece and one that should live on in the years, eternally re-watchable, with overwhelming depth and constantly engaging and colorful action set pieces that make the most out of the 70s setting.  


Who thought that an Italian one-room thriller by a rather average director would end up being one of the best films of the year. Unfortunately it did not get a wider distribution in foreign markets and I am so sorry for that, the whole world is loosing on the best screenplay of the year. A thriller that defies expectations and bring you to a place of truly intense sweat and reflections and punches you in the face with its finale, a brilliant piece that I have already watched multiple times. 

2. ARRIVAL, Dir. - Denis Villenueve

I know, almost everyone has this in their list and in very high spots, but how can you not? The mastery of direction in this film is embarrassing to everyone. The relation between them/emotion with plot and character here is pitch perfect, it gets you and it overwhelms you with feeling. A masterful Sci Fi film that will live on through history, I'm sure. 

And here we are, the suspense must be killing everyone since it can't be more obvious that the best film of 2016 is.......

1. LA LA LAND, Dir. - Damien Chazelle

Cinema viewings: FIVE and still counting! 

I haven't had the pleasure of reviewing this film yet because I would not know where to start or what to say. I cannot put into words the overwhelming sense of love, joy and passion this film has filled me with. Since I've started reviewing movies and going to the cinema as a cinephile I have never seen a movie this great. This is a masterpiece that will define a generation of filmmaking and not touch on the music because my mind would explode in trying to define its beauty.
There is no question in my mind this film is the biggest representation of what art can do to people and how important it is. The originality, the freshness of every frame still has me in tears every time I watch it. What a piece of cinema!

Well, that does it for my list. What'd you think of my choices?  Which do you agree with? Which do you disagree with? Are there any that you haven't seen yet but want to?  Sound off in the comments!!!

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