‘2016, eh? It’s been a tough time for us all. But, never forget, that beyond the mire of politics and the horror of world events, we still have FILMS. Films will never leave us. Cling to that, close the curtains, and stick these on as the world goes to shit outside.
Bridget Jones’s Baby
Everywoman Bridget Jones returned to our screens after a twelve-year hiatus. Still relatable AF, it was a nostalgic delight to watch Bridget bumble along in her dilemma-strewn existence. The premise: after two passionate encounters, one with ex Mark Darcy, and the other with shiny new character Jack (played by Patrick Dempsey), Bridget finds herself up the duff without a clear idea which one is the father. The pregnancy storyline isn’t exactly a shocker given the name of the film, however the pregnancy test reveal still elicited gasps from the audience. The first half of the film was pretty predictable, with classic gaffs and faux pas recycled from other Bridget Jones films. However, the events picked up and a gentle will-they-won’t-they three-way romance ensued.
By Lydia Webb
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
As lovable (and cute) as Eddie Redmayne is, the stars of the show are the fantastic beasts themselves. From Nifflers to Snidgets, to Horklumps and Grindilows some of the most magical and emotional points of the film are full of these beasts that we only caught glimpses of in the Harry Potter series. Fantastic Beasts is packed full of comedy and yet also acts as a strikingly relevant warning about tolerance, fear and bigotry. Any shortcomings are quickly forgotten as soon when you re-enter Rowling’s magical world.
By James Bennett
On a roll from previous projects Prisoners and Sicario, Denis Villeneuve takes a deep, dark, and thoughtful dive with Arrival – a film that solves many of the problems that Interstellar (2014) fought with when dealing with the nature of time and fate. Through a mirage of realistic (yet stark) images, contemplative dialogue, and pulse pounding plot; we are dragged round in a narrative circle to a final act that is so inventively smart, and so stunningly beautiful, that it will leave a tear in your eye and thoughts racing through your mind. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner prove likeable leads; whilst master composer Johann Johannsson sonically engineers those spine chills. Highly recommended.
By James Witherspoon
Everybody Wants Some
How do you follow up one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time and Barrack Obama’s favourite film of 2014? Simple answer: you don’t. Moving away from the melodrama of Boyhood, Richard Linklater went back to the school-time hijincks that made him famous. Billed as the spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused (1993), this incredibly funny period romp should offer a free breathalyser test at the end of each viewing given how much alcohol is consumed onscreen. One part affectionate nod to the simpler, pre-AIDs American lifestyle of the early 1980s, another part surprisingly affectionate tale about camaraderie and romance. One of Linklater’s best and an instant modern classic.
By Thomas Deehan
I, Daniel Blake
You sort of feel like you know what you’re going to get with a Ken Loach film. It’s going to be moving, and rousing, and it’s going to make you righteously angry. I, Daniel Blake did all of that, and yet, though it was expected, I still didn’t feel ready for it. This is an incredibly powerful film. Loach’s use of unknown actors and a realist, simplistic style of film making, make the tragic events seem unbearably real and true. And that’s the point, of course, because what the film documents is real. Watch it, and be enraged.
By Amy Gwinnett
Son of Saul
2016 was a big year for Hungarian cinema. For the first time since 1981, a Hungarian film has won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Son of Saul, the first film directed by Laszlo Nemes Jeles tells the story of a Hungarian Jewish Sonderkommando worker in the Auschwitz concentration camp. What makes this movie special is not just the unique take on the sufferings of Jews in the Second World War, but also the filming technique. The main character, played by Hungarian actor Geza Rohrig is almost always in a close-up frame. This way, we can experience the tragic events of the 20th century in a new, personal way. I recommend watching it for everybody, especially of you’re interested in foreign cinema or new approaches to filming.
By Bori Bernát
Our Little Sister
In a year characterised by polarisation, extreme violence and a distinct lack of empathy and tolerance, Our Litter Sister provided 2 hours of serenity and refuge. Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda, the film shows the place of food, cultural tradition and family in modern Japan, presenting a moving depiction of sisterly love. The relationship of the four sisters is sublimely portrayed and its cinematography is stunning. My Little Sister is a gentle, understated film that reminds us of life’s simple beauties.
By Sam Taylor
My first feeling after finishing American Honey was that it had finished too soon. A mere 90 minutes is surely not enough for a film of this magnitude? It was only upon checking the time I realized it was closer to 160 minutes long, and even then, a few hours short of acceptable. With characters that feel real, a beautiful sweeping camera that captures the colour of the American south, and a script that was endlessly engrossing, American Honey is the kind of film that could be lived in, and undoubtedly one of the best of the year.
By Milo Garner
After a stream of substandard fare in the early part of the millennium, Walt Disney Animation Studios continues their return to the forefront of animation with Zootropolis. On the surface, this film is classic Disney fare with characters’ designs screaming Robin Hood but with a futuristic twist. Yet, the film is elevated by its underlying political message. In the year of Trump and the racial fault lines growing across the world, Zootropolis’ message of tolerance and diversity resonates deeply with its audience. Pairing this with the incredible work of the Studio’s animation team, led by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, the film stands out in an already strong year for animation.
By Niall Adams
It’s pretty nippy out, isn’t it? Are you feeling a tad chilly? What you need is something to WARM the FUCK out of your HEART. Imagine Billy Eliot but replace all that ballet shit with listening to The Cure. That’s Sing Street. A story of an Irish teenager in the 80s who forms a new wave band to get the enigmatic girl across the street, this film has a heart as big as Duran Duran’s hair and a soundtrack to make you nostalgic for a time you weren’t even born in. Get stuck in.
By Amy Gwinnett
You can also check out our end of year piece: The best albums of 2016: MUSE writers’ picks.