Now that 2016 is over, it is time to look back at the movies of the last 12 months and identify the most memorable big screen releases. Of course, lists such as this flood the internet, newspapers and magazines, although many of these cannot be taken seriously because they are published well before the end of the year. My last cinema visit in 2016 came on the last day of the year, so to have already published a ‘Best of’ list before that would be disingenuous.
I realise that many such lists are meaningless and often put together by people who are servants to personal preferences, a particular political/social ideology or industry influences, so a list such as mine should come as welcome relief because it is devoid of influence from any individual, organisation or ideological framework. It is derived purely from the truth of the viewing experience and the quality of the product that has been presented on screen.
Like every other person who compiles such lists, I haven’t seen every film released this year so this list is drawn from the movies that I have seen in cinemas in 2016 (regardless of when they were initially released). New releases, festival screenings, re-releases, previews or retrospectives; if I saw it in a cinema in 2016, it is eligible for inclusion in this list. Films viewed on DVD, television or via streaming or online platforms are most definitely not considered.
This list is compiled using the reviews and ratings that I posted on Letterboxd in the days following each screening. Given that there will be many movies with the same or similar ratings, I also take into account the way in which a film has continued to resonate with me long after I saw it, which always suggests that there is something particularly prescient or powerful about a particular production.
Ultimately, my list cannot be any more or less ‘correct’ than anybody else’s, but it is probably more genuine than most. However, the reality is that there are some movies that are just so good that they simply cannot be overlooked or ignored.
The films are not ranked in any particular order as all of the films listed in this group of ten are outstanding and attempting to narrow the order into some kind of sequential evaluation of merit seems a little pointless. They are all excellent and they all deserve to be celebrated and admired.
Only films viewed in a cinema by me in 2016 have been considered. Release dates are irrelevant and should never be considered for such lists. This is about the best movies I saw in a cinema in the last 12 months. It also, obviously, precludes any films released in 2016 that I am yet to see.
So, my Top Ten movies of 2016 (in no particular order) are:
I Smile Back
I, Daniel Blake
The Neon Demon
La La Land
Of course, these are not the only great movies released this year and there are plenty more for which justification for inclusion could easily be mounted. The compilation of such a list necessitates the absence of some very good films to arrive at a final ten. Therefore, here are a few others worthy of mention that could quite easily have been included as one of the final ten given their all-round quality:
The Hateful Eight
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Everybody Wants Some
A Perfect Day
With the good comes the bad and, as was the case last year, there is a standout candidate for the worst movie of the year. Alex Proyas’ Gods of Egypt was awful in almost every way imaginable and was easily my most unpleasant movie viewing experience of the last 12 months . Other particularly distasteful cinema visits last year included Suicide Squad, Now You See Me 2 and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
Overall though, it was another good year for movie viewing in 2016 (or maybe I just made the right choices) and with new cinemas popping up and existing complexes being expanded, there is obviously plenty of confidence in the longevity of the motion picture industry. The number of films not securing a cinematic release in Brisbane, or being confined to festival screenings only, remains a frustration but there is plenty of variety on offer most weeks on local screens for those willing to seek it out.