2016 – My favourites so far

We’re now halfway through 2016, so join me, if you will, in a look back over my ten favourite films released in the UK between 1stJanuary and 31st June.

I can’t help but be slightly disappointed with this cinematic year. Yes, I’ve watched loads of great films but, seeing as though I’ve seen more films at this stage than ever before, I’m somewhat surprised that there haven’t been more to truly take my breath away.

Then again a year that gifts the world with a film as brilliant as my #1 is worth savouring…

10. Son of Saul (Full Review)
At ten we have a film that I imagine will feature on a good many lists such as this. László Nemes’ Son of Saul is an overwhelming Holocaust drama. I’ve still only seen it the once – at Cannes last year – and it may have ended up higher had I managed to squeeze in a rewatch.

9. Ip Man 3 (Full Review)
This was a real surprise. I enjoyed Ip Man enough when I saw it a few years ago on Film4, but this second sequel is an absolute joy. An invigorating tonic to this year’s penchant for mindless smash-em-ups, Wilson Yip’s Ip Man 3 is a glorious blend of touching melodrama and deft action scenes.
8. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Cloverfield grew on me with repeat viewings, and so did Dan Trachtenberg’s contained character-driven thriller “blood relative” to that original film. It plays better when you’re not trying to anticipate every twist and turn and just go along for the ride.
7. Spotlight (Full Review)
It took me two viewing to truly appreciate Tom McCarthy’s deserving Best Picture winner. First time out, the reviews I’d read had left me with questions – Was the seeming absence of style an issue? Was the film too restrained? Etc. – and I spent much of that initial viewing asking those exact same questions. They were answered – no and no – but my focus on them distracted from the quiet brilliance of this devastating film.
6. Bone Tomahawk
Watch a man cleaved in two with the titular weapon and feel every thudding blow. Bone Tomahawk is one of the most visceral cinematic experiences I’ve had this year, but the alarming final act is made all the more satisfying by the long, measured journey that precedes it.
5. Nina Forever (Full Review)
I’d heard good things out of FrightFest, but Nina Forever still managed to catch me totally off-guard. Equal parts kinky, darkly funny and truly touching, Nina Forever is brilliantly directed by the Blaine Brothers and a real British treat.
4. Sing Street
A John Carney coming-of-age musical? I was always going to love this one, and it didn’t disappoint. It may not soar to quite the same heights as Once, but the songs are good, the characters charming and the soul tangible. Great work by Jack Reynor, too.
3. Creed (Full Review)
With the help of his stellar leading man, Michael B. Jordan, Ryan Coogler has reinvigorated the Rocky franchise and delivered one of the most triumphant movies of the year. A crowd-pleaser with a social conscience: if only that were more common…
2. The Conjuring 2
I only caught up on the first Conjuring film days prior to seeing this sequel. But, I had a blast at home in front of the TV. So, the opportunity to see The Conjuring 2 in a darkened cinema, even at a midday screening with just a handful of people in the audience, was an absolute treat. Not many people have ever directed scares as well as James Wan.
1. Evolution
This is the one. It’ll take a lot to top this beguiling sci-fi inflected portrait of a young boys sexual awakening. Lucile Hadžihalilovic’s chilling ideas and masterful use of imagery and symbolism made me squirm, as her film wormed its way into my psyche. It’s stayed with me more than any other 2016 release and I expect it’ll stay that way.
 
So, there we have it: Agree with my picks? Think I’m way off the mark? Let me know in the comments and share your own top 10s!

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