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Shaun's Top 10 Films of 2016

{FILM}

The Guys from {FILM} is a discussion on movies and films from all eras and genres
 

Shaun's Top 10 Films of 2016

Shaun Cordingley

We talk about movies so much on The Guys From {PODCAST} that it seems like we may have not been putting as many articles into this section, but believe me, I (and Dave...to a lesser extent...) have watched piles of movies this past year, and quite a few that actually released in 2016. 

I had quite a long shortlist this year as, by and large, I was fairly pleased with a lot of the films that I have seen from 2016

Oh, and according to my tracking, I have seen (or at least, remember seeing enough to have rated) 3174 films as of this writing...so it's not like I'm just (only) some dude with a few odd opinions....

Well I am, but I have a grounding in film, and film criticism. 

Also: I have gone with the "wide" or "limited" release dates to qualify when a film was released, not their "festival" dates...just in case you feel the need to yell at me about some of these being "from" 2015 (and sure, they were, if you were at the Cork County Film Festival...)

Anyway, that's enough rambling for the both of us; let's talk about my Top 10 films of 2016:



Honorable Mentions: 

The Witch - A dark, creepy, atmospheric slow burn of a film revolving around a family living off on a farm on their own in a time when Massachusetts was still spelled with fs. You need to be in the right mood for The Witch, but it was one of my favourite horror movies of the year. 

Captain America: Civil War - It was big, bombastic, and...honestly felt a little bit rushed when compared to a lot of the other Marvel movies, but I still had a pretty good time...and got to see Black Panther (another of my Marvel favourites) on the big screen, and I really like what they did with him.

10) Train to Busan

I have spoken on numerous occasions about how I have 'zombie fatigue'; there was a time when zombies in movies used to stand for something (consumerism, communism, etc.), but then they became popular and everyone (not just Hollywood) started releasing 50 zombie movies a year (on top of the shows, comics, video games, etc.) so the fact that Train to Busan appears on this list should tell you something. Essentially, there's an outbreak in South Korea, and our "heroes" are on a train. With zombies.

The film is a combination of a zombie horror, and a Korean melodrama...which sounds super weird, I know...but it's really good. The more time that passes since I watched Train, the more I have come to appreciate it's moment-to-moment concept and construction. The pace of this film is special, as it plays with the standard zombie tempo (which is in large part, thanks to the melodrama kicks it gets in to). 

Plus, it's a really good time, as long as you are OK with "fast" zombies, who have a few different (and I'd say, interesting quirks) and subtitles. 

9) Hush

I have to say that I'm not usually the biggest fan of home invasion horror films, just because I do find that a lot of them tend to get repetitive (there are only so many times you can see a Funny Games rip-off before you just sort of shrug), however Hush does tweak the formula a little bit by making the our hero a deaf woman. 

This simple twist to the premise adds many new, interesting layers into the home invasion film, and allows Hush to become a fascinating cat-and-mouse experience where the killer feels like he has such and advantage, he gets cocky and....well, I don't want to spoil it for you, as this is a film that is easily available to you if you have not already checked it out (Netflix).

Hush never overstays its' welcome, the pace has a natural feel to it, and it does have some naturalistic (and honestly, cringe worthy) gore in it as well. 

8) Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang

My very favourite documentary of 2016 is Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang. I have been a fan of his work for a while, and was super excited to see that Netflix was making a documentary around his efforts to create the "Sky Ladder" (literally a 500m tall ladder of light that would connect the earth to the sky). 

I was not disappointed.

While it is not an exhaustive look back at Cai Guo-Qiang's work (including what everyone reading this knows him from; the 2008 Beijing Olympics), it does give you glimpses into some of his other projects and pieces, including some of his really amazing explosions events, as well as a bit of backstory on the man himself, and working as an artist in China, but the large focus is on the Sky Ladder, and the process of creating his brand of contemporary art. 

Honestly, Sky Ladder is not for everyone (you know, unlike a Korean Zombie Melodrama for the whole family), but if you are at all interested in fireworks, art, or contemporary art, then you should pop onto Netflix and give this one a shot. 

7) 10 Cloverfield Lane

I won't talk about 10 Cloverfield Lane too much on the off chance that you did not watch it, because it's one of those films that you really should be going in to as blind as possible, but I will say a few things: 

  1. You do not have to have seen the original Cloverfield to watch this movie; it is in the same universe, but that's really about it
  2. This is such a simple and fun premise, wherein our characters are all in a bomb shelter, where one of them isn't sure that anything happened (and maybe she is being held captive), while one is pretty sure something went wrong, and the (owner) knows the world is over. 
  3. It's wonderfully acted, which is totally necessary considering how few people are in the film.
  4. It's twisty enough that it should keep you guessing to the very end, which is a sign of a damn good suspense thriller. 

6) The Lobster

What a strange and wonderful movie The Lobster turned out to be. 

It's about love (kinda), loneliness (a lot), and pushing the concept that being single is "weird" (because let's face it: everything in our society trends toward being "with someone" not alone) to the point that it becomes illegal. It's such a strange, funny, sad, and beautiful experience watching this film, and it takes many (many) unexpected turns as it continues on toward a conclusion that...

Well basically, if you have seen The Lobster and would like to talk about it, hit me up on Twitter  so we don't confuse everyone else or...ruin (?) it. 

Brilliantly shot, incredibly dark and strange, and amazingly well acted, The Lobster is just one of those films that if you are into film, and OK with strange love stories, you must see. 



5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One is a fascinating animal; it is a Star Wars film sort of, but entirely reliant on a working knowledge of A New Hope to tie everything within it together, which is ballsy, but if there is any franchise in the world that could do that, it is Star Wars

The film is essentially a 1960s war movie set within the Star Wars universe, with all the glorious bonuses, and problems that entails. The cinematography was occasionally breath-taking (dare I say, Rogue One is probably the best shot Star Wars film of all time), and while it had it's hiccups, once my brain switched into "classic war movie"-mode (of which, I have seen hundreds), I had an excellent time, and I look forward to watching it for years to come as a part of the universe. 

I have Rogue One snuggling comfortably into the middle of my Star Wars film rankings, and it's a film I quite enjoyed, and it is one which we will be discussing in more detail (which is why I'm a little spare here) on the {PODCAST} this week (knock on wood). 

4) Green Room

Hoooo....

Green Room is an amazing horror thriller about a misguided punk band who takes a gig at a Neo-Nazi club (they didn't know that at the time) in order to make some money and keep their tour moving, who accidentally witness a murder, and then have to fight for survival. 

Green Room is from Jeremy Saulnier who made the equally stark, and spellbinding film Blue Ruin, so I was amped up to see this one, especially after having heard Patrick Stewart (who plays the club's owner and head Neo-Nazi) talk about it on the Nerdist podcast....and it did not disappoint. 

It is dark, it is (in a way most naturalistic) gory, and it gets the most out of an excellent cast put into a very difficult, and dangerous situation. If you don't feel the tension in this movie, you're not paying attention, and it ends up being one of the best horror-thrillers I have seen in a long time. 

3) Hail, Caesar! 

This film has a problem: Hail Caesar! is not really a comedy, or a drama, and it is completely made for someone who has an intimate knowledge of studio-era Hollywood, and is wanting to romp around in a story set in that world for a couple of hours. 

Basically, this movie is a stylized "Hey Shaun, we made you a movie" from the Coen Brothers, as I am essentially all of those things. While I was watching Hail I was able to pick out a whole pile of classic film (and behind the scenes) references that I feel were probably completely lost on a modern audience. 
Case in point, Josh Brolin's character of Eddie Mannix, the center of the film, was a real person (who operated as a producer/"fixer" during the golden age of MGM)--a fact that I've basically had to explain to, well, everyone I've talked to about this movie...which is not particularly a good thing when it comes to trying to sell a big film. I think Hail does work, and it is a fine film (especially if you are a fan of the Coens) without that background knowledge, but it truly elevates the film if you get all the little winks and nods.

I loved it...and have watched it a few times now, just for it's sheer sense of scale, timing, the references to themselves, and the fun the Coens have with a whole bunch of classic film references. 

2) Deadpool

The glut of superhero movies was starting to wear thin with me this year, and then Fox did something that we all needed: they made an R-Rated, Meta Superhero movie out of Deadpool--a character that I have to say I've never been particularly fond of in the comics, but this Ryan Reynolds movie is special. 

It expanded the standard comic book movie story (slightly) by allowing it to be for adults; dirty, and fun, while still putting together an entertaining superhero film that made fun of all the other superhero films at the same time. I think we all needed this one...especially considering the waves of superhero movies that came after it...and frankly, none of them (that I saw...again, haven't seen Strange as of this writing because life hates me sometimes) were near as good as Deadpool

1) Swiss Army Man

My favourite film of 2016 is the one about a farting corpse. 

Swiss Army Man is one of the strangest films I have ever seen, but Daniels (the directors) have created a stunning, surrealist expression of life out of the weirdest of concepts. Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on an island when the corpse of Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes ashore, to help him get back to the world, thanks to his strange...corpse powers? 

The film is gorgeously shot, the soundtrack (which I pretty much instantly got after watching the film) is a wonderful mix of the actors themselves making all of the music that is then looped...the story never bogs itself down (as long as your in for the premise to begin with, it does not lose itself), and it offers you a warm look at feelings of loneliness, isolation, friendship, love, and what it means to be alive. 

Swiss Army Man is my #1 film of 2016, and if you're down for the weirdness, is a must watch. 



There you have it; my Top 10 Movies from 2016!

Now as is always the case, there is no way that I could see everything from the year that I wanted to before making this list, so it could potentially change from when I wrote this in the beginning of January to the end of the year (for example, as of writing this, I have not seen La La Land, or Doctor Strange (stupid illness)), so if you have any suggestions, hit me up on one of our many comment threads, or on twitter!

-S (@Shauncord)   

photo credit: www.lekorbo.be Cinéma Louxor via photopin (license)