Chris Gallagher highlights his top 5 films of the year for 2016.
Director – Jeremy Saulnier
A visceral and pulsating experience, Green Room felt more like a rollercoaster ride than a movie. The ensemble cast is sublime, playing off each other with skill and ease. Jeremy Saulnier proves again that he is one of the most talented Directors around, using every affordable piece of space to almost drown you in tension and fear. The direction makes every scene relevant and Green Room is so skilfully paced that you are thoroughly engrossed throughout.
Favourite Scene – The band play a roaring rendition of “Nazi Punks Fuck off” by the Dead Kennedys to a crowd of Neo Nazi Skinheads – Setting the tone of the film.
The Neon Demon
Director – Nicolas Winding Refn
What can be said about Neon Demon that hasn’t already? It’s a film, like all of Winding Refn’s movies, that has split opinion. Does it represent the vapid edge of society? Is it a statement on the insipid and horrifically condemnatory nature of the fashion industry? – Frankly neither of those questions matter. Neon Demon is a piece of art. It works the audience into a frenzy of visual overstimulation but juxtaposes the bright insignia and reams of colour against the dank, dark city underbelly. (That Keanu Knife scene)
Favourite Scene – Eating of the Eyeball – Completely sums up the random peculiarity of The Neon Demon beautifully.
Director – Robert Eggers
The Witch is a dark and frankly disturbing film that haunted me for days after watching it. It shows the harsh reality of nature through a settling family during the early American colonial days. The lack of colour throughout the film helps as a visual representation of the lack of hope and bleakness of the new world. In the eyes of the family, all of their ills are caused not only by The Witch but also the eldest daughter Thomasin…..are they one and the same? Beautifully shot, wonderfully directed with a solid cast. An eerily haunting story.
Favourite Scene – The Witch dancing through the forest after kidnapping the baby.
The Nice Guys
Director – Shane Black
The chemistry is palpable between Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe in Shane Black’s wonderful feature – The Nice Guys. Not dissimilar to ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, the actual narrative means very little but the hilarious set pieces are where we find the entertainment. Gosling and Crowe play off each other so well but beneath the calamitous, at times overly violent, plot there is a genuine feeling of warmth and heartfelt honesty. A sincerely funny film with some terrific quips and one liners.
Favourite Scene – The Bowling alley scene – Sharp, witty and fun.
Director – Denis Villeneuve
Quite simply one of the most stunning films I’ve seen in recent years. Denis Villeneuve crafts a narrative that instantly questions everything you believe. Characters that look beyond the realms of time/Space and an ache/pain that pulsates through the screen onto the watching audience. The performance of Amy Adams shows why she is one of the most talented actors in Hollywood and the themes of loss, isolation and emotional deconstruction are handled with skill and craft. A haunting soundtrack adds another layer that makes Arrival the outstanding film of 2016.
Is it a Science Fiction film? Does it matter? No, no it doesn’t.
Favourite Scene – Take your pick.
Everybody Wants Some – Richard Linklater’s sort of sequel to Dazed and Confused is fun and inspiring.
I, Daniel Blake – A brutal social realist masterpiece from the always relevant Ken Loach.
Midnight Special – Everything thats magical and interesting about Sci Fi – with Michael Shannon excelling.