Craig Douglas highlights his top films of the year for 2016
Turns a truly grim subject matter into something strangely uplifting with one of the best child performances ever committed to celluloid from Jacob Trembly.
Captain America: Civil War
Joe Russo & Anthony Russo
In a poor summer for the blockbuster, Civil War Delivered the goods. The airport scene alone is every comic book fans wet dream and the Russo brothers seem to get that, above all, these movies should be fun.
It’s the movie equivalent of a hot bovril on a cold winters day. Total charm fest with a soundtrack full of earworms. If you started a band as a teenager it’s a must.
Train to Busan
A very much needed shot in the arm for the zombie movie genre. Visceral action, truly tense set pieces (the use of luggage racks to escape the undead is a standout bum clencher) and most importantly characters you care about and root for. Hollywood should take note, this is how it should be done.
Kubo and the Two strings
Another classic from stop motion animation studio Laika. Along with the ability to produce gorgeous animation, they never seem to underestimate or patronise their core audience (kids) which for me is the studios greatest strength. A story with some complex themes at it’s core and genuine scares along the way (scary sea Eyeballs and terrifying witch aunties) makes for a rich viewing experience that will warrant many a repeat viewing for kids and adults alike.
The Greasy Strangler
This movie is insane. Big Ronnie loves grease, he’s mad for it. He also doesn’t like to be disrespected in anyway, so when it happens he lathers himself in grease and turns to murder by strangulation.
Writer/Director Jim Hosking has created something that will disgust as many people as it delights. For me it’s the funniest film of 2017 with endlessly quotable dialogue and a star making turn from Michael st Michaels as Big Ronnie. There’s a lot to love here if you get the joke.
This South Korean horror comes in at a whopping Two-and-a-half hours long and never drags for a second. The long running time allows for various shifts in tone with the first act feeling like a comedy as we follow Jong-Goo and his colleagues as they display face palming levels of incompetence whilst investigating strange goings on in the local village. Slowly and surely the terror seeps in and builds to a terrifying conclusion that will stay with you long after watching. I dread the inevitable American remake.
S. Craig Zahler
When I sat down to write this list I tried to think of the movies that affected me most this year… Bone Tomahawk was first on my list.
It felt like the kind of movie that would be on Moviedrome on a Sunday night presented by Mark Cousins in his thick Irish Drawl, ” The thing about Bone Tomahawk is…”
Most will remember the brutal third act but it’s much more than that, the cast are exceptional… Kurt Russel, Patrick Wilson, Jack from LOST and best of all Richard Jenkins revel in the sharp wit of the screenplay. You get the impression that the making of this movie was a labour of love for both cast and crew. The perfect mix of patter and splatter.
Denis Villeneuve continues to impress with this thought provoking sci-fi that seems to improve with every viewing. It’s a magic trick of a movie that continually shows its hand and yet still manages to surprise and enchant. Amy Adams gives an exceptionally nuanced performance communicating so much by doing so little. Her character is the steady rock that the narrative is built upon and she carries that weight expertly.
On the surface Captain Fantastic seems like a pretty simple idea (fish out of water road trip movie) but with so many underlying themes its the movie that I’ve thought about most this year.
Viggo Mortensen plays a Hippie idealist father who takes his family to the woods to escape the trappings of modern life. They hunt, play instruments and celebrate “Noam Chomsky Day”. As a result his children are strong, healthy and extremely intelligent. They also have no understanding of how to deal with the outside world and after a tragic event this idyll is shattered as the family must travel the country to attend a funeral.
At first you can’t help but side with Ben’s (Viggo’s) views. When the family stay with an aunt and encounter their mobile phone obsessed, dullard cousins it’s hard to argue with his parenting style but as the movie proceeds it becomes clear that a more balanced approach may be required.
Parenthood, death, mental illness and Western values are all brought into question during this funny, heartbreaking/heartwarming picture. The kids are all extremely well played but its Mortenson who the movie rests on. Part villain and part hero Ben is a fascinating character and I’m glad to see he’s had some award recognition for this role.
An underrated gem of a flick.