IT is no secret that a few people will be glad to see the back of 2016. Yet after all the deaths and decisiveness that dominated the cultural landscape, 2016 does deserve to be remembered for one good thing, just how good a year it was for cinema.
One can tell it was that good in that one cannot remember the last time it was so difficult to determine what were going to make the top 5, let alone determine the best. With this list, it means having to reluctantly push out such gems as Pablo Larrain’s The Club or Anne Fontaine’s The Innocents or Mia Hansen-Love’s Things to Come.
But after countless hours of viewings (and in some cases, re-viewings) it is now time to unveil what are the 5 best films from this year.
Brother vs brother is the focus point for this Icelandic wonder as two neighbouring farming brothers who haven’t spoken for 40 years see their flock of sheep become victim to an outbreak of scrapie. Quietly funny, thought-provoking and with a haunting conclusion that lingers long after, it is inevitable that Rams was always going to make the list.
- The Revenant
Another chilly-looking picture, but on a completely different scale. Leonardo DiCaprio is the fur-trapper left for dead after a bear attack by his comrade who also murders his son, setting a path for a one-man revenge-fuelled mission. With a tremendous direction from Alejandro Gonzales-Inarittu which won him a second Director Oscar, not to mention DiCaprio’s Oscar-winning performance, The Revenant is the one that should have taken Best Picture.
- Tale of Tales
After previous disappointments, Matteo Garrone redeemed himself beyond expectations with his English-language debut Tale of Tales, a collection of three different adult fantasy stories based on historical Italian fairytales. From John C. Reilly trying to secure a sea dragon’s heart to Toby Jones as a flea-obsesed king to Vincent Cassel as a sex-obsessee unaware of the appearance of the woman he desires, engaging is an understatement when describing this wonder of modern European cinema.
It was always going to be tough for Paolo Sorrentino to follow up on his masterpiece The Great Beauty, but the result for Youth is a hugely rewarding piece. Michael Caine is the retired conductor holidaying in a Swiss Alps resort with his manager daughter and director best friend as he fends off requests to perform a particular piece for the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
With this, Sorrentino not only crafts a beautiful work that can be enjoyed greatly on repeat viewings, it is also contributes to extending his position as probably the finest director working in Europe today, a modern day Fellini we could all do with.
- The Brand New Testament
Here it is. After 75 films watched this year, the top of the list is courtesy of Belgium with the hilarious and wackily inventive The Brand New Testament.
In modern-day Brussells, God is an abusive husband and father whose only pleasure comes from using a computer to allow for the most frustrating of things to take place on ordinary civilians. When his daughter hijacks his computer and reveals the dates that everyone on Earth is supposed to die, she goes on the run with a resigned writer to recruit six Apostles who can contribute to a new testament, with her father on her trail.
Reminiscent of the best works from Juenet and Jonze, there was no release this year that displayed entertainment, humour and originality so competently in one go than this. Delightful to observe from beginning to end and with a satirical concept that could have gone awry in the wrong hands, this is Comedy with a capital C and a wholly deserving winner of best film of 2016. No pressure, 2017.