This year brought a lot of film festival coverage opportunities for me which means I was able to attend and/or cover twelve film festivals/events. That being said, these paired with a ton of good independent titles meant I had very little time for wider theater releases. This not mean the latter were not good, it only means that I saw a grand total of three major releases (Deadpool, Rogue One, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) on the big screen.
First, here are my special mentions: L’Elan, Deadpool, Saving Mr. Wu, The Laundryman, Realive, Bed of the Dead, Let Her Out, Alena, Corp Etranger (Foreign Body), They Call Me Jeeg Robot, Karate Kill, The Eyes of My Mother, Rogue One, The Witch, Southbound, Antibirth, The Love Witch.
With no further ado, here is my top ten favorite movies from 2016:
10. Zinnia Flower
This emotional drama about grief and learning to let go is touching and will make you feel. It’s beautiful with great performances and it pulls the heartstrings without trying too hard. It’s well written and well done, its subject is approached with class and it treats the viewers with respect, letting them live through the grieving progress with the characters. It’s even oddly uplifting as the story moves along.
9. Los Parecidos
Los Parecidos is a beautiful looking, paranoia laden Mystery/Sci-Fi cross over that feels almost like an old Twilight Zone episode made by a talented crew of cinema lovers with modern effects. The attention to details is great and adds a lot to the story and its development. The acting and effects are good and it will keep you guessing.
8. Beyond the Gates
This 80s/90s nostalgia fest hits on all the fronts: A VHS board game, the score, the colors, the practical effects, the lovely Barbara Crampton, etc. This film is fun and it’s not ashamed of just going for the gore and the happy, fuzzy memories it will rustle up in the viewers. This adult, horror Jumanji is best enjoyed with friends and maybe even at a party.
A Bollywood zombie film that totally works, need I say more? It’s a film with a ton crammed in its runtime, it’s fast-paced, funny, has decent zombies, crazy fight scenes, an entertaining musical number, etc. The acting is good, the story is fun and funny, the ridiculous is there, but it just adds to the whole. This film is a good way into the Bollywood scene for many as it is Bollywood, but not the extreme and it includes everyone’s favorite (or favorite to hate) horror monster, the zombie with which they do a few new things and keep a few tropes creating something with them that is highly watchable and enjoyable.
6. Mon Roi
Mon Roi is an effective film with a passion and a bundle of emotions that has the viewer thinking about their own emotions, how they would deal with such a situation, but only after the film is over as the story grabs them and doesn’t let them go until the credits. The acting is stellar and shows the Vincent Cassel can do anything and Maïwenn is a great filmmaker.
5. Two Lovers and a Bear
Two Lovers and a Bear is one of those dramas that subtly grabs the viewer and doesn’t let them go until its last frame. The performances drive the story and the emotional impact of the film. This is one that is absolutely worth seeing and on the big screen if possible at all for its fantastic shots of the Great Canadian North and to almost feel the cold the characters evolve in. The film is sad and does not try to create a fake hope for its characters. It’s real, a bit raw, and it works. Also, you get to see Tatiana Maslany outside of Orphan Black, proving she has the chops to do anything she wants.
4. Green Room
I did not review this one as Felix did, but I absolutely loved it. Knowing little going in worked, letting the film develop itself and throw the pushes it has and just slam my eyeballs with surprises like the great amount of very well made gore and Patrick Stewart as a Neo-Nazi leader. His accent is still charming, but his ruthless interpretation is just perfectly calm and scary. He gives the film a center almost with being there not as a lead but almost as a supporting character. Anton Yelchin gives a fantastic performance that will make most viewers miss him even more.
3. I, Olga Hepranova
This film approaches a tough subject, a woman who is not taken seriously when she asks for help loses it and kill and maims a crowd of people. This story is the basis for the film all about one woman and the people around her. Lead Michalina Olszanska gives a tour de force performance here and just shines in the hard part of Hepranova, giving her humanity. She does not build Hepranova as a martyr or anti-hero but simply as a complex human being in need of help. The film is sober and somber, bringing a tough story to the screen perfectly with its black and white images and beautiful cinematography.
2. The Sound of a Flower
The Sound of a Flower is a beautiful movie, well cast, well acted in stunning settings, with high quality costumes. Fans of historical dramas will love this musical and most viewers should learn a few things about Pansori opera. In all of this, it’s also a tragic love story based on historical facts that tugs at the heart and makes you want to see it all. The images are stunning and the music amazing. This is not something most people would check out of the blue, but it is absolutely worth looking for.
1. The Lure
The Lure is a great film, like a long form music video that works, reminiscent of Bjork and Mylene Farmer with a true Polish spirit. It offers a lot and is fun while remaining touching. It must be noted that it is Polish cinema’s first musical. It’s a genre musical but it blurs the genre lines and works so well, it makes you want to see more or at the very least see it again. Thankfully, The Lure has been picked up for US distribution in 2017 so everyone in the country can see this colorful, musically pleasing, insane, fun film.