2016 in Review : 30 to 21

So, we now get the point on this countdown where I liked every single film and would consider buying them on DVD or Blu-Ray, but the problem now is that there are a lot of films that I liked that are ranked relatively low because I’m having to find the pettiest thing to compare them to the others with. For the first time I will be justifying why I ranked it lower than the next film I am going to talk about.

This is also the first two of a few entries to come that I have already reviewed them on this this year, so I will also link to the initial review.

So here we go, 30 to 21……

30) My Scientology Movielouis-theroux-my-scientology-movie-poster

Cast : Louis Theroux

Plot : Well, I wouldn’t really call it a plot as this is a documentary that was released at cinemas. It follows Louis Theroux as he tries to find out as much as he can about the religion of Scientology. As he goes on asking former members of the church about it’s upper ladder leaders, he suddenly starts getting followed by members of the religion, and more worryingly getting hounded off of land that they claim belongs to them, even though there appears to be no legal right for them to claim that.

Why in this position? I found the whole film fascinating to say the least. I have nothing against Scientology, nor anyone that practices that religion. Like any religion, I am very much of the “each to their own” way of thinking, but that still didn’t stop me from being highly fascinated by Theroux’s documentary.

I won’t claim to understand the majority of this documentary and it doesn’t really reveal that much about the religion, especially as the only perspectives are literally told by people who either don’t know, or are embittered for one reason or another, however, I don’t think that the Scientologists in the movie really help each themselves by not giving a statement or answering the questions.

Louis Theroux is an interesting documentarian and his approach is unique. I’ve noticed that he speaks to a lot of people like a child in his specials, and this was the first time I’ve personally seen someone get angry at him for asking the same questions over and over again, even if they’ve already answered numerous times.

My only issue with “My Scientology Movie” is that it does become very repetitive after a while, and that’s why it is not ranked higher.

 

29) Moanamoana_ver5

Cast : The voices of Auli’i Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House and Temuera Morrison

Plot : Several thousand years ago a demi-god named Maui (Johnson) steals the heart stone of a God, and that God decides to start spreading death across the world. One day the heart washes up on a small island, and it is found by Moana (Cravalho), the infant daughter of Chief Tui (Morrison). He is forbids his daughter from leaving the island after his ancestors were killed, but when she grows up she feels she must after seeing that death has now spread to the island. She learns from her grandmother (House) that the only way to restore the island is to get Maui to return the heart.

She sets out to find Maui, eventually finding him and being distinctively unimpressed by his arrogance, that despite him losing the hook that holds his power. Can they recover it in time to rescue Moana’s home?

Why in this position : It’s been quite some time that I have seen a new Disney film that I liked, or at least a traditional Disney film, which made it even more frustrating when “Frozen” got a very undeserved amount of praise, so I was naturally sceptical going into “Moana”, but I very much enjoyed this. For me this is definitely a return to the formula that won me over with Disney as a child.

To put this in some sort of context, I’m 32, and I really enjoyed the look and feel of the entire film. You can really get behind Moana as a character, and despite being a bit of a douche, Maui is fun. I found it very refreshing that despite feeling very much like a traditional Disney film, it doesn’t follow the usual cliches of having an unnecessary love interest for the lead character.

Again, I have to start being picky with how I rank films in the top thirty because in any other year, pretty much every film in my top thirty would probably be in my top ten. The only reason this is ranked relatively low is that the way the main antagonist is beaten is somewhat simple and almost far too out of nowhere. I’m still probably going to buy this on Blu-Ray in several months.

 

28) Train to Busan1

Cast : Yoo Gong, Dong-seok Ma, Yu-mi Jung, Su-an Kim, Eui-sung Kim and So-hee Ahn

Plot : Seok-woo (Gong) is struggling to raise his daughter Soo-an (Kim) whilst juggling his successful fund management career, so much to the point where she wants to go and live with her mother in Busan. For her birthday he decides to grant her wish and the two travel from Seoul. Just after taking her seat, Soo-an notices the train station staff suddenly being tackled to the ground as the train pulls off.

Further down the train a young lady with a bite has managed to get onto a carriage and when checked upon, she suddenly attacks train staff and other passengers, and the chain of chaos starts going down the train. Whilst trying to run, Seok-woo shuts the door on Sang-hwa (Ma) and his pregnant wife Seong-kyeong (Jeong) when they are trying to run, although both are eventually let through, causing blows between the group. They soon realise that the zombies don’t know how to get through the doors, but how long can they hold out?

My Full Review

Why in this position? : Those of you that have read this site for a while will know that I was really high on this movie as I reviewed it several months ago (link to the review is above). It was the first South Korean film that I ever watched (that I know about anyway) and I was surprised that not only that it was released at the cinema, but it was actually a good zombie film.

I’m not going to go into it too much simply because I’ve reviewed it previously on this site, but in short this is a great zombie film, and the only reason I’m not putting it higher (as I say, I have to be harsh) is because some of the characters make really stupid decisions, much stupider than the characters in higher ranked films.

 

27) In the Heart of the Seain_the_heart_of_the_sea

Cast : Chris Hemsworth, Ben Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Brendan Gleeson and Ben Whishaw

Plot : Owen (Hemsworth) has spent many years at sea and hopes that he has finally done enough to convince his bosses to put him in charge of a voyage, but they instead give it to the inexperienced George (Walker), making Owen first mate instead.

The two clash on a regular basis before they eventually stumble on a large group of whales. They harpoon as many as they can, but by doing so they anger a large white whale. The whale destroys the ship, leaving the remaining crew more than 2,000 miles from land and floating in small boats. This doesn’t help the tension between Owen and George.

Why in this position? : On January 2nd I saw four films in a day to start the year and this by far the best out of the four (the other three being The Danish Girl, Daddy’s Home and Joy). Despite being in my bottom ten for the second year in a row (Huntsman this year and Vacation last year), Chris Hemsworth is one of my favourite actors and he delivers in this again.

Unlike a lot of similar films, you feel that the crew could easily not make it out of this situation alive, and you feel for each of the characters because they are built correctly. The regular verbal war between Owen and George really makes you appreciate the situation that they find themselves in, especially as George knows that Owen is a far more appropriate captain, but has far to much hubris to admit it.

I have put this at Number 27 as whilst I enjoyed it more than “Train to Busan”, I don’t think it was a better all-around film that the next film on the list. This is a battle between two men, who are battling death itself.

 

26) The Jungle Bookjungle_book

 

Cast : Neel Sethi and the voices of Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito

Plot : Bagheera (Kingsley) brings a baby to the pack of animals and assigns the wolves, lead by Akela (Esposito), They name him Mowgli (Sethi) and teach him the ways of their world. Several years later the dry season comes and a truce is formed between all animals at a watering hole, but that is interrupted by a tiger named Shere Khan (Elba), who takes an exceptionally negative view of Mowgli’s presence after being scarred by humans several years later. Despite the truce, he threatens to kill Mowgli if he remains.

Bagheera realises that Mowgli must return to the land of man and leads him back through the jungle, however, they run into many dangers along the way and must trust a very laid-back bear called Baloo (Murray), much to Bagheera’s displeasure.

Why in this position? There is definitely a trend of converting old Disney films into live-action movies recently, and to be fair this is arguably the best effort out of all of them. “The Jungle Book” is a very well made, visually excellent and well acted effort. It tells the story of Mowgli in a way that hasn’t really been possible in the past, and the creature design is comfortably the best of any film during 2016.

I must mention the performance of Neel Sethi, who portrays Mowgli. Child actors are often a bit crap, and I write that literally just a few hours after watching Daniel Radcliffe being very awkward in the first Harry Potter film. Sethi puts in one of the best performances from a child actor I’ve seen in several years, with only Jacob Tremblay in 2015’s “Room” coming immediately to mind as being better.

So, it’s 26th because ultimately, other than Sethi’s excellent performance and Shere Khan actually being quite terrifying, there was nothing that surprised me. It feels harsh criticising a film for not being truly original when it is a literal remake, but there was very little that I saw that immediately hit me as being unique, and that is ultimately why I haven’t included it higher up in the list.

 

25) A Street Cat Named Bobmv5bmty5mti1mze5nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmjqznjezote-_v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_

Cast : Luke Treadaway, Ruta Gedmintas, Anthony Head and Joanne Froggatt

Plot : James (Treadway) is a homeless musician who is trying to recover from drug addition. On a visit to his support worker (Froggatt), James is allocated a council flat, but he must make sure that he stays in the anti-drug program. Despite having somewhere warm to eat, he still struggles to make money from his busking. Whilst bathing he hears something breaking in the background, and it turns out to be a cat.

The cat follows James around and turns out to be a lucky omen. James suddenly starts getting a lot of money from his busking and his luck significantly increases, that is until a misunderstanding means that he suddenly has no method of income.

Why in this position? I initially thought that this would be one of those films that I would really hate. You know the type of films, the ones where people overcome everything that is in front of them and come out of the other side smelling of roses, but that’s not what this feels like. “A Street Cat Named Bob” feels very much like a struggle for the characters and every little victory feels very well earnt.

Luke Treadaway is excellent, and he and Ruta Gedmintas share a great level of chemistry, probably because I read whilst writing this that they are a couple in real life, and have been since 2011, so in that sense it was a good choice.

“A Street Cat Named Bob” is so much better than “I, Daniel Blake” because the struggle of the main character doesn’t feel self-inflicted by being an arsehole, but ultimately it’s still in the mid-twenties because there are some elements that are predictable, such as the father not wanting to be associated with his son until the very end of the film.

 

24) Men and Chickenmen-and-chicken.36041

Cast : Mads Mikkelson, David Dencik, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Søren Malling  and Nicolas Bro

Plot : Elias (Mikkelsen) and Gabriel (Dencik) are very different brothers. Elias is a self-obsessed and sexually obsessed person, where Gabriel is fair more practical and has a far more realistic view of the world. One day Gabriel visits their father at the hospital, only to see him die. Gabriel informs Elias and the two discover that their father had left them a video. The pair watch it and discover that he wasn’t actually their biological father, revealing the name of their real father.

Gabriel decides to go in search of his father for answers, and reluctantly agrees to take Elias along with them. When they arrive at the large house on a remote island, they are viciously beaten by three men who eventually turn out to be their half-brothers, Franz (Malling), Josef (Bro) and Gregor (Kaas). The brothers are initially horrified by the animal filled house and Gabriel in particular is frustrated at the three’s insistence that they can’t see their father, but is there more going on than either anticipated.

My Full Review

Why in this position? : Another film that I had already reviewed for this site and one that I loved. Much like the other previously reviewed this on this particular list, I had never knowingly seen a Danish film before, and normally I probably wouldn’t have gone to watch this, but there were two words that indicate why I did….Mads Mikkelson.

Mads is one of my favourite actors and he shines in this unusual comedy, and if I was to rank films in this list of one hundred films in order of originality, this would comfortably be top ten. I think the only reason why I haven’t put this higher is because there are a few moments where you have to throw all sorts of logic out of the window, and when putting films I loved into order, something like that could, and in this case did, take a top ten contender and put it into the mid twenties.

This is a great film and I would recommend you read my full review (link above) for a full picture.

 

23) 10 Cloverfield Lane7766a491f4d96a40b7f72d029745fbb8

Cast : Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr

Plot : Michelle (Winstead) is intending on leaving her life behind and so sets out to leave her boyfriend. She is eventually ran off of the road by a pick up trick, and she then wakes up several hours later chained to a pipe in someone’s basement. Soon, a large gentleman called Howard (Goodman) says that he found her with a broken leg and brought her home to help her recovery, but can’t let her leave due to what he describes as “an incident”. He reveals that they are in an underground bunker.

Inconsistent answers make Michelle very wary of Howard, and it isn’t helped by Emmett (Gallagher Jr), another person in the underground bunker, backing up Howard’s story, but quite clearly fearing him. She eventually decides to refuse to believe him, but she then witnesses for herself that something is up as someone with heavy burns bangs on the front door. Despite this, is Howard telling the truth?

Why in this position? “10 Cloverfield Lane” is one of the tensest films I’ve seen in years and one of the most mysterious as they build the character of Howard so incredibly well that you’re never sure if he is telling the truth or not. There are numerous times where you find out that he is telling the truth, only to then see that he has been lying about other things. It is a great build of a character and the mysteriousness of him is brilliant. Goodman is delightfully terrifying in the role.

I also love that whilst not seemingly being at all related to “Cloverfield”, minor details here and there show that this is most definitely a sequel of sorts, such as a seemingly throwaway line about Howard being a satellite engineer, and I believe hearing somewhere that the thing that crashes into the ocean at the end of the first film is a satellite, meaning that Howard potentially caused the events of the first film.

As I was making my way through this film I was convinced that it was going to be in my top ten, and a potential contender for my favourite film of the year, but then the final ten minutes. Whilst the first eighty-five minutes of “10 Cloverfield Lane” are exceptional, I hated the final fifteen minutes. They felt completely disconnected from the remainder of the film and so out of place. It turned a 9/10 into a 8.5, or even a 8/10, that’s how much I disliked the ending.

 

22) The Shallows
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Cast : Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Angelo Jose Lozano Corzo and Jose Manuel Trujillo Salas.

Plot : Nancy (Lively) is taking time out from medical school to go surfing at a spot her mother had always raved about, and her first session proves very enjoyable, especially as she joins up with two locals (Corzo and Salas). She decides to surf on her own just before the end of sunlight and notices a half-eaten whale, and she is knocked off of her surf-board as she is heading back to land.

She decides to use the whale carcass as something to stand on, but the shark quickly knocks her off and she is left with no choice but to climb on nearby rocks, but her leg is badly cut by this time. Whilst she is safe during the night, she realises that she must do something soon as the tide starts coming back in during the day, and the shark is still circling the island. It also isn’t helped that anyone who comes to help is quickly attacked and eaten by the shark.

Why in this position? : “The Shallows” is one of the more subtle films of the year, even the trailer shows that. It’s very much a one-character film that’s in a similar ilk to “127 Hours”, and Blake Lively controls the movie from start to finish.

The tide adds a time element that a lot of other films don’t use to their advantage. Other films actually tell you how much time the characters have left before they have to make a decision, but this uses a visual aid and actually treats the viewer intelligently. It’s also interesting to watch the character try and think their way out, rather than go gung-ho, which some other films of a similar nature have definitely been guilty of.

The reason this is slightly below the next film is that I was expecting “The Shallows” to be good, so there wasn’t really a surprise element, and that is really the only thing separating this from the next entry.

 

21) Deepwater Horizondeepwater-horizon-2016-movie-poster-1-717x1024

Cast : Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, John Malkovich, Gina Rodriguez, Dlan O’Brien, Ethan Suplee and Kate Hudson

Plot : Mike (Wahlberg) is going back to the oil-rig known as Deepwater Horizon after some time with his family. One of the big bosses, Donald (Malkovich) is present and cares more about profit than everyone’s safety, so he intends on sending people home before a pressure test is done. Jimmy (Russell) finally convinces him to do one, but this weakens the foundations of the rig, and Donald orders the well to be open, but this spurts more oil up than the station can handle and it starts mass explosions that kill a lot of the crew.

The coast guard eventually arrives to try and save as many people as possible, but simply getting to the boat seems almost as dangerous as staying itself, but that won’t stop Jimmy and Mike trying to save as many people as possible.

Why in this position? : “Deepwater Horizon” was one of the pleasant surprises of the year in terms of the quality of the film. I genuinely thought that this would be one of those typical “disaster film by numbers” that you get far too often in films like this. It starts straight away with the build of the characters and the relationships between them. You genuinely get the feeling that these guys have all worked together for a long time, and it takes a long time to get into the action of the film because of the building, which I’m absolutely fine with.

The cast do a great job and you actually feel that you want them to survive, even the complete arsehole that is Donald. I think this all helps the situation feel far more real, which is something that often doesn’t come across during films based on real events.

It misses out on my top twenty though by, other than being far fresher than similar films, there are a few cliches in there, but up until a few weeks ago it was comfortably in my top twenty.

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