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The 25 Best Movies Of 2016 So Far

A quarter-century of must see movies from the year to date.






We're almost halfway through what has been a pretty outstanding year so it's time to look back at the cream of 2016's crop. The list is arranged alphabetically - we'll save our rankings for our end of year list - but we consider all of these movies must-sees.


10 Cloverfield Lane
We said: 10 Cloverfield Lane is far too well made to be ruined by its title, but it's a shame viewers are denied the chance to experience the film as a completely blind watch and enjoy it as the expertly constructed adult genre thriller it is. Read our review

Anomalisa
We said: A puppet performer is capable of giving an expressionless performance, which makes it perfect for a portrayal of a man suffering the sort of ennui portrayed here. They may be a foot tall and made of rubber, but Anomalisa features two of the most human characters you'll see on screen this year. Read our review

The Assassin
We said: Watching The Assassin is like taking a childhood trip to your grandparents; you don't understand much of their speech and you're unsure of their rules, but the alien and archaic sensual delights are intoxicating. Read our review

Bone Tomahawk
We said: A western is only as engrossing as its characters, while a horror movie relies on the threat of its villains. Writer-director Zahler nails both elements here to give us a rare hyphenated genre piece that succeeds in satisfying both camps. Read our review

Chicken
We said: Director Joe Stephenson fits comfortably in the lineage of great British social realist filmmakers like Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Alan Clarke and Shane Meadows with an assured, confident and mature debut behind the camera, while young actor Scott Chambers delivers a contender for performance of the year in his first feature lead role. Read our review

Chronic
We said: In recent interviews Tim Roth has freely admitted to taking roles purely for the money, but with Mexican director Michel Franco's Chronic, the appeal was certainly beyond the financial. Roth gives a career best performance in a film that's enamoured of him. Read our review

The Club
We said: Larrain keeps us at a distance, rarely judging his characters; let's face it, enough judgement will come from the viewer. Do we need yet another movie demonising the Catholic Church? Well until the church is willing to exorcise its own demons, the answer is sadly a resounding yes. Read our review

Creed
We said: For all its insight and thoughtfulness, Creed ultimately has us on our feet rooting for its hero in a thrilling action climax, and when that famous theme finally kicks in at a crucial moment, no movie lover - from the 'one trip to the cinema a year' casual viewer to the snobbiest of critics - will be left unmoved. Read our review

Disorder
We said: Winocour's disdain for plot in favour of tension (much of it sexual) and atmosphere building is refreshing, particularly when so deftly handled. This is a filmmaker of abundant potential. If Disney paid attention to world cinema, Winocour would no doubt find herself offered a Marvel movie. Read our review

Eye in the Sky
We said: Hood sets up some simple elements that effectively rack up the tension; the loaves of bread on the little girl's stall is a wonderful, Hitchcockian device that visually acts as an ambiguous and nerve-wracking countdown, causing us to shout at the screen for passersby to purchase some bread. Hood's loaves of bread generate as much nervous sweat as Hitchcock's glass of milk in Suspicion. Read our review

Florence Foster Jenkins
We said: The film conveys the appeal of music in an explicit manner lacking in most biopics of genuinely talented performers. In many ways it could be considered a musical companion to Tim Burton's Ed Wood, as both movies are celebrations of talentless yet undoubtedly passionate figures. Read our review

Go With Me
We said: Go With Me is a movie that skillfully uses what could be dismissed as clich├ęs and tropes in its narrative to allow for a subtle exploration of its characters' motivations, never bragging about its sly commentary on and deconstruction of its genre. It plays like a companion piece to Jeremy Saulnier's Blue Ruin, but it's ultimately the more rewarding of the two. Read our review

Green Room
We said: Like any good punk gig, Green Room is best experienced with an audience, as Saulnier manipulates us into pogo-ing out of our seats in terror. Whether punk is dead or not is an ongoing debate, but on the evidence of Green Room, down and dirty genre cinema is alive and gobbing in our faces. Read our review

The Hateful Eight
We said: Equal parts good, bad and downright ugly, this is Tarantino's blood soaked love letter to classic network TV and the down and dirty horror flicks of the '70s and '80s, more Sam Raimi than Sam Peckinpah. Read our review

The Here After
We said: Von Horn is largely ambiguous with regards to where he stands on the liberal nature of the Swedish justice system, shooting his film in a detached, voyeuristic fashion, but a scene in which John's father breaks down and admits he was all too naive in believing his son could adjust back into his village suggests a wry commentary. Read our review

James White
We said: White is a highly complicated and nuanced figure. We're torn between contempt for his narcissistic ways and sympathy for his genuine love and affection for his mother. Life has dealt him a cruel hand, and he's looking for an antagonist to strike out against, but the film never conveniently gives him one, just as life rarely does. Read our review

The Jungle Book
We said: Like the great Disney movies of old, The Jungle Book knows how to scare, delight and thrill children, of all ages. Not taking your kids to see this would be an act of parental neglect, but I advise all adults to see it themselves, children in tow or not. Trust in me. Read our review

Knight of Cups
We said: Malick offers us so much stunning imagery here - an astronaut's view of the earth bathed in the emerald light of the aurora borealis and a multi-storey car showroom at night, standing out in the LA night like a barroom aquarium - that even if you fail to engage with his film's theme, there should be enough eye candy on display to keep anyone remotely interested in cinema dazzled for two hours. Read our review

Louder Than Bombs
We said: Trier and Vogt have fashioned a very human set of humans. I'd gladly watch more relative non-adventures of the Reed family, but I'll settle for whomever else Trier decides to study under his finely tuned microscope. Read our review

The Measure of a Man
We said: Lindon is fantastic in a quiet role that requires him to act as an emotional punching bag as Thierry goes from one degrading scenario to the next. It's impossible not to root for this guy, but while you may be shouting "Give him a job!" during the film's first half, by the end you'll be pleading for him to quit his soul destroying position. Read our review

The Nice Guys
We said: Shane Black is back to doing what he does best, a buddy action comedy, with characters of his own imagining, and the result is one of the most deliriously enjoyable movies to come out of mainstream American cinema since... well, since Iron Man 3. Read our review

Our Little Sister
We said: I can't recall a single line of dialogue from Our Little Sister, but I remember every scene vividly, and I know exactly how each one made me feel. This is the mark of a truly great filmmaker, and Koreeda may be the greatest orchestrator of quietly conducted human drama working in cinema today. Read our review

The Survivalist
We said: The Survivalist is an exemplary piece of low budget filmmaking. Experts will tell you to make the most of a tight budget by confining your action to a single, easily accessible location and a handful of characters. That's just what we get here, and writer-director Fingleton makes the most out of his limited means. Read our review

Victoria
We said: Schipper gallantly defies industry conventions by allowing top billing go to his cameraman Sturla Brandth Grovlen, the real star of the show along with Costa. Over the course of two plus hours, cameraman and actress waltz through a skillfully choreographed ballet of cinematic ecstasy. Victoria may be shot on digital, but otherwise this is nuts and bolts analogue filmmaking at its most glorious. Read our review

The Witch
We said: It may feature a very traditional presentation of its titular antagonist, but The Witch is more psychological period drama than Saturday night horror flick, more Bergman, less Blumhouse. Read our review

Others we highly recommend are single take slasher satire Night of the Slasher, the Coens' take on classic Hollywood in Hail, Caesar!, Alex Ross Perry's psychological thriller Queen of Earth, Kevin Reynolds' Nazarene noir Risen, Franco-Turkish director Deniz Gamze Erguven's Mustang and Whit Stillman's Austen-tatious Love & Friendship.



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