Dec 282016
 

I love and loathe end of year list making in equal measure. I love it because there are SO MANY great films and I get to spend many hours reminiscing about all the fantastic art I have seen on-screen over the last 12 months. I loathe it because there are SO MANY great films, and its painful to narrow my favourites down to an arbitrary number. Anyone who says it has been a bad year for film, or the even worse “film is dead”, is just not really trying. This year I went for 20 films with 15 honourable mentions. These 20 stuck above the rest for various reasons – they amused, delighted, shocked, challenged, and wowed me.

My favourite 20: 1 of the films is the only film I saw twice at the cinema this year; 6 are directed by women; 2 are directed by the same director; 2 are animated; 1 is a documentary; Adam Driver, Jeff Bridges, Michael Shannon, Samuel L Jackson, and Joel Edgerton all appear in 2 of the films each; and 7 of the films I saw for the first time at the 2016 Sydney film festival.

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Dec 242016
 

After another year of 200+ new releases, one of the pleasures I take is reflecting on everything that I watched and creating a list of essentials. These feelings are subjective and ever-changing, so if I were to revisit this list in five years, having re-experienced some of these films and caught up with others I missed, it might look completely different.

Much was said a few months back about this year’s dire blockbusters, and documentary filmmaking hasn’t been as potent in 2016, but it has been a terrific year in other areas. Take animated films and horror films for example. Not only in terms of box office success, but the depth of inventive and high-quality releases. When you explore the list below you will notice there are several representatives from those genres. A few other obscure facts about the list: ten films screened at the Sydney Film Festival, five are written and directed by female filmmakers, four are divided into chaptered sections and three had first-run availability on Netflix.

The rules: simply, everything knew I saw in 2016 that had a release date somewhere in the world in the vicinity of 2016. Some of these films had a late 2015 U.S release, others have screened only at international film festivals. All were accessible (via an Australian theatrical release, film festival, SVOD service or TVOD service) to me in 2016 in one way or another.

Of course, I didn’t quite get through my watchlist. Some films I missed or didn’t get the chance to see include Tower, Camerperson, Things to Come, Neruda, Sunset Song, The Love Witch, One More Time With Feeling, My Golden Days and Evolution. There are also some films releasing in Australian cinemas in January and February that are amongst the awards discussion that I have not yet seen. These include Moonlight, Lion, Manchester By the Sea, Fences, Silence, Hidden Figures and Patriots Day. 

I apologise for the erratic lengths of the commentary. Some of these films I had written about already – so my thoughts, in often quite lengthy detail, had already been published. Others I was wracking my brain to find the words to describe how they made me feel. After the jump, check out my list of honourable mentions and 25 Favourite Films of 2016.

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