2016 – Atomic Top Five

Hi Film Folk,

As you’ll probably know, I typically discuss filmmaking techniques and issues rather than doing much reviewing. It’s New Year though, so I thought I’d briefly run down my “Atomic Top Five” films of 2016.

I tend to rank story and originality first, then cinematography/acting and all of the other key elements of filmmaking second.

There won’t be any spoilers in here.

So, without further ado… let’s count this down.

5. Rogue One
I wonder if there’s a better edit of this film in existence, because it’s not perfect. Some of the writing doesn’t quite make sense (see last week’s blog for more on this) but it’s a brilliant Star Wars film.

I thought it was a rare example where a spin-off actually added to the value of the original film and didn’t detract from it. When that original film is “Star Was: A New Hope”, then it’s all the more impressive.

The film gives fans what it wants, it felt “right” and was full of exceptional cinematography. Where I find many of these CGI blockbusters to look like A-Listers running in front of a green screen (Avengers, I’m looking at you), this looks real. I had a great time and I don’t think many Star Wars fans would argue.

4. Deadpool
As regular readers will know, I’m not really much of a fan of Super-Hero movies. That’s not to say I hate them, or the craft of them, I just find it a pretty saturated area of cinema and many of them don’t stand out. I’m not much of a fan of Snyder’s work (to me, all flair and zero storytelling craft) and Marvel feels fun but is often lacking in cinematic quality (my opinion only).

Deadpool, like “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant Man” before it, is a different animal.

Made with passion, utterly hilarious and it stands out from the super hero crowd.

3. I, Daniel Blake
Go see it. Ken Loach does it again, an incredibly engaging film that takes us into a dark and flawed system that destroys human lives. Not in a sci-fi sense, this is social commentary, but based very strongly upon the reality of today.

Strong writing, great directing, but it’s the performances from the amazing Dave Johns and wonderful Hayley Squires that really makes it hit your heart strings.

This is a brilliant film, bring tissues to make sure that you don’t go home with a soggy face.

There’s not a critic in the UK, without a political agenda, that didn’t love this film, and it’s going to continue to snatch awards. Rightly so.

2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
“10 Cloverfield Lane” is a phenomenally well-made film. Very clever writing, incredible cinematography and stonking performances all round.

I’m a huge fan of films with limited locations and characters, so it really floated my boat. I often get bored at the cinema, as I typically can predict what’s coming next, not an issue with this film.

There’s a moment at the start which made me leap out of my seat. I saw the film three times at the cinema and every time the entire audience jumped at the moment.

Typically a second film in a franchise is inferior to the original and is a method of a studio cashing in. Not in this case. This is a cracking journey, totally different from the original and very well worth watching.

There’s rumours of a part three in 2017, and I’d wager that it’s an entirely new format again. Can’t wait.

1. Bone Tomahawk
It was a very close run thing for me, between “10 Cloverfield Lane” and “Bone Tomahawk”. Here’s why BT won…

I’m an absolutely enormous Tarantino fan. A new Tarantino film is typically the cinematic event of a year for me. In December 2015, I went down to London to see “The Hateful Eight” in true 70mm glory at the Leicester Square Odeon. The film is a technical masterpiece and has a lot going for it, however, it’s not one of my favourite QT films… It’s better than most films, but it’s not one of his best.

Anyway… four weeks later I was priveledged to see a preview of “Bone Tomahawk” and it blew me away. Like “The Hateful Eight” it was a western (technically “The Hateful Eight” is a “Southern” but bear with me) and both films star Kurt Russell. Despite costing a fraction of the budget, “Bone Tomahawk” is, in my opinion, the better film.

It’s a terrifying and gruesome mix of western and horror, with great writing, filmmaking craft and true originality. I’m not a horror fan, but when original and genuinely effective, I want to see it.

Watching “Bone Tomahawk” was probably the hardest viewing experience of 2016, it was also my best.

There’s a lot of great films coming out next year, I’ll discuss that in a 2017 blog. I just wanted to finish with a special mention of a Netflix TV show called “The OA”. There’s been some great TV shows this year (Westworld, Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Man in the High Castle) but “The OA” destroyed them all. A truly brilliant show that has the quality of a great film throughout. Well worth catching.

Thanks for reading and I wish you all a phenomenal 2017!

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Of course the “main event” in 2017 is the launch of our book and membership site. Keep an eye on this space… 🙂