My Favourite Films of 2016.

In comparison to the year before, 2016 has provided me with much easier access to great cinema. With an independent picture house on my doorstep and through my work at Sheffield Doc/Fest, I’ve been able to indulge in a vast array of astounding films, particularly documentary. Two of the hits from Doc/Fest 2016 have made it into my top 10 along with some unexpected latecomers and a few British gems. 2016 has been a rough year for so many of us. We lost Bowie and then everything seemed to plummet rapidly from that point onward. Luckily, cinema has proved a loyal companion throughout the hardships – working harder than ever to provide vital escapism for a few humble hours at the end of my chaotic day. Almost all of the above have been enjoyed in Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema, along with some festival screenings and one mainstream feature I experienced in the unsettling but somewhat charming local multiplex which seems to be stuck in 1986. Sundance hit Captain Fantastic earns its place at the bottom of the list thanks to its complex characters, emotion, humour and heart. The graphic novel adaption of Ethel & Ernest floored me with its honest and raw depiction of war, family and the agonies of time passing. Adult Life Skills was authentic and gave me the same feeling of comfort I get from putting on my huge over-sized knitted jumper, handmade by my mum – a product of pure love and sincerity.

1. Victoria
2. Train to Busan
3. Weiner
4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
5. Creed
6. Life Animated
7. Chi-Raq
8. Adult Life Skills
9. Ethel & Ernest
10. Captain Fantastic

Spike Lee dazzled me with the somewhat chaotic, but altogether electric, Chi-Raq – a film that splits audiences but won me over in minutes. Life Animated is a heart-warming documentary full of real life magic and under-dog triumph we normally only expect from the Disney films at its heart. Creed brought the intensity and the fury of Rocky along with striking performances from Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone and Tessa Thompson. Hunt for the Wilderpeople was a valiant and unusual comedic adventure throughout the New Zealand wilderness. Weiner overflows with mockumentary-like awkwardness as the mayoral campaign of a disgraced politician spirals into turmoil when his sex-scandals come to light for a second time. There’s nothing one can do but cringe in disbelief at the wonder of Weiner. Train to Busan is a rarity – a zombie film which captivated and engaged me. Pulsating suspense combines with emotion, gore and stylish sequences to form this South Korean masterpiece. For nine months I’ve been almost certain there would be no beating Victoria to my number one spot. This one-take wonder astounded me, not only with its ambition but with the intensity, suspense and chemistry that came with it. More than anything else, Victoria reminded me just how exciting and celebratory cinema can be – so much so that on a recent trip to Berlin I did my best to recreate it’s final image, albeit pretty unsuccessfully…

Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.

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