Its hard to believe another year at the cinema has passed its halfway point, with 2016 already giving us some surprise successes, box office bombs, and quite a few films that have prompted the kind of “meh” reaction that makes them hard to recommend to others.
But rather than revel in the bad, we’re here to celebrate the good; with a special Top 5 countdown of our favourite films the year has yielded so far (and some that didn’t quite make the cut). These aren’t necessarily the critical darlings or ‘worthy’ films of 2016, but rather the ones we’ve had the most fun with in cinemas over the past six months. After all, isn’t that what going to the movies is all about?
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Everybody Wants Some!!
The Conjuring 2
James Wan has been scaring audiences for a while now, constantly honing his craft and growing in confidence with each new entry in the horror genre, but as reviewer Ryan hinted in our review, The Conjuring 2 may just be the director’s most accomplished film yet. You really get the feeling that Wan knows this genre inside out, and is trying to remind audiences what made the classic horror of the seventies and eighties so damn effective: slow, steady suspense, minimal gore, and the most important rule of all: it’s what you don’t see rather than what you do. There is indeed a strong old school vibe to the whole thing, and while most other movie studios are churning out countless horror movie remakes, its refreshing to see someone who strives to manufacture the scares from scratch.
The Nice Guys
You can always rely on Shane Black to be Shane Black. Following the phenomenal success of Iron Man 3, the writer/director could of helmed any big budget tent pole his heart desired, but rather than jump straight back into bed with Marvel, he decided to bring a long gestating passion project to life. All the signature ingredients are there: Two characters who can’t stand each other yet team up anyway, all set against the backdrop of a seventies set film noir Los Angeles. Just about the only thing missing was Black’s usual references to Christmas, with the director deciding even he was growing sick of shoehorning his festive fetish into yet another film. Whilst not quite achieving the instant classic status of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys was one hell of a fun time at the cinema, with one of the sharpest scripts you’re ever likely to see, and two hugely charismatic leads in Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe, playing the hilariously mismatched comedy duo we never knew we needed until now.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Even five months after release, it still feels wrong talking about this film in any great detail, because by its very nature 10 Cloverfield Lane is a film best enjoyed by knowing as little as possible. Equal parts Hitchcockian and Spielbergian, Dan Trachtenberg’s sort of sequel to Cloverfield was revealed to the world a mere month before release, such was the confidence J.J. Abram’s dream factory Bad Robot had in their product. The gamble paid off, with the short lead in time only enhancing the interest surrounding the film, and ensuring people went and saw it before they’re friends ruined its many twists and turns. It’s unclear when we’ll see any more films in the Cloverfield canon, but two things are certain: A) you can be sure it’ll happen when you least expect it and B) it will be the complete opposite of what you expect.
If there was a standout success story in the first half of 2016, it has to be Ryan Reynolds‘ long in development, meta superhero film. There was a time when Deadpool fans had all but given up hope that their favourite potty mouthed test with teeth would be done justice on film after the abomination that was Wolverine, but thanks to Reynolds dogged determination (and the viral video he probably, definitely leaked) we not only have one of the most faithful adaptations in movie history, but also a refreshingly MA rated movie for adults in an age of PG-13 censorship. Wade Wilson is the role Reynolds was born to play, and his championing of the character feels like a win for all us regular movie goers. Despite the fact the actor is a former sexiest man alive, lives in a mansion and is married to Blake Lively, deep down you know he’s a weirdo just like us. Deadpool is refreshing proof that every underdog has his day.
Captain America: Civil War
After Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice underwhelmed considerably, the entire film world was waiting to see how Marvel would respond. But whilst Captain America: Civil War shares many of the traits of DC’s bloated blockbuster, it improves on it in every conceivable way. No one was ever really expecting Civil War to be bad (you only have to look at Marvel’s track record to know that) but what was surprising is just how good it ended up being. The Russo Brothers managed to accomplish the impossible feat of raising the stakes without upping the explosions, and introducing new characters while adding more depth to the existing roster, all while maintaining the perfect balance of humour and drama. After the bloated Age of Ultron and the fun but flawed Ant Man, it looked liked Marvel was losing some of its mojo, but Civil War has us positively frothing for the future of the MCU.
That’s all folks! What flicks have you dug this year?