Top 10 Films for 2016

It’s a mixed bag of top 10 films this year, with a top-heavy favourtism for the thriller!  From the funny-sweet, Hunt for the Wilderpeople to the ultimate crime thriller, Sicario *

I have to say the biggest stand-out for 2016: Director Denis Villeneuve.  More Denis, we want more!

10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Coming in at number 10 is the New Zealander Comedy / Drama that stole the world’s heart: tongue-in-cheek and heartfelt where the characters are able to take a laugh at themselves ‘cause it’s all heart bro.

9. Pawno

At number 9 is a local Drama based on a day-in-a-life in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray.

It would have been easy to get bogged down in the melancholy, but there’s humour here, the focus on the good: a poem written to a beautiful girl in a bookshop, drummers tapping out a heartbeat with the dance of a local in appreciation, the expression of graffiti and the love of a dog.

Pawno shows life in all its complications with the simplicity of a leaky kettle or a favourite mug.

8. The Revenant

Where Leonardo Di Caprio finally won his first Oscar, and for good reason.

There is a real authenticity here, thanks to Di Caprio, but director, Alejandro has given the film something almost mystical. Nature untouched, is a bit like magic. The Native Americans believed in the will of the trees and the wind, and I think Alejandro managed to capture some of this magic. Not an easy feat and worth watching.

7. Arrival

My favourite director of this year Denis Villeneuve has given his Midas touch to a film that really could have fallen flat.  The insight Villeneuve has managed to show of Dr. Bank’s character is astounding.  If only for this aspect, I enjoyed the film.  Then combine the incredible story, soundtrack and pace with that extra flavour that makes the characters so believable, you’ve got a winning film.

6. Life, Animated

I can understand how this documentary, directed and produced by Roger Ross Williams, has won so many audience awards: Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, Full Frame Film Festival and the list goes on…

I laughed, I cried, I smiled and I learnt something not only about Owen and his battle with autism, I also found an opportunity to reflect on my own life journey.

5. Mustang

Set in Inebolu, a Black Sea village 600 kilometres from Istanbul, Mustang is about the freedom of five young sisters with wild hair trailing down their backs, with a glance and an innocent smile that can lead to so much trouble.

As her first feature film, Deniz Gamze Erguven has given us a story that feels like it should already have been told, and I congratulate this fresh view of life that is usually hidden behind closed doors.

4. The Conjuring 2

Director James Wan is genius in his use of not only the soundtrack, but also the trickery of shadows, slips in time, old toys; a focus on the eyes or a terrifying portrait brought to life.  Seemingly simple devises, but used so well.

There’s a journey here.  An invitation to take hold of a hand  – a, Gotcha, then I’ll let you go a bit… then, I gotcha againThis time, I gotcha good.

3. Triple 9

I liked this film because it went beyond all expectations. The story just kept unfolding to its bloody conclusion. I couldn’t look away: cringing, gasping, hoping and ultimately smiling contently at a well thought-out conclusion.  Love a good crime thriller!


2. The Hateful Eight

There’s not a lot of action here. But the dialogue between the characters is hugely entertaining. The depth of thought put into the characters: Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren, Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue was particularly impressive.  And the not so subtle gallows humour and O. B’s bad luck is gloriously funny.  I had a ball watching this film – good fun!

  1. Sicario

I couldn’t fault this film.  The story, characters, soundtrack, cinematography and editing all combined to create tension and to keep the audience guessing.

If the violence didn’t add to the story, then it wasn’t included. Clever devises used by director Denis Villeneuve used the imagination of the audience to piece the action together giving this film it’s true brilliance.  If you haven’t already, watch this film!  You’re in for a real treat.

* I know, I know, Sicario was released end of 2015, and I do ask for poetic license being my first ‘best of the year’ list for the website.  Being my first reviewed film to earn 5 stars, I couldn’t resist Sicario, at the top, in all its crowning crime-thriller glory.

The Most Underrated True Crime Movies Ever Made

Despite all the horrors criminals perpetrate, despite how terrifying a real gangster, mobster or murderer truly can be, one thing is certain: when it comes to movies, we as a people love crime. There is something intrinsically interesting about getting into the heads of degenerates as they break the law and seek ways to avoid getting caught.

It’s no surprise then that True Crime stories are some of the most well-received films. Some are well remembered, while others are unjustly forgotten. With a new generation of viewers, there’s some real value to be gained by looking back and thinking about just what is still worth watching.

 “GoodFellas” (1990)

No matter how many times I see “GoodFellas,” it remains one of my favorites. I don’t mean to suggest it was underrated in its time either—ratings for the film are superb overall. But today, over twenty years later, new audiences may not have heard of the movie much less seen it. For that reason, I list it first.

“GoodFellas” is not the original story about working for the mob (others existed before it), but it is based on the biography of Henry Hill, a former mobster who is eventually forced to turn in his friends and bosses to save himself and his wife. Of course, there’s much more to the story than that. “GoodFellas” gives some excellent insight into what it was like to be a Mafioso, both the good and the bad.

“Heavenly Creatures” (1994)

Our next film is perhaps a little stranger. Based on a well-known murder in 1954 known as the Parker-Hulme murder case, the story follows Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme as they conspire to commit (and then naturally follow through) murder. Their target is Pauline’s mother.

While this is another film that received praise, it was actually a New Zealand film, which isn’t surprising considering the original murder took place in New Zealand. And although the center of the origin story is murder, the film focuses much more on the development of the two protagonists’ relationship as things slowly get worse.

 “In Cold Blood” (1967)

One of the biggest challenges in keeping good movies alive is the huge difference in production value between now and then. This is certainly true for “In Cold Blood,” with its fiftieth birthday just around the corner. The entire film is black and white, so it definitely has that old movie look to it. But make no mistake: the use of black and white is entirely intentional.

Like “GoodFellas,” this film is based on a book that was written about true events—in this case, the murder of the Clutter family. Perry Smith and Dick Hickock conspire to rob the Clutters’ house, but their crime instead escalates into a quadruple murder which leads them to flee the country. Their eventual return leads to their arrest and conviction, but not before some very dramatic interrogations.

Contributor: Caroline loves true crime stories, whether they’re depicted on screen or through audio alone. As an entertainment enthusiast and internet security specialist, the minds of criminals fascinate her.  If you’re interested in some of her other works, check out Secure Thoughts or Culture Coverage.