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 Hateful Eight

GoMovieReviews Rating:

The Hateful EightWritten and Directed By: 

Quentin Tarantino


Samuel L. Jackson as Major Marquis Warren

Kurt Russell as John ‘The Hangman’

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue

Tim Roth as Oswarldo Mobray

Michael Madsen as John Gage                         

Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix

Bruce Dem as General Sanford Smithers

Demián Bichir as Bob12507479_10153989110359924_2847167535995967292_n[1]

Zoe Bell  as Six-Horse Judy                              

James Parks as O. B Jackson

Original Music Composed and Conducted By: 

Ennio Morricone


Robert Richardson

Running Time:   

187 min

Set in the middle of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter, John, The Hangman (Kurt Russell), is forced to take shelter with his prisoner in Minnie’s Haberdashery, along with six other dubious characters, making a total of 8 hateful (seeming) strangers.

This is a great movie to show in Ultra Panavision 70mm film as it’s all about the snow, the horses and most importantly, the facial expressions of the characters who tell the story.

There’s some amazing dialogue here (particularly well expressed by Walton Goggins as Sheriff Chris Mannix. Boy does Walton have a silver tongue!), but it’s also about what’s left unsaid, what the wink of a bruised eye can express, that words cannot.

Jennifer Jason Leigh’s expressions were so convincing, Daisy Domergue could be mistaken for a reptile disguised as a human.

Director, Quentin Tarantino in an interview on Triple J (18/01/16) described Daisy as, ‘Hiding in plain sight’. Samuel L Jackson playing the part of Major Marquis Warren is shown to be noticing and clocking all that is not right. Tarantino states – ‘Taking it all in and staying silent with his hand on the butt of his gun because he’s in a room full of white people he doesn’t trust’. And with the rich detail of the 70mm film, every expression is captured and shown to the audience.Samuel L Jackson

I liked the Overture with the stark black and red stencilled image of the six-horse drawn stage coach slowly becoming more vivid with the build-up of music composed and conducted by Ennio Morricone. A great way to settle the audience and slowly capture their attention before the beautiful wide screen scene of the image taking life, of the stage coach been driven through the falling snow.

The first 2 hours went by surprisingly quickly. 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.

After the Intermission and release of tension, the buzz in the bathroom, you come back to be taken in for the film’s dramatic conclusion.Quentin Tarantino_autograph

Not for the light-hearted. There are some truly terrible scenes and brain been blown into people’s faces, etc. This is an R rated film for a reason.  Not that I don’t mind a bit of stylised blood and guts.  But the film wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t convinced by the addition of Zoe Bell as Six-Horse Judy with her New Zealander accent… in the middle of Wyoming… in the 1870s… But I was pleasantly surprised by the humour.

The acting and writing of this movie is enough to rate this film highly. The 70mm film, program and special screening are Tarantino showing The Hateful Eight in its absolute best making the viewing an event.

Really, what fun. I’m still smiling.

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