MostlyFilm’s Best of 2016

Here at MostlyFilm we vote every year for our film of the year. You could do it, too, by signing up right here. Too late for 2016, though, as the votes have been counted and verified and the results are in.


Starting the countdown from 20 to 11, the results are listed below. Embrace the Serpent, Rogue One and Train to Busan missed out on the top twenty by the smallest margin. By any year’s standards this is clearly a strong list:

20 Mustang
19 The Witch
18 Everybody Wants Some
17 Hell or High Water
16 Love and Friendship
14= Kubo and the Two Strings
14= The Assassin
13 Paterson
12 Son of Saul
11 Creed

So on to the top ten:

In at number ten is The Nice Guys, illustrating how good Ryan ‘Hey Girl’ Gosling is at pratfalls.

Fiona Pleasance (one of our regular contributors): “I enjoyed the film immensely, and Gosling’s excellent performance is so funny and assured that it gave me an inkling of what all the fuss was about.”

And from FUBar posters:

jim5et: “The nice guys is very minor Shane Black, and far too pleased with its own sleaziness, but no one does palooka better than Russell Crowe.”

kiwizoidberg: “I had heard mixed things so I was hoping for the best, and it’s very good. Crowe’s straight man to Gosling’s physical comedy is a better double-act than it sounds. Thumbs up.”

JohnCooperClarke: “…it’s a very relaxed & loose good time in the company of seasoned pros. Shane Black is very good at delivering the same feeling you get from cheap paperback crime fiction of the 60s & 70s – a hugely predictable plot (the ‘twist’ is so heavily signposted here it’s hilarious), a pungent setting and characters whose presence stays with you after it’s all over, people you’d like to hang out with sometime. It’s exactly that – a hangout movie – where Crowe & Gosling get to be rumpled, charming, idiotic sometimes, and generally behave with exemplary sweetness when they’re not hurting people.”

No number nine, as Julieta tied with Sing Street at number eight.

Some of our FUBar posters on Julieta:

Sladey: “Really enjoyed it. Glossy but not too glossy, soapy but not too soapy exploration of love and loss and parenthood. Lovely cameo from Rossy de Palma. Was only mildly distracted by the lead’s wardrobe.

DasBoot: “Maybe I’m overrating this out of relief that he had made something watchable after I’m So Excited! – and I’ve heard some complaints that this is just Almodóvar doing Almodóvar – but I think but this is an elegant and moving piece of storytelling with two fantastic central performances from Adriana Ugarte and Emma Suárez. Rossy de Palma is great too. Gorgeous use of colour.”

And on Sing Street:

jim5et: “Like a wise woman said, you don’t go to a musical looking for realism. This was really charming in the end though I liked it less than Carney’s previous films.”

Poacher: “Ach, I loved it. I think it’s the absolute commitment of it – the commitment to myth-making and never looking away (or to the camera). And I know Carney is unsure about it, but that Children of Men/Grease ending was damn near perfect.”

Clio: “…which spoke to me in a way in which probably only others who were in their teens in the mid-1980s can appreciate. Songs that are written onto my brain, great performances, and best ’80s hair, make-up and costumes I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not a musician, but the way the film captured that Lennon-and-McCartney co-composery vibe seemed accurate. I thought it was lovely.”

At number seven we have I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach’s highly political, brutal and divisive film about our welfare state.

kiwizoidberg: “So relentlessly grim that numbness and apathy had fully formed long before the ending, so it lost a bit of its impact on me. Great performances, excellent film.”

DasBoot: “…there is surely a ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ aspect to it, showing how one unfortunate turn of events can leave any of us at the mercy of the state, and so it’s useful to examine what kind of safety net, if any, is there. In a more general sense, I just think it’s important to experience art that makes us uncomfortable sometimes.”

RonSwanson: “I have strong reservations about the Laverty/Loach partnership, but I think I, Daniel Blake is pretty much Ken’s best film in 40 years, or more. It’s so overwhelmingly angry that any of the tics that annoyed me on previous films don’t even register. Even when his films are bad, though, I believe he’s making films that he thinks are important and that he does them because he’s passionate about them.”

At number six comes Our Little Sister – Umimachi Diary (original title), from one of MostlyFilm’s most worshipped Directors, Koreeda:

kiwizoidberg: “Has the feel of an Ozu slice of life like Tokyo Story.”

Moving into the top five, at number five comes Hail, Caesar!. Re-establishing the Coen Brothers’ ability to mix comedy, rumination and beautiful homages to Hollywood’s golden age.

veal: “…the Clooney monologue was moving. And his dialogue in the early scenes of Hail, Caesar! was better than perfect. Yes, there is no funnier actor than Ralph Fiennes now, and there hasn’t been in a very long time. Johansson, who I have never liked much, was superb, she was Tilda Swinton good. I got so much pleasure from every second of it – like when I saw the first few minutes of Austin Powers on my own in the pictures one day and it was the happiest I’d ever felt in the cinema, except it was all the way through. Just maybe the problem was that we didn’t spend enough time with any of the best characters. I would have watched a whole movie about every plot.”

Clio: “So, I can understand why audiences are hating it. It’s the most dry and least immediately accessible Coen film I’ve seen in a while. But, like all Coen films, it should improve massively on rewatch.

I think it suffers from being superficially fluffy while actually dealing with The Big Questions, like religion and belief.

I did feel kinship with one other woman in the cinema, most of the time it felt that we were the only ones laughing, but we laughed a lot. Also, there were lots of 1950s Hollywood jokes which probably went over most people’s heads; they certainly passed Mr. Clio by. (Like the Wallace Beery Room! I loved the Wallace Beery room. Full of portraits of Wallace Beery).

Oh, and Alden Ehrenreich was fantastic. Best Coen “discovery” since Oscar Isaac.”

FilmFan: “I loved parts of it all the way through. In fact, a week and a half later, there’s not a bit of it that doesn’t bring a huge smile to my face when I think about it and yet I don’t think it really comes together. I am fully expecting it to improve enormously with a rewatch and I do really like it, I just didn’t love it the way I was expecting to, which maybe says more about me than about the film.”

BunnyLake: “One of the reasons I found the film moving, is we live more in a Lockheed world than a Capitol Pictures World. I had the thought that maybe Mannix did end working for Lockheed after all, when they bought Capitol in the 70s.

And the pastiches, the dance and Clooney’s final monologue, those two are pastiche at their best, where the pleasure is heightened because at one and the same time you’re getting something that evokes memories of, and teases the thing, but at the same time, it’s as good as the thing, it’s the pleasures of the thing distilled, a platonic ideal of it.”

At number four is Hunt for the Wilderpeople, from the Director of Flight of the Conchords and What We Do in the Shadows.

MrsMills: “Now added to my favourites of 2016 list. I loved this. I liked the nods to Wes Anderson, but it was so much its own self that that was all they were, nods. The leads were fantastic, the supporting characters were fantastic. I laughed, a lot. The script was great. Who knew Sam Neil had such great comic timing? Not I.

newsreader: ‘But he’s just a kid though’ child services woman: ‘He’s a spanner in the machine and I’m the mechanic who will put him back in the tool box.’

Psycho Sam: ‘So have you heard of local legend Psycho Sam?’ Both shake heads. Psycho Sam: ‘Oh, ok then. Well hello I’m Sam.'”

jim5et: “…which actually is what Swallows and Amazons should have been, in that it treats kids’ inner lives, and the adventure of living outdoors, seriously and has the confidence that that’s interesting. It also felt weirdly like a Wes Anderson joint; cast Bill Murray as Uncle Heck and shoot it differently, though Rachel House is much better than Kate Blanchett.”

Hankinshaw: “A lot less Conchords-y than What We Do In The Shadows, Taika Waititi’s languid chase movie has a crusty Sam Neill paired with a gobby kid, trying to stay one step ahead of the cops by hiding in the NZ bush. A right old clash of tones, truth be told, only really gelling when focusing less on antics (and here be antics) and more on the emotions. Sweet AND sad AND funny is hard to do without sentimentality, and on those notes it’s bang-on. Waititi’s doing Thor Three (it’s not called that but it should be) next – in terms of Little Fellas Being Handed Big Movies, he’s far more likely to be a Russo than a Trank. Oh, Simon and Garfunkel earworm, sorry.”

Next up at number three is High-Rise, from another MostlyFilm hero Ben Wheatley. Achieving the supposedly impossible feat of transposing J.G.Ballard’s novel on to the big screen.

JohnCooperClarke: “Lots of fun, especially if you don’t expect it to be literal or rational, and can go with a film that – seemingly intentionally – has a missing middle section …  their fantastic ability to cast hairy men off the telly in intriguingly non-realistic portrayals of un-reconstructed 1970s masculinity. People who were bothered by how little Snowpiercer cared about logistics will be tearing their hair out in handfuls about this.”

jim5et: “I liked this a lot – obviously it’s a million miles from the chilly forensic detachment of Ballard’s novel, but chilly forensic detachment would make for a f*ck-boring movie, whereas going balls deep into a Ken Russell homage made for an absolute blast. The slo-mo dance sequences alone were worth the tenner.

Luke Evans is absolutely magnetic, isn’t he? And Hiddleston is a proper movie star in that he always gives the same performance but bends whatever movie he’s in so that performance feels right.”

There is also an excellent MostlyFilm piece from Indy Datta, advising that “rewatch and reassessment would seem mandatory.”

Number two came as a surprise to a lot of regular FUBar posters, expecting Arrival to win first prize. A FUBar thread dedicated to the film is aptly headed with “It will descend to drunken-student musings on time and free-will rather quickly.”


Clio: “This was top of my 2016 list by quite a way, and I saw it twice in the cinema. The fact that I was teaching cinematic representations of time via editing just when I saw the movie almost certainly influenced my response. The way it juggles the different timeframes (and leads you up the garden path) is masterful.

In the absence of an acting nomination for Amy Adams I would settle for Editing, Adapted Screenplay and Directing Oscars.

I posted this link on, I think, the book thread, but here it is again – David Bordwell on time in Arrival and comparisons with the original story, here.

Whether Louise has a choice or not depends on what it is she’s seeing. If it’s the final outcome, then no, she doesn’t have a choice. If it’s just one of a realm of possibilities, then yes, she does. I’m leaning towards final outcome myself, I think the film leaves this question fairly open.”

MaxFischer: “What it has going for it is consistently imaginative staging by Villeneuve (the way he breaks the story of the UFOs’ appearance is beautifully done, and the first half hour of the film reminded me a fair bit of the oblique narrative and visual strategies of Upstream Color, albeit very dialled down for the mainstream), a great score by Johann Johannson, and a typically alert Amy Adams turn.

The tearjerker element got to me at the end, but I was always aware that the film trafficked in a kind of melodrama (on the personal and the global scale) that Ted Chiang’s source story doesn’t, albeit partly because Chiang is the kind of old-school SF writer who can render the most outrageous concepts in prose, but not so much normal human interaction. And the way the alien contact itself is handled feels a bit off-the-shelf compared to what came before.

But also, the story has a kind of metaphysical grace that the film lacks, wrested from the most unpromising material (in Chiang’s own words: “This story grew out of my interest in the variational principles of physics”). What we have is nifty, and smart, but the glimpses of something weirder and richer are a little frustrating for me.”

Ten to two recap:

10 The Nice Guys
8= Julieta
8= Sing Street
7 I, Daniel Blake
6 Our Little Sister
5 Hail, Caesar!
4 Hunt for the Wilderpeople
3 High-Rise
2 Arrival

So, for the first time in history, an animated film takes first place:


It’s official, the MostlyFilm best film of 2016 is Zootropolis (or is it Zootopia?).

JohnCooperClarke: “Disney’s not the place I’d expect to find an animated movie influenced by Shane Black but this is kind of a Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for kids. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder at a children’s film than I did during the bit where Maurice LaMarche gets his cameo.”

MaxFischer: “More animals! The animal/race metaphors in Zootropolis get a bit tangled, and this has more wit than charm, but I liked its ambition a lot. Although watching it now is a bit jolty, now that fear and division are the official best ways to win elections.”

You are all more than welcome to participate in MostlyFilm’s Best of 2017 on FUBar, and to let us know your favourite from the current top ten using the poll below.


NB: JohnCooperClarke is simply a FUBar poster’s username.

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