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Our movie crew pick their favourite flicks of 2016

2016-12-19 08:52
 

Cape Town – It's that time of the year when we put out our top movies of the year list. 

And yes it was very hard for us to do, but knowing that everyone has different taste we enlisted our reviewers. 

It's been a great and somewhat interesting year at the box office (looking at you Sausage Party) but one thing's for sure the magic is still alive at the cinema.

Here are our reviewer's top 3 movies of the year.

Ilan Preskovsky

Room

Maintaining its pole position since it was released in February, Room is an exceptional piece of cinema that takes a fairly simple premise and through the combination of stellar performances from its two leads, stunning cinematography, a subtle score, expert direction and a witty, heartfelt script turned it into something truly special. It's still the film that should have won all the awards at the Oscars and it's still the best film of the year.  

Arrival

A smart science fiction gem that both understands its myriad influences and combines them into something that feels entirely fresh: a cerebral science fiction drama with plenty to say about everything from complex theoretical science to the role of language in human development but without ever losing sight of the heartfelt humanity that makes its many ideas actually mean something.  

The Edge of Seventeen

I'm as surprised as you are that this teenage comedy-drama ranks so high and maybe it really is just that as such a late addition, it's freshest in my mind, but, there's no getting past it, the Edge of Seventeen was one of the few films this year - or any year - that had me wishing it was longer just so I could spend more time with the characters. The coming of age genre is easily one of my favourites and the Edge of Seventeen easily ranks among its best to date. Smart, acerbic, funny, heartfelt and, most crucially, truthful, it features Hailee Steinfeld's best performance since True Grit, a typically brilliant supporting turn from Woody Harrelson and powerful, confident writing and directing by a first-time writer/ director. What's not to love?

   
Gabi Zietsman

Kubo and the Two Strings

This year was great for animations in general, with Zootopia and Moana (both Disney) also topping my favourite movie list this year. However, Laika's Kubo and the Two Strings was an astounding piece of art that combined beautifully orchestrated music, deep philosophical musings and amazing stop-motion artistry to weave one of the most unique stories I have ever seen, which instantly propelled this film to my list of favourite movies of all time. Not only does it pluck the lyre strings, but also the heart strings.

Deadpool

Coming on the back of Ryan Reynolds' dismal portrayal of Green Lantern and ten years of hard work to get the studio to even give the go-ahead, Deadpool was the R-Rated superhero movie of our dreams - that we didn't even knew we had. With two surprise Golden Globe nominations for Best Pic and Best Actor in the Comedy/Musical category, Reynolds and his team gave the superhero franchise a bit of a kick up the backside and proved that audiences are thirsty for something different, even if looks like Wayde Wilson's messed-up face.

The Jungle Book

When a live-action remake of The Jungle Book was announced by Disney, I was quite skeptical about how the animals would work without falling into the 'uncanny valley' trap, but director Jon Favreau pulled of a masterful spectacle that got more impressive with 3D. A knockout cast with newcomer Neel Sethi, The Jungle Book won over audiences all over again with its edgier style and darker story, and some delightfully awful singing from Bill Murray.

Willem van den Heever

Captain Fantastic

In the forests of the Pacific Northwest, a father (Viggo Mortensen) devoted to raising his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education is forced to leave his paradise and enter the real world, civilization as we know it today, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent. This also makes the children question the way they’ve been growing up.

The Lobster

In a dystopian near future, single people, according to the laws of The City, are taken to The Hotel, where they are obliged to find a romantic partner in forty-five days or are transformed into beasts and sent off into The Woods.  David (Collin Farrell) gets send to The Hotel and decides to challenge this status quo.

The Hateful Eight

In the dead of a Wyoming winter, a bounty hunter (Kurt Russell) and his prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) find shelter in a cabin currently inhabited by a collection of nefarious characters. The fact the whole story basically plays off in one setting makes the Tarantino classic quite unique. 

Bronwyn McKay

Moana 

Moana was by far the animation of the year for me. Disney really out did itself with introducing a new ‘princess’ who charts her own course. Independence like this isn’t always portrayed very well in films especially in an animation but it is so successfully illustrated in Moana. There is not one bad thing I could say about it.

Trolls 

I absolutely loved watching Trolls simply because it was filled with fun, adventure, love and a lot of colour! The movie transported me to a magical world filled with hilariously unforgettable characters and told a story not easily forgettable, even for adults!

The BFG

The BFG was something completely out of the ordinary. It so beautifully illustrated that no matter how old you are, it’s perfectly okay to believe in magic. I felt as though by telling the story through a 10-year-old’s eyes not only rejuvenates the imagination in a child’s mind but also awakens the child in every adult, which is why it is still a film every adult and child needs to see.

Herman Eloff

Demolition

This is without a doubt the best film I watched this year. I was moved deeply by the way it looks at life, loss and even just existing. It’s an honest and raw portrayal of being human and it forced me to take a deep breath and just stop everything for a moment. What is this silly thing called life really all about? Jake Gyllenhaal gives one of his most beautiful performances to date. His subtle attention to detail in the emotional unravelling of his character makes for a magnificent cinematic experience. This is a wonderful story about being human.

Hail Caesar

Hail Caesar might seem like an odd choice, but that’s exactly what makes it so great. It brings comedy of the sophisticated kind. I found it to be intelligent, delightful and thoroughly entertaining. Each joke delivered with pizzazz and executed immaculately by a dream cast that never once fails to impress. I fell madly in love with the characters and enjoyed the stylish undertone of the film that made it glow on the big screen. 

Youth

The film moves slow, but is driven by a powerful veteran cast that deliver unforgettable performances. They skilfully unfold the story in the Alpine setting that, at times, has a Wes Anderson-like feel to it. It’s a beautiful symphony of stories that dance together gracefully until the very end and beyond. The story strangely creates a feeling of content with the fact that life continues well after our youth has faded. It’s this realisation that ensures that this film will haunt you long after the end credits have rolled.  

Alex Isaacs

The Nice Guys 

I loved this explosive flick and would watch it over and over again. It was my action filled gem of 2016. It has smart laughs and slapstick comedy intermingled with plot twists and depth. It might seem like a macho film in the most classic sense - with big explosions and naked girls and cheap laughs – because it is, but what sets this film apart from the crowd of other films doing that is that is done so well. Gosling, Crowe and co. did an amazing job.


Noem My Skollie  

This movie is not always easy to watch, but it is a local must-see because it shows South African society in a new way. However, I have to say that if you don’t like seeing violence and scenes of a distressing nature then please do not watch this film. It also has a lot of swearing and blatant homophobia in it.  It made my 2016 list because other than being a good film, it marks an important moment in the South African film industry.


Zootropolis  

This was my favourite feel good movie of the year because it’s not be like the Cinderella Disney of old or the newer (Pixar) Disney of Inside Out. It makes its own charming, smart and funny genre. Ginnifer Goodwin (Once Upon a Time) as determined Judy is the star of the show. Her voice performance gives depth to a character that I think will resonate with younger audiences because the script walks the line between not taking itself too seriously and giving the protagonists a good character arch that you can become invested in. 

Leandra Engelbrecht

Queen of Katwe

Disney hit this one out of the park. It was such a fresh take on telling an African story. The cast of newbie child actors did a sterling job giving the film an authentic feel. It has definitely set the par high for telling African stories.

Sing Street

Just as I feared this movie got lost among the sequels and big blockbuster fare. This coming of age drama hit all the right notes when it came to acting, storyline and the soundtrack. I'm so happy it got some much deserved recognition and scored a Golden Globe nomination. 

Happiness is a Four-Letter Word

What a charm this movie was and the box office numbers proved it was a hit. This local romantic comedy has characters are compelling and warm, the story is relatable and the production is of good quality. It was one of the best local flicks on circuit this year. 

(Photos: Disney, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros, AP)

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