Top Ten Coolest Films of 2016 (so far)
Although we haven’t yet felt the chill of winter, we thought that now would be as good a time as any to look back on a year of stylish and intelligent films. It was a tough few hours, but we think we’ve finally managed to trim the fat of our selection. Eventually, we agreed to narrow it down to ten, ascending from least to most cool – according to our designated film buffs. So, here goes…
Ten | The Legend of Tarzan
We were pleasantly surprised by The Legend of Tarzan, which seemed to have adopted the gritty authenticity of the post-Nolan fraternity of action filmmakers. Hunched amongst muscle-bound gorillas, Tarzan seemed to belong to the humid jungle interior and Alexander Skarsgard did well to convincingly convey the animalistic aspects of his character. Also, there are plenty of knuckle-biting man vs. wildlife moments to appease those avid YouTubers who, like us, can’t help but clicking links entitled ‘cyclist attacked by gazelle’, and the like.
Nine | Suicide Squad
Most folk you speak to will probably say that Suicide Squad was a bit of a disappointment, partly because of that expectation-lifting trailer, which arrived in the wake of the biggest flop since Free Willy leapt to freedom: Batman vs. Superman. Aside from the odd garish flourish of shaving advert CGI, we’d have to disagree with those naysayers. We were hooked on this ensemble of distinctive, wild and downright ruthless anti-heroes, from the opening riff of the House of the Rising Sun to the epic heart-crushing finale. If you’d like a shorter summation of why we opposed the status quo on this then we can actually offer you a single word – and that word is ‘Harlequin’.
Eight | The Shallows
I sat beside my girlfriend in this movie and terrified her on multiple occasions by jumping, shuddering and squirming in my seat. This was a refined horror swimming in the same ominous waters as Jaws and focusing on the minutiae of this horrific encounter with an apex predator. Apart from a very absurd ending, this slick bikini thriller boasts a lean narrative that pivots like a screw around a bolt of realism, never neglecting the finned fury and the impact of its – for the most part – unseen presence. Whatever you do, don’t overfill your popcorn because it’s gonna be up and out of your hands like a slippery salmon.
Seven | Sausage Party
We couldn’t wait for Sausage Party after we saw the trailer and noticed that the minds behind This Is The End were about to strike again – and this time in the form of animated sausages. It’s the kind of totally-baked, wreathed in pot smoke idea that you just couldn’t imagine being made into a Pixar style blockbuster. Yet here it is, in all its grotesque and glorious beauty – a film about food and humanism that eventually strays, to hilarious effect, into the lewd Pleasuredome of Caligula. You can’t get much more ‘out there’ than this…
Six | The Nice Guys
In the hierarchy of comedy duos, we’d rank Crowe and Gosling – a somewhat unlikely pairing – up there with the best of ’em. Joining forces for a wild, high-octane ’70s adventure that would make Thomas Pynchon proud, these unusual detectives attempt to survive the decadent, shabby layers of LA’s upper echelons. It’s a hilarious ride that doesn’t take itself to seriously and isn’t above ploughing a car through a suburban condo and leaving a topless prostitute draped over the bonnet. One for the GTA generation, perhaps.
Five | The Assassin
We thought we’d slow the pace a little here by including a visually outstanding masterstroke from the artistic and uncompromising Chinese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien. The supple and weightless cinematography allows the narrative to unfold with the invisible flow of running water. Every still could be framed and mounted on your mantel. The movement and exchanges seem to unravel in captivating slow-motion, pregnant with poetry. Oh, and the fight sequences carry a fluid and interested sophistication, reminiscent of House of Flying Daggers.
Four | My Scientology Movie
Who doesn’t love seeing Louie Theroux thrown into the underbelly of some bizarre and colossal beast? I mean, I love Louie, but I do also love seeing him entangled in heated situations. I think it’s because you know, through patience and politeness, he will always be able to somehow step out from that dark stomach, through bloated coils of intestines, before finally skipping gaily through an unholy hole, emerging once more into the sunlight. Of course, that’s what happens in this odd, insightful and, at times, hilarious movie. And what beast is more mysterious and incomprehensibly huge than Scientology? Yet throughout his precarious tousle, Louie successfully handles exhibitions of grotesque behavior, physical abuse and unsettling secrets with complete composure and nothing more than his trademark quizzical frown… a true professional.
Three | Everybody Wants Some!!
This film, coolly packaged and delivered by Boyhood’s laidback director Richard Linklater, is as cool and light-hearted as they come. Plotless films about fun and friendship are hard to come by – by which I mean they’re often spoilt by commercial inclusions of throwaway drama or slapstick comedy. But this film sticks to simplicity and remains authentic, filled with complex characters you come to love and enough pleasant nostalgia to fill a field with South Park’s chirpy ‘member berries’.
Two | The Revenant
Like the issue of man’s impact on the natural world it brings to light, this was unavoidable. Even if you didn’t see it I’d bet my last stick of chewing gum that you heard stories of the nightmarish shoot, or heard tell of Leonardo DiCaprio receiving that long-awaited and deserved Oscar. The Revenant was visually spectacular and entirely believable. I’d also say that it could be compared to Alejandro Iñárritu’s previous project, Birdman, in as much as it throws you headfirst into the dramatic fray, employing a barrage of sinuous one-take sequences and gritty, shaky close-ups.
One | Hunt For The Wilder People
So, here we are, we’ve arrived at what we’d call the ‘coolest film of 2016’ – it’s Taika Waititi’s (a name we’re still failing to type into Google) homegrown Hunt For The Wilder People. Based on the outback ramblings of beloved Kiwi author, Barry Crump, this heartwarming dry comedy offers weirdness at its finest, enriched with the charm of that self-deprecating string of islands and backed by the splendor of its far-reaching vistas. If you enjoyed What We Do In The Shadows this is sure to provide a similar injection of comedy and absurdity. For fans of Flight of the Conchords, band manager Murray (comedian Rhys Darby) is ‘present’ for a brief but delightful cameo as a bedraggled hermit. Not to mention the child-terrorising velociraptor expert himself, Sam Neil, on impeccable, bearded form as wild bushman Uncle Hec.
Also, we have to bestow another commendation on this film by giving it our invisible, and seldom sought after, Line of the Year award for the subtle corker:
‘It was a relaxing song, and a relaxing sausage.’