According to my film diary -- yes, I actually keep a list of the movies I view each day -- I watched 832 films in 2016. Wow! Obviously not all of these were recent releases or new to me; the list is liberally sprinkled with ancient rarities that I have finally caught up with plus a good lashing of old favourites re-visited. Sad to say, however, reading the titles of all 832 pictures, I really do not remember what many of them were about nor my reaction to them. Perhaps I should annotate that diary in future with some notes that might jog my fading memory. Or maybe I really do watch a lot of dross in my efforts to see every new film on offer.
Anyhow in deciding to feature the ten films I most enjoyed last year as opposed to the 'best' films, I shall limit myself to movies either made or released within the last few years which I viewed for the first time in 2016. One that will not be among them is "La La Land" which I saw at the London Film Festival back in October, but which has just been released in time for Oscar consideration. It is being broadly hyped as the shoo-in winner for best picture, but I found it patchy and ultimately downbeat. Parenthetically I finally watched last year's favourite "Revenant" recently, and will not be including that in my top ten either -- gruelling, nicely done, but not a film to enjoy -- a 'feel-bad' movie.
Before revealing my idiosyncratic choices, a few comments about some of the premieres over the recent holiday period. I was terribly disappointed with "The Lady in the Van" which left a sour after-taste, and was similarly let down by "Zootropolis" ("Zootopia" Stateside) which I found a little too twee and preachy and by "Deadpool", amusing but trying just a little bit too hard. "The Dallas Buyers Club" was well-done but worthy, although both lead actors certainly deserved their Oscars. I was smitten by the French animation "Long Way North" with its hand-painted slightly abstract design -- so unlike most other animation nowadays -- and I thought that "Ethel & Ernest" (whether or not the BBC consider it a movie) was movingly worthwhile. Finally I was surprised how much I liked Jon Favreau's new "Jungle Book"; Bill Murray gives great Baloo!
So the time has come to list out my favourites from last year -- the one's I would be more than happy to re-view time and again. In no particular order of merit these are:
"Florence Foster Jenkins" -- I hope it gets a slew of Oscar nods.
"The Forbidden Room" -- a maddening tour de force from Guy Maddin.
"Tale of Tales" -- a feast for the eyes married to quirky storytelling.
"Anomalisa" -- stop-motion for adults.
"Wishin' and Hopin" - a great contender to join the ranks of the best Christmas flicks.
"Paddington" -- the tale of a loveable bear told with great British charm and affection (although I am getting fed up with Nicole Kidman trying to be a villainess -- it doesn't quite ring true).
"Call Me Jeeg Robot" -- the only movie from our FrightFest attendance worth watching, although this Italian quirk-fest is unlikely to achieve widespread release.
"Populaire" -- A French movie from 2012 which I had actually seen before about a typewriter whizz -- colourful and unusual.
"The Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" -- possibly a terrible movie but I enjoyed every minute of it.
"Hail Caesar" -- not the Coen Brothers' best but a lively look at old Hollywood.
There you have it. Let's find out what joys are in store for 20l7...