The Best Films of 2016 (So Far)
At the time of writing this article, July had only just begun - which means that 2016 is already half over. While some will complain over “the football” and Brexit, or simply lay confused at how the last six months have passed them by, we at Coney’s Loft have decided to celebrate it with a list of the greatest films of the year… So far.
8) Everybody Wants Some!!
Richard Linklater’s latest 80s-set escapade charts the last days of freedom for a college baseball team: “three days and 15 hours before class” to be exact. The film has been described as a ‘spiritual sequel’ to Dazed & Confused, and it definitely has the same romantic charm as its 1994 predecessor. Featuring a fantastic ensemble cast – Wyatt Russel’s ‘Willoughby’ is a stand out character, particularly in the infamous ‘Twilight Zone’ scene – iconic 80s costumes and a catchy soundtrack to boot, Everybody Wants Some!! is already one of the funniest films of the year. Best seen with a group of friends, beer in hand, at a drive-in movie theatre.
The film opens with Tom Hiddlestone’s Dr. Laing eating the leg of an Alsatian on the balcony of his apartment, but strangely, this isn’t the weirdest thing that you will see during the film’s two-hour runtime. As each minute of High-Rise passes, the film descends further and further into kaleidoscopic, Ballardian madness: swimming pools become watering holes, supermarkets become battlegrounds and cheese knives are no longer used for their intended purpose… Supremely shot and expertly edited, Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise is an orgiastic assault upon all of your senses – at least the ones that you have left once you leave the cinema.
6) Green Room
Jeremy Saulnier has effectively carved a path into the American indie scene with his original style of filmmaking, of which his latest movie Green Room is a fantastic example. When a young punk band play a neo-Nazi club in the backwoods of Oregon, they find themselves struggling for their lives as Patrick Stewart’s ‘Darcy’ and his white supremacist gang close in. Macon Blair delivers a stoically cold performance as Gabe, accompanied by the late Anton Yelchin whose turn in this movie is among his very best – he will be sorely missed. Green Room is the definition of hardcore: a chomp at your jugular rather than a cinema-going experience.
In Zootropolis, the world is run by animals: predators and prey live alongside one another. Judy Hopps is a rabbit who dreams of becoming a police officer in the big city, but once there, she discovers that her size and species limit her. Disney have, once again, created a world with every feature and character in mind, it is a world in which everyone would love to live. The film will keep even the stoniest of audiences at bay, entertaining both adults and children alike; its crystal clear design and universal humour is impossible not to love – especially those dancing tigers.
4) Midnight Special
Jeff Nichols has a fantastic track record of making movies based on a father/son relationship, and Midnight Special is no different. In the opening minute, the audience learn from a radio report that a young boy and his father are on the run from the police, but we are unsure why. It is this drip-feeding information that makes Nichols’ such a wonderful storyteller and his stories so compelling. Michael Shannon and Adam Driver command the screen whenever they are present and do the script great justice, as does their young co-star Jaeden Lieberher. Lean and muscular, Midnight Special is a cinematic treat that has been crafted to perfection.
3) Embrace of the Serpent
Director Ciro Guerra’s sprawling journey into the heart of the Amazon is an experience to be savoured. Split over two separate time periods, Embrace of the Serpent tells the tale of the last member of a remote Amazonian tribe and his fight to protect his people’s greatest treasure. The film’s handsome monochrome cinematography flows as smoothly as the titular serpent and its ethereal soundtrack immerses the audience into the sublime world of the rainforest. Underneath its hard-wearing exterior you will find a movie with a loving, beating heart. Seek this film out: you will not be disappointed.
2) The Witch
The Witch is a tightly-wound, pin-sharp horror film that doesn’t rely on ‘jump scares’ to be scary; instead it ratchets up tension to an unbearable level by utilising flawless sound design and beautifully stark cinematography, evoking the feelings of isolation and hysteria as effectively as the script itself. The film feels perfectly paced, almost as if it’s taking its time – which is incredible considering its tiny runtime of 93 minutes. Robert Eggers’ debut feature film is so accomplished that you feel that the man has been making movies all of his life, and with his remake of Nosferatu in the works, we certainly hope that this is the case.
Room follows the life of a young boy who is raised within the confines of a hut, and his mother who is held captive alongside him. Illustrating his first experiences of the outside world, Room is a skin-prickling depiction of life after captivity and the overwhelming vastness of our world. Brie Larson’s heart-breaking turn as Ma reveals an adolescence unwillingly stolen from her, and Jacob Tremblay’s performance as the young Jack is arguably the finest child acting ever seen on screen. Lenny Abrahamson’s direction is pitch perfect, and left tears trickling down cheeks in cinemas worldwide; this is one of the best films of the decade, and will almost certainly be in the Top 10 of 2016 later this year.