2016 has been a busy year here at Snooty Usher Towers. We are about to complete our first full year, we have added 2 new members, made our first podcast and have posted over 400 articles.
During this busy year, we have made some time to watch a few films. We put our lists together, courted some controversy, and now we give you The Snooty Ushers’ Top 10 Films of 2016.
PS: The list is made up of films released in the UK in 2016, so The Lobster missed out.
Before we get started, here are a few films that just missed out: Nocturnal Animals, Zootropolis, Embrace of The Serpent, Kubo and The Two Strings and Hail Caeser!
10. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino)
Dave: Imagine, if you will an 18 year old Dave walking into the Odeon Cinema in Hamilton to watch a film called Reservoir Dogs. While I was film fan, it wasn’t until I watched this that film became my passion. The 90s in particular were dominated by my love of the work of Quentin Tarantino. In recent times, I had fallen out of love with him. Death Proof and Inglorious Basterds were a little underwhelming and I missed Django Unchained altogether.
The Hateful Eight reminded me of everything I love about Tarantino. Eight strangers find themselves stranded in a log cabin during a blizzard in Wyoming in the 1870s. All is not what it seems and as the tension builds, some one is not who they say they are.
This has everything that makes Tarantino great, trademark dialogue, brilliant characters, great use of music and some over the top violence. The director isn’t in a hurry to set things up, the viewer is just a long for the ride and what a ride it is.
While loaded with Tarantino regulars like Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Tim Roth, it is Walton Goggins who steals the show. While this is Jackson’s best role in years, Goggins breaks out from what should be a nominal comic relief role but packs way more of a punch. Why the guy isn’t more famous is beyond me.
It is beautifully shot and Ennio Morricone’s score is simply stunning. While it starts off slow, it builds to a wonderfully over the top blood bath that only this director could pull off.
Tarantino is back to his best, for me at least.
9. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)
Rich: This is Jeremy Saulnier’s follow up to the excellent Blue Ruin. In Green Room, a punk band accept a gig to play at a nightclub that’s also serves as a skinhead base of operations. After the band witness a murder they must somehow survive the night as the only witnesses to the crime. Green Room is an instant classic in a year full of great movies, it’s a masterclass in exploitation cinema, a tense and non-stop siege movie that brings up memories of Straw Dogs and Assault on Precinct 13.
Anton Yelchin is brilliant in the lead role and is backed up by a wonderful support cast who boast an immense amount of camaraderie throughout the film. Patrick Stewart plays the villain in this movie and he excels in the role, bringing a menacing and looming presence without ever raising his voice. He runs the whole skinhead crew with ease as if he’s dealt with these situation dozens of times before.
Similar to films like Deliverance, Green Room pulls no punches when it comes to violence. The small cast makes you feel every emotion and you become quite attached to the group, every drop of blood that is spilled makes you feel more and more. The squeamish should probably avoid this film, or at least bring something to hide behind when the violence is on screen because it is visceral.
All in all Green Room is a perfect package all wrapped up in neatly within 1hr 35mins. It’s one of our films of the year and I’m sure it can be one of yours.
8. The Accountant (Gavin O’Conner)
Rich: As a math savant uncooks the books for a new client, the Treasury Department closes in on his activities and the body count starts to rise. So in this film, Ben Affleck plays an autistic assassin by the name of Christian Wolff, Afflecks portrayal of Wolff is quite similar to his Batman (our worst film of the year): a wealthy, violent man with social issues but rather brilliant who battles demons from his past by mingling with shady characters and becoming a vigilante in the shadows. With a supporting cast made up of Anna Kendrick, J.K Simmons , John Bernthal and Jeffery Tambor, it’s start studded enough to at least take a chance on and in my opinion you wont regret it, The cast works brilliantly together and the director Gavin O’Conner does a fine job of coordinating everyone to bring together a gripping story and edge of your seat action.
This film’s script is brilliant and the direction is very smart, In terms of action, The Accountant has plenty to brag about. Similar to what John Wick did with action The choice editing and blistering fight sequences are eye-catching and perfectly choreographed enough to demand your attention, mixed in with some dry humour which often hits the mark. Wolff himself is portrayed to be almost superhuman . The film is very much in the loop of its own craziness and in the epilogue of the film it tries to tell the audience that autistic people aren’t dangerous loners despite what the whole film had just decided to show, so I feel in some parts the message can get a little lost. Despite that the film is great part Rain Man, part John Wick and a hint of Mercury Rising all add up to make a film you will no doubt recommend to numerous friends and family.
7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards)
Welshy: Rogue One is a different kind of Star Wars carving out new territory in the template while still comfortably seated in the franchise.
This is a film that deserves so much credit. It took some huge risks and they all paid off. It give us a war film with a group of nobodies fighting against the odds. The tone is more somber, and the seriousness of the stakes gives the whole affair added weight. The audience knows the outcome, but it somehow doesn’t change the sense of peril. We get the very real sensation that this is war, and that war gets very real. We have several reviews of this film so i would recommend giving them a read
PS. For all those who talk about not many Bothans died for the plans…..that was the second set of plans between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi…if its an honest question fair enough, but when I hear hipsters making jokes in cinema lines or Yo Suhi…. you’re not funny and you’re not clever.
6. Creed (Ryan Coogler)
James: Dan had his review when this came out in January, and then breaking tradition I also reviewed it when it turned up in the New Arrivals section of Netflix. That’s how much I love this film. Rocky is one of my favourite films and this film goes right up there alongside it. Rocky Balboa moves to being a supporting character, and it is Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed who takes up the mantle. He’s not the same underdog as Rocky was, but Adonis still has to earn everything he gets in the film, from Rocky’s tutorship to his relationship with Tessa Thompson’s Bianca.
The film is excellent leading up to the finale, which delivers in spades. Then on top of that, there’s one truly heart-stopping, silent moment in that fight that genuinely just gives me shivers thinking about it, as a man’s entire journey from a lost, angry boy comes down to a series of images. And that’s what Adonis Creed becomes through the film. He is not just a character, he is not just a boxer, he is a man. But maybe you think that is what sports dramas do, build up a man who overcomes obstacles and takes on an opponent, proving that he is everything we want him to be. But this is a genuine human drama as well. Rocky’s illness isn’t just thrown away. Adonis’ mother really cares for him. And the moment when Bianca turns off her hearing aid is crushing. Creed isn’t just a top quality sports movie.
In that climactic fight, Adonis Creed rises from his stool while the Rocky fanfare plays. Director Ryan Coogler included it because Creed the boxer earned it. In fact, Creed the film earns the Rocky fanfare.
5. Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)
Dave: Spotlight is based on the team of investigative journalists from the Boston Globe who uncovered shocking abuse by Catholic Priests in the Boston area and beyond.
Put simply, this is a stunning film. It is excellent in every part of its production yes, but more than that it stuns the viewer. Reading the list of parishes where abuse has been uncovered is like getting a bucket of cold water thrown over you. The abuse uncovered here could literally have happened to anyone.
Writer/Director Tom McCarthy treats the source material with respect and only adds enough artistic licence to give it the feel of a film rather than a documentary.
The cast is top notch, Mark Ruffalo in particular delivers a powerhouse performance, his monologue in the film’s stand out scene:
“They knew and they let it happen! To KIDS! Okay? It could have been you, it could have been me, it could have been any of us. We gotta nail these scumbags! We gotta show people that nobody can get away with this; Not a priest, or a cardinal or a freaking pope!“
It is one moment of my cinematic adventures this year that has stayed with me. Powerful and thought provoking.
While I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed film in the conventional sense, it appears on more than one Usher’s list for a reason. This is a difficult story to tell and here, it is told brilliantly.
A very worthy winner of this years Academy Award for Best Picture, it is a difficult, challenging, heartbreaking, important film that I recommend everyone sees.
4. Captain America: Civil War (Anthony & Joe Russo)
Dan: In a year of cataclysmic blockbusters that fantasised about the imminent destruction of the human race by every means possible, one of the most captivating and enjoyable blockbusters actually focused on a feud between friends. Captain America: Civil War wasn’t just about that though, it was about government control, measured power, and how far you would go to protect what you felt was right.
The Russo brothers furthered their stock with what most don’t realise is probably the best trilogy film ever made (Controversially speaking). Though it wasn’t the Civil War from the comic run, which at this moment in time is impossible to pull off faithfully, it was a damn fine escalation to push the MCU into Phase 3. Not only did we get a powerful dynamic between Rogers and Stark, we also got the successful launch of Black Panther, and some of this years most electric action. Captain America: Civil War did everything it was expected to do, and more, the true essence of a “Blockbuster”.
3. The Nice Guys (Shane Black)
George: This was so far up my street it may as well have been called George Alley. A film which really presented the opportunity for us to appreciate Ryan Gosling the comedian. A brilliantly smart and quick comedic performance with a great sense of timing. Crowe and Gosling work really well together, bouncing off each other excellently in a classic bad cop, not so good cop buddy comedy thriller. As Dave put it:
“The interplay between the two is a joy to watch, not just the dialogue but the little looks and glances, this partnership works. Crowe looks like he hasn’t this much fun in years, while Gosling turns out to be a gifted physical comedian.”
While Crowe and Gosling are brilliant and incredibly watchable together, it’s Angourie Rice’s performance that really steals it. An incredibly self-assured, funny and clever performance from someone so young, that really anchors the film and drives the narrative. A perfect homage to the 70’s detective series, that gets the tone, setting and feel exactly right pretty much throughout. I left the cinema really wanting a mustache and a car chase.
2. Deadpool (Tim Miller)
James: If there is actually a genre called “comic book films”, it has become one of the most varied out there. We’ve had World War 2 films, Valhalla shaking political power plays, 70s inspired espionage films… and finally a film to take the mick out of all of them.
As I always say, I’m not a comic book reader, but even I knew it was a stupid idea to sow Deadpool’s mouth shut in Wolverine Origins. So after years and years of trying (and a supposedly accidental leak of test footage that forced 20th Century Fox’s hand), Ryan Reynolds got a second chance with the merc with a mouth, and he made the most of it. Although it’s an original story like we have seen dozens of times before, Tim Miller throws so many gags, references, and just straight up cool moments that you really don’t mind. The supporting cast is all great, and not having any of the regular X Men on screen actually gives the film even more of an underdog spirit. It is strange to say about a multi million dollar film with a Hollywood A lister as it’s leading man, but Deadpool comes across as the little film that could. And it did.
With Logan marking the end of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, 20th Century Fox somehow managed to find someone to fill that void as a cross over star from their films. I’m sure they will eventually overexpose and ruin it (maybe as soon as the sequel) but for now, let’s all enjoy Deadpool for what it is – one of the funnest, funniest, most entertaining films of 2016.
1. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
Dan: “They don’t make them like this anymore” is as true a statement as you can make about Hell or Highwater. A truly splendid film with brilliant performances, scorching direction, and a steely story. The acting from Chris Pine, Ben Foster, and Jeff Bridges is some of the strongest you’ll see this year. Their masculine performances drawing power from their subtlety, not bravado.
On the surface it’s the story of two brothers who start robbing small chains of a local bank in order to pay off their inherited debt to save the family farm. It’s also the story of a grizzled Texas Ranger on the verge of retiring, but unable to give up the game. Underneath its appearance is a wealth of themes that encapsulate life, but most importantly the shadow of the past. It looms large over the actions of the characters, as well as the setting in which their tale takes place. A broken desolate landscape clinging on for relevance where a once proud old wild west stood is the ideal sandbox for their digressions from the law. Even if you don’t read into films a lot, Hell or Highwater is a straight shooting game of cat and mouse set in the modern skeleton of the west. A worthy champion for 2016.
So there we have it, the end of another year. We hope you enjoyed our list, as a special bonus for making it to the end, here are our individual lists.
James’s Top 10
- Creed 2. Arrival 3. Anomilisa 4. Hail Caesar! 5. Deadpool 6. Nocturnal Animals 7.Kubo and The Two Strings 8. Spotlight 9. Zootropolis 10. Light’s Out
Dan’s Top 10
- Hell or High Water 2. The Revenant 3. Captain America: Civil War 4. Deadpool 5. Train To Busan 6. The Nice Guys 7. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 8. The Witch 9. The Hateful Eight 10. Spotlight
Dave’s Top 10
- The Hateful Eight 2. The Nice Guys 3. Hell or High Water 4. Captain America: Civil War 5. Nocturnal Animals 6. Spotlight 7. Creed 8. Zootropolis 9. Hail Caesar! 10. Ghostbusters
Welshy’s Top 10
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story 2. Don’t Breathe 3. Hell or High Water 4. Elvis & Nixon 5. Deadpool 6. The Accountant 7. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 8. Green Room 9. Triple 9 10. Captain America: Civil War
George’s Top 10
- Embrace of The Serpent 2. When Marnie Was There 3. Victoria 4. Son of Saul 5. Zootropolis 6. The Neon Demon 7. The Nice Guys 8. High Rise 9. Kubo & The Two Strings 10. I, Daniel Blake
Rich’s Top 10
- Green Room 2. The Accountant 3. Spotlight 4. Deadpool 5. Hunt for The Wilderpeople 6. Hell or High Water 7. Kubo & The Two Strings 8. Light’s Out 9. Doctor Strange 10. Ghostbusters