Top 10 Films Watched in 2016 10

This is my first effort at putting together a Top Films list, having only started keeping track of the films that I have watched this year, and only writing about them since early summer. There have been some really great films that I have managed to watch at the cinema and catch up with on DVD.

There are also some great films that I’ve not seen this year and so not in my list (but will be righting those wrongs as soon as I can) such as Nocturnal Animals, Captain Fantastic, The Handmaiden, Under the Shadow and The Revenant. One that would definitely be in this top ten had it been eligible would be Manchester by the Sea (Full Review Here), fortunately watched at the Cambridge Film Festival but not out on general release until next year. Catch this one when it comes round.

Close runners that don’t quite make it on the 10 list but deserve a mention are; Son Of Saul, Moana, Kubo and the Two Strings, American Honey, Rogue One and Spotlight. All really good films that just missed out.

And now to the actual list, with a little bit about why they are where they are:


Numbers 10 - 6

10. The Hateful Eight


To kick things off we have a real welcome return for Quentin Tarantino who remains a big draw for me; The Hateful Eight is a tightly confined tale, pitting two opposing sides in close proximity but also keeping you guessing until the last. A superb cast of Tarantino favourites are all on form to add weight to this snow-bound chamber piece and even though it is a long film, as most of QT’s are, the running time doesn’t affect it in the slightest as there is so much to see and so many stories to listen to. Jennifer Jason Leigh provides perfect opposition to Kurt Russell as prisoner and captor, unable to get away from each other. Expect the usual Tarantino style and violence and revel in the atmosphere and tension.


9. Your Name



Your Name is a fantastic piece of animation, immensely beautiful and packed with emotion, and a surprising amount of laughs. Makoto Shinkai has truly created a film worthy of standing with the Studio Ghibli greats and I am so glad that I managed to catch this on the big screen. Fuses body-swap comedy with intelligent twists and heart rending emotion.

Full Review Here


8. I, Daniel Blake


Ken Loach’s Palme D’Or winning tale of living and struggling on benefits in the current day UK system is both incredibly realistic and soul-destroying, but that doesn’t mean that this film is all doom and gloom. Dave Johns as the titular Daniel is a great character, doing what he can to help a young family whilst fighting to come to terms with his own demoralising situation. Powerful, exasperating film making.

Full Review Here


7. Hunt for the Wilderpeople


I knew hardly anything about this film before watching it and I found The Hunt for the Wilderpeople to be a heartwarming, genuinely funny tale of an unsuspected odd couple. Sam Neill is absolutely superb as the grumpy Hec and Julian Dennison totally steals the show as Ricky Baker, the out of place, wannabe gangster and delinquent.

Taika Waititi has crafted a great story with some real heart and no small amount of wit thrown in for good measure. You won’t be sorry if you give this one a go.


6. The Witch



Another slow burning story, The Witch places much more onto the atmosphere than any kind of scare. Throughout the film it is the creeping dread that slowly affects the exiled family that makes it so effective. Beautifully shot and with some amazing performances, particularly from the younger cast members, and the choice to highlight the isolation and helplessness only adds to the incredibly tense and frightening situation that is unfolding.

Robert Eggers has done a fantastic job in his first feature film and is rightfully getting some deserved acclaim for this film. It isn’t your standard horror film but it is one of the best that I have seen in recent years.

Full Review Here

Number 5

5. Arrival


This years biggest sci-fi film deserves its place on this list. Thoughtful and harking back to the sci-fi of years ago when it was all about the ideas rather than the action, Arrival takes its time to lay down all the information that you need and lets you piece it together and it is all the better for this. Denis Villeneuve guides this film with expert hands, and much can be said about the performance of Amy Adams as the central protagonist as she holds the majority of the screen time throughout and carries it off with aplomb. Visually too it accomplishes a great deal and is raised up by the wonderful score from Jóhann Jóhannsson.

Full Review Here

Number 4

4. Train to Busan



As far as zombie films go, Train to Busan, for me, is right up there with 28 Days Later. The zombies/infected are really well done and the tension of concentrating the action within a speeding train certainly heightens the tension and stress levels. Beautifully vivid and full of action and a surprising amount of emotion for a film of this type this film .

An english language remake is on the cards but I implore you to watch the original, it is most certainly worth it!

Full Review Here

Number 3

3. The Neon Demon



Nicholas Winding Refn has split the consensus with a few of his previous films and this was another one that divided opinion and it is easy to see why. The Neon Demon places much more emphasis on the visuals and score to build atmosphere than most other films but this works superbly well. Cliff Martinez’s score is just wonderful, conveying meaning and emotion into the sumptuous scenery which in itself is astounding. The dialogue is minimal but it doesn’t feel sparse as there is so much else going on. It truly is an experience and is so different from everything else that I have seen this year that it deserves it’s place high up this list.

Full Review Here

Number 2

2. Sing Street


Sing Street is my surprise hit of the year. It came in completely under the radar, it was only because of Lee Brady of Big Picture Reviews and Jason Michael of Film Faculty that I came across this film as they waxed lyrical (especially Lee) about it and boy am I glad that they did. A great tale of coming of age, being yourself no matter the consequences or the pressures exerted from outside and chasing your dreams. An uplifting story that hits all the right notes with some really catchy tunes to top it all off. Essential viewing.

Number 1

1. Hell or High Water


I absolutely loved this film from the opening long, tracking shot and the amazing visuals through to the realistic camaraderie, dialogue and the wonderful performances from all concerned. Chris Pine and Ben Foster more than hold the audience against the ever-impressive Jeff Bridges and his long suffering partner Gil Birmingham. This film is a showcase of slow burning tension and invoking real emotion for all involved.

Full Review Here

Let me know what you think about my list, and agreement? Any contestable entrants? Or anything missing that should be on here?

Or if you just loved any of these films let me know!

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10 thoughts on “Top 10 Films Watched in 2016


    Great to see some smaller films on here, like Train to Busan and Sing Street. I really enjoyed Hell or High Water. Now I need to see Neon Demon 🙂 Thanks for this awesome Top 10!

    • Gavin McHugh Post author

      Hey, thanks very much. It has been a hard slog to get it down to just 10, so many good films that are there or thereabouts! The Neon Demon is great, so glad I chased it down on blu-ray as it looks awesome. Get a big screen and turn the volume up, you won’t regret it.

          • SLIP/THROUGH - Dan

            So… I watched Neon Demon. I like interpretive films, but this was strange. It gave me Suspiria meets Black Swan vibes, like a new Mario Bava or Dario Argento flick. Very stylish but the story didn’t work for me as well as another curious style film from this year like Nocturnal Animals.

    • Gavin McHugh Post author

      Yeah, unfortunately that’s what happens when you get different release dates. Wanted to include Manchester by the Sea but it isn’t released until next year over here.