The best films of 2016 so far…

Film enthusiast Susie Scott has found the 5 best films of 2016 so far, and explains why you need to see them immediately (excluding franchises).

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve seen over thirty films in the cinema. I guess you could say I’m a bit of an addict. Many of these films were franchises; huge films I’d been waiting ages for and went to midnight showings and triple bills (thank you X-Men!), but a lot of them were also last minute “what’s on next, let’s see that” decisions, and it was these that ended up as my favourites.

Listed here are the five (I had to be strict with myself, believe me there are a lot more than five that I loved) best films that maybe didn’t catch your eye when they were first released, but I did you a favour and saw them for you.

Eddie the Eagle – PG

This film is maybe one of the more well-known of the list; it had a fairly large media presence, but nowhere near enough hype about it. It has a small yet impressive cast with Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Eddie Edwards, and Hugh Jackman (X-Men) as his (fictional) reluctant coach Bronson Peary, taking the leads. There are also a few cameos from the likes of Jim Broadbent and Christopher Walken, giving us a bit of humour and variety. The plot is based entirely on the true story of our own Team GB in the 1988 Winter Olympics, already famous for ‘Cool Runnings’. Although the real Michael “Eddie” Edwards has mentioned that a lot of artistic license was used in the story, he did also say that Egerton’s portrayal of him is uncanny. The whole thing is a solid, family-friendly feel-good film. To tell the truth I cried at the end. You need to sit down on a Sunday evening with a large bag of popcorn to watch this.

The Nice Guys – 15

Set in the ‘70s, ‘The Nice Guys’ – to put it simply – is absolutely hilarious. A top notch ‘buddy movie’ in which Ryan Gosling (Drive) plays a private investigator of questionable morals alongside ‘muscle for hire’ Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind). I was astounded it got away with only a 15 rating, it’s got some strong language and most of the film is based around 1970’s Adult Entertainment films. The whole film had me almost crying with laughter, mostly down to the great bromance Gosling and Crowe had going, as well as the script that was just so cleverly funny. Watch out for Angourie Rice as Gosling’s daughter though, as she’s the scene stealer in almost every one she’s in.

The Neon Demon – 18

Allow me to start by saying this film is bizarre; a twisted psychological teen-horror, with some serious adult undertones that have you up wondering all night. Visually the film is stunning; director Nicolas Winding Refn has done a beautiful job. Elle Fanning (Maleficent) plays Jesse, an aspiring and underage model who moves to Los Angeles where her youth and beauty are coveted by the older and therefore less desirable women: Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows), Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road), and Jena Malone (The Hunger Games). The film is one long commentary on the Los Angeles model scene but also delves deeper into the emphasis that is placed on looks in this day and age, and the lengths people will go to in order to stop the natural aging process. At parts I was horrified. My jaw dropped, hands over eyes, the lot. And yet, on the drive home I couldn’t stop talking about it. A definite watch if you enjoyed the complexity of ‘Black Swan’, as it’s very similar.

War Dogs – 15

Another true story, this time based on the $300 million Afghan Arms Deal in 2008. Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street) and Miles Teller (Fantastic Four) play two men in their twenties who somehow manage to land the deal – and themselves – in a heap of trouble. Don’t be misled by the trailer, it made it seem like an almost slapstick comedy, as you’d expect with Hill, and while there are some incredibly funny parts, it’s very much a tense drama. Teller is starting to really prove himself in Hollywood at the moment, and I think this could be the film that pushes him more into the spotlight that he clearly deserves. There are moments where you’re shocked, and moments where you laugh out loud in a cinema with only a few people in, but overall it’s an impressive and reflective movie that really gets you thinking about success and failure.

Hell or High Water – 15

This isn’t a typical Western film. Chris Pine (Star Trek) and Ben Foster (The Mechanic) play brothers who have a target to reach in order to save the family ranch in Texas. The excitement comes when the target is being reached through robbing the banks that left their mother in financial trouble in the first place. It brings up some controversial viewpoints, particularly with the resentment many feel towards banks in America and how they treat you and your money, as well as whether or not the actions are justified and deserved. You not only get roped into Pine and Foster’s problems, you empathise with them, and most surprisingly (considering they’re bank robbers) you root for them. It’s easy to mistake this film for an 18 rating as there were a few moments where I was shocked at what the BBFC had allowed. Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski) plays a near-retired and hardened cop, determined to deliver justice to the two robbers terrorising West Texas, and he delivers impeccably. Pine is perhaps the most surprising as his character shows that he’s capable of a lot more than just Captain James Kirk (don’t get me wrong I‘m a Trekkie and I love him as Kirk), which is refreshing considering how common it is for a ‘Pretty White Boy’ actor to be typecast into the ‘hero’ movie. This is something completely different for him. As well as fantastic dialogue, a great story and a spot-on cast, this film also has a fabulous soundtrack. It’s got it all, so it’s a must-watch.

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