5 Best Films of 2016 (Team)

Dec 31, 2016 | Posted by in Lists


After a discussion, Graeme and I were also able to agree on our best films of the year. This was more difficult to arrive at so compromises had to be made. Nothing major but it does mean that there’s one extra entry on this list. If you want to read my personal best of the year then you can do so here.


After putting the world to rights during our session of beers and ranting in the pub that led to the Kneel Before Blog Official Worst Films of the Year 2016, we moved onto compiling the official Best Films of 2016 list. We immediately hit a problem with our #5 film based on a philosophical difference that no amount of beers will ever sort. I’m a Star Wars geek to a scary level, and Craig is a Trekkie. Only one solution….. joint #5 films! My personal best list can be found here.

5:Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One


This was something we struggled to reach an agreement on so we had to compromise and go for a joint 5th place so that we could move on with our lives..

I really enjoyed this film, more so than Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens but it didn’t quite crack my personal top 10. It was an interesting story that manages to enhance the very first released Star Wars film by making the Death Star seem more threatening. The changed approach to a World War II inspired story rather than the typical Flash Gordon inspiration might seem jarring at first but it does really work. It also gives us the most impressive space battle ever seen in a Star Wars film. The characters are a bit thin but they do the job well enough and the whole thing generally works. It’s a good start for the Star Wars stand-alone anthology films. There was a recent podcast on this film that you can listen to here.


I go into much greater depth as to my love of this movie on my own Top Ten Best Films of 2016 list, so I will be as succinct as I can. Gareth Edwards has walked a very fine line with Rogue One, producing a movie that blends seamlessly into Episode IV, and rather than feeding from the good will, and love for that film, has managed only to enhance it as a movie-watching experience. The details are spot on, only a few plot holes show up, and you have to be a bit of a pedant to be bothered by them, and a major plot gripe that has been fuelling heated debates for 40 years finally has an answer. The cast are all strong, and we care about them, even though they are not all given the most wide-ranging back-stories. Add in space battles that feel real, and personal, and probably the best Darth Vader scene that has ever been committed to film, and what is not to love.

5:Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond


The other part of the compromise meant that I get this film on the list. Having Star Trek and Star Wars share a slot on a list is amusing in some ways considering the manufactured and exaggerated rivalry between the franchises.

This was great as far as I’m concerned. Simon Pegg and Doug Jung understand the characters as well as what makes people like Star Trek, it has good action with some really inventive solutions to problems and the story itself plays out like a good episode of the Original Series. There are weaknesses in how the villain comes across but it’s not enough to bring things down too much. I’m delighted to have this on here after how much I hated Star Trek Into Darkness. Now I find myself anticipating the next entry in the film franchise. There was a podcast about this film that can be listened to here.


The only thing I’ve said so far on the site about Star Trek Beyond was that it deserves credit for being the most Trek of the rebooted movies, and I stand by this statement. Although not a Trekkie, per se, I am a huge sci-fi fan, so I’ve watched all the shows, and all the films, so know my way round this universe, I just never fell into hard-core love with it, no matter how much I liked it. This is what colours my opinion of this movie. I think that Simon Pegg has done a great job bringing the movie franchise back to Star Trek’s roots, and deserves credit for that, but I just don’t feel this will be held up to the likes of The Wrath of Khan or First Contact. I loved that they had small nods to Enterprise, and that the Universe felt like it has some history now, but certain scenes had me rolling my eyes, and those that have seen the “How it Should Have Ended” take on Star Trek Beyond will have a good idea where I’m coming from.

To sum up, I really enjoyed this film, in fact I really liked it, and it deserves to be up here on this list, I just didn’t have the history I think is required to truly love it.

4:Eye in the Sky

Eye in the Sky


Alan Rickman’s final performance is a memorable one and the film itself is very powerful as well as thought provoking.

The film poses some difficult questions and doesn’t deliver any easy answers. It’s all built around a moral dilemma that is complex and layered with a range of views on the situation from the different characters. Helen Mirren carries the film with a practical yet compassionate Colonel who completely understands the gravity of the situation as well as the importance of taking out these high value targets. It’s incredibly well paced and keeps you thinking before delivering an ending that is a real gut punch.


This is the first of two films that showed up on both Craig and my lists for 2016, and rightly so. It’s a movie that doesn’t have any answers to the troubling questions it raises, and you will be thinking about it for weeks to come after you’ve seen it. This is a quality that can be sorely lacking in this day and age, and when you pair it with an excellent cast that are all on the top of their game, and a director that gives the story time to bed in, and lets the screenplay speak for itself, you have a moving and worrying piece of cinema. Although it won’t be the most comfortable viewing experience, it is one that is very much worth having.

3:Hunt for the Wilderpeople


One of the funniest films I’ve seen in years and an absolutely hilarious joy to watch from start to finish.

Sam Neill’s standoffish Hector is a good match for Julian Dennison’s larger than life troubled youth Ricky. The interactions they have are great and the film keeps the laughs coming throughout. Pretty much every single joke lands and the film builds naturally to a conclusion that feels fully justified once it gets there. I’ve revisited this film since seeing it for the first time and the comedy holds up on multiple viewings. I can see myself sticking this on when I feel like a laugh so you should definitely see this as soon as possible.


The second of the films we agreed on, and it is a delight. As I have said previously, this is film that has the confidence to let the characters and story evolve organically, and the laugh out loud comedy springs from this. Taika Waititi has gifted us a version of UP! for those that prefer a live action take on loss and learning to love life again. Hunt for the Wilderpeople will entrance you when you see it, and leave you with a feeling of warmth that few films can manage, and you’ll probably be planning your trip to New Zealand by the time the credits roll.




This is a superhero film with a slight twist that works very well. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but spins it a little differently.

Rubbish wheel analogies aside this was great. Ryan Reynolds eventually got this made and his passion shines throughout. His performance as the lead character is perfect and the other characters support him really well. The character of Deadpool even fits into the broader X-Men universe through the other characters seeing his fourth wall breaking as simple insanity. It’s a really low budget film and it shows but it also doesn’t need a lot of money to put its point across. It’s at its best when poking fun at the superhero genre but never quite descends into full on spoof territory. This is something that could have easily not worked that turned out much better than I expected.


Deadpool only just missed my list, but it really does deserve the plaudits coming it’s way. In the age where superhero film fatigue is starting to drift in, with only really Marvel so far seemingly immune, Deadpool had the confidence to play the genre its own way. Poking fun at itself, and keeping the stakes comparatively small, they were able to give us a story of a anti-hero that is looking out for himself, whilst assuming those around him are as shallow as he is. Allowing the Deadpool that many fans love to be realised on screen without being watered down for a family audience was a stroke of genius, and let something new and fresh into the superhero world. The only concern is that its success pushes copy-cat productions that push this envelope not because their character warrants it, but rather in search of Deadpool‘s impressive box-office.




This topped my personal list and now it appears here. Graeme and I agreed that it deserves this slot because he almost put it on his list.

Arrival is a film that demands to be seen as it is such a beautifully crafted story. It works as a moving character study and a compelling science fiction story. It’s refreshing to see a sci fi story that isn’t an action driven blockbuster. The idea of communication and understanding is explored in really interesting ways while shining a light on the problems we have communicating as a species. It’s the central theme the film has and it’s very topical. Amy Adams’ Louise is an interesting character who is wonderfully acted and the way her personal story plays out is excellent. Jeremy Renner backs her up pretty well but doesn’t have much to do and the whole film is very slightly dragged down by some clunky dialogue. To say more about how much I loved it would be a spoiler so I’d suggest that you just watch the film and find out just how good it is.


Another film that just missed out on my list, and for a very specific reason. To put that statement in context, I loved this story, it was smart and clever, and although not as unpredictable as it likes to think it is, brought smart sci-fi to the cineplexes in a way that Interstellar and Gravity could only dream about. The screenplay was a delight, and deserved to be up on the big screen more that most this year. I also loved the cast, with particular kudos to Amy Adams’ performance, as she drove the whole movie on. The visual design of the ships and aliens was also terrific, and added to the vibe of the piece. So if all these things were so great, what was it that kept it from my own list? To be frank, it was the direction. I had said in my review of Hell or High Water that I had been hesitant to see that movie as it was written by the screenwriter of Sicario, which I had had issues with last year, finding what should have been a compelling, well-acted story slow and dull. Hell or High Water had been a revelation, and I loved it, and after seeing Arrival I’ve come to the realisation that it was actually Denis Villeneuve’s direction that I’m not a fan of. I find he kills a story’s pace and urgency, and I found this in both Sicario and Arrival, which are both films I wanted to love. In the case of Sicario I ended up finding it painfully boring, but with Arrival the strength of all the other elements in it meant I liked it a lot, and am happy that it’s become the Kneel Before Blog official #1 movie of the year.