Aka the ones that nearly made the list!
Plus a special honourable mention at the bottom.
(In no particular order)
A coming of age comedy set against 1980'a Dublin. Starting a band seems daunting to me especially seeing as I only enjoy the musical stylings of Bros, Daphne and Celeste and Natasha Bedingfield. This film tackles love, loss, fitting in, broken homes, unfollowed dreams and over aggressive priests. Think 'The Commitments' but in Sixth Form and you're not far off the mark. It's been scientifically proven that nearly everything sounds funnier in irosh and that stereotype isn't harmed in 'Sing Street.' It had me howling at times, nearly crying in others. The maker of the film has form in the musical genre having already produced indie hits 'Once' and 'Begin Again' of which I've seen neither but would gladly give a chance after seeing this.
Hell or High Water
The films main selling point is that it is 'from the writer who brought you Sicario' which is a pretty strong selling point. It squeezed on my top 10 last year and for good reason. 'Hell' keeps the setting firmly planted in the sandy confines of the south but stays clear of Mexico and uses most of its time robbing banks. It is a heist movie, it's a buddy movie, it's a cop movie, it's a road movie. It's also the best movie that Chris Pine has done since the Star Trek reboot. He feels more actor than movie star here but he has serious acting competition around him in Ben Foster, who throws himself in everything he does and also from Jeff Bridges who could play drunk sleepy sheriff in his sleep and still put in a shift but this is a hell of a shift. There's a very strong theme playing in the background of the after effects of the financial crisis which is still being felt and that theme isn't subtle, it's jammed down your throat. It's a minor quibble but enough to mark it down for me.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Admittedly there's an element of praise simply based around the production of this film. The script was originally entitled 'The Cellar' and filming was made on this prentence until a plan was hatched to alter the film so that it existed in the same universe as the 2008 original 'Cloverfield.' The film was only revealed to exist 2 months before release with a new name and a tweaked story, partially written by Fanian Chazelle of Whiplash fame. But back to the film itself and yet another example of how tense you can make a gripping tense film on a tight budget with a small sandbox setting, namely a fallout shelter. John Goodman gives, in my view, one of the performances of the year but also the kind that critics would never acknowledge. It's a tight thriller that you shouldn't discriminate against simply because you didn't like 'Cloverfield', it's less of a sequel and more of a distant second cousin. The kind of cousin you can fancy without feeling weird.
A slow burning realistic view of journalism surrounding true life historic sex abuse. Quite topical at the moment and hardly a fun way of spending two hours. Spotlight is unflinching in its look at the abuse given by members of the Catholic Church and the religious authorities that kept it under wraps. Snowden may be the more universally recognised news story of recent years to get a film this year but the lesser known Spotlight investigation team unearthed a cover up that scarred families for life rather than privacy liberties. The cast brought together is impressive although there are times where it feels like they decided to shoot all the "oscar clip" scenes in one day and everyone is shouting and emoting so OTT just so that they can watch their own work at the awards and look modest when their peers applaud them. You won't be on the edge of your seat with this film but you won't be dozing off on it either.
The last film I saw this year (barring Rogue One which I can't hold the list for). Back in 1999, Charlie Kauffman wrote a film like no other. It was 'Being John Malkovich' and the highest accolade I can give that film is that I chose it as my first choice when I subscribed to that shit rip off Britannica mail order service where you pay for 6 dvds a year on contract until 2046. If you looked up the word original in the dictionary, you'd see Being John Malkovich, probably alongside the definition of original. Anomalisa is also unique but the plot isn't too hard to wrap your head around. Guy bored of life, meets girl, falls in love, conflict, resolution. But there are some production techniques that take getting used to. Firstly it's Stop motion animation, which for a drama is quite offputting but works a lot better than it should do. The quality of the animation is both amazing yet purposely given an edge, 'PST notably the character faces all contain a form of hinge. The second unique aspect is the cast which is pivotal to the story and in itself the title. Aside from the two leads, ALL other roles are played by one actor (Tom Norman-google him and you'll recognise him) and these roles include male, female, children, everyone. Why they went in this direction would be a kind of spoiler but there is sense to it. All this adds up to a monumental feat of production and making us care about essentially computerised puppets. We normally reserve our CGI tears for Jessie's song and the first 5 minutes in 'Up' but this may stir some emotions you never knew you had.
Bonus Award for WTF-Ness
The Greasy Strangler
There are films you see which make you say "wow I've never seen a film like that before." The Matrix, Toy Story, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion. But NEVER have I seen a film like The Greasy Strangler. It is the epitome of bad taste, the peak of vulgar imagery I will never unsee. But it's not the first film to show a flaccid penis and an exploding head, it's just how it presents it to the audience. The acting is either drop dead atrocious or spellbindingly brilliant. I can't say that this is a good film but of everything I will write about this month, if you want to see something original, SEE THE GREASY STRANGLER!!!!!!!