Best 10 Films of 2016 so far (UK release dates)

With the first half of the year been and gone, it's about time to discuss what I think are the most immersive, enjoyable, artistic, entertaining, thrilling and memorable films of the year so far. Take note: this list is based on UK release dates, some films may be released last year in other territories. 

10: The Revenant

Want Further proof  you don't need 3D for a film to be immersive? watch 'The Revenant'. Shot in remote, uncompromising, but beautiful locations. This film is a visceral experience to behold thanks to the actors and filmmakers dedication to their craft. Dicaprio gives a strong physical performance, with Tom Hardy being the contrast as the mouthy antagonist. While both leads give excellent performances, for me Domhnall Gleeson steals the show with his supporting performance. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's direction lifts the story beyond it's revenge arch trappings and with Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography the film becomes one of the most visually stunning films of this decade.

9: Eye In The Sky

One thing many critics will praise about 'Eye In The Sky' is that it is timely, which is true, however many films of the same ilk are. What makes 'Eye in the Sky' striking is it's use of tense thriller scenes which also convey a sense of realism. Despite the main actors filming their scenes separately without ever meeting, the chemistry between them feels authentic and natural. The film balances the perfect line between entertainment and morality, making it a must see for people who are interested in the subject of drone warfare.

8: Zootropolis (aka- zootopia)

While at this time in cinematic history we are bombarded with civil rights films, this movie is actually more honest than any of the Oscar bait movies in recent memory. The characters in this film, particularly Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde are Disney's strongest in years. Not only was I invested into the story, but I could actually connect to the characters in the story, which in family films is a rarity for me. The animation is beautiful, each setting feels meticulously crafted and designed. The voice acting is exceptional with each actor giving their all for their characters, overall Zootopia is the best film of Disney's 2nd renaissance so far.

7: 10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane may not be the monster movie some people were expecting, but it is still one of the most terrifying films of this year. The main focus of this movie is not to scare the audience visually, but rather psychologically, much like Alfred Hitchcock did with 'Psycho'. I would say more, but I would hate to spoil it, the less you know about 10 Cloverfield Lane, the better experience you will have watching it. What I will say is that this film, despite it's very talented cast is dominated by John Goodman's performance. If you like tense films then this comes highly recommended.

 6: Spotlight

Spotlight in a word is absorbing. The writing, performances, direction and score absorb us into the drama as it unfolds on screen. While the film may not be as visually stunning as 'The Revenant' the film's writing and performances make the film all the more memorable. Mark Ruffalo's performance is powerful, but also realistically subdued, investing the audience in, but also  not drawing the attention away from the story itself. The film tackles a sensitive issue (about the child sex abuse scandal in the catholic church) without exploiting it or sensationalising it for the purpose of drama, seeing the story for the journalists perspective makes this film all the more intriguing.

5: Dheepan

Winning the prestigious 'Palme D'or' at the Cannes film festival, expectations were high for French Filmmaker Jacques Audiard's latest outing ... and it didn't disappoint.  While 'Dheepan' is a foreign language independent film it feels somewhat epic with it's story and impressive visuals. With great performances from it's cast and a brilliant direction from Audiard the film deepens into the common and complex subjects of social conditioning and the human spirit. The film is impressive both visually and emotionally, a film which captures the social standing of our generation.

4: The Neon Demon

Director Nicolas Winding Refn's third installment to what I have dubbed "The Neon Trilogy" (Drive, Only God Forgives, The Neon Demon) The Neon Demon is a controversial film which has divided audiences and critics, to the people who are familiar with Refn's work, there is no surprise there.  Like all of Refn's films the visuals are absolutely stunning. Working with Cinematographer Natasha Braier the film is not only an artistic method of storytelling, but it is also a cinematic experience which echos the likes of Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey' with a mix of 70s exploitation horror films such as 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre'. Like the arthouse/B-movies that inspired 'The Neon Demon' the film has more to say about our modern society then the prestige Hollywood films that try to imitate it.

3: Suburra

'Suburra' might be one of the most unheard of releases of 2016, but cinephiles should defiantly take note of this Italian gem. 'Suburra' blends American crime dramas such as 'The Godfather' and 'Mean Streets' with the style of European films of recent years. The film is set in Rome which director Stefano Sallima and the cinematographer take full advantage of with a flavorful mix of historical and modern environments to create an atmospheric world which makes Rome a character in itself. The film is beautiful and well structured and while films of this type of genre and story are nothing new, the filmmaking craft here is hard to fault.

2: Room

Not to be confused with Tommy Wiseau's 'The Room'. Lenny Abrahamson's 'Room' takes a complex, almost unfilmable novel into a emotionally wrecking, but heartwarming story about the bond between mother and son. 'Room' is one of the most powerful drama films that you will come across this year. There is one crucial part of this film which makes the story believable and a crucial viewing and that is Brie Larson's performance. She won the Academy Award this year for 'Best Actress' and rightly so. Jacob Tremblay gives an extraordinary performance, every frame of his performance felt natural. Like 10 Cloverfield Lane the less you know about 'Room' before watching it the better, but I can tell you that the direction, Cinematography, writing, score, production design and of course performances are all excellent. It's a must see.

1: The Big Short

The housing market, hardly riveting is it? The question many film audiences were asking when they read the plot on imdb. Fortunately the filmmakers behind 'The Big Short' gave us the most engaging and entertaining film of the year.  With brilliant performances from it's A-list cast, 'The Big Short' will make you laugh before appropriately sending you on a downer.  Adam Mckay is a revelation when directing dramatic emotions, gripping the audience and making them feel like a fly on the wall. 'The Big Short' features an excellent screenplay and a fast paced narrative which makes 'The Big short' not only one of the most entertaining films of the year, but also one of the most important.