2016 was most definitely the year of the superhero film. Marvel has been putting out a constant stream of its cinematic universe films for years now, but this year we got three of them. DC also decided it had to play catch up and released two films. Are we suffering from superhero film fatigue? I don’t think so, they are all different stories and worlds. It’s like asking if we’ll ever be fatigued by the Fast and the Furious franchise: probably not, car stunts are cool.
Enough rambling, here are my five favourite films of 2016!
As with my favourite games of 2016 list, these are not necessarily films I thought were the best of 2016, rather the ones I had the most enjoyment watching.
The Hateful Eight (January, 2016)
While The Hateful Eight was released on December 31st overseas, it did not release until January 14 in Australia, so it can sneak onto the list. Quentin Tarantino is a master director, who succeeds at developing interesting characters to tell stories about. The Hateful Eight is a prime example, using the interactions between eight characters at one location to tell a suspenseful story.
As the lengthy film progresses, we learn more about the eight mysterious characters and that some of them may not be who they say they are. It’s a wonderful example of character driven storytelling that works largely because of the terrific writing and acting performances from the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins and Tim Roth.
The cinematography is also brilliant, with shots chosen to further emphasise the relationships between certain characters. The Hateful Eight received an Oscar nomination for best cinematography, but was beaten by The Revenant. It did, however, win best original movie score – the first Tarantino film to have an original score – and best supporting actress with Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Extended Edition (June, 2016)
I’m being very specific with this one and sayiing the extended edition is one of my favourite films of 2016 because the extra 30 minutes actually improves the film.
The extended scenes are largely related to one of the opening sequences in the desert, and are spread nicely throughout the film, but they make the motives of Batman, Superman and Lex Luthor much clearer. It feels like Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment wanted to trade clarity for a PG-13 rating in the U.S. to bring in more viewers.q
Criticism aside, I’ve been waiting for a Batman and Superman film ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began teaming up its heroes. It’s been a long wait, and I felt it would never happen, but DC has finally got on the superhero team-up film bandwagon.
For all of its flaws, it’s just great to see Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman depicted on the big screen!
Captain America: Civil War (May, 2016)
The Captain America films are some of my favourite Marvel films. I love the cinematography and the action sequences the Russo brothers create.
Captain America: Civil War is the culmination of this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s a great action film. There never feels like a ‘right’ side of the conflict, with both Captain America and Iron Man expressing strong reasons why superheroes should and shouldn’t register to be under control by the United Nations.
The highlight of the film, however, is the massive fight sequence between the two factions, which includes the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Hawk Eye, Black Widow, Ant Man and the newly introduced Spider Man.
Captain America: Civil War was an ambitious project that showed the capabilities of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and its vision for future films.
Arrival (November, 2016)
Hopefully you’ve already read what I think about Arrival, so you know why it’s on this list.
Arrival succeeds because it tells a different kind of first contact story, one about communication and language rather than military intervention to save the planet.
The pacing is great, the cinematography elegant and the acting outstanding. Arrival is an all-round well polished film.
Arrival is one of my favourite films of 2016 because of the messages it expressly and implicitly tells. There are interesting ideas of language and how culture is effected by it, and of course being a science fiction film there’s a hypothetical theory about the relativity of time.
Arrival probably isn’t one of those films I’d watch over and over again, but it has left a lasting impression on me.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December, 2016)
You can definitely tell that the new wave of Star Wars films are being made by people who love the Star Wars franchise. Like J.J. Abrams last year, Gareth Edwards has created a wonderful film that captures what makes Star Wars so great, while also bringing something new to the franchise.
Rogue One tells the story of the spies who stole the plans to the Death Star. Whereas the original trilogy and The Force Awakens use a war as the backdrop for a story about heroes destined to save the galaxy, Rogue One is about an unlikely crew uniting to help the rebellion take its first action against the Imperials.
Rogue One’s final act, a well scripted 30 minute action sequence, demonstrates inspiration that the film draws from war movies.
Rogue One emphasises the fact that it is different from the main Star Wars films by removing the traditional crawl at the beginning and the famous main theme. However, it is still a wonderful Star Wars film with a new and exciting story to tell.
With a likeable cast of characters, great CGI and special effects, Rogue One is one of the great blockbuster films of 2016 that every Star Wars fan should see.
Deadpool (February, 2016) – The funniest superhero film of 2016
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (October, 2016)- A solid action film starring Tom Cruise
Suicide Squad (August, 2016) – A fun collection of characters that could have been so much better
Sausage Party (August, 2016) – A smart comedy about what supermarket products finding out what humans do to them at home
What were your favourite films of 2016? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @Nathan_M96.