We can probably agree there’s not been much to cheer about in 2016, but politics, natural and man-made disasters aside, the ICO team have found reasons for hope and celebration in films old and new.
Jemma Buckley, Britain on Film on Tour – Project Manager
Ten most-watched films this year
Asked to supply my top ten films of 2016, I realised with horror just how little I had made it to the cinema this year! While I completely blame my five-year-old (as I do for many things) for being unable to leave the house of an evening, it dawned on me that as a result I have spent a large part of 2016 digging out my favourite childhood films to share with/impose upon my daughter. So although we’d rather be watching these on the big screen than the sofa, here are ten of our most-watched films this year (good and bad):
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) Tim Burton’s version is always On Demand, but after Gene Wilder passed away in August this version reappeared and won hands down.
Home Alone (1990) Actually debuted this at end of 2015, but tacking it on to this list as it stuck around until at least Easter.
The Sound of Music (1965) Probably a bit ambitious but I was determined with this one; although did have to find various and creative ways to sell it (in our house Julie Andrews is now referred to as ‘Princess Maria’).
Labyrinth (1986) Have had this on DVD for a while just waiting for her to be old enough to watch the film and – just as importantly – sing along to the soundtrack.
Bugsy Malone (1976) We were lucky enough to attend the 40th Anniversary celebrations at BAFTA, complete with dressing up and splurge guns. Has been on repeat ever since.
The Land Before Time (1988) Tears. Lots of tears. Even before Diana Ross kicked in.
A Little Princess (1995) If we had to pick a 2016 winner, this would be it. A different sort of princess film that was loved on the first screening and guarantees 97 minutes of peace every time.
Oliver! (1968) Slight bit of diverting attention needed when Bill Sykes meets his grisly demise, but musical numbers kept her engaged for the lengthy running time.
Superman (1978) Dad’s choice. I said it wouldn’t work. He said she’d love it. He won.
Free Willy (1993) Ok, so this didn’t actually make the most-watched list as I’ll admit it failed miserably. Perhaps she was a bit young. But that won’t stop me from trying again next year – along with The Goonies, Into The West and The Never-Ending Story. Roll on 2017.
Duncan Carson, Marketing, Communications & Events Manager
More than any other year, I needed cinema to make me feel refreshed, thoughtful and hopeful, and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. I can’t be sure these films herald a brave new generation or are anomalies, there was plenty to push me back from the edge of the abyss. I really appreciated seeing films that were thieves in the temple of cinema (Neruda, Love & Friendship and Bone Tomahawk playing on the biopic, period drama and Western respectively) or opened up me up to new places and ways of thinking and being (The Red Turtle, American Honey and Embrace of the Serpent) or represented experience that is all around us, but seldom represented in art (Moonlight, Things to Come). Shout out to Letterboxd for making compiling the end of year list so much easier. If you’re a film fan, it’s a great way to discover films and log your viewing (if you’re of the trainspotting persuasion…).
Top Ten New Films in 2016 (sorry for including 2017 releases, but at least they’re all set for UK distribution!)
Embrace of the Serpent
Love & Friendship
The Red Turtle
Bone Tomahawk (especially for the reaction to her rescue by the supposed damsel in distress)
Things to Come
Honourable mentions: Couple in a Hole, After Love, The Handmaiden, A Quiet Passion, Train to Busan, Your Name, The Salesman, My Life as a Courgette, Little Men
Please excuse me putting an ICO distribution title in my discoveries of the year, but Kathleen Collins’ Losing Ground is a film I hope will become regularly seen, taught and enjoyed. I’m looking forward to reading her short stories in 2017. Thanks to all the work of curators of older material, whether in the cinema or on home video. What you do is really important, and it’s mostly invisible.
Older films I discovered in 2016
Youth of the Beast (this film has the most beautiful insert shots of telephones being answered I have ever seen)
The Moon and the Sledgehammer
Tetsuo: The Iron Man
The Flower of My Secret
A Tale of the Wind
Jonny Courtney, Senior Film Programmer
Top 10 films released in 2016
Top Ten Reissues (bit of a cheat but worthy of mention!)
Top 5 films to watch in 2017
Jo Duncombe, Film Programmer
Top Films from 2016, in no particular order:
The Hard Stop
Things to Come
I, Daniel Blake
Embrace of the Serpent
Films I am most excited about that will be released in 2017:
Manchester by the Sea
Corinne Orton (Training & Professional Development Manager)
Top ten female performances of 2016
2016 has been an abysmal year, not least for politics and celebrity deaths. It is one I’ll truly be glad to see the back of. How grateful was I then to be able to escape to the dark comfort of the cinema and see women tearing up the screen like never before. Here’s my pick of top female performances of the year.
- Rima Te Wiata as Bella in Hunt for the Wilderpeople
- Teyonah Parris as Lysistrata in Chi-Raq
- Sasha Lane as Star in American Honey
- Sonia Braga as Clara in Aquarius
- Florence Pugh as Katherine in Lady Macbeth
- Hayley Squires as Katie in I, Daniel Blake
- Isabelle Huppert as Natalie in Things to Come
- Laia Costa as Victoria in Victoria
- Amy Adams in everything, but especially as Louise in Arrival
- All the daughters, but especially Gunes Sensoy as Lale in Mustang
Hatice Ozdemirciler, Head of Training & Professional Development
The six most memorable films of 2016
The quiet masterpiece I kept thinking about for days… The Salesman from Asghar Farhadi
The one that finally saw a trusted virtuoso return to form … Julieta from Pedro Almodovar
The one that made me laugh … anime instant classic Your Name from Makoto Shinkai (and not just because I’ve been doing Japanese lessons and could joyfully understand basic greetings! Sumimasen!)
The one I just bloody loved… Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival. Don’t overthink it. It’s a stroke of genius.
The one with the Q&A that made me realise maybe I don’t always hate Q&As… documentary The Hard Stop by George Amponsah and Dionne Walker, at a packed out North London screening at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham, complete with passionate filmmakers, key characters, humble Tottenham Police Chief and a very lively audience who kept the Q&A running for longer than the film
The one that everyone needs to see next year… Manchester by the Sea from Kenneth Lonergan. No spoilers. Just watch it. It’s very powerful stuff.
Ellen Reay, Events and Marketing Assistant
Five favourites of 2016
As best of 2016 lists begin challenging Trump despair for control of my social feeds, I’ve been confronted with just how few films I’ve managed to see this year – I blame my MA-induced lack of funds and time – and how delicious my Christmas holiday catch-up will be. Despite the 50-strong list of films I have yet to see, I have a tough time imagining these five won’t make the final cut:
Embrace of the Serpent
I, Daniel Blake
Manchester By the Sea
Honourable mention to the two re-releases that had me swooning over lighting: Barry Lyndon and El Sur.
Sarah Rutterford, Operations Officer
Top ten posters
- Cemetery of Splendour – UK release poster
This poster for Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s acclaimed release manages to be both simple and richly mysterious, alluding to the film’s poetry and immediately catching your eye.
- Queen of Earth – US release poster
This hand-painted poster for Alex Ross Perry’s Queen of Earth, showing Elisabeth Moss’s character tumbling into madness, wittily satirises the spirit of the film.
- A Bigger Splash – UK release poster
Louche summery vibes and a nice, slightly ’70s geometric design, plus a dance-y Ralph.
- The Neon Demon – early festival poster
Riffs off Nicolas Winding Refn’s preoccupation with seductive, cultish visuals and the centrality of the film’s star, Elle Fanning.
- Julieta – UK release poster
Unusual, bright, striking. This Spanish poster is also great.
- Arrival – teaser posters
These teaser posters of alien spaceships looming over various international locations are instantly arresting.
- Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World – US release poster
- Arabian Nights trilogy – UK release poster
A colourful, standout design incorporating the trilogy’s three titles.
- Son of Saul – UK release poster
Simple but effective and entirely consistent with the film’s austere realism.
- … and some extras (US/festival posters for early 2017 releases): The Handmaiden (this original Korean poster for Park Chan-wook’s latest looks like a beautiful illustrated manuscript), Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt’s latest was one of my favourites at LFF; this poster casts her soulful female stars as Montana pioneers) and Moonlight (a clever design representing this breathtaking film’s tri-part structure and its protagonist’s conflicted inner self).
David Sin, Head of Cinemas
Top three of 2016
Our Little Sister
The very best film I saw in 2016 was Asghar Frahadi’s The Salesman, which will be released in 2017. Other 2017 releases that I would recommend are:
La La Land