Every year, film and pop culture websites (like this one!) bombard the Interwebs with transparent click-bait articles filled with lists (like this one) purporting to tell you the “best” and “worst” of the year. Now that we’ve reached the halfway mark in the year, it seems like as good an excuse as any to thrown our unsolicited opinion at you in the hopes it will bait some of your clicks.
If there’s a trend to be had, there’s a nostalgic, coming-of-age vibe going through a number of films, but we all curate our own vibes. Based in Australia, you’ll have to remember that the first two months of our calendar are spent going to the cinema to watch movies you all saw in the Northern Hemisphere in 2015. As such, there are plenty of films that haven’t hit our shores yet. Even so, thanks to the power of film festivals, there are others we’ve seen other parts of the world haven’t smelled yet. So it kind of balances out in the end.
Be sure to let us know what your favourites are in the comments below!
Ivan Sen’s follow-up to Mystery Road is grander and more intensely exploratory than its predecessor, and it made it’s debut in June’s Sydney Film Festival. Local cinema has struggled to comes to terms with another fine line, between what constitutes an “Australian film” and the commercial aspects of a “genre” film. GOLDSTONE is proof that it can be wholly both, without compromising an iota of either. Filled with plenty of nods to Sen’s beloved Western genre, there a few moment in this film where the stakes feel anything less than high. Slick, darkly comic, and always thrilling, this is the best of what cinema has to offer. Read Full Review >>
A beautiful and heartbreaking observation of repression and loss of innocence, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut feature has universal meaning. Following some perceived “scandalous” behaviour of playing on the beach with boys, five sisters (Günes Sensoy, Tugba Sunguroglu, Doga Zeynep Doguslu, Elit Iscan and Ilayda Akdogan) are placed under virtual house arrest by their conservative uncle Erol (Ayberk Pekcan) and their grandmother (Nihal Koldaş). Far from being a Virgin Suicides for the Turkish set, MUSTANG carries a topical message while maintaining a compelling narrative, mostly thanks to the phenomenal cast. (Yes, this debuted last year internationally, but it’s doing the rounds here in 2016). Read Full Review >>
Far more than just a ’80s throwback, John Carney’s latest is another focused character piece that gives the music its own star billing. Coming from Ireland, it’s hard to escape the spectre of Roddy Doyle and The Commitments. It certainly shares a similar story arc, although SING STREET is a film of unabashed optimism and dream pursuit. Shot through a series of increasingly proficient music videos, there’s a proper fantasy sequence that pulls on Back to the Future and 1950s proms as the ultimate form of escapism. It foreshadows the film’s ultimate resolution, almost the antithesis of The Graduate‘s bittersweet ambiguity, and might just encourage the audience to stick to their own dreams. Read Full Review >>
Often over-the-top, but also gorgeously shot and erotic to the point of parody. In other words, it’s the latest masterpiece from Park Chan-wook. Straddling the fine line between pointed satire and male fantasy, it also embraces its comic outlandishness at every opportunity. Park’s relocation of the Sarah Waters’ book to 1930s Korea ensures that commentary on class structures and female empowerment remain firmly intact in the translation. So too does Park’s penchant for a ripping vengeance yarn. At times completely insane, THE HANDMAIDEN is a true cinematic experience. Read Full Review >>
Rarely does a film so effortlessly break your heart and lift your soul as LOVESONG does. A bittersweet love story that defies convention, focusing on the intimate moments between two strong female leads. The entire film is a microcosm of Sarah (Riley Keough) and Mindy’s (Jena Malone) changing relationship, being an all-too brief series of tender moments that aren’t destined to last. It does, after all, share a title with a Cure record. It doesn’t always provide us with the expected happy endings that are expected of such narratives, but nevertheless serve as a testament to the notion of enduring love. Read Full Review >>
Disney have been going from strength to strength in the last few years, and ZOOTOPIA is one of the most gorgeously animated pieces of adventure fun in ages. Harking harking back to the grand tradition of anthropomorphic animals, and taking a leaf out of their own history of films like the fox-led Robin Hood. There’s more than a tiny current of noir to the bigger story as well, and the combination of animal protagonists and old-world charm is reminiscent of Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido superb graphic novel series, Blacksad. This is Disney at its finest, combining brilliant visual storytelling, and a top-notch voice cast, with a positive message of tolerance and self-realisation. Read Full Review >>
EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!
Kind of the antithesis of the male-centric jock films, or the over-the-top frat madness of the more modern (Bad) Neigbours, Richard Linklater’s spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused follows the members of a baseball team all living and hunting for sex together. The deceptively punctuated title belies the measured pacing of the film, one that spends long stretches following the boys singing songs in cars, competing in household games, picking up (or not) in bars, and generally not playing much baseball. An authentic coming-of-age film that is infused with music and fashion of an era, but could be set in any time or place. Read Full Review >>
IT’S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD
Despite those infamous Cannes reactions, this slow burn film puts the close-up on subtle character moments. Writer/director Xavier Dolan doesn’t make it easy for us to get close to his characters, with Mommy cinematographer André Turpin using close-ups almost exclusively to focus on the monologues. Yet these are all simply tools to keep us at arm’s length, with the tension coming from the anticipation of what’s not being sent. Dolan ensures that we feel the same disconnect from these people that Louis feels for a family that, for him at least, is effectively a collection of fragmented memories. Read Full Review >>
Kelly Reichardt’s deliberate pace emphasises the strength of the characters in this measured study. Following vignettes of four women, Reichardt’s film simply lays out these stories in a row as lasered character studies. Unlike hyperlinked films, the film exposes connections between seemingly disparate people but never using them to unveil a universal truth or heavy-handed meaning. She once again leaves us with no conclusive answers to her character’s dilemmas, and like all things she does, allows us to come to our own conclusions at a distinct pace. Read Full Review >>
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
It’s a delightful, hilarious, surreal and heartfelt journey through the New Zealand wilderness, bro. Rapidly becoming the Antipodean Wes Anderson, Waititi’s script is a wonderful mixture of deadpan, surrealism, impromptu ditties, and genuine heart. From subtle film references to more overt ones, THE HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is a laugh-out-loud romp from start to finish. Now try and get the Happy Birthday Ricky Martin song out of your head, even if it neither your birthday and your name isn’t Ricky Martin. Read Full Review >>
Check out all of our reviews. We’ll probably do this again in 6 months!