The best films that 2016 had to offer
This is the Culture Whisper list of the best films 2016 had to offer – the ones worth remembering in years to come
Charlie Kaufman is a director known for films that bend away from realism, so it's strangely fitting that his first work of animation should so convincingly depict the drably real. It's also got one of cinema's best sex scenes.
Michael Stone (David Thewlis) voices the customer-service expert who stays in a hotel for a night that is either transcendent, regrettable, or both. It's a story that would have been unbearably pessimistic and low-key as a live-action feature. With stop-motion puppets, however, it's exquisite.Read more ...
Victoria (Laia Costa) is a waitress who falls in with some charming but questionable rogues in Berlin, and gets perilously tangled in their hectic lives over the course of 138 minutes – 138 minutes that exactly correspond to the length of time you spend watching the film.
Victoria will be remembered for its feat of technical bravado – it famously consists of a single unbroken take – but it's also a film that uses that feat to create a captivating subtle drama that blends seamlessly into a captivating bonkers thriller.Read more ...
Visionary filmmaker Ciro Guerra leads his audience on a journey that is at once deeply spiritual and historically candid, looking honestly and uncompromisingly at the bloody histories buried within the Amazon rainforest.
Embrace of the Serpent follows an Amazonian shaman on two journeys Western scientists thirty years apart. Visually mesmerising and thematically rich, Guerra's film is one of the most vivid anti-colonialist films ever made.
Unbelievably, Son of Saul is director László Nemes debut film: following a concentration camp inmate forced to become part of the hideous system, it handles the Holocaust with real skill and sensitivity.
Saul is a wretched Sonderkommando, a Hungarian Jew 'employed' to cart away the corpses of his fellow captives, who finds the body of his son in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. His mission to engineer a proper burial makes for an agonising, purifying cinematic experience.Read more ...
Six men on a fishing trip in the Aegean Sea come increasingly to blows over a competition to prove who is the most manly. It's the kind of set-up that (knowing men) could have ended in violence; Chevalier ends with a delightful lip-synch dance routine.
Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari's hilarious psychodrama is mocking, affectionate, and right on the money about masculinity. Read our interview with her here.Read more ...
Anthony Weiner is considered one of the factors that undermined Hilary Clinton's campaign; before screwing up the world, however, he was busy screwing up his own life, as documented in this hilarious clever film.
Weiner brings you closer to a politician than you probably ever wanted to get, but – thanks to some deft filmmaking – the experience is almost sublime. Weiner was the best documentary of 2016, easily.Read more ...
When a horror film gives you the creeps before anything remotely spooky has happened, you know it's going to be good. Under the Shadow is also one of the sharpest feminist films of 2016.
War-torn post-revolutionary 1980s Iran would be a frightening setting for any film, but Babak Anvari's film only takes that fear as a starting point for an emotionally resonant supernatural chiller that isn't afraid to get political.Read more ...
Yes, Theo & Hugo opens with an 18-minute hyper-explicit orgy scene, but the real showstopper is the intense realistic love story that follows. The orgy is where titular protagonists meet for the first time, and their subsequent accidental 'date' makes for one of 2016's most underrated films.Read more ...
British director Andrea Arnold uproots her preoccupations and signature style, convincingly transposing them to Bible Belt USA for this road movie about society's outcasts.
American Honey is almost three hours long, but regularly exhilarating and always beautiful. Arnold's direction is the real star; the director's ambition to capture the world in all it's texture breathtakingly realised, and the result was the best film of the BFI London Film Festival.Read more ...
One of the most unlikely successful transitions in the film industry – a fashion designer becoming a director – turns out not to have been a fluke, as Tom Ford proves to be every bit as confident behind the camera for Nocturnal Animals as he was when he made A Single Man.
Based on Austin Wright's novel Tony and Susan, Ford's film is an icy noir thriller that works on an almost Inception-ish level, and Amy Adams demonstrates why her star is unstoppably rising.Read more ...
What would it be like to see the world through someone else’s eyes? What would you do if you woke up in the body of a perfect stranger? And what if said stranger were an attractive member of the opposite sex?
As with Anomalisa, Your Name proves that some stories need to be told through the medium of animation. Makoto Shinkai has made a strong claim to be a worthy successor of Studio Ghibli.Read more ...
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