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22 Best Films of 2016: What made the Sci-Fi Hot List? - SciFiNow - The World's Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Magazine

22 Best Films of 2016: What made the Sci-Fi Hot List?

We picked the most outstanding movies of 2016 – do you agree with our choices?

Well, it’s definitely been an interesting year as far as film was concerned.

We had all the usual big-budget blockbusters and latest superhero instalments – some were great, others not so much (Suicide Squad, Batman V Superman, Independence Day: Resurgence, we’re looking at you), but there were plenty of surprises in store, reassuring us that things weren’t all bad.

Anyway, here’s our list of the 22 best films of 2016, as voted for by the contributors of SciFiNow…

 

22) High-Rise  high-rise
We suspect that this isn’t higher up on the list because most of our writers didn’t realise they could vote for this as genre. Anyway, we digress. Ben Wheatley’s ultra-stylish adaptation of JG Ballard’s hits all the right notes, right from its dog-devouring opening until its society-shattering climax. Tom Hiddleston shines as the laid-back Dr Laing, who simply takes it all in as the inhabitants of a giant, futuristic tower block – populated by the likes of Elisabeth Moss, Jeremy Irons, Luke Evans and Sienna Miller, all excellent – gradually tear each other apart. We could watch this over and over.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

21) Midnight Specialmidnight-special
Jeff Nichols hasn’t hit a duff note yet, and he continues his fine run with Midnight Special, a wonderfully low-key sci-fi yarn that sees the guardians of a mysteriously powerful young child shepherding him away from shady government forces. Effortlessly evoking the likes of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter, this is great in its own right, with Nichols regulars like Michael Shannon and Sam Shepard working alongside incoming collaborators Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver to great effect. Will keep you pondering it long after the ending.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

20) The Wailingthe-wailing
Korean filmmaker Na Hong-jin follows his nail-biting thriller The Chaser and sprawling epic The Yellow Sea with this excellent supernatural horror, which sees the director approach this new territory with the same grit, realism and clumsy violence with tremendous results. With beautiful, epic cinematography of the mountain forests from Hong Kyung-pyo, some very effective sudden shocks, and a powerful blend of detective story, occult horror and Stephen King-esque small-town suspicion, this is another superb film from Na Hong-jin.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

19) I Am Not A Serial Killeri-am-not-a-serial-killer
Anyone who found themselves asking the question, “I wonder what happened to the kid from Where The Wild Things Are” got their answer this year, with Max Records turning in a great performance as the increasingly odd protagonist of Billy O’Brien’s haphazard horror, which sees him taking an interest in his neighbour (played by Christopher Lloyd) while the machinations of the titular murderer ensure that the body count continues to rise. We had a lot of fun with this, and it looks like audiences did too.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

18) The Conjuring 2the-conjuring-2
Just when it looked like the Blumhouse formula might be getting a bit samey, James Wan goes and pulls this out of the bag. Transporting the Warrens to London to deal with the Enfield Poltergeist, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga do a great job of anchoring the drama among the jump-scares and “cor blimey guvnors!”, the result being a sequel that is both a worthy follow-up and an antidote to the disappointing Annabelle.

Read our review by Anton Bitel here.

 

17) The Neon Demonthe-neon-demon
Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest film polarised people (as Nicolas Winding Refn films tend to do), but even so, you can’t help but admire his audacity with The Neon Demon, an aptly bright-hued melodrama shining a UV light on the dark side of the fashion industry. Elle Fanning is brilliant all throughout, turning in a performance well beyond her years as she is gradually swallowed up by the darkness that awaits her. You may end up frustrated, but you certainly won’t forget it in a hurry.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

16) The Girl With All The Giftsthe-girl-with-all-the-gifts
Following on from a hit novel can sometimes be a poisoned chalice, but Colm McCarthy’s adaptation of The Girl With All The Gifts circumvents all the possible obstacles to be a brilliant movie in its own right. Pitching its young protagonist Melanie (a star-making turn from Sennia Nanua) into a world in which child zombies are experimented on in the hopes of combatting the undead plague, this embraces the film universe’s darkness with relish, helped along by a committed adult cast comprising the likes of Glenn Close, Paddy Considine and Gemma Arterton. We genuinely haven’t seen anything like this.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

15) Don’t Breathedont-breathe
While we admired director Fede Alvarez’s work on the Evil Dead remake, it was only ever an indicator of his potential. With Don’t Breathe – a wonderfully claustrophobic horror thriller in which a group of young teens realise far too late that the blind occupant of a house they’re robbing isn’t as helpless as he seems – he shows us exactly what he’s capable of. Galvanised by an unforgettable performance from Stephen Lang, this is undoubtedly one of the scariest films of 2016 – and one of the best.

Read our review by Abigail Chandler here.

 

14) Doctor Strangedoctor-strange
The more crowded the Marvel Cinematic Universe gets, the more pressure there is on its denizens to prove their mettle. Doctor Strange manages this feat, carving out a niche for itself as one of the most beautiful-looking Marvel films to date. Despite the underwhelming trailers, this is a welcome surprise by being both genuinely funny and visually jaw-dropping, as well as containing one of the most refreshingly creative climatic battle scenes we’ve seen in a long time. Welcome to the MCU, Benedict Cumberbatch.

Read our review by Poppy-Jay Palmer here.

 

13) Evolutionevolution
Roughly ten years after her stunning debut feature Innocence, French filmmaker Lucile Hadzihalilovic returns with a thematically similar but more deliberately strange experience. Beautiful, beguiling, shocking, surprising and quite extraordinary, Evolution is something rather special. With exquisite cinematography, an incredible atmosphere, strong performances and a terrific blend of swirling influences as varied as HP Lovecraft, body horror and Kazuo Ishiguro, Evolution is a stunning cinematic experience that is both beautiful and utterly engaging, and it will prompt further discussion and reward repeat viewing.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

12) Hushhush
The only Netflix outing on this list, Hush deserves its place alongside its cinematic brethren. Oculus director Mike Flanagan has done a great job here, channeling great performances from the likes of John Gallagher Jr and Kate Siegel to great effect, in the process crafting a truly terrifying slice of horror. If you haven’t seen it then make it your mission to do so.

 

11) 10 Cloverfield Lane10-cloverfield-lane
Sneakily released with the ‘Cloverfield’ moniker attached to it, this secret sequel is a different proposition to its monster-sized predecessor, trapping Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s increasingly confused protagonist alongside John Goodman’s lodger from hell and John Gallagher Jr’s similarly entrapped housemate. It keeps the audience in the dark up until just the right moment, upon which chaos ensues, leading to one of the most dramatic final thirds in recent memory.

Read our review by Poppy-Jay Palmer here.

 

10) Moanamoana
Never have we needed a truly uplifting Disney movie more than we do now, and Moana delivered in spades. Not only does it have one of the best soundtracks for a House of Mouse movie in recent memory (Dwayne Johnson’s ‘You’re Welcome’ has been on repeat in SciFiNow Towers); it has one of its best protagonists in a long time, with Auli’i Cravalho shining in the lead role. By turns inspirational and unforgettable, we’ve got the Blu-ray pre-ordered already.

Read our review by Poppy-Jay Palmer here.

 

9) Under The Shadowunder-the-shadow
Babak Anvari’s debut has been compared to Jennifer Kent’s phenomenal The Babadook, and genre fans should be excited to hear it’s not just because both films feature a difficult relationship between a mother and her child and a metaphor-laden supernatural foe. It’s also because this one of the most terrifying supernatural horrors in recent years. It’s incredibly tense stuff, and when the film wants to frighten you, it really does. This is superb horror with ‘modern classic’ written all over it.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

8) Star Trek Beyondstar-trek-beyond
One of the recurring complaints about Star Trek Into Darkness (among other things) was that it just didn’t feel like Star Trek. The same accusation definitely cannot be levelled at Star Trek Beyond, which hones all its focus on simply being a rollocking fun adventure. Seeing the crew of the Enterprise split into previously underused couplings (Kirk and Chekov, Spock and Bones, Uhura and Sulu), and retrospectively given emotional heft by the tragic death of Anton Yelchin, this marked the point at which Trek finally felt like it was being made for the fans again.

Read our review by Poppy-Jay Palmer here.

 

7) Ghostbustersghostbusters
Undoubtedly one of the most talked-about films of 2016 – albeit sadly not for the contents of the film itself – Ghostbusters was always fighting an uphill battle, but it’s one that we feel it won. With Paul Feig at the helm of a strong four-pronged lead cast (with Kate McKinnon notably enshrining herself in Internet meme glory), and the addition of a game Chris Hemsworth for comedic relief, the result is one of the most funny – and fun – movies of 2016.

Read our review by Poppy-Jay Palmer here.

 

6) Kubo And The Two Stringskubo-and-the-two-strings
We knew that stop-motion titans Laika were unlikely to deliver a bum note, but we weren’t expecting this to be their best film to date. We’re still astonished at just what they managed to achieve here – not to mention how the hell they did it – and all the while going on one of the most extreme emotional rites of passage we’ve seen committed to film to date. Visual achievements aside, it’s just an amazing story, brilliantly unconventional in its telling and destined to linger for a long time in the memory.

Read our review by Poppy-Jay Palmer here.

 

5) Rogue One: A Star Wars Storyrogue-one-a-star-wars-story
Let’s face it: people were worried about this one, thanks to the melodramatically reported reshoots (a common occurrence in filmmaking, after all), which made the revelation that the first Star Wars anthology movie is actually pretty damn good a pleasant one. In the event, Gareth Edwards has done justice to George Lucas’s legacy, creating something that both fits snuggly into the saga’s chronology and stands up as a film in its own right. Repeat watches will decide whether this stands the test of time, but for now we can safely class Rogue One as a job well done and a potential misstep averted.

Read our review by Steve Wright here.

 

4) The Witchthe-witch
Right from the utterly terrifying trailer we were hooked on The Witch, and Robert Eggers’ debut didn’t disappoint. Depicting the gradual collapse of a Puritanical family in the New World under the strain of personal tragedy, mistrust and seemingly supernatural occurrences, this is a stunning first film from Eggers, and marks him out as one to look out for. Anya Taylor-Joy is a revelation in the lead role, and reliable British character actors Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie anchor this perfectly.

Read our review by Jonathan Hatfull here.

 

3) Captain America: Civil Warcaptain-america-civil-war
An Avengers movie in all but name, Civil War holds the distinction of being Marvel’s most transparently political film to date – and on this evidence, one of its best. While it’ll remain significant for the debuts of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, we’ll remember it for its depiction of the gradual dissolution of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as chickens come home to roost and external forces tear them apart. Age Of Ultron was the first step in the MCU’s rotating of the guard, and this was the emphatic next stage. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

Read our review by Poppy-Jay Palmer here.

 

2) Deadpool

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) pauses from a life-and-death battle to break the fourth wall, much to the dismay of his comrades Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) and Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic).

We still can’t quite believe that this got made – but boy, are we happy it did. And so are a lot of other people, judging by its emphatic success at the box office. Featuring Ryan Reynolds utterly nailing it in the role he was born to play (repeatedly, apparently), the meeting of comics-faithful characterisation, excess violence and an unchained potty mouth proved to pay dividends. The fans demanded it, and boy did they get it – the ultimate comic-book movie.

Read our review by Poppy-Jay Palmer here.

 

1) Arrivalarrival
Denis Villeneuve had already repeatedly proved that he knew what he was doing in the likes of Sicario, Incendies and PrisonersArrival was merely a case of him repeating the trick. By shades emotional, thoughtful and life-affirming, Villeneuve combines big sci-fi themes with a surprisingly low-key tale of human drama coming face to face with Earth-altering events. Amy Adams is incredible in the lead role, staying on point throughout in a story that keeps us guessing right until the very end. Welcomely enthusiastic in its outlook and destined to linger long in the memory, Arrival deserves its place at the top of our list. Roll on Blade Runner 2049.

Read our review by Katherine McLaughlin here.

 

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