Not to mention those outside the film world like Ali, Corbett and Wood. So far, 2016 is being remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Here at ORWAV we want to try and remember the good things about 2016; the little moments of beauty and genius that keep us coming back to the cinema again and again. Ten of our writers have written about their favourite movie moments of the year, with spoilers ahoy at every step of the way. Let’s begin our list with the biggest spoiler of them all…
10 Cloverfield Lane – Shock Trailer – Bertie
As 2016 dawned a Cloverfield sequel seemed unimaginable. Then, in true Bad Robot style, 10 Cloverfield Lane was announced out of nowhere. The fans went wild. But was this a bait-and-switch? Was it really a sequel? Abrams and director Dan Trachtenberg referred to “blood relatives” whilst the poster promised “monsters come in many forms” – all signs pointed to John Goodman being the “monster”. And yet 10 Cloverfield Lane, released just two months later, was a masterful double-bluff. Just when any other film would have ended, BOOM – here be monsters. 2016’s lesson is clear: never play poker with J.J.
Hail, Caesar! – Tatum Tap Dance – Jack
My favourite scene from my favourite movie of 2016 so far, the Channing Tatum-led tap dance sequence in Hail, Caesar! is one of those rare moments of pure cinematic joy. A visual treat focusing on perfectly choreographed and executed movement, it’s a staggering display of skill from both sides of the camera, and an incredibly funny parody of traditional ‘masculine’ ‘50s dance numbers. A lesser film might have played this entirely for laughs, but the Coens’ obvious love of classic cinema and the raw physical charisma of Tatum lets this scene work both comedically and as a sincere showstopping musical number.
Kung Fu Panda 3 – The Final Fight – Henry
Kung Fu Panda 3‘s final fight scene is as awe-inspiring as it is heartwarming. In this epic battle Po the panda (Jack Black) becomes bound in the chains of Kai (J. K. Simmons) who begins stealing his Chi. Meanwhile in the earth-realm the secret panda community come together and endeavour to remaster their lost Chi ways. Fortunately the pandas come together beautifully and send their collective Chi to Po which results in his sudden enlightenment, thus taking on the form of a spirit dragon.
Everything in this scene is certifiably awesome, dramatic and immensely entertaining. A perfect end to a remarkable trilogy.
The Birth of a Nation – Sundance Smash – Calum
Winning two major prizes is impressive, but the record-breaking $17.5m distribution deal for this – a serious, auteur-driven work with no big stars – is frankly remarkable. That Fox Searchlight, purveyors of the quality middlebrow, see such gold in a film already too revolutionary for some is the clearest sign yet that Hollywood mores are genuinely improving. The sub-studio’s 12 Years a Slave opened doors; now this nation is blasting through. Cynics would suggest this is about awards, and money – but earnest financial investment in a, quote, “black film” (a gruelling one at that) is a solid breakthrough, beating previous Sundance acquisitions into the ground.
The Neon Demon – Neon Demon Catwalk Debut – Christopher
Jessie (Elle Fanning), simultaneously ingenuous and vampish, is about to make her catwalk debut. She pauses only to surrender to the effulgent triangle that glowers ahead; an omen obscured by her own hubris.
The runway divides mitotically into two flanking mirrors, each desperate for attention, until Jessie finally grants it; tattooing both reflections with a scarlet kiss. Painted pillows of blood push against sheets of glass, two 21st century pools for the ultramodern, but equally doomed, Narcissus.
A girl becomes a goddess as Refn’s latest voguish nightmare combines visual poetry and a thundering soundtrack to create something truly transcendent.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Elizabeth and Darcy Fight Scene – Maddie
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was largely ignored upon release thanks to its niche market of hardcore Austen fans and horror enthusiasts. You needed an intensely detailed knowledge of not only Austen’s source material but its other adaptations and general fandom to really enjoy any of the comedy, but the literal sparring match between Elizabeth and Darcy shone through. The ferocity, sexiness and excitement that Austen fans have always insisted strains beneath the surface of that infamous chapter was unleashed in a brilliantly choreographed one-on-one. Surprising, hilarious and charged, it’s one of the best fights you’re likely to see all year, and in an Austen adaptation no less!
The Hateful Eight – The Dingus Monologue – Kambole
If I needed any confirmation that the word “dingus” could be hilarious, disgusting and deeply chilling all in one use, The Hateful Eight gave it to me. Tarantino’s slowest burning film yet builds tension between the titular eight characters very deliberately before the almost comical bloodshed of the third act. The racist and misogynistic tendencies of each character finally come to a head in a drawn-out anecdote that Samuel L. Jackson delivers with pure malice and sadistic hatred. Disturbing, yet probably the best showcase of recent years for Tarantino’s long-time collaborator.
Knight of Cups – Into the Nightclub – Patrick
My movie moment of the year is Christian Bale descending into one of LA’s most licentious nocturnal spots in Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups. It would seem a remove from Malick’s more familiar, reverential documentation of conventional locations of rapture – nature, churches, historic landmarks – but cleverly, Malick succeeds in making a seedy strip bar as convincing a place of personal epiphany as any more obvious locus. In a scene more common with golden-era Scorsese or Mia Hansen-Løve’s recent Eden, Malick conjures an amazing nightlife vista – wrapping Bale up in crimson neon as the pulsating music and lascivious bodies cavort around him. Mesmeric filmmaking.
High-Rise – SWIMMING POOL! SWIMMING POOL! – Conor
An early tipping-point into depravity and chaos in the retro-futurist High-Rise is the raid on a poncy upper-floor pool party by a group of lower-floor residents and their children, led by moustachioed hothead Wilder (Luke Evans). A neat little summary of the film as a whole, the gate-crashing is, at first, a justified attack on the pomposity and arrogance of the upper class, but both sides quickly go too far. Despite the ultimate death and destruction, Wilder’s repeated chants of “SWIMMING POOL! SWIMMING POOL!” are bound to get your rebellious proletariat blood boiling. Smash the system!
Anomalisa – And They Called It Puppet Love – Eddie
After delivering one masterpiece in Synecdoche, New York, Charlie Kaufman returns with another. The centrepiece of this remarkable film is one of the most affecting sex scenes ever produced. Some might find the uncanny stop motion puppetry amusing but quickly the unnatural figures reveal the artifice of intimacy; like fragments of a broken mirror, the puppets expose the masochistic treachery of mistaking sex for love. It is quickly revealed that the sweetness beneath Michael’s surface is another deception. Michael is an asshole to his core; not content to deny himself happiness, he wounds Lisa too. Bliss is temporary, an anomaly.
Enjoy our list? Check out the previous editions here: