Horror

HAPPY DEATH DAY

Director / Christopher Landon (SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES)
Stars/ Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Rachel Matthews and Charles Aitken

The new horror flick HAPPY DEATH DAY marked its birth on the big screen just in the nick of time for Friday the 13th and will be hanging around over Halloween too. In what can be described as the slasher cousin movie of earlier dramatic release BEFORE I FALL, HAPPY DEATH DAY unwraps a few neat twists to its rewinding premise.

Every morning, college student Tree (played by unknown actress Jessica Rothe who appeared in LA LA LAND) wakes up and relives the same day. That fateful day always ends the same way – with her death at the hands of a mask-wearing, knife-wielding antagonist. Tree soon learns that the only way she will ever discover the hidden identity of her murderer is to change the course of her actions leading to her final moments.


Poor young Tree, not only is she being terrorised over and over again, but it ironically all happens to be occurring on her birthday too. The often unexpected actions of this exceptional lead character as the final day in her life is replayed detours the film from being as repetitive as its destined structure suggests. As such, the ability for viewers to predict the exact timing of forthcoming thrills is teasingly hindered. There are noticeable flaws sighted in its screenplay all throughout, yet they rarely matter or interfere with the very intentional fun to be had from watching HAPPY DEATH DAY. This is a bloody (figuratively, more so than literally) entertaining movie to watch! Strong contributors to this output also includes the score, which playfully taunts its audience to the same degree as the script. Directing from Christopher Landon is sharp, who has extracted strong performances from his largely unknown cast. Each of these young actors’ timing and varying tone is right on song just as needed. But none more so than a stand-out solo performance from lead actress Jessica Rothe. She plays it bitchy, she plays it kind, she plays it feisty and she plays it frightened, all with a fierce confidence that is utterly contagious.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ M (Horror themes, violence, sexual references and coarse language)

Trailer / HAPPY DEATH DAY

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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THE BELKO EXPERIMENT

Director / Greg McLean (WOLF CREEK, ROGUE)
Stars/ John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona and Melonie Diaz

In the year 2000, a dystopian Japanese action film was a box office hit in its home country and received audience and critical acclaim across the globe. That film, BATTLE ROYALE (BATORU ROWAIARU), was also slapped with the rare Japanese film classification of R-15 and caused its fair share of controversy, resulting in a ban to show in several other countries.

A plot that draws heavily from that film, THE BELKO EXPERIMENT pitches a premise that involves 80 employees who are working at not-for-profit organisation Belko, located (and shot on location) in the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia. Shortly after each employee has arrived at work one morning, an unknown voice over the intercom sternly advises that they are to kill three of their co-workers, or six others will instead be killed.


Sure enough, this premise does have the propensity to intrigue. However, as the twisted idea unfolds, it soon becomes evident that this experiment is left begging for a dose of originality and bright ideas it is bereft of.

As the initial reactions to the disconcerting announcement are seen, THE BELKO EXPERIMENT does immediately summon an undeniably ominous curiosity. Even though zero effort has been put into the characterisation department, the deadly scenario does demand the full attention of its viewers. Any stranglehold that THE BELKO EXPERIMENT may have cast to this point gradually erodes once the actions of its mostly annoying and unlikeable characters and its plot trajectory become far too foreseeable. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY writer and director James Gunn, who writes this screenplay, was also set to direct this film until a last minute change of heart due to personal reasons. Unfortunately for Gunn, Australian filmmaker Greg McLean’s direction is just as uneven as the script itself is. It unsuccessfully attempts to combine a Tarantino-like concoction of excessive and bloody violence with macabre humour, yet doesn’t want to be taken lightly as a work of horror-like thriller either. Adding to the unevenness of this picture are a handful of music-driven, slow-mo’d slaying scenes that never quite fit. Had the finale unveiled a badly needed unforeseen twist, then there may have been warrant to recommend THE BELKO EXPERIMENT. Rather, another obvious development will leave you feeling as though this is something you could have scripted yourself!

Instead, get onto Netflix and watch an episode of the similar yet superior series, Black Mirror. 

2 stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong themes and bloody violence)

Trailer / THE BELKO EXPERIMENT

Moviedoc thanks Rialto Distribution for the screening invite to this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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IT

Director / Andy Muschietti (MAMA)
Stars/ Jaeden Lieberher, Finn Wolfhard, Bill Skarsgård, Sophia Lillis, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton, Jack Dylan Grazer and Chosen Jacobs

Even Stephen King himself has endorsed this first chapter of a planned two-part feature film retelling of IT, stating that a “wonderful job” has been done. The fact that this cinematic adaptation is much closer to King’s 1986 novel than what the mini-series produced four years later was, will no doubt be a significant contributor towards his positive feelings.

It is late 1980’s in the town of Derry, Maine. A number of individual kids – the stuttering student Bill (Lieberher), the granny-glasses wearing Richie (Wolfhard), Beverly (Lillis), who lives with an oppressive family member, the overweight library visitor Ben (Taylor), as well as Stanley (Oleff), Mike (Jacobs) and Eddie (Grazer) – are experiencing some form of bullying. United by their bullying encounters, as well as separate horrifying confrontations with beings that represent their worst fears, the newly formed group search for a frightening, shape-shifting entity who adopts the appearance of a clown, named Pennywise (Skarsgård).

An alluring visual design, innovative horror sequences and a largely unknown, yet talented ensemble cast do indeed ensure that IT consistently floats its viewer’s boat.

For starters, the tone is darker. Much darker, which is made clear by a menacing and superior opening sequence partially seen in the record-breaking film trailer. Heed that as both a warning and a recommendation! It’s a tone that easily settles itself into and all throughout this horror film. Even so, IT is quite a thrill to watch as it teases and taunts viewers in equal measure. A frequent supply of creatively conceived and ominously designed visual scenarios together with the camaraderie of its characters and its production give this film both a freshness and taste of nostalgia that is easy to embrace. These slickly executed scenes and the amalgamation of its narrative display the real skill and vision that director Andy Muschietti possesses. IT also impresses by way of a strongly written script that truly seizes upon its full potential and is more than capable of engaging its audience. A sub-plot revolving around the history of the kids’ hometown and the film’s themes (some of which are very heavy), are genuinely compelling. On a lighter note, the jocular banter that is exchanged among the younger cast members is highly amusing and even breaks a cinema convention or two along the way. The support and the strength that they lend one another has real substance too.

This old clown is up to new tricks that are guaranteed to feed you a fright or five.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (Strong horror themes and violence)

Trailer / IT

Moviedoc thanks Roadshow Films for the screening invite to this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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ANNABELLE: CREATION

Director / David F. Sandberg (LIGHTS OUT)
Stars/ Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson

A prequel to both THE CONJURING films and 2014’s ANNABELLE, ANNABELLE: CREATION marks the fourth addition to THE CONJURING film universe. 

Aussie duo Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto play Samuel and Esther Mullins, who invite Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) and several orphaned girls to live with them at their residence. Despite the generous offer, the Mullins’ are quite reserved people, after a personal tragedy shattered their existence several years earlier. Samuel, a doll maker, isn’t particularly hospitable towards the girls while Esther mysteriously never emerges from her bedroom. As the girls slowly settle into their new place, Janice (Telitha Bateman) comes across Annabelle while curiously exploring her new surrounds and unwittingly brings the creepy doll, who has sinister plans, to life.


A passable horror flick, ANNABELLE: CREATION does yield to symptoms of horror movie syndrome, yet in doing so it offers audiences momentary frights and plenty of fun, which are frequently distributed all throughout.

Of course, your prospects of being drawn into these many mildly suspenseful passages will largely depend on your ability to foresee the imminent jump coming. As a horror aficionado myself, almost all of these sequences do happen as expected. Although its likely predictability does limit the film’s chances to genuinely scare, ANNABELLE: CREATION continues to entertain, courtesy of some aptly timed tongue-in-cheek humour and a serviceable plot that holds some mystery. Patience is certainly tested as the not-so-surprising revelations hiding beneath its mystery are delayed for too long. Further proceedings even become repetitive as the plot attempts to involve each of the orphaned girls making a frightening discovery to realise that their new abode isn’t so humble. Thankfully, those self-opening doors and creaky floors are soon nailed shut as ANNABELLE: CREATION lifts its game in a decidedly more horrifying finale. 

This prequel should satisfy fans of mainstream horror until further instalments in THE CONJURING film series, THE NUN (2018) and THE CROOKED MAN (TBA) haunt our screens.

3 stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ Restricted (Strong horror themes and violence) 

Trailer / ANNABELLE: CREATION

Read up also on Moviedoc’s review of THE CONJURING 2

Moviedoc thanks Roadshow Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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GET OUT

Writer & Director / Jordan Peele (Feature film debut)
Stars/ Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford and Caleb Landry Jones

Movies as genius as this are few and far between. Masterfully and studiously crafted, intelligently written and flawlessly executed, GET OUT is a broadly appealing and accessible horror film at heart that functions as a menacing mystery invite to all.

Not a single moment of screen time is wasted in Jordan Peele’s remarkable debut as feature-film director. Peele is pitching a familiar premise that most of us have had to do at some time in our lives – that rather awkward and nerve-wrecking obligatory task of meeting the parents of your partner for the very first time. In GET OUT, that time has arrived for Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), a young African-American photographer who has been dating his Caucasian girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) for four months. Upon their immediate arrival, Chris observes several disconcerting and bizarre sights in the surrounds of the mysterious family estate of Rose’s parents. 


It is both exceedingly fun and playfully haunting to watch. It deliberately provokes questions and is strikingly thought-provoking all at once, all throughout. It is without a doubt one of the very best films of 2017.

Just as intended, the GET OUT screenplay allows plenty of room for the imagination. It cleverly compels its audience to assess each situation and analyse every word spoken in hope that the prediction to its conclusion and its secrets are somewhat accurate. As it keeps turning out, writer/director Jordan Peele is purely toying with that imagination of ours. Like a master player in the game of chess, Peele continually reminds us that he is the king (or queen if you prefer) of this board and we are merely a pawn, guessing moves that he already knows are coming.

Many films can maintain their mystery for most its duration. A few less are able to conjure up a conclusion that justifies and satisfies. A rare combination that catapults GET OUT to an elite level of filmmaking is its seamless integration of realistic themes weaved into a completely fictitious story, done so in a manner that is reminiscent of the brilliant 2014 thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, NIGHTCRAWLER. Another is its innovative amalgamation of genre. Not only is GET OUT a horror film that sustains its mystique right through to the very end, it is also irresistibly funny when it wishes to be and has a surprising amount of depth in its characterisation and storytelling. To place the cherry on top for horror movie lovers, sudden bursts of more stereotypical horror elements are incorporated very tongue-in-cheek style into this superb film. And finally, the conclusion is better than satisfying, it is rewarding. There is virtually no ambiguity to any answers given to many questions raised. These revelations not only make perfect sense of themselves, they will leave you talking about this film for days after and quite likely eager to pay a second visit.

You need to get in to GET OUT, which is simply unmissable!

4 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong themes and violence)

Trailer / GET OUT

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures for the distributor pass to see and review this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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SPLIT

Writer & Director / M. Night Shyamalan (THE VISIT, UNBREAKABLE, THE SIXTH SENSE)
Stars / James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson, Jessica Sula and Betty Buckley

The 2015 release of writer/director M. Night Shyamalan’s last film, THE VISIT, wasn’t just a thoroughly enjoyable meshing of comedy and suspense horror that put the filmmaker back on the public radar, it led to indications that THE VISIT could become a more permanent transition in the filmmakers genre movie making. SPLIT baptises that notion, and is Shyamalan’s most psychologically driven and deranged yet.

Yes, it is time to accept that the work we associate the Shyamalan name to, has well and truly evolved. Love or loathe this new path he has taken, you cannot deny his efforts and endeavour to create something original and reinvent himself.

This unclassifiable, genre-mashing (multiple) mood piece is about a man who has 23 distinct personalities, played marvellously by McAvoy, in a demanding role. When one of those identities kidnaps three beautiful young women, Casey (A terrific Anya Taylor-Joy, recently seen in THE WITCH and MORGAN), Claire (THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN star, Haley Lu Richardson), and Marcia (Sula), the girls must work together to find one of those identities willing to help them escape, before the 24th is unleashed.

This ambitiously written, yet unevenly directed psychological thriller/horror sure as heck entertains, has its thrills, occasionally chills and is often prone to triggering laughter from most uncomfortable places in which laughter is not usually derived. 

Shyamalan’s lengthiest and personally most challenging film to date even adds extra dimensions of psychology to its themes by way of its discourse and development into the limitless potential the human mind is capable of. Admittedly, it may very well be this factor alone that splits the difference in opinion of SPLIT. 

Greatness is certainly within reach in SPLIT, however it is often stalled when integrating flashback scenarios of a certain characters past and when crossing over to Kevin’s (McAvoy) therapy sessions with Dr. Fletcher (Buckley). These sequences do belong, no doubt about that, but there is too many of them and they offset the tension brewing within the key plot. 

Regardless of whether it is a hit or a miss for you, one guarantee can be made – SPLIT won’t be slipping your mind any time soon! 

3 stars 

Viewer Discretion/ (mature themes, violence and coarse language. There is also disturbing thematic content and behaviour)

Trailer / SPLIT

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures and Village Cinemas Jam Factory for the screening invite to this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc 

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2016 – The Best Films, The Worst and More ! !

 Hello everyone

Firstly, a huge thank you for every review you have read, liked, shared, commented on and even chatted to me about in person. Thanks to you and your incredible support, I had the most productive and enjoyable year of film watching and reviewing yet! 

In total, I got to see & review 126 films released in 2016 alone! Of these, more than 30 received a 4 out of 5 rating from me, the most in any year since I first started reviewing! As such, I have compiled a ‘Top 30’ list this year and ‘Bottom 5’ only.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy reading my thoughts and verdict below. I also hope you take away a handful of films to see that you’ve never previously heard of or watched!
As always, please get in touch to share your views and best & worst movies. I look forward to your continued support and interaction in what will be an even bigger and busier year of film watching & reviewing in 2017!

Moviedoc 🙂

Moviedoc’s Top 30 Movies of 2016

30

VICTORIA
(4 out of 5)

The star attraction of this German suspense/drama is its cinematography – VICTORIA is shot as one single continuous take. It’s a stunning feature of this arthouse film that continually impresses, especially when you consider the key events executed throughout. The titular character, a young Spanish woman in Berlin, meets a German man and his friends at a club. As the night out progresses and Victoria leaves the club with the men, she learns of some dangerous secrets. Watch VICTORIA and experience real-time suspense unlike any others. Unpredictable and hugely tense!

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

29

ME BEFORE YOU 
(4 out of 5)

It may not be Moviedoc’s number one romantic drama of the year, but ME BEFORE YOU is easily the best “crying movie” of 2016. Some of its themes caused an unnecessary revolt during its cinematic run here in Melbourne. But this surprisingly quality romantic drama will be remembered for being heartbreaking on so many levels. Stars GOT’s Emilia Clarke too guys, just sayin’ 😉

Full Review – ME BEFORE YOU

28

HELL OR HIGH WATER
(4 out of 5)

In many film critics top 5, HELL OR HIGH WATER is a gritty and absorbing crime drama about two brothers who turn to crime in order to pay off a debt and the Texas ranger hunting them down, who is due for his retirement. Has depth, genuine tension and the best performance we’ve seen from Jeff Bridges since 2010’s TRUE GRIT. 

Full Review – HELL OR HIGH WATER


27

JULIETA 
(4 out of 5)

As mainstream as a Pedro Almódovar film gets. This Spanish drama, like any Almódovar film, features a layered story with full-bodied, richly-drawn characters. It is about how a chance encounter triggers a broken-hearted woman’s search for answers. An important lesson is unearthed during its excellent finale.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

26

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
(4 out of 5)

You wouldn’t pick it by the poster, but KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS is an American production. The best animated film of 2016 has a very accessible plot for kids – a young boy named Kubo who must find a magical suit of armour to fight an evil spirit from the past – and exceptionally creative, dazzling animation that is guaranteed to immerse adults into the story. 

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

25

THE REVENANT
(4 out of 5)

A forgotten film of 2016, it seems. But how could anyone forget the movie that finally saw gold statuette in hand of Leonardo DiCaprio? What the poor guy has to go through in order to win his first Oscar brings out the most uncompromisingly tough performance we’ve seen from the star. The film is pretty darn good too! Brutal and slow-moving, yet an utterly engrossing and remarkable story of vengeance. The Academy Award winning cinematography is outstanding too.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦


24

HAIL, CAESAR! 
(4 out of 5)

This Coen-brothers film is an intelligent and original comedy that will especially appeal to fans of Wes Anderson. Set during the 1950’s at a Hollywood film production, a “fixer” addresses several complications and conundrums both on-set and in his personal life. Great cast and great fun! 

Full Review – HAIL, CAESAR


23

Microbe & Gasoline 
(4 out of 5)

One of the rare gems of 2016, and I bet you’ve never heard of it! This French feel-good comedy has an irresistible sense of adventure and is about two teenage guys who build a makeshift motorhome and take-off, fleeing their mundane and depressing suburban lives. An affectionate, heart-warming and crowd-pleasing journey not to be missed! 

Film Review – MICROBE & GASOLINE

22

ZERO DAYS 
(4 out of 5)

This documentary will easily be the most misjudged film of the year. What ostensibly begins as a film merely documenting a malicious computer superbug emphatically ends as one powerful cautionary tale. A film you would think has nothing to do with you, then by the end, has everything to do with you. ZERO DAYS is an awakening from master director Alex Gibney (GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF). 

Full Review – ZERO DAYS

21

BROOKLYN 
(4 out of 5)

This is an Oscar-nominated tale about an Irish immigrant that finds love in New York, then is left with a tough decision to make when her past catches up with her. A romantic drama told with real warmth and beauty led by a confident performance from its A-grade star, Saoirse Ronan. 

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

20

LA LA LAND
(4 out of 5)

Unlike so many others, LA LA LAND is not my best film of 2016. That does not mean it is a let down by any means either. This music-driven film released on Boxing Day throughout Australia is packed full of effortless and endless creativity & striking originality that is utterly delightful to be in the presence of. Go and enjoy Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling play lovers for a third time in a feature film! (Hook up in real-life already!)

Full Review – LA LA LAND

19

ELLE
(4 out of 5)


My personal runner-up for best foreign language film of 2016 is an utterly engrossing film consisting of several separate sub-plots, all of which are connected to the lead character of ELLE, Michèle (a brave performance in a demanding role from Isabelle Huppert) who hunts for a man who has physically assaulted her. Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven’s French language erotic drama/thriller is an unmissable film for viewers who appreciate a psychologically complex work of profound characterisation and layered storytelling.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

18

THE HATEFUL EIGHT 
(4 out of 5)

Like THE REVENANT, THE HATEFUL EIGHT feels forgotten about. Bound to test the patience of even the most ardent Tarantino fans, this ultra-violent Western flick earns its place well inside my Top 30, courtesy of a near-faultless screenplay as we experience the masterful work of our famed director unwrapping the layers of tension and mystery, one layer at a time, in a magnificently methodical and meticulous manner.

Full Review – THE HATEFUL EIGHT

17

I, DANIEL BLAKE
(4 out of 5)

The famous proverb “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” is honestly and realistically exemplified in a film about a 59 year-old carpenter who is forced to turn to welfare support, as a result of a workplace incident. This is one of those films that is so true to life, it’s as close to watching a documentary a feature film can get. A truly involving and utterly valuable Irish drama.

Full Review – I, DANIEL BLAKE

16

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
(4 out of 5)

Ricky Baker is a name you won’t be forgetting any time soon. Nor is Julian Dennison, the young actor playing Ricky, in a breakthrough performance. This clever and triumphant smash-hit Kiwi comedy proved a winner with critics and audiences alike earlier in the year. If you somehow missed it, get onto this “majestical” film pronto, bro. 

Full Review – HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

15

ARRIVAL 
(4 out of 5)

The mostly tired and often repetitive alien-invasion genre experiences an invasion of originality and innovation in ARRIVAL. This suspenseful drama is about an expert linguist who attempts to communicate with extra-terrestrial forces that have landed several spacecraft throughout the world. Watch this superior film over the upcoming PASSENGERS and ten times before you attempt INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. 

Full Review – ARRIVAL

14

EYE IN THE SKY 
(4 out of 5)

The opposite of escapism. That is what EYE IN THE SKY is, a gripping and strongly immersive motion picture about an operation to catch a group of terrorists in Kenya, before their next attack. But the team are about to be thrown their toughest conundrum yet when an unforeseen move takes place. EYE IN THE SKY gives the viewer a two-sided story that forces you to question what you would do in this scenario. A seriously compelling and thought-provoking dramatic thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Full Review – EYE IN THE SKY

13

SPOTLIGHT 
(4 out of 5)

This year’s Best Picture Oscar winner handles its controversial and sensitive subject matter (child molestation within the Catholic Church) with utmost professionalism and sincerity. As a production, SPOTLIGHT is unshowy, honest and never sensationalised. A very deserving winner at the 2016 Academy Awards.

Full review – SPOTLIGHT

12

TRUMBO 
(4 out of 5)

Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenplay writer during the 1940’s who is believed to be a communist by a US agency. Based on a true story, this highly engaging and exceedingly informative film is bolstered by its surprising humour and Cranston’s astonishing work in the lead role. 

Full Review – TRUMBO

11

MUSTANG
(4 out of 5)

A French, German & Turkish co-production which was nominated for best foreign language film at 2016’s Oscars is a most profound experience chronicling the lives of 5 orphaned, close-knit sisters. Growing up in ultra-conservative surroundings, their lives are changed forever after an innocent encounter. Based on the director’s real-life experiences, this foreign tale contains a message of utmost significance to anywhere in the world. This is the best foreign film of 2016.

Full review – MUSTANG


10

SING STREET
(4 out of 5)

Another rare gem of 2016. This small Irish comedy/drama with a big heart is viewed from the eyes of a teenage male who doesn’t know how to impress the girl he wants, so he starts his own rock band! Aside from its wonderfully endearing nature, this terrific movie features a stunning soundtrack as well as original music written and performed for the film. I guarantee you’ll have a great time watching SING STREET.

Full review – SING STREET

9

CHASING ASYLUM
(4.5 out of 5)

It is difficult to think of a more pertinent film to see right now than this. CHASING ASYLUM is a documentary that uses real footage secretly filmed to expose the conditions and treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru. A film which acknowledges that the Australian Government has succeeded in stopping the boats and claiming lives have been saved by doing so, but at what cost? A must watch, especially for people who value truth and humanity.

Sorry, Moviedoc did not review this film ;(

8

THE NEON DEMON 
(4.5 out of 5)

When I first watched THE NEON DEMON, I absolutely loved the first two-thirds, then hated the last third. Since then, this sick, twisted and absolutely brilliant film has grown and grown on me. So much so, it is the number one film of 2016 that I cannot stop thinking or talking about. This is Nicolas Winding Refn’s (DRIVE, ONLY GOD FORGIVES) deliciously exaggerated and darkly comical take on a group of supermodels who will stop at nothing to achieve their dreams. You will either love or loathe what is the strangest film of 2016. But do be warned – Beauty doesn’t get uglier than this! Unforgettable and Unmissable for horror and arthouse cinema fans.

Full review – THE NEON DEMON

7

THE DANISH GIRL 
(4.5 out of 5)

THE DANISH GIRL is a deeply empathetic and stunningly rendered production about an artist couple living in 1920’s Copenhagen whose relationship together begins to evolve and be challenged when Einar (played beautifully by Eddie Redmayne) decides to become a woman. An open-minded audience will be rewarded with breathtaking acting, studious direction from Tom Hooper (THE KINGS SPEECH) and a beautifully told story of love, sexual identity and self-discovery. Has been one of this year’s best films all year. 

Full review – THE DANISH GIRL

6

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT 
(4.5 out of 5)

The most authentic movie of the year is also the first film in over 30 years to be filmed on location in the Amazonian jungle and Amazon River. Filmed in beautiful black and white, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT is the story of two Scientists searching for a rare flower known for its healing powers. For those of you who value a complete immersion into a foreign world, way of life and have a genuine appreciation towards culture in all its forms, one of the most memorable and grandest films of the year awaits.

Full review – EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT

5

ROOM 
(4.5 out of 5)

Based on the popular novel of the same name, this deceptively layered, subtly powerful and poignant drama is about a Mother (Oscar winner Brie Larson) and her young son (an astonishing Jacob Tremblay) who survive inside the tiny confines of what they refer to as “ROOM”. With their only visible access to the outside world coming via a skylight, curiosity and determination sees them hatch a dangerous plan to escape. The end result is a brilliantly bold, psychologically complex and a deeply rational film. 

Full review – ROOM

4

CAROL 
(4.5 out of 5)

CAROL, a wholly absorbing and completely transfixing film set in the 1950’s which focuses on an intimate relationship being formed between the titular character and a young aspiring photographer. The greatest romantic drama of 2016 is an outstanding production in every aspect (costume, set design, you name it) and is led by two truly immaculate acting performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. 

Full review – CAROL

3

HACKSAW RIDGE
(4.5 out of 5)

There haven’t been many Australian-made films this year that have pushed a three-star rating, sadly. Well then, aren’t we lucky that good old trusty Mel Gibson brought this American story to our shores for production! Desmond T. Doss, a medic who served in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II, never used a weapon while on the front lines, saving many lives in the process. Quite simply, this is one of the greatest (anti) war films of the 21st Century. While you experience some of the most impacting scenes ever filmed on the battle grounds, Gibson’s superior handling of HACKSAW RIDGE and Andrew Garfield’s career-best performance ensure sight is never lost of why we’re even here. A stunning film.

Full review – HACKSAW RIDGE

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC
(4.5 out of 5)

Not a superhero film, but it is a super film. Taken from the personal experiences of writer/director Matt Ross, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC is about a Father who is raising his six children in the forest of the Pacific Northwest. This family live a very unorthodox and secluded life, so when the need to travel beyond arises, will they be ready for the confronting journey that lies ahead? Best described as an amalgamation of ROOM and the 2006 road movie LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, yet very much its own film. What truly stands-out about this comedy/drama is the humour which is extracted from the most unconventional of places and an extremely thought-provoking screenplay. A true highlight of 2016, don’t underestimate just how brilliant this movie is. It made second place for good reason 😉

Full review – CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

1

45 YEARS 
(4.5 out of 5)

Even I am surprised by my choice of number one ranking this year! Truth be told, no film came closer to receiving the perfect score in 2016 from me. And no film, as a whole, hit me harder than the story of an elderly couple, almost 45 years married to one another, who receive shattering news that threatens to change the rest of their lives. And maybe even everything before this day. There is a valuable life lesson to be learned for ears willing to listen. A subtle, yet powerful message from the older to the younger. The carefully considered writing, sophisticated handling of all proceedings and impeccable acting work from leads Charlotte Rampling (who was Oscar nominated earlier in the year) and Tom Courtenay catapult this extraordinary film to the top of my list

Full review – 45 YEARS

That was quite a read! Now, something short and sweet. Here are the worst movies of 2016!

Moviedoc’s Bottom 5 Movies of 2016

5

HIGH-RISE
(1.5 out of 5)

Life for residents in a tower block begins to run out of control. This dystopian dark comedy starring Tom Hiddleston certainly has appealing elements. But this highly obscure film remains a mystery to me above all else. It becomes too irritating and off-putting to continue caring about. See, I don’t like all weird movies!

Sorry, Moviedoc did not write a review of this film 😦

4

NOW YOU SEE ME 2 
(1.5 out of 5)

A magic film, without any magic. This sequel is a careless whisper of the intrigue and alluring mystery summoned from the previous outing. Do not bother.

Full review – NOW YOU SEE ME 2

3

BACKTRACK
(1.5 out of 5)

You have probably never heard of this misfiring Australian mystery drama/horror starring Sam Neill and Oscar-winner Adrian Brody, who plays a psychologist experiencing a few issues of his own. Good, let’s backtrack then and keep it that way!

Full review – BACKTRACK

2

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
(1 out of 5)

20 years. That is how long it has been since the original INDEPENDENCE DAY premiered on our big screens. 20 years on, and this sequel doesn’t just fail to bring something new to the alien invasion genre, it just fails. Miserably. It only has the film below to thank for not being named the worst movie of 2016.

Full Review – INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

1

BLAIR WITCH
(0.5 out of 5)

The most frightening aspect of BLAIR WITCH, is just how bad it actually is! Should only be shown to severely misbehaving children for disciplinary reasons by responsible adults. If you get through this once, as I somehow did, you’ll never want to see another minute of it again. 

Full review – BLAIR WITCH

While there have been countless acting performances of the highest quality, here are my top female and male performers of 2016

Actress of the Year
Alicia Vikander
(THE DANISH GIRL & THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS)

Actor of the Year
Bryan Cranston
(TRUMBO & THE INFILTRATOR)

And finally, to some additional bits and pieces. These films did not make my Top 30 or Bottom 5. 

Top 5 Most Underrated and/or Under the Radar Films

AMERICAN HONEY (4 out of 5)
ROSALIE BLUM (3.5 out of 5)
ANOMALISA (3.5 out of 5)
BRIDGET JONES’S BABY (3.5 out of 5)
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS (3.5 out of 5)

Top 5 Most Overrated and/or Overly Hyped Films

SULLY (2.5 out of 5)
RED DOG: TRUE BLUE (2 out of 5)
THE LADY IN THE VAN (2 out of 5)
MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2 out of 5)
THE BIG SHORT (2 out of 5)


Add These 5 Films To Your Watch List

A UNITED KINGDOM (3.5 out of 5)
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT 
(3.5 out of 5)
SWISS ARMY MAN 
(3.5 out of 5)
THE FENCER 
(3 out of 5)
NERVE 
(3 out of 5)

These are some films that deserve a mention and ought to be watched, depending on your taste

ALLIED (3.5 out of 5)
DEADPOOL (3.5 out of 5)
DOCTOR STRANGE (3.5 out of 5)
ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (3.5 out of 5)
WAR DOGS (3.5 out of 5)
SON OF SAUL  (3.5 out of 5)
THE SHALLOWS (3 out of 5)
THE FOUNDER (3 out of 5)

Best Horror Film 
DON’T BREATHE 
(3.5 out of 5)

Best Prequel/Sequel
THE CONJURING 2 (3.5 out of 5)

Best Remake
THE JUNGLE BOOK (3.5 out of 5)

Highest Grossing Film – Worldwide
FINDING DORY ($1.027 Billion)

Highest Grossing Film – In Australia
FINDING DORY ($36.1 Million)

Compiled by Moviedoc
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