Monday, January 09, 2017

Peter Shillito's 2016 (ish) film awards

I've seen a lot of films in the cinema in 2016, in different countries too! So, time for some awards! Some of which you might be surprised by...except for one. Definitely won't be surprised by one of these. SO! Without further ado!

The "what? why?" award for critically acclaimed film that was actually awful

Winner: Everybody Wants Some, dir: Richard Linklater

If everyone closed their eyes and listened to the great soundtrack this film had, it would still be a bad film because you'd still have to listen to the actors.
No plot, endorsing stalking and tricking girls into going out with you, characters you can't stand being on-screen, this film is irredeemable. Yet somehow, it got critical acclaim. Nominated for awards even! This film is genuinely the worst film I've seen in 2016. Worse than Batman vs Superman. Worse than Bad Neighbours 2. Worse than Troll 2 (which I also saw for the first time this year).

Honourable mention: Disorder, that weird French film I saw early in the year at a mystery preview screening that nowhere showed after the fact. It was a bad film, but it was still kinda interesting to see what they were doing. It had a plot. It had interesting characters. It was, however, really boring.

The "the hype is real" award for actually good film despite the hype

Winner: your name., dir: Makoto Shinkai

Turns out, this was actually a good film. With it selling trainloads of tickets in Japan, China and now South Korea, I was sceptical, but it turns out I fully enjoyed this film. Heck, I even cried a bit on my first viewing at Scotland Loves Anime. A few people argue that it's not the best animated film this year, typically citing A Silent Voice as better, but I didn't enjoy that film tbh. It made its point, then kept trying to hammer it in harder to the point of it just getting tiring. I also had the experience of having a girlfriend who used their disability as an excuse to pushing hate and blame onto others and being a genuinely bad person, so perhaps I have an extra barrier to these things. But of course, everything is subjective, so I won't begrudge people considering this film better than your name..

Honourable mention: Deadpool. This film had quite a lot of hype despite being a superhero film. I was cautious what with it potentially relying on breaking the fourth wall a lot for comedy, but it turned out great! It was a great film I thoroughly enjoyed.

The "hipster bullshit" award for film nobody else saw that I rate as one of the best films of the year

Winner: I Belonged to You (从你的全世界路过), dir: Zhang Yibai (張一白)

Living and working within a not-unreasonable drive or train to Manchester means I get to see some foreign films quite regularly. The Trafford Centre shows a lot of Indian films, while the Printworks shows Chinese and Korean films. By sheer chance, I went to a screening of the Chinese film "I Belonged to You" in its short run in the Printworks cinema. The synopsis appealed to me as it is partially focussed on a recently dumped radio presenter (been there) but also several other characters all with their own quirks. All the characters' lives overlap and we see couples form and break, either naturally or unnaturally. It's a lovely film, and possibly the best film I've seen all year. When it's funny, it's hilarious. When it's sad, I'm crying my eyes out. I cared about every single character in this film. As it's a Chinese film, I am struggling to find any evidence of a release on disc in the west, but I'm keeping an eye out. Worst case scenario, I've got an import from China on the way. Shout outs to the Chinese student who spoke to me (the only white person in the screening) afterwards and recommended I try to read the book that the film was based off. Sadly, said book seems to be not available in English. Guess I need to learn Chinese...

Honourable mention: A Flying Jatt. This Indian (Hindi) superhero film was hilarious and comparable to Deadpool in terms of enjoyability. Again, a limited run for this film, but it was great fun, had impressive fight scenes with a limited about of CGI due to their casting choices (actual wrestler for the baddie, for example). As with all Bollywood films, the soundtrack stood out particularly with the usual dance sequences Bollywood is known for. The second half got a bit ropey, but it was a definite great film.

The "is it Aikatsu?" award for the series tie-in film of the year

Winner: Aikatsu Stars! the movie, dir: Shinya Watada

I was honoured to see this film in the cinema in Japan, and since it's a series I'm somewhat invested in (both culturally and financially, yes I have the blu-ray on order) I had high hopes for it. Despite watching it with little Japanese knowledge, I could follow a lot of what was being said, at least from how people were reacting and a little background reading on what it was about. As an added bonus, the film had an original Aikatsu short (though I think it was episode length?) before the Aikatsu Stars film itself. It was certainly one of the highlights of my trip to Japan in 2016. I won't get another until 2018 at the earliest :(

Honourable mention: Girls und Panzer der film. It came out in 2015 in Japan, but 2016 here. It was a pretty good film also. Once again, the Scotland Loves Anime crowd boosted the enjoyment of the screening for sure.

The "shut your face, it's actually a good film" award for film I seem to be the only one who likes

Winner: Ghostbusters (2016), dir: Paul Feig

Putting aside the whole sexist angle that a disappointingly large number of people are following for hating this film, I have heard some genuine and well thought out criticisms of this film that I will gladly accept as opinions. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. For real. I hope they do more, and I will re-watch it in the cinema plenty of times I suspect. I did for this one!

Honourable mention: Jem and the Holograms. It only came to the UK in 2016 way later than everyone else, and it was a fairly enjoyable romp with some amazing outfits and make-up. The directing was a bit of a mess (a lot of a mess) but definitely not the worst thing ever! (it wasn't Everybody Wants Some).

The "still got it" award for film from years ago that was worth seeing in the cinema for the first time

Winner: 2001: A Space Odyssey, dir: Stanley Kubrick

I've seen this film at home before, but never in a cinema. I was fortunate to be available for a film festival at Manchester Printworks where they made a point of showing the film exactly as intended. If I remember right, it featured longer blank screens with music and also a 10 minute intermission which was omitted in both the home release and many cinema showings of it since. It was the perfect way to see this film.

Honourable mention: The Shining. Also Stanley Kubrick, I'd never actually seen this film in full before, and the version showed was an extended cut ("the longest possible cut" according to Odeon themselves) which was an added bonus.

The "Peter Shillito endorses this movie" award for film of the year

The final award for this blog is a tricky one. I could be lazy and say your name. or I Belonged to You, or even be daft and say Aikatsu Stars. But that doesn't seem fair. What's the film that, further down the line, I won't forget and consider the film that defined my 2016.

Winner: Kubo and the Two Strings, dir: Travis Knight

This film is beautiful, heartwarming and unforgettable. I heartily recommend people go see it. I particularly like the designs for the aunts, who remain genuinely terrifying just from being a static figure through to being a moving threat.

Honourable mention: everything else I've mentioned in this blog (except Everybody Wants Some). All of these films are great in various ways, and I strongly recommend trying some of the Indian and Asian films that come out in the cinema here in the UK.

Also, when's the next Aikatsu movie?

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