WAYWARD WOLF 2016 FILM REVIEW: The WWAFAS!

The WWAFAS: 2016

ww-2016-award
A much sought after WWAFA*

 

That’s right, it’s the second annual WWAFAS, folks (Wayward Wolf Annual Film Awards – you can wipe that clueless look off your faces for a start), brought to you as ever in conjunction with the barren and dusty confines of my own confused and barely-used mind.

Yes, we made it. A whopping seventy-five cinema visits made during 2016 (Rogue One was squeezed in on a technicality, viewed as it was in the early murmurings of January 1st, 2017, whilst the drunken masses were unconscious), and seventy-five reviews have duly been written and published.

Not too bad for a part-time film reviewer. You’ll excuse me I’m sure if I just take a brief self-congratulatory moment now and give myself a well-earned pat on the back.

Back suitably patted, it’s on with the show…

 

I say it every year, but once again I really have been bowled over by the quality that’s been on offer this year (2016), which was at times staggeringly good, with only a small handful of turkeys on show (at least concerning the seventy-five films that I saw, personally). In fact, I’d say that 2016 has seen the highest quality of film output for many a long year which has been reassuringly comforting, and a most welcome antidote in the face of the sadly still relentless regurgitation of endless comic book / superhero etc. remakes and spin-offs, not to mention the tiresome big-budget blockbuster clone-a-like tedium that interminably spews from ‘you know where’.

Yes, despite all of that, it seems that the world of film-making, in general, is in a pretty healthy state right now, and long may that continue.

But, without any more to-do, it’s time once again to raid the charity shop, don that poorly fitting tux or moth-eaten glamour dress, powder your noses, make your excuses, stroll down the red carpet of your minds, and take your seats for the biggest show in town**

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for the annual celebration of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of film, 2016 – Wayward Wolf style…

 

 

*Clearly just a Mats Jonasson glass sculpture.

**assuming that everything else has been cancelled and there’s literally nothing going on.

This Year’s Seven WWAFA Categories:

1. Best documentary

2. Best soundtrack

3. Best foreign language film

4. Best actress

5. Best actor

6. Worst film

7. Best film

First and foremost, the list of films from which I’ve made my assessments is by no means exhaustive. Only films with a 2016 UK release date and which were personally viewed by me at a cinema during the year, have been considered.

Best Documentary:

 

Top Five: (In descending order):

5. Amanda Knox – An intriguing if ultimately unconvincing (in terms of case clarity/closure) HBO documentary looking at one of the most controversial crime investigations of recent times.

4. Lo & Behold: Reveries of the Connected World – Werner Herzog’s often comical look at the history of the internet, done Herzog-style.

3. The Music of strangers – A superbly uplifting demonstration of the global unifying and healing properties of music. inspirational.

2. Weiner – Brilliant warts-and-all look at the rise and self-destructive fall of Anthony Weiner, and the perils and minefields of the political system.

And the winner is…

1. The Beatles: 8 Days a week (The Touring Years)

Ron Howard’s joyous ode to the Beatles’ years as prolific touring artists brings to our attention once again just how incredible a live act the fab four really were. It’ll make your spirits soar!

Best Original Soundtrack:

 

The Top Five: (In descending order):

 

5. Mike Lévy (as Gesaffelstein)Disorder

4. Nick Cave / Warren EllisHell or High Water

3. Alberto Iglesias – Julieta

 2. Cliff Martinez – The Neon Demon 

And the winner is…

1. David Lang: Youth

Innovative and evocative, David Lang’s soundtrack both compliments and substantially affects the form and flow of Paolo Sorrentino’s wonderful meditation on ageing and our coming to terms with our own mortality.

Best Foreign Language Film:

 

The Top Five: (In descending order):

5. Mænd og Høns (Men & Chicken) – Idiocy abounds in Anders Thomas Jensen’s offbeat and genuinely hilarious comedy.

4. After love – There’s no escape from toe-curlingly tense and awkward scenes-a-plenty in this tale of love in its death throws, played out superbly under one roof.

3. Rams – A subtly charming Icelandic tale of two feuding shepherd brothers and their love for their flocks.

2. Julieta – Pedro Almodovar’s beautiful, bitter-sweet story of hope, despair and forgiveness.

And the winner is:

1. Son of Saul

Extraordinarily well realised tale of concentration camp horror and the daily tightrope walk for survival. A film made all the more powerful for its lack of visually gratuitous content. What the eye doesn’t see…

Best Actress:

 

The Top Five: (In descending order):

5. Jennifer Lawrence – Joy: A hard-working and put upon mother who fights her way to the top. Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is gritty, mature and highly convincing.

4. Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins: Meryl Streep’s portrayal of the musical socialite with delusions of grandeur is warm, generous of heart and predictably superb.

3. Emily Blunt – The Girl on the Train: A fine performance from Blunt – a woman with serious addiction issues and everything that accompanies such an unfortunate predicament.

2. Laia Costa – Victoria: An emotion-filled yet tender portrayal of a role that must have taken every last ounce of concentration and commitment to successfully pull-off. Incredible achievement.

And the winner is…

1. Brie Larsson – Room:

Along with her young co-star, Jacob Tremblay, (equally deserving of an accolade), Brie Larsson is absolutely stupendous as the young woman and mother forced to create an entire world for herself and her young son, within four small walls. A monumental performance.

Best Actor:

The Top Five: (In descending order):

5. Jake GyllenhaalNocturnal Animals: Two roles in one. Both, equally captivating.

4.  Bryan Cranston – Trumbo: Light-hearted yet weighty performance from Cranston who well and truly makes the role his own.

3. Géza RöhrigSon of Saul: Röhrig’s understandably restrained emotions belie the mental horror and torment that his character must have endured. Incredibly powerful.

2. Tim RothChronic: A secretive yet intense performance of quite some note. Roth’s finest hour, and a truly memorable film

And the winner is…

1. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant:

DiCaprio pips the rest to the award thanks to a visceral, gritty and uber-physical performance of passion and determination in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s cinematic epic.

Worst Film:

 

A reassuringly low number of really poor films this year, and so, as last year, just the three worst entries in this particular category…

3. The Finest Hours – Dreadfully drippy Hallmark-esque, seafaring yarn. Not entirely awful, but every bit an archetypal ‘straight to bargain bin’ TV movie, if ever there was one. Considering the film’s apparently considerable budget, that really is quite some achievement.

2. The Shallows – Inoffensive early signs are soon vanquished by ove-blown, unnecessarily gadget-driven drivel about a shark with a vendetta – or something. Comically bad in places.

 

And the winner is:

1. Zoolander 2

You just know when you’ve witnessed the year’s worst film, and there was surely no doubt in anyone’s mind once they’d watched the hopelessly dismal, trying-way-too-hard yet still woefully unfunny, Zoolander 2; a film that’s probably as stand-alone awful as it is when placed side-to-side with its vastly superior – and crucially actually funny – predecessor.

Best Film:

As already mentioned, it’s been an incredibly difficult decision this year. The final ten will follow, but as there were so many worthy films, a quick mention for a handful that narrowly missed the cut:

  • Bone Tomahawk – A grisly piece of B-Movie Western nonsense that will have you laughing and recoiling in horror, simultaneously. Gruesome and terrifically entertaining.
  • Trumbo – Bryan Cranston’s almost cartoonish portrayal of Dalton Trumbo is splendidly entertaining in Jay Roach’s biopic of Hollywood’s infamous screenwriter.
  • The Neon Demon – Nicolas Winding Refn’s highly-stylised, visually stunning fable set in the vacuous and morally bankrupt world of the fashion industry.

 

The Top Ten (in descending order):

 

10. The BFG – Spielberg does great justice to both himself, and Roald Dahl’s memory in this charming, big budget animated adaptation of the Norwegian author’s delightful children’s tale.

9. The Beatles: 8 Days a Week (The Touring Years) – Winner of the Best Documentary WWAFA for 2016 (see above).

8. Nocturnal Animals – Director Tom Ford’s visually sumptuous, thoroughly engaging, dark, moody and sinister tale with both Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal on top form.

7. I, Daniel Blake – Dave Johns is a revalation as Daniel Blake in Ken Roach’s hard-hitting damning indictment of the sorry state of the UK benefits system.

6. The Big Short – A thoroughly  entertaining yet serious look at the predictably slippery practices of the banking industry that led to the financial crash of 2008, and those that were wise enough to take full advantage of it.

5. Room – A real sense of claustrophobia pervades in this psychologically intense piece with mesmerising performances from Brie Larsson and Jake Tremblay.

4. The Revenant – A huge, sprawling cinematic epic of a film absolutely made for the big screen. Thoroughly engaging and magnificently acted by Leonardo DeCaprio.

3. Chronic – Tim Roth has never been better, playing, brilliantly, a detached, almost morose palliative care worker barely going through the motions of life.

2. Son of Saul – (See the Best Foreign Language Film section, above).

 

And the winner, and Wayward Wolf film of the year for 2016, is…

 

1. Victoria

A staggering one-take logistical achievement, a fact that shouldn’t and indeed doesn’t detract from what is, in itself, a superbly enthralling thriller that lives long in the memory.

 

And there you have it!

A film that saw only a limited UK release and seemed to quietly pass by has taken top spot, but for those who managed to catch it, you’ll agree – a deserved if maybe surprise winner of the Best Film WWAFA for 2016.

It only remains to wish everyone an excellent 2017 and to leave you all with the full and final 75-strong, Wayward Wolf film list (in order of preference), for 2016.

Cheers for now…

 

The Full 2016 Wayward Wolf Film List (in order of preference):

1. Victoria

2. Son of Saul

3. Chronic

4. The Revenant

5. Room

6. The Big Short

7. I, Daniel Blake

8. Nocturnal Animals

9. The Beatles: 8 Days a Week – The Touring Years

10. The BFG

11. Trumbo

12.The Neon Demon

13. Julieta

14. Weiner

15. Youth

16. Rams

17. War Dogs

18. After Love

19. Men & Chicken

20. Paterson

21. Hell or High Water

22. Bone Tomahawk

23. Anomalisa

24. Demolition

25. Florence Foster Jenkins

26. Notes on Blindness

27. Dheepan

28. Disorder

29. Cafe Society

30. The Music of Strangers

31. Midnight Special

32. Green Room

33. Little Men

34. Lo & Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World

35. Arrival

36. The Infiltrator

37. Joy

38. Amanda Knox

39. Where To Invade Next

40. Everybody Wants Some!

41. Marguerite

42. My Scientology Movie

43. Blair Witch

44. The Hateful Eight

45. Triple 9

46. Eye In The Sky

47. The Girl On The Train

48. A Hologram For The King

49. Eddie The Eagle

50. The Witch

51. Spotlight

52. 10 Cloverfield Lane

53. David Brent – Life On The Road

54. Wiener-Dog

55. Jason Bourne

56. High-Rise

57. Money Monster

58. The Nice Guys

59. Hail, Caesar!

60. The Secret Life Of Pets

61. Rogue One

62. Bridget Jones’s Baby

63. The Girl With All The Gifts

64. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

65. Maggie’s Plan

66. Creed

67. How To Be Single

68. Deadpool

69. Alice Through The Looking Glass

70. A Bigger Splash

71. Indignation

72. Morgan

73. The Finest Hours

74. The Shallows

75. Zoolander 2

 

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