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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries

My Top Essential Films of 2016

Now, as I like to believe I rate films objectively, what is my Top 40 may not necessarily be my favourite films of 2016. The following films are ones I feel need to be watched regardless of what both critics and myself have rated them. They're not in rating order apart from the final top four, but have tried to keep the rest in genre order.

Eddie The Eagle

I don't think anything else has lifted my mood than Eddie The Eagle, the ambitious British ski-jumper. Dexter Fletcher has done an amazing piece of feel good glory. Egerton's performance is brilliant and Margeson's eighties score is triumphant.

Listen out for: Margeson's impressive 80's rich score.

Read full review here


Stephen Hopkins' inspirational story about the track and field athlete, Jesse Owens who went to pre-war Nazi Germany to compete in the 1936 Olympics. A well-rounded film that deserves the wider audience.

Watch Out For: Entering the Olympic stadium.

Read full review here

A United Kingdom

A United Kingdom is more of an education than a romance, teaching us the way of British politics of how the empire would bully other nations and strip them of their resources. Yup, we did that and this story is a great example of it.

Watch out for: The empowering speeches.

Read full review here


The Oscar winning, shocking and engaging drama of the incredible scandal within the Catholic Church, unearthed and documented by the Boston Globe. How does one make a decent film about such a subject? This is exactly how.

Watch Out For: The constant moral debate.

Read full review here: spoiler alert


Another eye opening, if not anger provoking film about the supposed defective spy who might be a hero for the freedom of speech. Oliver Stone does his usual best in tackling quite a controversial subject.

Watch out for: What they did in Japan!

Read full review here

Eye In The Sky

It seems quite a few people have either forgotten or have missed this off their list of 2016 greats. This tense and emotional thriller kept you on the edge of your seat throughout whilst making you question yourself, "what would you do" if you were any one of the characters.

Watch out for: Rickman's final words.

Read full review here

Whiskey Foxtrot Tango

Another film I don't believe got the recognition or praise it so deserves. Whilst being stuck in between comedy and drama, it still makes excellent viewing about war reporter Kim Baker in Afghanistan.

Watch out for: Billy Bob Thornton's Gen. Hollanek

Read full review here: spoiler alert

13 Hours

All you Michael Bay haters can shut for a moment. This was truly remarkable, even though it bombed at the box office resulting in being Bay's lowest grossing films of all time. But, this is hard proof box office figures mean zero when representing the actually overall quality of a film. Not quite Black Hawk Down but one of the most emotional, heroic war films in recent cinema.

Watch out for: Burning rubber and the emotional ending.

Read full review here


Another war film that didn't receive the both exposure or the appreciation it so deserves which is why it's making this list. It could be easy to split the film into two parts, the first being the drama behind the war time event and the second being the gory conclusion that is so well done, you lose yourself watching it.

Watch out for: The total second half of the film, not that the first half is to be ignored.

Read full review here

Rogue One

It's a Star Wars movie, 'nuff said. Seriously though, it's a great addition to the franchise, and yes it's flawed and lacked character connection, but it's a grown-up Star Wars with some of the best special effects seen to date.

Watch out for: Chirrut Îmwe and K-2S0

Read full review here


Can't say it's the best science fiction film in the last decade, there's quite a strong list to compare to and even though it's not totally original, the film itself is glorious. It can't be easy to present an encounter movie that's this engaging.

Watch Out For: The surprising climax

Read full review here

Love & Friendship

Been going back and forth about this film as it really won't be everyone's cup of tea, but it has to be said, you can't deny the diction and script writing here is second to none. Certainly shows off Jane Austen's brilliance.

Watch Out For: Beckinsale verbally bashing people.

Read full review here

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

The new franchise to spawn from the Potterverse and I found it to be the step in the right misdirection. Any Potter fan should like this and even as a stand alone movie, it's enjoyable and creative. Also has my favourite muggle, sorry! No-maj.

Watch out for: Gigglewater

Read full review here

Kubo and The Two Strings

I still can't believe this is stop motion animation, but it is and in epic proportions. Laika Studios have again out done themselves, with a rather dark yet enchanting tale of the young boy, Kubo.

Watch out for: The naughty aunties and the origami battle scenes.

Read full review here


Or is it Zootopia? Which one?? Either way this was such a delight. Touching, funny, cute (sorry Judy, but you are, just stating fact.) So creative and very clever with it providing laughs for the whole family. It's a superb bunny-cop movie and I'm so hoping for a sequel.

Watch Out For: The witty quick-fire script.

Read full review here

Mum's List

An absolute heartbreaker of a movie about how a loving family deals with the loss of their mum, what makes this such a great film is that it isn't just about the big C but about the pain and suffering that's left behind. A real tearjerker.

Watch out for: Rafe Spall's performance alone

Read full review here

Sing Street

Probably the best feel-good romance about boy meets girl in recent years. A strong reminder about how us boys can be when falling in love. A grand life lesson with an amazing soundtrack.

Watch Out For: Drive It Like You Stole It

Read full review here

Fundamentals of Caring

A Netflix original making it onto the list. A quirky, lighthearted and highly enjoyable road trip of self discovery and rediscovery. This is, by far the greatest of the Netflix originals of 2016.

Watch out for: Pee Pee standing up.

Read full review here

Captain Fantastic

Not necessarily a film for the whole family but parents might find this to be quite an interesting take on parenting, offering more than one moral dilemma. Superbly portrayed and wonderfully captured, it's a must see film about life and freedom.

Watch Out For: Road tripping.

Read full review here

Edge of Seventeen

Central around the coming of age teenager, Edge of Seventeen is that quirky, troubled and funny film about growing up and struggling with it. It's actually inappropriately delightful to watch.

Watch out for: Woody Harrelson's quips, though Steinfield is truly a star.

Read full review here

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Introducing Julian Dennison aka, Ricky Baker, the troubled, unwanted wannabe gangster put into the foster care of Bella and Hec in the middle of Hobbitshire. But things quickly escalate to a hilarious national wide man hunt.

Watch Out For: Julian Dennison, nuff said.

Read full review here

Swiss Army Man

A rather daring and original movie about man lost at sea who makes friends with a talking, farting corpse. It's a must see for purely being something entirely different.

Watch Out For: flatulence and riding the bus.

Read full review here

Sausage Party

Yes, I know, but it has to be watched purely for shock value. Never has my vision been battered quite vigorously and in fast concession like this before! Just. What. Why? OMG!

Watch Out For: food fights and, well, the end.

Read full review here

The Accountant

Batfleck wasn't as bad as I was expecting, and how well does this do in the background of being a superhero. Actually really well, The Accountant being a John Wick, but with the intelligence and social awkwardness of John Nash. It's original, action packed and surprisingly comical in parts.

Watch Out For: Backyard target practise.

Read full review here

Captain American: Civil War

DC and Fox Studios need to take note, this is how you make a superhero movie, character balanced, action-packed, superbly edited and still comical. This was certainly a brilliant comeback from Age of Ultron. These just keep on getting better.

Watch out for: Immigration control.

Read full review here: spoiler alert


It's the Deadpool movie for Deadpool fans ignoring the awful Wolverine: Origins entirely. Yes, there's dick jokes galore, yes, there's the breaking of the fourth wall and yes, there's plenty of carnage and crudeness, but that's Deadpool all over, the most inappropriate Superhero of them all.

Watch out for: Deadpool on a Zamboni, bullet rationing and Deadpool takes a colossal beating.

Read full review here: spoiler alert

Hardcore Henry

I know it's definitely not going to be everyone's cuppa of tea with some finding it nauseating, but it's such a brilliant feat of ultra-violence all through the eyes of my hero, Henry. All this happening off the back of Biting Elbow's viral music video.

Watch out for: Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now"

Read full review here: spoiler alert

Train To Busan

If you're a zombie fan this film is a must, racking up with the best of them but not like anything else seen before. Undead on a train with passengers fighting from carriage to carriage for survival. A train you certainly don't want to miss.

Watch Out For: Sang Hwa kicking zombie butt.

Read full review here

Lights Out

Another film that was born from a viral vid is this innovative jump-fest. Though not being the most frightful film of the year, you can't ignore the ambition of Sandberg, the man behind the switch, and you have to appreciate that this is another prime example of the little person getting the well deserved chance at the big screen.

Watch Out For: Car alarm saves the day.

Read full review here

The Hateful Eight

Tarantino's eighth movie, (feels like he's done more but who's going to argue) a superb play where eight unique characters are forced to shack up together and pit against one another as paranoia tensions grows.

Watch Out For: come on, it's Tarantino.

Read full review here

Bone Tomahawk

Kurt Russell's other western, though of a completely different flavour. A thrilling and shocking rescue mission that's scarred me for the rest of my life *shivers*

Watch Out For: That disturbing, sickening ending

Read full review here

The Shallows

Probably the best shark movie in recent years and a frightful reminder of why us humans don't belong in the ocean. For those of you scared of the sea, this is why, and for those of you not, this is how.

Watch Out For: Steven Seagull.

Read full review here

Nocturnal Animals

Another film I found very uncomfortable to watch, an intriguing and engaging thriller that unravels beautifully yet disturbingly so. You just know, leaving you trying to shake your imagination.

Watch Out For: Shannon's police work. Only second to Bridges for law enforcer of the year.

Read full review here

Neon Demon

NIcolas Winding Refn's vibrant yet dark and disturbing masterpiece about a young aspiring model trying to break into the world of fashion. NWR's style is undeniable amazing.

Watch Out For: The fashion shoots and Seafood dinner.

Read full review here

Green Room

Who could ever imagine Patrick Stewart as a bad guy, and not just any ol' typical bad guy but a super cool, badass that just oozes nastiness. The British always make the greatest bad guys. This is one nightmare of a gig.

Watch out for: Stewart

Read full review here: spoiler alert

Don't Breathe

Definitely picked on the wrong house to rob. Don't think you know what it's all about because unless you've seen it, you really don't. Super suspenseful and jump-fest galore.

Watch out for: EVERYTHING!

Read full review here

The Big Short

Yet another shocking and often infuriating drama about the housing bubble, the globalised fraud the banks were committing and the people who discovered the scam. With a refreshing and comical narrative style, this film is an education and I implore everyone to watch it.

Watch out for: Ryan Gosling breaking the fourth wall. No, Not Reynolds, Ryan Gosling!

Read full review here

The Magnificent Seven

This reminded me very much of why I loved good classic westerns, the unlikely alliances and bond of friendships and the act of bad people doing good things. I actually prefer this to the '60 original and not comparing to Kurosawa's classic. Providing better diversity, some first class gunslinging action and all in out good fun.

Watch Out For: The final showdown.

Read full review here

Your Name

An enchanting romance thats both equally intriguing and visually beautiful. It's funny, touching and superbly animated. It's one of the best animes I've seen since Spirited Away. Cosmically mesmerising.

Watch Out For: Each early morning wake ups.

Read full review here

Hell or High Water

My number one movie of 2016. A super polished yet gritty, modern, epic, western with a perfectly balanced character base and story. Could not fault the movie at all and is a must see, by Hell or High Water

Watch Out For: Bridges and Foster (sounds like a carpenter firm.)

Read full review here

So there you have it, my top 40 must-see essential watching for 2016. They're might be some that surprisingly missed the list, like award winners, Room and The Danish Girl but never been a sucker for the Oscars. Other films that could have been on the list, I, Daniel Blake, Trolls and Demolition just missed out, though I rated them higher than some on this list, these films just tip over purely too be seen by certain outstanding elements.

Please let me know what your thoughts and tell me your best films of 2016, any you feel I have missed? you can read my Worse films here and my Most Disappointing movies here (The not so bad films) How many of yours matched up? or was there any pleasant surprises or happy concurring? Let me know your thoughts and Thanks for reading.

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