The 11 best films of 2016 in pictures

Gallery | We reveal our picks of the best films of 2016 and a new year’s resolution.


From the shocking story of a young boy raised within the confines of four walls in Lenny Abrahamson’s survival drama Room to the rebellious spirit of five sisters from deep Anatolia in Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s powerful first feature Mustang, here are our favourite picks of independent cinema and TV from this year.

Screening for the first time in London at the newly founded festival that merges new forms of documentary and art – Frames of Representation  Zhao Liang’s Behemoth is a haunting documentary about industrialisation in China and its workers. But as 2016 rolled on we were also captured by Susan Kemp’s wonderful documentary on the legacy of the work of Antonia Bird, the first British woman to direct a Hollywood movie. Kemp’s documentary Antonia Bird: From EastEnders to Hollywood for BBC Four is a celebration of her legacy and strength of making her voice heard.

While writing on women directors, the majority of our top films from this year are directed by women with Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s powerful Sonita and Sofia Exarchou’s Park being our highlights while Catherine Corsini’s beautiful romantic drama Summertime is our best lesbian film of the year.

Selecting just eleven films was hard enough and we left out debuting director Hope Dickson Leach. Her film The Levelling, was a welcomed surprise in the festival circuit for its originality but Britain’s deep recession and loss of compassion is gloriously revealed in Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake, this year’s Palme D’Or winner at Cannes Film Festival.

Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson is a heartfelt and treasured work. It was a delight of cinema experience, for its sensuous performances and Tilda Swinton strolling in style around the Mediterranean isle somewhere between Sicily and Tunisia, in Luca Guadagnino’s drama A Bigger Splash, a loose remake of the 1969 Jacques Deray film La piscine.

Undeniably if you’re looking for that film representing youth 2016, Sebastian Schipper’s terrific Victoria that plays out in one continuous real time, 138-minute camera shot, is a daring, adrenaline-filled drama that took us through the underbelly of Berlin with stunning performances including the marvellous Laia Costa and Frederick Lau.

New year’s resolution!


Director Barry Jenkins

In 2017 watch out for the release of Barry Jenkin’s remarkable Moonlight, a rare piece of filmmaking focusing on its characters but with deep universal concerns and complex themes about identity, sexuality and family through exceptional performances and dialogue. It’s a rare achievement.

Moonlight (2016)
Moonlight (2016)

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