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December 29, 2016

Rob’s Top Films of 2016

I am notoriously hard to please at the cinema. Time has a habit of weeding out the bad movies, so your chances of seeing a bad movie at the cinema are unfortunately high.

So without giving away too many spoilers, what did I like in 2016?

1. Room

Room is an adaption of the book by Irish writer Emma Donoghue. The story follows a woman who has been kidnapped, and had a child in captivity with her captor. From the back cover:

Jack lives with his Ma in Room. Room has a single locked door and a skylight, and it measures eleven feet by eleven feet. Jack loves watching TV but he knows that nothing he sees on the screen is truly real – only him, Ma and the things in Room. Until the day Ma admits there is a world outside.

The film is an excellent adaption of the book, a captivating exploration of complex human issues.

2. Mustang

Mustang is a Turkish film about five girls who are forbidden from leaving the house, even for school. At home, they are taught traditional Turkish values, and married off one-by-one.

Eventually, they rebel.

Deep down this is a ‘growing up’ story, at the same time exploring changing social morals.

3. The Innocents

The Innocents follows a young French medical student who is sent to Poland in 1945 to assist war survivors. While at work she is approached by a Polish nun, who persuades her to come with her to her convent. She finds seven of the nuns heavily pregnant, after being repeatedly ‘visited’ by Soviet soldiers.

The plot has multiple threads running through it, most notably tragedy, but the story itself is deeply engaging.

4. Allied

A more high-profile film, Allied stars Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as intelligence officer Max Vatan and resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour, who fall in love during a mission to kill a German official. Vatan is later informed by the British secret service that Beausejour may in fact be a German spy. Vatan must investigate her. If she is, Vatan must execute his wife of be hanged for treason.

An engaging story focusing on the confusion over real identites, Allied keeps you guessing right to the very end.

5. Hillsborough

In May the BBC released a feature-length documentary about the Hillsborough stadium disaster. The Hillsborough disaster happened at Sheffield Wednesday’s ground in 1989, when 96 Liverpool fans were crushed to death.

I’m too young to remember the Hillsborough disaster, but I grew up near Liverpool and heard a lot about it.

My understanding of the disaster had always been that the police opened a side exit to relieve pressure outside the Liverpool turnstiles. With the game already under way fans flooded in. The most obvious place to go was down the tunnel in front of them in to the already-packed central pens, causing a crush at the front.

That much about the story is basically known.

The controversy however is about what happened next. Rather that accept any responsibility, what actually happened was a huge police and media cover-up, that rumbled on for 27 years.

The Hillsborough documentary isn’t an easy watch, but it’s a riveting watch. It’s also a real-life tragedy plot, with innocent victims, dark characters and courtroom battles.

Those are my top five films. What have you liked this year?

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