Sunday, December 25, 2016

The 50 best films of 2016 in the UK: the full list

The 50 best films of 2016 in the UK: the full list

Our countdown of the Guardian film team’s favourite movies released in the UK is complete, topped by a strange and wonderful encounter

Tuesday 29 November 2016 13.06 GMT

1 Anomalisa

Charlie Kaufman's piercingly original puppet animation, an ineffably strange account of a motivacional speaker underging an identity crisis and his encounter with a fan.



Son of Saul

Traumatisingly plausible study of the brutalities of a Holocaust death camp, revolving around a Jewish Sonderkommando gas-chamber worker. An astonishing debut from Hungarian László Nemes. Read more


Emotionally intelligent alien-contact sci-fi from Sicario’s Denis Villeneuve,with Amy Adams as the unhappy linguist called in to try and decipher communications from mysterious extraterrestrial arrivals. Read more

Amy Adams (right) as Louise Banks in ARRIVAL by Paramount Pictures


A Bigger Splash

Superbly acted four-hander from I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino, with Tilda Swinton’s musician having her idyllic holiday home invaded by fast-talking (and dancing) Ralph Fiennes. Read more

Fire at Sea

Low-key, elegiac documentary dealing with a toughly contemporary subject: the life-threatening trips taken by refugee boats across the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Read more

Love & Friendship

Whit Stillman consolidates his return with a superbly witty adaptation of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan (with a title borrowed from another early Austen), featuring Kate Beckinsale as a hardheaded society beauty. Read more

Love & Friendship


Little Men

Ira Sachs’s follow-up to Love Is Strange, a beautifully observed study of a liberally inclined family with money worries, and the effect it has on their son. Read more

The Revenant

Fantastically ambitious survival epic which won Oscars for Leonardo DiCaprio and Alejandro González Iñárritu, based on the real-life 19th-century bear attack on frontiersman Hugh Glass. Read more

Leonardo Dicaprio in The Revenant



Freakishly topical documentary about disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, whose addiction to sexting became a contentious feature of the Clinton-Trump presidential election. Read more

Sausage Party

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg put their potty-mouthed talents to work on a gross-out comedy animation, featuring food items who have only the haziest idea of what happens outside the supermarket shelves. Read more

Sausage Party



Mightily impressive single-shot thriller that follows its protagonist, played by Laia Costa, on a nerve-jangling nightmare through a long Berlin night. Read a full review

The Assassin

Beautifully shot martial arts fable by Taiwanese master director Hou Hsiao-Hsien, starring Shu Qi as an assassin sent to kill her cousin as a test. Read a full review

Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford’s cruelly beautiful adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, with Amy Adams as a woman disturbed by the manuscript of a novel she receives from her ex-husband. Read a full review

Amy Adams in Nocturnal Animals



Brie Larson won the best actress Oscar for her powerful performance as a kidnap victim confined to a small room, in an astute adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel. Read a full review

The Club

Jackie director Pablo Larraín skewers Chile’s culture of denial in the post-Pinochet era, through a troubling study of a retirement home for “sinning” priests. Read a full review

The Club film by Pablo Larrain



Hard-hitting paean to old-school investigative journalism, starring Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton as reporters on a team who spearheaded the Boston Globe’s 1990s investigation into clerical sex abuse. Read a full review

Our Little Sister

A tenderly observed story of three sisters whose lives are affected by the arrival of a fourth family member, a half-sister, from Japanese auteur Hirokazu Koreeda. Read a full review


Jim Jarmusch’s slow-burn study of a bus-driving poet, played elegantly and mysteriously by Adam Driver, whose apparently happy life in New Jersey suffers unexpected disruption. Read a full review

Hell or High Water

Robustly impressive bankrobber movie that carries some of the charge of the Hollywood new wave, starring Chris Pine and Ben Foster as brothers on a complicated criminal mission. Read a full review

Hell or High Water



Surprisingly engaging comedy-drama about five Turkish sisters and their travails under restrictive, traditional customs by first-time director Deniz Gamze Ergüven. Read a full review

Doctor Strange

Marvel’s bizarre, surreal tale of Benedict Cumberbatch’s superpower-encumbered medic, enlisted by Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One to fight the evil Mads Mikkelsen. Read a full review

American Honey

Brit auteur Andrea Arnold heads to the US for a raucous, scabrous road trip following a group of hard-partying kids as they sell magazine subscriptions door to door. Read a full review

Andrea Arnold’s film American Honey


Things to Come

An exceptional performance by Isabelle Huppert ballasts Mia Hansen-Løve’s study of a philosophy professor mired in mid-life crises. Read a full review


An unexpected comedy hit for Ryan Reynolds as the “pansexual” Marvel character, a smartmouth, self-deconstructing superhero who battles Game of Thrones’s Ed Skrein as Ajax. Read a full review

Tale of Tales

Gomorrah’s Matteo Garrone conjures up an eccentric, exotic collection of 16th-century Italian folktales, with Salma Hayek, Toby Jones and John C Reilly among the talent on show. Read a full review

Salma Hayek in Tale of Tales


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Highly likable new runner in the Harry Potter stakes, boasting an original JK Rowling script derived from the Hogwarts textbook and Eddie Redmayne as “magizoologist” Newt Scamander. Read a full review

The Hateful Eight

Quentin Tarantino’s masterly revival western, with Samuel L Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tim Roth among a motley group holed up and fighting it out in a snowbound store. Read a full review

Samuel L Jackson in The Hateful Eight



Palme d’Or winning thriller from A Prophet’s Jacques Audiard that follows Sri Lankan civil war escapees fending off threats and violence on a drug-ridden French housing estate. Read a full review


Unorthodox but charming biopic of Joy Mangano, inventor of the Miracle Mop and a shopping-TV success story, with a strong performance by Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role. Read a full review

The Childhood of a Leader

Prescient study by first-time director Brady Corbet of the origins of fascism, as depicted through the early years of a kid destined to become a dictator. Read a full review

Arabian Nights: Vols 1-3

Woozily audacious three-part docu-fantasy from Portuguese director Miguel Gomes that depicts Portugal’s austerity as a dream-nightmare inspired by Scheherazade’s tales cycle. Read a full review

Arabian Nights Volume 3 : The Enchanted One



Sombre, disturbing drama from Mexican director Michel Franco, with Tim Roth as a carer of terminal illness people who cultivates an unhealthy significance in the final stages of his patients’ lives. Read a full review

Sing Street

Charming 1980s-set comedy from Once director John Carney about Dublin schoolboys who get a band together to try and impress local girls – particularly Lucy Boynton’s Raphina. Read a full review


Entertaining and funny Disney animation about a bunny rookie cop, working in a city populated by animals, who gets a sniff of a missing mammal case and aims to prove her worth. Read a full review

Still from the film Zootropolis


Embrace of the Serpent

Oscar-nominated story of indigenous peoples in the Colombian Amazon, based on the journals of two 20th-century explorers and detailing the havoc wreaked by the west. Read a full review

The Light Between Oceans

Swoonsome, melodramatic weepie starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as a lighthouse-keeping couple who keep a baby they find drifting in an open boat in post-first-world-war Australia. Read a full review

Everybody Wants Some!!

Subtle 1980s-set comedy from Richard Linklater, conceived as a semi-sequel to Dazed and Confused, as it follows a bunch of jocks to college on baseball scholarships. Read a full review

From Afar

Raw, disturbing story from Venezuelan director Lorenzo Vigas (winner of Venice’s Golden Lion) about a well-off middle-aged man who falls in love with a teenage street thug. Read a full review

From Afar with Luis Silva


Cemetery of Splendour

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s follow-up to the Palme d’Or-winning Uncle Boonmee is an elegantly mysterious fable set largely in a hospital filled with soldiers who have succumbed to sleeping sickness. Read a full review

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

New Zealand-set comedy snappily directed by Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows), starring Sam Neill as a gruff backwoodsman who heads for the hills with teen delinquent Julian Dennison. Read a full review


Ben Wheatley’s phantasmagorical adaptation of JG Ballard’s housing-block dystopia, with Tom Hiddleston as a doctor caught in between-floors class warfare. Read a full review

I, Daniel Blake

Righteously angry, nerve-striking benefits assessment drama from Ken Loach, which won Loach the Palme d’Or at Cannes for the second time. Read a full review

The 2015 film The Witch


The Witch

Creepy, disturbing horror with folk-tale elements. Set in 17th-century New England, it follows an immigrant family’s terror as they are tormented by a mysterious, witch-like entity. Read a full review


Black-comic anthology of dachshund-themed stories by Todd Solondz, with Greta Gerwig, Danny DeVito and Ellen Burstyn among the dog owners whose emotional lives are anatomised. Read a full review

Hail, Caesar!

Tricksy Coen brothers comedy set in postwar Hollywood, with Josh Brolin as the film-biz fixer trying to hush up the disappearance of George Clooney’s biblical-epic star. Read a full review

George Clooney in Hail, Caesar!


The Eagle Huntress

Eye-opening documentary about a teenage girl who breaks taboos among Kazakh émigrés in Mongolia by becoming the first female to take up traditional eagle-hunting. Read a full review

Couple in a Hole

Oddball fable about a husband and wife living a primitive, off-the-grid life in an isolated French cave. Paul Higgins and Kate Dickie star. Read a full review

The Jungle Book

Live-action retelling of the Rudyard Kipling stories, directed with verve by Jon Favreau and garnished with impressive CGI-animated animal performances. Read a full review

The Jungle Book film with Neel Sethi and Baloo the bear, voiced by Bill Murray


The Clan

Gruesome Argentinian crime thriller from director Pablo Trapero, which offers a political edge in its study of a family who specialise in “disappearing” their kidnap victims. Read a full review


The Neon Demon

Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to Only God Forgives: a self-consciously trashy and blood-soaked fable about the flesh-devouring LA fashion industry. Read a full review


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