5) Beauty and the Beast (directed by Bill Condon)
I will admit that this is somewhat of a sell-out selection but the Disney lover in me could not resist. The live action remake of the 1991 classic was charming, flamboyant and very well put together. Director Bill Condon’s use of stunning CGI visuals gave the film the appropriate dreamlike feel, making sure the live action version feel like just as much of a fairy tale as the original. Emma Watson was an excellent choice for bringing bookworm Belle to life and the adapted original score was a joy. An admittedly cheesy selection but the child in me was not disappointed in this remake.
4) Moonlight (directed by Barry Jenkins)
A simple yet powerful film with a message that will live forever. Moonlight did what Brokeback Mountain did upon its release – thrashed the stereotypical gay movie character, sending a very real message that the typecast applied to people are often not accurate. The film did not try to shock us or teach us a lesson, so much as it tried to solidify the idea that sometimes people’s lives follow a path that many would not consider for them, or even them for themselves. The cast of Moonlight were passionate and believable in delivering exactly what this film needed. A well-deserved Oscar win for a truly beautiful film.
3) Baby Driver (directed by Edgar Wright)
Baby Driver almost slipped under the radar for me. A film I had heard quite little about other than word of mouth ended up being one of the most enjoyable films I saw this year. An excellent example of the power of a good soundtrack. Many scenes in Baby Driver are choreographed to the beat of whatever song the leading man happens to be listening to, making for an incredibly satisfying watch. Like all Edgar Wright movies, it falls perfectly between comedy and action, teaming wacky characters and pop-fuelled fight scenes with an action-packed storyline, resulting in pure entertainment.
2) Dunkirk (directed by Christopher Nolan)
Dunkirk is immersive, powerful and full of suspense. Nolan excellently portrays this wartime disaster using time to narrate the story. The powerful collaboration of Nolan and Hans Zimmer makes for a soundtrack that, teamed with extra sharp sound-editing, created a heavy tension that never lets up. Dunkirk is striking in its take on war, opting for suspense and desperation over blood and gore, and creates a film that places you right in the middle of the event that almost cost the Allies the war.
1) La La Land (directed by Damien Chazelle)
Another arguably cheesy selection but I cannot deny the warm feeling this film gave me. I was already a fan of Damien Chazelle after Whiplash in 2014 and La La Land illustrates his inventive filming style excellently. The combination of stylised backdrops and camera sequences give the illusion of a stage show, while the snappy edits and sweeping shots are in time with the beautiful jazz score. Justin Horowitz provides a stunning original soundtrack to a retro, funny, charming and heartfelt story of a seemingly conventional whirlwind romance. Though I agree with the choice of Moonlight as best picture, I can’t deny that La La Land stole the show for me.
Ciara Dillon – Film Editor