Aside from the expected WWII drama or self-referential jab at Hollywood, there were some excellent pieces of cinema in the year. With the Oscars approaching, you owe it to yourself to see two of the lesser known movies that have every reason to be nominated, now available on Netflix.
Hunt For The Wilderpeople, from Taika Waititi, is both a wrenching dramedy about loss and family, and a charming call for a return to the simpler things. Waititi crafts a film that captures the spirit of both, without a whiff of pretentiousness.
Set in rural New Zealand, the protagonist of the film is the juvie-bound Ricky Baker, sent to live with yet another foster family. Julian Dennison imbues Baker with simultaneous self-importance and self-loathing, a far cry from the meagre reputation child actors carry. Endearing in his youthful ignorance, and exasperating in its manifestation, Dennison earns plenty of laughs, especially from those who are reminded of their own cringe-worthy attempts at being cool at 12.
Sam Neill is Hec, the perpetually miserable bushman. Like Baker, Hec is unbearable in his mannerisms and gruffness at first, but each scene reveals him to be slightly more complex. He becomes genuinely sympathetic, and fun to watch, as he leads Ricky through the imposing wilderness.
Panoramic shots of dense brush adorn the screen as the two protagonists attempt to escape from the relentless pursuit of the law. Beautifully filmed, well-acted, and delivering on its simple premise, Hunt For the Wilderpeople is a deserving underdog for an Oscar nomination.
In an entirely different but equally compelling direction, is Green Room, the love child of director Jeremy Saulnier’s desire to make a movie as intense and passionate as the punk-metal music it features, and his talent for scaring the bass clefs out of people.
A horror film that stars the late Anton Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, and Imogeen Poots, Green Room manages to deliver on the potential of its absurd sounding premise: a punk band is forced to battle the Neo-Nazi attendees of the club they are performing for.
Well-shot and well-written, the film is a must-see for anyone who can tolerate the heart-hammering psychological dread that the film will impose on them.
The best thing about Green Room is it’s a refreshing horror experience, in that it doesn’t rely on jump-scares. Built on immediately realistic characters, and the tense drama that makes you desperate to see them survive, it is unafraid of violence while keeping true to the surprisingly intellectual standard it holds itself to.
Green Room defies its genre, and earns its place among the best movies of 2016, whether it was critiqued on acting, story, or execution alone.