And here we have it. The big one, the list every man, woman and child have been waiting for. Third Act’s top ten films of 2016. Brace yourself and please, be careful.

Here is our list of the top ten films of 2016:

Third Act’s Top Ten Films of 2016

Todd James

  1. X-Men: Apocalypse
  2. Creed
  3. The Hateful Eight
  4. The 9th Life of Louis Drax
  5. Arrival
  6. Money Monster
  7. Moana
  8. The Accountant
  9. Where to Invade Next
  10. Captain America: Civil War

I fully admit that to put X-Men: Apocalypse as my number one of the year I have truly been blinded by fandom. I appreciate that it may not actually have been that good, but nothing this year compared to the feeling I had when watching that for the first, second, and third times. Creed and The Hateful Eight earn the second and third spot respectively, as are both masterclasses in writing, direction and acting.

The 9th Life of Louis Drax was a strange little film that came and went without anybody seeming to take notice, however, it struck with me, had some great surprises, and definitely deserved more eyeballs than it got. In five years time, Arrival will probably be the film I think of as the best of the year, due to its intelligence and style.

Third Act’s Top Ten Films of 2016

Money Monster and The Accountant were both fantastically tense thrillers, that kept me on the edge of my seat, for different reasons, while nestled between them on my list is Moana, a film with more heart, better animation, and the catchiest soundtrack Disney Animation has produced in recent memory.

Where to Invade Next was a surprisingly optimistic documentary from Michael Moore, that seemed to offer some great solutions to some of America’s biggest problems (and it had a natural plot twist that I won’t reveal), while Captain America: Civil War was pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted to see, put into one film together.

Third Act’s Top Ten Films of 2016

James Forbes

  1. Arrival
  2. Room
  3. Bleed For This
  4. Deadpool
  5. Where to Invade Next
  6. Chi-Raq
  7. The Edge of Seventeen
  8. Captain America: Civil War
  9. My Scientology Movie
  10. 13th

Start from number 10, 13th was one of those highly recommended Netflix documentaries that I was told was set to open my eyes #wakeupsheeple. Although must of what was presented about America’s prison system I knew fairly well beforehand, it’s the way they’ve connected the systemic racism across time that stuck with me. Similarly, with My Scientology Movie, I also felt as though I knew a lot about the topic already but was shown in a different more linear way the deep problems seen in Scientology.

On a happier note, Captain America: Civil War should have been my number one but only dropped down because of the quality films from the year. One of those surprisingly good 2016 films is The Edge of Seventeen which I had no expectations for at all and ended up quite enjoying. Another surprise for me was Chi-Raq, as it was a film I had heard was completely in song. Not being the biggest musical fan, I grew sceptical and was gladly proven wrong. An absolute joy.

Similarly to 13th and My Scientology Movie, Where to Invade Next presents a clear agenda. That of stealing the best from the Europeans. So many things in Where to Invade Next made me scream and shout in frustration that even in the UK we don’t have many of the privileges that the rest of Europe has.

Moving to my top four, Deadpool is a film that I believe should be in everybody’s top ten list. Ryan Reynolds gave the performance of a lifetime and we were all rewarded with a quality film that shouldn’t have been made after facing so many hurdles. Bleed For This was a big surprise to me. I love Miles Teller and where his career is taking him, and I was expecting a simple boxing movie and got a bit more.

Room will be one of the most remembered movies of the year, not only did it reach Oscar success but it helped bring Brie Larson to the forefront. Due to the emotional wreck I become during this film, it earned its place at number two. Finally, my number one, Arrival. I had no choice but to pick this film. Dennis Villeneuve has a mega career ahead of him and this proves why. Such attention to detail and incredible source material. I cannot wait for his future films.

Third Act’s Top Ten Films of 2016

Amy Biss

  1. Chi-Raq
  2. Zootropolis
  3. Room
  4. Absolutely Fabulous
  5. Girl on the Train
  6. Dark Places
  7. Where to Invade Next
  8. Deadpool
  9. Captain America: Civil War
  10. Finding Dory

When I first heard of Chi-Raq, there was no way that I knew it would end up being my favourite film of the year!! I did not think it would be a film I would like at all, but it surprised me I thought that it was brilliantly executed. Taking a subject like Gun/ Gang Violence and mixing it with poetry I felt worked amazingly well. I urge everyone to watch it.

Zootropolis is my next pick because, I am sure you are aware by now that I am a massive animation fan, and I felt that they tackled the subject of discrimination in a way that did it justice. And who doesn’t love a film about talking animals?

Room is such a heartfelt film about a dark subject matter. I like that it focused on the relationship between the mother and son and how he kept her strong and he saved her from the hardship she was facing.

Absolutely Fabulous was a fun movie. I didn’t think it was a work of cinema genius but it definitely made me laugh. I have always been a fan of the TV show and this film, I felt, kept the same humour.

I love a good mystery, and I thought Girl on the Train did a great job at keeping me guessing and I loved all of the twists and turns that the story down, so you thought you knew what was happening and then that all changed when you find out a new piece of information. Dark Places made my list because again, it kept you guessing. From the same author as Gone Girl, it had the same sinister undertones.

Again Where to Invade Next is a surprise addition to my list as I have never really been a fan of Micheal Moore. However, I was surprised at how I reacted to this film. I thought that it made you look at how this are done in your Country and that maybe you don’t have the greatest Country, and things can always be done better.

Deadpool and Civil War made my list as they were fun, action-packed. I liked the fact that they didn’t take themselves seriously.

Finding Dory made my list, although I was a bit disappointed by it, I still thought it kept me entertained and again it is animation, which is always a good thing in my book.

Third Act’s Top Ten Films of 2016

Matt Dennis

  1. Hell or High Water
  2. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
  3. Money Monster
  4. 10 Cloverfield Lane
  5. Captain America: Civil War
  6. Eye in the Sky
  7. Weiner
  8. The Conjuring 2
  9. Arrival
  10. The Hateful Eight

Director David Mackenzie delivered not only the best crime drama of 2016, but also the best film of the whole year with the sublime Hell or High Water. A gritty modern day western serving up conflicting, multi-layered characters that each demand our sympathy despite being totally set against one another, High Water is a skilfully directed film, boasting excellent and nuanced performances from the Chris Pine, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster for good measure.

Taika Waititi’s hilarious indie drama Hunt for the Wilderpeople came close to snatching the top spot, thanks to its quirky humour and a winning double act in Sam Neill and Julian Dennison, as did Jodie Foster’s intense thriller Money Monster, which further showcased the talented Jack O’Connell in a pulse-pounding narrative. Offering biting social commentary on everything from Wall Street to television culture, and directed with aplomb by Foster, Money Monster was a masterpiece in both tension and satire and remains so.

Third Act’s Top Ten Films of 2016

10 Cloverfield Lane was a wonderful cinematic surprise, weaving a riveting, claustrophobic sci-fi tale in a wholly relatable fashion. Director Dan Trachtenberg’s big debut, bolstered by a scene-stealing performance from John Goodman, was certainly one of the major highlights of the year and we can’t wait to see what he delivers next. Elsewhere, Captain America: Civil War continued Marvel Studio’s well-deserved domination, but extra kudos goes to this one for introducing some real emotional depth and mature themes in-and-amongst the superhero tussles, whist James Wan’s follow-up to his 2013 chiller The Conjuring proved once again that big horror movies can have heart and pathos as well as nerve-shredding scares and creeping dread.

The number of excellent documentaries 2016 had to offer deserves an article to itself, but political fly-on-the-wall film Weiner stands shoulders above the rest, it’s unfettered account of disgraced politician Anthony Weiner’s bid for Mayor of New York City proving to be both funny, insightful and heart-wrenching in equal parts, despite the unsympathetic nature of Weiner himself.

Third Act’s Top Ten Films of 2016

Eye in the Sky makes the list for it’s realistic and gritty depiction of drone warfare. An intense and unsettling drama, much of its power and ferocity comes from stars Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and the late Alan Rickman, all of whom deliver some truly excellent performances. Arrival skilfully combined intelligent science fiction with relatable human drama, whilst ensuring there was plenty of spectacle to go round. And whilst it may not have set the Oscars ablaze, The Hateful Eight proved to be one of Quentin Tarantino’s best accomplishments yet. Yes it was long and yes it was slow, but within was a carefully crafted and clever narrative, one that relished character and quieter moments of drama, in addition to Tarantino’s trademark blend of insane violence. Well paced and brimming with black humour and dynamic characters, it’s yet another feather in Quentin Tarantino’s proverbial cap.

Third Act’s Top Ten Films of 2016

Michael Reffold

  1. Room
  2. Ghostbusters
  3. High-Rise
  4. Son of Saul
  5. The Hateful Eight
  6. Julieta
  7. Marguerite
  8. Anomalisa
  9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  10. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

In my review of Room back in January, I said it would take something truly incredible to take its place as my film of the year. 2016 has been a not particularly great year for cinema, which has helped to keep this wonderful adaptation at the top of my list, but Lenny Abrahamson’s film is good enough to deserve the number one spot anyway – with sensitive handling of dark subject matter coupled with top-notch performances from its cast (particularly the two main actors, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay), Room is really something special.

Ghostbusters? Despite the film’s many detractors, I haven’t had as much fun at the cinema in ages – I laughed out loud every couple of minutes and it was just pure entertainment. It’s high ranking in my list probably comes as a surprise considering my reputation for championing more high-brow, independent films but in all honesty, I would happily re-watch Ghostbusters on any day of the year and that’s not something I can say about most of the movies I’ve listed above.

That’s especially true for Son of Saul, a harrowing Hungarian film set in a Nazi concentration camp, with all the action seen from the point of view of its main character: a true work of art that immerses its audience in one of the last places and times most of us would choose to visit in a time machine. In my list I’ve sandwiched it between two highly stylised, violent pictures from directors (Ben Wheatley and Quentin Tarantino) who have always stood out from the pack with their previous movies – High-Rise and The Hateful Eight are no exception, and both are filled with strong performances and imagery, plus some brilliant use of music.

As always, a Michael Reffold top ten wouldn’t be complete without some foreign-language films – this year, I was impressed by Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta and French drama Marguerite, both of which are anchored by strong female performances and take us on a journey through different stages of one woman’s life. These two films are great examples of how European directors undertake detailed examinations of characters’ emotions as well as being engrossing and thought-provoking movies in their own right.

More food for thought came courtesy of “adult” (in more ways than one) animation Anomalisa from Charlie Kaufman, one of my favourite screenwriters who has recently branched out into directing. A story of loneliness and disconnection told through puppetry won’t be to everyone’s taste, and this one divided audiences despite critics raving about it – it contains some beautiful moments, though, and I’d definitely encourage you to give it a go even if you think it’s not your cup of tea. One of the most interesting releases of the year for sure.

I’ve rounded off my list with a pair of more light-hearted films – it’s not all doom and gloom at the movies! Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a great piece of escapism just when the world needed it most, and a well-executed expansion for the Harry Potter universe, introducing us to a whole host of colourful characters – both human and animal! I don’t expect many people saw quirky comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople at the cinema – it was made by the same team who brought us the hilarious vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows a couple of years ago, and while it wasn’t quite as laugh-out-loud funny as that film, if you’re in the mood for some New Zealand humour along the same lines as the TV show Flight of the Conchords, you could do a lot worse than check out Hunt for the Wilderpeople. It’s about a sulky teenager and his foster uncle who go missing in the wilderness and find themselves being pursued by the authorities, encountering some “eccentric” people (to put it mildly) as their adventure unfolds.


There you have it. That’s our list. What are your favourite films of 2016, please share in the comments below.