Kubo And The Two Strings
One of the most criminally underappreciated movies of the year, from Coraline and ParaNorman makers Laika. This fantasy tale about a young one-eyed boy who sets out to complete his father’s quest, accompanied by a talking monkey and a samurai beetle, features amazing stop-motion animation. More than that, it’s a simple yet profound adventure with a multilayered story and a strong message of forgiveness at the end. An enchanting, haunting and original film that enthrals yet respects its audience.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
We’ve known how it ends for 40 years, but Rogue One still manages to evoke a sense of urgency and desperation in the manic ground, air and space battle that serves as its finale. Plus, it gives us a whole bunch of memorable new characters and reminds us just how bad-ass Darth Vader can be. Oh, and the ground-level mayhem wrought by the Death Star is chilling and awe-inspiring on a level the destruction of Alderaan never managed to achieve.
Foul, funny, irreverent – and that’s just the opening credits! Fortunately, the rest of the first solo movie featuring Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth lived up to the promise and star Ryan Reynolds really delivered on his promise to fans. Maybe we have this one to thank for the upcoming final Wolverine flick, Logan, being R-rated too?
A movie that should make everyone angry, about the overwhelming greed that led to the US housing bubble bursting which triggered the global financial crisis of 2007-08. A great ensemble cast, unconventional storytelling techniques and a sobering epilogue (the cycle of avarice continues!).
Captain America: Civil War
I really wanted to put Doctor Strange here but … Black Panther! Giant-Man! Spidey in a Marvel Studios movie! The best comic-book movie fight sequence since, like, ever! And a really insidious plot by the main villain, even if he didn’t seem like such great shakes as a character, to split the Avengers asunder. Sorry, Stephen. Maybe when you become one of the Illuminati… – Davin Arul
Mamat Khalid’s Rock Bro brilliantly captures what it’s like for a local rock band struggling to remain relevant in the scene. There are plenty of memorable one-liners (“Apa khabar Medan Gopeng?”), unforgettable character evolution (Zul Kapan goes from rock to rapping about cats) and of course, hilarious music video moments (Dio can’t stop interrupting Jijo’s mood in Sekelip Mata Kau Berubah). Rock Bro is a movie that we needed to get through a tumultuous year. Of course, towards the end, the comedy had to stop to make way for heartbreak. What’s important is that the movie showed how people move on when the music stops. Hey, isn’t that the best reminder about life? – Angelin Yeoh
The movie may play like an extended advertisement to promote national unity and tolerance but at the end of the day, it is one that all Malaysians probably need to watch. If not to remind us that we can all actually live in harmony, it is perhaps to reignite our passion for the local football scene. The film is inspired by true events and follows the trials and tribulations of our national football team to qualify for the 1980 Olympic Games. We cheer on the boys, cry when they shed tears and could feel in every inch of our being their yearning to do the nation proud. Wow … all that emotion directed towards a movie. Imagine if we actually show our Harimau Malaya the same support, perhaps it would spell a change in their streak. OlaBola is an absolutely feel good movie that really does remind us of the good ol’ days. – Sharmila Nair
Train To Busan
Having been conditioned to shuffling zombies from the West, it’s quite shocking to see their Asian counterpart move so fast in this South Korean flick. It is scarier too as not only do these zombies turn into a living dead at a faster rate and are running, but they can bend in that creepy Ju-On-like manner. Ugh. While director Sang-ho Yeon keeps to the successful zombie formula – showing how different people fare in this horrifying situation – he confines the characters (and storytelling) within a moving train, ensuring the audience never lose track of anyone. By the time the first zombie appears, we are already invested in the passengers surviving the journey. Train To Busan proves it’s one helluva ride alright. – Mumtaj Begum
Sully is a simple but moving depiction of the landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in New York. Called “miracle on the Hudson”, all 155 passengers and crew members were saved thanks to Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who decided to land the plane in the river after a flock of birds flew into its engines. One moment in particular has stayed with me: The expression on the faces of the passengers when they realise their lives are quickly slipping away and there is nothing they can do about it. The real and raw emotions delivered here are painful to watch, what with the aviation disasters that have hit so close to home. Besides the harrowing near-death experiences of these passengers, Sully is a beautiful tribute to those who risk their lives for us every day in the sky. – Kenneth Chaw
In a year filled with so much discord and conflict, it was in the animated movies of 2016 that I found myself turning to for hope. From Zootopia to Kubo And The Two Strings, I repeatedly found solace in their themes of optimism, reconciliation and building relationships – a vision not of the world as it is, but as it could be. It was near-impossible to pick just one, but Moana ultimately left the deepest impression. As someone raised on Disney’s princess movies, it was such a joy to watch the trope re-examined and reimagined, with the end result being not only empowering and hopeful, but wonderfully entertaining too. – Sharmilla Ganesan