We took a vote and what follows is a countdown of the films we loved this year.
How'd we do? Consult our list of the year's releases and tell us your own favourites in the comments below.
10. Love & Friendship
Whit Stilman’s first period film (an adaptation of a Jane Austin novel no less) had all the snappy dialogue and insight into relationships of his previous films. Somehow the Regency setting managed to make it all even funnier – was there a more hilarious character on film this year than Sir James Martin, a man so dim he was excited by the existence of peas? (Anthony Morris)
9. Midnight Special
Jeff Nichols sci-fi action movie is splendidly atmospheric and engrossingly mysterious. While delivering genre thrills he sticks doggedly to his interest in exploring the complex nature of family and the terrors of obligation and duty. (Peter Galvin)
8. The Red Turtle
Stunning and almost wordless storytelling and gloriously colourful animation. Studio Ghibli continues to evolve after the retirement of founder Hayao Miyazaki, with this profound and poetic desert island fable about family, loneliness and the rhythms of nature. (Rochelle Siemienowicz)
7. Hell or High Water
A western in all but time-frame, this tale of two Texas brothers robbing banks to pay off the mortgage on the family home (a mortgage owed to the bank whose branches they were robbing) is the kind of lean, dusty film-making that’s always a delight (AM)
6. American Honey
An almost three-hour look at a group of aimless teens selling dubious magazine subscriptions out of a van could have been one long exercise in poverty porn. But director Andrea Arnold finds the joy behind the grind in this often improvised film, capturing the youthful thrill of no ties but friendship and having the world stretch out before you. (AM)
An unforgettable glimpse inside the private universe of five sisters whose brief flirtation with, well, flirtation, sets tongues wagging in their small Anatolian village. Conservative relatives shut them off from the world and set to work marrying them off as quickly as they can find each of them a fella, but the girls' bond holds fast against the dark tide. With a magical soundtrack by Warren Ellis, Mustang was pipped for best foreign language film Oscar by the astounding Son of Saul but in another year, it would have gone all the way. (Fiona Williams)
4. I, Daniel Blake
Ken Loach came back with a mighty vengeance this year, with the deceptively simple story of a carpenter with a dicky ticker, and his battle to get sickness benefits. The empathy we felt for Daniel Blake's casually shattering realisation that the public safety net is actually a trap, was the work of a director at the top of his game, deeply connected to his subject matter. A worthy winner of the Palme d'or in Cannes. (FW)
3. The Handmaiden
A thrilling and transporting story of lust, lies and revenge, told with breathtaking style. A gorgeous masterpiece spiked with perversity, every single shot is ravishing, and the layered multi-protagonist narrative bears repeated viewings. (RS)
Director Todd Haynes’s sensitive adaptation of one of crime writer Patricia Highsmith’s earliest novels was a spot-on showcase for heart-breaking performances from Cate Blanchett and Mara Rooney as lovers in a world ('50s America) that dismissed their feelings without a backwards glance. (AM)
Isabelle Huppert is in her element in Paul Verhoeven's wicked, winking drama Elle, a story of kinks, Christianity, residual trauma, power games - and rape. She plays a woman who encountered shame and guilt at an early age, and whose entire life has been shaped by one form of aftermath or another. After 40 years of carrying the burden of the sins of her father, she's developed a sharp wit, a thick skin and now gives precisely zero f*cks. Love her, love this, love her in this, the best film of the year. (FW)
How we voted
Our team of critics each voted for their favourite films of the year, from the list of movies released into Australian cinemas in 2016. The votes were tallied into the top ten. Simple. Participants were: Rochelle Siemienowicz, Fiona Williams, Peter Galvin and Anthony Morris.
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