The 25 best films of 2016 shown in Hong Kong, from Doctor Strange to Train to Busan
Our critics' list of the best films of the year is dominated by Hollywood blockbusters, European art house movies, South Korean thrillers and animations
Last week we told you the worst 25 films we’d seen this year. Time to look on the bright side: from Sully to Doctor Strange via Kubo and the Two Strings, these, in the opinion of our critics, are the 25 best films shown in Hong Kong cinemas this year.
With a white-haired Tom Hanks on rock-solid form, Clint Eastwood’s film about the “Miracle on the Hudson” is a finely etched portrait of an ultra-modest hero.
Read full review of Sully
24. Star Trek Beyond
With Fast & Furious director Justin Lin replacing J.J. Abrams, the result is a hugely enjoyable romp. Alien hordes, destruction of the Enterprise , ass-kicking females, emotional goodbyes … this one has it all.
Read full review of Star Trek Beyond
23. Kaili Blues
Viewers will be more likely haunted by this Chinese art house gem’s musing on the transience of life and the profound regrets that it inevitably brings. One of cinema’s greatest discoveries of the year.
Read full review of Kaili Blues
22. Eye in the Sky
Gavin Hood’s drone warfare drama is intriguingly structured and expertly executed, wholeheartedly embracing the moral complexities of one of the most divisive issues of modern military combat.
Read full review of Eye in the Sky
21. I Am Not Madame Bovary
A Kafkaesque tale about the Chinese bureaucracy’s indifference to the people’s legal rights, Feng Xiaogang’s film finds Fan Bingbing in top form as a provincial woman shunned by the courts.
Read full review of Madame Bovary
Call it All About Her Daughter if you like, but this tale of a mother and her fractured relationship with her offspring is up there with Pedro Almodovar’s best.
Read full review of Julieta
19. Doctor Strange
The magical mystic finally makes his bow in the Marvel cinematic universe in this trippy tale of time, eternity and mind bending, driven by a fine performance by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Read full review of Doctor Strange
18. Soul Mate
The gorgeous cinematography and soundtrack provide a major plus, although there’s no arguing that Soul Mate lives by the excellent performances of its female leads, Zhou Dongyu and Ma Sichun.
Read full review of Soul Mate
17. Kubo and the Two Strings
Stop-motion giant Laika’s full-blown fantasy film draws reverently from the work of Kurosawa and Miyazaki, while rendering gorgeous landscapes inspired by traditional woodblock printing.
Read full review of Kubo
While the film touches on issues of sexuality, repression and social hypocrisy, it’s first and foremost a story about the inescapable swoon of love and the pain it can cause.
Read full review of Carol
15. Train to Busan
The Korean blockbuster’s “zombies on a train” premise delivers plenty of bloody violence and breathless action, as well as social commentary, strong characters and a heavy dose of melodrama.
Read full review of Train to Busan
14. Fire at Sea
A quietly hewn, occasionally powerful documentary on the migrant crisis in Europe, Gianfranco Rosi’s film works imperceptibly, gradually building up its horrors.
Read full review of Fire at Sea
13. Sing Street
Paying loving tribute to a decade of woeful fashion choices and the music of Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and The Cure, Sing Street is an exhilarating and unashamedly joyous experience.
Read full review of Sing Street
12. The Handmaiden
Billed by some as a lurid lesbian potboiler when it premiered in Cannes, Park Chan-wook’s boldly crafted, assuredly told story is much more lavish than that reductive description suggests.
Read full review of The Handmaiden
11. 45 Years
An ageing couple’s marriage is put through the wringer in this meticulously crafted drama, which has deservedly won worldwide praise and plaudits for leads Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.
Read full review of 45 Years
10. After the Storm
A slice-of-life drama, Hirokazu Koreeda’s companion piece to Still Walking derives great emotional resonance from the subtlest indications of family ties – or lack thereof.
Read full review of After the Storm
This is a triple portrait of larger-than-life characters, who are all forced to renegotiate their brash and unruly criminal lifestyles in Hong Kong’s dramatically changing political landscape.
Read full review of Trivisa
Victoria is filmed in one take. No cuts, no tricks … just a 134-minute thriller that deftly, almost impossibly, weaves itself around 22 locations in Berlin. It’s brilliantly engineered and coolly executed.
Read full review of Victoria
7. I Am a Hero
Employing a heady cocktail of youthful vigour and jaded self-awareness, the zombie horror comedy injects wit and style into a previously stale formula.
Read full review of I Am a Hero
6. Your Name
Makoto Shinkai’s animated feature comes across as one of the most poignant responses to a natural catastrophe that Japanese cinema has offered in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Read full review of Your Name
5. The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau’s 3D update of The Jungle Book turns out to be a visually immersive action adventure that has, surprisingly, also improved on the animated classic upon which it is based.
Read full review of The Jungle Book
4. 100 Yen Love
Featuring Sakura Ando’s knockout performance as a female amateur boxer, the film’s can-do spirit and sly sense of humour will leave audiences reeling in an adrenaline-fuelled euphoria.
Read full review of 100 Yen love
Forensically written and directed with restraint, it’s a film of great social importance – never sensationalist, always spot on.
Read full review of Spotlight
2. Son of Saul
This feature debut by Hungarian director and co-screenwriter László Nemes has moulded Nazi death camp testimony into a first-person narrative experiment unlike any other fiction film before it.
Read full review of Son of Saul
Eight years since Synecdoche, New York, his first movie as director following a hugely admired screenwriting career, Charlie Kaufman finally returns with a beguiling, beautiful stop-motion animation about that most fundamental of subjects – what it means to be human. Sheer genius.
Read full review of Anomalisa
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