Now that we're somewhere around the halfway point in 2016, it's high time we looked back over the year's releases and figure out what the lie of the land is.

Blockbusters have, for the most part, disappointed audiences whilst indie releases such as Green Room, Sing Street and Spotlight have scored hugely.

Here's our own take on 2016. Let us know what your own favourites have been in the comments!




Nobody expected Deadpool. The long-in-gestation action comedy was all but done for and now it's the highest-grossing R-rated film in history. As well as this, Deadpool reminded us that Ryan Reynolds is still a bankable actor who has weapons-grade charisma at his disposal. While the story might have been somewhat rote, it was both Reynolds' ability to riff on a scene and the self-aware nature of the character that endeared itself to audiences. Comic-book films are now a genre in and of itself. It's about time someone started making fun of the whole thing. That's where Deadpool comes in.



What can be said about Sing Street that hasn't been said already? John Carney's semi-autobiographical tale of music, love and Dublin in the '80s won over just about and everyone who saw it and it's easy to see why. The film is just bursting with enthusiasm and its central performances from a relatively inexperienced cast - save for Jack Reynor and Aiden Gillen, of course - win out. Not only that, you've got what's easily one of top three soundtracks of 2016 and a witty, light-hearted script pushing the whole thing along.



Smart, stripped-back sci-fi films like Midnight Special truly are a rarity nowadays. The genre is so overburdened with event-sized CGI and bankable actors in familiar, franchise-friendly stories, that when we see something like Midnight Special, we forget how far sci-fi has fallen from the purer faith. Jeff Nichols, whose previous work on Mud earned him a reputation as a visually astute director with a sense of story, is on equally fine form here. However, it's Michael Shannon - easily one of the most underrated actors working today - who leads this familiar tale of a strange child and a journey. The ending might not be to everyone's taste, but Midnight Special has more than enough charm and intelligence to win anyone over. Seek it out.



Slower-paced films are always going be a tough watch. Mix that in with less well-known actors, specialised dialogue and a darker story than you'd expect, The Witch was never going to win itself a huge audience. It was never going to sell out in record numbers. What The Witch did, however, was remind us of something that many, many modern horror films are missing a key element - atmosphere. That's what The Witch had in spades and what it made so appealing to watch - it had a palpable, almost unbearable atmosphere.



It's fair to say that High-Rise wasn't for everyone. It's all about the maniacal horror and humour on display with Clint Mansell's booming score, Jeremy Irons' growling crypto-fascist and Luke Evans' barely-restrained rage and all the layered subtext that goes with it. You can't watch High-Rise passively and let it wash over you. At the same time, you can't really examine it too closely either because it'll warp your brain if you stare at it long enough. It's one of the most baffling and brilliant experiences you'll have and, in a way, it can only be best enjoyed in a cinema - because you're trapped with it, for better or worse.



Richard Linklater may have made a career out of mining his own life experience, but who cares? It's all so much fun that you don't really care if it is somewhat indulgent. The so-called 'spiritual sequel' to Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some!! was every bit as joyous, fun and easily entertaining as its predecessor. Not only that, you had emerging talents like Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell and Wyatt Russell showing themselves as leading material. Linklater's lazy and natural script flowed over a cracking soundtrack, ambling along at an assured pace and with a sly sense of humour.



As far as blockbusters go, this season has been something of a misfire. Warcraft was interesting if underwhelming whilst Batman v Superman was a complete mess of a film. Independence Day: Resurgence appears to have split audiences in two (we loved it, FYI) whilst X-Men: Apocalypse was an opportunity that went awry. Captain America: Civil War was the best comic-book film of 2016 and is the best blockbuster of 2016 so far. A twisting, winding story with an intriguing premise, Civil War managed to walk the line between geopolitical thriller, revenge story and popcorn blockbuster whilst still being reasonably intelligent. Worth it just for Paul Rudd's input as Ant-Man alone, but there's so many setpieces that work so, so well.



Made all the more poignant by Anton Yelchin's sudden departure, Green Room reminds us that he was a gifted actor who had a fascinating career ahead of him. Patrick Stewart gives his best work post-The Next Generation as a violent white supremacist who will use any means necessary to protect himself and his followers. Jeremy Saulnier's directing work is clean, ruthlessly efficient and vicious - just like the events in the film itself. Easily the best horror film of 2016 and probably the last ten years.



Lenny Abrahamson's work on Room has confirmed him as Ireland's greatest living director and it's a crying shame that he didn't get any kind of recognition for it at the Academy Awards. In any case, Room stands alone as an example of a bleak story told beautifully, carefully and with great love and tenderness. Brie Larson's singular performance rightfully won her rakes of accolades, whilst Jacob Tremblay has introduced himself as a talented young actor.



Spotlight is a once-in-a-generation film. While the mechanics of it may be somewhat familiar, the story it tells and the impact it has on those who see it is undeniable and unlike anything we've seen this year. The story of the Catholic Church's campaign of corruption, deceit and lies to cover up sexual abuse by its priests is a familiar one, especially to Ireland, but what Spotlight cleverly does is show the grunt-work involved in exposing it. It's a towering, powerful film that should be seen by every Irish person.