Blockbusters bombed while Irish film soared

Culture review 2016: The surge in Irish cinema continued with cracking diverse domestic films, and getting to see the Oscars in the flesh was a treat

What were your cultural highlights of 2016?

I'm not sure if this counts as "cultural", but getting to attend the Oscars was a treat. The surge in Irish cinema that, for the first time in 20 years, sent The Irish Times to (or near) the ceremony continued with cracking diverse domestic films such as Sing Street, The Young Offenders and A Date for Mad Mary. Cannes lit up with Paul Verhoeven's dangerous Elle, Jim Jarmusch's gorgeous Paterson and Maren Ade's singular Toni Erdmann. The best record of the year was Esperanza Spalding's jazz-pop-funk cornucopia Emily's D+Evolution. On TV, the magnificent Crazy ExGirlfriend confirmed – alongside Sing Street and the upcoming La La Land – that the musical is in rude health.

What let you down?

Towards the end of the summer, opinion pages became sodden with suggestions that 2016 might be the worst year for cinema in decades. This was far from the case. The summer blockbuster season was, however, poisoned by an incessant stream of expensive effluent that reeked of coming End Times. Throw a smartphone into a chimpanzee enclosure and those beasts would, surely, come up with better films than Suicide Squad, Warcraft, Independence Day, X-Men: Apocalypse or Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

What was the dominant plot twist of 2016?

As Zhou Enlai probably didn't really say about the French Revolution, it is too early to say. Prepare to read endless musings on how the films of 2016 predicted and commented upon the election of Donald Trump.

How did our centenary celebrations strike you?

The respectful international coverage of the nicely mounted celebrations in the capital over the Easter weekend suggested that the 1916 rising may have become as uncontroversial as the American Revolution. Not everyone will be happy with this.


What are your 2017 resolutions?

Ignore concocted cultural fury such as the misogynistic thuggery that preceded release of the (perfectly tolerable) all-female Ghostbusters. I'm Looking forward to Paul Thomas Anderson's as-yet-untitled film about the 1950s fashion world with Daniel Day-Lewis; Michael Haneke's Happy End, a film about the refugee crisis; Sofia Coppola's remake of Don Siegel's The Beguiled and Kathryn Bigelow's drama about the 1967 Detroit riots.

2016 in three words

Orange toxic event.