According to Wikipedia, Tamil cinema had 196 releases this year and based on reports by trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai, only 20 movies were profitable to the producers and distributors. Theri was declared as a blockbuster and other profitable movies are Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, Appa, Aranmanai 2, Chennai 600028 II, Dharma Durai, Dhilluku Dhuddu, Idhu Namma Aalu, Irudhi Suttru, Iru Mugan, Kodi, Manithan, Pichaikaaran,Remo, Sethupathi, Thozha, Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran
I reviewed 18 movies this year (yup; I know the number is low) and 5 movies made it to the above 3/5 mark. The list is not a ranking and the order is chronological.
Movie of the year
Director: Vijay Kumar
Sylvianism Rating: 4/5
Uriyadi is the movie of the year. There wasn’t a movie that showed caste politics like this one. It showed how a caste-based party rises and how college students are made as pawns in the system. The screenplay was impeccable, and the making was raw. This film should be glorified and I hope Vijay Kumar makes more movies. He is a rare gem.
The next bests (in chronological order)
2. Irudhi Suttru
Director: Sudha Kongara
Ritika Singh is the find of the year for Tamil cinema. I didn’t expect a Mixed Martial Arts fighter to bring out a brilliant performance. Irudhi Suttru had all the ingredients of a good sports movie – a disgraced coach, a talented rookie, scandals and a comeback. A perfect heartwarming sports romance that Tamil cinema needed.
This became the poster boy of Tamil cinema for 2016. Based on a novel written by Chandrakumar, the real-life story of the author who endured police atrocities in Guntur. The film was raw, realistic and well-shot. Vetrimaran made sure that the film didn’t have the documentary tone while he preserved the soul of “Lock-up”. Vetrimaran received the Amnesty International Italia Award. It was chosen as the official entry for India in the Best Foreign Film category in the Oscars.
Director: Vasantha Mani
Sylvianism Rating: 3/5
As I mentioned in the review, Vetrivel didn’t have anything new. It was the usual village based emotional family drama when it came to the plot line but the storytelling was perfect. Vasantha Mani showed how a good family entertainer should be made.
5. Oru Naal Koothu
Oru Naal Koothu was the movie that Iraivi tried to be. Three different women characters with three different motivations in life and how decisions made by men rattle them were shown in a more realistic way than Iraivi. It brought out the different aspects of women and how marriages play a pivotal role in the life of women especially in a Tamil society. I wrote a longish review but never posted it due to other issues. Oru Naal Koothu was the second best movie of the year for me.
Director: Raju Murugan
Joker had an interesting premise and the lead character was trying to showcase the frustrations of a common man. The satirical tone was consistent, but I left the movie thinking something was missing. But it was worth it for Guru Somasundaram. An actor par excellence and I hope he gets more such roles.
7. Kutrame Thandanai
Sylvianism Rating: 3.5/5
Slow-burning thrillers are new to Tamil cinema. Kutrame Thandanai was a welcome detour to the thriller movie genre. The brilliant screenplay of Manikandan engulfs you and an exceptional performance from Vidharth makes you question why he isn’t given good roles. And of course, Ilaiyaraaja’s original score.
8. Aandavan Kattalai
Sylvianism Rating: 3/5
Manikandan proved that he isn’t a one-trick pony with his Kutrame Thandanai but he cemented his place through Aandavan Kattalai. Although I called it as the weakest movie of Manikandan with respect to writing, it had its heart at the right place. More than the leads, it was Yogi Babu, Vinodhini, George and Sivagnanam Aravindan who stole the show.
9. Chennai 28 Second Innings
Director: Venkat Prabhu
Sylvianism Rating: 3/5
It was the perfect nostalgic end that 2016 needed. Venkat Prabhu went back to his roots and crafted a brilliant come-back movie. Venkat Prabhu was aware that the sequel can’t be as good as his first movie. He didn’t try to make it better. He tagged along with the original and made an entertaining movie.
Director: Lakshmy Ramakrishnan
Ammani was an outright message movie, and it was clear from the start. But the movie was brutally realistic and not melodramatic like other message films of the year (Appa for instance). Heartwarming performances from both Subbulakshmi and Lakshmy Ramakrishnan (she directed the movie too) makes the movie one of the better movies this year.
5 movies that you wouldn’t have watched should give it a try
Director: Thangam Saravanan
I thought Anjala was yet another small town love story, but it wasn’t. Anjala is a Tea-shop that ties the relationships of people in a small town. The plot was refreshing and Pasupathy’s performance will tug your heart. If Thangam Saravanan (director) hadn’t wavered into sub-plots, this movie would have been a clincher.
Director: Ananda Krishnan
There are only a few movies that can document a crime as good as Metro. If you want to know how chain snatching is being done in Chennai, watch this movie. The screenplay and the making were too good to be true. But the movie had two issues – the leads weren’t able to hold the movie on their shoulders and after a point, it started eulogising the crime. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting film to watch.
3. Pazhaya Vannarapettai
When you see the making of the movie, you wouldn’t believe its a low budget. Most of the film has been shot in dark and cinematographer should be given a pat on the back. Five graduates get caught in a murder and police tries to pin the cases on one of them. One of the other guys tries to solve the crime. Debutant Mohan has succeeded in showing the underbelly of North Madras and its politics. Worth your time.
4. Dhruvangal Padhinaru
Director: Karthik Naren
I wanted to watch the film before I wrote this list to see whether it will fit into the Top 10. It did until the climax. Good writing, well-made movie but falters at the end with a tepid climax. It was as if the director was hell bent to con you rather having an intelligent finish. But the flick is a wonderful attempt by a 21-year-old Karthik Naren.
Director: Guhan Seeniappan
Sylvianism Rating: 2.5
Sawaari is a road thriller from Guhan Seeniappan – a Nalaya Iyakkunar find. A straightforward thriller that wasn’t trying to act smart. The storyline was simple, but it was backed up by an excellent performance from Karthik Yogi. Vishal Chandrasekhar kept the adrenaline rush in place with his background score.