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Special Eyes: The Aro St. Video Shop Newsletter


Greetings fellow film fan,

I’m sure most of you will agree that 2016 was an otherwise miserable affair in respect of our broader interests in politics and pop culture. But in the all-important arena of DVD releases, it turned out to be a stronger year than 2015 overall, though admittedly its strength lay mostly in an abundant first half.

Maintaining the diversity of films in the face of declining video outlets remains our big challenge going forward, and we may have to rely more heavily on directly importing film festival titles, as we were forced to do with our #2 ranked film of the "year", 2014’s Wild Tales. So have those "multi-zone" players at the ready to enjoy our full range of future releases...

Ironically, our Top 50 ranking is not by popular vote or even vaguely democratic, but instead broadly applies a rule of thumb that the very best films match their exceptional courage or concept with exceptional craft. Aside from the list being a bit of film-nerd fun, we hope it offers you some reliable guidance or at least stimulates some debate.

So whether you agree or disagree with our rankings, we’d love you to add your own star-rating and review/comment on any film to our website, or add any of those listed here to your personal wishlist when logged in to your My-Aro account.


The Revenant
1. The Revenant

Purely cinematic, immersive frontier adventure

Wild Tales

2. Wild Tales

Magnificent Argentinian revenge anthology(Region 2 only)


3. Room

Superb captivity drama featuring an amazing child performance

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Priceless smash-hit Kiwiana comedy

45 Years

5. 45 Years

Impeccable British drama of subtlety and profundity

6. Anomalisa

A masterful miracle from the spotless mind of Charlie Kaufman


7. The Big Short

Razor-sharp satire set in the world of high finance

99 Homes

8. 99 Homes

Prescient(!), gripping US thriller of real estate opportunism

The End of the Tour
9. The End of the Tour

Perhaps the best portrait yet of Gen-X pop cynicism


10. Zootopia

Another delightful Pixar Animation that is pixel perfect


11. Deadpool

Gleefully badass super-hero satire

The Witch

12. The Witch

Rigorously authentic gothic folk tale

The Lobster

13. The Lobster

Deliciously offbeat arthouse satire


14. Victoria

Audacious thriller shot in a 2 1/2 hour single take!


15. Spotlight

Exemplary journo drama & Best Picture Oscar-winner

Son of Saul

16. Son of Saul

Unflinching, Oscar-winning Holocaust drama

Tale of Tales

17. Tale of Tales

Dazzling Euro-fairytale for grown-ups

The Nice Guys

18. The Nice Guys

Terrific action-comedy of lovable rogues in 1970s LA.


19. High-Rise

Phantasmagoric fever dream timewarped in 1970s Britain

The Wolfpack
20. The Wolfpack

Astonishing true story of six boys raised in seclusion


21. Tickled

Riveting expose of curious kinks and moral corruption

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
22. The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Sublime tale of puberty blues in the 70s

23. Grandma

Memorable Indie comedy with a cranky Lily Tomlin


24. Truth

Juicy media scandal drama w/ Cate Blachett


25. Trumbo

Resonating tale of Hollywood blacklist

The Martian
26. The Martian

Broadly appealing sci-fi blockbuster

Kubo & The Two Strings

27. Kubo & The Two Strings

A-grade animated wonder from LAIKA studios

A Perfect Day

28. A Perfect Day

Perfectly pitched tale of peacekeepers in the Balkans

Best of Enemies

29. Best of Enemies
Gore Vidal & Bill Buckley thrillingly face-off in this retro-doc


30. Weiner

Squeamish doco inside a traumatic political campaign

Love & Friendship
31. Love & Friendship

Sophisticated, witty Jane Austen banterfest


32. Rams

Distinctive, droll Icelandic tale of sheepfarmers

33. Tangerine

Bold tragi-comedy set in the LA trans community

The Invitation
34. The Invitation

Taut, paranoid dinner-party psycho-thriller

Green Room
35. Green Room

Dynamic thriller set in the US punk scene

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
36. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Exciting, faithful reboot for the franchise

37. Mustang

Inspiring Feminist Turkish drama

Hail Caesar!

38. Hail Caesar!

Coen Bros’ dazzling paean to 50s Hollywood

Far From Men

39. Far From Men

Existential Western with Viggo Mortensen


40. Mahana

Polished and poignant Maori family saga set in the 1950s

The Assassin
41. The Assassin

Drop dead gorgeous Martial Arts mysticism

Z For Zachariah
42. Z For Zachariah

Compelling post-apocalyptic parable shot in NZ

43. Everest

Bracing dramatisation of the fateful Rob Hall expedition


44. Carol

Resplendent 50s lesbian drama

Sing Street
45. Sing Street

Infectious Irish New-Romantic comedy

A Bigger Splash

46. A Bigger Splash

Idyllic Italian indulgence from the dir. of I AM LOVE

Steve Jobs

47. Steve Jobs

Dynamic biopic of the tech legend


48. Brooklyn

First class Irish-American romance

10 Cloverfield Lane

49. The Belier Family

Uplifting, Cesar-winning French comedy

50. Embrace

Inspiring feminist manifesto for our times

These also made the not-so-short list for the Best of 2016 ~

In Drama (UK/Ire): Suffragette, The Danish Girl, Macbeth, Queen & Country, The Lady in the Van, Youth. In Drama (US): Sully, Creed, Joy, The Walk. In Drama (US indie): Krisha, Queen of Earth, James White, Nasty Baby, Experimenter, The Stanford Prison Experiment, Everybody Wants Some!. In Comedy/Romance: Bridget Jones’s Baby, Florence Foster Jenkins, Learning to Drive, Eddie the Eagle, Ghostbusters, The Intern, Sausage Party, Hello, My Name is Doris.

In Documentary: Sherpa, Meru, How to Change the World, Where to Invade Next, The First Monday in May, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, Iris, The Hunting Ground, The Black Panthers, City of Gold, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, The Look of Silence, He Named Me Malala, Cartel Land, Dark Horse: The Story of Dream Alliance. In Foreign language: Suburra, The Clan, Our Little Sister, Tehran Taxi, Tanna, Girlhood, Marguerite, Courted, We Are the Best, The Wonders, Tangerines, My Mother, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Labyrinth of Lies, Phoenix, Umrika.

In Action/Crime: The Hateful Eight, Bridge of Spies, Sicario, Eye in the Sky, Jason Bourne, Spectre, Legend, Bone Tomahawk, Black Mass, Money Monster, Our Kind of Traitor, Mississippi Grind. In Sci-Fi/Fantasy: Captain America: Civil War, Suicide Squad, Midnight Special. In Horror: Crimson Peak, Don’t Breathe, 10 Cloverfield Lane, We Are Still Here. In Young Adult: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt 2, Nerve. In Family: The Jungle Book, April and the Extraordinary World, Finding Dory, The Good Dinosaur, The BFG, The Secret Life of Pets, Goosebumps, Anne Of Green Gables, The Boy and the Beast.

In Music: Straight Outta Compton, Miles Ahead, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, The Wrecking Crew, Mavis!, I Am Thor, Beware of Mr. Baker, Lambert and Stamp, Oasis: Supersonic. In NZ: The Rehearsal, 25 April, Crossing Rachmaninoff, Chasing Great, Ever the Land, Born to Dance, Three Wise Cousins. In Oz: The Dressmaker, Looking for Grace, Goldstone, Holding the Man. And from the Edge: Goodnight Mommy, Mommy, The Duke of Burgundy, Swiss Army Man.

And finally, the "small screen" provided the following debut or one-off premium TV shows: Show Me a Hero, Togetherness, Billions, Narcos, The Night Of, The People Vs. OJ Simpson, Mr. Robot, Preacher and 11.22.63 from the US, The Night Manager, The Last Panthers, Unforgotten, Doctor Foster, War and Peace, The Last Kingdom, and Victoria from the UK, plus Euro-hits Occupied, The Shadow Men, Witnesses, and further seasons of the super-popular Un Village Francais...

If all that’s not enough, be sure to browse our AroVideo Top 50 Films of 2015 newsletter.

Thanks for reading, and your interest and investment in what we do. If you find this newsletter useful please forward to a friend, or you can like, share or give feedback on our Top 50 post on Facebook.

Cheers from the Aro Team,

AroVideo Online

The Aro St Video Shop
97 Aro Street, Wellington, NZ
ph/fax. 64-4-801-7101

"We Specialise for Special Eyes" ~ since way back in 1989

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