British film bible Empire has named Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople as the best film of 2016, calling it "utterly delightful".
The Barry Crump novel adaptation, which stars Sam Neill and Julian Dennison, became the highest-grossing Kiwi film ever at the New Zealand box office.
It topped Empire's list ahead of heavy-hitters including sci-fi drama Arrival, Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight and Oscar darlings Spotlight and The
"To say that Hunt for the Wilderpeople was a surprise is perhaps overstating it. Anyone who'd seen director Waititi's vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows would know we were in for an Antipodean treat," says Empire.
"But the way it perfectly balances its elements - emotional without being overwrought, quirky without being twee, hilarious without losing touch of the
story or characters - is an achievement that nobody saw coming.
"It's a small, charming, utterly delightful film, from a tiny island on the other side of the world, and it deserves to take the world by storm. We'd call it
'majestical', but as Ricky insists, that's not a word, so we'll have to settle for calling it the best film of 2016."
Waititi, who is currently finishing Thor: Ragnarok, tweeted a link to the article in his typical tongue-in-cheek nature.