Sunday, February 26, 2017

Favorite Films of 2016

Another year of publishing this list just under the wire, but this time, it will be rather bare bones. I guess I'm busy. If you have not heard (on social media, I have been almost silent), I am now living in Madison, Wisconsin, as a PhD candidate in UW-Madison's Film department—the house Bordwell and Thompson built. On top of scholarly coursework, I TA two sections for an Intro to Media Production course. So far I enjoy this town, my friends, and—at least half the time—the work. Come May, I'll try to take stock of my first school year here, so watch this space.

About movies: While my taste has grown more stringent, I still watched over a dozen feature films last year that came close to greatness. Things to Come, however, is the most accomplished by a significant margin; I have not seen a better new movie since Like Someone in Love or maybe The Immigrant, which premiered in 2012 and 2013 respectively. Isabelle Huppert and Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come skirts expectations more slyly than Elle (which I still enjoyed, as evidenced below), and is at once immediately accessible, at the level of craft and performance, and subtextually underdetermined. It took me a second viewing to appreciate the subtlety of its vision, and I expect another will elevate it to all-timer status.

So, my Top 15 (+3 less perfect films that I still admire) of 2016 NYC theatrical releases is below. Like many an online cinephile, I am copying Dan Sallitt's color-coded list format, to segment my selections into more or less equal groups. It looks quite lovely, too.

Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
  1. Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve, France)
  2. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-Soo, South Korea)
  3. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, USA)
  4. Sully (Clint Eastwood, USA)
  5. Silence (Martin Scorsese, USA) 
  6. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater, USA)
  7. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, USA) 
  8. Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand)
  9. No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, France/Belgium)
  10. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, USA)
  11. Cosmos (Andrzej Żuławski, France/Portugal)
  12. My Golden Days (Arnaud Desplechin, France)
  13. Short Stay (Ted Fendt, USA)
  14. Three (Johnnie To, Hong Kong/China)
  15. Creepy (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan)
  16. OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, USA)
  17. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, France)
  18. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, Germany/Austria)
All told, I saw 121 2016 releases and, according to Letterboxd, last year I watched 431 films, from the silent era to the present (~5% of them were directed by John Ford). I compiled an excessive list of 100 favorite older movies I watched for the first time in 2016, viewable here. The Top 10 of that list is as follows:

Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)

  1. Shoah (Claude Lanzmann, 1985)
  2. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Ford, 1949)
  3. Yi Yi (Edward Yang, 2000)
  4. Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (Sam Peckinpah, 1973)
  5. La Chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)
  6. The Mother and the Whore (Jean Eustache, 1973)
  7. Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat, 2001)
  8. Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles, 1965)
  9. I Walked With a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 1943)
  10. Seed (John M. Stahl, 1931)
And because it's a tradition: The worst 2016 movies I saw were Suicide Squad, Hardcore Henry, The Lobster, The Purge: Anarchy, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The last one, for jettisoning any consistent human characterization, proved to be the most crushing disappointment. I cannot say the poverty of the rest surprised me, yet I watched them anyway—why, indeed.


Addy Cooper said...

this is awesome! THanks so much! I love that you wrote your least favorite hahahheeheh heh

Nora said...

Love your lists! Things to Come is so good. And f yeah, Fat Girl!!!

Thomas Kipping said...

nice blog :)

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