Here is a ranked list of my favourite films of 2016.

  1. Kimi no na wa. (Your Name, Makoto Shinkai, 2016)
  2. Sonita (Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, 2015)​
  3. Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015)
  4. Zootopia (​Byron Howard & Rich Moore, 2016)
  5. Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016)
  6. The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015) ​
  7. American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
  8. Goksung (The Wailing, Na Hong-jin, 2016)
  9. Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
  10. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)




American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
99 Homes (Ramin Bahrani, 2014)
Tangerine (Sean Baker, 2015)
War On Everyone (John Michael McDonagh, 2016)
Elvis and Nixon (Liza Johnson, 2016)
Raman Raghav 2.0 (Anurag Kashyap, 2016)




In no particular order:
Grave (Raw, Julia Ducournau, 2016)
Cosmos (Andrzej Żuławski, 2015)
Tenemos la carne (We are the Flesh, Emiliano Rocha Minter, 2016)
Gokseong (The Wailing, Na Hong-jin, 2016)
Ejhdeha Vared Mishavad! (A Dragon Arrives!, Mani Haghighi, 2016)
Bark (Amanda Kramer, 2016)
Já, Olga Hepnarová (I, Olga Hepnarová, Tomás Weinreb & Petr Kazda, 2016)
What Happened to Her? (Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, 2016)
Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015)
Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene, 2016)

Honorable Mentions:
Lu bian ye can (Kaili Blues, Gan Bi, 2015)
The Love Witch (Anna Biller, 2016)
The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer, 2015)
Baskin (Can Everol, 2016)
Dearest Sister (Mattie Do, 2016)

world film poll 2016




  1. Francisca (Manoel de Oliveira, 1981)
  2. Out 1: Noli me tangere + Out 1: Spectre (Jacques Rivette, 1971)
  3. Koshikei (Death by Hanging, Nagisa Oshima, 1968)
  4. Muriel ou le temps d’un retour (Muriel or The Time of Return, Alain Resnais, 1963)
  5. No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, 2015)
  6. Benilde ou a Virgem Mãe (Benilde or the Virgin Mother, Manoel de Oliveira, 1975)
  7. Figures in a Landscape (Joseph Losey, 1970)
  8. Amor de Perdição (Doomed Love, Manoel de Oliveira, 1978)
  9. O Passado e o Presente (Past and Present, Manoel de Oliveira, 1971)
  10. Égi bárány (Agnus dei, Miklós Jancsó, 1971)

Arguably, film modernism needs a growing helping hand as so much product from Hollywood, where principle consumer modelling still lies, settles into an immersion paradigm. Corporate entertainment aims to train audiences to pay for drowning their senses, together with their attention. The films that need the most critical shepherding, try the most patience, most thoroughly explore and decimate pretence to fiction, invite and indeed rely upon the closest inspection, also run the most stridently counter to mass media’s immersion blueprint and are among the ones most at risk for incomprehension and neglect. You can find a good number of the films most truculent with the enthrallment aesthetic, by locating the anti-illusionist standard bearers and resurrected gems which, after all these years of art-house re-issues, still haven’t found their way into the light of home screens by (satisfactory) digital transfer. Outside of a handful of international urban markets, theatrical screenings for these engaging, “last-man-standing,” particularly demanding works seem to be few and far between. In Los Angeles, those days are fast slipping into the past.

We’ve been fortunate in 2016 for Oliveira’s “Tetralogy of Frustrated Love” (the four titles by the director in the list above) screening at New York’s Lincoln Center in February, and broadcast on European television in the summer. These four delicate, porous enigmas, fluttering over the details of devoted human hearts while hacking narrative and crippling fictional representation, haven’t looked so rapt in over two decades; Francisca, the most fragile and exhaustive, needs further restoration to become marketable on a Blu-Ray. We received a gorgeous transfer of the Out 1 corpus on BD/DVD, which improves upon the 35mm print of Out 1 that toured the U.S. in 2007. The Resnais and Losey BDs give back much of the precision and luster conveyed in theatrical prints.




Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) (Abbas Fahdel, 2015)
Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)
Creed (Ryan Coogler, 2015)
L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
In Bed with Victoria (Victoria, Justine Triet, 2016)
The End (Guillaume Nicloux, 2016)
Ma vie de courgette (My Life as a Courgette, Claude Barras, 2016)
Les Malheurs de Sophie (The Misfortunes of Sophie, Christophe Honoré, 2016)

world film poll 2016

Things To Come




Best new films:

  1. Rester Vertical (Staying Vertical, Alain Guiraudie, 2016)
  2. Toni Erdmann(Maren Ade, 2016)
  3. Paterson(Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
  4. No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, 2015)
  5. Boi Neon (Neon Bull, Gabriel Mascaro, 2015)
  6. 45 Years (Andrew Haigh, 2015)

Parenting duties and time commitments prevented me from seeing as much as I would have liked to at the cinema in 2016; particularly at the Melbourne International Film Festival, where I was only able to sample a few of the many compelling and distinctive films on offer. The biggest standouts were three films that seemed most liberated from contemporary art cinema’s narrative and aesthetic conventions: the much (and justifiably) heralded Toni Erdmann, a masterclass in long-form comedy; Paterson, Jim Jarmusch’s best film in thirty years; and my personal favourite, Staying Vertical, Alain Guiraudie’s provocative, unsettling expedition into lesser-travelled reaches of queerness and masculinity – this latter entry in particular a far cry from the conservative ‘transgressions’ of 2016’s most overrated film, Elle.

If Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie felt too raw and disparate to take its place among her greatest works, it remains nonetheless a radical and heartbreaking piece of filmmaking; albeit one that, in the aftermath of her tragic passing, still feels difficult to assess dispassionately.

Best repertory screenings:

  1. Marketa Lazarová (František Vláčil, 1967) [Melbourne Cinémathèque]
  2. Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Jacques Demy, 1964) [Cinema Nova]
  3. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924) [Melbourne Cinémathèque]
  4. La bête (The Beast, Walerian Borowczyk, 1975) [Melbourne Cinémathèque]

Best DVD releases:

  1. Marcel Hanoun: Les Saisons (Re:Voir)
  2. The Jacques Rivette Collection (Arrow)
  3. The Emigrants/The New Land (Criterion Collection)
  4. The War Game/Culloden(BFI)
  5. The Forbidden Room(Soda Pictures)

Although Arrow’s Rivette release was 2016’s most long-awaited and impressive in scope, I had to give the top place to French company Re:Voir for their dedication in bringing four important works by a neglected filmmaker to home video for the first time. Otherwise, Criterion and the BFI produced wonderful two-film sets of works by Jan Troell and Peter Watkins respectively; and Soda Pictures did an excellent job in bringing 2015’s best film, The Forbidden Room, into the Region 2 market.




Best (in no particular order)
Saul fia (Son of Saul, Laszlo Nemes, 2015)
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
Café Society (Woody Allen, 2016)
El hombre de las mil caras (Smoke and Mirrors, Alberto Rodríguez, 2016)
Personal Shopper (Oliver Assayas, 2016)
Le concours (The Graduation, Claire Simon, 2016)
Couple in a Hole (Tom Geens, 2015)
Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
David Lynch – The Art Life (Jon Nguyen, 2016)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
L’économie du couple (After Love, Joachim Lafosse, 2016)
La fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl, Luc & Jean-Pierre Dardenne, 2016)

TV as Cinema: American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson (FX Channel, Ryan Murphy) and Better Call Saul: Season Two (AMC, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould).

Runners-Up, Honourable Mentions and Not so Guilty Pleasures:
Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016), De Palma (Jake Apatow & Noah Baumbach, 2015), Snowden (Oliver Stone, 2016), Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016), The Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbett, 2015), Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols, 2016), Plac zabaw (Playground, Bartosz M Kowalski, 2016), A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016), El Club (The Club, Pablo Larraín, 2015), Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, 2016) and L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen- Løve, 2016).

Overrated: Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016) and Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, 2016).

Reissues: Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975), The American Dreamer (L.M. Kit Carson & Lawrence Schiller, 1971), Beat The Devil (John Huston, 1953) and One-Eyed Jacks (Marlon Brando, 1961).

WorstsJason Bourne (Paul Greengrass, 2016), The Girl on a Train (Tate Taylor, 2016), Ma ma (Julio Medem, 2015) and Their Finest (Lone Scherfig, 2016).

Notes: It was a very bad year for mankind, but a very good year for cinephilia. Kristen Stewart had a year as good as Jack Nicholson’s in 1975. TV now more than ever.

world film poll 2016

Son of Saul




I felt more distanced from other moviegoers in 2016 than I had in previous years. Fewer commercial hits emerged that cinephiles loved than in past years. But I also disputed many of the art films critics rallied to. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that the films I felt most drawn to dealt with social isolation and alienation.

It was a year in which the triumphs were unexpected: a political documentary made for a better traditional comedy than any studio effort. Audiences were eager to see a major Hollywood musical. Movie stars were outshone by the performances of Sasha Lane, Joe Alwyn, Lily Gladstone & Anthony Weiner. In a year when blockbusters were as bad as ever, I find myself counting a (smaller) Michael Bay film among the year’s best.

Only American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016) was the lightning strike of dreamlike, personal cinema that I look for in a new favorite film; Only Yesterday (Omohide poro poro, Isao Takahata, 1991), already as old as I am, was the only new theatrical release that struck me as a work of rare artistic genius. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016), a French-language debut by one of the world’s greatest living directors that should have happened years ago, stands in for the contemporary world cinema I still haven’t been able to sample. The rest of my choices are English-language films that delighted me, including many that have been unfairly excluded from the year-end conversation because they didn’t make much money or weren’t considered respectable by critics or on the awards circuit. They prove that going to the movies is as satisfying as ever, if you can learn what to watch.

  1. American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
    =1. Omohide poro poro (Only Yesterday, Isao Takahata, 1991)
  2. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
  3. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater, 2016)
  4. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2015)
  5. Weiner (Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg, 2016)
  6. Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig, 2016)
  7. Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
  8. The Neon Demon (Nicholas Winding Refn, 2016)
  9. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
  10. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  11. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ang Lee, 2016)
  12. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, 2015)
  13. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, 2016)
  14. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Michael Bay, 2016)



If politically the year was bad, the movies (and long-form drama) did their best to make up for it. It’s been easy to build a top ten of at least twenty titles!  There’s no priority in what follows, part mix of when or where I saw them.  Some titles people had last year appear here for me because I saw them this year.

In commercial cinemas I saw and loved:

Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)
A director sensitive to Patricia Highsmith, and some absolutely sumptuous cinematography.

45 Years (Andrew Haigh, 2015)
The director’s compassion is reflected in the two deeply moving central performances.

Kubo and the Two Strings
(Travis Knight, 2016)
Spellbinding animation was the best medium for this beautiful tale. An absolute joy.

Poesia sin fin (Endless Poetry, Alejandro Jodorowsky 2016)
Part of a commercial chain’s “Latin American film festival”,  the second, madly surreal instalment in his intended autobiographical series. Never less than fascinating.

A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
Immaculately scripted, paced, photographed, acted, scored, this is near to perfection. And an excuse to also include his Sunset Song (2015) seen only a few months earlier.

Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Read this not as a rape-response movie, but a portrait of a woman who enjoys a rape scenario with her neighbour across the road and it’s even more fascinating. This may not be the only way to read the film, but it certainly fits in with so much of what we see. I love this ambiguity leading to the film’s greater complexity.

Wo bu shi Pan Jinlian (I Am Not Madame Bovary, Xiaogang Feng, 2016)
The circular frame for much of the film demanded a new way of reading an image which I found fascinating.

At Bologna’s Cinema Ritrovato
The standout discovery for me was Peau de pêche (Marie Epstein & Jean Benoît-Lévy, 1929) which I wrote about in my Festival Report in Senses of Cinema 80.

Melbourne International Film Festival
It was a bumper year for me, an overflowing top five. Just names this time.
Eshtebak (Clash, Mohamed Diab, 2016)
Ma vie de courgette (My Life as a Courgette, Claude Barras, 2016)
Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 2016)
Quand on a 17 ans (Being 17, André Téchiné, 2016)
Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, Romania 2016)
The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma & Silk Road Ensemble (Morgan Neville, 2016)
Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
Le Fils de Joseph (The Son of Joseph, Eugène Green, 2016)




10 fave films caught in theatrical release in Melbourne in 2016

Chevalier (Athina Rachel Tsangari, 2015)

Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Although… will I think as highly of this upon a second viewing? While no film can ever be the same when viewed on subsequent occasions, this will surely prove an extreme case in point. But for better or worse? I gots to know, and soon!

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, 2016)

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
Magnificently, infuriatingly, inexorably grim. Western social realist neoliberalism tragedies are the new Eastern Bloc bureaucracy black comedies. A very thin line divides one from the other, notwithstanding that ostensibly very different ideologies produced them. Loach’s casting of a comedian in the doomed lead role couldn’t then be more apt.

Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight, 2016)

Life, Animated (Roger Ross Williams, 2016)
I dare say many of the folks participating in this poll – contributors and readers alike – might find especially resonant this gorgeous documentary about a young feller whose framework for interpreting and interacting with other people and the world around him is heavily informed by – nay, utterly, utterly steeped in – cinephilia. The autistic, Disney animation-obsessed subject of Williams’ latest superb documentary might represent an extreme case… but just how extreme? When I think of some of the cinephile company I keep, it’s maybe not so extreme as all that, at all.

Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015)

The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016)
A glorious example of having one’s cake and delighting in devouring it too.

And lastly, but definitely not leastly, a short! As part of the 16th annual “Animation Show of Shows” Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow (2015) sees Hertzfeldt’s genius for pathos of cosmic proportions ascend to hitherto unscaled levels of hilarity and invention. Glorious!

15 fave new films seen at festivals in 2016

Blanka (Kohki Hasei, 2015)

Córki dancingu (The Lure, Agnieszka Smoczyńska, 2015)
Because, for a feature film debut, why not make Poland’s first ever musical a gloriously camp affair concerning cannibalistic mermaids? Such grand and altogether bonkers ambition so well realised augurs very well for director Smoczyńska.

Đập cánh giữa không trung (Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere, Nguyễn Hoàng Điệp, 2014)

Der Nachtmahr (AKIZ, 2015)

Évolution (Lucile Hadžihalilović, 2015)
‘Twas a great year for merfolk in the cinema! See also The Lure.

Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson, 2015)

Já, Olga Hepnarová (I, Olga, Tomáš Weinre & Petr Kazda, 2016)
The Lure‘s Michalina Olszańska – watch out for her; she’s gonna be huuuge – as the eponymous queer Czech true crime automotive mass-murderer destined to be the last woman executed in the Czech lands, in a debut feature aesthetically harkening back to the austerity of Dreyer and Bresson and with particular resonances with each of their takes on Joan of Arc’s trials and tribulations? Don’t mind if I do.

Kater (Tomcat, Händl Klaus, 2016)
Kedi (Ceyda Torun, 2016)
Kiki (Sara Jordenö, 2016)
Mou (Hair, Mahmoud Ghaffari, 2016)

Riaru onigokko (Tag, Sion Sono, 2015)
In particular for its blindsiding final, surprisingly woke, twist…

Sangailės vasara (The Summer of Sangailė, Alanté Kavaïté, 2015)
Lithuania’s first queer film is a delight; director Kavaïté’s additional credit as co-writer of Évolution marks her as a major talent to keep an eye on over coming years.

Smrt u Sarajevu (Death in Sarajevo, Danis Tanović, 2016)

The Love Witch (Anna Biller, 2016)

Retrospective delights

At the Melbourne Cinémathèque

The Lynne Ramsay double bill of Ratcatcher (1999) and Morvern Callar (2002). Both as brilliant as I was appalled with myself, for not having seen them very much sooner.

Co-presented with the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival: La Noire de… (Black Girl, Ousmane Sembène, 1966) doubled with Petit à petit (Little by Little, Jean Rouch, 1970)

“Masaki Kobayashi: The Human Condition”, with Kwaidan (1964) and Kuroi kawa (Black River, 1957) the highlights.

And although some to many of the pleasures of the following four seasons were not unknown to me ahead of time, their pleasures were none diminished by repeat screenings this year, often on 35mm:

“Every Grey Hair on My Head I Call Kinski”: The Collaborations of Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski”
“In and Out of Grace: Poetry and Pornography in the Cinema of Walerian Borowczyk”
“The Power of Sex: The Films of Catherine Breillat”
“Footage Fetishist: Erich von Stroheim”

It was a fabulous program at the Cinémathèque this year, overall. See also my final entry in this poll, below.

At the Melbourne International Film Festival

Fata Morgana (Vicente Aranda, 1965) and Aoom (Gonzalo Suárez, 1970) in the eye-openingly funky “Escuela de Barcelona” retrospective.

Elsewhere in Melbourne town

King of Jazz (John Murray Anderson, Pál Fejös, 1930)
This newly restored two-colour Technicolor treat is a revelatory combination of Art Deco surrealist set-pieces, acrobatic choreography and démodé trick photography bouncing off extremely dated but charmingly goofy humour and jazz which could scarcely be any more trad (notwithstanding that Gershwin’s glorious “Rhapsody in Blue”, written for the “King of Jazz” himself, bandleader Paul Whiteman, and used prominently in the film, was a pointer to certain new directions).

Varieté (Variety, Ewald André Dupont, 1925)
Even if The Tiger Lillies’ soundtrack did lay on the exposition a little thick at times, Variety was an absolute joy to catch on the big screen at the closing night of the German Film Festival in Melbourne.

At the Fribourg International Film Festival

The Kid (Charlie Chaplin, 1921)
Wonderful when screened after a couple of Alice Guy-Blaché shorts and a few words of introduction on the big screen from Geraldine Chaplin and, if with a couple of false starts, with the glorious accompaniment of the Chamber Orchestra of Fribourg. That’s how you open a film festival!

35mm treats
Les Silences du palais (The Silences of the Palace, Moufida Tlatli, 1994)
While the City Sleeps (Fritz Lang, 1956, as part of a very welcome Ida Lupino retrospective)

During a whistle-stop visit to the UK

Two revelatory, impossibly gyroscopic 16mm shorts by Tony Hill, whose work was totally new to me: Downside Up (1984) and Holding the Viewer (1993), presented by Hill himself at a happening organised by Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film, aka BEEF, at the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft in Bristol.

Home viewing

“Jiří Brdečka: Animované filmy 01-34”
I can’t recommend highly enough this 3-DVD box set of the complete animated short works by Czech polymath Jiří Brdečka. It comes with a nice booklet too, but is even better when accompanied by the new monograph, Jiří Brdečka: Life – Animation – Magic, likewise issued by a publishing house bearing the name of his classic Western parody, Limonádový Joe, which was a book and play written by Brdečka before he was a party, as co-screenwriter, to its wonderful 1964 adaptation to film (dir. Oldřich Lipský).

Walerian Borowczyk on Blu-Ray
Nor can I emphatically enough espouse the manifold joys of embarking upon a Boro Blu-Ray bender. I was too slow to secure a highly coveted, limited edition “Camera Obscura” box set, but consoling myself with all its constituent Blu-Ray bit parts still made for quite some consolation indeed.

Heiner Carow
Two landmark East German films directed by Carow: Die Legende von Paul und Paula (The Legend of Paul and Paula, 1973) and Coming Out (1989), the GDR’s extraordinary solitary queer film, which famously (and perhaps not even totally coincidentally?) premiered the very night the Berlin Wall came down. Granted viewing copies on Blu-Ray by the good folks at the Goethe-Institut Australien, mine was then the privilege of intro-ing both films at the German Film Festival in Melbourne to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of DEFA Studios.

Lastly, hats off to the continuing excellence of the offerings provided by the UK’s Second Run label, still the anglophone Czechoslovako-cinephile’s best friend.

To finish, a little blowing of one’s own programming trumpet…

For four years now I’ve presided over the Czech and Slovak Film Festival of Australia, or CaSFFA. Sharing the best in old and new Czech and Slovak film annually to audiences in Melbourne and now, in Canberra too, is reliably my greatest cinephilic delight each year.

Being enveloped a few rows from the front in ACMI Cinema 2 by the 4K digital restoration of Marketa Lazarová (František Vláčil, 1967), which CaSFFA co-presented this year with the Melbourne Cinémathèque to a gratifyingly large turnout, made in fact for my single most ecstatic, rhapsodic big screen experience of 2016.

I also derived great joy from sharing the following with Australian audiences, with these titles all seen by me for the first (and often a second) time this year as well:

Adéla ještě nevečeřela (Adele Hasn’t Had Her Dinner Yet, Oldřich Lipský, 1977)
Postřižiny (Cutting it Short, Jiří Menzel, 1980)
Eva Nová (Marko Škop, 2015)
Tři oříšky pro Popelku (Three Chestnuts for Cinderella, Václav Vorlíček, 1973)
Ztraceni v Mnichově (Lost in Munich, Petr Zelenka, 2015)
Polednice (The Noonday Witch, Jiří Sádek, 2016)
Očima fotografky (Through the Eyes of the Photographer, Matej Mináč, 2015)

world film poll 2016




  1. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
  2. Ang babaeng humayo (The Woman Who Left, Lav Diaz, 2016)
  3. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  4. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
  5. Freelance: Ham puay… Ham phak… Ham rak mor (Heart Attack, Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, 2015)
  6. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
  7. Mei ren yu (The Mermaid, Stephen Chow, 2016)
  8. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
  9. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
  10. Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016)
  11. Umi yori mo mada fukaku (After the Storm, Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2016)
  12. Kékszakállú (Gastón Solnicki, 2016)
  13. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
  14. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ang Lee, 2016)
  15. Dangsinjasingwa Dangsinui Geot (Yourself and Yours, Hong Sang-soo, 2016)
  16. Little Sister (Zach Clark, 2016)
  17. Spa Night (Andrew Ahn, 2016)
  18. Anchi Poruno (Anti-Porno, Sion Sono, 2016)
  19. Kimi no na wa (Your Name, Makoto Shinkai, 2016)
  20. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)





Top recommendations
th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)
20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, 2016)
La Mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
Voyage à travers le cinéma français (Journey through French Cinema, Bertrand Tavernier, 2016)
Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot (Yourself and Yours, Hong Sang-soo, 2016)

Honorable mentions
: Small Enough to Jail (Steve James, 2016)
Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ang Lee, 2016)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Hail, Caesar! (Ethan & Joel Cohen, 2016)
Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016)
Karl Marx City (Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker, 2016)
Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016)
The Nice Guys (Shane Black, 2016)
Weiner (Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg, 2016)
Wo bu shi Pan Jinlian (I Am Not Madame Bovary, Feng Xiaogang, 2016)
Zootopia (Bryon Howard & Rich Moore, 2016)

From previous year
Da lu chao tian
(The Road, Zhang Zanbo, 2015)
Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2016)
Lu bian ye can (Kaili Blues, Bi Gan, 2015)
Na ri xia wu (Afternoon, Tsai Ming-liang, 2015)
Notfilm (Ross Lipman, 2015)
Shi fu (The Final Master, Xu Haofeng, 2015)
Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse (My Golden Days, Arnaud Desplechin, 2015)

New restorations
Dekalog (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1989-1990)
Der müde Tod (Destiny, Fritz Lang, 1921)
Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian (A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang, 1991)
Jago Hua Savera (Day Shall Dawn, A.J. Kardar, 1959)
L’albero degli zoccoli (The Tree of Wooden Clogs, Ermanno Olmi, 1978)
L’argent (Robert Bresson, 1983)
Les portes de la nuit (Gates of the Night, Marcel Carné, 1946)
Qing mei zhu ma (Taipei Story, Edward Yang, 1985)
Rendez-vous de juillet (Rendezvous in July, Jacques Becker, 1949)
Shan zhong zhuan qi (Legend of the Mountain, King Hu, 1979)
Tampopo (Juzo Itami, 1985)
Ugetsu monogatari (Ugetsu, Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953)
Valmont (Miloš Forman, 1989)



16 special screenings

  1. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
  2. Wo de te gong ye ye (My Beloved Bodyguard, Sammo Hung, 2016)
  3. A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
  4. Mi gran noche (My Big Night, Álex de la Iglesia, 2015)
  5. Verfluchte Liebe deutscher Film (Doomed Love: A Journey Through German Genre Films, Dominik Graf, Johannes F. Sievert, 2016)
  6. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
  7. San ren xing (Three, Johnnie To, 2016)
  8. Danjiki geinin (Artist of Fasting, Adachi Masao, 2015)
  9. Unterwäschelügen (Underwear Lies, Klaus Lemke, 2016)
  10. Bastille Day (James Watkins, 2016)
  11. Atomin paluu (The Return of the Atom, Mika Taanila, Jussi Eerola, 2015)
  12. American Masters: Mike Nichols (Elaine May, 2016)
  13. Deckname Holec (Codename Holec, Franz Novotny, 2016)
  14. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  15. Suen lo chor (The Mobfathers, Herman Yau, 2016)
  16. Shin Gojira (Godzilla Resurgence, Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi. 2016)

11 standout shorts

  1. Ang araw bago ang wakas (The day before the end, Lav Diaz, 2015)
  2. I Think You’re a Little Confused (Ogawa Iku, 2016)
  3. Kino otok (Cinema Island, Ivan Ramljak, 2016)
  4. Shades of Safflower-dyed Celluloid (Oki Kayako, 2015)
  5. Delivery to James Benning from Michael Snow (Michael Snow, 2016)
  6. Pleasantville “Black & White vs Color” (Movies Brand, 2016)
  7. Camera Test (Washing Machine) (João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva, 2014/15)
  8. A Moment Ago (Miodrag Manojlović, 2014)
  9. 489 Years (Hayoun Kwon, 2016)
  10. Donkey Film (Chen Sheinberg, 2016)
  11. Scenes from a Sketchbook (Amid Dutta, 2016)

The treasure trove

6 sensational series

  1. Le saut de l’ange (Angel’s Leap, Yves Boisset, 1971) & Dupont Lajoie (The Common Man, Yves Boisset, 1975) & Le prix du danger (The Prize of Peril, Yves Boisset, 1983) & Canicule (Dog Day, Yves Boisset, 1984)
  2. Hier ist ein Mensch (Arnold Hau, 1972) & Der Bayerische Wald mit den Augen eines Arschfickers gesehen (Arnold Hau, 1973) & Milchkännchen und Fischstäbchen in der Antarktis (Arnold Hau, 1973) & Die Hau Schau (Arnold Hau, 1974) & Der Schnüffler (Arnold Hau, 1977)
  3. Animali Pazzi (Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia, 1939) & L’imperatore di Capri (The Emperor of Capri, Luigi Comencini, 1949) & La patente [episode from Questa è la vita] (Luigi Zampa, 1954) & Siamo uomini o caporali (Are We Men or Corporals?, Camillo Mastrocinque, 1955) & Totò e Peppino divisi a Berlino (Toto and Peppino Divided in Berlin, Giorgio Bianchi, 1962) & Che fine ha fatto Totò baby? (What Ever Happened to Baby Toto?, Ottavio Alessi, 1964) 
  4. Onna jigoku: mori wa nureta (Woman Hell: Woods Are Wet, Kumashiro Tatsumi, 1973) & Akai kami no onna (The Woman with Red Hair, Kumashiro Tatsumi, 1979) & A! Onnatachi: waika (Oh! Woman: A Dirty Song, Kumashiro Tatsumi, 1981)& Akai bôshi no onna / Die Frau mit dem roten Hut (The Woman with the Red Hat, Kumashiro Tatsumi, 1982)
  5. Lady X 1 L’Amant de Lady Winter (Mrs Winter’s Lovers, José Benazeraf, 1984) & Lady X 2 Lady Winter et la C.I.A. / Lady Winter, Perversités à l’Anglaise, (Erotic Intruders, José Benazeraf, 1984) & Lady X 4 Les partouzes de Lady Winter / Les Confidences pornographiques de Lady Winter, (Trashy Tourist, José Benazeraf, 1984) & Lady X 5 Les obsessions sexuelles de Lady Winter (José Benazeraf, 1984)
  6. El diputado (Confessions of a Congressman, Eloy de la Iglesia, 1979) & Miedo a salir de noche (Fear to Go out at Night, Eloy de la Iglesia, 1980) & El pico (The Needle, Eloy de la Iglesia, 1983) & El pico 2 (The Needle 2, Eloy de la Iglesia, 1984)

12 delightful doubles

  1. Une affaire d’état (State Affairs, Éric Valette, 2009) & La proie (The Prey, Éric Valette, 2011)
  2. Beauty and the Boss (Roy Del Ruth, 1932) & The Match King (Howard Bretherton, William Keighley, 1932)
  3. Historia de una noche (Story of a Night, Luis Saslavsky, 1940) & Más allá del olvido (Beyond Oblivion, Hugo del Carril, 1955)
  4. Sans Mobile Apparent (Without Apparent Motive, Philippe Labro, 1971) & L’héritier (The Inheritor, Philippe Labro, 1973)
  5. Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben (Stalingrad: Dogs, Do You Want to Live Forever?, Frank Wisbar, 1959) & Soldaty (Soldiers, Aleksandr Ivanov, 1956)
  6. L’étrangleur (The Strangler, Paul Vecchiali,1970) & La machine (The Machine, Paul Vecchiali,1977)
  7. Back Street (John M. Stahl, 1932) & Only Yesterday (John M. Stahl, 1933)
  8. La traversée de Paris (Four Bags Full, Claude Autant-Lara, 1956) & Un gros lot [episode from Les Veinards] (Jack Pinoteau, 1963)
  9. Dorei keiyakushu (Slave Contract, Konuma Masaru, 1982) & Tsuma-tachi no seitaiken: Otto no me no maede, ima… (Wife’s Sexual Fantasy Before Husband’s Eyes, Konuma Masaru, 1980)
  10. Il giustiziere dei mari (Avenger of the Seven Seas, Domenico Paolella, 1962) & Le prigioniere dell’isola del diavolo (Women of Devil’s Island; Domenico Paolella, 1962)
  11. Prends-moi de force (Boris Pradley [=Jean-Marie Pallardy], 1978) & The Story of Joanna (Gerard Damiano, 1975)
  12. Energiebeutel und Zeitblase (Die Tödliche Doris, 1981) & Tapete (Die Tödliche Doris, 1983)

22 stunning singles

  1. Cielo negro (Black Sky, Manuel Mur Oti, 1951)
  2. Rosen blühen auf dem Heidegrab (Rape on the Moor, Hans H. König, 1952)
  3. ¿Cuál es la cubana de los ojos más lindos? (Ernesto Gallardo, 1929)
  4. Laughter in Hell (Edward L. Cahn, 1933)
  5. Der Cornet – Die Weise von Liebe und Tod (The Cornet, Walter Reisch, 1955)
  6. La cuccagna (A Girl… and a Million, Luciano Salce, 1962)
  7. Senninbari [fragment] (The Thousand-Stitch Belt, Saegusa Genjiro, 1937)
  8. Lebensborn (Ordered to Love, Werner Klingler, 1961)
  9. Thriller: A Wig for Miss Devore (John Brahm, 1962)
  10. The Rough and the Smooth (Robert Siodmak, 1959)
  11. Harms (Nikolai Müllerschön, 2013)
  12. Public Enemies (Mark L. Lester, 1996)
  13. Menschen im Netz (People in the Net, Franz Peter Wirth, 1959)
  14. The Unholy Rollers (Vernon Zimmermann, 1972)
  15. Filmemigration aus Nazideutschland (Günter Peter Straschek, 1975)
  16. Afganskiy izlom (Afghan Breakdown, Vladimir Bortko, 1991)
  17. Fango bollente (Savage Three, Vittorio Salerno, 1975)
  18. Un enfant dans la foule (A Child in the Crowd, Gérard Blain, 1976)
  19. Les chiens (The Dogs, Alain Jessua, 1979)
  20. Durch Nacht zum Licht (Hans Fischerkösen, 1955)
  21. Bis zur bitteren Neige (To the Bitter End, Gerd Oswald, 1975)
  22. Section spéciale (Special Section, Costa-Gavras, 1975)
world film poll 2016





Favourite New Films Released in America

  1. Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse (My Golden Days, Arnaud Desplechin, 2015)
  2. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
  3. No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, 2015)
  4. Rak ti Khon Kaen (Cemetery of Splendor, Apitchatpong Weerasethkul, 2015)
  5. L’ombre des femmes (In the Shadow of Women, Philippe Garrel, 2015)
  6. Shan he gu ren (Mountains May Depart, Jia Zhang-ke, 2015)
  7. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2015)
  8. The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer, 2015)
  9. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2015)
  10. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)

Favourite New Films Yet to Be Released in America

  1. AS WITHOUT SO WITHIN (Manuela De Laborde, 2016)
  2. Ears, Nose and Throat (Kevin Jerome Everson, 2016)
  3. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
  4. The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
  5. Die Geträumten (The Dreamed Ones, Ruth Beckermann, 2016)
  6. Dead Slow Ahead(Mauro Herce, 2015)
  7. La fille inconnue(The Unknown Girl, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2016)
  8. Der traumhafte Weg(The Dreamed Path, Angela Schanelec, 2016)
  9. Ma Loute(Slack Bay, Bruno Dumont, 2016)
  10. Sieranevada(Cristi Puiu, 2016)



Films that sparkled with joy: a 2016 snapshot of my shifting taste

In recent years, I have been viewing fewer films than usual. The change came about gradually but also intentionally. I had to find time for my yoga practice and for exposing myself more to sunshine. This meant taking away time from watching and from sitting in a dark room. Remarkably, however, alongside this diminished viewing came a significantly greater enjoyment of films. Up until now, I kept watching mainly ‘for information.’ When asked about films I like, I would evasively say that I have appreciation for many, or something of the sort. Or I would name films that would be ‘politically correct’ – highbrow arthouse or choices that reflected my politics to promote small cinemas and non-Western traditions. I could not admit to myself that my capacity for enjoyment had become severely impaired and that my compulsive watching – even if defensively presented as a strategy to maintain expertise — was rather addictive.

Of course, as film academic, my viewing still remains substantial (even in the diminished capacity), yet I was proud to realise that the addictive tendencies are gone. The most surprising realisation for me was that, in figuring out a list of top films for 2016, I ended up giving my preferences to ‘unusual suspects’ and essentially to films that corresponded to the single criterion of ‘sparkling joy’(as per Marie Kondo’s superbly life-changing magic rule for all sorts of decisions in life). In the past, my choices would never be in the mainstream yet surprisingly this year I liked films that are somewhere midway between the typical arthouse and still have mainstream appeal. The context we come to know of a film and in which we actually see it — the venue, the point in life a film comes to us — are of huge importance for me. So, in what I wrote below, I could not help but identify where and in what circumstances I saw these films. On reflection, I notice that this year my appreciation was spread equally between feature and documentary – but I also admit to myself that, in time, I come to enjoy documentaries more. Then, Senses of Cinema’s call was to write about films that we have seen on the big screen – and whilst the case with my choices is predominantly for films I saw ‘properly’ screened, it is about time to say it in public: the changing technological circumstances force us more and more to watch on all sizes of screens. And indeed, no matter how I feel about it, at least half of my viewing this year has been outside cinemas.

Thus, in the order I saw them during 2016, I received most joy from the following films:

April: Brooklyn (John Crowley, 2015).
Knowing this is a mainstream title from a largely mainstream director, I would probably not even go see this film if it was not for my 83-year old friend Jim Haynes in Paris who always prefers seeing something Anglophone. So we ended up going to UGC La Rotonde on Boulevard Montparnasse where Brooklyn quickly absorbed us. One could not help admiring the normalcy and the elegance with which difficult emotional states and complex moral problems were tackled by the young female protagonist, an Irish migrant to NYC in the 1950s. I have long waited to see a film about migration that would opt to be optimistic and life-asserting whilst not swerving away from showing the difficulty of choices and the existential loneliness. Brooklyn had this quality.

June: Mr. Gaga (Tomer Heymann, 2015).
The documentary about Batsheva Dance Company’s avant-garde choreographer Ohad Nahain, had already come to my attention during the Sofia Film Festival in March where it received accolades; I also knew it had received the audience award at Amsterdam’s IDFA at the end of the year. Yet it was only in June, during my trip to Tel Aviv for the Film Studies Colloquium, that I was able to see it. Coincidentally, that very Friday morning I had taken part in a Gaga dance workshop in the hip suburb of Florentin – one of these amazingly liberating and unorthodox experiences that Nahain has designed for ordinary people who want to come into contact with their primal bodily inclinations. I had consciously sought out the workshop led by one of Nahain’s pupils, but I had no idea that later that day, ending up at the cinema at Dizengoff Centre I will have the chance to see the film. And it was pure joy and a true revelation: a caringly scripted, beautifully shot, and agreeably paced biopic of this complex and inspirational man, proficiently balancing his introspective and fearless sides. I will never forget one of the scenes, showing Nahain teaching a dancer to fall back down, by giving up control over her body. So much to learn there!

September. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, 2016)
This was the New Zealand gem that came as complete surprise. I had some free time during the early afternoon, whilst waiting for my Chinese visa to be ready. The man at the box office of the Edinburgh Filmhouse recommended the film: ‘Everybody likes it’ he said. So I bought a ticket, with some reservations as I learned that it had received the audience award at the Edinburgh festival. Normally, I do not fall much for crowd pleasers. Or do I? Half an hour into the film, I found myself intensely enjoying it. It was smart, funny, and sublimely subversive. Sam Neill, a proverbial antipodean heartthrob, had grown old yet looked better than ever. An off-beat comedy that is full of exuberance and joy from a director that is half-Maori and half-Jewish and whose short Two Cars, One Night (2004) I had also seen and liked. Good that there are such films: to keep the counter-cultural spirit alive and celebrate it.

October. Remake, Remix, Rip-Off: About Copy Culture and Turkish Pop Cinema (Cem Kaya, 2014).
This is a thought-provoking documentary about Yeşilçam, Turkey’s trashy cinema from the 70s and 80s, which reveals a panorama of the inventiveness, the humour, and the creative resilience that mark this wonderfully weird strand of popular culture. Director Cem Kaya was the featured guest of a symposium I organised in St Andrews, entitled Rip-off or Resourceful Creativity, where we tried to turn the tables by foregrounding innovation over imitation in the popular cinemas of the world. Cem’s documentaries were initially funded by ARTE, and often featured the alluring folk culture of Turkey that was brought to the world’s attention by Fatih Akin’s Crossing the Bridge (2005). But he soon saw his work guided in a certain ‘Orientalist’ manner by the producers. His reaction was to switch to full independence – a model that probably results in fewer viewers (we screened the film at our base at St Andrews in Scotland in the director’s presence), but at the same time ensures that the film is shown and received in contexts that seem more authentic.

October. Fan (Maneesh Sharma, 2016).
Bollywood’s new blockbuster with Shah Rukh Khan, had premiered in April and I first heard of it at the end of May, when one of our PhD students presented about it.  But it was not until a long haul flight on British Airways to Singapore that I had the chance to see it – on the small screen in my seat, alas. Even then, it was a revelation: a smartly plotted and executed doppelgänger thriller, where an obsessive fan, Ghaurav, aggressively takes over the life of larger than life star Aryan Khanna. Shah Rukh Khan is outstanding in this double role: not only is his dancing one of the most amazing things in global show business today but, at 51, he is showing versatility and longevity that is far superior to the better known male Western stars of the same generation. A quick check about the global performance of the film leaves me with the impression that whilst it has been a box office success in India, its exposure beyond diasporic audiences has been limited. I wonder when this pattern will break? India is making some really smart films of mass appeal. Will Western audiences ever wake up to this simple fact?

November: Houston, We Have a Problem. (Ziga Virc, 2016).
This played as part of one of the weekly double-bills that my friend and colleague Wang Yao organises on the campus cinema of the Beijing Film Academy, alongside Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (2015). The story is structured around the various episodes of the 30 plus year-long ‘mouse-and-cat’-type chase where a political investigation intersects with a personal one. For once, I can acknowledge that inserting philosopher’s Slavoj Zizek’s commentary (an approach that I believe is one of the most annoying features of many documentaries from the region) does make sense here, as it nicely frames all this complex discourse. I left the cinema thinking that the film is a landmark of political documentary: it turns upside down most theories about the break-up of Yugoslavia – from the various economic and geopolitical explanations through to the generalist theories, such as Sam Huntington’s hideous ‘clash of civilizations’.

It is because of the simple fact that I am always ‘behind’ festivals and nominations that the typical end-of-the-year polls are somewhat foreign for me – I feel I do not belong in the conversation, I cannot keep up. Yet, I saw myself including commentary on these issues in a keynote I gave at the Transnational Screens conference in Leicester, England, in September. I was building an argument according to which whilst national frameworks may still prevail in the study of cinema, it is about time to switch to transnational approaches that foreground the context of perception and opinion shaping. Critical polls that are meant to single out the best films of the year are one such context – films are brought together, named, and appreciated in a truly supranational context where they enter a real dialogue with each other on a temporal (and not so much geographical and definitely not on national) basis. The festival curation of current cinema works pretty much the same way. I believe that this pattern – the snapshot of films of the year, the poll of the year’s festival films – may gradually become a new paradigm for the study of the real way in which films appear and interact in a global public space that is not just imagined.


  1. Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Koreeda, 2015), UK theatrical release.
  2. Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015), UK theatrical release.
  3. Hrútar (Rams, Grímur Hákonarson, 2015), UK theatrical release.
  4. American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016), London Film Festival 2016.
  5. Umi yori mo Mada Fukaku (After the Storm, Koreeda Hirokazu, 2016), Cairo International Film Festival, 2016.
  6. Reflections in a Golden Eye (John Huston, 1967) presented in gold tinted 35mm format from the Cinémathèque Suisse at Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
  7. Time, Race, Lawes: Time and the Wave (William Raban, 2013), Island Race (William Raban, 1996) and The Lawes of the Marches (Katie Davies, 2014) presented at BEEF (Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film), Bristol, UK.
  8. Dutchman (Anthony Harvey, 1967), presented by the Black Atlantic Cinema Club at Cinema Rediscovered, Watershed, Bristol, UK.
  9. The Proud Valley (Pen Tennyson, 1940), restored and remastered by Park Circus and presented at the ICO Archive Screening Days at Watershed, Bristol.
  10. Ugetsu Monogatari (Ugetsu, Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953) presented in remastered 4K format at Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.

Usually I have two separate lists; UK Theatrical Release and International Festival/Special Screenings. This year, there were several key titles that I missed in cinemas including; I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016), El abrazo de la serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent, Ciro Guerra, 2015), No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, 2015), Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016), Kimi no na wa. (Your Name, Makoto Shinkai, 2016) and Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross, 2016). As such, this year I have made a joint short list of ten great films I was lucky enough to see up on the big screen, in no particular order, both in the UK and elsewhere. I am very pleased to list three repertory screenings that took place in Bristol, a cinephile city on the rise.




10 + 2
O Ornitólogo (The Ornithologist, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2016)
Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro, 2016)
Die Geträumten (The Dreamed Ones, Ruth Beckermann, 2016)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot (Yourself and Yours, Hong Sang-soo, 2016)
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
Ta’ang (Wang Bing, 2016)
Rester Vertical (Staying Vertical, Alain Guiraudie, 2016)

world film poll 2016

Die Getraumten




Abismos de pasion (Luis Buñuel, 1954)
Alyy parus Parizha (The Scarlet Sail of Paris, Marlen Khutsiev, 1971)
All that Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)
Les anges du péché (Angels of Sin, Robert Bresson, 1943)
Another Prayer (Sofia Bohdanowicz, 2013)
Au quatre coins (Jacques Rivette, 1948)
Benilde ou a Virgem Mãe (Benilde, or the Virgin Mother, Manoel de Oliveira, 1975)
Brian De Palma at the Metrograph
Bruce Conner at Museum of Modern Art
Cadaveri eccellenti (Illustrious Corpses, Francesco Rosi, 1976)
Ching se (Green Snake, Tsui Hark, 1993)
Cold Turkey (Norman Lear, 1971)
Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub at the Museum of Modern Art
Dao ma zei (The Horse Thief, Tian Zhuangzhaung, 1986)
Le diverssement (Jacques Rivette, 1952)
La escuela de Barcelona at the International Film Festival Rotterdam
Wieczór (An Evening, Sofia Bohdanowicz, 2013)
From the Notebook of…  (Robert Beavers, 1971)
Hachimiri Madness at the Berlinale
The Inside Story (Allan Dwan, 1948)
Joe Dante at BAM
Karla (Herrmann Zsschoche, 1965)
Kiga kaikyô (Straits of Hunger, Tomu Uchida, 1964)
The Landlord (Hal Ashby, 1970)
Leo McCarey at the Museum of Modern Art
Lillian Schwartz at Magenta Plains
Dupe od mramora (Marble Ass, Želimir Žilnik, 1995)
Masao Adachi at the International Film Festival Rotterdam
Part Time Wife (Leo McCarey, 1930)
Pere Portabella at the International Film Festival Rotterdam
Peter Hutton at the Viennale and Anthology Film Archives
Modlitwa (A Prayer, Sofia Bohdanowicz, 2013)
Raúl Ruiz at the Film Society of Lincoln Center
Robert Aldrich at the Metrograph
Robert Frank at BAM
Standard Gauge (Morgan Fischer, 1984)
Tout une nuit (Chantal Akerman, 1982)
Ukikusa monogatari (A Story of Floating Weeds, Yasujiro Ozu, 1934)
Le quadrille (Jacques Rivette, 1950)
Qing mei zhu ma (Taipei Story, Edward Yang, 1985)

13 Hours: The Secret Soldier of Benghazi (Michael Bay, 2016)
AS WITHOUT SO WITHIN (Manuele de Laborde, 2016)
Autumn (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2016)
Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
Cheon-dang-ui bam-gwa an-gae (Night and Fog in the Zona, Jung Sung-il, 2015)
Children of Lir (Katherin McInnis, 2016)
Cilaos (Camilo Restropo, 2016)
Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot (Yourself and Yours, Hong Sang-soo, 2016)
The Dreamer (Nathaniel Dorsky, 2016)
Ears, Nose and Throat (Kevin Jerome Everson, 2015)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Elli (Esther Urlus, 2016)
Exil (Exile, Rithy Panh, 2016)
Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater, 2016)
Fai bei signi (Sweet Dreams, Marco Bellocchio, 2016)
Foyer (Ismaïl Bahri, 2016)
Die geträumten (The Dreamed Ones, Ruth Beckermann, 2016)
Horace and Pete (Louis C.K., 2016)
Incantati (Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub, 2015)
Kurîpî: Itsuwari no rinjin (Creepy, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)
Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids (Jonathan Demme, 2016)
Juke: Passages from the Films of Spencer Williams (Thom Andersen, 2015)
Beyoncé: Lemonade (Beyoncé Knowles, Kahlil Joseph, 2016)
The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
Mama (Mother, Vlado Škafar, 2016)
Mei ren yu (The Mermaid, Stephen Chow, 2016)
La Mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)
A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
Ri yao ri shih san pu zhe (Le Moulin, Huang Ya-li, 2015)
San ren xing (Three, Johnnie To, 2016)
Le secret de la chambre noire (Daguerrotype, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)
Short Stay (Ted Fendt, 2016)
Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
Singularity (Albert Serra, 2015)
Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)
Tempestad (Tatiana Huezo, 2016)
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
Venus Delta (Antoinette Zwirchmayr, 2016)
Werner Herzog x 3 (Into the Inferno (2016), Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (2016), Salt & Fire (2016))
Ying sheng (The Hedonists, Jia Zhangke, 2016)

world film poll 2016

The Hedonists




I enjoyed a lot going to the cinema this year: the Brazilian’s movies are getting very interesting!

Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
O lobo do deserto (Theeb, Naji Abu Nowar, 2014)
Boi Neon (Neon Bull, Gabriel Mascaro, 2015)
Saul fia (Son of Saul, Laszlo Nemes, 2015)
A Paixão de JL (Carlos Nader, 2015)
Mãe só há uma (Don’t Call Me Son, Anna Muylaert, 2016)
Nise – O Coração da Loucura (Nise: The Heart of Madness, Roberto Berliner, 2015)




Top Ten Films of 2016:

  1. Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse (My Golden Days, Arnaud Desplechin, 2015)
  2. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
  3. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
  4. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
  5. American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
  6. The Birth of a Nation (Nate Parker, 2016)
  7. Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
  8. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
  9. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
  10. The Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet, 2015)

Honorable Mentions:
10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg, 2016)
Café Society (Woody Allen, 2016)
Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross, 2016)
The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig, 2016)
Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater, 2016)
Évolution (Lucile Hadžihalilović, 2015)
Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood, 2015)
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, 2016)
Indignation (James Schamus, 2016)
The Infiltrator (Brad Furmam 2016)
The Light Between Oceans (Derek Cianfrance, 2016)
Loving (Jeff Nichols, 2016)
Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols, 2016)
The Nice Guys (Shane Black, 2016)
Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford, 2016)
Sing Street (John Carney, 2016)
Snowden (Oliver Stone, 2016)
Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)
The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)




Best new films:
Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)
Fai bei sogni (Sweet Dreams, Marco Bellocchio, 2016)
Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
Neruda (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
El hombre de las mil caras (Smoke and Mirrors, Alberto Rodríguez, 2016)
Peter von Bagh (Tapio Piirainen, 2016)
I Called Him Morgan (Kasper Collin, 2016)

Best first feature:
Porto (Gabe Klinger, 2016)

Best revivals:
Karla (Herrmann Zschoche, 1965) [Berlinale, Berlin]
Laughter in Hell (Edward L. Cahn, 1933) [Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna]
Khesht o Ayeneh (Brick and Mirror, Ebrahim Golestan, 1964) [DFI Cinemateket, Copenhagen]
Remember Last Night? (James Whale, 1935) [Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna]

Best new restorations:
Die letzte Chance (Leopold Lindtberg, 1945)
Déjà s’envole la fleur maigre (Paul Meyer, 1960)

Best Blu-Ray:
Shield for Murder (Howard W. Koch & Edmond O’Brien, 1954) Kino Lorber

world film poll 2016

I, Daniel Blake




Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
Slow-burning drama seems to float my boat I’ve decided at 53, and Romanian cinema is a pretty reliable place to go for this style. And Puiu is a master – this film is constantly amazing, though it’s restrained to one apartment mostly, and a fairly grumpy, agitated cast trying to eat lunch together after a ceremony for the dead. But where is the priest? Hunger dementia sets in. The direction is a thing to behold, the cast are universally fine, and the story could happen in any inner-city apartment in the world.

Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016)
Similar in structure to Depardon’s wonderful Journal de France (2012), but more achingly personal as it unspools, Kirsten Johnson (I didn’t know her before this either) is a camera craftswoman from the top documentary shelf. Her observations of the world, and the way she frames it is admirable. But it’s when she’s on home ground with her mother that she is seriously challenged. Full of wisdom and dignity, I’ll never forget the scenes where she calls to her mother in the long grasses blowing in a fierce wind.

Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015)
Bristling with energy, with beauty and buoyed by an incredible young cast, and a gorgeously discreet soundtrack composed by Warren Ellis, Mustang was one of the most energising film experiences of the year for me. Rarely does a film blend optimism and vision with social criticism quite as skilfully as this tale of young girls acting out under the oppression of an oppressive and vengeful regime. The fact that it’s done so well all in cinemas over the world is a fine bonus.

Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
Time-shifting tale of a woman’s fight to save her apartment named Aquarius from developers moves at a gentle pace, and documents much about the mores, the styles and the politics of contemporary Brazil. This is a director in total control of his vision and an actress, Sonia Braga, given a dream role as a woman possessed of unimaginable interior strengths – and she’s a music critic too! This enables the journey to be littered with brilliant music too.

Sherpa (Jennifer Peedom, 2016)
When Peedom set out to document the relationship between Sherpas and the tourist mountain climbers in Nepal, she never imagined what she would come home with in her film cans. The situation – the killer quake of 2014 – sets up a series of moral vignettes within the original planned documentary structure. The viewer is called upon to make some moral judgements as more facts are revealed. It’s intensely beautiful, and conversely heart-breaking to see the treatment of locals and the occasional ignorance of the western visitors.

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
The subject is stark and gristly but that’s never scared Loach. His approach is nearly whimsical as he sets up an excoriating examination of the casual inhumanity of the modern social welfare systems. But the script he and Paul Laverty wrote, and the excellent cast decisions he has made somehow bring high entertainment to leaven the tears you’ll shed at key moments. Very, very good Loach indeed.

Zir-e Sayeh (Under the Shadow, Babak Anvari, 2016)
This and my next selection are two films from Iran that take place in buildings cracking and falling down and are as different from each other as possible. And, I discovered at Oscar nominations, this film written and directed by an Iranian and shot in Tehran, is a British production. I loved much about the film, but not least was how it recalled in my mind the best episodes of The Twilight Zone wherein fears are conjured by power of suggestion; script is limited but taut. It’s un-nerving in the extreme – not just for the garden variety scares it delivers, but for the social criticism it also weaves in. Bravo Babak!

Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 2016)
Tehran. Apartment buildings crack and scream, people run yelling, the sound pounds at the back of the cinema, you almost wish for Sensurround! A genuinely surprising opening to what becomes a slow un-picking of social mores and reactions between a man, his wife, and the cast of a version of Death of a Salesman being rehearsed in Tehran. If Farhadi is not moving far from his own dramatic conventions and film structures, I do not mind a bit.

Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2016)
A 317 min ensemble drama based around the lives of four thirty-something Japanese women is engaging from beginning to end. The screening at Kino cinemas during MIFF became a shared experience for an audience that had to leave now and then for a toilet or meal break, but you rushed back. Even at the often slow pace, you didn’t want to miss a word, so skilfully is the film constructed. There are echoes of Eric Rohmer and of Koreeda throughout, but the style is a new and refreshing variation on these two masters I think.

American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
A true puzzle. Arguably the best directed film I saw this year, unquestionably the best photographed, and yet: what is Andrea Arnold setting out to achieve? In some ways, A Grapes of Wrath for 2016, a crossing of contemporary America by a caravan of the misguided, and the seemingly hopeless. But it’s still bold as brass, and so are its people as they seek to get a piece of the American dream that seems so far out of reach. First I merely liked it, but soon began to love it.

In 2016, repertory cinema continued to bring just as much joy as the new. Melbourne is ludicrously well-served by the Cinémathèque as it has been for years and years – their programme regularly opens up windows on cinema worlds I was blithely unware of.

Case in point:
Joi-uchi: Hairyo tsuma shimatsu (Samurai Rebellion, Masaki Kobayashi, 1967), a brilliantly directed, balletic drama of social upheaval in the Edo era starring Toshiro Mifune. Engrossing, and brilliantly crafted.

Tokyo monogatari (Tokyo Story, Yasujiro Ozu, 1953) is a film I have somehow missed all of my life to date, but finally saw in optimal cinema conditions as part of MIFF. Frame by frame genius, a film that is quite literally breath-taking.

Khesht va Ayeneh (The Brick and the Mirror, Ebrahim Golestan, 1964) played at Iranian Film Festival at ACMI. The world of swinging Tehran in 1964 looks like a remarkably familiar city, but behind closed doors, a different society entirely is depicted. Uncompromising and demanding, but oh so rewarding.

La otra (The Other One, Roberto Gavaldón, 1946) was the best of a brilliant selection of films curated under the Mexican Noir banner by the Museum of Modern Art in NY, and played in Melbourne by the Melbourne Cinémathèque. I travelled the world watching films, and the best event of the year was here in Melbourne.

Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974) It doesn’t matter how many times I see this, it rewards just the same – and the screening at ACMI was poppin’ fresh sound and vision. Nearly the perfect film.

3 Women (Robert Altman, 1977) Colourful, creepy psychodrama as only Altman could do in the 1970s USA – Sissy Spacek and Shelley Duvall going head to head in messing with your mind. Again, the colours just come alive on the cinema screen.

Proof (Jocelyn Moorhouse, 1991) Sometimes a reconstructed film from youth shows up, and you wonder why they bothered. Not the case here at all – a deceptively simple film has grown in stature over the years, I was so damn happy to see it playing at the local cinema – Nova – in 2016. Absolutely brilliant.

Grindhouse (Robert Rodriguez & Quentin Tarantino, 2007) I had to wait until the timing was right – and it took 9 years – to cross town to The Astor to see the films as Tarantino and Rodriguez intended them. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely yes in the case of Death Proof, Tarantino in peak Tarantino mode I guess. And yes, all the trailers in the middle are the highlight!




In alphabetical order, by English (U.S.) title:

Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016) — A Man with a Movie Camera for our anxious, skeptical era: radically compassionate, yet tough-minded about the limits of mere compassion; determined to bear witness, while brooding over the ethical pitfalls of doing so; autobiographical, but seeking liberation from the prison-cell of subjectivity.

Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)

Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016) — I haven’t kept up with Park’s recent work. When did this slick sensationalist become one of the best directors in the world?

Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016) — A friend says that if mainstream genre films in the U.S. were in good shape, this movie wouldn’t be worth making a big fuss over, but I disagree — it still would’ve been a standout in the ‘40s (or the ‘70s).

Krisha (Trey Edward Shults, 2015)

Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016) — Not to take anything away from Jody Lee Lipes’ evocative cinematography, Jennifer Lame’s sensitive editing, or Lonergan’s growing assurance as a director, but his is still primarily a writer-driven cinema. Specifically, a playwright’s cinema: Plant the actors in front of the camera as they recite long passages of dialogue. But what dialogue, and what actors! My favorite movie of the year.

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)

O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, 2016)

Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)

L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)

Special mention:
Nobody Speak music video for DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels (Sam Pilling, 2016)
America! (but also: the whole world!)

world film poll 2016





My 2016 Top 10
Alice Through the Looking Glass (James Bobin, 2016)
The Conjuring 2 (James Wan, 2016)
Das Detail (The Detail, Bruno Sukrow, 2016)
Eric der Soldat (Eric The Soldier, Charlotte Funke, 2016)
Flexure (Bedwyr Williams, Casey Raymond & Ewan Jones Morris, 2016)
Ghostbusters (Paul Feig, 2016)
Horace and Pete (Louis C.K., 2016)
Ovation! (Henry Jaglom, 2015)
The Paranormals (Evan Falbaum, 2014)
Unterwäschelügen (Underwearlies, Klaus Lemke, 2016)

22 Discoveries (in cinemas in Berlin, Bologna, Buer, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Nürnberg, Tel Aviv)
The Half Breed (Allan Dwan, 1916)
A House Divided (William Wyler, 1931)
Only Yesterday (John M. Stahl, 1933)
Der Blaufuchs (The Blue Fox, Victor Tourjansky, 1938)
Rendez-vous de juillet (Rendezvous in July, Jacques Becker, 1949)
Sündige Grenze (Illegal Border, R.A. Stemmle, 1951)
Klettermaxe (Kurt Hoffmann, 1952)
Die Spanische Fliege (The Spanish Fly, Carl Boese, 1955)
Le Notti dei Teddy Boy (The Night of the Teddy Boys, Leopoldo Savona, 1959)
La lunga notte del ’43 (It Happened in ’43, Florestano Vancini, 1960)
Die Pfütze (Herbert M. Franck, 1961)
Tausend Takte Übermut (Ernst Hofbauer, 1965)
Nikutai joyû nikki (Dirty Diary, Shinya Yamamoto, 1965)
Das Spukschloss im Salzkammergut (Hans Billian & Rolf Olsen, 1966)
Reflections in a Golden Eye (John Huston, 1967)
Der Pfarrer von St. Pauli (The Priest of St. Pauli, Rolf Olsen, 1970)
Unholy Rollers (Vernon Zimmermann, 1972)
A Day in the Life of Bonnie Consolo (Barry Spinello, 1975)
Brennende Langeweile (Bored Teenagers, Wolfgang Büld, 1978)
Can’t Stop the Music (Nancy Walker, 1980)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (Brian Henson, 1992)
Penetration Angst (Wolfgang Büld, 2003)

10 favourite films seen again after years (in cinemas in Basel, Berlin, Berrenrath, Bologna, Cologne, Frankfurt, Nürnberg)
Back Street (John M. Stahl, 1932)
Casque d’or (Jacques Becker, 1952)
Alraune (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1952)
Brigadoon (Vincente Minnelli, 1954)
Le Trou (The Hole, Jacques Becker, 1960)
Sabine 18 (Marran Gosov, 1967)
The Boston Strangler (Richard Fleischer, 1968)
Grease (Randal Kleiser, 1978)
Die Perle der Karibik (Pearl of the Caribbean, Manfred Stelzer, 1981)
Gib Gas – Ich will Spaß (Hangin’ Out, Wolfgang Büld, 1983)




In order of preference, starting with the best:

Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson, 2016)
Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)
Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016)
10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg, 2016)
The Gods Of Egypt (Alex Proyas, 2016)
Suicide Squad (David Ayer, 2016)
Warcraft: The Beginning (Duncan Jones, 2016)
The Accountant (Gavin O’Connor, 2016)
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder, 2016)
Captain America: Civil War (Anthony Russo & Joe Russo, 2016)




2016 World Premiere Favourites

1. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
I don’t pretend to be fully conversant with contemporary Brazilian politics, but even so I was moved and energized by this fierce and tactile assault against capitalistic overreach. Its self-assured centre is Sônia Braga as the last hold-out unwilling to sell her apartment to a real-estate development company; she’s a living, breathing monument to the past in both literal and cultural terms.

2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
What is it exactly about this two-and-a-half-hour, awkward comedy-drama about a businesswoman daughter and a prankster father that makes it so affecting? Is it the expressive faces and bodies of the two leads (Sandra Hüller and Peter Simonischek) that run the gamut between outright cheekiness and emotional fatigue? Or the gradual rejection of a subtly sexist corporate culture? Maybe the sheer unpredictability of the plot? In any case, it expertly ping-pongs between sad and hilarious, perhaps inexplicably cresting between these two poles when the female lead, wearing only a bathrobe, mightily hugs the male lead who is completely hidden within a giant, hairy suit.

3. Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
In retrospect, despite the ostensible difference between a thoroughly modern filmmaker and the 18th-century source material, it’s hard to imagine a better choice to adapt Jane Austen’s early unpublished novel Lady Susan than Whit Stillman. His knack for regional specificity and comically stylised dialogue mesh perfectly with the story’s boldly amoral plot and characters, with Tom Bennett especially revelling in his character’s ridiculousness.

4. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
Once again cementing her status as American indie cinema’s foremost chronicler of the quotidian and marginalised, Kelly Reichardt brings together a terrific ensemble of performers to adapt a trio of stories by Maile Meloy. Set in the desolate towns, cities, and farms of Montana, the film yields a quiet, sneaking, cumulative power as these women try and, more often than not, fail to forge connections in awkward, sometimes desperate yet naturalistic circumstances.

5. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Paul Verhoeven is master of a very distinct tone that’s at once pulpy, hilarious, irreverent, and provocative, morally alert yet questioning how serious he is at every turn. While stylistically one of his staider efforts and absolutely fit for the contemporary arthouse, Elle more than makes up for that in its perverse subject matter, twisty plot, and unshakeably confrontational lead performance by Isabelle Huppert.

6. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, 2016)
Is it TV? Is it cinema? Does it matter? Not when something this monumental, this multifaceted, comes along. A feat of editing, reportage, and documentary, it tackles one of the most controversial figures in late 20th-century America and places his celebrity in its proper social and cultural context.

7. Tower (Keith Maitland, 2016)
Astounding in its focus and empathy, this mostly animated documentary offers a panoramic view of the first mass school shooting in the US, in 1966 at the University of Texas. It combines accounts by survivors, contemporary news reports and footage, and re-enactments in an abstracted, rotoscoped style that provides as much emotional as physical weight to what is being shown.

8. Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
Transplanting a novel set in Victorian Britain to colonial Korea in the 1930s, Park Chan-wook keeps the dense, multilayered plotting and injects his own lush, perverse sensibility, lingering on the most erotic details with relish. Yet what raises the film above mere prurience is the fine sense of detail in all other aspects as well, from the gothic and mechanical decor and costumes and palpable affection for the sexual desires of his characters.

9. Mei ren yu (The Mermaid, Stephen Chow, 2016)
Any year with a new Stephen Chow release is worth celebrating, and The Mermaid continues his delirious directorial streak. With a slyly straightforward environmentalist plot involving private business encroaching upon the home of mer-people, Chow’s madcap film makes the most out of its charmingly goofy special effects and abounds in hilarious digressions.

10. 13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)
Fuelled by righteous anger and urgency, Ava DuVernay’s follow-up to Selma (2014) tracks the aftermath of the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which effectively ended slavery but led to the expansion of it by other means, namely the drug war and carceral state. If the actual information presented amounts to little more than a primer on the subject, it’s the forceful editing, judicious use of talking heads, and visual weaving of past and present that give 13th its moral and pedagogical weight.

A Few 2016 US Premiere Favourites

The following made their non-festival premieres within the US in 2016 (and I didn’t include them in last year’s poll):

Évolution (Lucile Hadžihalilović, 2015)
The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer, 2015)
Kong bu fen zi (The Terrorizers, Edward Yang, 1986)
Omohide poro poro (Only Yesterday, Isao Takahata, 1991)
Ji-geum-eun-mat-go-geu-ddae-neun-teul-li-da (Right Now, Wrong Then, Hong Sang-soo, 2015)
The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)

world film poll 2016

OJ: Made in America




New Releases (Alphabetical order by director)

  1. Aquí no ha pasado nada (Much ado about nothing, Alejandro Fernández Almendras, 2016)
  2. Ixcanul (Jayro Bustamante, 2015)
  3. Lu bian ye can (Kaili Blues, Gan Bi, 2015)
  4. Ni le ciel ni la terre (Neither Heaven nor Earth, Clément Cogitore, 2015)
  5. Remainder (Omer Fast, 2015)
  6. Chronic (Michel Franco, 2015)
  7. Los reyes del pueblo que no existe (Kings of Nowhere, Betzabé García, 2015)
  8. Homo Sapiens (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2016)
  9. Über die Jahre (Over the Years, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2015)
  10. Rester Vertical (Staying Vertical, Alain Guiraudie, 2016)
  11. Hrútar (Rams, Grímur Hákonarson, 2015)
  12. Mr. Gaga(Tomer Heymann, 2015)
  13. Pawel und Wawel (Pawel and Wawel, Krzysztof Kaczmarek, 2014)
  14. Hymyilevä mies(The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki, Juho Kuosmanen, 2016)
  15. Mariupolis (Mantas Kvedaravicius, 2016)
  16. El Movimiento (The Movement, Benjamin Naishtat, 2015)
  17. Bella e Perduta (Lost and Beautiful, Pietro Marcello, 2015)
  18. Boi Neon (Neon Bull, Gabriel Mascaro, 2015)
  19. The Other Side (Roberto Minervini, 2015)
  20. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
  21. O Ornitológo (The Ornithologist, Joao Pedro Rodrigues, 2016)
  22. Jia Zhang-ke by Walter Salles (Walter Salles, 2014)
  23. La Mort de Louis XIV (Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
  24. Mata-me por favor (Kill Me Please, Anita Rocha da Silveira, 2015)
  25. Tikkun, (Avishai Sivan, 2015)
  26. Mar(Dominga Sotomayor, 2014)
  27. Kékszakállú (Gastón Solnicki, 2016)
  28. Ta’ang (Wang Bing, 2016)

Repertoire – seen in cinemas (alphabetical order by director)

Saute ma ville
(Blow Up My Town,Chantal Akerman, 1968)
La chambre (The Room, Chantal Akerman, 1975)
Golden Eighties (Chantal Akerman, 1986)
Anaparastasi (Reconstructions, Theo Angelopoulos, 1970)
Oi kynigoi (The Hunters, Theo Angelopoulos, 1977)
America is Hard to See (Emile de Antonio, 1970)
Nobody’s Business (Alan Berliner, 1996)
Spur der Steine (Traces of Stone, Frank Beyer, 1966)
Born in Flames(Lizzie Borden, 1983)
La donna della domenica (The Sunday Woman, Luigi Comencini, 1975)
Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell, 1936)
Une sale histoire (A Dirty Story, Jean Eustache, 1977)
Le Père Noël a les yeux bleus (Santa Claus Has Blue Eyes, Jean Eustache, 1966)
La rosière de Pessac (The Virgin of Pessac,Jean Eustache, 1969)
Mes petits amoureuses (My Little Loves, Jean Eustache, 1974)
Jean-Marie Straub und Daniéle Huillet bei der Arbeit an einem Film nach Franz Kafka’s Romanfragment Amerika (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniéle Huillet at Work on a film based on Franz Kafka’s “Amerika”, Harun Farocki, 1983)
Aufzeichnungen aus dem Tiefparterre (Notes from the Basement,Rainer Frimmel, 1992)
Lian Lian Feng Chen (Dust in the Wind, Hou Hsiao-hsien, 1986)
Tóngnián wangshì (A Time to Live, a Time to Die, Hou Hsiao-hsien,1985)
Strange Victory (Leo Hurwitz, 1948)
At Sea (Peter Hutton, 2007)
New York Portraits I, II, III (Peter Hutton, 1979-90)
Pociag (Night Train, Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1959)
Mne dvadtsat let (I am Twenty, Marlen Khutsiev, 1965)
Iyulskiy dozhd (July Rain, Marlen Khutsiev,1967)
L’Effrontée (An Impudent Girl, Claude Miller, 1985)
Charmed Particles (Andrew Noren, 1978)
Pressure (Horace Ové, 1976)
Intimní osvětlení (Intimate Lighting, Ivan Passer, 1965)
Il sole negli occhi (Empty Eyes, Antonio Pietrangeli, 1953)
Io la conoscevo bene (I Knew Her Well, Antonio Pietrangeli, 1965)
Cadaveri eccellenti (Illustrious Corpses, Francesco Rosi, 1976)
Sacro Gra (Gianfranco Rosi, 2013)
Boatman (Gianfranco Rosi, 1993)
Below Sea Level (Gianfranco Rosi, 2008)
El Sicario, Room 164 (Gianfranco Rosi, 2010)
Adieu Philippine (Jacques Rozier, 1962)
Tres tristes tigres (Three Sad Tigers, Raúl Ruiz, 1968)
La vocation suspendue (Suspended Vocation, Raúl Ruiz, 1978)
Bérénice (Raúl Ruiz, 1983)
Les trois couronnes du matelot (Three Crowns of the Sailor, Raúl Ruiz, 1983)
The Golden Boat (Raúl Ruiz, 1990)
The Loved One (Tony Richardson, 1965)
Out 1, noli me tangere (Out 1, Jacques Rivette, 1971)
Petit à petit (Little by Little, Jean Rouch, 1970)
Schonzeit für Füchse (No Shooting Time for Foxes, Peter Schamoni, 1966)
Naissance des pieuvres (Water Lilies, Céline Sciamma, 2007)
Honor de cavelleria (Quixotic/Honor de Cavelleria, Albert Serra, 2006)
El cant dels ocells (Birdsong, Albert Serra, 2008)
The Moon and the Sledgehammer  (Philip Trevelyan, 1971)
Medium Cool (Haskell Wexler, 1969)
Trop tôt/Trop tard (Too Early/Too Late, Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet, Klassenverhältnisse (Class Relations), Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet, 1983
Sicilia!, Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet, 1998)
Feng Ai (‘Til Madness Do Us Apart, Wang Bing, 2013)
Qing mei zhu ma (Taipei Story, Edward Yang, 1985)
Kong bu fen zi (The Terrorizers, Edward Yang, 1986)
Gu ling jie shao nian sha ren shi jian (A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang, 1991)


  1. Lu bian ye can (Kaili Blues, Bi Gan, 2015)
  2. Saul fia (Son of Saul, László Nemes, 2015)
  3. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
  4. (M)uchenik (The Student, (Kirill Serebrennikov, 2016)
  5. Haganenet (The Kindergarten Teacher,Nadav Lapid, 2014)
  6. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, 2016)
  7. As Mil e uma Noites (Arabian Nights, Miguel Gomes, 2015)
  8. La Mort de Louis XIV (Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
  9. The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu, 2015)
  10. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
world film poll 2016

La Mort de Louis XIV


  1. The Nice Guys (Shane Black, 2016) – Seriously Seventies
  2. The Big Short (Adam McKay, 2015) – So money
  3. Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols, 2016) – Space oddity
  4. Youth (Paolo Sorrentino, 2015) – So old
  5. Pete’s Dragon (David Lowery), 2016 – Spielbergian magick
  6. Jim: The James Foley Story (Brian Oakes, 2016) – So shocking
  7. Couple in a Hole (Tom Geens, 2015) – Stuck in the middle
  8. A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino, 2015) – Sultry silence
  9. Weiner (Josh Kriegman & Elyse Steinberg, 2016) – Penile dementia
  10. Doctor Strange (Scott Derrickson, 2016) – Psyched out!

Best re-releases
Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)
Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly, 2001)

Special mention: The Young Pope (Paolo Sorrentino, 2016) (TV)



  1. Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot (Yourself and Yours, Hong Sang-soo, 2016)
    2. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  3. Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
  4. A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)




The best films

  1. La idea de un lago (The Idea of a Lake, Milagros Mumenthaler, 2016)
  2. La Mort de Luis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
  3. Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro, 2016)
  4. Malgré la nuit (Despite the Night, Philippe Grandrieux, 2015)
  5. Las lindas (The Pretty Ones, Melisa Liebenthal, 2016)
  6. Limbo (Konstantina Kotzamani, 2016)
  7. Istirahatlah kata-kata (Solo, Solitude, Yosep Anggi Noen, 2016
  8. Exile (Rithy Panh, 2016)
  9. Le Moulin (Huang Ya-li, 2015)
  10. Correspondências (Correspondences, Rita Azevedo Gomes, 2016)
  11. Pasajera (The Passenger, Abbas Kiarostami, 2016)
  12. Mimosas (Oliver Laxe, 2016)
  13. La película de nuestra vida (The Movie of Our Lives, Enrique Baró Ubach, 2016)
  14. Días color naranja (Orange Coloured Days, Pablo Llorca, 2016)
  15. Los mutantes (The Mutants, Gabriel Azorín, 2016)
  16. Marisa en los bosques (Marisa in the Woods, Antonio Morales, 2016)
  17. Las vísceras (The Entrails, Elena López Riera, 2016)
  18. Engram of Returning (Daïchi Saïto, 2015)
  19. Austerlitz(Sergei Loznitsa, 2016)
  20.  John From (João Nicolau, 2015)
  21.  Komunia(Communion, Anna Zamecka, 2016)
  22.  Oleg y las raras artes(Oleg and the Rare Arts, Andrés Duque, 2016)
  23.  Kaze ni nureta onna (Wet Woman in the Wind, Shiota Akihiko, 2016)
  24. Destruction Babies (Mariko Tetsuya, 2016)
  25.  El futuro perfecto (The Future Perfect, Nele Wohlatz, 2016)

Best retrospectives

Cine Doré: A Comédia de Deus (God’s comedy, João César Monteiro, 1995) and Frágil como o mundo (Fragile like the World, Rita Azevedo Gomes, 2002). Márgenes Film Festival, Friday, 9 December 2016; retrospective about the Portuguese film director João César Monteiro.

Júlio Bressane (Filmadrid – June 2016)

Recovered film

Khane-ye Doust Kodjast? (Where is My Friend’s Home? Abbas Kiarostami, 1987). Locarno Film Festival 2016.


Mon oncle (My Uncle, Jacques Tati, 1958). Edited by A contracorriente films.
Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967). Edited by A contracorriente films.

Films in VOD platforms

Chofesh Gadol (Summer Vacation, Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon, 2012) – MUBI




Films are listed alphabetically:

Kanashimi no Belladonna (Belladonna of Sadness Eiichi Yamamoto, 1973)
Eisenstein in Guanajuato (Peter Greenaway, 2015)
Évolution (Lucile Hadžihalilović, 2015)
Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
High-Rise (Ben Wheatley, 2015)
The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015)
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
Observance (Joseph Sims-Dennett, 2015)
Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz, 2016)
The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)




world film poll 2016

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