These are the few films that really moved me to attend the cinema, in a year of a scarcity of really great films available. This in spite of the varied film program throughout the year in the reduced number of cinemas running in Havana. There was a shortage at the international showcases at the Havana Film Festival, but it remained an enticing film venue, thanks to the new section Galas. The world documentary and narrative feature panorama added the best of Latin American cinema in competition and the Perspective Section.

Paradoxically, amid this exhibition panorama, new creative Cuban films continued emerging with filmmakers from the Film Institute (ICAIC) having turned independent. Almost a veteran filmmaker, Fernando Pérez, once again assumed independent production in Últimos días en La Habana (2016), which starts as a traditional Cuban comedy and constructs a drama of private and social failure and spiritual redemption with his unmistakable authorial style.

Lester Hamlet, a young filmmaker within ICAIC production, creates an irreverent film: Ya no es antes (2016). Within a stand-up comedy scheme, the film moves to a kind of Cuban Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, pushing the limit of the expressive possibilities of the two leads. In a complete different mood, Pavel Giroud’s Playing Lecuona (2015), without an obvious sociopolitical stance makes a moving appeal to artistic freedom, reviving the legacy of one of the greatest Cuban musician of all time, Ernesto Lecuona, in a documentary film that is a human journey through musical sensibility and creativity.

Surprisingly it has been a foreign director, the Spanish Felix Viscarret, the one that best has revealed today’s trendy decaying beauty of Havana in Vientos de la Habana (2016), thanks to the great cast of Cuban actors and the script based on Leonardo Padura’s original novel Vientos de cuaresma. It is an Havana noir to remember, as its jazzy music rolls by.

The Brazilian cinema brought to Havana the most innovative of film storytelling of the region, with Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Aquarius (2016), a chant to spiritual endurance superbly acted and brilliantly photographed to plead for the preservation of memory. Also with a lyric mood, Anna Muylaert’s Don’t Call Me Son (2016) offers an irreverent feminine look with deliberate occasional narrative and visual deviation from traditional male gaze. Even more risky was Marília Hughes Guerreiro and Cláudio Marques’s A Cidade do Futuro (2016), with a language of its own mixing footage, documentary style and fiction to reveal the antagonism of social transformation and new form of human bonds.

I didn’t get close this year to any superb Hollywood flicks and neither to the well-established independents’ trademark: Wes Anderson, The Cohen Brothers, or Allen and the like. While I wait for the latest Jarmusch films, I enjoyed the way Latin talent can merge into the perfectly geared Hollywood machinery to offer a refined action horror really worth to see, Fede Álvarez’s Don’t Breathe.

French cinema and filmmakers never stop surprising us, François Ozon’s Frantz creates a multilayered film, deceitfully shot in black and white with color segments, disguised as a homage to Fassbinder and Hitchcock to find its own way as a corrosive and subtle pacifist speech.

Because of the lag of exhibition here, I had to include a gem from 2014 East European cinema, Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviafan (Leviathan 2014), a tale of moral decay and corruption with Tolstoyan and Dostoyevskyan characters falling apart. From the so called Package, a weekly update of content privately distributed in Cuba, which include a Classics section, I picked out Andrzej Wajda’s Czlowiek z źelaza (Man of Iron, 1981), a quintessential piece of auteur cinema, blending fiction and facts in an unprecedented and maybe never again possible way, all suffused with romanticism. After the Polish master’s death, we were waiting at the Film Fest for the exhibition of his last film Powidoki (Afterimage 2016), which never arrived and will be anxiously anticipated for next year’s selection.

  • Últimos días en La Habana, (Fernando Pérez, 2016)
  • Ya no es antes (Lester Hamlet, 2016)
  • Playing Lecuona (Pavel Giroud, 2015)
  • Vientos de la Habana (Félix Viscarret, 2016)
  • Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
  • Mãe Só Há Uma (Don’t Call Me Son, Anna Muylaert, 2016)
  • A Cidade do Futuro (Marília Hughes Guerreiro and Cláudio Marques, 2016)
  • Don’t Breathe (Fede Álvarez, 2016)
  • Frantz (François Ozon, 2016)
  • Leviafan (Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014)
  • Czlowiek z źelaza (Man of Iron, Andrzej Wajda, 1981)




This year I am breaking my self-imposed rules and expanding my top 10 to a top 14 because I simply couldn’t choose between these films. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to see Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2015) or Juste la Fin du Monde (It’s Only the End of the World, Xavier Dolan, 2016) this year so hopefully they will make it onto my list next year.

Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016). I have been unsure of Villeneuve as a director until watching this film. I loved Prisoners (2013) but did not enjoy Enemy (2013) or Sicario (2015). This film, however, has confirmed my love of his ability to create suspense.

Beyoncé: Lemonade (Kahlil Joseph, Beyoncé Knowles, 2016). Yes to Beyoncé. Yes to Lemonade. Yes to politically engaged pop culture.

Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier, 2015). Holy shit this film is intense. Saulnier uses enclosed spaces well. The film gets extra bonus points for Alia Shawkat.

Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016). This film is stunning and deserves all the praise it has been getting. I barely took a breath throughout the entire screening at MIFF.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, 2016). “I’ll never stop chasing you – I’m relentless, I’m like the Terminator… I said it first, you’re more like Sarah Connor, and in the first movie too, before she could do chinups.” That line gets me every time.

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016): Essential viewing. I’m so thankful for the work Ken Loach does.

In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman, 2015). This film explores the real effect gentrification has for the sense of community. The tech bubble of San Francisco should take note.

Kiki (Sara Jordenö, 2016). Privileged, conservative, white gay dudes (oh hi Milo) should watch this and think about the community they have turned their backs on.

Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford, 2016). This film stayed with me. It took me awhile decide that Amy Adams’ character is a victim of the misogyny from Gyllenhaal’s character, not the film itself. I have loved the discussions I have had with others that have seen this film.

Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016). Kristen Stewart is officially the coolest actor working today (sorry Tilda Swinton).

Tickled (David Farrier, Dylan Reeve, 2016). I saw Louis Theroux’s My Scientology Movie (John Dower, 2015) immediately after seeing this film and there is just no comparison. Farrier and Reeve’s film handles the delicate subject matter with so much more care and nuance.

Busanhaeng (Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho, 2016). Zombies on a train. What’s not to love? Great ending as well.

The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015). This was the best horror film of the year for me. I never knew goats could be scary until watching Black Phillip on screen.

Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015). Both women are brilliant in this tender, heartbreaking love story. That final scene in the Oak Room has stayed with me all year.




Given that it was arguably the worst year I can ever remember for world politics (Brexit, Trump, Brazilian coup, Erdogan, Syria/Iraq/Yemen, etc.) and a bad one for the deaths of great “artists,” including a number of my favourite filmmakers -Kiarostami, Wajda, Coutard – it was for me a terrific year for new films and films I had never been able to see before. By my calculations, I went to the cinema 257 times over the last 12 months (Dec 12-Dec 11) and saw over 270 feature-length films for the first time (in all formats). In the year of the U.S. (and UK) political “whitelash” against the interests of immigrants, people of colour and women, it was an especially good year for diversity in film, I think.

Top five (actually six, in the order in which I saw them):

  1. Lu bian ye can (Kaili Blues, Bi Gan, 2015). The only highlight of the disastrous World Film Festival (September, Montreal). 
  2. The Man in the Dark (John Collins, 1914), On the Stroke of Twelve (John Collins, 1915). Two early shorts by the man who would surely have become the greatest of all U.S. silent filmmakers had he survived the flu epidemic in 1918 (October, Giornate del Cinema Muto, Pordenone, Italy).
  3. By the Time It Gets Dark, (Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016). A revelation; complex treatise on women’s work, filmmaking, performance, and Thailand’s dark history (October, FNC: Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Montreal).
  4. Boi Neon (Neon Bull, Gabriel Mascaro, 2015). Another revelation; a totally original approach to vaqueros in the Brazilian northeast, the heart of 1960s Cinema Novo (October, FFBM: Festival du Film Brésilien de Montréal).
  5. Another Year (Zhu Zengze, 2016). Formally brilliant, yet moving observational study of a Chinese migrant family (November, RIDM: Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal).

Twelve (actually fifteen) more films directed by women:

  1. Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015) in release, January.
  2. Egg and Stone (Huang Ji, 2011) Cinema on the Edge, festival, March.
  3. Meeks Cut-Off (Kelly Reichardt, 2010), Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt, 2103). The Cinematheque, Vancouver, April.
  4. Chevalier (Athina Rachel Tsangari, 2015) in release, June
  5. Into the Forest (Patricia Rozema, 2015) in release, June
  6. Women Who Kill (Ingrid Jungerman, 2016) FanTasia festival, July
  7. 13th (Ava Duvernay, 2016): Netflix, October
  8. Queen of Katwe, (Mira Nair, 2016) in release, October
  9. L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016) Cinemania, festival, November
  10. The Illinois Parables (Deborah Stratman, 2016), Immortal, Suspended (Deborah Stratman, 2013), Hacked Circuit (Deborah Stratman, 2014) RIDM, November
  11. Die Geträumten (The Dreamed Ones, Ruth Beckerman, 2016) RIDM, November (and I also saw the remarkable short experimental work of two other Austrian women filmmakers in 2016, Linda Christanell and Mara Mattuschka, on Index DVDs).
  12. American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016) in release, November

…and I have yet to see the new films by Maren Ade, Angela Schanelec, Kirsten Johnson and Reichardt!

And ten amazing new films not directed by women:

  • Rak ti Khon Kaen (Cemetery of Splendour, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2016), in release, March
  • Dang’an (The Dossier, Zhu Rikun, 2014), Cinema on the Edge, April
  • San ren xing (Three, Johnnie To, 2016) FanTasia, July
  • Umi machi Diary (Our Little Sister, Koreeda Hirokazu, 2015), in release, August
  • Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016), FNC, October
  • Bella e perduta (Lost and Beautiful, Pietro Marcello, 2015), FNC, October
  • Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016), FFBM, October
  • Ta’ang (Wang Bing, 2016), RIDM, November
  • Ma Loute (Slack Bay, Bruno Dumont, 2016), Cinemania, November
  • Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016), in release, November




In no particular order:

  • The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016)
  • Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
  • The Love Witch (Anna Biller, 2016)
  • Grave (Raw Julia Ducournau, 2016)
  • Under the Shadow (Babak Anvari 2016)
  • Busanhaeng (Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho 2016)
  • The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)
  • Goksung (The Wailing, 2016)
  • I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (Oz Perkins, 2016)
  • The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015)
  • The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
  • High Rise (Ben Wheatley, 2016)
  • Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)




This year I was free to see more films at the cinema than I had seen in a while. This was an astounding year for new releases; here is a list of ten favourites, in no particular order.

  • El abrazo de la serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent, Ciro Guerra, 2015)
  • Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
  • Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
  • Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
  • The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer, 2016)
  • Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
  • Kang Rinpoche (Paths of the Soul, Yang Zhang, 2016)
  • The 13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)
  • No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, 2016)
  • Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)

And as always, many of my highlights tend to be repertory screenings.

  • Heaven Can Wait (Ernst Lubitsch, 1943): restored 35mm print at Melbourne Cinémathèque
  • En La Palma de tu mano (In The Palm of Your Hand, Roberto Gavaldón, 1951): DCP at the Melbourne Cinémathèque
  • Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, 1983): 35mm print of at Melbourne International Film Festival
  • New York, New York (Martin Scorsese, 1977): 35mm print at Australian Centre for the Moving Image
  • The Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986): An impromptu screening two days after David Bowie’s death, at a club/performance space in Brooklyn, this was an interactive screening followed by a dance party that embraced and advanced the enveloping potential of  the cinema.
  • Ball of Fire (Howard Hawks, 1941) and There’s Always Tomorrow (Douglas Sirk, 1956): Four days before the beginning of 2016, but if not for timing these would have gone on my 2015 list. I want to mention these 35mm prints I saw on my birthday last year –  New York’s Film Forum and Lincoln Centre giving me a double feature as a present.
  • King of Jazz (John Murray Anderson, 1930): restored DCP at Australian Centre for the Moving Image



  • Letters from Panduranga (Nguyen Trinh Thi, 2015)
  • Super Taboo (Su Hui-Yu, 2015)
  • B-Roll with Andre (James N Kienitz Wilkins, 2016)
  • Harbour City (Simon Liu, 2015)
  • Anito (Martha Atienza, 2012-15)
  • The Mess (Peter Burr, 2016)
  • AS WITHOUT, SO WITHIN (Manuela De Laborde, 2016)
  • Everything and More (Rachel Rose, 2015)
  • Engram of Returning (Daïchi Saïto, 2015)
  • Painting with History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 3 (Korakrit Arunanondchai, 2015)
  • Rubber Coated Steel (Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Lebanon/UK, 2016)
  • Dao khanong (By the Time it Gets Dark, Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)
  • El auge del humano (The Human Surge, Eduardo Williams, 2016)
  • That Ends that Matter (Jean-Paul Kelly, 2016)
  • And Yet My Mask Is Powerful (Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme, 2016)
  • Tell Me the Story of All These Things (Rehana Zaman, 2016)
  • Open Reel (Dalibar Martinis, 1976)
  • Four X Loops (Nicky Hamlyn, 1974)
  • Print Generation (J. J. Murphy, 1974)
  • Pas de Ciel (Teo Hernandez, 1987)


  • It’s an unordered 2016 best list: no top movie, no preferences. All of them have moved me for different reasons and, hence, all of them are equally valuable to me.The Challenge (Yuri Ancarani, 2016)
  • La Jeune Fille sans Mains (The Girl Without Hands, Sébastien Laudenbach, 2016)
    Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  • Ang Araw bago ang Wakas (The Day Before the End, Lav Díaz, 2016)
  • Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
  • Little Men (Ira Sachs, 2016)
  • La tortue rouge (The Red Turtle, Michaël Dudok de Wit, 2016)
  • L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
  • Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  • Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
  • À propos de nos voyages en Russie (Yervant Gianikian & Angela Ricci Lucchi, 2016)
  • The Young Pope (2016), by Paolo Sorrentino
  • L’Économie du couple (After Love, Joaquim Lafosse, 2016)
  • Throwing Shadows: Japanese Expanded Cinema programme at IFFR 2016




Number one film of 2016

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
A quietly truthful and unflinching film, astonishing in its precision-crafting, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight is a cinematic tour de force. It is at once delicate and frank in a way that partakes as much of poetic as of cinema traditions. Brittel’s chopped and screwed hip-hop and classical soundtrack adds emotional depth to Jenkins’ beautifully and meticulously shot scenes of his Miami characters (roughly in the ‘80’s) that linger long after the film. It is loud in its silences, acted adroitly and utterly believably by Mahershala Ali, Jharrel Jerome and the three Chirons including Trevante Rhodes. The passage of time which demands three different actors playing Chiron allow the physical changes to mirror his inner changes. The episodic style, rather than breaking the narrative, punctuates it with the reframing of both idealized and semi-tragic experience. Moonlight manages to translate the intimate and profound anguish, awkwardness and raptures of minutely observed intimacies to the universal. It could have functioned adequately as a missing father figure, homoerotic, drug-culture social document but instead bypasses all invitation to stereotype and goes steadily and spellbindingly for the transcendent experience of developing an inner life. The subject is the forging of identity among ambivalent but substantive role models and an inarticulate youth. Chiron’s shyness in response to confusing signals from his school and neighbourhood allows us to fill in our own blanks and identify with the archetypal landmarks of growing up vulnerable, fearing oneself to be “an outsider” (or “Little”). The process of shifting his locus from survival to interrogating the depths of his muteness and connection with significant others is a trust that the filmmaker shares with us, letting the visual poetry and the spare and tender exchanges to open us as well. As Chiron learns to let go and to persevere (to “float and to swim”), to confront and integrate disappointments, so do we receive a glimpse into the generous dignity and beauty that compensates for loss.

These are the top fifteen films I enjoyed most out of the many I saw as a film enthusiast. Several I saw more than once. It was a good year for films. I regret I have not yet been able to see Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016), Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016), Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016), Loving (Jeff Nichols, 2016) and Desde allá (From Afar, Lorenzo Vigas, 2016), any of which are 2016 releases which could skew my order below.

  1. Fences (Denzel Washington, 2016)
  2. Little Men (Ira Sachs, 2016)
  3. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
  4. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, 2015)
  5. Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
  6. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
  7. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  8. The Witch(Robert Eggers, 2015)
  9. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
  10. High-Rise(Ben Wheatley, 2015)
  11. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
  12. Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
  13. Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols, 2016)
  14. Zootopia(Byron Howard and Rich Moore, 2016)
  15. The Love Witch (Anna Biller, 2016)

Honorable mention for a film premiere in 2016: Spidarlings (Salem Kapsaski, release date 2017)

Favourite Blu-ray/DVD releases of 2016

  1. De Palma(Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow, 2015)
  2. Hitchcock / Truffaut (Kent Jones, 2015)
  3. Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro, 2015)
  4. Frankenstein (Bernard Rose, 2016)
  5. Valentino (Ken Russell, 1977), BFI.
  6. Crimes of Passion (Ken Russell, 1984), Arrow.
  7. Ken Russell: The Great Composers (The Debussy Film / Delius / Elgar, Ken Russell), BFI.
  8. Ken Russell: The Great Passions (Isadora / Always on Sunday / Dante’s Inferno Ken Russell), BFI
  9. Women in Love (Ken Russell, 1969), BFI.
  10. The Andrei Tarkovsky Collection, Criterion.
  11. The Planets (Ken Russell, 1983), Monad Arts/ArtHaus
  12. The Jean-Luc Godard Collection, Curzon Artificial Eye
  13. Room (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)
  14. Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, 2015)
  15. Dog Eat Dog (Paul Schrader, 2016)



1. L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
2. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
3. Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot (Yourself and Yours, Hong Sang-soo, 2016)
4. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
5. Mister Universo (Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, 2016)
6. Layla M. (Mijke de Jong, 2016)
7. Easy: Ep. 3 “Brew Buddies” (Joe Swanberg, 2016)
8. Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro, 2016)
9. Easy: Ep.7 “Chemistry Read” (Joe Swanberg, 2016)
10. La fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2016)
11. Short Stay (Ted Fendt, 2016)
12. Loktak Lairembee (Lady of the Lake, Haobam Paban Kumar, 2016)
13. Easy: Ep. 8 “Hop Dreams” (Joe Swanberg, 2016)
14. A Hologram for the King (Tom Tykwer, 2016)
15. Easy: Ep. 4 “Controlada” (Joe Swanberg, 2016)
16. This Castle Keep (Gina Telaroli, 2016)
17. The Arbalest (Adam Pinney, 2016)

All the above films received their world premieres in 2016. This list will certainly change quite a lot as 2016 films make their way to New York over the course of the next few years.

A few good films from the last ten years that crossed my path in 2016: Hiso hiso boshi (The Whispering Star, Sion Sono, 2015), Ashita no watashi no tsukurikata (How to Become Myself, Jun Ichikawa, 2007), Ben Zaken (Efrat Corem, 2014), Chan mat (Claustrophobia, Ivy Ho, 2008), El incendio (The Fire, Juan Schnitman, 2015), El apóstata (The Apostate, Federico Veiroj, 2015), List (Hong Sang-soo, 2011), Confession of a Child of the Century (Sylvie Verheyde, 2012), Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2015), Das Wetter in geschlossenen Räumen (The Weather Inside, Isabelle Stever, 2015), Mia madre (Nanni Moretti, 2015), Fatima (Philippe Faucon, 2015).



An atrocious year politically, the cinematic landscape didn’t provide nearly as engulfing a refuge as Peak TV, making for a diminutive list on my part. Though given that every film likely to garner award nominations and “best of” entries seemed to drop in December, my favorites could grow considerably after I finally manage to catch the contenders listed below.

  1. Certain Women(Kelly Reichardt, 2016)

Finding all three of these loosely interlocking vignettes of Montana women living lives of quiet desperation equally shattering, I concede to the consensus favoring the final third insofar as it is predicated on a simple yet ingenious change to the Maile Meloy short story Reichardt adapted.

  1. Manchester by the Sea(Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)

Though not as tautly composed as You Can Count on Me nor as exhilaratingly majestic as Margaret, Lonergan’s third feature incorporates comedy and tragedy in a way that seems endearingly true to life but no less crushing.

  1. Little Men(Ira Sachs, 2016)

Gloria’s Paulina García and irresistible newcomer Michael Barbieri are the standouts among an excellent ensemble cast in this unsentimental but moving story of neighboring families entangled in one another’s lives in gentrifying Brooklyn.

  1. Always Shine(Sophia Takal, 2016)

From its arresting opening use of direct address to its confounding close, this piercing treatment of female relationships in the spirit of Persona and 3 Women features a mesmerizing performance by Mackenzie Davis.

  1. Blue Jay(Alex Lehmann, 2016)

Mumblecore lives on with this largely improvised depiction of former high school sweethearts (Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson) reliving their youth over the course of a night that builds slowly but surely to an entirely satisfying, devastating revelation.

  1. [tie] A Bigger Splash(Luca Guadagnino, 2015) and Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)

Both are set on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa and are importantly informed by the migrant crisis underway there, though in drastically contrasting yet dramatically affecting ways.

Contenders still to be seen: 20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016), American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016), Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016), Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016), La fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2016), Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene, 2016), Lovesong (So Yong Kim, 2016), Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016), Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016), Rester Vertical (Staying Vertical, Alain Guiraudie, 2016), Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016), Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)




  • La Noche (The Night, Edgardo Castro, 2016)
  • Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  • Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
  • Hierba (Raúl Perrone, 2016)
  • Blanche (Marc Hurtado, 1996 – 2016)
  • All the Cities of the North (Dane Komljen, 2016)


  • Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)
  • L’Aquarium et la Nation (Jean-Marie Straub,2015)
  • Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot (Yourself and Yours, Hong Sang-soo, 2016)
  • La Academia de las Musas (The Academy of Muses, José Luis Guerin, 2015)
  • L’ombre des femmes (In the Shadow of Women, Philippe Garrel, 2015)
  • Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  • O Ornitólogo (The Ornithologist, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2016)
  • Shadow World (Johan Grimonprez, 2016)
  • Ah-ga-ssi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
  • Cumparsita (Raúl Perrone, 2016)

Very Good

  • The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)
  • Busanhaeng (Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho, 2016)
  • Malgré la Nuit (Despite the Night, Philippe Grandrieux, 2015)
  • Sunset Song (Terence Davies, 2015)
  • The Witch (Roger Eggers, 2015)
  • Francofonía (Alexander Sokurov, 2015)
  • Roukli (Veiko Õunpuu, 2015)
  • Lu bian ye can (Kaili Blues, Gan Bi, 2015)
    Le Saphir de Saint-Louis (Jose Luís Guerín, 2015)

I tempi felici verranno presto (Happy Times Will Come Soon, Alessandro Comodin, 2016)




The following movies, in no particular order, are my favourites this year (note, some were completed in 2015, but did not screen until 2016) of course this list will change and develop, but today it holds.

1. The Love Witch (Anna Biller, USA, 2016) A highly enjoyable horror-melodrama-comedy, the art design is, of course, brilliant. A good film to watch with a receptive audience.

2. Embrace the Serpent (Ciro Guerra, Columbia / Venezuela / Argentina, 2015) genuinely beautiful to experience.

3. Dead Slow Ahead (Mauro Herce, Spain / France, 2015) We screened this at Revelation, and on the big screen, with the stunning cinematography and immense sound design it was just incredible. One of the reasons that movies work best in the cinema.

4. Aaaaaaaah! (Steve Oram, UK, 2015) one of the pleasures of programming is making discoveries, screening this – and watching the stunned audience emerge – was a real joy. I am a fan of Themroc (Claude Faraldo, 1973) and to see these two movies on a double bill would be great.

5. High Rise (Ben Wheatley, UK / Belgium, 2015) Wheatley is one of the most exciting directors around, his films always impress me and this is no exception.

6. The Greasy Strangler (Jim Hosking, USA, 2016), there’s those moments when you see a movie and just know it will become a genuine cult classic, watching this was one such moment.

7. Der Bunker (Nikias Chryssos, Germany, 2015), something else we screened at Revelation, like The Greasy Strangler and Aaaaaaaah! this was something that just seemed made for my sensibilities. Make of that what you will.

8. Dead Hands Dig Deep (Jai Love, Australia / USA, 2016) the kind of subcultural music documentary that I really enjoy.

9. The Witch (Robert Eggers, USA/ Canada / UK / Brazil, 2015) absolutely stunning.

10. Tony Conrad: Completely In the Present (Tyler Hubby, USA, 2016) inspirational.




20 Favorite Films of 2016

  1. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
    Dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy turns a once warm and ebullient family man into a solemn, withdrawn, and angry loner in Kenneth Lonergan’s bittersweet Manchester by the Sea, an authentic experience of life in all its pain and joy.
  2. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
    Focusing on three chapters in the life of Chiron, a gay, black boy living in near poverty, Moonlight has the ability to create intimacy, compassion, and understanding of its characters as human beings caught in a system that degrades them and strips them of their humanity.
  3. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
    Paterson is not only the name of a city in New Jersey but the name of a bus-driving poet played by Adam Driver whose Haiku-like poems are reminiscent of the city’s own poet William Carlos Williams. Through his verses, we come to appreciate that poetry is not something extraneous to life but that life itself is poetry.
  4. Little Men (Ira Sachs, 2016)
    Little Men looks at life from the point of view of two young men on the cusp of adolescence whose friendship is threatened by a family squabble that has no easy solution. It is a thoughtful and moving film that contains some of the year’s most honest and nuanced performances.
  5. Quand on a 17 ans (Being 17, André Téchiné, 2016)
    Being 17 follows Thomas, a biracial Algerian boy whose feeling of alienation from his parents carries over to his behavior at school. He finds an outlet in tormenting Damien, a committed, emotionally stable student until they discover something powerful that they have in common.
  6. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
    The question of ends and means dominates Hell or High Water, a modern genre Western set in West Texas in which two brothers rob various branches of the Texas Midlands Bank in order to to meet overdue alimony payments. The film features Jeff Bridges as the pursuing sheriff in one of his best career performances.
  7. Indignation (James Schamus, 2016)
    Based on a novel by Philip Roth, Indignation is the story of a young Jewish intellectual brought up in a liberal environment who struggles to find his voice in an Ohio college that is a bastion of social conservatism. The film illuminates the struggle against a suffocating conformity, a struggle that is even more relevant today.
  8. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
    Aquarius is a character study about a strong woman who has steadfastly maintained her dignity and lust for life. Fighting the aggressive overtures of sleazy real estate operators who want to turn the building into a condominium, she stubbornly refuses to sell her apartment even though she is the only one left in the building.
  9. Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)
    A US Airways pilot’s presence of mind, competence and good judgment saves the lives of 155 passengers and crew when he lands his stricken plane in New York’s Hudson River. This “miracle on the Hudson” is a film that delivers a believable message of human resourcefulness in the face of sudden crisis.
  10. Mother (Mama, Vlado Skafar, 2016)
    Mama is a seamless blend of fiction and documentary which celebrates nature and its role in renewing the human spirit.
  11. Denial (Mick Jackson, U.K., 2016)
    An examination of Professor Deborah Lipstadt’s court battle in London to defend herself from a libel charge brought by British historian David Irving, a holocaust denier. In reality, it is a trial to determine whether or not the Holocaust was real.
  12. Weiner (Josh Kreigman and Elyse Steinberg, U.S., 2016)
    A provocative and highly entertaining documentary about the rise and fall of former Democratic New York Congressman Anthony Weiner whose promising career floundered on revelations of an Internet sexting scandal.
  13. Arrival (Dennis Villeneuve, 2016)
    Arrival is an understated science fiction film about the power of communication, the illusory nature of time, and the importance of words and language in creating our conception of the world.
  14. Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
    A respected doctor who is willing to do whatever it takes to secure a better future for his daughter has his personal integrity is tested in an environment where greed, corruption, and opportunism are the norm.
  15. Les Innocentes (The Innocents, Anne Fontaine, 2016)
    The Innocents is a compelling film about a young French doctor who secretly takes time from her hospital duties to serve as a midwife for nuns at a Benedictine convent in Poland in 1945 pregnant as a result of “visits” by Russian soldiers.
  16. A Tale of Love and Darkness (Natalie Portman, 2015) *Released in Canada in 2016.
    A Tale of Love and Darkness celebrates the life of Israeli poet Amos Oz. Compelling and literate, the film attests to the way the promise of Israel has been shattered by strident voices fighting centuries-old struggles for domination.
  17. Loving (Jeff Nichols, 2016)
    The film sheds light on a little known U. S. Supreme Court case that overturned the noxious miscegenation laws in Virginia restricting people’s freedom, a decision that led to the recent decision to legalize same sex marriage.
  18. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
    Based on Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, Love and Friendship revolves around a recently widowed socialite who gains strength through her ability to bend others to her will.
  19. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, 2016)
    Malick’s Knight of Cups, is a physically beautiful and spiritually literate film that is filled with the director’s self-reflective poetry and his ability to capture the essence of man’s spiritual nature.
  20. La tortue rouge (The Red Turtle, Michaël Dudok de Wit, 2016)
    Gorgeous colors and graceful poetic images mark The Red Turtle, a wordless animated film co-produced by the Japanese Studio Ghibli and Dutch animator Michael Dudok de Wit that can be seen as an allegory about the power we have to transform the quality of our life.

Honorable Mention
La fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl, Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2016)
Snowden (Oliver Stone, 2016)
Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford, 2016)
Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols, 2016)
Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
The Light Between Oceans (Derek Cianfrance, 2016)
Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross, 2016)




  1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  2. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)
  3. Further Beyond (Joe Lawlor, Christine Molloy, 2016)
  4. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  5. Poesía sin fin (Endless Poetry, Alejandro Jodorowsky, 2016)
  6. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
  7. Neruda (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
  8. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
  9. Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016)
  10. Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)



Whether for aesthetic, didactic or political purpose, for me the found footage essay is where much of the best work is being done right now. Between that and the immersive long-form epic, 2016 improved vastly on the lean pickings of the previous 12 months. Lav Diaz and Ivo Ferreira also suggest that maybe cinema is finally starting to address the history of colonial warfare in a proper way, a theme which has been sadly neglected in the past (with some honourable exceptions).

  • Machine-gun or Typewriter? (Travis Wilkerson, 2015
  • Notfilm (Ross Lipman, 2016)
  • Hele sa hiwagang hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, Lav Diaz 2016)
  • La Deuxième Nuit (The Second Night, Eric Pauwels, 2016)
  • The Exquisite Corpus (Peter Tscherkassky, 2015)
  • Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
  • La Academia de las Musas (The Academy of Muses, José Luis Guerin, 2015)
  • Cartas da Guerra (Letters From War, Ivo Ferreira, 2016)
  • Beixi moushou (Behemoth, Zhao Liang, 2015)
  • HyperNormalisation (Adam Curtis, 2016)
  • Surire (Iván Osnovikoff & Bettina Perut, 2015)



  1. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
  2. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
  3. 13th(Ava DuVernay, 2016)
  4. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
  5. Tower (Keith Maitland, 2016)
  6. Rat ti Khon Kaen (Cemetery of Splendor, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015)
  7. City of Gold (Laura Gabbert, 2015)
  8. Loving (Jeff Nichols, 2016)
  9. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
  10. The Birth of a Nation (Nate Parker, 2016)



10 favourite new release films from 2016. In alphabetical order:

  1. American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
  2. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
  3. Divines (Houda Benyamina,2016)
  4. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  5. Maggie’s Plan (Rebecca Miller,2016)
  6. Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols, 2016)
  7. L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
  8. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
  9. Zir-e Sayeh (Under the Shadow, Babak Anvari, 2016)
  10. Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, 2016)




Repertory Highlights

  1. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, USA, 1953, 35mm)
  2. Dom, v kotorom ya zhivu (The House I Live In, Lev Kulidzhanov and Yakov Segel, USSR, 1957, 35mm)
  3. Kundskabens træ (Tree of Knowledge, Nils Malmros, Denmark, 1981)
  4. Something Wild (Jonathan Demme, USA, 1986)
  5. Endstation liebe (Last Stop Love, Georg Tressler, FRG, 1958, 35mm)
  6. The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage, USA, 1940)
  7. Quei loro incontri (These Encounters of Theirs, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, Italy, 2006)
  8. Mudar de Vida (Change Your Life, Paulo Rocha, Portugal, 1966)
  9. You and Me (Fritz Lang, USA, 1938)
  10. Das Wunder des Malachias (The Miracle of Malachias, Bernhard Wicki, FRG, 1961, 35mm)
  11. Stella Dallas (Henry King, USA, 1925, 35mm)
  12. Tonari no Yae-chan (Our Neighbour, Miss Yae, Yasujiro Shimazu, Japan, 1934)
  13. The Good Fairy (William Wyler, 1935, 35mm)
  14. Andrey Rubleyov (Andrei Rublev, Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1966)
  15. Der Hauptmann von Köln (The Captain of Cologne, Slatan Dudow, GDR, 1956, 35mm)


Autumnal (Stan Brakhage, USA, 1993, 16mm), La bande des quatre (The Gang of Four, Jacques Rivette, 1988), Beloved Enemy (Alan Clarke, 1981), The Blue Bird (Maurice Tourneur, 1918), Die Rote (The Redhead, Helmut Käutner, 1962, 35mm), El secuestrador (The Kidnapper, Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, 1958, 16mm), Gewalt! Gewalt: shojo geba-geba (Violent Virgin, Koji Wakamatsu, 1969), The Half-Breed (Allan Dwan, 1916, 35mm), Home from the Hill (Vincente Minnelli, 1960), Hunde, wollt Ihr ewig leben (Dogs, Do You Want to Live Forever?, Frank Wisbar, 1959, 35mm), Journal d’un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest, Robert Bresson, 1951), Kirmes (State Fair, Wolfgang Staudte, 1955, 35mm), The Man in the White Suit (Alexander Mackendrick, 1951), Ognennye versty (Fiery Miles, Samson Samsonov, 1957, 35mm), Red Hot Riding Hood (Tex Avery, 1943), Remember Last Night? (James Whale, 1935, 35mm), Shonen (Boy, Nagisa Oshima, 1968), The Woman in the Window (Fritz Lang, 1944), Thunderhoof (Phil Karlson, 1948), Tokyo no yado (An Inn in Tokyo, Yasujiro Ozu, 1935)

Favourite new films (with so, so much more to see)

  • Allied (Robert Zemeckis, 2016)
  • Blood Father (Jean-François Richet, 2016)
  • Correspondências (Correspondences, Rita Azevedo Gomes, 2016)
  • Curses (Jodie Mack, 2016)
  • Deepwater Horizon (Peter Berg, 2016)
  • Der traumhafte weg (The Dreamed Path, Angela Schanelec, 2016)
  • El futuro perfecto (The Future Perfect, Nele Wohlatz, 2016)
  • Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  • Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
  • Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro, 2016)
  • Homeland (Iraq Year Zero, Abbas Fahdel, 2015)
  • L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
  • Lightning Scrawls (After Woodrow Wilson) (aka Cinetract #4: The Shroud of Terrorism) (David Phelps, 2013/16)
  • Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Nicholas Stoller, 2016)
  • Où en êtes-vous, Jean-Marie Straub? (Jean-Marie Straub, 2016)
  • Rat Film (Theo Anthony, USA)
  • Short Stay (Ted Fendt, 2016)
  • Something Between Us (Jodie Mack, 2015)
  • Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)
  • The Purge: Election Year (James DeMonaco, 2016)
  • The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Sera, 2016)
  • Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)

Best books

  • A Companion to Fritz Lang (ed. Joe McElhaney; Wiley)
  • Éric Rohmer: A Biography (Antoine de Baecque and Nöel Herpe; Columbia University Press)
  • Hollywood Riots: Violent Crowds and Progressive Politics in American Film (Doug Dibbern; IB Taurus)
  • Jean-Marie Straub & Danièle Huillet (ed. Ted Fendt; Austrian Film Museum)




2016 Top Ten in no particular order except Moonlight as number one.

  1. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016): Barry Jenkins’ masterful, virtuoso film has so many strong points that I could (and probably will) write an entire essay about it, but here I’ll just mention one thing. Jenkins knows exactly when to have his characters speak and when to keep them silent, enacting a complex choreography between dialog and subtext that emphasizes the film’s theme of the performativity of gender, identity, and masculinity.
  2. Měi rén yú (The MermaidStephen Chow, 2016): Stephen Chow Sing-Chi returns to slay the Asia box office with this incredibly loopy cinematic manifestation from the inside of his one-of-a-kind brain. In Hong Kong in the 1990s no one made comedies like Stephen Chow and it’s good to see he’s successfully crossed over to the greater Chinese film industry.
  3. Busanhaeng (Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho, 2016). Although ostensibly a zombie apocolypse flick, Yeon Sang-Ho’s film is also a melodrama, teen romance, road movie, and critique of capitalism all rolled into one thrilling ride.
  4. San ren xing (Three, Johnnie To, 2016). Johnnie To’s yearly masterpiece, which dissects the Hong Kong crime film vis a vis the hospital movie. Every shot and every scene is a meta commentary on its genre forerunners.
  5. Lao shi (Old Stone, Johnny Ma, 2016). Johnny Ma’s indie film is a scathing attack on the hypocrisy and idiocy of China’s Kafka-esque judicial system as it depicts one man’s attempt to escape a spiraling set of circumstances that threaten to ruin his life. Viewed at the 2016 San Diego Asian Film Festival.
  6. Anti-Porn (Anti-Porno, Sion Sono, 2016). Sion Sono’s playful and sexy pranking of Nikkatsu Studios’ Roman Porno films is made especially meaningful since it was produced by Nikkatsu itself. Viewed at the 2016 San Diego Asian Film Festival.
  7. The Magnificent Seven (Antoine Fuqua, 2016). Antoine Fuqua directs a deeply subversive and radical film disguised as a Hollywood action movie. This joint shows that the subaltern can speak as well as shoot a gun.
  8. United Red Army (The Young Man Was, Part 1) (Naeem Mohaiemen, 2011): Naeem Mohaiemen’s experimental documentary deconstructs the audio recordings of the conversations between members of Japan’s militant revolutionary Red Army and Bangladeshi government negotiators after the group landed a hijacked plane at Dhaka in 1977, adding in Mohaiemen’s own wry recollections of the event that he witnessed as a child via television broadcasts. Viewed at the 2016 Third Eye South Asian Film Festival in San Francisco.
  9. Mele Murals (Tadashi Nakamura, 2016). In this documentary about Native Hawai’ian mural artists Tadashi Nakamura creates a thoughtful rumination on giving up selfhood in order to serve community, art, and culture. Viewed at the 2016 CAAMfest in San Francisco.
  10. At Café 6 (Neal Wu, 2016). In yet another highly satisfying entry in Taiwan’s teen melodrama genre, director Neal Wu draws out excellent performances from his young cast. Though it doesn’t stray far from its genre conventions it hits all the right notes with subtlety and emotion, effectively looking at friendship, fate, love, and loss.



A “Top Ten” in no particular order followed by 14 more that might be interchangeable on another day:

Top Ten

  • Jigeummeun matgo geuddaeneun leullida (Right Now, Wrong Then, Hong Sang-soo, 2015)
  • Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
  • Down Under (Abe Forsythe, 2016)
  • Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Fahradi, 2016)
  • Der wald vor lauter Baümen (The Forest for the Trees, Maren Ade, 2003)
  • La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
  • Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
  • Tanna (Martin Butler & Bentley Dean, 2015)
  • Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  • Toni Erdemann (Maren Ade, 2016)

Extra 14

  • I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
  • Sausage Party (Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon, 2016)
  • American Honey (Andrea Arnold, 2016)
  • Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
  • Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
  • Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016)
  • Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
  • Francofonia (Aleksandr Sokurov, 2015)
  • L’avenir (Things To Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
  • Ma Loute (Slack Bay, Bruno Dumont, 2016)
  • War Dogs (Todd Phillips, 2016)
  • La fille inconnue (The Unknown Girl, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2016)
  • Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
  • Zir-e Sayeh (Under the Shadow, Babak Anvari, 2016)

In another strong year for long-form television, my two outstanding picks would be the complementary series, one documentary, one dramatized, on the same subject:

O.J. Simpson – Made in America ( Ezra Edelman, 2016) and The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Ryan Murphy, Anthony Hemingway, John Singleton, 2016)



  1. Blackhat (Michael Mann, 2015)
  2. On the Milky Road (Emir Kusturica, 2016)
  3. Fai bei sogni (Sweet Dreams, Marco Bellocchio, 2016)
  4. Every Thing Will Be Fine (Wim Wenders, 2015)
  5. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)
  6. Rak ti Khon Kaen (Cemetery of Splendour, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015)
  7. Ji-geum-eun-mat-go-geu-ddae-neun-teul-li-da (Right Now, Wrong Then, Hong Sang-soo, 2015)
  8. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, 2014)
  9. Cìkè Niè Yinniáng (The Assassin, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2015)
  10. She’s Funny That Way (Peter Bogdanovich, 2014)
  11. Vinyl: Pilot (Martin Scorsese, 2016)
  12. Big Eyes (Tim Burton, 2014)
  13. Julieta (Pedro Almodóvar, 2016)
  14. Irrational Man (Woody Allen, 2015)
  15. Wild Horses (Robert Duvalll, 2014)
  16. Chi-Raq (Spike Lee, 2015)
  17. Mia Madre (Nanni Moretti, 2015)
  18. Searching for Padre Pio (Abel Ferrara, 2015)
  19. Bridge of Spies (Steven Spielberg, 2015)
  20. No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman, 2015)

Retrospective Discoveries

  1. Opfergang (Rite of Sacrifice, Veit Harlan, 1944)
  2. Entotsu no mieru basho (Where Chimneys Are Seen, Gosho Heinosuke, 1953)
  3. Chokher Bali (Rituparno Ghosh, 2003)
  4. O necem jinem (Something Different, Vera Chytilová, 1963)
  5. 6 fois 2 (Jean-Luc Godard, 1976)
  6. Krylya (Wings, Larisa Shepitko, 1966)
  7. I Sequestrati di Altona (The Condemned of Altona, Vittorio De Sica, 1962)
  8. La Visione del Sabba (The Witches’ Sabbath, Marco Bellocchio, 1988)
  9. La Proie du Vent (The Prey of the Wind, René Clair, 1927)
  10. Arizona (Wesley Ruggles, 1940)




Best moving image experiences in 2016 

Sticky Drama (Jon Rafman and Daniel Lopatin, 2015), Streaming; Home, 21 January 2016

Meurtrière (Philippe Grandrieux, 2015), DCP; “First Look,” Museum of the Moving Image, 24 January 2016. A delight to step out of the museum and into blizzard conditions.

Stolarz (The Carpenter, Wojciech Wiszniewski, 1976), 35mm; “Millennium Film Journal: Polish Avant-garde Cinema,” Anthology Film Archives, 18 February 2016

Malgré la nuit (Despite the Night, Philippe Grandrieux, 2015), DCP; “Film Comment Selects,” Film Society of Lincoln Center, 20 February 2016.

Seeing this with a pounding headache only enhanced the viewing experience.

Charmed Particles (Andrew Noren, 1978), 16mm; Light Industry, 23 February 2016

Blue Movie (Andy Warhol, 1968), 16mm; Whitney Museum of American Art, 7 April 2016

Streetwise (Martin Bell, 1984), DCP; “BAMcinemaFest,” BAMcinématek, 2 June 2016. As a result of real and imagined factors, I was depressed for most of this summer. After watching Bell’s documentary, I realized how small and insignificant that depression really was.

Safe Conduct (Ed Atkins, 2016); “Ed Atkins,” Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, 4 June 2016

Last Night at the Alamo (Eagle Pennell, 1983), DCP; “BAMcinemaFest,” BAMcinématek, 6 June 2016

Feng ai (‘Til Madness Do Us Part, Wang Bing, 2013), DCP; Anthology Film Archives, 11 June 2016

Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2015), DCP; Museum of Modern Art, 29 June 2016

La Mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016) DCP; “54th New York Film Festival,” Film Society of Lincoln Center, 5 October 2016

A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016), DCP; “54th New York Film Festival,” Film Society of Lincoln Center, 5 October 2016

Animals (Rick Alverson, 2016), Streaming; Home, 20 October 2016

San ren xing (Three, Johnnie To, 2016). Streaming; Home, 3 November 2016


  • Hele Sa Hiwagang Hapis (A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery, Lav Diaz, 2016)
  • A Magical Substance Flows Through Me (Jumana Manna, 2016)
  • A Yellow Bird (K Rajagopal, 2016)
  • Umi yori mo Mada Fukaku (After the Storm, Koreeda HIrokazu, 2016)
  • Endless Poetry (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 2016)
  • Fuocoammare (Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)
  • Kékszakállú (Gastón Solnicki, 2016)
  • Sixty Six (Lewis Klahr, 2016)
  • La Mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
  • O Ornitólogo (The Ornithologist, João Pedro Rodrigues, 2016)
  • Unconcealment of the Aftermaths (Toh Hun Ping, 2009) / EX. TOIL (Toh Hun Ping, 2007)




The best film I saw this year:

The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016)

Also great:

  • Love 3D (Gaspar Noé, 2015)
  • Évolution (Lucile Hadžihalilović, 2015)
  • Bring me the Head of Tim Horton (Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson, Guy Maddin, 2015)
  • Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie, 2016)
  • The Love Witch (Anna Biller 2016)
  • The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)
  • The Invitation (Karyn Kusama, 2015)
  • Ennui ennui (Gabriel Abrantes, 2013) – Screened at Brisbane Film Festival
  • Possession (Andrezj Żulawski, 1981) – Screened on 35mm at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art.




With many ‘must-sees’ as yet unseen, in late December, here are the movies I liked the most from a very good year for cinema — and an historically awful year for almost everything else:

  1. The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2016) Both one of the greatest true horror films ever made and one of the most impressive, fully formed directorial debuts in a very long time.
  2. A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)and 3. Sunset Song (Terence Davies, 2015) Two ‘late’ (though not too late, let’s hope) masterpieces from one of our greatest living filmmakers – perhaps English-language cinema’s best, period, give or take the other Ter(r)ence.
  3. Seeing Sunset Song (and The Long Day Closes) at the Museum of the Moving Image with Davies himself in attendance was the highlight of my moviegoing year. But Davies’ Emily Dickinson biopic may be the finest, most exquisitely tragic film he’s ever made, which is really saying a lot. Cynthia Nixon’s lead performance is the year’s saddest, loveliest, and best.
  4. Weiner (Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, 2016). One of the sharpest studies of the nitty-gritty, everyday experience of a political campaign, albeit in this case an exceptionally strange one. It’s also a remarkably prescient film, both in a general sense, showing how a single Achilles’ heel (e.g., Weiner’s sexting, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, etc.) can tank an otherwise competent, qualified candidate, but also more specifically, in light of the post-Weinerrevelation that the emails which prompted the FBI to consider reopening the Clinton case were allegedly found on Weiner’s laptop, as he was being investigated for sexting with a teenager…
  5. Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience (Terrence Malick, 2016).
  6. Zhi Fan Ye Mao (Life after Life, Zhang Hanyi, 2016).
  7. La Mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016).
  8. Personal Shopper(Olivier Assayas, 2016) Ruminations upon Life, Death, and – per the English-language title of Zhang Hanyi’s quietly stunning feature – Life after Life, alternately, or sometimes at once, spiritual, scientific, mystical, methodical, elegiac, majestic, paltry, and sublime.
  9. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016),
  10. L’avenir(Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016),
  11. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016).
  12. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick, 2015) Personal crises, large and small – from a shredded notebook to a terrible conflagration.

A dozen more that I liked, admired, or both: 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg, 2016); Hei chu you shen me (What’s in the Darkness, Yichun Wang, 2015); The BFG (Steven Spielberg, 2016); Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016); Yeon-ae-dam (Our Love Story, Hyunju Lee, 2016); Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot (Yourself and Yours, Hong Sang-soo, 2016); Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016); Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016); Never Eat Alone (Sofia Bohdanowicz, 2016); Lights above Water (Nicolas Lachapelle and Ariel St-Louis Lamoureux, 2016); Maliglutit (The Searchers, Zacharias Kunuk, 2016); In a Valley of Violence (Ti West, 2016).


  1. I Am Not Your Negro(Raoul Peck, 2016)
  2. Fuocoammare(Fire At Sea, Gianfranco Rosi, 2016)
  3. Christine(Antonio Campos, 2016)
  4. The Birth of a Nation(Nate Parker, 2016)
  5. Moonlight(Barry Jenkins, 2016)
  6. I, Daniel Blake(Ken Loach, 2016)
  7. High-Rise(Ben Wheatley, 2016)
  8. The Witch(Robert Eggers, 2016)
  9. Busanhaeng (Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho, 2016)
  10. Austerlitz(Sergei Loznitsa, 2016)




Top ten of 2016 (alphabetical order)

  1. Le Cancre (Paul Vecchiali, 2016)
  2. C’est l’amour (Paul Vecchiali, 2016)
  3. Diamant Noir (Arthur Harari, 2016)
  4. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
  5. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater, 2016)
  6. John From (Joao Nicolau, 2015)
  7. La Mort de Louis XIV (The Death of Louis XIV, Albert Serra, 2016)
  8. Out There (Takehiro Ito, 2016)
  9. Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)
  10. Soy Nero (Rafi Pitts, 2016)

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