Monday, January 9, 2017

Top 10 Films of 2016

Looking over this list, it’s interesting that nearly half of my choices made my Top 10 Films of 2016 (so far) list back in July. I suppose to some degree, 2016 gave us something to like throughout. Here are the 10 I enjoyed the most.

Honorable Mention
The Girlfriend Experience
Created, Written and Directed by Amy Seimetz & Lodge Kerrigan
TV dominates the conversation far more than film these days. And while this will always be a site dedicated to cinema, it’s worth mentioning that the finest television I saw in 2016 was Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience. The show, based loosely on Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 film of the same name, is about a law student’s (Riley Keough) discovery of the high-end escort service From the way the story was told (it’s a rare 30-minute drama) to its hypnotic look, The Girlfriend Experience was utterly entrancing from first episode to last. I watched Season 1 in a day, and spent much of that time trying to remember a TV show that left me so creatively inspired. 

10. The Neon Demon
dir. by Nicolas Winding Refn
Sure, there were films of more substance in 2016, but The Neon Demon succeeded as fever dream cinema. A pitch-black dissection of fame, celebrity, and all that comes with it, the film was a grotesque experiment of the macabre. For better or worse, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

9. The Handmaiden
dir. by Park Chan-wook
I initially had a hard time keeping up with The Handmaiden. I didn’t know if I could hang with the story, or if I even cared to. But once I settled into Park Chan-wook’s dark, beautiful, sexy, violent world, I fell into it like a trance. It’s Chan-wook’s most mature film yet. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

8. The Lobster
dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Yorgos Lanthimos cares none about convention. His films are darkly comedic takedowns of how we view the societal structure of family, children, relationships, and loss. No two-sentence description of The Lobster will do the film justice. But to say I’ve never seen anything like this film is a feat entirely of itself.

7. White Girl
dir. by Elizabeth Wood
If I’m lucky, I get one of these movies a year. A flick I’ve never heard of, that creeps up and destroys me. I found White Girl on Netflix last month, hit play, and was stunned for the subsequent 88 minutes. It’s a film about the destruction of youth and the recklessness of fun. What do you call fun when fun goes too far? A nightmare. And that’s what White Girl is: a poignant nightmare that dares you watch.

6. Hell or High Water
dir. by David Mackenzie
Hell or High Water is the kind of movie no one thinks will succeed. The film was made for just $12 million and then quietly released in August, with little marketing help from the distributor. But somehow, it caught on. People started talking, the film doubled its budget in gross, and it is now an Oscar contender. Hell or High Water is the underdog of 2016; it’s been one of my film pleasures of the year to tell everyone that they must see it.

5. Everybody Wants Some!!
dir. by Richard Linklater
I was nervous about Everybody Wants Some!! Richard Linklater was following Boyhood, one of my favorite films of recent memory, with an 80s-set college flick starring relative unknowns. It was foolish of me to doubt Linklater, as Everybody Wants Some!! is as funny, original, and rewatchable as damn near anything the man has made. A smile formed on my face during the film’s opening scene, and it didn’t leave until the credits rolled. Such a fun damn flick.

4. Knight of Cups
dir. by Terrence Malick
Knight of Cups is a visual poem, an abstract painting in motion. Your interpretation of it depends entirely on where you are, emotionally speaking. Its obscure nature isn’t for everyone, such is Malick’s way. I don’t know how to better summarize my opinion on the film than to say I understood it. I understood its intention and identified with its conceptual depiction of loss and regret. How does one start over? I haven’t a clue, neither does Christian Bale’s character. But you have to start somewhere. And somewhere is different for everyone.

3. Manchester by the Sea
dir. by Kenneth Lonergan
Manchester by the Sea isn’t a big film. There are no grand set pieces, the cinematography is standard, and the editing is clunky at times. But it has characters. Real, human characters who exist in a world where pain is paramount and anguish is every day. I knew each person in the film, because Kenneth Lonergan wrote them that way, and the respective actors played them that way. Not since Steve McQueen’s Shame have I seen a movie that better encapsulates the eternal regret one can suffer through.

2. Nocturnal Animals
dir. by Tom Ford
Nocturnal Animals trapped me right away. And once the horrendous highway horror scene was underway (still one of the scariest scenes I’ve ever watched), I was completely transfixed. I’ve never seen fractured love depicted in such a way as it is in Ford’s film. This was the only film of the year that I watched back to back (to back). Three times in row, in quick succession. And I know I haven’t stopped learning from it yet.

1. La La Land
dir. by Damien Chazelle
Musicals are my least favorite film genre. That’s not a blanket statement; I like some here and there. But by and large, I have trouble staying with them. To say I stayed with La La Land is a vast understatement. From its grand opening number atop a Los Angeles freeway, to its wonderfully shattering conclusion, the film had me. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me smile and nod with delight.

Finding movies I love is harder nowadays. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it’s the movies. Maybe there really aren’t as many great films made today. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m getting older, priorities are changing, I don’t see as many movies, I’m less tolerant of typical. My movie tastes align with films that knock the wind out of me. Films that are hard to watch, that challenge me. La La Land wasn’t that. In a word, the film was simply delightful. It wasn’t dark and sad and foreboding, it was a love-set dream in the City of Angels, and I felt lucky that I got to see it. I felt lucky that I enjoyed myself so much while watching it. I feel lucky that I get so much pleasure from telling people how much I love it. La La Land is that rare movie that reminds me why I love movies. They don’t come around too much, but when they do, I feel so lucky that they came into my life.

Ten More I Enjoyed
American Honey
Author: The JT Leroy Story
De Palma
The Invitation
Kate Plays Christine


  1. Great list. I have liked or loved all the ones i have seen on it except for one. I watched about half of Knight of Cups before turning it off. I think i just wasn't in the right mood for it that day so i should probably give it a second chance one day though. I do love most of Terrence Malick's movies. But anyway, i still haven't watched all of the movies i want to see from 2016 like La La Land, Silence, Moonlight or Manchester by the Sea, so i'm not completely satisfied with my list yet, but here it is anyway.

    10. Swiss Army Man dir. by Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan (A really strange, but fun movie. If the ending was better it might have even been higher.)
    9. The Nice Guys dir. by Shane Black (We just don't get fun summer movies like this anymore in the sea of bland super hero movies. I wish more people had gone out to watch this one. I would love to see these two characters again.)
    8. Sing Street dir. by John Carney (Just a nice, feel-good movie with songs that are still stuck in my head.)
    7. The VVitch dir. by Robert Eggers (And on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, a dark and depressing movie that still haunts me to this day.)
    6. Hunt for the Wilderpeople dir. by Taika Waititi (Funniest movie i watched in 2016. I can quote this movie all day long. The New Zealand accents also helps with my enjoyment of it.)

    5. Green Room dir. by Jeremy Saulnier (Scarier and more brutal than most horror movies released these days. Anton Yelchin was amazing as always. He will definitely be missed.)
    4. 10 Cloverfield Lane dir. by Daniel Trachtenberg
    (This is one of my favorite movies of the year pretty much only because of John Goodman's performance. He was terrifying in here.)
    3. Arrival dir. by Denis Villeneuve (Denis Villeneuve is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors working today and this is just another amazing movie from him. Can't wait for his Blade Runner movie.)
    2. Hacksaw Ridge dir. by Mel Gibson (Probably the best war movie since The This Red Line and Saving Private Ryan. Mel Gibson proves that he still has a talent for directing after all these years since Apocalypto.)
    1. Nocturnal Animals dir. by Tom Ford (I have watched this movie twice now and it got even better the second time. I just loved everything about it from the story and directing to all the performances. I can't believe Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon aren't getting more attention for their performances here.)

    Some honourable mentions are Midnight Special, Hell or High Water, The Neon Demon, Imperium, Captain Fantastic, Eddie the Eagle, Everybody Wants Some, Don't Breathe and The Lobster.

    And as soon as i have seen some more movies i will probably come back and change a lot of it.

    Also, just for fun here are the worst movies i watched last year in no particular order: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, X-men Apocalypse, The Do-Over, Zoolander 2, Term Life and Special Correspondents. I wanted to watch none of these.

    1. Great comment! Since you're a Malick fan I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on Knight of Cups if you ever give it another guy.

      Soooo happy Nocturnal Animals made the top of your list. I too am stunned that Shannon hasn't gotten more attention for his performance. It's such great work! But oh well.

      I saw a few of your worst-of movies and, yeah, I agree.

  2. I've only seen half of these films in the top 10 of your list. It hasn't been a very good year for me personally. I'm really hoping to see La La Land this week as well as some other films that came out in the year we shall never speak of.

    1. Yeah I'm with you. I haven't had a truly great year since 2011. But I will be very curious to hear your thoughts on La La Land.

  3. I'm still drafting my own top 10 list but so far La La Land, the Handmaiden and Nocturnal Animals are also on mine. A few others of yours are in honorable mentions. Great list! (I threw White Girl in my Netflix queue the other day, so I should be seeing that soon)

    1. Good stuff. White Girl is so, so raw. I'd love to hear what you think.

  4. White Girl sounds fascinating, and I hadn't even heard about it till now, so thanks for that recommendation!
    La La Land finally comes out in the UK this weekend...the wait has been so painful!

    1. White Girl is so damn raw but I really appreciated it. Glad I could shed some light on it for you! I hope you like La La Land!

  5. A good list, but very different to what mine will be (except Hell or High Water). I haven't seen some of the films you listed because they haven't been released in the UK yet (La La Land for example) or I haven't heard of them (White Girl) and one, that I've read about, and really don't want to see it (Knight of Cups).

    But I did love Manchester by the Sea and Nocturnal Animals but of which I felt had some superb editing. I like the sequences in Manchester by the Sea where Casey Affleck was driving by to his home town, thinking about his past. The film would flick between him driving, and his memories as though he was reminiscing about them.

    1. I'm excited for your list. I took issue with the way the central, tragic flashback in Manchester was edited. There was no tension in it all for me. I was like, "Wait... what?" But I still adore the film, for sure.

  6. You and I have the same exact Top 3! Affleck in Manchester by the Sea is the most heart wrenching performance of 2016. I went into the film thinking I knew exactly what would happen but was constantly surprised.

    Nocturnal Animals just blew me away. The screenplay is brilliant. Tom Ford is becoming one of my favorite Directors. And I don't think I've ever been so drawn in by a character as I was with Amy Adams' portrayal of Susan. I wish Nocturnal Animals received more attention from critics. I'm hoping to see Adams get nominated for Best Actress but I doubt that will happen considering that people seemed to gravitate more towards Arrival.

    La La Land is a PERFECT FILM. I'm not going to say much. Instead, I'd love for you to watch my review of the film on my YouTube Channel. Here is the link below. Hope you watch it, I'd love to hear your feedback! :)

    1. Thanks awesome! Adams really floored me in Nocturnal Animals as well. I understand why some are calling her performance one-note, but I found sooo much more depth in it.

      I'll give your vid a watch soon. Great work!

  7. I recently saw La La Land a second time and it was just as good if not better the second time around. Love that film to pieces!!

    My top 10:

    1. Moonlight
    2. La La Land
    3. Manchester By The Sea
    4. The Handmaiden
    5. Jackie
    6. Captain Fantastic
    7. Arrival
    8. Zootopia
    9. The Fits
    10. The Nice Guys

    1. Great stuff. I absolutely adore La La Land. A damn fine film. I wonder if Viggo will pull out an Oscar nom for Captain Fantastic?

  8. Nice list! I hadn't seen some of the titles but La La Land was exceptional. It almost saved the end of 2016 from a lot of unexpected duds.

    1. Thanks! I didn't really connect with a lot of the major films from this year either. Certainly not as much as others. But La La Land... that one got me. So glad you like it.

  9. Great list and I knew I was going to have to write most of your favourite movies down to my watchlist because I didn't see enough movies in 2016. I did see two from your top 3 so at least that's something. I've yet to watch La La Land because I missed it at my local cinema and now I have to wait for the DVD. Oh well.

    I feel like I haven't come to your blog in a while and I feel bad about it, I'm sorry! I will come and read all the reviews and lists soon! I'm especially curious of your review of Arrival, which was my favourite movie of last year, and I was surprised to not see it on your list.And I guess you haven't seen Moonlight yet? I feel like that would be on this list, or at least it should be.

    Keep up the good work! And I wish you great movie experiences for 2017!!

    1. Hey there! I don't post on here nearly as much as I used to, so it's all good! Moonlight and Arrival made my Top 20 of the year (they're listed as sort-of honorable mentions in this post.) I hope you like La La Land when you see it!

  10. The only one of your 10 I've seen so far is Everybody Wants Some!! Started off funny, but fizzled out by being repetitive and not having a point to make. Still,I'm looking forward to seeing the rest.

    1. I hear you, I just love that damn movie. I'm looking forward to your list!

  11. I didn't see anywhere even close to as many movies I wanted to this year, but hey, that's what Blu-Ray's for.

    Anyway, from what very little I did see, here's what stuck out.

    1 Swiss Army Man
    Saw this with some friends back in the summer and we were all just blown away. A farting corpse is not only surprisingly hilarious, but also a fucking brilliant plot device. Did you see it? I'm curious what you thought.
    2 Hacksaw Ridge
    We talked about this quite a bit already, but yeah, it's a gut-wrencher.
    3 Deadpool. Captain Deadpo- no, just Deadpool
    Because X gonna give it to ya. Also, the most brilliant opening titles I'd seen in years. My friend and I are actually writing a meta-referential ultraviolent comedy script ourselves, and this was a nice little prototype, I think.
    4 The VVitch
    To be honest, it didn't really live up to the hype, but it still was a damn fine atmosphere piece with some of the most impressive attention to period detail in years. It definitely helps if you watch Haxan before watching this one.
    5 Zootopia
    A fun little movie with a surprisingly profound message about race relations. If you know any kids (or really, if you just need a pick-me-up) check it out.
    6 Arrival
    It's not really a science fiction masterpiece, but it's a pretty fine film with a nice twist, even if it doesn't have quite as much staying power as I'd like it to.
    7 Midnight Special

    Like I said, I saw barely anything, and what I did see didn't really wow me.

    I did however, see some of the worst shit I've ever bore witness to.

    1 Suicide Squad
    This should be studied. Seriously, I think it's a must-see, just to study how NOT to make a movie. Even taking into account how much crap Hollywood puts out, and all the obstacles that make every movie a mini miracle, it still boggles the mind that the studio would blow so much money on such ineptitude. But it made a lot of money, so who gives a shit what I think? Besides, it gave us the best (read: worst) line of the year.
    2 Batman V Superman: Dawn of Injustice towards DC fans everywhere
    Seriously, DC's really screwing themselves here. There's a line from a later episode of the Simpsons that sums up Snyder pretty well. 0:42-0:49. Also, BATMAN DOESN'T BRAND PEOPLE!!!!!!
    3 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
    I posted a review of this on my Facebook page. Keep in mind, I'm a millenial, who's friends with millenials, so anything knocking J. K. Rowling's gonna be controversial. I liked Harry Potter, but this just sucked.

    1. Also, I saw Eyes Wide Shut in the theater this year for the first time, so in a way that's my real #1 favorite of the year. Hell, it may even be Top 10 for me.

    2. Also, huge edit: My number one favorite would be The Eyes of My Mother. Horror raised to visual poetry. Images of shocking brutality and unlikely beauty that won't leave my mind anytime soon.

    3. The Eyes of My Mother was so damn good. Loved that flick. Suicide Squad really should be studied. That thing is utterly baffling. Those first 25 minutes... I can't even think of words to describe them. It is really quite incredible that such a large movie was so clumsily put together.

    4. You know, shortly after I posted this, I saw Scorsese's Silence, and I was floored in a way very few films ever, let alone this year, have floored me. Also I saw Moonlight (which I liked but didn't love) and La La Land (which I enjoyed greatly), and completely forgot about others I saw, like Zulaski's Cosmos and Hell or High Water.

      If I had to redo the list, it would be something like
      1) Silence
      2) The Eyes of My Mother
      3) Swiss Army Man
      4) Hacksaw Ridge
      5) Deadpool
      6) La La Land
      7) Cosmos (A swan song from a master. No one does mania like Andrzej Zulawski)
      8) The Witch
      9) Hell or High Water
      10) Zootopia

      Also, I see you've got a new banner. Nice! Looking at the images, would I be correct in saying they're all from Bergman films? Although there is one in the bottom row of a clown that looks suspiciously Jodorowsky-esque, but I'm not sure what your views on Jodorowsky are.

    5. Awesome, love the new list! I just mentioned The Eyes of My Mother to you in another comment... so happy you saw that one. That'd probably make my top 10 of 2016 now too. Holy fuck that movie. So unsettling.

  12. YAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!! I still haven't seen Moonlight, Jackie, MBTS, 20th Century Women and quite a few more but there's a strong, strong possibility that La La Land will stay my number 1. Everyone who is hating on it, I kinda wanna give them your example cuz you seem like the least La La Land person I know (no offence :P). It's so lovely and great :D

    1. It's so good! One of the things about not being active on twitter is that I don't see all the nonsense people spout. Any one person is allowed to like or dislike any one film. Film Twitter often has no concept of opinion and perspective. It's just so silly. Point is I love love love La La Land. That movie reminded me why I love movies. I'm thrilled you liked it too!

  13. Jesus Christ....La La Land being the most honored movie in Globes history was surprising but you choosing it as #1 is astonishing! I was expecting something darker from you! :) I haven't seen it so I have yet to find out what the fuss is all about, I'm bringing my mom to this next week since I really don't fancy going with my friends and listening how hot Ryan Gosling is (I'm not into him, he is awesome in comedies but that's it) the entire time. The only two films from your list I've seen were The Neon Demon (loved!) and Nocturnal Animals (definitely didn't love). I am looking forward to Arrival and Jackie so much.

    1. Honestly, La La Land is the only great movie I saw in 2016. I really enjoyed Nocturnal and MBTS, but they didn't hit for me like LLL. The movie isn't for everyone (musicals rarely are for me!), but there was something about it that I found absolutely enchanting.

  14. I still have a lot of films to watch from this year, but so far my top 10 looks pretty much like this.

    1. La La Land
    2. Moonlight
    3. Manchester by the Sea
    4. Hell or High Water
    5. Nocturnal Animals
    6. The Witch
    7. The Neon Demon
    8. The Lobster
    9. The Wailing
    10. Green Room

    I have yet to see Arrival, Toni Erdmann, Everybody Wants Some!!, Julieta, White Girl, American Honey, Swiss Army Man, Hacksaw Ridge, Knight of Cups, The Handmaiden, to name a few...

    La La Land is the most exciting, beautiful, magical and utterly jaw-dropping film I've seen in quite a while. Last time I left the theatre wanting to see the movie again so badly was... well... Whiplash. Damien Chazelle is incredible.

    That being said, I've only seen 6 of your picks and loved them all. Chances are I'll love the other 4.

    1. I love that we have so many in common! We agree fully on La La Land. That is one damn beautiful movie, for a variety of reasons.

  15. I'm bit surprised that 'Toni Erdmann' is not included here ... to me it was definitely in to top5 of 2016.

  16. I must say that I feel tempted to basically steal your thoughts on La La Land. It was as if you summarized my thoughts, but you said it better than I could ever hope to say it. I read somewhere you weren't too keen on Moonlight, but I was. I really did not see how a film released in 2016 could top it. Still, I "only" gave it a 4.5/5 because I associate perfect scores to something momentous that, like you rightly put it, can take the wind out of me for better or worse. I was right in my assessment. La La Land is that perfect film I had been waiting for. It was cinema at its very best. It was escapism. It was an ode to the possibility of movies and to the magic that can be created and somehow contained within the frame of a big screen. La La Land is a masterpiece and will likely be remembered as such. It should be showered with awards even if there are still several deserving films out there. Damien Chazelle is one talented man. I mean, to follow Whiplash with La La Land is simply outstanding and the man is my age. He makes all of us look bad.
    In general, I do think that 2016 was a better year for films than 2015. So I hope 2017 continues the trend.

    PS. I plan to check out White Girl and Refn's Neon Demon now that you recommend them. Your opinion in film is one I definitely consider.

    1. Thanks so much - what a kind comment! Perhaps I misspoke somewhere, but I did indeed appreciate Moonlight. There were a few minor things in it that I took issue with, but they were minor indeed. I'm so happy you connected with La La Land as intensely as I did. I adore that film.

      And let me know if you see White Girl!

  17. Such a great list! So pleased I find here the Lobster, Manchester by the Sea and the Handmaiden. Such great movies. I still value substance way above any style, so I currently find it difficult to appreciate Knight of Cups and the Neon Demon, but I will be re-watching these films soon, so maybe I will change my opinion.

    1. Nice! So happy you dig the list. I found a lot of substance in Knight of Cups... just really connected with it. But I totally get what you mean.

  18. Love your list and I haven't seen some of them but I'm going to go ahead and list 10 of my favorite films of 2016. But before I would like to say that I enjoyed this year in 2016. As a whole it wasn't an amazing year but I would definitely say it was a good year. The last year for film that really was fun for me was probably 2014 with movies like Interstellar, Boyhood, Birdman, etc etc. BUT back to my favorite films and films I enjoyed the most in 2016

    1. Silence
    2. The Handmaiden
    3. Moonlight
    4. Arrival
    5. Sing Street
    6. Nocturnal Animals
    7. The Nice Guys
    8. The Neon Demon
    9. Eye in the Sky
    10.Hell or High Water

    Honorable Mentions:
    1. Allied
    2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
    3. Zootopia
    4. Captain America: The Civil War
    5. Deadpool
    6. Love & Friendship
    7. 10 Cloverfield Lane
    Those are just a few. Again I enjoyed the film year as a whole. Some really really good films out there just have to find them I always say.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree, a good but not great year. I can't wait to see Silence again. There was so much going on in that one. So deep and evolving.

  19. Nice list all around. I can safely say I'm in 100% agreement with your #1.

    - Zach

    1. Awesome man, so happy you liked that film. It worked for me in every way.

  20. 1. Moonlight
    2. Silence
    3. The Lobster
    4. Green Room
    5. The Handmaiden
    6. The Witch
    7. Manchester By the Sea
    8. American Honey/Everybody Wants Some (tie)
    9. La La Land
    10. Arrival

    Honorable Mention: I Daniel Blake, Nocturnal Animals, Hell Or High Water

    1. Nice list buddy. Green Room was so damn brutal. I've only seen it once. Need to give it another go!

  21. A couple films I've yet to see and several more that I wasn't particularly impressed with but I respect the specificity and passion of your choices. For the life of me, I don't get the love of Nocturnal Animals from some quarters but it is a visually striking film and Tom Ford executes his vision without compromise.

    Here's my list:
    1. MOONLIGHT (U.S., Barry Jenkins)
    2. JACKIE (U.S., Pablo Larraín)
    3. ARRIVAL (U.S., Denis Villeneuve)
    4. THE LOBSTER (Ireland, Yorgos Lanthimos)
    5. EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT (Colombia, Ciro Guerra)
    6. AMERICAN HONEY (U.S., Andrea Arnold)
    7. KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS (U.S., Travis Knight)
    8. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE (New Zealand, Taika Waititi)
    9. SON OF SAUL (Hungary, László Nemes)
    10. FENCES (U.S., Denzel Washington)
    11. KRISHA (U.S., Trey Edward Shults)
    12. TAXI (Iran, Jafar Panahi)
    13. THE FITS (U.S., Anna Rose Holmer)
    14. LA LA LAND (U.S., Damien Chazelle)
    15. A BIGGER SPLASH (Italy, Luca Guadagnino)
    16. HELL OR HIGH WATER (U.S., David Mackenzie)
    17. THE SALESMAN (Iran, Asghar Farhadi)
    18. ELLE (France, Paul Verhoeven)
    19. 20th CENTURY WOMEN (U.S., Mike Mills)
    20. GREEN ROOM (U.S., Jeremy Saulnier)

    1. Great list. I still have some of yours to see, mostly a handful of your foreign picks. I had trouble finding a lot of foreign films from this year that I liked. But your list is a good place to start.

  22. Glad to see you've included The Girlfriend Experience. I loved it, I binge watched it 'cause I couldn't wait to know more about Riley Keough's character, her performance was wonderful. From the ones I've seen my favorite would be The Lobster. Loved Farrell and Léa Seydoux's little role and its whole metaphor about love and relations in this messed up "modern" world. I liked The Neon Demon but not as much as I'd liked to, and I'm sad La la land didn't work for me, the ending is a thing of beauty, but the rest of it didn't engage me as I was hoping having two of my favorite actors on the leading roles. Adding to my "to watch" list some films I didn't know about and can't wait to see the rest, 'cause you always make some very interesting choices!

    1. SO happy you gave The Girlfriend Experience a chance and ended up liking it. While I'm sad Keough's character won't be around for Season 2, I'm very intrigued by the early synopsis of that season. Sounds very ambitious and promising.

    2. I knew she wasn't returning and I was sad about that too, but I haven't read the new synopsis, I will check it out asap!

  23. Great list, Alex! I'll have mine finished pre-Oscars. Will definitely include Manchester, La La Land, and Everybody Wants Some!! So glad to see Everybody Wants Some!! on your list. I can't believe it didn't have a mediocre cult following, at least, but it seems to have flown well under the radar.

    1. Thanks man! I'm stunned Everybody Wants Some wasn't marketed better. It's so damn good. Hopefully it will find an audience and live on, like much of Linklater's best work.

  24. Talking about La La Land: drove 20 miles to watch it on the silver screen. Don't care much for musicals (is this really a musical?), but I knew I had to watch it for some reason. There's quite a few things in the movie I would criticize (e.g. its predictability, Gosling is playing Gosling, the heavy use of coincidence - not only in the beginning, I mean throughout the movie etc.).
    But I loved the film.
    So what's the point? The point is: you cannot explain art. And that's the magic of art. If there was a formula to it, everybody would make great movies, right? All you need is an iPhone and that formula.
    I am so glad there is NO formula. You can save the cat, do your homework, but there's NO formula. Never was. Never will be.

    1. Totally agree. Movies that buck convention are my jam. Those will always be my favorites. Musicals are my least genre, but damn if La La Land didn't steal my heart.

  25. Great list Alex! Although I didn't adore La La Land, I enjoyed it and may give it another go considering your comments on it. I think it was just too hyped up for me unfortunately, but I want to try it again with fresh eyes. There are lots of films on your list I haven't seen yet, but I'll get around to them eventually! A quick question, what are your thoughts on Moonlight, seeing how it won best picture and you left it off your list?

    1. Thanks Eva! Hype can be a killer for sure. It's one of the reasons I like to get to movies as early as I can.

      My opinions on Moonlight are complicated. There's a movie like this almost every year, one that is seemingly universally praised that I don't fully connect with (Spotlight, Selma, American Hustle, Les Mis/Lincoln, The Artist, etc) . I did enjoy and appreciate Moonlight and any film that cost $1.5 million and ultimately wins Best Picture is a grand step forward for indie films. The film was acted incredibly well and shot to perfection, but there were some things in it that lost me. Mainly, I still do not understand how Black can have a wet dream about Kevin, without having met adult Kevin. In the dream, Kevin looks how he looks in real life, he's wearing clothes he would wear, standing near where he works. Black has no idea about any of this, but he has a dream about it. It makes no sense! I also thought the first two segments were drastically superior to the third. But truthfully, it's a fine and important film and I'm eager to see it again.

      I also thought it was laughably absurd that people created this ridiculous notion of Moonlight vs La La Land. As if it's impossible to like (or dislike) two movies from the same year that happen to be nominated for awards. Chazelle and Jenkins are friends and really enjoyed each others' movies. Why can't people chill out and stop creating fervor from nothing?

    2. I completely agree. Many friends of mine adored La La Land until they saw Moonlight, at which point they decided that they hated La La Land, and vise versa.

    3. And that will never make sense to me. It is very possible to like two movies that come out in the same year and are nominated for the same awards.