Stuff I Liked in 2016, pt. 3 – Movies

2016 stands out for the potentially great movies I haven’t seen. For the first time in years, I can compile a list of films that I regret not having the $15 for admission more than I regret spending that $15 on Crunchwrap Supremes. 1Including Arrival, Moonlight, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Bad Batch, Silence, A Monster Calls, American Honey, and Hacksaw Ridge. Meanwhile, my own favorites were seen by far too few people who aren’t me. Here are ten of them:

Doctor Strange10. Doctor Strange
A dinky script and a performance by Benedict Cumberbatch so hammy that they have to stop the movie every 30 minutes to add a coat of glaze can’t blot out IMAX 3D visuals that made me feel like what I imagine audiences in 1968 felt when first seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Witch9. The Witch
This exceptionally creepy and gorgeous psychological horror about isolated Puritans besieged in the woods : M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village :: Alien Howard the Duck

Captain Fantastic8. Captain Fantastic
Matt Ross couldn’t have intended his skillful story about a crazy dad trying hard to raise his kids in the least crazy way possible to be a lesson for post-Trump America, but it becomes one by gently leading you into feeling empathy for the characters you most want to disagree with.

Absolutely Fabulous7. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie
In a year when Ghostbusters became a gender wars battlefield for having some ladies in it, my favorite comedy was created by, written by, directed by, and starred women. Ironically, even though AbFab:TM is really just an extra-big episode of the TV series, its the rare modern comedy that doesn’t feel like a sitcom.

I am not a Serial Killer6. I am Not a Serial Killer
To give you a hint of the creativity of I am Not a Serial Killer: it starts with a sociopathic teen trying to resist his urge to kill people who annoy him, then it gets weird. And it still ends up being one of the most touchingly human stories of the year.

Raw5. Raw
If you’re longing for the movies by female filmmakers that Hollywood just won’t make, look no further than France and writer/director Julia Ducournau’s debut. Though you’ll also have to be willing to look at a young woman come of age by turning to cannibalism.

Green Room4. Green Room
A seriously tense and satisfying thriller, but what I love most about Green Room is how devotedly it portrays the hardcore music scene in which its set. Also my favorite poster of the year, an image that precisely captures the movie’s fusion of punk terror.

Kicks3. Kicks
I saw a thrilling, original indie coming-of-age story about a black boy, and it wasn’t Moonlight. A kid’s quest to steal back his Air Jordans, Kicks was introduced to me as Italian neorealism reset in the East Bay ghetto. That’s fitting, but I also see director Justin Tipping as the next Charles Burnett, leading us through the everyday lives of African-Americans in a world we outside of it never get to see.

Gleason2. Gleason
In 2011, former NFL safety Steve Gleason was diagnosed with ALS. He began creating a video diary to introduce himself to his unborn son, and that footage serves as the basis for this documentary. It’s unquestionably the most moving film I saw this year, not because of tragedy or triumph over it, but because of how vividly it depicts the power of living meaningfully.

Hell or High Water 1. Hell or High Water
Hell or High Water has everything classic movies used to have: a captivating original story with rich characters and a vivid sense of place, stirringly brought to life through adept directing and acting, all put to work exploring important ideas. Too bad no one wants to see that stuff anymore.

← Stuff I Liked in 2016, pt. 2 – MusicStuff I Liked in 2016, pt. 4 – TV →


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1. Including Arrival, Moonlight, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Bad Batch, Silence, A Monster Calls, American Honey, and Hacksaw Ridge.
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