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« GALECA Nominees | Main | Interview: Pablo Larraín on his recent triple - Jackie, Neruda, and The Club »
Friday
Jan132017

Best of Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

We've reached the end of our Year in Review List Making if not the end of the year in review list making -- wait wha?!. Which is to say that we still have our own awards nominations (both Oscar and fun extras) in some 40 categories to come. That's right. It's time for the annual Film Bitch Award Nominations -- our 17th annual prizes (gulp) -- which begin with the age-old tradition of the top ten list.

But first...

HONORABLE MENTION

If The Salesman borrows too liberally from Asghar Farhadi's masterpiece A Separation so be it (let's face it -- all the great auteurs steal from themselves. This is how we recognize their films). It's a riveting drama exposed by destabilizing cracks in the foundations.

Sing Street was the year's most rewarding nostalgia piece causing flashbacks of teenage identity experiments and that usually short lived  'i could be a pop star!' phase. And what a fantastically fresh cast.

Viggo Mortensen's uniquely out of place and time persona (think about it: he could be from any country or era) is a huge boon to the thought-provoking Captain Fantastic. Writer/director Matt Ross harnesses Viggo's energy for a head-first sprint into the woods of non-conformity but those idealogical woods thin out and soon enough we're face-to-face with reality.

The Fits' unique character as something of a mystical movement film had us levitating. Its hard-to-pin-down allegory wasn't so much tentative and amorphous as thrillingly ambiguous...

Director Garth Davis (Top of the Lake) grants the adoption / search drama Lion a stirring soul when a more problematic and cheaply sentimental movie was lurking around every corner.

And finally, Paul Verhoeven's darkly hilarious Elle handed Isabelle Huppert a role she was born to play. She ran with it, amplifying all of its cerebral, deadpan, button-pushing daring. Yes, Isabelle, you kept it tight. 

RUNNERS UP

ZOOTOPIA
(Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush)
Disney.  March 4th
108 minutes 

Favorite bit: Judy's initial train ride into Zootopia. What economic clever and fully enveloping bit of 'world building,' in less than the length of a pop song. "Try Everything," you say? Thank you I will. May we have a sequel set in each borough we've only barely glimpsed on the way inside? 

Given that Zootopia was a massive blockbuster all over the globe, that request may well be granted. Hopefully Disney doesn't lose sight of what really sells this delightful movie: it's superbly rendered unity through diversity theme and creative spin of multiple movie tropes into one succinct and very satisfying story. 

 

AQUARIUS
(Kleber Mendonça Filho)
Vitagraph. October 14th
142 minutes 

Favorite bit(s): It's an organic tie between the first image of the incomparable Sonia Braga emerging from the ocean near the home she plans to die in and that final macro closeup of invaders (no spoilers). Both images speak to truly elemental forces of nature and to each other.

Honestly if the movie were twenty minutes shorter to twist all its intuitive sensual strands together as effortlessly as Clara keeps reconfiguring that glorious mane with her fingers, I suspect we'd be looking at a bonafide masterpiece. (Give me everything Filho's every shot right now so I can catch up!)

 

LITTLE MEN
(Ira Sachs)
Sony Pictures Classics. August 5th 
85 minutes

Favorite bit: That seemingly disposable acting class scene. Before an amusing screaming match exercize (not diametrically opposed to the lower volume stand-offs to come between adults), the coach explains to his students that the raw material of acting is the seeing, observing, and understanding of human behavior.

If that's true than Ira Sachs is his own film's greatest actor because this increasingly outstanding writer/director (see also the gorgeously felt Love is Strange) has all those materials at his disposable. This observational socioeconomically minded family drama is far more complex than it appears or that its running time suggests. Note to the increasing herds of longwinded filmmakers: you can actually accomplish a lot in an hour and a half.

 

FENCES
(Denzel Washington)
Paramount. December 16th
138 minutes

Favorite bit: Those seismic aftershocks when Rose (Viola Davis) realizes that Troy (Denzel Washington) never could accept his fate and live in it alongside her. The language of this classic is so superb, both real and heightened. August Wilson is a master.

I took all of my feelings, my wants and needs, my dreams... and I buried them inside you. I planted a seed and watched and prayed over it. I planted myself inside you and waited to bloom. And it didn't take me no eighteen years to find out the soil was hard and rocky and it wasn't never gonna bloom.

You take... and don't even know nobody's giving!

Troy's furious self-deluding response "I done give you everything I got" only amplifies the tragedy. Just let two of the world's greatest actors loose on those powerhouse Wilson lyrics and stay the hell out of their way (arguably the very best conducting/directorial choice). It's one hell of a duet. 

 

TOP TEN OF THE YEAR 

 

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT
(Cirro Guerra) 
Oscilloscope. February 17th
125 minutes 

Favorite bits: Those hallucinatory interlude shots of animals and then the actual hallucination. Their mysticism gives off the sense that this parallel journey epic (the film crosscuts between two similar trips down the Amazon), is always happening in some way or another.

This is not to say that this well-researched Colombian epic about a search for a transformative plant is an easy metaphor or an allegory for larger journeys but it sure does haunt. It's been sixteen months since I saw it and I still recall the feeling it gave, if not the particulars, quite vividly. 

 

THE LOBSTER
(Yorgos Lanthimos)
A24. May 13th
119 minutes 

Favorite bit: Just that disturbingly opaque glimpse of the Transformation Room. Mundanely non-descript and bluntly named, and thus weirdly funny given its magical purpose and refusal to explain itself. But to be honest The Lobster is so confident about its vision and so full of bracing originality in its satire of conformity, coupledom and self-esteem that any tiny bit of it could be argued as a standout. 

Appropros of nothing but fully engaging in the weird headspace this movie demands and just in case I ever run in to Oliva Colman's frighteningly direct hotel manager, I would choose a racoon. I love their mask faces and relate to their dexterous handsiness.  "A racoon is an excellent choice."

 


LOVE & FRIENDSHIP
(Whit Stillman)
Amazon Studios. June 3rd
92 minutes 

Favorite bit: The character title cards. Like the movie itself, they're witty and mercilessly fast. You can catch up later on all those predicted repeat viewings.

Speaking of. I have yet to test run this theory but a bold prediction: Whit Stillman's perpetually amusing and no frills tear through Jane Austen's "Lady Susan" will prove to 2016's most rewatchable movie... or thereabouts. Mean Girls meets How to Marry a Millionaire in pre-Victorian drag with a hint of the tetchiest bits of Sense & Sensibility thrown in. Its pleasures are abundant from the delicious side-eye of besties Sevigny & Beckinsale, to the recurring fear of Connecticutt, and dumb genius of Tom Bennett as Sir James Martin, "a bit of a 'Rattle'"

 

JACKIE
(Pablo Larraín)
Fox Searchlight. December 2nd
100 minutes 

Favorite bit: "I don't smoke." She's always rewriting the scenes while living them. This First Lady will have the last word.

There are some stories so rooted in the USA's cultural DNA that only a foreigner could have enough objectivity to see them for what they are and re-engage with the myth-making from a fresh perspective. Think Taiwan's Ang Lee taking on American masculinity / the Western in Brokeback Mountain, or Britain's Steve McQueen with his excorciating look at the pre-Civil War nightmare of 12 Years a Slave. If Chilean Pablo Larraín's take on the most famous of First Lady's seizing her own mythmaking moment with blood still on her dress, isn't quite their equal it thrills by getting so damn close. 

 

ARRIVAL
(Denis Villeneuve)
Paramount. November 11th
116 minutes

Favorite bit: "Now that's a proper introduction." It's something like a laugh line and a shared exhale after a wondrously tense build up to Dr. Louise's attempts to meet the aliens in Villeneuve's exquisitely shaped sci-fi picture.

Acclaimed writer Ted Chiang's story "Story of Your Life" was the foundation, granting Arrival its beautifully circular storytelling. Speaking of circles, we know we'll be coming back around to this one for years to come. A good bet for a sci-fi film that will age well partially because it doesn't rely on current technological tricks to generate its awe factor; visual effects pictures have a way of instantly dating themselves when they do that. 

 

And my Best Picture ballot*, alpha order
* Please note if you would like to compare the film bitch awards Best Picture Ballot directly to Oscar's ballot you have to wait until Oscar nods come out to see how many films they include (5-10 being their range) and then add more films to these five accordingly.

 

20TH CENTURY WOMEN
(Mike Mills)
A24. December 28th
118 minutes

Favorite bits: The infrequent narrated digressions as the characters attempt to explain each other omnisciently in voiceover. These flourishes break the time barrier in this otherwise very focused slice of life story which appears to take place over a single month or summer (?...the season is tough to suss out since it's always sunny in California.)

An hour or so into the movie, Dorothea (a perfect Annette Bening) tetchily rebuffs her son for reading her a chapter in a feminist book and presuming too much. "You think because you read that that you understand me?" And so it goes with the whole movie. Mike Mills gorgeous ensemble and insightful screenplay may constantly reveal human nature and intricate character but no one soul is ever fully knowable. That shouldn't stop you from trying to know them. 

 

THE HANDMAIDEN
(Park Chan-Wook)
Amazon Studios. October 21st
167 minutes

Favorite bit: How to choose in a film so dizzying with brief "WHAT?!" spectacle and character sleight of hand. But that pornography reading is something else entirely. Particularly the showstopping suspended sexpiece excuse me setpiece with a wooden mannequin.

The Handmaiden is utterly alienating and sneakily inviting, simultaneously, in nearly every scene. The characters invite us and each other in only to violently shut us out as Park Chan-wook continually upends the board, with the human game pieces scattering and then jumping back into place for the next round but the boards been turned and we've a whole new perspective to consider. By the end I felt as if I'd fallen into the tank with a particularly slimy octopus. This movie's gets its tentacles all over you. Months later it has yet to loosen its suction-cup grip.

 


LA LA LAND
(Damien Chazelle)
Lionsgate. December 9th
128 minutes

Favorite bit: That brilliant 'dream ballet' gambit, which reconsiders the not-so-hidden theme... journeys we abandon to chase 'the dream.' It's a celebration of an age old musical trope but also a modern melancholy sliding doors / swipe right fantasy.

This is true in a broader sense of the movie as a whole, of course. Though many critics got enormously uptight about the movie's jazz conversations, they're a red herring. The movie isn't about jazz (Sebastian) any more than it's about acting (Mia). It's about dreams themselves and how rigid, committed, and proprietary we are about them. In this case we're all happily inside of Chazelle's own, dancing in LA traffic, wistfully recalling our Aunts in Paris, and celebrating the past with two of the greatest stars of the right now; Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling couldn't be dreamier.


MOONLIGHT
(Barry Jenkins)
A24. October 21st
111 minutes

Favorite bit: "Who is you Chiron?" and that impotent reaching "I'm me, man. I'm not trying to be nothing else." 

The genius of Barry Jenkins triptych, beautifully moodily realized by all members of its filmmaking family in front of the camera and behind it, about a lonely gay black man in Miami is that Chiron has never answered the question or settled on who "me" is. There's a reason his name changes in each chapter: Little, Chiron, Black.

 

THE VVITCH
(Robert Eggers)
A24. February 19th
92 minutes 

Favorite bits: No cinematic images were as unnerving in their genius minimalism this year than The Witch's brilliant shots of two animals direct to camera. One rabbit. One goat. Harmless animals, Satan's servants, or merely dark mirrors of the unknowable and feral within ourselves?

I don't know about sacrificing your soul for living deliciously but I do know that this movie's inevitable unravelling of a pious Puritan family was filling in only the way a feast of a movie can be. I saw it four times in theaters, utterly spellbound.

THE AWARDS BEGIN...

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Reader Comments (45)

Two of your honorable mentions are in my top 5 (Sing Street and The Salesman).

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

Good list Nat. Personally, ELLE is my favorite of the year for many reasons, followed by Train to Busan, Aquarius, Love & Friendship and Little Men. And a bunch of Argentine movies you might not know about:)

Ok, I had my problems with Fences. You know about it. And LLL. The last one hold my fences very high for Chazelle, yet again. Yep, his movie has vigour and is loved by the entire Universe. Pity he's still a mediocre screenwriter utterly obsessed by jazz and disgusted to the art of pop. Never a namecheck of George Micheal sounded so discredited (out of his snobbery) and painful out of place. But, you know, he's a genius like Miles or Thelonius:)
Keep the good job.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

Did you see "American Honey," "Paterson," and "Silence?"

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Paterson is in my list, how could I forgot that! Arrggh. Poetry in motion, literally.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterchofer

My Top Ten, in order:

Moonlight
The Handmaiden
The Lobster
La La Land
Krisha
20th Century Women
Love & Friendship
Aquarius
A Bigger Splash
Silence

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris K

Top 20

1. 13th / I Am Not Your Negro

3. Moonlight

4. Captain Fantastic

5. 20th Century Women

6. Love and Friendship / Hell or High Water

8. The Lobster

9. Arrival

10. Elle

11. La La Land

12. Manchester by the Sea / Krisha / Toni Erdmann

15. The VVitch / The Fits

17. Loving / Fences / Jackie

20. Queen of Katwe

Honorable Mentions (alphabetically)
Café Society, Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail, Caesar!, Hidden Figures, The Nice Guys, 10 Cloverfield Lane

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I haven't seen
American Honey, Aquarius, A Bigger Splash, Certain Women, Christine, The Edge of Seventeen, The Handmaiden, High-Rise, Julieta, Little Men, Midnight Special, Miss Sloane, Nocturnal Animals, Paterson, The Salesman, Silence, Sing Street, Swiss Army Man

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

GREAT list, Nathaniel! I'm amazed you limited it to just 20, it's been such a tremendous year. I was expecting 30, at the very least! The only film I haven't seen is Aquarius, I'll have to find it toot sweet.

I'm very surprised Elle is that low! It's gotta be my favorite of the year for me. Though, I'm thankful for your inclusion of The Handmaiden! I've seen it in theaters twice so far and it's so deeply layered each time! I wanna catch it again, if the Landmark Sunshine is still showing it.

The VVitch is also a grand inclusion! Very happy by this unexpected horror renaissance! I hope more films like The Babadook, It Follows, and The VVitch continue to populate the genre. It might re-define it for the better!

All in all, I love your list! Gah, I just love film in general! Wee!

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBushwick

Great list, perhaps the closest to my own choices ever. I haven't seen The Handmaiden or The Fits or Aquarius. But numbers 1-3 are damn near perfection. I rewatched The Witch this week and I saw so many things I missed in the theater. Demands multiple viewings. Belongs up there with Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, Carnival of Souls, Don't Look Now and The Wicker Man. Time will tell.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

This is probably the least overlap between our Top 10s we've ever had, Nathaniel, but I can't fault your choices-- almost all of them are in my Top 30 or so, which I'd equate to 4/5 stars or higher.

I particularly love how you've sorta withheld your love for some of these movies from readers of the site. Obviously, regulars to TFE know that you love 20th Century Women, La La Land, and Moonlight, but The Witch (to name one) was a fun shock pick.

My Top Ten:
1. Elle
2. Krisha
3. Mountains May Depart
4. 20th Century Women
5. Moonlight
6. Little Men
7. Loving
8. Captain Fantastic
9. Nocturnal Animals
10. Manchester by the Sea

Honorable Mention to: A Bigger Splash, Land of Mine, Lion, Jackie, Hidden Figures, Zootopia, and The Handmaiden.

It was a great Fall and Holiday Season in film. Here's to an amazing 2017!

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Because international cinema distribution models are still stuck in 1999, I am yet to see Moonlight, Jackie or 20th Century Women.
Of what I've seen my Top 10 would read

1. Toni Erdmann
2. Elle (which I am sad to see so low on this list)
3. Manchester by the Sea
4. La La Land (to be honest, this top 4 is a bit interchangeable, I adore them all)
5. Arrival
6. Kate Plays Christine (I responded to this film so intensely, I'm mortified it's been forgotten already)
7. Aquarius
8. Raw (you want great horror? you just wait...)
9. Certain Women
10. American Honey

I'm going by international premiere date. If going by US release, Cemetery of Splendor would be 5, Aferim, Knight of Cups and Neon Bull (again, talk about underseen!) would be 8, 9 and 10.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commentergoran

I still have a few films to see before I'd be comfortable making a list, but 20th Century Women isn't even listed as having a local release yet so who knows when I'll ever get to see it.

Nevertheless, my top five are Cameraperson, Aquarius, Moonlight, I Am Not Your Negro, and Things to Come. Probably.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I am happy to notice that horror and brazilian movies are getting a warm place in your heart :)

My top 10 follows the brazilian schedule of premieres ang goes like this, in orden of preference:

The Witch
Embrace of the Serpent
Krisha
Aquarius
Carol (yes, that Carol)
Green Room
The Lobster
The Invitation
A Bigger Splash
The Handmaiden

Honorable mentions
Demon
Arrival
Elle
The 13th

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTheBoyFromBrazil

Great list and excellent number one. Though I still have to see 20th Century Women.

My top 10:

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

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St. Clair

Great list, Nathaniel. There's a lot I've left to see, like 20thCW, Jackie, Elle and Fences. But here's the list now:

1 Moonlight

2 La La Land

3 Manchester BTS

4 Arrival

5 Silence

6 The Lobster

7 Lion

8 Hell or High Water

9 The Witch

10 OJ: Made in America

I can't see the Top 3 changing at all but who knows

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

What a thrill! You and I have 3 of the same films in our Top Five: 20th Century Women, The Handmaiden, and The Witch.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWalter L. Hollmann

Great list. And not just because it turns out we have a huge overlap (with one very notable exception that we can discuss offline...ha). Haven't seen Loving or Silence yet.

You don't include docs here so I'll just say 13th & Weiner would fight for a place in my top 10.

Honorable mention to Love & Friendship and Hidden Figures for being very satisfying nights at the movies (for different reasons).

10 Elle
9 Hell or High Water
8 The Lobster
7 Jackie
6 20th Century Women
5 Lion
4 The Witch
3 The Handmaiden
2 Arrival
1 Moonlight

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

I got very into Captain Fantastic. For someone who finds a lot of the fil recommendations on this site to be artsy fartsy (so I commend you for the good/witty writing that keeps me coming back) this film was surprisingly mainstream. No good reason any random family wouldn't enjoy it and MANY reasons they would. And yes, Viggo (who so often has bad tastes in projects) is just terrific.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

10. The Shallows
9. Hush
8. Elle
7. The Lady in the Van
6. Moonlight
5. Hidden Figures
4. Snowden
3. Fences
2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
1. Arrival

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKBJr

The VVitch is just completely genius. And doesn't the puritan sexual repression and puritan misogyny seem like it will never go away in this country -- better to elect a sexual abuser than even a boring woman. And that's even before Mike Pence, whose views on sexuality would be more appropriate to characters in this movie.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

No order...
The Founder
20th Century women
Land of Mine
Loving
Eye in the Sky
Sing street
Arrival
The Salesman

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDO

Nice. Happy to see The Witch get your top spot. It's an excellent horror flick. I'm most pumped to see the love for Arrival and The Handmaiden. Arrival is awesome. To be honest, I haven't even seen The Handmaiden, yet, but it is Park Chan-Wook, so I don't doubt it's a fantastic film. Hope to watch it, soon. Need to see Moonlight and a few others. My own top 10 of what I've seen so far...

http://dellonmovies.blogspot.com/2016/12/the-best-and-worst-of-2016so-far.html

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWendell

Matt -- the top five are in alpha order so no #1 yet. I want to watch one of them again once more though the order is firming up in my head.

January 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Still can't believe you haven't seen TONI ERDMANN yet - have you? It's #2 for me behind LLL.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersid

@sid he's seen Toni Erdmann and he doesn't like it! Can you believe that?

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Nathaniel, I wish you could talk about Braga's performance. It's wonderful, but Huppert monopolized the foreign actress conversation this year.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

And what about "Nocturnal Animals"? Clearly one of the best movies of the year?
And where is 'Hell or High Water"?
How can anyone claim that "Lion" or "Love & Friendship" are better movies than these two?
"Zootopia" over "Kubo"? Laughable.
"Arrival" sucks and we all know it.
"The Salesman" is the weakest Farhadi ever.

But apart from these shocking omissions (I haven't seen "Manchester by the Sea" yet so I can't comment on this one) and inclusions this list looks solid. "Lobster" and "The Witch" are awesome.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

This would be my list so far:

1. La La Land (for me it's an modern classic, loved it)
2. Manchester By the Sea (loved the humor, it felt real, great Screenplay!)
3. Nocturnal Animals (very Unique)
---
4. Hidden Figures (a lot of fun and just beautiful)
5. Arrival (give the Director an Oscar, now!)
6. Moonlight (enjoyed that movie to the moon - can't wrap my head around the fact that Ali is the one who gets rewarded, there are even better supporting actors in that movie, but he was great too... just saying)
7. Hello my name is Doris (saw that one four times! And counting!)
8. Elle (it took me new places, not many movies do that for me anymore)
---
9. Reserved for "Christine" (I need to see that, I'm weirdly oobsessed with the trailer!)
10. Hail Cesar (very entertaining, a very good production)
11. Zootopia (fun and fresh)
12. Finding Dory (heartwarming, a have a soft spot, get over it! ;)
13. Hell or high water (not a big deal to me but decent)
14. Fences (the story and the performances are very special)
15. The Witch (many people I know just fell asleep watching it but I stayed awake and enjoyed it) but I did fell asleep watching Snowden and Captain Fantastic (Sorry - I ain't sorry)
---
16. Loving (Good Performances made that small film worth seeing)
17. A bigger splash (Wow, a good movie came out before Thanksgiving ;)
18. Conjuring 2 (I usually don't enjoy blockbusters but I really liked that one)
19. American Honey (It felt very real at times, it was very long too...)
20. Hacksaw Ridge (Well made, but I'm sure it will disappear from my list as I continue to watch the movies I haven't seen so far)

I am looking forward to see a salesman, Lion, Jackie, 20th century women, Ma'rosa, Christine, Paterson, Silence and Allied. The Lobster is out of competition for me because I saw that movie in October 2015,

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersteolicious

I'll play!

10. Lion
9. Hell or High Water
8. Other People
7. The Nice Guys
6. Queen of Katwe
5. Sing Street
4. Arrival
3. Toni Erdmann
2. La La Land
1. Moonlight

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

As ever an absolutely superb selection, Nat, including a few that passed me by on release.

Will definitely schedule in a catch up later this year.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

Someone - I like Hell or High Water but it's a few movies away from this list (I get why ppl love it) . As for Ncturndl Animdls. Just no, my worst of the year

Steolixious- a bigger splash is like my #21 ;)

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel Rogers

Quite terrific Nathaniel. Very much enjoy using the favorite pieces of a film as a way to contextualize your admiration of the whole.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Zitzelman

@cal roth

"Nathaniel, I wish you could talk about Braga's performance. It's wonderful, but Huppert monopolized the foreign actress conversation this year."

I know. It's hard to be disappointed that Huppert got rushed to the poll position, but out of the Cannes trio (Huppert, Braga, and Huller) she'd actually rank third for me (though I doubt any of the actual oscar nominees will rank ahead of Huppert). I also think Aquarius and Toni Erdmann are better films than Elle.

@someone

"We all know...." what a conversation stopper. That said, if you had paid attention to Nathaniel's reviews/comments, you'd be less shocked by the omission of a few of those, particularly "Nocturnal Animals"

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Every year I wait anxiously for Nat's awards. There are some gems in his nominations that call my attention to see some films that are normally taken for granted.

I watched The Witch because of him, and I really enjoyed it.

I watched The Haidmaiden yesterday and it is really a great film.

Thanks, Nat.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo - Brazil

Can't wait for the acting nominations but I can't get the Fences love,Denzel IMO gave one of his worst dramatic performances,like Daniel Day Lewis turned upto11,I preferred Henderson he seemed more natural,Davis cries well but i've seen this performance from her before..

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMARKGORDONUK

Great list, Nat!

But as much as u r lavishing praises on the two central perfomanes n pushing Negga into yo current top 5, i cant help but realise tt Loving is not even in yo top 20.

Imo, Elle shld b in the top ten.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I'm Kathy Bates in Misery going "HAVE YOU ALL GOT AMNESIA?" any time I see Nocturnal Animals appear on a Best-of list.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Fantastic list Nathaniel! Your top 10 announcement is to me, what oscar nomination morning is to you. Can't wait for the final reveal of the top 5 placement in the film bitch awards soon!

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDrG

Claran -- i think you've misread predictions as preferences. Negga and Edgerton aren't in my top fives in their category. But other people think much more highly of them hence predictions. (I do think Negga is pretty great in it but this year is way too stacked for her to approach top 5 for me)

January 14, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Because I don't live in NY, LA or SF my Top 10 for 2016 is still tentative. It would probably make more sense to give my 2015 Top 10, which wasn't reasonably complete until well into 2016, to wit: 1. Timbuktu 2. Tangerine 3. Carol 4. Room 5. The Second Mother 6. Inside Out 7. Victoria 8. Clouds of Sils Maria 9. Paddington 10. Mustang. Best Documentary: Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock 'n' Roll
As for 2016, here's my Top 10 (so far): 1. Jackie 2. The Handmaiden 3. Ixcanul 4. Embrace of the Serpent 5. The BFG 6. Loving 7. A Monster Calls 8. The Jungle Book 9. Dheepan 10. La La Land. Best Documentary: Tickled
I promise to keep you posted of any changes.

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterken s

This was such a rich year for films that I had trouble coming up with a top 10. In particular, I think it was a terrific year for independent American film. As usual, I haven't seen many of the late releases. At this point, my favorites are:

1. Jackie
2. Hail, Caesar!
3. A Bigger Splash
4. Manchester by the Sea
5. Hidden Figures
6. Weiner
7. The Fits
8. Everybody Wants Some!!
9. Certain Women
10. Southside With You

Honorable Mentions: Aquarius, OJ: Made in America, Arrival, Pete's Dragon

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Ahhhhh you posted your list earlier this year than you usually do; I was hoping to watch a few more of the late year releases in the upcoming weeks so I'd have a more complete list.

Anyway, here's my tentative list:

Arrival
Hell or High Water
Loving
Don’t Think Twice
The Lobster
Christine
Everybody Wants Some!!
The Nice Guys
Little Men
The Fits

January 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

1. Arrival
2. The 13th
3. Midnight Special
4. Moonlight
5. Everybody Wants Some!
6. Love & Friendship
7. Doctor Strange
8. Manchester by the Sea
9. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
10. Hell or High Water
11. Captain Fantastic
12. A Bigger Splash
13. Lion
14. Rogue One
15. The Birth of a Nation

January 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I love this list. Embrace of the Serpert and The Witch especially are magnificent.

January 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJavi

Whenever you publish your top films of the year I'm reminded why you're one of the few writers i trust the most when it comes to movies. Besides the fact that I love how you describe why you like a movie. But we have eerily similar tastes, my top 7 is almost exactly the same with the exception that I have Kubo instead of 20th Century which I haven't seen, because its STILL not playing here. And I'm dying to see it.

Great list as always.

January 16, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpaco.

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