Freelance film critic, Seattle.
Based on 2016 New York City commercial releases.
1. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson, 2016)
O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, 2016)
Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene, 2016)
If there was one genre of film that felt truly innovative this year, it was documentary, and these three films stood out as revolutionary in their own way; even more importantly, all are intensely passionate and emotional.
2. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
The most achingly moving film of the year, but also delightful, shocking, and sensitively interior.
3. Shānhé gùrén (Mountains May Depart, Jia Zhangke, 2015)
Both a grandiose affair and a slow-burn melodrama, this film is multi-faceted and heartbreaking in a way that grows in the mind with each passing day.
4. Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse (My Golden Days, Arnaud Desplechin, 2015)
A wonderfully nostalgic film as beguiling as the subject’s undying love.
5. Agassi (The Handmaiden, Park Chan-wook, 2016)
While most of the other films on this list aim for subdued minimalism, this film sounds the call for maximalism loud and clear, marrying a delightfully twisted narrative with the most pleasurable romance of the year.
6. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
L’Avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2016)
A triple bill of women living their quotidian lives, impeccably and empathetically looked upon by masterful, quietly audacious directors.
7. Jigeumeun-matgo-geuttaeneun-tteullida (Right Now, Wrong Then, Hong Sang-soo, 2015)
The most conversational and confessional film of the year, twice.
8. Rak Ti Khon Kaen (Cemetery of Splendour, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015)
Appropriately mesmerizing filmmaking on every level, woven in with a history that always seems just out of reach.
9. Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party (Stephen Cone, 2015)
The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig, 2016)
Two films about teens that feel wholly, agonizingly authentic.
10. Shā Pò Láng Èr (SPL II: A Time for Consequences, Soi Cheang, 2015)
Kurîpî (Creepy, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)
The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra, 2016)
Shin Gojira (Shin Godzilla, Hideaki Anno, 2016)
Four great arguments for genre filmmaking, all executed with brutal precision and their share of thrilling highs and only slightly less amazing lows.