Top 20 Films of 2016
1. Silence (Martin Scorsese)
Every shot, every action in this film is profoundly coded with faith and religion; it is on all levels a groundbeaking achievement.
2. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
The most achingly moving film of the year, but also delightful, shocking, and sensitively interior.
3. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)
Both a grandiose affair and a slow-burn melodrama, it is multi-faceted and heartbreaking in a way that grows in the mind with each passing day.
4. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
There is no doubt that these are the images that have marked Kirsten Johnson, but they are also the images of humanity: life, death, destruction, and beauty.
5. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
Both the madcap comedy and the heartfelt drama as promised, and so much more.
6. My Golden Days (Arnaud Desplechin)
A wonderfully nostalgic film as beguiling as the subject’s undying love.
7. The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook)
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.
8. Happy Hour (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi)
Even more than most long films, this luxuriates in its length, never sacrificing intimacy while exploring the gamut of emotions and moods.
9. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo)
The most conversational and confessional film of the year, twice.
10. Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene)
Simultaneously provocative and sympathetic, this is a challenge to the idea of documentary carried out on all fronts.
11. Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party (Stephen Cone)
A microcosm of a very specific, unexpectedly humane climate from so many perspectives.
12. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
The hoopla over whether this is a film or miniseries misses the point; it is a monolithic work, a pointed exposé of the state of the union through the lens of one of its most infamous figureheads.
13. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
It is a testament to the unbelievable prowess of all involved that this incredibly questionable premise resulted in this ravishingly clear-minded portrait of obsession.
14. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
As much as anything, this is remarkably quotidian even in its triptych structure as it moves more and more into the realms of unfathomably deep emotions.
15. Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve)
A portrait of a woman constantly in motion.
16. SPL II: A Time for Consequences (Soi Cheang)
This is practically giddy on its own daring, on its wondrous and furious kineticism.
17. Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
Appropriately mesmerizing filmmaking on every level, woven in with a history that always seems just out of reach.
18. The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)
Endlessly relatable and wonderfully, agonizingly unvarnished.
19. Creepy (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
A brilliant masterclass in sustained, mounting tension, culminating in one of the most unexpectedly soul shreddingly cathartic acts of the year.
20. 20th Century Women (Mike Mills)
Blissful, supremely assured reflections on the bittersweet things in life.