Sunday, 1 January 2017

My Top Films of 2016

Much like 2015, I'm pleased to say that 2016 was a strong year for me in terms of what I saw. My viewing figures are up a little – still well below my target of 365, but sitting semi-respectably at 236. Once again, my preference remains slanted towards archive titles, and this time (unusually for me) there was also a slight emphasis on rewatching work, having revisited, amongst others, the (near) complete oeuvres of Bergman and Bresson (during which I was also able to fill in some important gaps).
As ever, there are things I wasn't able to see, my two biggest regrets being Mia Hansen-Løve's Things to Come and Kelly Reichardt's Certain Women (though the latter isn't officially out in the UK for another few months).
In putting my lists together, I have deliberately left out films by friends and colleagues, as it's impossible to be truly objective about these, and I'd rather not have to start ranking these against each other. Still, a special shout out must be made for Stephen Fingleton's The Survivalist, Oliver Frampton's The Forgotten, Jane Gull's My Feral Heart and Katharine Round's The Divide.
So, with that, onto the lists. As always, directors' names will take you to their IMDb pages, and I've limited myself to one film per director in each list.

My Top Films of 2016
01) Silence (dir. Martin Scorsese)
02) The Revenant (dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
03) Embrace of the Serpent (dir. Ciro Guerra)
04) The Son of Joseph (dir. Eugène Green)
05) Aferim! (dir. Radu Jude)
06) The Witch (dir. Robert Eggers)
07) The Hateful Eight (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
08) Tale of Tales (dir. Matteo Garrone)
09) Spotlight (dir. Tom McCarthy)
10) The Brand New Testament (dir. Jaco Van Dormael)
11) Everybody Wants Some!! (dir. Richard Linklater)
12) Personal Shopper (dir. Olivier Assayas)

My Top Films from Previous Years that I Saw for the First Time in 2016
01) The White Dove (1960, dir. Frantisek Vlácil)
02) Autumn Sonata (1978, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
03) The Best Intentions (1992, dir. Bille August)
04) Four Nights of a Dreamer (1971, dir. Robert Bresson)
05) The Emigrants/The New Land (1971/1972, dir. Jan Troell)
06) Mother (1926, dir. Vsevolod Pudovkin)
07) Come and See (1985, dir. Elem Klimov)
08) Day of the Outlaw (1959, dir. André De Toth)
09) J'accuse (1938, dir. Abel Gance)
10) Shoes (1916, dir. Lois Weber)
11) Hotel Imperial (1927, dir. Mauritz Stiller)
12) Hotel du Nord (1938, dir. Marcel Carné)


Anonymous said...

Hey, Alex. I envy your first viewing of 'Come and See' - it left me open mouthed (in mute horror) the first time. Mind you, it think it may have provoked the same reaction on second and third viewings too. Good to see 'The Best Intentions' on the list. It had me in pieces, blubbing like a leaky faucet. Love Frantisek Vlacil, though I would've put 'Valley of Bees' ahead of 'The White Dove'

(How do you determine what qualifies for the first list? Not UK release date, obviously, but not year of production either because on that criteria seven of the twelve are from 2015?!)

Alex Barrett said...

Indeed, 'Come and See' is quite something! 'Valley of the Bees' is amazing too, but there was something about the purity of 'The White Dove' that really worked for me.

Broadly speaking, the films on the first list tend to be films I see at festival screenings or which have an official release in the UK in the given year. That said, I saw Silence at a press screening - so it's all quite loose. But, basically, something which can be considered 'new' for one reason or another, and which I had the opportunity to see for the first time that year.

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