2016: Proximity and Distance

The Edge of Seventeen, Chevalier, Fort Buchanan, The Fits

I like neat bookshelves. I like it when photos are labeled with the date they were taken. And I like to make lists of movies. A year or a decade from now, I won’t remember my favorite films from this year off the top of my head, but I’ll still have this list, illustrated if not annotated. I can skim it, maybe thinking, “That’s right: my girlfriend and I saw #1 and #5 as a double feature. We had a spare half-hour in between so we went out for burgers.” My future self can use this list to hold onto all the joys and bullshit and movies she experienced back in 2016.

Before I really get going, here are 15 other movies I liked, ordered alphabetically: The BFG, Cameraperson, Chevalier, The Edge of Seventeen, Elle, Everybody Wants Some!!, The Fits, Fort Buchanan, The Lobster, Love & Friendship, Manchester by the Sea, Midnight Special, The Shallows, The Thoughts That Once We Had, and The Treasure. Here as well are a trio of special cases that technically aren’t 2016 theatrical releases: Lewis Klahr’s Sixty Six, which apparently screened at MoMA in late 2015; Lemonade by Beyoncé et al, which debuted on HBO this past April; and Looking: The Movie, directed by Andrew Haigh, which HBO aired in July. An animated anthology, a visual album, a TV show’s series finale—and some of the finest new filmmaking I saw this year.

Ten performances that each merit an honorable mention: Krisha Fairchild as the gray-maned namesake of the indie drama Krisha; John Goodman as the post-apocalyptic patriarch in 10 Cloverfield Lane; The Fits’ pint-sized dynamo Royalty Hightower; Stephen Lang as Don’t Breathe’s croaking, undershirt-clad phantom; Jena Malone, who enlivens The Neon Demon by playing her every look and line for maximum innuendo; Trevante Rhodes, whose sidelong glances in the final stretch of Moonlight are suffused with longing; Johnny Simmons, trembling beneath the burden of fame in The Phenom; Little Sister’s bashful Addison Timlin, her heart full of love for both Christ and GWAR; Hailee Steinfeld as an imploding ball of adolescent angst in The Edge of Seventeen; and finally, the late Anton Yelchin, for his work in Star Trek Beyond’s ensemble and as a terrified punk rocker in Green Room. In the parlance of the MTV Movie Awards, he gave this year’s “Best Scared-As-Shit Performance.”

Now here’s my list:

10) Cemetery of Splendour, directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Ally Sheedy in Little Sister

Glen Powell in Everybody Wants Some!!

9) Cameraperson, directed by Kirsten Johnson

Paulina García in Little Men

Makis Papadimitriou in Chevalier

8) Sunset Song, directed by Terence Davies

Édith Scob in Things to Come

Tom Bennett in Love & Friendship

7) Happy Hour, directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Rira Kawamura in Happy Hour

André Holland in Moonlight

6) Things to Come, directed by Mia Hansen-Løve

Lily Gladstone in Certain Women

Woody Harrelson in The Edge of Seventeen

5) Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins

Amy Adams in Arrival

Michael Shannon in Midnight Special

4) Aquarius, directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho

Blake Lively in The Shallows

Mark Rylance in The BFG

3) Right Now, Wrong Then, directed by Hong Sang-soo

Agyness Deyn in Sunset Song

Toma Cuzin in The Treasure

2) No Home Movie, directed by Chantal Akerman

Isabelle Huppert in Things to Come (and Elle)

Chris Pine in Hell or High Water

1) Certain Women, directed by Kelly Reichardt

Sonia Braga in Aquarius

Colin Farrell in The Lobster

[Movies I have yet to see include American Honey, FencesThe Handmaiden, Kate Plays Christine, The Love WitchPaterson, Silence, and Toni Erdmann.]

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