THE BEST Movies In 2016
Reference; The New York Times.
The divide between what most Americans see and what critics reward is not new or surprising. Yet it seems worth repeating that this gulf remains as vast and seemingly unbridgeable. This is less about taste than the bottom line of today’s conglomerate cinema.
By the time the Academy Awards roll around in February, the United States will have a new president. A few critics I know are trying to name the most Trump-like release of 2016. One suggested Clint Eastwood’s “Sully,” which I see more as an exemplar of classic Hollywood’s heroic individualism.
Viewing movies through the lens of today is a favorite game. Never mind that most titles are in the works long before the real world catches up to them. A more fruitful game may be to weigh how this year’s releases signify the end of the Obama era. As to my own favorites, well, they just keep on changing, depending on mood, both personal and national. –
1. ‘NO HOME MOVIE’
This was the final feature from Chantal Akerman, who died of an apparent suicide in 2015. Akerman explained that “No Home Movie” was about rooms and faraway places. But “above all” about her mother, Natalia, a Holocaust survivor. It was also, Akerman wrote, about love and loss. She was presumably speaking about her mother, although of course she was also speaking for us, those who loved the daughter.
2. ‘TONI ERDMANN’
The filmmaker Maren Ade’s latest is a perfectly directed and performed movie about a father, his daughter and the ludicrous gag teeth that help close this pair’s generational, economic and social divide. It couldn’t be timelier in how it considers the consequences of neoliberalism. Wherein all human interactions are reduced to market relations, but it also has a beat you can dance to.
Bathed in blue and anguish. Furthermore, Mr. Jenkins’s elegiac film traces a single life across three chapters. There’s much to love and admire about this haunting movie. Including its lapidary visuals. Here, every moment, light flooding a darkened room, an oceanic baptism and a halo of shampoo crowning the head of an abandoned child. Speaks more eloquently than most of its dialogue. Though, the words are very fine, too.
4. ‘MY GOLDEN DAYS’
First off, the director Arnaud Desplechin beautifully transcends the usual romantic clichés with a deeply moving, exquisitely directed tale. A tale of young love and the lessons never learned.
5. ‘I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO’
In his thrilling documentary, Raoul Peck closes the divide between the personal and political through a portrait of James Baldwin. Expressively narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. The movie largely draws on Baldwin’s own writing, as well as material like his F.B.I. files to create a portrait of a man that turns into a harrowing indictment of his country.
The E.T.s in Denis Villeneuve’s twisty science-fiction heart-breaker don’t want to phone home. But they would really like to get someone on the horn. As she often does, Amy Adams comes to the rescue. Among the movie’s pleasures is a creature design that at last breaks with H. R. Giger’s slavering aliens.
7. ‘THE HANDMAIDEN’
Set in Korea in the 1930s, the latest from Park Chan-wook involves two women. First, one is a Japanese heiress and prisoner. The other, an impoverished Korean con artist who could pick pockets for Fagin. In addition, their delectable relationship takes them and the movie to places you might not imagine. While advancing an argument about gender, desire, erotica and pornography… It’s more complex than the movie’s slickness suggests.
In her ferocious, intellectually galvanizing activist documentary, Ava DuVernay takes a hard look at race in the United States through the 13th Amendment of the Constitution. You may think you’ve heard it all before. But you haven’t.