Best Films of 2016 (a running list)

Showtime Folks! The end year list is here, and i succeeded in composing my 5th annual selection of the best films…  in my account, these selection of movies have shown the depth and richness of film medium much better than the handful of other brilliant pictures that one may have selected. Enjoy!


Image of La La Land1. La La Land (2016)

 10/10

These are my day to day thoughts and after thoughts so far…

Jan 12. I`m crying of joy! Can`t stop my tears… A very serious candidate for the Best Film of the 21st century!

Jan 15. Still can`t stop my tears. All i can think is that revue. Humming the melodies and feeling lovestruck. What have you done?!

Feb 20. Cant` believe just saw an Original 35 mm CinemaScope on Cinestar Original Und IMAX in Berlin. You juts get one shot at resurrecting a Cinema you worship and Chazelle did a great Job!
I just know I feel so good
Don’t you know I feel so good
I just know I feel so good
Tonight

After Oscar Night: I am afraid to confess that, despite such exaggerating claims, Moonlight`s total aesthetic value is nothing versus the deep cinematic appreciation in the opening sequence of that tracking shot in L.A traffic. A sequence which is based on an authentically continental camera work, integrated with a number – which might be signed by Godard himself from The Weekend, or Demy in The Young Girls of Rochefort – and heavily glamourised in Basby Berkley`s style of 42nd Street. I am somehow embarrassed that the genius put in this ballad to avoid the slippery slope of melodrama and Hollywood ending, makes the total movie of “Moonlight” look like a kindergarten kid`s reply for a mathematical equation of “what is the total sum of race + gender issue?”. An Answer which moonlight gives with a vast corporative appetite.

Aug 21. Through all these years of writing about movies i learnt that i can not ignore one fact: Every director get one shot, only one chance in a lifetime to try to resurrect the cinema he adores! That`s right; Only one. It must be too savvy for many people, but i came to realize that it is true. So, when we saw that the Musicals been gone for some years we got that it would be back sometime. Though every miserable attempts  in the process from Moulin Rouge, to Les Miserables or Chicago, even smaller endeavors such as Once just turned out as an O.K thing from the recipient or elite part. Still, the fact remained unchanged; Like Jazz, the genre was  gone. It sadly belonged to a past era and It needed a total revolution. Damn, Chazelle made it all happen.



Image of Toni Erdmann

= 1. Toni Erdmann (2016)

“ Short-listed for an Oscar, Maren Ade`s bittersweet dramedy on father/daughter relationship is without any hesitation best film of the year. Though she had previously proven her work as producer with Miguel Gomes magnum opus trilogy The Arabian Nights and as director with All Anderen, she transcends herself as the best female director of the world in this three-hour enchanting metaphor of declining old world.Ines (played dashingly by Sandra Hüller) a vicious business consultant and reluctant woman must spend time with her estranged father (the Grand Guignol moppy-head Peter Simonischek) when he comes for a surprise visit for her holiday. Toni`s odd manners and prank-prober habits forces herself to sent him back while still graying and bleeding. But he comes back in a persona, say a goofy alter ego, as Toni Erdmann, a consultant and life coach. From there she surprisingly manage to accompany Ines in her business meetings and eventually shows up in her melt-down point, in an old-fashioned German Freikörperkultur. Where he appears dressed up as an all-hairy gruesome ape-like monster, and see her team-building exercise – rather her life – so empty and unpopular.You can either cry out your eyes or laugh your heart out in every scene, but one thing is for granted. After watching this masterpiece you are going to walk through your feelings again and think more and more about your mood swings. You are now “Toni Erdmanned”. ”


Image of London Road

2. London Road (2015)

 10/10

Director: Rufus Norris

Stars: Olivia ColmanClare BurtRosalie CraigAnita Dobson

“ In a year everybody is dazed and crazy for the grandeur and inventiveness of La La Land, it is hard to point your fingers to something else to describe the new definition of movie musical. But at the end of London Road your keen eye for the go-between of Opera, Film, and Stage Musical would be stoned. Truth to be told, I have never encountered with something more subtle, brilliant. It is exquisitely outperforming to the extent that gives this genre a whole new richness, profundity and meaning.A cine-opera by magical numbers such as “It Could Be Him,” “Cellular Material,” and a documentary in the style of verbatim reportage, you just need a chameleon like Olivia Coleman (and of course Tom Hardy) the new-coming director Rufus Norris is already claiming his reign for the realm that was ruled by Clio Barnard in The Arbor or Andrea Arnold in Fish Tank . The New British Cinema!P.S. that The Musical Is Back! ”


Image of My Golden Days

3.My Golden Days (2015)

“ 1. Arnold Desplechin & Terrence Malick. What these two masters have in common? if you look at this films you might not find it, but if you dig more about them you see they both consider themselves as the pupils of a master philosopher: Stanley Cavell. The effect is not about how they make movies about philosophical problems or rather filming philosophy, but in away they both inherit their own way of thinking about movies from Cavell. They make movies which many
“bear in their experience as memorable public events, segments of the experience,the memories,of a common life. So that the difficulty of assessing them is the same as the difficulty of assessing everyday experience,the difficulty of…making oneself find the words for what one is specifically interested to say, which comes to the difficulty of finding the right to be thus interested….This poses…the specific difficulty of philosophy and calls upon its particular strength, to receive inspiration for taking thought from the very conditions that oppose thought.”
2. My Golden Days is a movie about ordinary life. And it takes us to bear witness of such segments of experience, and its lead character, ironically named Paul Deadalus – played by the vibrant Mathew Amaleric – difficulties of finding words to narrate what he is specifically interested to say about it, and surprisingly his fights and struggles among his friends and circumstances to find the right to be thus interested. The story which should be presented as ordinary as ” A middle-aged anthropologist reminisces about family, school adventures, a student trip to the USSR and the love of his life” turns into a contemplation on the difference of Showable/Sayable. The difficulty which is highly crafted and decorated in Desplechin`s portrayal of France in the 80s and told by the love affair of Paul with Esther (Lou Roy-Lecollinet). So it got presented like an ill-fated long distance affair, in which the affinity and intimacy of the relationship mostly filled by letters rather than presence of the opposite sexes and their togetherness. A new revision of -say, an addendum – the so-called genre of “Melodrama of Unknown Women” and an homage to its flagship movie “Letter from the unknown woman”. Plus it is a prequel to “My Sex Life… or or How I Got into an Argument”. ”


Image of Aquarius

 4.Aquarius (2016)

“ It is amazing how a filmmaker can achieve such a huge aesthetic endeavors after his second Film. “Aquarius” is one of the rallying points for today`s embattled left, but eventually everybody will be aware of the film’s timeliness – It doesn’t`t feel right, It`s gonna pass!
We can argue that Clara’s fight, and the artistic vision that supports it, has a conservative dimension. Clara represents values that look, in the current climate, decidedly old-fashioned. Envisioned by glamorous – Sonia Braga – Clara is a warrior for aesthetic distinction, for critical thought, for sexual and creative liberty — for things that cannot be bought, sold or indexed (maybe, inspired and inherited by her aunt, passed to her niece`s girlfriend).
One thing is for sure, she is not someone you want to go up against in a fight. she is the cinematic portrayal Dilma. ”



“ How could i never got interested in Koreada`s work? I think it was because i was a child and not mature enough. This is my most beloved Asian film so far, has a long-forgotten touch once every cinephile had known as Ozu touch. Although you can easily trace Kore-eda`s mastery to Ozu, He has always confessed that he is more obsessed with Naruse style. The Film itself is breathtakingly sweet, subtley heartrending, and amazingly perfect in gathering an ensemble to draw a picture of the concept of a modern Family in the contemporary Japan. Those four sisters just shine upon my heart. ”


Image of The Handmaiden

6.The Handmaiden (2016)

“ Still shocked about the Chan-Wook Park`s latest; Somehow the master of violence became a narrator of romance and …
“The Handmaiden”, which is far from everything we remember from him, is a free adaptation of “Sarah Waters”` acclaimed Victorian novel “Fingersmith”, relocating the setting and characters from England to Japan and Korea, 1930s. It tells the story of Con man Count Fujiwara (Jung-woo Ha) who hires a pickpocket named Sook-hee (Min-hee Kim) to become the maid of the mysterious and fragile heiress Lady Hideko (Kim Tae-ri), in an attempt to seize her wealth. But the story takes a twist when the lady falls in love with her maid.As his aficionado, you still can`t imagine how Park`s perfectly crafted historical images would freeze your eyes (courtesy of the usual wizard Chung-hoon Chung),or guess how his subtle adaptation and perverted eroticism would faze you out again, or be surprised about why there is not enough of Yeong-wook Jo on the soundtrack and those immortal gooey/bloody sequences of Park all over the screen. This all can get you bored or confused, or gives you the reason to criticize the length, or not-so-attractive flashbacks of the movie, or even worse force you to laugh at the some-how funny atmosphere of the most violent sequences of its ending. But you can not deny the exemplary love story a maestro told you all along, and how that story make you feel. That is the definition of beauty. ”


Image of Certain Women 7.Certain Women (2016)

“ A female feminist auteur at the conjunction of Eric Rohmer`s literal cinema and Western Genre, Kelly Reichardt adds some signature Eurasian silence to solve her puzzle of avoidance while envying the question. she does that with a surprising subtlety in her style that you can get tempted here and there to revise the whole idea of minimalism; The triptych stories are not woven, not leading you to believe they will have a “get-together” at the end, they are just there swaying one another with the minimum overlap possible, laying side by side without any sense of confusion.Laura Dern is used greatly as a fatigues lawyer and Michelle Williams is brilliant in here smoking breaks, Kristen Stewart proves her other-wordly skills of acting in less shots you can even imagine and Lily Gladstone is a ray of hope for next generation of stars. This is a christmas wish wrapped in a movie by Santa called Certain Women. ”



Image of American Honey

8.American Honey (2016)

“ It took me a while to find my connection with Andrea Arnold after “Wuthering Heights”. Still, not as gripping as “Fish Tank”, the “American Honey” has the best elements of that New British Realism movement Arnold and her pals mastered . It is amazingly bittersweet, powerfully undiscovered and hideously alive. With special thanks to a phenomena called Sasha Lane. ”



Image of Right Now, Wrong Then

9.Right Now, Wrong Then (2015)

“ This is a mastery in Long Takes, Right Now, Wrong Then is far from usual pretentious attempts to shove the aesthetics of cinema into people’s mind. You`ll be surprised how much a same incident got carried away just by changing angles and pauses and silences. Let alone how the painter`s heart (played by unbelievable Min-hee Kim – The Handmaiden) would be conquered The very idea you perceive immediately is something like the rebellion speech of director ( the brilliant Jae-yeong Jong) at the end of his movie screening:”A lot of sounds are running through my head, and if i utter those sounds they become words, But at the end of the day words will remain just words. The films, myself, your experiences, your lives… All of these things have nothing to do with words! Power of words? What a Joke! Why do people keep searching for those words as if they were something special… for me there is no such thing as important words. On the contrary. They are just a hindrance!”This is the key answer to how you need to understand this masterpiece and or as film suggests “The Definition of Film”. Also it is a key to find the answer for the old question of “What is Film?”. This is film according to Hong Sang-soo! ”



Image of The Age of Shadows

10.The Age of Shadows (2016)

 8/10

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Stars: Byung-hun LeeYoo GongKang-ho SongJi-min Han

“ What is amazing about the chameleon Kim Jee-woon is that he often goes beyond the norms of Asian Pulp; He proved his mastery in Western (“The Good, the Bad and the Weird”) and horror (“A Tale of Two Sisters,” and the vicious “I Saw the Devil”) alongside his usual action flicks, but in “The Age of Shadows” he goes in-depth – with some Carol Reed vibe – into resistance/occupation genre. The movie has two giants standing as protagonists “Song Kang-Ho” and “Gong Yoo” and though it goes off-beat sometimes along the two hours, takes you with them to the fascinating story from Korea independence of Japan ”



Image of After the Storm

11.After the Storm (2016)

“ Breath-taking enough, another deconstruction of the sacred traditional idea of Family in the subtle hands of a Koreeda brings out his usual magic. After the Storm successfully captures the great sensei’s humanistic spirit in the stories and the details and reincarnates Ozu`s in the 21st century. Which despite his devotion to Naruse, seems more aptly deserving.
Yōko Maki is daringly subtle as remarrying ex-wife and Hiroshi Abe outperforms the divorced father/son dynamic with Taiyô Yoshizawa which are all stuck in the rare chance of the occurring typhoon. Shading above them all is the gracious presence of Kirin Kiki as the mother whom you are surrounding your heart willingly – again and again – in each and every one of her artistic touchs.
P.S. I was just digesting the magnificent beauty of Our Little Sister for 2016…What a year! ”


Image of Sunset Song

12.Sunset Song (2015)

“ Rare jewel in the wilderness of fast-food movies. The classy, elegant and masterful adaptation in Terrence Davies` “Sunset Song” takes your heart and soul to a two-hour journey of “Why you have to watch the classics in Cinema”. It`s a rare spirit you would hardly find in any places of today`s cinema. ”



Image of All Three of Us13.All Three of Us (2015)

 7/10

Director: Kheiron

Stars: KheironLeïla BekhtiGérard DarmonZabou Breitman

“ The best thing has happened to Iranian History so far; Honest, Truthful and Breathtaking. ”


Image of High-Rise

14.High-Rise (2015)

“ The untouchable novel has finally made it to the silver screen by a visionary director`s craft, and it has certainly broke the myth of great novels are ruined notoriously when they are filmed. ”


Image of Everybody Wants Some!!

15.Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

“ Oddly a comedy than a Verite, Richard Linklater`s follow-up to “Dazed & Confused” is something you won`t forget for many years. With a great lovely ensemble who are probably going to be our next-gen film stars, the film proves – along with “The Nice Guys” – why we need to put more attention on 70s sub-culture and let go of these 80s nonsense.

Behind this never-ending joy of testosterone driven boys and their constant horni-ness, immediately you will find a movie which is amazingly crafted, deceptively written ,and masterfully acted by the new best thing that is happening to Hollywood. Loved every second of it. Let`s hear it for the gang:

Blake Jenner,

Tyler Hoechlin,

Ryan Guzman,

Juston Street,

Wyatt Russell,

Glen Powell,

Temple Baker,

J. Quinton Johnson,

Will Brittain,

Zoey Deutch,

Austin Amelio,

Tanner Kalina,

Forrest Vickery. ”



Image of The Salesman

16.The Salesman (2016)

“ There is a sheer IQ in every Farhadi movie that help you get fascinated, but if you have known him as your teacher from 15 years ago you definitely understand why i`m not surprised here…P.S. don`t read any reviews before watching it. ”


 6/10

Director: Mia Hansen Love

“ Things to Come is not the best marriage i`ve seen between film and philosophy but one of the entertaining ones.To go through this is hard and truthfully, it is as difficult as a philosophical book on the subject of “The Ordinary”; A philosopher`s way of dealing with the ordinary. Her constant battle between the acknowledgment of the bygone past; her defeated revolts, her doomed love, her unpopular books, and avoidance of the future; the radical society changes, the terror of failure, the things to come: simplified through her battle of keeping up the balance between her being in personal and public spheres. Ironically enough she is supposed to teach philosophy – a radical way of thinking – in a university – where it wasn`t originally invented to be present – and publish it in ways compatible to life, today`s life. It remains undecided, through Ms Hansen-Løve`s clever script, whether she is trying to doubt it as a way of life or just ignoring the Pandora box?In my account, i rather believe that the director knew about the notorious ambiguities of the subject she undertaken and tried to avoid the abyss of answering these high-concept questions. After all the her protagonist, played skillfully by Isabelle Huppert, seems to conservative, or rather sterile, to answer them. This is the movie that is premising with the ashes of a fire which has been extinguished, brilliantly concluding with the long tracking zoom out of her life. One of the most original endings of the cinema today. ”



Image of Before the Flood

18. Before the Flood (2016 Documentary)

“ Is there any ray of hope? Can we still do it? These are the kind of questions you ask yourself after this brilliant movie on climate change.They are harsh and critical. Say, you may find your own answers to them often frightening and unsatisfactory. But If you see they are pivotal enough to bring figures such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Barack Obama, Elon Musk and Pope together, You find your own failures to perfectly pose and answer them, or hopefully, rise and act about them not at all important…We are just beginning. ”


Image of A Bigger Splash

19. A Bigger Splash (2015)

 6/10

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Stars: Tilda SwintonMatthias SchoenaertsRalph FiennesDakota Johnson

“ There is a strong sense of Bertulucci in Luca Guadagnino`s work here and the magnificent performances of his ensemble intensifies that we are in some sort of reunion with “Stolen Beauty”. I am regretting why i haven`t been curious enough to watch “I am Love”. I am loving every bit of this movie, and Tilda she is more than a muse. ”



for more detailed reviews, please visit

http://letterboxd.com/babak/

https://mubi.com/users/303769

2 thoughts on “Best Films of 2016 (a running list)

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