State of the Cinema 2016

(From Josh Strohl)

I’ve always consumed a massive amount of cinema and television, and I’m always on the hunt for new discoveries. It’s kinda my thing. My brother Matt and I frequently receive criticism from our friends over the sheer quantity of things we get excited about. My taste is generous. But you’ve never really grappled with your own taste until you’ve tried to figure out if Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers is your 141st or 142nd favorite movie of the year (I did sort of appreciate its “fuck it” spirit, after all).

This all began with a journal. I decided for the first time to start keeping track of every new film I watch. It quickly became an obsession. I spent mornings at the beginning of 2016 taking care of my sick father. This created a perfect opportunity to watch at least one new movie most days. I decided at a certain point to try to just watch every new release on offer, regardless of whether it’s something I think I’m interested in. I wanted to assess the state of cinema, for better or worse. This led to some really shitty movie watching experiences. Right at the end, I watched my first Tyler Perry movie, Boo! A Madea Halloween (a whole film inspired by a joke in Chris Rock’s Top Five). To summarize, it’s an hour and forty five minutes of child abuse jokes and underage girls/elderly women getting horned up over writer/director/producer/star Tyler Perry. The movie The Forest was so bad I could barely finish it. I took like 30 breaks.

The more I added to the list, the more my own aesthetic priorities became clear to me. The big picture came into view. I started to better understand my own taste and what I value in a work of art. As the list grew I found myself often surprised by how it all landed. I learned, for instance, that as excited as I get about a lot of genre movies, in the end they aren’t my favorite overall. My very favorite movies were the ones that shook me up and overwhelmed me with their ambition or boldness or imaginativeness.

I actually liked most of the films I watched this year (I liked about 150 out of 200 movies). O.J. Made in America was by far the most staggering and accomplished work for me but on the level of pure cinematic ecstasy, it was all about The Handmaiden. Park Chan-wook has always been an interesting filmmaker but with The Handmaiden he made a diabolical and twisted piece of pure cinema with the eye and patience of a true perfectionist madman. Jarmusch’s Paterson struck a very personal chord and I wanted to just go back to it again and again like a song that puts you in a good mood. Scorsese’s Silence is the most underrated film of the year and the most personal and painful film yet from one of the greatest living masters and benefactors of cinema. And Toni Erdmann moved me with its sweet and melancholy take on the absurdity of modern life and the power of stupid jokes as an unconventional expression of fatherly love. I was sad I didn’t get a chance to see several films, especially Julieta, Things to Come and I, Daniel Blake.

Below is the list of the 200 films from the year 2016 that I’ve watched, ranked in the order of how much I liked them.  I also included my Josh’s choice picks to weigh in on tonight’s Oscars.
Thank you to my amazing girlfriend Izzy for sitting through a large number of these films. I promised her that we can just watch Top Chef and Ultimate Beastmaster for a while now that we’ve hit the 200 mark. I’ve included her top ten list as well. Enjoy!

  1. O.J. Made in America (Edelman)
  2. The Handmaiden (Park)
  3. Paterson (Jarmusch)
  4. Silence (Scorsese)
  5. Toni Erdmann (Ade)
  6. Sunset Song (Davies)
  7. Elle (Verhoeven)
  8. Knight of Cups (Malick)
  9. The Neon Demon (Refn)
  10. Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids (Demme)
  11. Wiener-Dog (Solondz)
  12. The Treasure (Porumboiu)
  13. Love & Friendship (Stillman)
  14. Valley of Love (Nicloux)
  15. Certain Women (Reichardt)
  16. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Waititi)
  17. Dog Eat Dog (Schrader)
  18. The Edge of Seventeen (Craig)
  19. 20th Century Women (Mills)
  20. The Lobster (Lanthimos)
  21. Hacksaw Ridge (Gibson)
  22. The Witch (Eggers)
  23. Manchester by the Sea (Lonergan)
  24. Don’t Breathe (Alvarez)
  25. High Rise (Wheatley)
  26. Cameraperson (Johnson)
  27. The Nice Guys (Black)
  28. 31 (Zombie)
  29. Cafe Society (Allen)
  30. The Shallows (Collet-Serra)
  31. American Honey (Arnold)
  32. Allied (Zemeckis)
  33. The Love Witch (Biller)
  34. Fire at Sea (Rosi)
  35. Army of One (Charles)
  36. Cosmos (Zulawski)
  37. Lion (Davis)
  38. Nocturnal Animals (Ford)
  39. Indignation (Schamus)
  40. Little Sister (Clark)
  41. Into the Inferno (Herzog)
  42. Louder than Bombs (Trier)
  43. Hush (Flanigan)
  44. Eddie The Eagle (Fletcher)
  45. The BFG (Spielberg)
  46. Train to Busan (Yeon)
  47. Sully (Eastwood)
  48. Arrival (Villeneuve)
  49. Morris From America (Hartigan)
  50. Always Shine (Takal)
  51. Moonlight (Jenkins)
  52. Gimme Danger (Jarmusch)
  53. Blood Father (Richet)
  54. The Purge: Election Year (DeMonaco)
  55. Hell or High Water (Mackenzie)
  56. Doctor Strange (Derrickson)
  57. Green Room (Saulinier)
  58. In A Valley of Violence (West)
  59. Microbe and Gasoline (Gondry)
  60. I Am Not Your Negro (Peck)
  61. The Finest Hours (Gillespie)
  62. Sing Street (Carney)
  63. The Mermaid (Chow)
  64. Dheepan (Audiard)
  65. Hail Caesar (Coen Bros.)
  66. Snowden (Stone)
  67. 13th (DuVernay)
  68. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Burton)
  69. Rules Don’t Apply (Beatty)
  70. Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Herzog)
  71. Weiner (Kriegman, Steinberg)
  72. Little Men (Sachs)
  73. Mia Madre (Morretti)
  74. Midnight Special (Nichols)
  75. Under the Shadow (Anvari)
  76. Miss Stevens (Hart)
  77. Patriot’s Day (Berg)
  78. Hidden Figures (Melfi)
  79. The Trust (Brewer)
  80. Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words (Schutte)
  81. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (Stoller)
  82. Finding Dory (Stanton)
  83. Pete’s Dragon (Lowery)
  84. De Palma (Baumbach, Paltrow)
  85. Eye in the Sky (Hood)
  86. The Invitation (Kusama)
  87. Pee Wee’s Big Holiday (Lee)
  88. Hello, My Name is Doris (Showalter)
  89. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Schaffer, Taccone)
  90. Oujia: Origin of Evil (Flanagan)
  91. Barbershop: The Next Cut (Lee)
  92. Bridget Jones Baby (Maguire)
  93. The Monster (Bertino)
  94. A Bigger Splash (Guadagnino)
  95. Deepwater Horizon (Berg)
  96. Central Intelligence (Thurber)
  97. Hardcore Henry (Naishuller)
  98. The Fits (Holmer)
  99. Everybody Wants Some!! (Linklater)
  100. Tickled (Farrier, Reeve)
  101. The Founder (Hancock)
  102. Zootopia (Howard, Moore)
  103. Lights Out (Sandberg)
  104. Gleason (Tweel)
  105. Krisha (Shults)
  106. The Conjuring 2 (Wan)
  107. White Girl (Wood)
  108. Office Christmas Party (Gordon, Speck)
  109. Fences (Washington)
  110. Amanda Knox (Blackhurst, McGinn)
  111. Imperium (Ragussis)
  112. Tower (Maitland)
  113. Moana (Clements)
  114. The Light Between Oceans (Cianfrance)
  115. Loving (Nichols)
  116. Blair Witch (Wingard)
  117. Kate Plays Christine (Greene)
  118. Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Snyder)
  119. 13 Hours (Bay)
  120. The Magnificent Seven (Fuqua)
  121. The Legend of Tarzan (Yates)
  122. Keanu (Atencio)
  123. X-Men: Apocalypse (Singer)
  124. Mascots (Guest)
  125. Skiptrace (Harlin)
  126. The Boss (Falcone)
  127. Gods of Egypt (Proyas)
  128. Grimsby (Leterrier)
  129. Why Him? (Hamburg)
  130. Sausage Party (Tiernan, Vernon)
  131. Money Monster (Foster)
  132. Free State of Jones (Ross)
  133. The Program (Frears)
  134. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Lee)
  135. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (Zwick)
  136. Florence Foster Jenkins (Frears)
  137. Bleed For This (Younger)
  138. Star Trek Beyond (Lin)
  139. Captain Fantastic (Ross)
  140. Swiss Army Man (The Daniels)
  141. Nerve (Joost, Schulman)
  142. 10 Cloverfield Lane (Trachtenberg)
  143. Kung Fu Panda 3 (Carloni, Yuh)
  144. Kubo and the Two Strings (Knight)
  145. Bad Santa 2 (Waters)
  146. Deadpool (Miller)
  147. Yoga Hosers (Smith)
  148. The Jungle Book (Favreau)
  149. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Edwards)
  150. Alice Through The Looking Glass (Bobin)
  151. Criminal (Vroman)
  152. Triple 9 (Hillcoat)
  153. Remember (Egoyan)
  154. Mechanic: Resurrection (Gansel)
  155. The 9th Life of Louis Drax (Aja)
  156. Captain America: Civil War (Russo Bros)
  157. Storks (Stoller)
  158. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Steers)
  159. The Infiltrator (Furman)
  160. Don’t Think Twice (Birbiglia)
  161. A Hologram for the King (Tykwer)
  162. Cell (Williams)
  163. The Bronze (Buckley)
  164. Elvis & Nixon (Johnson)
  165. War Dogs (Philips)
  166. The Meddler (Scafaria)
  167. Masterminds (Hess)
  168. The Birth of a Nation (Parker)
  169. The Secret Lives of Pets (Renaud)
  170. The Huntsman: Winter’s War (Nicolas-Troyan)
  171. The Family Fang (Bateman)
  172. Zoolander 2 (Stiller)
  173. Maggie’s Plan (Miller)
  174. The Girl on the Train (Taylor)
  175. Assassin’s Creed (Kurzel)
  176. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Yates)
  177. Life, Animated (Williams)
  178. Suicide Squad (Ayer)
  179. La La Land (Chazelle)
  180. The Angry Birds Movie (Kaytis, Reilly)
  181. Ghostbusters (Feig)
  182. Demolition (Vallee)
  183. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (Ficarra, Requa)
  184. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (Szymanski)
  185. London Has Fallen (Najafi)
  186. Keeping Up With The Joneses (Mottola)
  187. Blue Jay (Lehmann)
  188. The Darkness (McLean)
  189. Nine Lives (Sonnenfeld)
  190. Jane Got a Gun (O’Connor)
  191. Warcraft (Jones)
  192. Now You See Me 2 (Chu)
  193. Miles Ahead (Cheadle)
  194. Mother’s Day (Marshall)
  195. Bad Moms (Lucas, Moore)
  196. Dirty Grandpa (Mazer)
  197. The Accountant (O’Connor)
  198. Jackie (Larrain)
  199. Independence Day: Resurgence (Emmerich)
  200. Inferno (Howard)
  201. Jason Bourne (Greengrass)
  202. How To Be Single (Ditter)
  203. Passengers (Tyldum)
  204. Ben-Hur (Bekmambetov)
  205. Live by Night (Affleck)
  206. Morgan (Scott)
  207. The Eyes of my Mother (Pesce)
  208. Me Before You (Sharrock)
  209. Collateral Beauty (Frankel)
  210. Boo! A Madea Halloween (Perry)
  211. The Forest (Zada)

Isabel Garcia’s top ten:

  1. Moonlight (Jenkins)
  2. Cameraperson (Johnson)
  3. Into the Inferno (Herzog)
  4. O.J. Made in America (Edelman)
  5. Paterson (Jarmusch)
  6. The Handmaiden (Park)
  7. Elle (Verhoeven)
  8. Fire at Sea (Rosi)
  9. Lion (Davis)
  10. Silence (Scorsese)


Best Actor: Gerard Depardieu; Valley of Love 

Runners up: Peter Simonischek; Toni Erdmann /&/ Colin Farrell; The Lobster /&/ Nicholas Cage; Army of One /&/ Casey Affleck; Manchester By The Sea 


Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert; Elle /&/ Valley of Love (haven’t seen Things to Come)

Runners up: Hailee Steinfeld; The Edge of Seventeen /&/ Kate Beckinsale; Love & Friendship /&/ Kim Min-hee and Kim Tae-ri; The Handmaiden 


Best Cinematography: Chung Chung-hoon;  The Handmaiden

Runners up: Rodrigo Prieto; Silence /&/ Natasha Braier; The Neon Demon /&/ Emmanuel Lubezki; Knight of Cups /&/ Declan Quinn; Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids


Best Editing: Matthew Newman; The Neon Demon 

Runners up: Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, Ben Sozanski; OJ: Made in America /&/ Kim Jae-bum & Kim Sang-beom; The Handmaiden /&/ Affonso Gonçalves; Paterson /&/ Roxana Szel; The Treasure 


Best Director: Park Chan-wook; The Handmaiden 

Runners up: Martin Scorsese; Silence /&/ Jim Jarmusch; Paterson /&/ Maren Ade; Toni Erdmann /&/ Paul Verhoeven; Elle 


Best Film: OJ: Made in America 

Runners up: The Handmaiden /&/ Paterson /&/ Silence /&/ Toni Erdmann

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