State of the Cinema 2019

For the first time since we started these year in review posts, we are happy to declare: the state of the cinema is strong! This was a stellar year. There were two or three times as many good movies as previous years. Movies that we ranked in 30’s this year would have made our top tens in previous years. Even though the Oscars are two weeks earlier this year, Josh broke his record with 214 new releases logged. We played a little fast and loose with international releases. If they have a 2020 US release date, we saved them for next year. We counted international releases from the past couple of years that don’t yet have a scheduled US release date.

We know some of these judgments will come across as contrarian. We promise that these lists are honest reflections of our sincere views. We value disagreement and the coexistence of a variety of critical opinions. We aren’t here to impugn anyone else’s taste, we’re here to share our own points of view, and we hope you find them interesting.

Joshua Strohl

1) Peterloo (Mike Leigh)


One of the best movies ever made about the power of rhetoric. This historical drama by the great Mike Leigh absolutely devastated me. It’s a movie without a protagonist, that focuses instead on a community, a time, a place, and a tragedy. It takes the time to educate the audience about the context and the political climate in which the Peterloo massacre took place. It traces the events leading up the tragic rally in St. Peter’s Field, following multiple strands. It’s like watching a crash in slow motion. Without drawing any explicit connections to the contemporary moment, it says more about today’s political reality than any other recent film. The theatrics of authority figures playing with the lives of common people as part of a performance meant to assure everyone of their power is incredibly resonant. Throughout Leigh’s filmography, the powers that be always have their boot on the neck of the working class. Here it becomes literal and infuriating and heartbreaking.

2) A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick)


It’s a mistake to think of this movie as a departure from Malick’s other work this decade or as a return to what he used to do (as many commentators have). It’s the next step in a progression. In a way, it sums up his entire career. It brings together his early theme of young love being destroyed by the forces of nature and the world, his middle period historical grandeur, and his late period personal introspection. But it also must be seen as a response to Scorsese’s Silence, which is a film that Malick is an outspoken fan of, and which he has explicitly said he made A Hidden Life in relation to. Scorsese presents doubt as an essential element of faith. Malick responds with a profound portrait of spiritual purity– of a faith incapable of doubt. One doesn’t need to be religious to appreciate this movie, but one needs to be willing to see it through a spiritual lens. It’s a challenging film. It’s long, and it feels long, but I appreciated that in the end. I felt like I really went through something with the character. Over the movie’s three hours, I came to understand something that was unfathomable to me at the beginning. I couldn’t shake it afterwards, because I lived with it for so long in the theater.

3) The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)


This closes the modern American gangster movie cycle in much the same way that Unforgiven closed the western cycle. There will be more gangster movies, but this is the definitive final statement from the guys who wrote the fucking book. It’s an utterly deglamorized revision of the genre. It finds its humor in the characters’ misery. I love all the performances, but the heart of the movie is Al Pacino as Hoffa. Pacino gets to ham it up, and that’s how we want our Pacino. He brings that Pacino charm, and we can’t not love him. And that’s what the movie’s drama really needs: for us to love him and so to understand what his loss means to Frank Sheeran. And then you’ve got Pesci playing against type. It’s a riveting performance, haunting and mysterious. He’s a genius, and we are so fortunate that Scorsese got this out of him.

4) 3 From Hell (Rob Zombie)


Now this is some renegade outlaw B-movie mayhem. Sheri Moon Zombie turns in the performance of the year, lighting the screen on fire. She’s on another plane in this movie. Zombie loves filming her, and he lets her just run wild. This is avant-garde sleaze. It’s a loving and joyful depiction of sadism and debauchery with monsters that come off as positively noble vessels of chaos in a world of sniveling power figures and dishonorable lowlifes. Zombie does Peckinpah as comedy. My idea of a good time at the movies.

5) Hotel by the River (Hong Sang-soo)


There have been Hong Sang-soo movies coming out all the time. There’s like two a year. It’s a very welcome development. I like them better all the time. This is my favorite Hong film. It’s simple and beautiful and sad.

6) Gemini Man (Ang Lee)


To approach this movie, one needs to situate it in Ang Lee’s filmography. On the one hand, there’s the technically ambitious side of his work, including Life of Pi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hulk. On the other hand, there are low-key dramas like Brokeback Mountain and The Ice Storm. What I find really interesting about him as a filmmaker is that across this very diverse range, his movies are always about the inexplicit emotional life of the characters. The technical bombast is always ultimately aimed at exploring the characters’ emotions. At the beginning of Gemini Man, we meet Henry Brogan, played by Will Smith. He’s a used up assassin focused narrowly on professionalism (basically a Michael Mann character). He has cultivated a stoic emotional blankness that he presents to the world. It’s a familiar enough starting point, but this does not look, sound, move, or feel like any other movie. Lee’s use of high frame rate 4K 3D is revolutionary. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced in cinema. Reader: I am a fan. They tried to do this with The Hobbit and it just looked like motion smoothing. That’s not the case for Gemini Man. It feels more immediate and more cinematic than any other 3D movie I’ve seen. I’m generally not a fan of 3D, but the high frame rate is a game changer. But this isn’t the only technical feat of the movie. There’s also a second, CGI Will Smith, de-aged about 25-30 years. Smith’s two performances in this movie are the best work he’s ever done. But Lee isn’t simply interested in spectacle (although the movie is certainly not light on absolutely astonishing spectacle– the motorcycle chase is the best action scene in years, and then there’s Will Smith fighting himself in the catacombs), he’s interested in the big themes that have spanned his career. This is a film about masculinity, fathers and sons, adulthood, repression, longing, and loneliness. Loneliness is at the center of Lee’s cinema. Henry is a virgin in his 50’s. He has no desire or ability to be close to anyone. In the character of Junior, the CGI character, he meets a younger version of himself. Junior is synthetic on multiple levels–he’s a clone from a lab, he’s a CGI construct, and he’s a fictional character– but he’s the primary locus of the movie’s humanity. Lee actually went back and sourced Junior’s expressions from Smith’s iconic roles from earlier in his career (and in this way this is also a movie about Will Smith the movie star). Junior is the only person who prompts a genuine emotional response in Henry. In literally facing his younger self, Henry is presented with the opportunity to address regrets he never knew he had. Gemini Man got mostly bad reviews and turned out to be easy to pick on, but it has so much to offer anyone willing to approach it on its own terms. Try to watch it in high frame rate if possible (on the 4K disc). It looks great in regular 4K (I’ve watched it in every format) but the HFR adds something.

7) Uncut Gems (Josh and Benny Safdie)


As much as the character is exasperating and difficult, I found Adam Sandler’s modern Sisyphus endearing. (Full disclosure: I’m a huge Sandler apologist and never met a Sandler comedy I didn’t like) There is such a loving depiction of a mistress at the center of this film. Julia Fox has major screen presence, as do all of the non-professional performers who pepper the movie. Like Heaven Knows What and Good Time, this is live wire cinema. The Safdies are amazing at what they do. They take techniques from Altman and Cassavetes and use them extra-aggressively to make intensely visceral films. These guys are saving American independent cinema by giving it a needed jolt.

8) Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke)


At Matt’s insistence, I recently caught up on all of Jia’s recent films. Watching this, A Touch of Sin, and Mountains May Depart all together blew me away. They are each unique at the formal level, but the thematic continuity between them reveals a distinctly melancholy point of view with respect to the passage of time and the way that the growth of capitalism in China has ravaged everything from landscape to family life to the bonds between outlaws and lovers. The death of honor.

9) Pasolini (Abel Ferrara)

Crítica de Pasolini de Abel Ferrara

This played in film festivals in 2014 but was just released in the US this year. So many Abel Ferrara movies have languished unreleased for many years, including Go Go Tales, Mary and the Welcome to New York director’s cut. It looked like Pasolini was headed that way, but now that it’s here it feels very much of the moment. It is anything but a traditional biopic, and it gets at Pasolini’s essence in a way that mere biography never could. It explores his creative process and his creative mind rather than focusing on events from his life. It shows us reconstructions of his short stories directed in a searing style by Ferrera, who thinks of himself as a student of Pasolini. Ferrara’s transgressive cinema is as vital and essential as ever and it’s an extremely important development that Kino Lorber has finally bought a number of his films and plans to release them in the US.

10) High Life (Claire Denis)


Not for the faint of heart. This is in deep, dark, disturbing Claire Denis territory. It’s genuinely unsettling in a way that few contemporary movies are. Juliette Binoche’s Medea in space is unforgettable. My eyes were bugging out a little bit. Only for people who aren’t too squeamish and appreciate boundary-pushing cinema.

11) Richard Jewell (Clint Eastwood)

12) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)

13) Dolemite is My Name (Craig Brewer)

14) Black Mother (Khalik Allah)

15) The Beach Bum (Harmony Korine)

16) The Image Book (Jean Luc Godard)

17) Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell)

18) Greta (Neil Jordan)

19) Midsommar (Ari Aster)

20) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller)

21) Western Stars (Thom Zimny and Bruce Springsteen)

22) Alita: Battle Angel (Robert Rodriguez)

23) Glass (M. Night Shyamalan)

24) Domino (Brian De Palma)

25) Transit (Christian Petzold)

26) Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodovar)

27) The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg)

28) Grass (Hong Sang-soo)

29) The Intruder (Deon Taylor)

30) Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan)

31) Ad Astra (James Gray)

32) A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen)

33) 6 Underground (Michael Bay)

34) Chasing Dream (Johnnie To)

35) An Elephant Sitting Still (Hu Bo)

36) Lady J (Emmanuel Mouret)

37) Relaxer (Joel Potrykus)

38) For Sama (Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts)

39) The Portuguese Woman (Rita Azevedo Gomes)

40) The Gospel of Eureka (Donal Mosher and Michael Palmieri)

41) Motherless Brooklyn (Edward Norton)

42) Depraved (Larry Fessenden)

43) The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (Terry Gilliam)

44) Replicas (Jeffrey Nachmanoff)

45) John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (Chad Stahelski)

46) Shadow (Zhang Yimou)

47) Happy Death Day 2U (Christopher Landon)

48) Crawl (Alexandre Aja)

49) The Dead Don’t Die (Jim Jarmusch)

50) Dumbo (Tim Burton)

51) Honey Boy (Alma Har’el)

52) Where’d You Go Bernadette? (Richard Linklater)

53) Avengement (Jesse V. Johnson)

54) American Dharma (Errol Morris)

55) Dark Waters (Todd Haynes)

56) First Love (Takashi Miike)

57) Rambo: Last Blood (Adrian Grunberg)

58) Anna (Luc Besson)

59) Parasite (Bong Joon-ho)

60) Her Smell (Alex Ross Perry)

61) Dragged Across Concrete (S. Craig Zahler)

62) Long Shot (Jonathan Levine)

63) The Prodigy (Nicholas McCarthy)

64) Ma (Tate Taylor)

65) Grand Isle (Stephen Campinelli)

66) Little Joe (Jessica Hausner)

67) Asako I & II (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)

68) One Cut of the Dead (Shin’ichiro Ueda)

69) Atlantics (Mati Diop)

70) Us (Jordan Peele)

71) Judy (Rupert Goold)

72) Waves (Trey Edward Shults)

73) The Laundromat (Steven Soderbergh)

74) Meeting Gorbachev (Werner Herzog, Andre Singer)

75) Charlie Says (Mary Harron)

76) Murder Mystery (Kyle Newacheck)

77) Luce (Julius Onah)

78) 47 Meters Down: Uncaged (Johannes Roberts)

79) Dora and the Lost City of Gold (James Bobin)

80) Little Women (Greta Gerwig)

81) Marriage Story (Noah Baumbach)

82) Angel Has Fallen (Ric Roman Waugh)

83) Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker (J. J. Abrams)

84) Legend of the Demon Cat (Kaige Chen)

85) Ready or Not (Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett)

86) The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers)

87) Good Boys (Gene Stupnitsky)

88) The Death of Dick Long (Daniel Scheinert)

89) Shazam! (David F. Sandberg)

90) Serenity (Steven Knight)

91) Nightmare Cinema (Alejandro Brugués, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Ryuhei Kitamura, David Slade)

92) How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Dean DeBlois)

93) Amazing Grace (Alan Elliott and Sydney Pollack)

94) I See You (Adam Randall)

95) Blinded by the Light (Gurinder Chadha)

96) Knife+Heart (Yann Gonzalez)

97) High Flying Bird (Steven Soderbergh)

98) Primal (Nick Powell)

99) The Secret Lives of Pets 2 (Chris Renaud)

100) Toy Story 4 (Josh Cooley)

101) Honeyland (Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov)

102) Greener Grass (Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe)

103) The Goldfinch (John Crowley)

104) Child’s Play (Lars Klevberg)

105) Mister America (Eric Notarnicola)

106) The Command (Thomas Vinterberg)

107) Brightburn (David Yarovrsky)

108) Fyre (Chris Smith)

109) The Fanatic (Fred Durst)

110) Jexi (Jon Lucas and Scott Moore)

111) Knives Out (Rian Johnson)

112) Zombieland: Double Tap (Ruben Fleischer)

113) Gloria Bell (Sebastian Lelio)

114) Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw (David Leitch)

115) Annabelle Comes Home (Gary Dauberman)

116) Escape Room (Adam Robitel)

117) Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller)

118) The Perfection (Richard Shepard)

119) Luz (Tilman Singer)

120) The Best of Enemies (Robin Bissell)

121) Ford v Ferrari (James Mangold)

122) Klaus (Sergio Pablos)

123) Running with the Devil (Jason Cabell)

124) Villains (Dan Berk and Robert Olsen)

125) Stuber (Michael Dowse)

126) The Public (Emilio Estevez)

127) Missing Link (Chris Butler)

128) Triple Frontier (J. C. Chandor)

129) The Professor and the Madman (P.B. Shemran)

130) The Two Popes (Fernando Meirelles)

131) Velvet Buzzsaw (Dan Gilroy)

132) Black Tide (Erick Zonca)

133) EGG (Marianna Palka)

134) Men in Black: International (F. Gary Gray)

135) Black and Blue (Deon Taylor)

136) The Hole in the Ground (Lee Cronin)

137) Chained for Life (Aaron Schimberg)

138) A Score to Settle (Shawn Ku)

139) Climax (Gaspar Noe)

140) Kill Chain (Ken Sanzel)

141) The Art of Self Defense (Riley Sterns)

142) Terminator: Dark Fate (Tim Miller)

143) The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent)

144) The Report (Scott Z. Burns)

145) The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot (Robert D. Kryzkowski)

146) Pokémon Detective Pikachu (Rob Letterman)

147) The Curse of La Llorona (Michael Chaves)

148) Triple Threat (Jesse V. Johnson)

149) The Poison Rose (George Gallo)

150) Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Andre Øvredal)

151) Aniara (Pella Kagerman and Hugo Lilja)

152) The Mountain (Rick Alverson)

153) Synonyms (Nadav Lapid)

154) Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Joachim Rønning)

155) Trading Paint (Karzan Kader)

156) Holiday (Isabella Eklöf)

157) El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (Vince Gilligan)

158) X-men: Dark Phoenix (Simon Kinberg)

159) Abominable (Jill Culton)

160) Shaft (Tim Story)

161) Aladdin (Guy Ritchie)

162) Fighting with My Family (Steven Merchant)

163) Avengers: Endgame (Anthony and Joe Russo)

164) The Peanut Butter Falcon (Tyler Nilsson and Michael Schwartz)

165) Late Night (Nisha Ganatra)

166) Wild Rose (Tom Harper)

167) Cats (Tom Hooper)

168) The Kid Who Would Be King (Joe Cornish)

169) Hail Satan? (Penny Lane)

170) The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Joe Talbot)

171) The Mustang (Laure Clermont-Tonnerre)

172) It Chapter Two (Andy Muschetti)

173) Spider-man: Far From Home (Jon Watts)

174) Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Michael Dougherty)

175) J.T. LeRoy (Justin Kelly)

176) Hustlers (Lorene Scafaria)

177) The Professor (Wayne Roberts)

178) Noelle (Marc Lawrence)

179) 21 Bridges (Brian Kirk)

180) Rust Creek (Jen McGowan)

181) Daddy Issues (Amara Cash)

182) Jay and Silent Bob Reboot (Kevin Smith)

183) Joker (Todd Phillips)

184) Diane (Kent Jones)

185) I Lost My Body (Jeremy Clapin)

186) The Addams Family (Greg Tiernan and ConradVernon)

187) In the Tall Grass (Vincenzo Natali)

188) Miss Bala (Catherine Hardwicke)

189) Last Christmas (Paul Feig)

190) Yesterday (Danny Boyle)

191) Bombshell (Jay Roach)

192) The Lion King (Jon Favreau)

193) Countdown (Justin Dec)

194) I’m Just Fucking With You (Adam Mason)

195) Leaving Neverland (Dan Reed)

196) Lady and the Tramp (Charlie Bean)

197) Plus One (Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer)

198) 1917 (Sam Mendes)

199) Harriet (Kasi Lemmons)

200) Rocketman (Dexter Fletcher)

201) A Vigilante (Sarah Daggar-Nickson)

202) Booksmart (Olivia Wilde)

203) The Hustle (Chris Addison)

204) Lucy in the Sky (Noah Hawley)

205) Jojo Rabbit (Taika Watiti)

206) The Farewell (Lulu Wang)

207) El Chicano (Ben Hernandez Bray)

208) Hellboy (Neil Marshall)

209) Black Christmas (Sophia Takal)

210) Cold Pursuit (Hans Petter Moland)

211) Mary Magdalene (Garth Davis)

212) What Men Want (Adam Shankman)

213) Pet Sematary (Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer)

214) Captain Marvel (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck)

Isabel Strohl

10) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller)


This is not your typical “Mister Rogers” biopic by any means. It’s directed with a deep sense of humanity and focus on the human condition. Based on a true story of their real-life friendship, it delves deeply into Mr. Rogers’ persona. The other main character, Lloyd Vogel, is a journalist, so I had a personal connection to the barriers he faced as Fred often worked to flip the script on him. They both push each other to explore their own truths and come to terms with them. In true Mr. Rogers’ style Lloyd learns that life can be hard and dark, but there are always opportunities to show humanity through taking time to understand others.

9) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)


There’s an authentic Hollywood magic that jumps out of the screen in this movie. Set in the end of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) & Cliff Booth (Pitt) portray star-stunt double besties who showcase the push-and-pull of past vs. present. Margo Robbie as a young Sharon Tate is the soul of the film, especially given the ending, which I think is the most-heart wrenching part of it all given the real world history.

8) High Life (Claire Denis)


Woah. Brace yourself for this one. It’s a daring, experimental, deep dive into what makes us human, sexuality, parenthood, survival, and it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. Binoche is a force of nature.

7) Gemini Man (Ang Lee)


Unlike any movie I’ve ever seen. The technical mastery of this film is on another level. I watched it twice which was helpful to appreciate the movie’s multifaceted elements. The 4K HFR technology is beyond impressive. Will Smith plays Henry Brogan – an elite assassin trying to retire. That is until the past literally & figuratively confronts him. Junior is Henry’s younger clone, completely made from advanced CGI in the film too. For Junior, it’s the age-old tale of trying to understand adulthood & self when one just hasn’t had the life experiences to do so. After seeing some features about the making of the film, Smith’s casting makes perfect sense. Lee pulled expressions and facial cues from Smith’s past performances from his younger years of acting. This deep dive (literally layers and layers of various skin graphing in the CGI) into Smith’s alluring screen presence makes the movie also about him. As a Philly girl who grew up watching Smith in his young acting years, this is a stunning culmination of his craft.

6) Uncut Gems (Josh & Benny Safdie)


Bold, unnerving, frantic Sandler – in the best way! This movie gets in your head in the immediacy of its direction and Sandler’s epic portrayal of the main character Howie. I couldn’t help but both be intensely frustrated with Howie and also cheer for him at the same time. The dynamic between Howie as the husband, father, lover, jeweler, friend and selfish individual all chasing after different dreams while trying to balance the crazyness of life is actually super relatable.

5) 3 From Hell (Rob Zombie)


As someone who has grown into a huge Rob Zombie fan, this is as Zombie as it gets! Unapologetically gnarly, it feels good to spend time in such bad company with characters who are so clearly loved by the director. I often have to give myself permission to get into The Zombie Zone, but when I do – it’s the most cathartic feeling. Sheri Moon Zombie is a joy to watch.

4) For Sama (Waad Al-Kateab)


Pure bravery on so many levels. As a citizen journalist, a mother, a survivor – this documentary was made using first-person video from Waad during the uprising in Aleppo, Syria. She began taking videos in college, and as the uprising gained momentum, it follows her journey through falling in love, marriage, and having her daughter Sama. Waad says as a thread throughout – “This is for you, Sama.” Sama is the ultimate inspiration for her unwavering commitment to what’s right and to documenting the reality around her. The film deals with identity, motherhood, patriotism, and journalism in their most authentic form. There’s a point in the film I find particularly important: a mother has just lost her young son in the hospital Waad’s husband set up. The mother is screaming at the camera, asking “Why are you filming this? How can you be filming this?” A beat later, the mother says “Then film this, show this,” referencing her dead son. It addresses the question of journalism vs. exploitation. Waad herself explained in an interview that she didn’t think of what she was doing as exploitative because she didn’t think she was going to survive the situation herself, and so her main priority was to document everything. Essential viewing.

3) The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)


The granddaddy of gangster films, from the granddaddy of gangster film directors. And the trifecta of De Niro, Pesci, Pacino is a welcome storm of top-shelf acting. Scorsese’s direction is undeniably towering, nuanced, and masterful. The slow burn of living with these characters through various stages of their lives adds such weight to the ending.

2) Midsommar (Ari Aster)


Bright scenes of summertime in Sweden counter-punch the deep, dark material at the heart of this film. This movie reveals a deep understanding through its portrayal of the journey of the character of Dani and Florence Pugh’s emotive performance. She’s my favorite actress right now. Dani’s life is flipped upside down after a horrid family tragedy. Following the tragedy, her long-time boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor) invites her to tag along on what was supposed to be a “boys trip” to a friend’s summertime celebration in Sweden. The push and pull of her simultaneous search for change, peace, understanding and variety of experience all collide in the most trippy way. It’s a very cathartic movie for me.

1) A Hidden Life (Terrence Malick)


No hesitations on this one. It’s lived inside me since I saw it. A haunting portrait of faith, love, marriage, & identity, it’s a stunning work of art. The relationship between husband-and-wife Franz Jägerstätter (August Diehl) and Frani Jägerstätter (Valerie Pachner) is a beautiful example of love and commitment. Despite a majority of the community looking down on the family after Franz’s stance against Nazism is made known, Frani is steadfast in her loyalty to her husband – the father of their children. Her faith is tested by his actions as much as he his. It’s a tale the religious establishment vs. personal moral conviction.

Matt Strohl

I just want to reinforce the thought from our intro above that the judgments in this list are expressions of my own taste. I prefer to live in a world where different people have different tastes, and so I want to emphasize that any harshness in my negative takes is meant to convey the strength of my attitude towards the movies, and not meant to deride anyone who disagrees with me. There are some movies I frickin’ hated this year that some of my most respected friends loved. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Please, try to change my mind.

But yeah, this was a fantastic year. I really love everything down to about 75, and then I have a pro-attitude towards everything down to 109. I’m bummed that I didn’t get to see Malick’s A Hidden Life or Miike’s First Love. I’ll write a review of the former when I see it. I did pretty well on seeing the Oscar nominees. I have no desire to ever see 1917, though. I see no need for any more Sam Mendes in my life.

Note:  I only bothered to include director names for movies that aren’t on Josh’s list.

1) Ash Is Purest White

Ash Is Purest White

I’ve commented on this many times already and its place on this list should be no surprise for anyone who pays attention to my opinions, but yeah, there’s no question that this is the movie of the year for me. When I watch a Jia film, I am constantly in awe of how purposeful every little detail is. He’s a true master. Also: Zhao Tao is a genius.

2) High Life


Into the black hole of human destiny. I don’t know if anyone in the world likes this movie quite as much as I do, and I’m good with that.

3) Hotel by the River


A masterpiece about death and poetry and family reckoning and slipping into a delirium of snow white landscapes and empty hotels and living angelic apparitions.

4) The Portuguese Woman


Exquisitely refined slow cinema. It’s mostly stillness and absence, but there are just enough flights of fancy to create the thrilling sense that the movie is capable of anything. Not for everyone, but definitely for me.

5) The Irishman


On doing one horrible thing on purpose that destroys your entire life and then ending up alone with nothing to do but wait for death and endlessly ruminate on the events that led up to the fateful moment and ask whether it could have been avoided and try to convince yourself that it couldn’t.

6) La Flor (Mariano Llinás)


This took 10 years to make and it really shows. A sprawling 14 hour study of cinematic storytelling that goes through the rabbit hole several times over. The work of a deranged visionary.

7) 3 from Hell


In this era when genre movies are getting unbearably tame, the spirit of 70’s exploitation cinema lives on and Rob Zombie is its conduit. A mercilessly depraved vision of American violence and a twisted hangout comedy. Note that this is the third part of a trilogy (the first two are House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects).

8) Uncut Gems


The best score since Good Time. The Safdies are masters of visceral cinema. The anxiety is the point, not a cost to be paid. Of course Sandler is a force of nature in this, but all the fantastic non-professional acting is what really puts it over the top.

9) Pasolini


It pronounces the death of narrative and then gives us an anti-sensational portrait of Pasolini’s final day. The focus is on the subtlety of Dafoe’s absolutely brilliant performance. Ferrara’s direction often borders on abstraction. It’s some of his most beautiful work.

10) Black Mother


Khalik Allah is the truth! His originality is thrilling. This is a formally wild portrait of Jamaica structured around Five Percenter mythology identifying the Black woman as the mother of the world.

11) Mademoiselle de Joncquières [aka Lady J]

A particularly wicked adaptation of the same Diderot story that Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne is based on. Cécile de France is extraordinary and Mouret’s direction is exquisite from start to finish.

12) Season of the Devil (Lav Diaz)

A four hour musical about the Marcos martial law era in the Philippines. No filmmaker in the world is confronting fascism as aggressively as Diaz.

13) Grass

Wall-to-wall Hong Sang-soo table shots in a rigorous formal structure. The focus is on eavesdropping. This is a very extreme example of what’s distinctive about Hong’s cinema and will only appeal to fans.

14) Peterloo

Aggressively unfashionable but vitally relevant.

15) The Image Book

Honestly, I’ll need two or three more viewings to even begin to penetrate this, but I find it very enjoyable just at the surface level. The sound design is nuts and Godard’s gravelly narration is like delicious pudding.

16) Heimat Is a Space in Time (Thomas Heise)

100 years of German history in 3 hours and 40 minutes, by way of one family’s narrative. The relationship between image and text is often oblique. The texts are mostly letters and personal documents like half-finished resumes. There is almost no exposition or explicit contextualization. The events are sometimes utterly tragic, but everything is presented in a monotone. It’s hypnotic and engaging.

17) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

How do you pull off a sincere movie about kindness, understanding, and forgiveness in 2019 without being unbearably cloying? Ask Marielle Heller. I cried through like 80% of this. It melted my cold heart into a puddle and then boiled the puddle into rarified melancholy. Tom Hanks is perfect.

18) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

My basic take on Tarantino’s revisionary movies is that they are about the satisfactions of fiction. Whereas the previous two concern the way pulpy genre movies can offer a cheap but welcome emotional redress for historical atrocity, the catharsis here is much more personal for Tarantino. He grew up in LA during this time period and he clearly associates Tate’s death with the death of Old Hollywood. It’s also a hangout movie, like a lot of his earlier work (especially Death Proof). Hangout movies are in short supply and I appreciate the way Tarantino is happy to spend ten minutes bullshitting and ogling dirty feet. The scene when Tate goes to see her own movie is especially wonderful.

19) Transit

The formal conceit is brilliant and Petzold’s understated style is in fine form, though I do miss Nina Hoss.

20) Alita: Battle Angel

Bodily dysphoria and the joy of transition. I appreciate the focus on character and world-building and the sparsity of the narrative.

21) Dolemite Is My Name

On the joy of making movies. It would be impossible to overstate how delightful it is to see Eddie Murphy really letting loose like this. It’s the most entertaining movie of the year for me.

22) Synonyms 

Combines two venerable traditions: self-deprecating Jewish comedy and the romance of the bohemian expat in Paris. The romance is turned into farce by the political and cultural transformations of the 21st century. I found this to be the funniest new release I’ve seen in quite a while. I laughed so loudly and often that Angela got angry. She, on the other hand, didn’t find it funny at all, so take my enthusiasm with a grain of salt. This is not going to work for everyone.

23) Pain and Glory

Excruciating, in a good way. This is a little scattered but the best parts are exceptional. The reunion with the old lover is just beautiful.

24) Richard Jewell

I wrote a whole thing about this here.

25) Domino

De Palma as the old master in exile. The primary pleasure is seeing the maestro spin gold out of the limitations he faced here. The Pino Donaggio score, the split diopter shots, the diegetic cameras, the set pieces: it scratches the De Palma itch. Terrorist as filmmaker (filmmaker as terrorist?).

26) Bliss (Joe Begos)

A true delight of low-budget horror. Don’t even think about watching this while the sun is out. You want to watch this late at night, turned up as loud as possible. This is a drug-addled LA vampire fever dream in grimy 16mm. The sound design is out of control. The music is great across the board but the use of sludgy doom metal during the most intense scenes is especially inspired. People who didn’t watch the later seasons of Friday Night Lights are missing out, as one of the many joys this has to offer is that the ultra-edgy protagonist is played by Dora Madison, who also played frickin’ Becky Sproles. She just rules in this. And the practical effects!

27) Chasing Dream 

Rocky 3 plus Rocky 4 plus American Idol plus a screwball love story. Probably for Johnnie To fans only, but I would be appalled if any To fan didn’t like this.

28) Killing (Shinya Tsukamoto)

This is one crazy-ass chanbara, from the director of the Tetsuo movies. Japanese swordplay movies tend to involve a lot of stillness and then quick bursts of brutal violence. This movie is an extended study of this structure and the emotions behind it. The score is outstanding.

29) Midsommar (Director’s cut)

I appreciate that Aster swung for the fences with this. The combination of British folk horror tropes and psychedelic imagery is inspired and the payoff is commensurate with the buildup.

30) Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello)

The acting is great and the formal gambit re: the setting is bold and successful.

31) An Elephant Sitting Still 

Three and a half hours in I was legit in suspense about whether there was actually going to be an elephant in the movie. It’s sort of like a riff on A Touch of Sin by way of Haneke and Tarr, except the long takes are much more dynamic than Tarr’s.

32) Avengement

Scott Adkins is the Daniel Day Lewis of direct-to-video.  This is basically Guy Ritchie’s Brawl in Cell Block 99 meets Bronson and it totally rules.

33) Under the Silver Lake

A continuation of the stoner Philip Marlowe cycle that began with The Long Goodbye, The Big Lebowski, and Inherent Vice. Garfield is great and there’s a rich sense of setting. The use of smell is far more vivid than Parasite. I don’t like the ending, though. This is a movie that needed fewer answers. If it had stuck the landing, it would have been a lot closer to the top of this list, but I still think it’s great overall.

34) Grand Isle

Shoot this into my veins. Easily my favorite recent Nic Cage movie and my favorite good-bad movie of the year. It starts out with a pretty standard noir setup and then goes to astonishing places. There are like three movies worth of plot crammed into this. Kelsey Grammar’s Foghorn Leghorn is just as delightful as Cage’s performance.

35) Her Smell

Elisabeth Moss’ collaborations with Perry go some ways towards a Frownland-esque theater of cruelty where they trap you with the sort of unbearable person you would ordinarily try to escape as quickly as possible. What I find most interesting about this one is the way that Perry BEGINS the second and third vignettes at the point where Becky is already way way overdue for something (finishing an album months late or going on stage two hours late) so that you immediately have this abrasive ringing alarm clock sensation of “for the love of god just go already” and then the scenes go on for like 25 minutes or so each and there’s all this Zulawski insanity in the meantime.

36) Hagazussa

Moody, stark witch horror. I appreciate the lack of dialogue and the use of music.

37) 47 Meters Down: Uncaged

The Descent as a shark movie. Fanatastic. The underwater photography is extremely impressive.

38) Serenity

Good-bad movie bliss. Another salty McConaughey performance. Peak Jason Clarke. Anne Hathaway breathily calling him “Daddy” is a highlight of the year for me.

39) Sibyl (Justine Triet)

This is in Ozon territory. I love it. The editing is bonkers and it really keeps up the film’s momentum. The whole cast is great but Sandra Hüller especially stands out as the director character.

40) The Beach Bum

Barfly for 2019. A loving ode to stoner degeneracy.

41) Happy Death Day 2U

While Happy Death Day is a play on Groundhog Day, this gem is a play on Back to the Future 2. Jessica Rothe is sooooo good in these movies.

42) Glass

The anti-Marvel movie. Shyamalan’s direction is seamless and the movie looks amazing from start to finish. I love Split and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Taylor-Joy and McAvoy reunited in this. I enjoy the wonky metafictional themes and the way the ending messes with genre expectations had me cackling.

43) The White Storm 2: Drug Lords

A sequel in name only. Andy Lau plays a billionaire ex-Triad who becomes an anti-drug vigilante after he is inspired by—wait for it—Rodrigo Duterte. Anyone who’s into Hong Kong cinema will be thrilled to see him as pseudo-Batman. Louis Koo plays his drug lord nemesis who chomps a cigar during the climactic gunfight. One might mistake this for pro-authoritarian and pro-drug war, but that would indeed be a mistake. There are clear equivalencies drawn between Lau and Koo and the emphasis is on the collateral damage of the whole struggle. Although the movie makes the relevant nods to mainstream acceptability, it has a subversive heart.

44) Motherless Brooklyn

It’s basically a histrionic Brooklyn Chinatown, minus the most extreme luridness, plus Edward Norton with Tourette’s. There’s so much raw enjoyment on offer and this has the strong feeling of being a passion project (the big name cast members did it for free!).

45) Shadow

An utterly gorgeous movie full of stunning choreography, even if the yin yang imagery is a bit much.

46) Rambo: Last Blood

Lean, efficient bordersploitation rape-revenge Rambo: *Italian chef kiss*.  Unfortunately, the finale is rushed, but the last kill might be the best kill of the decade.

47) Ad Astra

Somber Apocalypse Now in space. Gray’s third straight “stranger in a strange land” movie. The more abstract compositions are gorgeous and I like Pitt’s performance.

48) Dragged Across Concrete

As Filipe Furtado observed, it’s like he took some pulpy novel and filmed every sentence. It’s a very distended movie, but that’s the point. It’s all about the seedy details.

49) A Rainy Day in New York

An effervescent Renoir jam. It’s like Picnic in the Grass and a number of other Renoir films where the characters make very determinate plans which totally unravel in the face of escalating entropy, except in Woody’s version they head into the city instead of into the country. Bonus points for expecting fans of Selena Gomez and Timothée Chalamet to get the Vincente Minnelli references.

50) Greta

Full Huppert.

51) Honey Boy

Clumsy but appealingly raw. The recovery material is very authentic. The FKA Twigs stuff is nuts and I like it.

52) Cats

I understand why a lot of people don’t like Cats, but everyone who does like Cats is invited to my house for a Cats party.

53) The Forest of Love (Sion Sono)

Sort of an ultra-depraved Teorema with all of Sono’s most distinctive interests mashed together. No one will ever deny that it’s too long, but there’s something thrilling about knowing that Netflix paid for all this. 

54) Replicas

Composed entirely of philosophy of mind and personal identity examples and featuring a first rate Keanu Reeves performance, this is one of my favorite B-movies of the year.

55) Long Shot

Genre comedy is not in fact dead. Charlize Theron is so funny! And she has a surprising level of chemistry with Seth Rogen. More comedic roles for her and Skarsgard, please.

56) Crawl

The creature feature subgenre has unfortunately been taken over by self-aware schlock. This is a welcome return to form. Chomptastic, functional genre movie.

57) Ma

Octavia Spencer gets to play the horror heavy and she is frickin’ great. This movie goes to some wild places. It’s thrilling and delightfully trashy.

58) Angel Has Fallen

The mid-budget action movie is a beautiful, fading tradition and this is a stellar example. Easily the best of the trilogy. All the stuff with Nick Nolte is fantastic.

59) Atlantics

Mati Diop’s pedigree as a Claire Denis protege comes through— there’s something of the lyricism, sensuality and horror of Denis’ cinema here. Diop has said that the primary visual references for this are John Carpenter’s The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13, which is awesome. I think it’s a very good film but sometimes weighed down by passages that feel like generic film festival fodder. The last couple lines, for instance, are beneath this film, and the political and topical tie-ins are overly blunt given the movie’s capacity for otherworldliness.

60) 6 Underground

The ratio of Bayhem to non-Bayhem is favorable. I appreciate how unapologetically reprehensible the worldview is. If you’ve seen Pain & Gain, you’ll realize that this is a deliberate artistic choice.

61) The Perfection

Could have used a little more Miike but it’s delightful and transgressive, especially for a Netflix movie.

62) Knife+Heart

Giallo throwback with a gay porn setting and Vanessa Paradis. A fun time at the movies.

63) Triple Frontier

Treasure of the Sierra Madre meets Narcos. Contains the single most enjoyable Ben Affleck performance.

64) Gemini Man

During the Marvel kerfuffle, the bedrock argument I kept hearing is “but it’s awesome spectacle!”  If people really want awesome spectacle, they should have gone to see this in HFR 3D. I drove 3 hours to Spokane to see it. Worth it.

65) Liz and the Blue Bird (Naoko Yamada)

A very gentle and lovely anime schoolgirl melodrama, full of watercolor compositions.

66) Depraved

The very welcome return of Larry Fessenden. It’s a little overlong and not everything works but this is very good overall. It’s a Frankenstein variant, connecting the myth to military trauma. Alex Breaux is amazing. That Iggy Pop-themed meet cute is one for the ages.

67) The Fanatic

This is the vanguard of contemporary good-bad movies. Now that Cage has been taken up by the mainstream, it’s Travolta who is really going hard. Behold!

68) A Score to Settle

Hardcore Nicolas Cage B-movie. Scent of a Woman as a revenge movie, except instead of being blind he can’t sleep at all.

69) The Intruder

A prosperous Black family moves into a beautiful new home, only to be haunted by Donald Trump’s forgotten white man, played by Dennis motherfucking Quaid. This movie gets astoundingly deep into themes about race without ever stepping out of its pulpy genre trappings.

70) Doctor Sleep

I think it would have worked better without the more direct tie-ins with The Shining. But it’s fun and the psychic vampire cult stuff is great. Love the baseball boy scene.

71) In My Room (Ulrich Köhler)

Can’t be described without spoilers, but it’s a new take on the relationship black comedy and the Clint Eastwood joke slayed me.

72) Relaxer 

Apocalyptic post-Mumblecore insanity. This is a very abrasive movie. It goes so far that I can’t help but admire it.

73) The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Nobuhiro Suwa)

New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud plays himself, goofing around with a bunch of kids who are making a movie. Utterly charming. 

74) Anna

Luc Besson still doing the female assassin thing, and this time it works really well.

75) Triple Threat

Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, and Scott Adkins all together! I love all three of them so much that I wanted this to be even better than it is, but it’s a very solid martial arts picture.

76) Luce

It’s pleasantly wicked and much thornier than most contemporary topical movies. The entire cast is great. Between this and Ma, Octavia Spencer killed it this year.

77) The Prodigy

Child’s Play meets Birth. Lurid, bonkers take on the bad seed movie.

78) The Lighthouse

The leads are great and the cinematography is well-done but for me this needed to be less serious or more serious, preferably less serious. It’s too stupid for how seriously it seems to take itself at times.

79) Luz

Bizarro tripped out horror movie. Not for everyone but horror fans should give it a look.

80) Black and Blue

A revision of The Gauntlet for the BLM era. The cast is great and the action is intense. Between this and The Intruder, Taylor put on a clinic in 2019 about how to get deep into issues about race in America in the context of an entertaining genre movie.

81) The Wandering Earth

The first big-budget sci-fi extravaganza produced in China. I find its absurd excess appealing and I also enjoy the way it fits in “collective before individual” theme anywhere it can.

82) John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

I absolutely love the first two but for me this one falls off considerably. It pushes the rules of the universe past the breaking point and the side characters and villains are nowhere near as interesting as in the first two.

83) One Cut of the Dead

It’s a gimmick film, but the gimmick is pretty great.

84) Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Linklater doing his own thing way out in left field. This is a flawed movie but it’s very unique and I appreciate that in this era of aesthetic homogenization.

85) Little Joe

Well-done lite horror. This is a tricky color palette, easily cloying if overdone, but Hausner is judicious and pulls it off. The film raises some interesting philosophical questions, especially concerning the subjectivity of well-being.

86) Give Me Liberty

The anti-Uncut Gems. Every reckless decision is made out of kindness. Melting pot as cacophony.

87) I See You

The score is great. It’s very fun. totally nuts. and impossible to describe without spoilers.

88) Annabelle Comes Home

It’s not very scary, but it’s ridiculous and enjoyable.

89) Kill Chain

Silly half-baked hitman movie with a fun Nic Cage performance. It’s exactly the sort of direct-to-video trash that I love watching by myself late at night.

90) Running with the Devil

It’s basically stupid Traffic. I found it very amusing as a good-bad movie. Decent Cage, exceptional Fishburne.

91) Primal

Primal is exactly what it promises to be: Nic Cage chewing scenery and having fun with hammy dialogue while chasing poisonous snakes and a ghost jaguar around a boat amidst an NSA kerfuffle. If you’re not into that, then this isn’t your movie. I’m into it.

92) Shazam!

I found this to be relatively solid for a superhero movie, with likable characters and fun world-building.

93) Knives Out

The mystery is poorly developed but the storytelling is nice and crisp and the cast is solid (though a lot of the most exciting performers are underused). The way political references are used to manipulate the audience’s allegiances is cheap and borderline insufferable, but it ends up coming across as a gag rather than a serious thematic commitment, and the movie at least understands that the entire political spectrum is currently obnoxious.

94) Daddy Issues

This is a hot mess but also a total hoot. It won me over with that watercolor/fuck montage.

95) Us

The allegory is too tidy and Peele can’t resist spelling things out rather than letting us draw our own connections (e.g., cutting from a perfect Jaws homage directly to a Jaws t-shirt) but this looks good af, the music is inspired, and the entire cast is great.

96) The Souvenir

Very conflicted on this one. It’s absolutely gorgeous on the surface and in principle I like the idea of presenting one’s memories without melodramatic embellishment, but I can’t deny that I found it very dull. It didn’t convince me of Julie’s attraction to Anthony and the pain is just too muted. I’ve found myself comparing it to Pain and Glory, which is similarly personal but just so much more painful.

97) Asako I & II

Rohmer’s Winter’s Tale meets Vertigo. Great premise and intriguing opening but it doesn’t really go anywhere all that interesting. I probably owe this another viewing. I feel like I might be underrating it.

98) Legend of the Demon Cat

The oft-told story of Li Po and Yang Kwei-fei by way of a Tsui Hark imitation. It’s too long but it’s overall enjoyable.

99) Murder Mystery

Remarriage Clue? It’s pretty solid for what it is.

100) Parasite

I like Bong Joon-ho and this isn’t a bad movie, but it’s one of my least favorite films from him. The catharsis is much too mild relative to the buildup (I literally shrugged) and I’m not super impressed by all the 12th grade symbolism.

101) Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Pretty bad, but honestly so, and it has some appealing qualities. The Rey-Kylo chemistry is in full force and the fight on the sunken ship is worth the price of admission all by itself. I also like the Sith Island of Dr. Moreau.

102) Escape Room

Saw-lite. It’s an enjoyable horror movie, even though it’s derivative and mostly uninspired.

103) Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

What’s interesting about this is the parallelism between Hobbes and Shaw. Statham and  the Rock have it in their contracts that they can’t get beat up too much, so the movie has to do a delicate dance of keeping them exactly balanced. But it’s ultimately pretty uninspired and overlong. The finale is tedious, although I did appreciate that a NOS substitute makes an appearance.

104) Edge of the Knife (Helen Haig-Brown, Gwaai Edenshaw)

A lot of this is really cool but the tricks deployed to convey that the wildman is losing it look cheap and it would have been better to take a more restrained approach and let the actor do the work.

105) The Poison Rose

Travoltasploitation. It’s an acquired taste, but I’m here for it. It also has an amazing Brendan Fraser performance.

106) The Dead Don’t Die

This one is hard to evaluate because it’s not even trying to be good. It’s not really a zombie movie. The relevant apocalypse is total apathy, which the film reflects by being apathetic about itself.

107) Last Christmas

This is a marginal good-bad movie, because it takes long af to pay off and it’s pretty frickin’ bad. But it eventually gets there. The last act is on another level. NB, the soundtrack is wall-to-wall George Michael. It turns out that there’s a George Michael song for every emotion.

108) Dark Phoenix

A bad movie, but with just enough campy fun to make it a worthwhile: McAvoy and Turner feeling feelings, Magneto shooting Jessica Chastain with a hundred guns at once, Jennifer Lawrence taking every opportunity to give shout outs to feminism.

109) The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (Lee Won-tae)

It’s okay. These Korean crime movies are a dime a dozen and this one doesn’t really have anything to set it apart.

110) The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

I was with it for about an hour and then it just got too tedious for me. It does have some good qualities, though.

111) Little Women

It’s a good-looking movie. The production design is well done and the use of natural light is appealing. Fun fact: this has the same cinematographer as High Life (my #2 above). I did not care for the scrambled chronology at all. It perpetually disrupts the narrative’s momentum. Nothing has a chance to grow and develop in an organic way. Emotions are just abruptly foisted upon us. As a result the movie seriously dragged for me, especially in the middle. I didn’t want it to be shorter, I wanted it to be longer and in chronological order. We don’t really get to know any of the characters except Jo and to a lesser extent Amy. Laura Dern is totally wasted. The Meryl Streep part is super lazy and she just phones it in. I would have preferred to actually get to know everyone in a more balanced way. It would have been more engaging. Also, the thematic speeches detract from the movie. It just doesn’t need them. The story speaks for itself.

112) Climax

I like the basic concept but Noé can’t stay out of his own way. All he really needed to do was cut down on the clutter and turn the camera right side up.

113) The Last Black Man in San Francisco

It’s bloated, uneven, and unremittingly heavy-handed, but most of the acting is great and the central friendship is compelling. I suspect it would have been very good if Talbot had summoned more restraint and let the performances and the relationships do the work. NB, this demands to be watched as a double feature with The Intruder, its lowbrow inversion (and IMO a better film). There is a remarkable degree of symmetry between the two.

114) Pokemon Detective Pikachu

I had no idea what was going on and I don’t think I’m the target audience, but it looked cool at times and Ryan Reynolds is sort of funny.

115) The Curse of La Llorona

I love the Conjuringverse and I really wanted this to be better, but alas. Raymond Cruz is good as the back-alley exorcist, but La Llorona herself is disappointing and the movie is just not well constructed. Also, the generic white mom protagonist waters down the cultural setting.

116) Child’s Play

Brad Dourif was a hell of a lot cooler than a smart home.

117) The Gospel of Eureka

Eh, this is probably actually better than where I’m putting it but I just really don’t enjoy this sort of human interest documentary. The passion play itself is amazing, though.

118) Brightburn

Incel Superman horror? Not terrible, but thoroughly adolescent.

119) Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Most of the monsters look cool. Some of the monster fights are great, others are overburdened with the awful narrative. So Tywin Lannister and Vera Farmiga are right-wing Thanos and left-wing Thanos? And Kyle Chandler is an absentee dad? Nah. I couldn’t get past my distaste for taking a series that has its origin in a Japanese post-war nuclear horror movie and turning it into something that’s so light-hearted about nukes. Now nukes are batteries for a benevolent Godzilla?

120) Joker

I like Phoenix’s physical acting but the writing is just terrible and Phillips’ direction is meh.

121) The Death of Dick Long

There are like half as many ideas here as were needed to sustain a feature film.

122) Ford v Ferrari

How are we supposed to root for the douchebag Republican Ford executives over the hilarious insolent Italian Ferrari crew? The movie seems to assume a very douchey level of patriotism from the audience. But more importantly, it leans entirely on formula and totally neglects the sort of details that could have made it much more gripping. When most of the drama revolves around car design, you need to slow down and educate the audience about technical challenges and how they are overcome. This movie just throws some gibberish at us and insistently reminds us that things get dicey when the RPMs get in the red. Similarly, there is no real effort to make the very long Le Mans sequence dramatically compelling. The Ferrari driver isn’t even a character in the movie, he’s just a grimacing mannequin. And then the epilogue is just excruciating. That didn’t need to be in the movie. If you’re going to do end title cards anyways, just end with the race and put all the crap from the end into the title cards.

123) Fyre

This is just peddling tawdry schadenfreude. It doesn’t have any interesting insights or notable cinematic qualities.

124) Sarah Plays a Werewolf (Katharina Wyss)

Alas, there are no werewolves in this movie. But there is a lot of Wagner.

125) Hustlers

Needs more Verhoeven, less Twitter. J-Lo is pretty good. Constance Wu is alarmingly bad. Cardi B is of course amazing, but underutilized. The first hour hangs together reasonably well, but the last part is godawful. The best part is the perfect use of the Scott Walker song. Did not see that coming.

126) Marriage Story

Divorce sucks: the movie, bourgeois edition. I’ll pass. I especially hate the Randy Newman score. Ray Liotta is good, though.

127) Fighting with My Family

A GLOW subplot, but bad.

128) I’m Just Fucking with You

One of these trashy Blumhouse movies. It’s pretty fun at first but wears out its welcome long before it’s over.

129) The Nightingale

Confirms my sense from The Babadook that Kent is a decent director and a very bad writer. The dialogue is awful throughout. Aisling Franciosi is not at all good in the lead role. The villains are the best part. Despite the problems I had with the movie, I was with it until the last 45 minutes, because I appreciated how hard it went. No punches are pulled on the front end. But then it does start pulling its punches. For a rape-revenge movie, going heavy on the rape and light on the revenge is a bad recipe. NB, Rolf de Heer’s The Tracker is a key point of reference and a much, much better movie. Check it out.

130) Holiday

I watched this because the blurbs promised hostility and nastiness, but it is very tame. It needed to be several orders of magnitude more hostile to hold any interest. There is one short scene that is rather bold, but it’s so obviously fake that it didn’t have much impact for me.

131) The Burial of Kojo (Blitz Bazawule)

Very “video art.” The longest 80 minute movie I’ve ever seen. It did not come together for me at all and the cheap digital look of the cinematography doesn’t suit the material.

132) Rim of the World

This is entirely derivative and has nothing new whatsoever to offer, nor does it do anything fun with the formula.

133)  The Kid Who Would Be King

The Merlin stuff is embarrassing and the movie is painfully repetitive. All of the baddies are exactly the same as each other.

134) Avengers: Endgame

The only good thing I can say here is that it’s better than Infinity War. The time heist concept is good, but the movie focuses on everything other than the heist. The long opening act where we’re rounding up the old gang is tedious, the middle act heists are rushed and underdeveloped, the fat Thor schtick is not funny (none of the jokes are funny, except maybe the very first version of the back to the future joke), and the epilogue is agonizing sentimental pap.

135) The Art of Self-Defense

Unfunny Foot Fist Way plus shitty Fight Club with wannabe Lanthimos dialogue.

136) Toy Story 4

Same terrible movie again, plus a one-joke spork. I would be totally fine if I never hear Randy Newman music ever again. Angela’s amazing comment when it ended: “I kept hoping the toys would be like Chucky and start killing everyone.”

137) Head Count

Netflix was putting up one or two terrible proprietary horror movies a week around Halloween season and this was one of them. This just has nothing at all going for it. No good characters, no interesting writing, no scares, no ideas, no visual flare. It just plain sucks.

138) Captain Marvel

The one thing that amuses me about this is that either they didn’t screen test Brie Larson to make sure she’s capable of convincingly running and jumping, or they just didn’t care that she isn’t.

139) Booksmart

Unwatchable, and yet I persisted.

140) The Farewell

I intensely dislike this movie. Once I found out it was based on a This American Life segment, it all made sense. If anyone ever wants to subject me to enhanced interrogation, there’s no need to resort to waterboarding, just force me to listen to This American Life and I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. There’s a central line in this movie that I can’t believe more people haven’t seen a problem with: “You think one’s life belongs to oneself. But that’s the difference between the East and the West. In the East, a person’s life is part of a whole.” First of all, that right there is some culturally reductive shit. Does anyone seriously believe that we can make this sort of sweeping generalization about ‘the East’? It’s a big place! Is there really so much cultural continuity between Japan and Sri Lanka? The Philippines and Mongolia? When it comes to preparations for the death of a family member, is it really true that the West is governed by individualist ideals while the common Chinese practice of deceiving a person about their terminal condition is collectivist? At least as presented in the film, the point of this practice is protecting the individual from coping with fear of death, which seems more individualistic if anything. I don’t think such deception is necessarily a bad thing (please lie to me when it’s my time), but I don’t see that it reflects collectivist ideals. Indeed, one might think that the sort of open reckoning with impending death that is more typical in America prioritizes the needs for closure of the person’s family and community over the emotional pain it might cause the person dying. One thing the movie fails to address, and that it really must address if it is going to examine this cultural difference, is that the Chinese practice is bound up with a more general taboo on the open discussion of death, which surely has its downsides. When someone with a terminal illness knows that they are going to die, there can be an expectation that they will behave outwardly as though they don’t know. This could be torturous. But even granting the movie’s flawed thematic framework, it does set itself up to examine mortality in an interesting way. How will it feel when the deception falls apart and death indeed comes? [Spoiler alert] This could have been powerful. But The Farewell totally bails on the reality of mortality and leaves us with one of the worst endings of all time. I don’t care that it’s a true story, the way it’s handled is a travesty. It’s like “psyche! and she’s still alive! woohoo!” A temporary reprieve is a mere postponement of death, and in a movie like this it should not be treated as a happy ending. If this movie doesn’t have the courage to look down the barrel of mortality in the end, then there’s no movie here. Some of the movies listed above were powerful and cathartic for me in coping with my own family situation, especially Hotel by the RiverThe Farewell was the opposite. It made me angry.

141) Jojo Rabbit

Excruciating on every level. I didn’t even get to the point of fretting about the way the Holocaust is represented because I just found this so repellent at the surface level. The entire cast is astoundingly bad, but ScarJo is the worst.

Angela Shope

I saw 18 movies this year that I really loved, and so I’m doing a top 18. I really wish I could have seen A Hidden Life. I doubt anything could beat my #1 pick but it almost certainly would have been near the top. Malick is my favorite.

1) The Portuguese Woman (Rita Azevedo Gomes)


If I could make a movie, I would want it to be like this. It’s perfect. It’s painterly and delicate and it made me feel calm and serene.

2) A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen)


Delightful and charming and just a joy to watch.

3) Transit (Christian Petzold)


I don’t usually care for WWII movies but this is so alluring and the filmmaking is fluid and gorgeous.

4) Ash is Purest White (Jia Zhangke)


Completely gripping. It’s heartbreaking. Even though it doesn’t at all resemble my own life, I related strongly to the protagonist’s existential plight.

5) A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller)


I grew up on Mr. Rogers. I found this nostalgic and soothing and moving.

6) Mademoiselle de Joncquières [aka Lady J) (Emmanuel Mouret)


I love wicked period pieces and this is just so satisfying.

7) Hotel by the River (Hong Sang-soo)


I’m a big Hong Sang-soo fan. Even though his movies are all similar to each other in many ways, they never even begin to get old. This one is sad and starkly beautiful.

8) Le Flor (Mariano Llinás)


Well that was a long day. The four female leads are incredible.

9) Ad Astra (James Gray)

I heart sadboy Brad Pitt. It’s such a lonely and bleak movie. I felt it, even though it’s a very male-centric story.

10) Domino (Brian De Palma)


I love De Palma and this didn’t let me down. The set pieces are thrilling. Jaime Lannister teaming up with the Red Woman to fight ISIS is pretty inspired. Also, I like how many tomatoes there are in this movie.

11) Martin Eden (Pietro Marcello)

The way this is unstuck in time is really interesting. The acting is exceptional.

12) The Irishman (Martin Scorsese)

The big arcs here are just masterful in all respects, but especially the acting. Al Pacino!

13) Midsommar (Ari Aster)

The sense of horror in the light of day is unusual and thrilling. I don’t have a very high tolerance for horror, but this one works for me.

14) Anna (Luc Besson)

I love the protagonist. I loved joining her for this adventure. Sasha Luss’ gallery of styles is mesmerizing.

15) Glass (M. Night Shyamalan)

The intersection of the storylines from the first two parts of the trilogy is really satisfying. It’s the opposite of most superhero movies, thank god.

16) Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodóvar)

This is a rough one. The color palette and Spanish aesthetic are delightful, but the movie is extraordinarily painful and real. This is another movie, like Ad Astra, that I felt like I could connect with even though it’s so male-dominated.

17) Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan)

So stressful! I enjoyed how long it is, but it’s really exhaustingly tense and scary. The cast is great.

18) Legend of the Demon Cat (Chen Kaige)

It’s pretty campy, but that didn’t stop me from crying. I love the costumes and the romance.

Bottom Five:

I try not to watch movies that I don’t expect to like, but these I really couldn’t stand.

1) Jojo Rabbit (Taika Waititi)

My patience for this movie was depleted within two minutes. It was really hard to watch and I don’t know why I did.

2) Parasite (Bong Joon-ho)

Ew, no thanks.

3) Captain Marvel (Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck)


4) Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell)

I hate the characters and the whole tone of the movie.

5) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)

It was just annoying. Tarantino is annoying.

State of the Cinema 2018

This was a very strange year. At first we thought it was pretty bad, mostly because of the glut of topical indie movies for the Twitter crowd and the diminishing returns of the franchise blockbuster. But this was also a year that saw momentous posthumous releases from Abbas Kiarostami and Orson Welles, as well as very fine films from Claire Denis, Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, Alan Rudolph, Paul Schrader, Steven Soderbergh, and Hirokazu Kore-eda. The Strohl brothers agree on the best five films of the year (which is a first, even given how much we tend to agree). We also agree that the MVP of 2018 was 88 year old Clint Eastwood, who made two of the most formally audacious films of his career. He redefined gonzo casting with his own daughter playing the estranged daughter who hates him in The Mule and the actual guys who stopped a terrorist attack playing themselves in The 15:17 to Paris. He challenged his own legacy with brutal honesty and graceful poetry. He examined the mechanics of white privilege with surprising nuance. He had two threesomes in the same movie. He broke our hearts with that Dianne Wiest scene. Clint Eastwood: we salute you.

This year we did things a little differently. Josh is incorporating comments throughout his post wherever he has something to say. Matt watched a lot more new releases than usual after Filmstruck was snatched away from him and decided to copy Josh and just rank them all. He gave every film a brief comment. Isabel and Angela did not want to include commentary or full ranked lists.

Joshua Strohl


  1. The Other Side of the Wind (Welles) The Other Side of the WindThis melted my face. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I turned this on. I’m a big Orson Welles fan, and the legend of the movie preceded it, but I never really understood what it was. As soon as I started it I was totally captivated, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It creates its own ecosystem of maddening controlled chaos. The movie-within-the-movie is like silk, but it’s always just out of reach for the viewer. It’s a lost burning ember of elemental cinema floating in a world of shit: media consultants and paparazzi and publicists and vultures. John Huston towers over the proceedings with his built-in legendary stature. Not for most people, but if you’re seriously interested in film history, it’s a must watch.
  2. First Reformed (Schrader)first reformedWe’ve been digging late Paul Schrader movies for a while and it’s a weird feeling that suddenly everyone is on board. This is a movie that worms itself into your brain. It’s great to see someone working in this controlled, precise register. The ending left me breathless.
  3. The Mule (Eastwood)muleI like all of Clint’s movies, but every now and then he has a burst of intense creativity, such as when he made White Hunter Black Heart, UnforgivenA Perfect World, and The Bridges of Madison County at the start of the 90’s. This is one of those times. This is the year when he started channeling Kiarostami, which is a very unexpected and most welcome development. He also gave us the most surprising Harmony Korine inspired booty party of all time. I thought The Mule was beautiful, heartbreaking and hilarious and I can’t wait to watch it many, many more times.
  4. 24 Frames (Kiarostami)24 FramesA peaceful and achingly beautiful experience. I love this in the simplest way possible, but it is not at all a simple movie.
  5. Unsane (Soderbergh)Unsane 3Soderbergh channels Frankenheimer through an iPhone. This movie is jagged and nasty and effective. It’s a rare topical movie with sharp teeth. His cinematography is the best of the year.
  6. Ready Player One (Spielberg)RP1Spielberg’s most meta film is a slyly subversive critique of the nostalgia machine and searching examination of his own legacy. Halliday is a high-tech Willy Wonka and Spielberg stand-in. The moment where Wade Watts walks in to meet the final avatar and finds Halliday/Spielberg’s childhood self playing Atari is extremely poignant and peak Spielberg. I think a whole lot of people missed the forest for the trees here. This movie also just straight up bangs. It moves between the real world and the virtual world with the kind of fluidity that only Spielberg is capable of. The rewatchability factory is at the level of Spaceballs and Goodfellas for me.
  7. Double Lover (Ozon)Double loverAfter I watched this, the first thing I did was watch ten other Ozon movies. I had only seen Swimming Pool, which I thought was alright, but I didn’t realize what an enfant terrible he is. This movie is completely nuts, in the best possible way. It tickled me.
  8. First Man (Chazelle)first manAlright Damien Chazelle, now you’re showing me something. I can’t believe the La La Land guy made this movie. As a new father myself, I found its depiction of fatherhood extremely moving– even overwhelming. The movie is a technical marvel and it has an almost Eastwoodian focus. Ryan Gosling is really good, and I don’t easily hand out Ryan Gosling compliments.
  9. The 15:17 to Paris (Eastwood)15 17 to ParisOne of the most radical movies to come out of a major studio in recent memory. Critics didn’t know what to do with it. I think they missed the boat.
  10. BlacKkKlansman (Lee)BlackKklansmanIt’s great to see Spike Lee in the spotlight again. His technique and storytelling are in top form. It’s a masterful and very entertaining movie that hits poignant grace notes with Spike’s distinctive wild tonal shifts. It’s potent, playful, and ultimately devastating.
  11. Welcome to Marwen (Zemeckis)
  12. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Coen Bros.) Pan shot!
  13. Let the Sunshine In (Denis) Juliette Binoche is stunning in this woozy and gorgeous Denis film.
  14. If Beale Street Could Talk (Jenkins) Pure cinema, the strong Jonathan Demme influence is very touching to me.
  15. Burning (Lee) Like Lee’s other films, it uses the grammar of the mystery genre in an abstract way to get at something haunting and just out of reach.
  16. Zama (Martel) Finally, a movie that understands the comedic potential of llamas.
  17. Shoplifters (Kore-eda) Kore-eda doing what he does best: he’s the master of the quiet, tender moment. Major affection for this.
  18. Cam (Goldhaber) A lot of fun. Wicked, witty, wacky cam girl thriller. Madeline Brewer gives the breakthrough performance of the year.
  19. Ray Meets Helen (Rudolph) Alan Rudolph returns after 15 years and he’s bonkers as ever. This movie sticks out like a diamond in the rough amidst all the unimaginative cookie cutter junk. It is *weird*.
  20. Custody (Legrand)  A waking nightmare that starts off like your average family drama and freefalls into something truly terrifying. Some of the finest suspense in recent memory. Parental horror of the highest order.
  21. The Day After (Hong) Another playful Hong Sang-soo movie about a guy who has an affair. This has an interesting rhythm and plays more like French new wave than typical Asian festival fare.
  22. Venom (Fleischer) That lobster tank scene stole my heart.
  23. The Commuter (Collett-Serra) Awesome editing, fun plot.
  24. Looking Glass (Hunter) The Nicolas Cage movie of the year is also a welcome return of Tim Hunter. Wildly unpredictable and fun.
  25. Mission Impossible: Fallout (McQuarrie) Mind-blowing stunts, breakneck speed, Tom Cruise in full gonzo Tom Cruise mode running like a gazelle on top of motorcycles and shit, the best fight scene since Eastern Promises. For me this is a rock solid addition to the franchise.
  26. Creed 2 (Caples Jr.) Another great fatherhood movie that moved me. Don’t overlook how great the acting is in this across the board.
  27. Upgrade (Whanell)
  28. Support the Girls (Bujalski)
  29. Ant-Man and the Wasp (Reed) Here’s a novel concept: a superhero movie that’s fun. I like this way, way more than any other Marvel Studios movie.
  30. Isle of Dogs (Anderson) It makes a few missteps but I found a lot of delight in the details and I’m a sucker for a Man’s Best Friend movie.
  31. Vox Lux (Corbett)
  32. Incredibles 2 (Bird) Best raccoon fight scene ever.
  33. Green Book (Farrelly) It’s amazing how much ire this stirred up. I get it, but I think people miss how much work this movie does critiquing the very things about it that piss people off.  It’s too complicated to dismiss on the basis of its synopsis. It’s sweet and lovable and it has some very funny food scenes. I am a big fan of the Farrelly brothers and I think Peter has a distinct humanist touch: clumsy but sincere.
  34. Paddington 2 (King) I love that talking bear but Hugh Grant puts this over the top.
  35. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Persichetti, Ramsey, Rothman) Won over my Spider-Man weary heart.
  36. Roma (Cuaron) One of the hardest movies for me to rank. I was really impressed by it but it left me cold. I haven’t had a chance to revisit it yet, but I have respect for it and I think it’s worth another look.
  37. Western (Grisebach)
  38. May The Devil Take You (Tjajhanto)
  39. Bodied (Kahn)
  40. The Endless (Benson and Moorhead)
  41. Between Worlds (Pulera)
  42. Soller’s Point (Porterfield)
  43. Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Van Sant) This moved me far more than I anticipated.
  44. Love, Simon (Berlanti) This has a good heart.
  45. Annihilation (Garland)
  46. The Night Comes for Us (Tjajhanto) A bit repetitive for me but when this is in full force, it’s a sight to behold.
  47. Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Fiennes)
  48. Blockers (Cannon) Apparently our society is done with comedy, so seeing a movie that is actually funny is like seeing a dog walking around on its hind legs.
  49. Mom and Dad (Taylor)
  50. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Dumont) So much head banging. Bring on the sequel.
  51. Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (Wadlow) My favorite junk food.
  52. Halloween (Green) As a Green fan, I wanted this to be better. I don’t think he’s a natural horror director, unfortunately, but I appreciate the spirit of the movie and it has some nice directorial touches.
  53. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Bayona) I hated the first Jurassic World but was delighted to find out how campy and ridiculous this one was. It’s a dinosaur/volcano disaster hybrid movie that morphs into a dinosaur/gothic haunted house hybrid movie complete with a Republican dinosaur auction. Can’t say I’ve seen that before!
  54. A Star is Born (Cooper) It’s a weepy, sappy affair and it falls apart in the second half but whatever, sue me, I like it anyways.
  55. Blindspotting (Estrada)
  56. Den of Thieves (Gudegast) Sleazy sweaty Gerard Butler shit.
  57. A Simple Favor (Feig)
  58. Instant Family (Anders)
  59. At Eternity’s Gate (Schnabel) Lots of Dafoe rolling around in fields of wheat. It had a startling immediacy that I responded to.
  60. Wildlife (Dano)
  61. Thunder Road (Cummings)
  62. The Wild Boys (Mandico)
  63. Hold the Dark (Saulnier) This movie is dark.
  64. Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun (Wilkerson)
  65. The Nun (Hardy) I don’t like this as much as Matt and Angela do, but I appreciated seeing a horror movie with some craft and panache. It got a little muddled toward the end.
  66. The Rider (Zhao)
  67. The Strangers: Prey at Night (Roberts) I enjoyed this as a nice flipside of the first one.
  68. Super Troopers 2 (Chandrasekhar) There is some comedy gold in this after a shaky start.
  69. Bumblebee (Knight)
  70. Hereditary (Aster) It has major flaws, but also moments of great inspiration. Hard to shake, awesome Toni Collette performance.
  71. The Favourite (Lanthimos) Lanthimos’ weakest movie but there’s still plenty to enjoy. I’m looking forward to his upcoming detective noir.
  72. American Animals (Layton)
  73. King Cohen (Mitchell) Another recent documentary about one of my favorite filmmakers. Generally I think of these movies as extended special features, but this Larry Cohen doc has enough crazy stories and interviews to elevate it above the pack, including the great Yaphet Kotto proclaiming that Larry Cohen was “The white Martin Luther King Jr. for black movies.” I’ve been rewatching Larry Cohen movies since I saw this and they are every bit as great as I remember them. We need more Larry Cohens. We need more renegades.
  74. The Legacy of a White Tail Deer Hunter (Hill)
  75. Claire’s Camera (Hong) Slight but interesting
  76. Bird Box (Bier) I had a lot of fun with this and I particularly enjoyed Malkovich’s version of the guy’s who’s just in it for himself. A fun B movie, it’s what A Quiet Place should have been.
  77. Game Night (Daley, Goldstein)
  78. Juliet, Naked (Peretz)
  79. Unfriended: Dark Web (Susco) I’m digging the screen capture genre. I hope it can keep developing without repeating itself.
  80. Skyscraper (Thurber) You had me at “The Rock has one leg.”
  81. Searching (Chaganty)
  82. The First Purge (McMurray) A fun hybrid of the Purge and Blaxploitation, but it’s clearly the weakest Purge movie.
  83. The Predator (Black) Two words: Predator dogs.
  84. Before I Wake (Flanagan)
  85. You Were Never Really Here (Ramsay)
  86. Golden Exits (Perry) This is why we need Woody back.
  87. Rodin (Doillon)
  88. Apostle (Evans) Some good horror imagery but what a mess.
  89. Adrift (Kormakur)
  90. Milla (Massadian)
  91. Revenge (Fargeat)
  92. Andre the Giant (Hehir) This movie gets three stars just for Ric Flair’s dick jokes.
  93. The Devil and Father Amorth (Friedkin) I love Friedkin but I can only appreciate this because of his delightful narration.
  94. The Equalizer 2 (Fuqua)
  95. Boy Erased (Edgerton) What is with Joel Edgerton making nasty movies and casting himself in the most unappealing roles imaginable.
  96. Fahrenheit 11/9 (Moore) For a Michael Moore movie, it gets into more interesting corners of the current political climate than you would expect. Believe it or not, I found it funny and insightful. But it’s still a Michael Moore movie and has all the faults that come with that.
  97. Hal (Scott)
  98. The Meg (Turteltaub)
  99. Uncle Drew (Stone lll)
  100. Tomb Raider (Uthaug)
  101. Won’t You Be My Neighbor (Neville)
  102. We the Animals (Zager)
  103. Arizona (Watson)
  104. Galveston (Laurent)
  105. Mandy (Cosmatos) The most disappointing movie this year. Cheddar Goblin was tight though.
  106. Gotti (Connelly) Of all the bad movies this year, this is the one I find myself drawn to the most. I have affection for it.
  107. Mile 22 (Berg) Murky and dumb but with great action and some solid violence.
  108. Death Wish (Roth)
  109. The Girl in the Spider Web (Alvarez)
  110. Flower (Winkler) 
  111. Leave No Trace (Granik)
  112. Crazy Rich Asians (Chu) I like this more than than my strohltopia colleagues and I’m very ashamed of it.
  113. Solo: A Star Wars Story (Howard)
  114. 211 (Shackleton)
  115. Tully (Reitman) The parenthood aspect resonated for me and Theron is good but the twist ruins the whole thing.
  116. Tales from the Hood 2 (Cundieff, Scott)
  117. Black Panther (Coogler) It just didn’t do it for me. I just don’t like most Marvel movies.
  118. How to Talk to Girls at Parties (Mitchell)
  119. Fifty Shades Freed (Foley) This is the first one of these I didn’t totally hate. It has some good sex scenes and the camp factor is enjoyable.
  120. Skate Kitchen (Moselle)
  121. Hotel Artemis (Pearce)
  122. Ralph Break the Internet (Moore, Johnson)
  123. Can You Ever Forgive Me (Heller) Melissa McCarthy is pretty bad in this, but it works best when it focuses on middle-aged queer lady dating dynamics. Richard E. Grant is great, as always.
  124. Alpha (Hughes)
  125. Hale County This Morning, This Evening (Ross)
  126. Sicario: Day of the Soldado (Sollima) Well, apparently Trump liked it.
  127. The Old Man and the Gun (Lowery) How did you mess up this “elderly Robert Redford robs banks for fun” movie? How can this not be good?
  128. The House with a Clock in its Walls (Roth) Eli needs to go back to the grindhouse. No bueno.
  129. The Sisters Brothers (Audiard)
  130. Widows (McQueen) This movie is lucky that Ocean’s Eight came out this year or it would feature the lamest heist in movie history.
  131. Bad Times at the El Royale (Goddard)
  132. Mid 90’s (Hill)
  133. Rampage (Peyton) Giant monkeys, giant crocodile, giant wolf, The Rock: the rest should take care of itself, but somehow they messed it up. Terrible screenplay. Some of the laziest writing in recent memory misses an easy slam dunk.
  134. Three Identical Strangers (Wardle)
  135. Madeline’s Madeline (Decker) Some really interesting and unique qualities in a movie that is insufferable and annoying.
  136. Breaking In (McTiegue)
  137. Kin (Baker Bros.)
  138. A Prayer Before Dawn (Sauvaire)
  139. Assassination Nation (Levison) 
  140. The Grinch (Cheney, Mosier)
  141. Bohemian Rhapsody (Singer) Where to even begin with this debacle. It’s like a car crash you can’t look away from. I didn’t hate it: I kind of enjoyed it as a bad movie, but the awards attention is concerning. In what universe is this up for Best Editing? It’s the movie they will use in editing classes for generations as an example of how not to edit.
  142. The Wife (Runge) This is so lame.
  143. Suspiria (Guadagnino) At least no one else will remake it now.
  144. A Quiet Place (Krasinski) Really good concept. Really dumb execution. IT’S SOUND!!!
  145. The Death of Stalin (Iannucci) Really bad concept. Really unfunny movie.
  146. I Feel Pretty (Kohn, Silverstein) This movie needed to be way more offensive. Made me wish the Farrellys would get back to their roots.
  147. Overboard (Greenberg) Overboard (1986) has to have the most fucked-up premise in all of romantic-comedy history. And they made a REMAKE. A GENDER-SWAP REMAKE!
  148. Pacific Rim Uprising (DeKnight) Why’d you have to go and ruin a good thing?
  149. Eighth Grade (Burnham) Creepy, Todd-Solondz wanna-be-movie that has real disdain for its characters, unlike actual Todd Solondz movies.
  150. Sorry to Bother You (Riley) None of this worked for me. I don’t think it had any interesting things to say and the jokes all fell flat. Overrated.
  151. The Oath (Barinholtz) Like reading annoying, progressive Twitter for 100 minutes.
  152. Avengers: Infinity War (Russo Brothers) This really made me sad for the state of blockbuster cinema.
  153. Escape Plan 2: Hades (Miller) I should have known better…
  154. Christopher Robin (Forster) Where Pooh gives Christopher Robin a two hour guilt trip.
  155. Thoroughbreds (Finley) Pretentious, boring, and depressing. No thanks.
  156. The Happytime Murders (Henson) I really wanted to like the raunchy puppet movie. It’s really bad.
  157. Deadpool 2 (Leitch) I don’t get the appeal of these.
  158. Tag (Tomsic) This is so bad it’s jaw-dropping. The ending is an all time WTF.
  159. Peppermint (Morel) You can’t be serious with this. Pierre Morel is a shadow of his former self in this painful-to-watch slog that expects me to buy that Jennifer Garner is Liam Neeson.
  160. Ocean’s Eight (Ross) I’m not trying to hate on female reboots, but c’mon you gotta do better than this. They had the idea, “Ocean’s 11, but with women,” and stopped there.
  161. Vice (McKay) Ugly, ghoulish, smug, morbid, obnoxious, cynical, and dumb.

I seriously regret not getting to see Welcome to Marwen. I love Zemeckis and I will review it and/or update the list when I see it.

Best Performances (top ten): 

John Huston (The Other Side of the Wind), Ethan Hawke (First Reformed), Clint Eastwood (The Mule), Sakura Ando (Shoplifters), Madeline Brewer (Cam), Tom Hardy (Venom), Claire Foy (Unsane), Juliette Binoche (Let the Sunshine In), Steven Yeun (Burning), Tom Waits (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs)

Best Director: Paul Schrader- First Reformed

Best Cinematography: Steven Soderbergh – Unsane

Best Editing: Bob Murkawski and Orson Welles  – The Other Side of the Wind

Best Original Screenplay: Paul Schrader – First Reformed

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sam Dolnick- The Mule

Isabel Garcia

  1. First Reformed (Schrader) 
  2. Ready Player One (Spielberg) 
  3. BlacKkKlansman (Lee) 
  4. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Neville)
  5. Upgrade (Whannell) 
  6. First Man (Chazelle) 
  7. Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Fiennes)
  8. Sollers Point (Porterfield)
  9. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse  (Persichetti, Ramsey, Rothman) 
  10. The 15:17 to Paris (Eastwood) 

Honorable Mentions: Creed II (Steven Caple Jr.) / Incredibles 2 (Bird) / Mission: Impossible – Fallout (McQuarrie) / Bodied (Kahn) / The Rider (Zhao) / Green Book (Farrelly) / Roma (Cuaron)

Worst Of: Avengers: Infinity War (Russo Brothers) / A Quiet Place (Krasinski) 

Matt Strohl

The first three are tremendous and I don’t think I can meaningfully rank them at this point, but I tried anyways. The movie that I most regret not getting to see in time for this list is If Beale Street Could Talk. NB, Josh included Lover for a Day on his list last year, but it’s technically a 2018 USA release.

  1. The Mule (Eastwood) A consummate masterpiece where Clint checks his privilege, reflects on his greatest regrets in life, examines his own mythology, poetically depicts the creative drive, elaborates a Kiarostami-esque existential driving theme, and much, much more.
  2. 24 Frames (Kiarostami) Haunting deathbed meditation from one of the greatest artists of our time, it hasn’t left my thoughts since I watched it.
  3. The Other Side of the Wind (Welles) I specifically do NOT recommend this to most people, it is very aggressive. I will not try to blurb it, I haven’t even begun to comes to terms with it, but I may write a longer piece eventually.
  4. First Reformed (Schrader) Schrader finally makes a film in the transcendental style.
  5. Unsane (Soderbergh) In the tradition of Shock Corridor, it’s one of the most effective thrillers in recent memory, making spectacular use of the iPhone camera.
  6. Let the Sunshine In (Denis) Lovely freeform character study with gorgeous Agnès Godard cinematography.
  7. Ray Meets Helen (Rudolph) Rudolph’s humor, magic, and romanticism are in peak form and it’s wonderful to see a septuagenarian love story so light on its feet, even if it does lose itself a bit in the final act.
  8. Double Lover (Ozon) Exhilarating, lurid, and gives no fucks about making sense.
  9. Roma (Cuarón) Reaching into the past not with nostalgia, but with agonizing hindsight and futile compassion—technical virtuosity as contrition.
  10. Ready Player One (Spielberg) Masterful, infinitely entertaining pop cinema that I like more every time I watch it (which is already a lot of times); it gets back to some of the themes of A.I., which I consider to be his masterpiece.
  11. The 15:17 to Paris (Eastwood) Clint invents conservative postmodernism.
  12. Lover for a Day (Garrel) The best of Garrel’s recent trilogy, his use of light is in vintage form here.
  13. The Day After (Hong) The purposefully disorienting timeline is fascinating and the social horror is acute.
  14. Milla (Massadian) Bracingly original inside-out storytelling, the opposite of condescending towards its subjects.
  15. Western (Grisebach) Brilliantly acted reappropriation of western archetypes to examine contemporary globalism.
  16. The Night Comes for Us (Tjajhanto) When he broke the guy’s leg in half and used each jagged piece to kill a separate guy I knew this would be in my top 20.
  17. The Nun (Hardy) In the year when Guadagnino delivered Italian horror cinema the ultimate insult, this was the movie that celebrated its legacy: part Fulci, part Bava, and the most crucifixes in one movie ever.
  18. The Commuter (Collett-Serra) Everything a thriller should be and a smart commentary on contemporary urban life.
  19. Bodied (Kahn) Might be hard to take if you don’t like battle rap, but this is relentlessly audacious and insightful and the finale is amazing.
  20. Venom (Fleischer) So bonkers and fun, it’s easily my favorite comic book blockbuster in years.
  21. Cam (Goldhaber) Smart, scary, erotic technological horror.
  22. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Dumont) Too long but plenty mesmerizing and I love the concept.
  23. Looking Glass (Hunter) Excellent Nicolas Cage creepy hotel voyeur thriller.
  24. Rodin (Doillon) A Rodin biopic more focused on depicting his process and ruminating on the birth of modernism in sculpture than on narrative, and it has the strongest sense of tactility of any movie in recent memory.
  25. Burning (Lee) Elusive, gut-clenching movie that definitely stuck with me.
  26. Zama (Martel) Odd colonial purgatory tale with an impressive sense of misery and some very memorable touches.
  27. BlacKkKlansman (Lee) I was a little disappointed by how conventional it is compared to Chi-Raq, but it really moves and I enjoy how much Spike loves depicting white people leaning into the Klan shit.
  28. Between Worlds (Pulera) Maximally ridiculous new age possession movie, with Nicolas Cage in full comedic excess mode.
  29. May the Devil Take You (Tjajhanto) Energetic Raimi-esque horror.
  30. Mom and Dad (Taylor) Fun, violent, and irreverent.
  31. Den of Thieves (Gudegast) Trash version of Heat that works because Gerard Butler is so utterly committed—you can smell his body odor.
  32. Shoplifters (Kore-eda) Sakura Ando’s performance is deeply moving and the first two acts are beautiful, but the procedural third act is a stylistic letdown.
  33. Upgrade (Whanell) A companion piece to Venom, with less exciting acting but some very cool and weird action scenes.
  34. Creed 2 (Caples Jr.) Holy shit, I did not expect the dramatic punch of following up on Ivan Drago.
  35. Paddington 2 (King) This is the closest we have nowadays to vintage slapstick; Brendan Gleeson and Hugh Grant are amazing.
  36. First Man (Chazelle) Stunningly beautiful, but weighed down by the bad choice to use archival material (especially the sound during the landing).
  37. Love, Simon (Berlanti) I was totally ready to be cynical about this (I watched it on an airplane) but it melted my cold heart and by the end I just really wanted Simon to have a nice boyfriend.
  38. At Eternity’s Gate (Schnabel) Checking off the obligatory van Gogh biopic boxes is painful, Schnabel’s bifocal shots are often annoying, and Oscar Isaac is no Anthony Quinn, but Dafoe is utterly amazing and all the scenes of him painting and basking in nature are enough to sustain this.
  39. Fifty Shades Freed (Foley) Ridiculous, amazing Grade A camp.
  40. Annihilation (Garland) I don’t take this too seriously: it’s a solid genre movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  41. Hold the Dark (Saulnier) Ultra-weird black metal sloooooooooow horror, not for everyone.
  42. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts (Surya) Uneven but deeply strange in an appealing way and the payoff is worth it.
  43. Blindspotting (Estrada) Stands above most of the other topical indie movies of recent years thanks to its complex outlook and dire intensity.
  44. Blockers (Cannon) Refreshingly raunchy, very funny gender-inverted American Pie.
  45. Support the Girls (Bujalski) Great ensemble cast, sweet and poignant, if slight.
  46. Bird Box (Bier) Very fun if approached as a trashy B movie.
  47. Claire’s Camera (Hong) Minor Hong, but that’s still pretty good.
  48. Super Troopers 2 (Chandrasekhar) Starts out clumsy but once it gets going it feels like a hilarious time capsule from a better era of comedy.
  49. Green Book (Farrelley) Well-acted buddy movie examining issues at the intersection of class and race.
  50. Before We Vanish (Kurosawa) There’s some great material but it plods on too long and lacks bite.
  51. The Rider (Zhao)- I don’t care for Zhao’s visual style but the non-professional acting is amazing.
  52. Hereditary (Aster) Takes itself too seriously in certain ways and botches the finale but peak Toni Collette.
  53. Skyscraper (Thurber) A spectacularly silly B movie with the Rock.
  54. A Simple Favor (Feig) Mostly a fun comedic thriller, but it doesn’t stick the landing and the end title cards are unforgivable.
  55. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Coen Bros.) I appreciate how morbid it is but the vignettes range from delightful to godawful and cringe-inducing (ugh that Liam Neeson one). Pan shot!
  56. Ant-Man and the Wasp (Reed) Unlike most Marvel movies, it has a genuine sense of wonder.
  57. The Endless (Benson and Moorhead) I like the low-budget Lovecraft vibe, but it pulls its punches.
  58. The Meg (Turteltaub) Giant prehistoric shark campfest with all sorts of ridiculous fake science and Jason Statham.
  59. Incredibles 2 (Bird) Good energy and imagination but I would be fine if this turns out to be the last movie I ever see where the world realizes we really do need superheroes.
  60. How to Talk to Girls at Parties (Mitchell) The first part of this is hilarious but it totally loses me well before it’s over.
  61. Mandy (Cosmatos) Try-hard hipster shit, but not without its pleasures.
  62. Revenge (Fargeat) Mostly standard rape-revenge movie that’s overly slick but has a solid finale.
  63. Game Night (Daley and Goldstein) Too much but often funny and the cast is solid.
  64. Rampage (Peyton) Another fun B movie with the Rock.
  65. Halloween (Green) Half-ass Halloween movie that partly redeems itself with a few inspired sequences and an appropriate sense of love for the original.
  66. The Strangers: Prey at Night (Roberts) I appreciate its 80’s heart but it loses what’s special and terrifying about the first one.
  67. Isle of Dogs (Anderson) The high points are high (F. Murray Abraham!) but the Greta Gerwig stuff is a disaster and Wes didn’t really have very many ideas here.
  68. Mission Impossible: Fallout (McQuarrie) There’s no impossible mission, it’s just a generic spy movie.
  69. Tomb Raider (Uthaug) For what this is, it’s actually pretty good, and it’s got Walton Goggins doing his usual thing.
  70. Unfriended: Dark Web (Susco) I like the form but the screenplay is too stupid for the movie to have much grip for me.
  71. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (Bayona) A hot mess that partly redeems itself with its ridiculous genre mashups and amazing Republican dinosaur auction.
  72. Solo: A Star Wars Story (Howard) Donald Glover is great and there are some good set pieces but the dude who plays Han is bad and this isn’t even trying to be better than mediocre.
  73. 211 (Shackleton) So-bad-it’s-good low budget Nicolas Cage cops and robbers movie.
  74. You Were Never Really Here (Ramsay) A grindhouse movie that’s afraid to be what it is.
  75. Happy as Lazzaro (Rohrwacher) Manderlay as a fairy tale– there are some nice ideas but I found it plodding and heavy handed.
  76. Bad Times at the El Royale (Goddard) Too cute for its own good and way bloated, but Chris Hemsworth is amazing.
  77. The First Purge (McMurray) The most generic and unremarkable in the series.
  78. A Star is Born (Cooper) The one thing that works about this is the chemistry between the leads, but that disappears in the second half and all that’s left is Cooper’s amateurish direction, tired musical biopic clichés, and some boring solo numbers from Gaga.
  79. Black Panther (Coogler) I love Michael B. Jordan in this but otherwise it doesn’t interest me.
  80. The Equalizer 2 (Fuqua) Disappointing and tired.
  81. The Favourite (Lanthimos) Emma Stone is terrible, the script (not written by Lanthimos) is tepid, and the movie looks like shitty Barry Lyndon with too much fisheye lens nonsense.
  82. The Girl in the Spider Web (Alvarez) Yo, Claire Foy, that’s not a real accent, but I do sort of enjoy how spectacularly bad this movie is.
  83. Apostle (Evans) This has like a half a movie worth of ideas.
  84. Pacific Rim Uprising (DeKnight) Very disappointing—utterly dumb sequel to a movie that I loved.
  85. Crazy Rich Asians (Chu) So many missed opportunities (you can’t get one joke out of that party boat set piece?), overloaded with cloying bright colors, and how can you unreflectively treat million dollar earrings as authentic self-fulfillment in 2018?
  86. Assassination Nation (Levison) Incompetent, derivative topical pandering.
  87. The Humanity Bureau (King) So tedious I struggled to finish it, but at least its ambition is low.
  88. The Death of Stalin (Iannucci) Godawful concept, not funny aside from Rupert Friend, Jeffery Tambor is as bad as it gets.
  89. Sorry to Bother You (Riley) Painful to watch, not even slightly witty.
  90. Eighth Grade (Burnham) Toothless Welcome to the Dollhouse by way of a hamfisted Sofia Coppola imitation, with a lot of sexualized ogling of the bodies of middle school kids.
  91. Leave No Trace (Granik) Boring Instagram trash that needed a killer bear or a bounty hunter or something.
  92. Avengers: Infinity War (Russo Brothers) To paraphrase our friend Chris Knitter, it’s the cinematic equivalent of the Old Country Buffet.
  93. Widows (McQueen) Pandering topical heist movie without a proper heist.
  94. A Quiet Place (Krasinski) The most inept horror movie in recent memory.
  95. Bohemian Rhapsody (Singer) Reprehensible gay-shaming trash fire featuring the worst Freddie Mercury impression imaginable (for one thing, I don’t want to punch the actual Freddie Mercury in the face) and editing that appears to have been done by a hyperactive toddler.
  96. Suspiria (Guadagnino) Suspiria minus everything that makes it good, plus a lot of pretentious bullshit—it offends me on a personal level.

Top ten performances not by Nicolas Cage:

  1. Sakura Ando in Shoplifters
  2. Tom Hardy in Venom
  3. Gerard Butler in Den of Thieves
  4. Willem Dafoe in At Eternity’s Gate
  5. John Huston in The Other Side of the Wind
  6. Selma Blair in Mom and Dad
  7. Toni Collette in Hereditary
  8. Meinhard Neumann in Western
  9. Keith Carradine in Ray Meets Helen
  10. Kim Min-hee in The Day After

Angela Shope

  1. First Reformed (Schrader)
  2. Rodin (Doillon)
  3. Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour (Åkerlund)
  4. The Rider (Zhao)
  5. Den of Thieves (Gudegast)
  6. Roma (Cuaron)
  7. 50 Shades Freed (Foley)
  8. Milla (Massadian)
  9. First Man (Chazelle)
  10. Lover for a Day (Garrel)
  11. At Eternity’s Gate (Schnabel)
  12. Let the Sunshine In (Denis)
  13. Upgrade (Whanell)
  14. The Favourite (Lanthimos)
  15. A Star is Born (Cooper)

Worst of the year:

  1. Sorry to Bother You (Riley)
  2. A Quiet Place (Krasinski)
  3. Isle of Dogs (Anderson)
  4. Avengers: Infinity War (Russo Brothers)
  5. Widows (McQueen)
  6. Black Panther (Coogler)
  7. Crazy Rich Asians (Chu)
  8. The 15:17 to Paris (Eastwood)
  9. The Death of Stalin (Iannucci)
  10. Zama (Martel)


State of the Cinema 2017

In what’s become a Strohltopia tradition, we have saved our yearly retrospective for Oscar Sunday. This gives us a chance to see more titles and also to cool down our hot takes and reflect a little bit.

Joshua Strohl:

First thing’s first, let’s be clear about one thing for 2017: there’s David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return, and then there’s everything else. We have come down on the side of considering it not to be a movie. It engages throughout with the medium of television in a way that is essential to its meaning. But we all agree here at Strohltopia that no other work of television or cinema comes remotely close to it from this year or any other year in recent memory.
In 2016, I made an effort to watch as many new releases as possible. This year I just did my thing, but I ended up watching a comparable number of movies anyways. Here are a few notes on my impression of the state of the cinema:
  • Franchise movies were a lot better this year than in previous years. Alien, Blade Runner, Guardians of the Galaxy, Star Wars, John Wick, XxX, Fast and the Furious, Resident Evil, Transformers: all pretty good.
  • Get Out is the zeitgeist movie. I admire it, and I think it does some things exceptionally well, but where’s the ending?! It could have been a great movie if it stuck the landing. As it is, I’m not quite there with it.
  • Tough year to be a Woody Allen fan. He made his most personal movie in a long time, with the WORST POSSIBLE TIMING. I went to see it, and there were hecklers in the audience. Looking at Wonder Wheel itself, aside from all the controversy, it’s a gorgeous movie. He borrows thematic and stylistic elements from Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams to examine the painful dissolution of his own family.
  • I kinda liked the Disaster Artist okay until I saw James Franco cut off Tommy Wiseau at the Golden Globes, which made it clear that this was a smug James Franco vanity project, more interested in mocking The Room than paying tribute to it.
  • One of the biggest surprises of the year for me was Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting. I’m a Danny Boyle fan, but Trainspotting is not one of my favorites from him. The sequel, however, is an exceptionally inventive stylistic marvel. It brilliantly conveys the weight and melancholy of living on as a recovering addict, without any highs to be had. One of the best examples ever of a late sequel.
  • God’s Own Country is a much better cinematic romance than Call Me By Your Name. Armie Hammer’s character in the latter doesn’t feel like a real person with real desires. God’s Own Country is overflowing with sexual tension, and is also considerably more moving. Its conclusion is well-earned.
  • The Assignment: I really wanted to love the new Walter Hill movie. I do have fondness for it, but I just couldn’t get over Michelle Rodriguez in the first act.
  • I could not handle Fifty Shades Darker. It was so icky to me that it made my skin crawl. The Snowman and The Book of Henry, on the other hand, are the kind of remarkably bad movies that are almost worth seeing to marvel at their ineptitude.
  • I could see how a cynical person might scoff at The Post, but this is master class old-school pop filmmaking. It zigs and zags with seemingly effortless finesse. Its simplicity is a virtue, not a bug. Along with Lincoln and Bridge of Spies, it rounds out what was, for me, an excellent trilogy linking history with the present through retro filmmaking.
  • This year I had a major personal epiphany about how much I love Ridley Scott. I’ve always loved his brother Tony, but I had mixed feelings about Ridley. Mixed feelings no longer: I rewatched most of the Ridley Scott filmography and totally loved it, for the most part. These movies have some flaws, but they are technical triumphs. Alien: Covenant is misunderstood and wildly underrated. Dr. Moreau in space, with freaky Fassbender robots making out with each other and crazy shit like that. Exceedingly dark, hostile, and boundary pushing stuff from an 80 year old big budget auteur.

Without further ado, here’s a ranked list of everything I saw this year:

  1. Good Time (Safdie Brothers)Good Time StillWhite hot lightning! This is what I’m talking about. Pure cinema: hypnotic, visceral and persistently surprising. I left the theater wide-eyed and giddy.
  2.  Song to Song (Malick)Song to Song StillY’all don’t deserve Terrence Malick.
  3. Phantom Thread (Anderson)Phantom Thread StillPaul Thomas Anderson swings for the fences every time he makes a film. His latest is exquisite and beautiful, an ethereal and brooding gothic romance that I’m still thinking about months later.
  4. A Quiet Passion (Davies)A Quiet Passion StillA bold and haunting Emily Dickinson biopic. Terence Davies’ second masterpiece in two years is hard to summarize because it is so full of complex emotions and transcendent moments. It’s a staggering and painful film. Cynthia Nixon’s performance is one of the best of the year.
  5. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Lanthimos)The Killing of a Sacred Deer StillA diabolical and twisted black comedy that is alternately repulsive and hilarious. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. This is one sick movie and I loved every second of it.
  6. Dawson City: Frozen Time (Morrison)Dawson City Frozen Time StillThis documentary about long-buried, decaying nitrate film discovered under an ice skating rink in a Yukon mining town reminded me of why I love cinema. It lays out an impressively researched timeline before it uses scarred images and the weight of history to bowl you over.  It moved me to tears.
  7. Stronger (Green)Stronger StillDavid Gordon Green channels his inner Hal Ashby in one of the most humane movies in recent memory. This movie deserves to be seen: it’s what America needs right now. It’s tender and heartfelt and avoids the pitfalls that sink nearly every movie in the “dramatization of real life tragedy” genre. I loved it.
  8. Raw (Ducournau)Raw StillAs we said earlier in the year, this is some high-brow French cannibalism shit right here. It’s a simmering, seething, blistering depiction of blossoming female sexuality. Julia Ducournau is a director to watch.
  9. Nocturama (Bonello)Nocturama StillNocturama gets in your head and stays there. It’s a strange, dread-inducing tone poem about a group of young terrorists who hole up in a massive department store after carrying out a series of coordinated attacks in Paris. This could have easily been a cliched mess, but it unfolds in an anything but predictable manner. It’s abstract and dreamlike. It also manages to make Willow Smith’s Whip My Hair take on a new indelible dimension.
  10. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (Zahler)Brawl in Cell Block 99 StillWho knew Vince Vaughn had this in him? His performance as a man with a code at the center of this bone-crunching, skull-smashing exploitation movie is as soulful as it is shockingly physical and violent . This movie is weird and savage and sad. It’s a completely original vision of what exploitation cinema can be.
  11. The Shape of Water (Del Toro)
  12. Personal Shopper (Assayas)
  13. T2 Trainspotting (Boyle)
  14. Faces Places (Varda and JR)
  15. BPM (Campillo)
  16. The Post (Spielberg)
  17. The Lost City of Z (Gray)
  18. Lover for a Day (Garrel)
  19. Contemporary Color (Ross Brothers)
  20. Alien: Covenant (Scott)
  21. God’s Own Country (Lee)
  22. Behemoth (Liang)
  23. Antiporno (Sono)
  24. Blade Runner 2049 (Villenueve)
  25. The Beguiled (Coppola)
  26. Wonder Wheel (Allen)
  27. Logan Lucky (Soderbergh)
  28. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Besson)
  29. Person to Person (Defa)
  30. Tag (Sono)
  31. Coco (Unkrich)
  32. Baby Driver (Wright)
  33. Detroit (Bigelow)
  34. It (Muschietti)
  35. Lady Bird (Gerwig)
  36. A Ghost Story (Lowery)
  37. Last Flag Flying (Linklater)
  38. A Cure for Wellness (Verbinski)
  39. Downsizing (Payne)
  40. The Challenge (Ancarani)
  41. The Work (McCleary)
  42. Better Watch Out (Peckover)
  43. Staying Vertical (Guiraudie)
  44. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Baumbach)
  45. Call Me By Your Name (Guadagnino)
  46. XXX: The Return of Xander Cage (Caruso)
  47. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Gunn)
  48. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Stahelski)
  49. The Florida Project (Baker)
  50. The Assignment (Hill)
  51. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Johnson)
  52. Atomic Blonde (Leitch)
  53. Princess Cyd (Cone)
  54. Brigsby Bear (McCary)
  55. Lucky (Lynch)
  56. Gerald’s Game (Flanagan)
  57. Leatherface (Bustillo, Maury)
  58. How to be a Latin Lover (Marino)
  59. mother! (Aronofsky)
  60. The Square (Ostlund)
  61. The Bad Batch (Amirpour)
  62. Get Out (Peele)
  63. Happy Death Day (Landon)
  64. The Fate of the Furious (Gray)
  65. All the Money in the World (Scott)
  66. Kidnap (Prieto)
  67. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (Anderson)
  68. War For the Planet of the Apes (Reeves)
  69. Graduation (Mungiu)
  70. Girl’s Trip (Lee)
  71. Free Fire (Wheatley)
  72. The Great Wall (Yimou)
  73. Strong Island (Ford)
  74. Transformers: The Last Knight (Bay)
  75. The Villainess (Jung)
  76. Thelma (Trier)
  77. The Lure (Smoczynska)
  78. Only the Brave (Kosinski)
  79. Blade of the Immortal (Miike)
  80. Justice League (Snyder)
  81. Wonder (Chbosky)
  82. The Big Sick (Showalter)
  83. The Foreigner (Campbell)
  84. Donald Cried (Avedisian)
  85. The Belko Experiment (McLean)
  86. Okja (Bong)
  87. The Devil’s Candy (Byrne)
  88.  Kuso (Flying Lotus)
  89. Power Rangers (Israelite)
  90. Wind River (Sheridan)
  91. Kedi (Torun)
  92. The Glass Castle (Cretton)
  93. The Void (Gillespie, Kostanski)
  94. Salt and Fire (Herzog)
  95. Life (Espinosa)
  96. Darkest Hour (Wright)
  97. Brad’s Status (White)
  98. Daddy’s Home 2 (Anders)
  99. Despicable Me 3 (Coffin)
  100. American Made (Lyman)
  101. Split (Shyamalan)
  102. Bitch (Palka)
  103. Roman J. Israel Esq. (Gilroy)
  104. Rat Film (Anthony)
  105. Wonderstruck (Haynes)
  106. The Little Hours (Baena)
  107. Queen of the Desert (Herzog)
  108. Dunkirk (Nolan)
  109. The House (Cohen)
  110. Mr. Roosevelt (Wells)
  111. Beatriz at Dinner (Arteta)
  112. The Unknown Girl (Dardenne Bros.)
  113. 47 Meters Down (Roberts)
  114. The Disaster Artist (Franco)
  115. Paris Can Wait (Coppola)
  116. Colossal (Vigalondo)
  117. Hounds of Love (Young)
  118. Jungle (McLean)
  119. The Hitman’s Bodyguard (Hughes)
  120. I, Tonya (Gillespie)
  121. Wonder Woman (Jenkins)
  122. Una (Andrews)
  123. Ghost in the Shell (Sanders)
  124. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Vaughn)
  125. Super Dark Times (Phillips)
  126. Fist Fight (Keen)
  127. Suburbicon (Clooney)
  128. It Comes at Night (Shults)
  129. Blood Money (McKee)
  130. Gifted (Webb)
  131. Vengeance: A Love Story (Martin)
  132. Geostorm (Devlin)
  133. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri (McDonagh)
  134. Logan (Mangold)
  135. Stray Bullets (Fessenden)
  136. Kong: Skull Island (Vogt-Roberts)
  137. Before I Fall (Young)
  138. Columbus (Koganada)
  139. The Mummy (Kurtzman)
  140. The Mountain Between Us (Abu-Assad)
  141. The Emoji Movie (Leondis)
  142. Snatched (Levine)
  143. The Circle (Ponsoldt)
  144. Baywatch (Gordon)
  145. Spider-Man: Homecoming (Watts)
  146. The LEGO Batman Movie (McKay)
  147. 1he Boss Baby (McGrath)
  148. Beauty and the Beast (Condon)
  149. Lady Macbeth (Oldroyd)
  150. The Discovery (McDowell)
  151. XX (Benjamin, Clark, Kusama, Vuckovic)
  152. The Book of Henry (Trevorrow)
  153. The Snowman (Alfredson)
  154. Rough Night (Aniello)
  155. Fifty Shades Darker (Foley)


Isabel Garcia:

  1. Song to Song (Malick)
  2. Dawson City: Frozen Time (Morrison)
  3. Raw (Ducournau)
  4. The Shape of Water (Del Toro)
  5. A Ghost Story (Lowery)
  6. Atomic Blonde (Leitch)
  7. Tag (Sono)
  8. Good Time (Safdie Brothers)
  9. Personal Shopper (Assayas)
  10. Detroit (Bigelow)

Honorable Mention: Faces Places (Varda and JR), Nocturama (Bonello)

Worst of the Year:

  1. The Circle (Ponsoldt)
  2. The Boss Baby (McGrath)
  3. The Book of Henry (Trevorrow)
  4. The Snowman (Alfredson)
  5. Snatched (Levine)

Matt Strohl:

I haven’t seen anywhere near as many new releases as Josh has, but here’s my top 10. I thought genre movies were strong this year. There are more in my top ten than ever before. Among my many blind spots, the most regrettable ones are A Quiet Passion, The Shape of Water, Phantom Thread, and Milla. Without further ado:

  1. Good Time (Safdie Brothers)
  2. Song to Song (Malick)
  3. Raw (Ducournau)
  4. Antiporno (Sono)
  5. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Lanthimos)
  6. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (Zahler)
  7. John Wick: Chapter 2 (Stahelski)
  8. Nocturama (Bonello)
  9. Dawson City: Frozen Time (Morrison)
  10. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Johnson)

Honorable Mention: XxX: The Return of Xander Cage (Caruso)

Worst of the year:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri (McDonagh)
I could go on all day about how much I hated this movie. Suffice to say that any movie with the phrase “three billboards” in the title that both starts and ends with an image of three billboards never had a chance.

I also hated: The Unknown Girl (Dardenne Brothers), The Florida Project (Baker), Spiderman: Homecoming (Watts) and The Discovery (McDowell).

Angela Shope:

  1. Song to Song (Malick)
  2. mother! (Aronofsky)
  3. The Shape of Water (Del Toro)
  4. The Lost City of Z (Gray)
  5. Good Time (Safdie Brothers)
  6. Blade Runner 2049 (Villenueve)
  7. Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Johnson)
  8. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Lanthimos)
  9. Personal Shopper (Assayas)
  10. Nocturama (Bonello)

Honorable Mention: It (Muschietti)

Worst of the Year:

  1. The Mummy (Kurtzman)
  2. Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri (McDonagh)
  3. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Besson)
  4. The Florida Project (Baker)
  5. The Great Wall (Yimou)


When I was growing up, I was obsessed with the horror section in my video store.  I would walk up and down the aisle and look at all of the grotesque cover art that promised something beyond my imagination. These movies were forbidden and mysterious. My friends and I rented every single movie in that aisle—the more ridiculous and nasty, the better. Shoddy B-movies became beloved favorites that we quoted constantly. Every once and a while we’d stumble into a great film. I still remember how the original Halloween and Texas Chainsaw Massacre cut through the noise when I first saw them. They stunned and captivated me.

I miss real horror movies. Most modern horror films lack originality and commitment. They aren’t exciting or dangerous. If it’s not the bland franchise movies at the multiplex then it’s the over-serious art house releases that critics say “reinvent the horror genre” but are actually meant for people who don’t even like horror (I’m looking at you, It Comes at Night). The only standouts last year were The Witch, Don’t Breathe and 31. Everything else I could live without. I was not at all interested in the new It movie when I first heard about it. I assumed it would be yet another entry in the endless stream of PG-13 horror reboots, remakes and sequels.

The Lititz Borough Police Department in Pennsylvania posted a Facebook message after finding red balloons tied to sewer grates around town. The playful message made national news and freaked out the teen girls who executed the prank. When I saw this story on the news, I got really excited that a little red balloon tied to a grate got everyone so worked up. It felt like an urban legend come to life but it came about organically, not as a marketing ploy. Once I got the sense that this movie was already permeating the national psyche I really hoped it might turn out to fit into the great American Nightmare tradition in horror – horror that taps into something deep and dark in our cultural subconscious. I looked a little deeper and saw that the cinematography was done by Chung-hoon Chung, who shot nearly all of Chan-wook Park’s films, including Oldboy and last year’s masterpiece The Handmaiden. SOLD.


Early in the film I was reminded of the Netflix series Stranger Things, which pays homage to Stephen King and is steeped in 80’s nostalgia. I liked Stranger Things but thought that the nostalgia was too front-and-center. What’s surprising about It is the way that it subverts its nostalgia. It shows the ugly side of 80’s childhood. It’s not sanitized. It examines cruelty and bullying in a painful way that cuts right through the cuddly version of the 80’s that mainstream film and television trade in. The casual homophobic slurs, racial violence and communal slut shaming that occur in the film are jarring and disturbing. This aspect of the time period is rarely depicted in genre film, and it’s very effective here. The stark portrayal of cruelty isn’t one-dimensional: it also serves to bond the characters in a poignant way and helps the audience feel for the crew of misfits at the center of the story.

What about the clown, you ask? Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise is the one truly excellent thing about the original It miniseries. Curry’s Pennywise scared the shit out of me and my siblings as children and we would frequently play games where we had to battle It (whom we imagined was hiding under our beds or in the closet). He stood with Freddy Kruger and Candyman as one of the most terrifying boogeymen in my young mind. Bill Skarsgård does an admirable job of updating this character for the 21st century. Curry played Pennywise as an angry and hostile clown who loved to play tricks and generally be a dick. Skarsgård’s Pennywise is a sinister creature playing innocent and that fake innocence makes him scary. He’s a salivating wolf in sheep’s clothing just waiting to bust out and eat some kids. He plays Pennywise as more unpredictable and unstable in a way that connects the character with distinctively modern anxieties. The only thing I’d complain about is the use of digital effects to show his ferocious movement. These effects are distracting and don’t add anything—I almost always favor practical effects in horror.

It did not disappoint me. It was bold, inspired, and had teeth. So many sequences were full of dark imagination. Chung’s images are refined, clean and deeply creepy, and they stand out in comparison with the recycled and worn out aesthetics that are typical of most recent horror films. This is top shelf stuff. It is terrifying and fearsome when it wants to be, but also funny and melancholy in an endearing way. This is pop filmmaking at its best.



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