I was in FOPP last week (other film and music retailers are available) and was looking at the selection of films from this year and the past couple of years and the quality of cinema being made and released is astonishing. I really struggled to get my list down to 10 this year. I could easily have had all the films in the honourable mentions in there at some point. I never mind these difficult choices when there’s so much goodness to choose from. And, there are so many I didn’t see.
Free Fire, The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The Fits, Cameraperson, Dunkirk, Lady Macbeth, The Love Witch, Edith Walks, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, Slack Bay, The Levelling, Prevenge, Their Finest, Manchester by the Sea, The Human Surge, The Meyerwitz Stories, The Future Perfect, Personal Shopper, Raw, I Called Him Morgan, The Lost City of Z, Mudbound, Jackie.
10. LATE BLOSSOM BLUES | Wolfgang Pfoser-Almer and Stefan Wolner
One of the joys of the film festival circuit is seeing stuff early or that doesn’t get a wide release. This film, about the Bluesman Leo ‘Bud’ Welch is quite simply one of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few. Incredibly moving and beautifully put together.
9. 20TH CENTURY WOMEN | Mike Mills
I loved this film. Funny, cool, moving, thoughtful and beautifully structured. I can normally take or leave Mills as a director but this is top drawer, and those performances. Yeesh.
8. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO | Raoul Peck
The rare kind of documentary that does artistic and poetic justice to the artist poet it is about. A film for today, sadly, about one of the greatest writers and minds we’ve had the privilege of receiving work from. Powerful cinema.
7. TONI ERDMANN | Maren Ade
What is there left to say? Singular comedy genius that baffles, bewitches and humbles.
6. GET OUT | Jordan Peele
What floored me most about this wonderful film was the confidence. The confidence in tone, in genre(s), in letting it all breathe and play out. A masterclass.
5. ON BODY AND SOUL | Ildikó Enyedi
The film that surprised me the most this year. A really beautiful, almost surreal, story, told with humour and pathos and without irony. It has stayed with me in the weeks since I saw it.
4. NERUDA | Pablo Larraín
Another incredible piece of work by one of my favourite contemporary filmmakers. A film, that like most of Larraín’s work, balances multiple points of view and ideas without ever overwhelming or becoming muddied. At once a specific history and a universal mythology.
3. THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE | Aki Kaurismäki
One of my favourite cinematic experiences of the year was screening this for my podcast The Cinematologists in association with Curzon Aldgate. To laugh with an audience at Kaurismäki’s unique deadpan wit and share in such a moving and yes, hopeful, fable was a real joy.
2. CERTAIN WOMEN | Kelly Reichardt
One of the best filmmakers around delivered maybe her best film. A poetic and layered piece of work that invites the audience in to wander around the space of her world and share in the lives of the fascinating, flawed and striving characters.
1. MOONLIGHT | Barry Jenkins
Pure Cinema of the greatest kind. Majestic.
Be sure to check out the rest of team DN’s Top Ten picks here.