Thursday, January 5, 2017

Breaking In: Outsiders, Toronto and Populism in Matt Johnson’s Cinema

There are some consistent themes that run throughout the work of the Toronto filmmaker Matt Johnson such as outsiders struggling against the system, megalomania dividing friendships, and failure as the end result. This raises the questions of what is the political strategy of focusing on these outcasts? What does it mean to show them in a negative perspective? And what hope can be interpreted from their failure? Johnson’s work in web-series and film so far include Nirvana The Band The Show (2007-2009), The Dirties (2013), Operation Avalanche (2016) and an upcoming follow-up to his original show, Nirvanna The Band The Show (now with two ‘n’s).
This essay, through an analysis of the works, will illustrate how by focusing on people who are at the margins of middle-class society and by emphasizing their strangeness, Johnson is reorienting the norms of the dominant culture towards fantasy narratives that focus on struggle and defeat. These works are especially compelling in the context of the Canadian state-funded film industry whose vague idea of its demographics leads it to favor diversity and positive representations rather than being truthful and entertaining. Johnson’s mixture of guerrilla filmmaking along with unrestrained textual poaching provides an example of how society is oversaturated with media and the effects of a cultural identification with it. Johnson finds a way to work within the system of relations of dominant 21st century media to then co-opt it through appropriation and parody to dismantle its power and authority from within.

The Political Strategy of Outsiders
Johnson’s work is characterized by a youthfulness and delinquency. The characters that populate his worlds at first try to fit in and adapt to social norms before it leads them to conflict and rejection. There are the amateur musicians in Nirvana The Band The Show (NTBTS), the bullied teens in The Dirties and the audio/visual department of the CIA in Operation Avalanche who all share a desire to fit in and assimilate but through their struggles end up being rejected by the social groups and institutions that they want to be a part of. The main protagonists in all of the works take up the question of social participation in different ways. Matt and Jay in NTBTS just want to play a show at a nearby concert venue, Matt and Owen in The Dirties do not want to get bullied at their high school, and Matt and Owen in Operation Avalanche want to help their country the United States win the Space Race (the film is set in 1967). These characters provide different models of the outsider from that of the loafer, the psychopath and the idealist. In all three cases, there is a desire to adapt to the norm which is always crushed and rejected by larger social forces.
To use Carl Schmitt’s definition of the political, that of the distinction between friend and enemy, in NTBTS the Matt and Jay characters represents loathers, slackers and resistors to the dominant capitalistic order of social progress and economic growth. Their idleness and scheming defy a neoliberal pursuit of the common good. The two, who are in their mid-twenties (perhaps the most suited time for this kind of behavior), do not try to integrate as they avoid participating in the labor market to instead focus on their imagination and dreams. The show and Johnson’s work is not that of the politics of inter-state relations – such as the work of government, social and foreign policy – but more so that of intra-state. NTBTS antagonizes the social by privileging the youthful and non-socially useful. If there is an enemy to the state it is the irresponsibility and recklessness of these young adults that consistently undermine it.
The two bands that the show’s title directly alludes to – Nirvana and The Band – might give a better example of the politics it expresses. Kurt Cobain’s anti-mainstream sentiments and grunge attitude is one major influence. The iconic Nirvana song Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991) appears twice throughout NTBTS: once over the season’s end credits and then as the ‘encore’ of their live post-season show at The Rivoli.
Johnson takes Nirvana’s counter-culture lessons to heart as he plans his own youthful revolution – what would it look like if the Millennials took over and created their own institutions? It would have a punk aesthetic absorbed in the popular culture of the eighties to the present. It would define itself by the communities of young friends, who were formed in front of screens and in their parents’ basements, trying to find ways to subvert their upper middle class upbringing. Alternative music with its melancholy and defiance would offer one remedy. Just like the Nirvana song, the Matt character in these works struggles with his enthusiasm and melancholy as they conflict.
While Ronnie Hawkins from The Band, who appears in episode eight The band of NTBTS, provides another example. The mixture of old country music with early rock in The Band’s songs conjures nostalgic images of an earlier world and creates strong emotional affects that both saddens and uplift. Another example is episode seven The battle of the bands where the Smashing Pumpkins song Tonight, Tonight (1995) plays a big role to set the tone of their characters’ mood while also anticipating a literal pumpkin smashing scene. Matt also wears a Daniel Johnson t-shirt in that episode. The reoccurring motif of melancholic musicians is a symbol of their permanent adolescence and how they are content to rejoice in their friendship, struggles and failures.
Where the cinéma vérité style of NTBTS is closer to the fly-on-the-wall approach of The Office (2005–2013) and the adventures through urban spaces of Flight of the Conchords (2007–2009), in The Dirties the conflict and filmmaking in a real high school is closer to Chris Lilley’s Summer Heights High (2007) and the surreal documentary-like footage of a psychopath in Man Bites Dog (1992). The Matt character also continues to resemble Kurt Cobain through his grunge wardrobe and reckless behavior. The Dirties is the story of two film-obsessed teenagers who plan a revenge plot to kill the bullies at their high school. The two friends are the happiest when they are together but as time goes by and Matt seriously wants to follow through with his plan, Owen (Owen Williams) starts to distance himself from him and spends more time with his new crush Chrissy (Krista Madison).
The Dirties was a controversial film as it was critiqued as being irresponsible for not taking seriously its subject and that it might inspire future school shootings. But what it does instead is create an expression for youthful concerns that are not usually discussed. The frightening quality of The Dirties is that Matt’s problems and alienation are relatable. The Dirties stands out for focusing on the uncomfortable and dangerous territory of adolescence that tends to get overlooked. It shows the embarrassment of being bullied at school, games and popular culture as an escape from reality and the rationalizing of dangerous obsessions. The Dirties shows a darker side of humanity but presents it unflinchingly. It is effective for showing the problems of youth and creating empathy for its characters while also being repulsed by what he does at the end. The uncertainty in the response to the film partly came from the fact that Johnson also starred in the film, which blurred the line on whether you were seeing his own thoughts and actions or that of the characters. 
 In one scene of The Dirties Matt leaves his classroom when all of his peers are laughing at the film that he made, though he keeps looking on through the door window. This scene is described in the audio commentary as being inspired by an Orson Welles anecdote from one of the F for Fake (1973) DVD special features where he describes walking out of a The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) projection just to peek into it from outside of the room’s door. With The Dirties Johnson started taking on and including more of film history into his work, which has only been increasing since. And as a multitalented filmmaker, who started at a young age and who stars, writes, directs and edits the director Welles was one of his models. A film like Citizen Kane (1941) provides a major reference point. Just like how Welles’ first film antagonized one of the most popular figures in America of his time William Randolph Hearst. Here Matt takes a sensitive topic and uses it to study the mind and character of a school shooter but also to get the sensational media attention and response that goes with addressing a taboo subject.
Just like how Welles used his film as a form of critique and to spark controversy, so does Johnson with The Dirties. Similar to how Welles rooted his film in the real world and blurred non-fiction with fiction through the newsreel that opens Citizen Kane, Johnson uses a similar technique by starting The Dirties with documentary footage set in a school on the problem of bullying. Another filmmaker would also use the same technique. Stanley Kubrick does this with the Cold War nuclear scare when he made Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). He took the public fears of the nuclear conflict between the United States and Soviet Union, and made a dark comedy on this subject – an air force general becomes paranoid over subversive Soviet infiltration so he orders the first nuclear strike.  
The end credits of The Dirties anticipate Operation Avalanche. Within its compilation of classic opening film credits there are three from the films of Stanley Kubrick: Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and The Shining (1980). Just like how The Dirties could have been made from a newspaper headline about a delinquent teen, Operation Avalanche could have been conceived in online conspiracy forums in the wake of the The Shining documentary Room 237 (2012). The premise of Operation Avalanche is that since the Americans could not win the Space Race, they instead arranged for the audio/visual department of the CIA to find a way to fake it. The two of them Matt and Owen go visit Kubrick on the set of 2001, and inspired by his use of front-screen projection, they are able to fabricate footage of a moon landing. Eventually higher officials at the CIA turn against them, kill Owen, and Matt has to blackmail them about their corruption to survive. It is a preposterous story but it fuels the popularity of its conspiracy narrative and convincingly critiques the power and malleable quality of images and the coercion of powerful institutions that use them. 
 Similar to the film Wag the Dog (1997), about a film producer that fakes a war to help the American president get re-elected, Operation Avalanche is about the power of images to change society, regardless of their authenticity and for what ends. After being an idealist who wanted to help his country and make a difference, those in charge started to mistrust Matt and the whole conspiracy got out of hand. It is Johnson’s most direct and critical film about institutions and their coercion. After an earlier idealism comes resignation. And one wonders what his character is going to do next?
Operation Avalanche is also a victory for Johnson for bringing his cinéma vérité style to a period film and have it be pulled off successfully. It is quite surprising how the independent film was able to pull off the look of the sixties while being filmed in contemporary times. The special effects and archive footage are seamlessly integrated. There is an ambiguity to its form as it celebrates the creativity of image making while criticizing its abuse. 
It is worth noting some of the differences between Johnson’s serial work and his films. The films both cast the more serious Owen Williams in the friend role. Williams is more introverted than Matt, less likely to follow him in the extremes of his adventures, usually turns away from him and then suffers the most due to their friendship. While Jay McCarrol, who works in the music industry and is in the popular band Brave Shores, is cast as the friend in the two versions of the show NTBTS. McCarrol still plays the straight man to Matt’s joker, but he is more exaggerated and silly than Williams and his musical skills add an extra lyricism to his performance.
There is also a difference in the tone and form of the feature films and the show. The feature film with its long format necessitates a consistency in its story and for a singular style to be stretched for a sustained duration. The feature film encourages straightforward storytelling, continuity in performances, and sustained character arcs. While for the show the episodes, with their shorter format, allow for more experimentation. They are testing grounds to try to recreate famous movies and shows, suggest references and to find novel ways to have adventures in Toronto and beyond. They can engage in more TV tropes and non-sequiturs.

The Eccentrics of Canadian Cinema
Johnson’s references to Canadian cinema might be the most extensive out of the new generation of young Toronto filmmakers. For example, he cited Don Owen’s Nobody Waved Good-bye (1964) as contributing to his style. Though there are many points of comparison between Nobody Waved Good-bye and Johnson’s cinema, it resembles the most NTBTS for its independent approach to tell a story of youthful rebellion in Toronto. Don Owen’s film is one of the breakthrough Toronto-set and English-language Canadian films. While much of Canadian film history is rooted in documentary, Owen’s film marks the transition towards hybrid documentary-narratives that brought Toronto and its youth to Canadian screens. A charismatic and rebellious Peter Kastner’s plays a thinly veiled version of both himself and Owen.
Johnson brings up the importance of the scene in Nobody Waved Good-bye where Kastner is working at a parking lot and surprises the customers by having regular conversations with them without them knowing that they are being filmed. The reference point reaffirms Owen’s importance to Canadian cinema and highlights this hybrid approach of documentary mixed staging as one of the central characteristics of Canadian filmmaking. 
 In Operation Avalanche Johnson includes insert clips from Mort Ransen’s Christopher's Movie Matinee (1968), though its inclusion is more than just a simple insert. The spirit of Christopher’s Movie Matinee clearly inspires Johnson’s work. This radical sixties documentary tells the story of teenagers and hippies who get National Film Board cameras to do whatever they want with them – from goofing off with their friends, recording random footage, discussing what they are going to do, attending anti-war protests, and discussing the values of youth culture with city council members. Again, a surprising referential discovery that highlights the history of filmmaking on Toronto’s streets and capturing unexpected encounters between youthful rebellion and an older generation.
Johnson, through these references, is creating his own pantheon of the important filmmakers that have contributed to the evolution of style of the national cinema. These homages to previous Toronto filmmakers take place through discussing their influences, emulating their style, copying shots, and including their footage. By doing this he presents a lineage of evolving representations of Toronto that was created by youthful perseverance.
            Johnson has been quite public about the problems with the Canadian state-funded film industry. As it stands currently, it is a fragile risk-adverse market for both production and exhibition, and whose measurements of success are not clearly defined. The funding institutions favor the safety of funding already established talent. An organization like Telefilm is not interested in quality, creativity or even representations of the city per se. Its pre-production process instead selects for grant form application know-how and the necessity of networking. These are just some of the problems that Johnson has critiqued the Canadian film funding system and which has led to a David and Goliath-like public fight. 
By doing this he is connecting his advocacy for filmmaking in Canada with the themes in his films. His films themselves offer potential solutions to many of the problems plaguing the industry here. They are examples of how to create entertaining media in an affordable manner while proudly showcasing the city. Johnson’s creates an image of Toronto that starts with the real – real places, people, and events – through a documentary style. Their small filming crew goes out into the streets and film but they bring to it a sense of imagination and wonder through their stories and humor.
Instead of news style reporting, Johnson’s approach, with its conspiracy tone, brings the viewer more into the heart of the public life of Toronto. The upcoming NTBTS for Viceland will indulge in this more so than has his previous works. Johnson’s fourth, largest, and most funded project wants to make Toronto one of the main characters in the series. Here are some examples of some settings and events from the upcoming season: Yonge and Dundas during the marijuana craze 420, Canada’s Wonderland, the Sickkids hospital, the Santa Claus Parade, FanExpo, the premiere of Star Wars: Force Awakens at the Scotiabank movie theater, a public fight at a famous Chinatown restaurant, and a fiery sensation on Queen street West. The unpredictable nature of the NTBTS adventures has the ability to transform unnoticed areas of the city into centers for imaginative narratives and schemes.
There are so many references in Johnson’s cinema in general (it is as if all of them together would form his own personal canon) that ones to previous Toronto filmmakers can be easily recognized. Such as to the do-it-yourself quality of Bruce McDonald’s first feature Roadkill (1989) or to the original Toronto moon movie Mysterious Moon Men of Canada (1988). McDonald had a large role in the original Toronto New Wave and his editorship of the 1988 Outlaw edition of Cinema Canada lays out many of the major problems that are still plaguing the current Canadian film industry – a public role that Johnson has now taken up. There is Paul Gross who as a patriotic star-director-producer resourcefully and imaginatively transformed Toronto in each episode of Due South (1994–1999), in a fashion that would be similar to NTBTS. The comedic rifts and transgressive humor of NTBTS recalls the earlier skits of The Kids in the Hall. The Dirties and John Fawcett’s Ginger Snaps (2000) are both about high school murders. The media obsessed Matt character also recalls the Don McKellar TV addict in Twitch City (1998–2000)
But Johnson’s work engages more explicitly with an Americanized mainstream popular culture and does not neatly accept these specialized Canadian references. But still, perhaps as a surprise, he might relate more to the free spirit of nineties Canadian cable television hosts of shows such as YTV and Much Music. There is a preference in Johnson’s work to focus on the lowbrow culture and as such he would rather side with someone like PJ Phil than an already canonized director. For example, Johnson’s ethos is closer to someone like the program jockey Phil Guerrero who was the regular host of the after school teenager show The Zone in the early 1990s and later Gamerz (1998–2000). This is essential part of Johnson’s project: to stay loyal to the popular culture that he grew up with whether it is a popular film, show, videogame, book or song and to breathe life into it again by filming it with respect, especially if it has been disreputed or forgotten about.

Cultural Identification with Mainstream Media
The identification with mass culture in Johnson’s work is closer to the populism as described by Ernesto Laclau and Meghan Surtherland than it is to that of Siegfried Kracauer or Guy Debord. Popular culture is everywhere in NTBTS and The Dirties from movie posters on the wall, characters watching and playing video games in front of screens, and dialogue made entirely of references. Though the world it portrays is one that has been turned into an image and of spectacle, mass culture does not necessarily instill a relationship of a passive engagement or blind acceptance but instead becomes a means to define oneself, one’s peers and becomes a source of play and transgression. Because a mass heterogeneous population can identify with popular culture it can unite different social groups into one community and articulate their concerns – this is the voice that is articulated throughout Johnson’s work. The relations to mass culture get transformed in Johnson’s work through spectatorship and action.
            Here are some specific examples of how popular culture is intergraded in Johnson’s work: In NTBTS the incoming call background picture on Matt and Jay’s cellphone is of each other recreating an iconic look from Calvin and Hobbes; in The Dirties Matt references that he is just like the child detective Encyclopedia Brown when he is measuring his locker, and the late night bike ride is described as a homage to Spike Jonze’s music video for Arcade Fire’s song The Suburbs (2010); in Operation Avalanche on their office wall there is a poster for Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder (1959). However fleeting the references are, among so many others, they make sense for the characters and contribute to the larger themes of the work.
Just like the rapport between Abed and Troy in Community (2009–2015), in Johnson’s work the inside jokes and references create an identification as they mean something to the characters and the worlds that they inhabit. For the characters they are a source of pleasure as they allow for a temporary relief from their lives. This camaraderie and referentiality extends to the paratext of the work as the DVDs include numerous audio-commentaries where in some of them all they do is discuss the references and their personal meaning. It is the recognition of the reference that creates an identification and it is the camaraderie that then creates its affective dimension. This is for Laclau how populism functions.
            Johnson takes the routine and habit of living in a media saturated culture and transforms and negotiates its meaning to undermine a unidirectional power relationship. For example, when the new NTBTS played in the Primetime section at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2016 it unnecessarily included the TIFF specific L'Oréal commercial to parody the commodity fetishism of its original purpose. 
 Johnson’s work has a fan fiction quality as he takes these popular forms and references and reanimates them into his own work. The parody openings of classic television shows at the beginning of each episode of NTBTS is an example of this. There would be the problem of copyright infringement in including so much of this material. But with the increased power of fair use laws, the transformative nature of the appropriation, that the work skirts the line between documentary and fiction, and with the help of a good team of lawyers this has led to the wider circulation of textual poaching in media. Other prime examples of digital media that benefitted from the rise of fair use to overrule possible copyright infringement lawsuits include the Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop and Escape from Tomorrow (2013) who both have scenes set on the private property of Disneyland; and the monumental collage films like Jean-Luc Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma (1988–1998) and Thom Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) that are now finally being able to be released on DVD after many years where their audio-visual citations prevented them to be.
Even though the social demands of Johnson’s work are not radical – they are not positing a full communist revolution, for example – they still offer a critique of the restrictions and demands in a neoliberal society in favor for the possibility of freedom, imagination and dreams. Their use of the identification with the populism of spectacular entertainment plays a large role in their representation of a 21st century media consumer and shifts this position towards one of transgression. Though Johnson’s work does not call for any specific social need or political plan it instead calls for the fulfillment of personal desires such as to value friendship, to find better ways to experience your surroundings, and to be skeptical of powerful institutions. It reaffirms the value of a youthful idealism and proposes a more positive way to engage with popular culture.

Conclusion
There is an ambivalent nature to Johnson’s project. It is emancipatory in giving a voice to outsiders whose negotiating use of popular culture critiques the status quo of neoliberalism. Filmmaking for Johnson becomes a way to engage with others and the larger Toronto community, to see and experience life, and to record and show it to the world. There is a beauty to this gesture, as filmmaking becomes a way to get closer to others and to let them be and speak for themselves. One great example of this is the beginning of The Dirties where Matt sparks a conversation with two kids in the park who themselves are aspiring filmmakers. Just being out filmmaking in the street for Johnson alters the surrounding reality and creates surprises and shifts perceptions. This focus on outsiders might eventually shift in Johnson’s work as one wonders what he might do with his upcoming biopic on the Canadian Prime Minister John A. MacDonald. 
But there is a pessimistic side to Johnson’s work. His production company is called Zapruder Films (whose team works just as hard as he does to pull off all of these projects) and there is something about that reference that seems apt in regards to his work. It conjures the death of John F. Kennedy, conspiracy and public murder entering the mainstream consciousness and a loss of innocence. But the content of the Zapruder film brings to mind another similarity to Johnson’s work, which is that they all end with deaths. Matt shoots Vince Valence at the end of NTBTS, Matt kills the bullies at the end of The Dirties and Owen gets killed at the end of Operation Avalanche. Johnson seems to be including the own limitations to his project in his work and the risks and failures of a group of friends going up against powerful institutions. There is a real fragility to Johnson’s endeavor as even to capture and sustain such a light-hearted mood they seem to be putting their lives on the line and risking a lot. To make their work they are performing dangerous stunts, breaking laws, burning bridges with the industry and putting themselves at risk of lawsuits. Is the controversy of their work going to pay off and have an effect? Will they be able to create a real change? Will they be able to recover if they get burnt? It is too soon to tell but perhaps one positive aspect of all of this is that even if they fail they can always try again and keep working at it.

MDFF Presents : Kaili Blues @ The Royal

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Top Ten Films of 2016

David Davidson
1. Operation Avalanche + Nirvanna The Band The Show Ep. 3-4-5. (Matt Johnson)
2. The BFG (Steven Spielberg)
3. The People Garden (Nadia Litz)
4. Sixty Six (Lewis Klahr)
5. Mes nuits feront écho (Sophie Goyette)
6. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
7. Nelly (Anne Émond)
8. Les démons (Philippe Lesage)
9. Werewolf (Ashley McKenzie)
10. Drawing Duncan Palmer (Rebeccah Love), Lewis (Fantavious Fritz), Partners (Mitch Greenberg)

Major Discovery: A Cool Sound from Hell (Sidney J. Furie, 1959), Christopher's Movie Matinee (Mort Ransen, 1968), Unfinished Business (Don Owen, 1984).

Honorable Mentions: Boris sans Béatrice (Denis Côté), Hello Destroyer (Kevan Funk), Are You With Me? (Erica Genereux Smith), Old Stone (Johnny Ma), Take What You Can Carry (Matt Porterfield), Contemporary Color (Ross brothers), The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues), Singularity (Albert Serra), Yourself and Yours (Hong Sang-soo), The Other Side (Roberto Minervini).
***
Ashley McKenzie
- Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt) 
- Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi) 
- Tales of Two Who Dreamt (Andrea Bussmann, Nicolás Pereda) 
- Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas) 
- The Girlfriend Experience (Amy Seimetz, Lodge Kerrigan) 
- Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Love) 
- The Sun, The Sun Blinded Me (Anka Sasnal, Wilhelm Sasnal) 
- Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) 
- An Evening (Sofia Bohdanowicz) 
- Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
***
Mitch Greenberg
1. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
2. Cemetery of Splendour (Apitchatpong Weerasethakul)
3. The Net (Kim Ki-Duk)
4. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
5. The Wailing (Na Hong-Jin)
6. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Longergan)
7. The Handmaiden (Chan Wook-Park)
8. The Age of Shadows (Kim Jee-Woon)
9. Masterminds (Jared Hess)
10. Operation Avalanche (Matt Johnson)
***
Ben Harrison
1. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
2. Jackie (Pablo Larraín)
3. Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (Mathieu Denis, Simon Lavoie)
4. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
5. Dear Lorde (Emily Vey Duke, Cooper Battersby)
6. Raw (Julia Ducournau)
7. Ghostbusters (Paul Feig)
8. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)
9. Operation Avalanche (Matt Johnson)
10. Boris sans Béatrice (Denis Côté)
***
Denis Côté
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
3. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
4. Austerlitz (Sergei Loznitsa)
5. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
6. Rester vertical (Alain Guiraudie)
7. Safari (Ulrich Seidl)
8. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas)
9. The Last Family (Jan P. Matuszynski)
10. Diary of a Wedding Photographer (Nadav Lapid)
***
Edouard Sivière
1. Ma Loute (Bruno Dumont)
2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
3. Le Trésor (Corneliu Porumboiu)
4. La Mort de Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
5. Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols)
6. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
7. Rester vertical (Alain Guiraudie)
8. In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman)
9. Julieta (Pedro Almodovar)
10. Réparer les vivants (Katell Qillévéré)
***
Oriane Sidre
1. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
2. Aquarius (Kleber Mendoça Filho)
3. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao Hsien)
4. The Strangers (Na Hong-jin)
5. Little Men (Ira Sachs)
6. Zootopie (Byron Howard, Rich Moore) / La Tortue Rouge (Michael Dudok de Wit)
7. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
8. Les Animaux fantastiques (David Yates)
9. 45 ans (Andrew Haigh) 
10. Man On High Heels (Jang Jin)

Special Mention: An (Naomi Kawase).

Films that I missed: Mademoiselle, Paterson, Your Name, Fais de beaux rêves and Rester Vertical.
***
Aleksey Matviyenko


1. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
2. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
3. The Nice Guys (Shane Black)
4. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
5. The Pine Tree Villa (Jan Koester)
6. Neruda (Pablo Larraín)
7. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
8. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)
9. Deadpool (Tim Miller)
10. ARQ (Tony Elliott)
***
Samuel Adelaar
- The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams)
- The Illinois Parables (Deborah Stratman)
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- The Dreamed Ones (Ruth Beckermann)
- The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
- The Unknown Girl (Dardennes Brothers)
-  Singularity (Albert Serra)
- Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
- Dirty Grandpa (Dan Mazer)
- 13 Hours (Michael Bay)
***
Ethan Vestby
1. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
2. Dirty Grandpa (Dan Mazer )/ The Son of Joseph (Eugène Green)
3. Sully (Clint Eastwood)
4. Bangkok Nites (Katsuya Tomita)
5. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
6. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
7. Ta’ang (Wang Bing)
8. Nerve (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman) / The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams)
9. 31 (Rob Zombie)
10. Hermia and Helena (Matias Piniero)
***
Jesse Cumming
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
3. The Prison in 12 Landscapes (Brett Story)
4. The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
5. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
6. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
7. The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
8. We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice (Alanis Obomsawin)
9. Rat Film (Theo Anthony)
10. The Illinois Parables (Deborah Stratman)
***
Steve Gravestock
No order or maybe just the first half. No real attempt in any way to be representative. Just the ones I liked the best or was most struck by. I see very few American movies comparatively speaking.
1. Sami-Blood (Amanda Kernell): Possibly the best fictional analysis at the social and personal impact of colonialism and racism on the self-image minority and aboriginal groups I've ever seen. Tragic and heartbreaking with a fearless lead performance.
2. Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (Mathieu Denis, Simon Lavoie): Four radical youths hole up in a grimy bungalow to plot sedition. The best look at the more puerile limitations of outsider leftist politics since Third Generation or maybe La chinoise. Hilarious at times with some stunning set pieces. (The dinner conversation about politics is my favorite scene all year.) At the same time, it's hard to simply dismiss their outrage or many of their beliefs.
3. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (Juho Kuosmanen): Based on a Finnish boxer's bout with the American champion but far more than that it's about a nation's coming of age, urbanization etc. and one of the year's best love stories.
4. Nelly (Anne Émond): One of our most daring directors again reinvents her aesthetic for her third feature, this one about an infamous Quebecois writer. Emond shuttles between fiction, reality and somewhere in between in stylized glimpses about what drove and influenced Nelly Arcand, Great performance by Mylene MacKay.
5. Captain America: Civil War (Anthony and Joe Russo): It has Black Panther.
6. We Can’t Make The Same Mistake Twice (Alanis Obomsawin): It was a major year for First Nations work with films like Living with Giants; Angry Inuk and especially the stunning and bracing The Searchers but this one represents in many ways the culmination of the work of one of Canada's best. In this record of a court case arguing the government's neglect of First Nations children constituted a human rights abuse (which was in the courts for a decade) Obomsawin has created a film that deserves to be mentioned alongside Sorrow and the Pity. Infuriating, heartbreaking, appalling and somehow uplifting. There was no one on any screen more heroic than Cindy Blackstock, one of the activists pursuing the case. 
7. Heartstone (Gudmunder Gudmundsson): An Icelandic fusion of Shoeshine and The Children Are Watching Us as Heartstone looks at neglect in a rural region and its impact on a friendship between two teenage boys.
8. Anatomy of Violence (Deepa Mehta): In a year where the world's greatest democracy elected a cable news addicted, proudly ignorant celebrity thug who advocated grabbing women by the pussy because his fame let him get away with it and women's rights took hits everywhere, this one is pretty damned essential. Courageously abandoning her much admired classicism for a gritty video look, Mehta explores what forms rapists and abusers. (Kevan Funk's Hello Destroyer is equally as powerful in its dissection of the group mentality which nurtures machismo.)
9. The Stairs (Hugh Gibson): Gibson spent five years following social workers, former drug users themselves, in Toronto's neglected Regent Park neighborhood. The dedication to the subject and subjects shows in every frame of this movie, which completely upends our assumptions about drug users. (Ashley MacKenzie's Werewolf is as essential for many of the same reasons.)
10. The Woman Who Left (Lav Diaz) and Ma'Rosa (Brillante Mendoza): If you want to know the conditions which led to the current disastrous political climate in the Philippines, you don't have to look further than the work of these two filmmakers which outline pervasive corruption and greed and the calamitous failings of the political, financial and religious elites.

This leaves out of tons of amazing stuff like Old Stone; The Settlers; Koneline; Skyjacker’s Tale; Samantha Bee; Kate MacKinnon; Alec Baldwin; Colbert; Transparent (especially that final sequence); the best fiction movie about financial skullduggery The Big Short; and John Oliver.
***
Mark Cira
1. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)    
2. The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi)    
3. I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach)    
4. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)    
5. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)     
6. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)     
7. Hail, Caesar! (Coen brothers)    
8. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)    
9. Hypernormalization (Adam Curtis)    
10. American Honey (Andrea Arnold) 

Honorable Mentions: The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer), The Witch (Robert Eggers), The Wailing (Na Hong-jin), The Unknown Girl (The Dardenne Brothers), Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick), How Heavy This Hammer (Kazik Radwanski).
***
Marko Orlic 
1. La La Land (Damien Chazelle) 
2. American Honey (Andrea Arnold) 
3. The Witch (Robert Eggers) 
4. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater) 
5. Manchester By The Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) 
6. Sing Street (John Carney) 
7. Loving (Jeff Nichols) 
8. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt) 
9. Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols) 
10. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)  

Honorable Mentions: Jackie (Pablo Larrain), I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach), Operation Avalanche (Matt Johnson), High-Rise (Ben Wheatley), Microbe And Gasoline (Michel Gondry) 
***
Jason Harris 
1. Arrival (Dennis Villeneuve)
2. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
3. OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
4. Rogue One (Gareth Edwards)
5. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
6. Captain America: Civil War (Russo brothers)
7. The Witch (Robert Eggers)
8. Doctor Strange  (Scott Derrickson)
9. Deadpool (Tim Miller)
10. Hail, Cesar! (Coen brothers)
***
Adam Nayman
- Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
- Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
- Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
- Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
- The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
- Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve)
- Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
- Silence (Martin Scorsese)
- The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams)
- Kaili Blues (Bi Gan) 
***
Simon Ennis
Five films I saw and loved in 2016: Moonlight, OJ: Made In America, Hell Or High Water, Certain Women, Hail, Caesar!.
Four films I have yet to see (but am very excited about): The Stairs, Elle, Paterson, Toni Erdmann.
Three terrific 2016 4K restorations: Tampopo, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Multiple Maniacs.
Two films I saw and loved last year (that may be considered 2016 releases): How Heavy This Hammer, The VVitch.
One film I randomly discovered this year and loved: One False Move (Carl Franklin, 1992)
BONUS: A 2016 short I thought was rad: Max McCabe-Lokos’ Ape Sodom
***
Hugh Gibson
1. OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
2. The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (Brett Story)
3. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
4. The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (Juho Kuosmanen)
5. Le bois dont les rêves sont faits (Claire Simon)
6. The Other Side (Roberto Minervini)
7. Il Solengo (Alessio Rigo De Righi, Matteo Zoppis)
8. Tales of Two Who Dreamt (Andrea Bussmann, Nico Pereda)
9. Certain Women (Kelly Reinhardt)
10. Mañana a esta hora (Lina Rodriguez)
***
Blake Williams
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
3. AS WITHOUT SO WITHIN (Manuela De Laborde)
4. The Lost City of Z (James Gray)
5. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
6. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
7. The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
8. Yourself and Yours
9. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
10. The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
***
Jordan Cronk
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
3. The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
4. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
5. The Ornithologist (Joao Pedro Rodrigues)
6. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
7. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
8. The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
9. The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams)
10. Staying Vertical (Alain Guiraudie)
***
Marko Balaban 
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade) 
2. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) 
3. Elle (Paul Verhoeven) 
4. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins) 
5. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho) 
6. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt) 
7. The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec) 
8. Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd) 
9. The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook) 
10. L'avenir (Mia Hansen-Løve) 
11. Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi)  
 
In theatres in 2016 [but 2015 festival films]: 1. Arabian Nights Trilogy (Miguel Gomes), 2. El Club (Pablo Larraín), 3. Neon Bull (Gabriel Mascaro), 4. How Heavy This Hammer (Kazik Radwanski), 5. The VVitch (Robert Eggers).
 
Best Documentaries: 1. HyperNormalisation (Adam Curtis) [The best film of the year overall.], 2. Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi), 3. Weiner (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg), 4. The Stairs (Hugh Gibson), 5. Angry Inuk (Alethea Arnaquq-Baril), 6. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson), 7. O.J. Simpson: Made in America (Ezra Edelman), 8. We Can't Make the Same Mistake Twice (Alanis Obomsawin), 9. De Palma (Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow), 10. Tower (Keith Maitland), 11. Into the Inferno (Werner Herzog), 12. Rhoda (Naomi Wise).
***
Alan ‘Randy’ Jones
1. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
2. Dirty Grandpa (Dan Mazer)
3. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
4. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater) / Hail, Caesar! (Coen brothers)
5. Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (Mathieu Denis, Simon Lavoie)
6. American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (the episode where Chris Dardennes and Marcia Clark almost fuck)
7. Weiner (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg)
8. The trailer for Arsenal
9. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
10. Don't Breathe (Fede Álvarez) / The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra)
***
John Semley
1. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson) / HyperNormalisation (Adam Curtis)
2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
3. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
4. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
5. Arrival (Dennis Villeneuve)
6. O.J.: Made In America (Ezra Edelman)
7. Sully (Clint Eastwood)
8. Cemetary of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
9. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
10. Train to Busan (Yeon Sang-ho) / Sausage Party (Conrad Vernon, Greg Tiernan)

NB: I have, as of compiling (when else?), to see Scorsese’s Silence. I nurture a nagging, if totally pre-theoretical, hunch that it would rank in my top ten, if not the number one spot. Call it an act of faith.
***
Will Sloan
1. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
2. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
3. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
4. Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
5. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
6. Weiner (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg)
7. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)
8. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
9. Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi)
10. De Palma (Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow)
***
Peter Merriman
1. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
3. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
4. Yourself and Yours (Hong Sang-soo)
5. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
6. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)
7. Hail, Caesar! (Coen brothers)
8. The VVitch (Robert Eggers)
9. The Stairs (Hugh Gibson)
10. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)
***
Sean Rogers
Ten movies/mini-series that made sense in 2016:
- 13 Hours (Michael Bay)
- Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
- HyperNormalisation (Adam Curtis)
- Sully (Clint Eastwood)
- O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
- Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
- Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
- The Other Side (Roberto Minervini)
- The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (Brett Story)
- And, of course, Decker: Unclassified (Tim Heidecker and Gregg Turkington)
***
Laura-Louise Tobin
- Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
- Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
- Tickled (David Farrier, Dylan Reeve)
- Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)
- 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg)
- Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
- Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- Hail, Caesar! (Coen brothers)
- OJ: Made In America (paired with American Crime Story: The People V. O.J. Simpson for a better and more nuanced view of the cultural climate)
***
Barry Hertz
1. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
2. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)
3. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)
5. Silence (Martin Scorsese)
6. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
7. American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
8. Jackie (Pablo Larraín)
9. The Invitation (Karyn Kusama)
10. De Palma (Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow)
***
Julia Cooper
- Lemonade (Beyoncé, Kahlil Joseph)
- Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
- Demolition (Jean-Marc Vallée)
 - Into the Forest (Patricia Rozema)
- Things to Come (Mia Hansen Løve)
- Pee Wee’s Big Holiday (John Lee)
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven)
- O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
- American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
***
Nicholas Little
- American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
- Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
- Moana (John Musker, Ron Clements) / Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore)
- Sully (Clint Eastwood)
- The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn)
- 10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg)
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
- Loving / Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols)
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder) / Captain America: Civil War (Russo brothers)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards)
***
Megan Widawski
- The Invitation (Karyn Kusama)
- Suicide Squad (David Ayer)
- Midnight Special (Jeff Nichols)
- Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
- Loving (Jeff Nichols)
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
- Zoolander 2 (Ben Stiller)
- The Girl on the Train (Tate Taylor)
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder)
- Demolition (Jean-Marc Vallée)
- Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Tim Burton)
***
Peter Kuplowsky
- Say Something Bunny (Alison S.M. Kobayashi)
- She’s Allergic To Cats (Michael Reich)
- Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
- The Invitation (Karyn Kusama)
- Space Breakers (JAZ, Zak Tatham)
- Arrival (Denis Villeneuve) 
- Quarry (Greg Yaitanes)
- Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
- Nova Seed (Nick DiLiberto)

Honourable Mentions: Elle (Paul Verhoeven), Sister’s Fire (Vinnie De Ghoulie), 90 Degrees North (Detsky Graffam), Paco (Catalina Jordan Alvarez), The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook), Christine (Antonio Campos), Tower (Keith Maitland), Fraud (Dean Fleischer-Camp), Bad Black (Issac Nabwana), The Witch (Robert Eggers).

Released this year but was on my list last year: Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier), The Treasure (Corneliu Porumboiu).
***
Adam Cook
1. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
3. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
4. Austerlitz (Sergei Loznitsa)
5. Wake (Subic) (John Gianvito)
6. Manchester by the Sea – Sundance Cut (Kenneth Lonergan)
7. A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies)
8. Silence (Martin Scorsese)
9. Never Eat Alone (Sofia Bohdanowicz)
10. Three (Johnnie To)
11. The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)
12. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)
13. The Dreamed Ones (Ruth Beckermann)
14. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
15. Werewolf (Ashley McKenzie)
16. Sully (Clint Eastwood)
17. We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice (Alanis Obomsawin)
18. Yourself and Yours (Hong Sang-soo)
19. The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
20. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Ang Lee)

Special Mentions: Horace and Pete (Louis C.K.): I’m too unsure of how to categorize this to put it in the top twenty proper but it’s the American narrative that I found the most compelling in 2016 and the one that resonates the most strongly at year's end; Elle (Paul Verhoeven), Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi), Happy Birthday babe (Kanye West).
***
Kurt Walker
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Daughters of the Dust – Restoration (Julie Dash)
3. 025 Sunset Red (Laida Lertxundi)
4. Losing Ground (Kathleen Collins)
5. Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro)
6. The Love Witch (Anna Biller)
7. Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi)
8. Werewolf (Ashley McKenzie)
9. Short Stay (Ted Fendt)
10. This Castle Keep (Gina Telaroli) / Sully (Clint Eastwood) 

Honorable Mentions: The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon), As Without So Within (Manuela de Laborde), Le parc (Damien Manivel), Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman), The Mermaid (Stephen Chow), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins).

Underestimated: Quand on a 17 ans (André Téchiné), Never Eat Alone (Sofia Bohdanowicz), Easy (Joe Swanberg), I tempi felici verranno presto (Alessandro Comodin), 龍三と七人の子分たち (Takeshi Kitano).

Uncertain: Elle (Paul Verhoeven), O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman), Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas) Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder), American Honey (Andrea Arnold).
***
Sofia Bohdanowicz
TOP TEN VIEWS OF 2016* 
1. Soleil O (Med Hondo)
2. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
3. The Dreamed Ones (Ruth Beckermann)
4. Les nuits de la pleine lune (Éric Rohmer)
5. Let Your Light Shine (Jodie Mack)**
6. Ta'ang (Wang Bing)
7. L'avenir (Mia Hansen-Løve)
8. Ears, Nose and Throat (Kevin Jerome Everson)***
9. Siluetas (Ana Mendieta)***
10. Foyer (Ismäil Bahri)*** 

* NOT ALL NEW RELEASES AND NOT IN ANY PARTICULAR ORDER
** A PROGRAM COMPRISED OF SHORT FILMS
*** SHORT FILMS
***
Deragh Campbell
1. Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
2. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
3. Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi)
4. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
5. Hermia and Helena (Matías Piñeiro)
6. Tales of Two Who Dreamt (Andrea Bussmann, Nicolás Pereda)
7. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
8. Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Love)
9. Yourself and Yours (Hong Sang-Soo)
10. American Honey (Andrea Arnold)

This list doesn't include films by friends that were great: Sofia Bohdanowicz’s Never Eat Alone, Lev Lewis’ The Intestine, Ashley McKenzie’s Werewolf and Joey Klein’s The Other Half.

And these are some films that I missed that might have made the list: The Ornithologist, Sierranevada, Nocturama.
***
Matthew Stein
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
3. Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve)
4. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
5. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
6. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
7. Sully (Clint Eastwood)
8. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
9. Hail, Caesar! (Coen brothers)    
10. Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene)
***
Lev Lewis
PICTURE: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Sully, Toni Erdmann, We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, Yourself and Yours. 
DIRECTOR: Albert Serra (The Death of Louis XIV), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea), Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper), Clint Eastwood (Sully), Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann).
ACTOR: Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges (Manchester By the Sea), Andy Samberg (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping), Tom Hanks (Sully), Peter Simonischek (Toni Erdmann). 
ACTRESS: Sonia Braga (Aquarius), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Viola Davis (Fences), Isabelle Huppert (Things to Come), Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann) 
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Steve Carell (Café Society), Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!), Tom Bennett (Love and Friendship), André Holland and Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight), Aaron Eckhart (Sully).
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Maeve Jinkings (Aquarius), Makenzie Leigh (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Laurie Metcalf (Horace and Pete), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Michelle Williams (Manchester By the Sea). 
SCREENPLAY: Kleber Mendonça Filho (Aquarius), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester By the Sea), Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight), Todd Komarnicki (Sully), Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann). 
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Vittorio Storaro (Café Society), Jonathan Ricquebourg (The Death of Louis XIV), Léo Hinstin (Nocturama), Yorick Le Saux (Personal Shopper), Wolfgang Thaler (Safari), Paul Atkins (Voyage of Time).

(Haven’t seen Silence, Sieranevada or Paterson so disregard).
***
Ryan Krahn
1. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
2. The Untamed (Amat Escalante)
3. The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues)
4. Nightlife (Cyprien Gaillard)
5. Juste la fin du monde (Xavier Dolan)
6. Singularity (Albert Serra),
7. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
8. The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
9. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
10. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
***
Erica Genereux Smith
- The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook)
- Krisha (Trey Edward Shults)
- Christine (Antonio Campos)
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- The Prison in 12 Landscapes (Brett Story)
- American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
- Wiener (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg)
- Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
- The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer)
***
Andrew Stanley
Top ten films I watched this year, in no particular order. 
- Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas, 2012)
- Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- O.J.: Made In America (Ezra Edelman)
- Ballast (Lance Hammer, 2008)
- Rebecca H.: Return to the Dogs (Lodge Kerrigan, 2010)
- A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
- Benny's Video (Michael Haneke, 1992)
- The Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet)
- Scenes from a Marriage – Television Version  (Ingmar Bergman, 1973)

Plus a cheat: Dekalog: Four (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1990)
***
Brian Robertson
- De Palma (Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow)
- The Get Down – The Pilot (Baz Luhrmann)
- Horace and Pete (Louis C.K.)
- Into the Inferno (Werner Herzog)
- Louder than Bombs (Joachim Trier)
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States (Oliver Stone)
- O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
- Safari (Ulrich Seidl)
- Una (Benedict Andrews)

Honorable Mention: Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives (Bobbito Garcia).
***
Marcus Pinn
1. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
2. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
3. O.J.: Made In America (Ezra Edelman)
4. Prevenge (Alice Lowe)
5. The Empty Box (Claudia Sainte-Luce)
6. The Untamed (Amat Escalante)
7. Bleak Street (Arturo Ripstein)
8. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)
9. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)
10. Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore)

Honorable Mentions: Captain America: Civil War (Russo brothers), Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz), Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick), Paterson (Jim Jarmusch).
***
Bruno Dequen
- A Model Family in a Model Home (Zoe Beloff)
- Another Year (Shengze Zhu)
- Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
- Dark Night (Tim Sutton)
- The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook)
- Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene)
- The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn)
- Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
- Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
- Uzu (Gaspard Kuentz)
***
Ariel Esteban Cayer
1. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
2. Shin Godzilla (Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi)
3. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
4. After the Storm (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
5. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
6. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
7. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
8. Les arts de la parole (Olivier Godin)
9. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas)
10. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
11. Creepy (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
***
Evan Jerred
1. Mutants (Alexandre Dostie)
2. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
3. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
4. On the Origin of Fear (Bayu Prihantoro Filemon)
5. American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
6. Holy Hell (Will Allen)
7. Pays (Chloé Robichaud)
8. The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn)
9. Love You To Death (Tegan and Sara)
10. Inside (Playdead)
***
Niles Schwartz
1. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
3. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)
4. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)
5. Hail, Caesar! (Coen brothers)
6. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
7. Rules Don't Apply (Warren Beatty) / Café Society (Woody Allen)
8. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
9. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
10. The Mermaid (Stephen Chow)
***
Adam Litovitz
- Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
- Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
- O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
- Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
- Krisha (Trey Edward Shults)
- Indignation (James Schamus)
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)
- Sunset Song (Terence Davies)
- The Apology (Tiffany Hsiung)
- Cemetery of Splendor (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
- Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
 - Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve) 
***
Jade Hurlbut
1. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman) 
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards)
3. Loving (Jeff Nichols)
4. Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight)
5. Burn Your Maps (Jordan Roberts) 
6. Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton) 
7. Men and Chicken (Anders Thomas Jensen) 
8. Boys in the Trees (Nicholas Verso) 
9. Arrival (Denis Vileneuve) 
10. Jamais contente (Emilie Deleuze)
***
Amir Soltani
- Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
- Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi)
- Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
- Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
- The Treasure (Corneliu Porumboiu)
- Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman) 
- Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene)
- Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve)
- Fireworks Wednesday (Asghar Farhadi, 2006)
- Under the Shadow (Babak Anvari)
***
Tina Hassannia
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
3. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
4. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman) 
5. Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
6. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
7. The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)
8. Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids (Jonathan Demme)
9. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
10. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
***
Calum Marsh
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (Amy Sherman-Palladino)
3. Justin Timberlake and the Tennessee Kids (Jonathan Demme)
4. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
5. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
6. Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
7. De Palma (Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow)
8. The Invitation (Karyn Kusama)
9. HyperNormalisation (Adam Curtis)
10. Right Now Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo)
***
Kurt Halfyard
1. Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)
2. The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn)
3. The Lure (Agnieszka Smoczynska)
4. The Nice Guys (Shane Black)
5. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
6. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
7. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
8. Chi-Raq (Spike Lee)
9. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
10. Hail, Caesar! (Coen brothers)
***
Charles Trapunski
Canada's Top Ten, my take: 
- Anatomy of Violence (Deepa Mehta)
- Below Her Mouth (April Mullen)
- Boundaries (Chloé Robichaud)
- Giants of Africa (Hubert Davis)
- How Heavy This Hammer (Kazik Radwanski)
- Jean of the Joneses (Stella Meghie)
- Oh What a Wonderful Feeling (François Jaros)
- Prank (Vincent Biron)
- The Stairs (Hugh Gibson)
- Two Lovers and a Bear (Kim Nguyen)
***
Leora Heilbronn
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
- The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)
- Lemonade (Beyoncé, Kahlil Joseph)
- The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
- Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore)
- Rams (Grímur Hákonarson)
- Fences (Denzel Washington)
- Loving (Jeff Nichols)
- Elle (Paul Verhoeven)     
- Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)
***
Courtney Small
1. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
2. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck)
3. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
4. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
5. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
6. Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
7. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
8. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
9. How to Build a Time Machine (Jay Cheel)
10. Jackie (Pablo Larraín)
***
Rob Trench
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
2. Lemonade (Dikayl Rimmasch, Todd Tourso, Kahlil Joseph, Mark Romanek, Jonas Akerlund, Beyonce Knowles, Melina Matsoukas)
3. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
4. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
5. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)
6. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
7. The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook)
8. Swiss Army Man (Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
9. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
10. Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight)
***
Adriana Floridia
1. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
2. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
3. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)
4. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
5. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
6. Jackie (Pablo Larraín)
7. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
8. Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore)
9. A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
10. Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)
***
Shahbaz Kh
1. The Unknown Girl (Dardenne brothers)
2. Cosmos (Andrzej Zulawski)
3. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
4. Tower (Keith Maitland)
5. Who Killed Eloa (Livia Perez)
6. Free Fire (Ben Wheatley)
7. Under the Shadow (Babak Anvari)
8. Dear Lorde (Emily Vey Duke, Cooper Battersby)
9. The Lure (Agnieszka Smoczynska)
10. Into the Inferno (Werner Herzog)
***
Matt Blais
1. We will grow old together (screen-play) (Isiah Medina)
2. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
3. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)
4. Derren Brown: Pushed to the Edge (Jon Richards, Derren Brown)
5. The Other Half (Joey Kline)
6. The Movieland Movie (Zachary KerrHolden)
7. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
8. For My Mother (Manny Mahal)
9. Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Love)
10. Ouija: Origin of Evil (Mike Flanagan)
11. The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)
12. Short Stay (Ted Fendt)
13. Dirty Grandpa (Dan Mazer)
14. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
15. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)
16. 24.24.24 (Daniel Dietzel)
17. Lemonade (Beyoncé, Kahlil Joseph)
18. Rat Film (Theo Anthony)
19. From Nine-Nine (Neil Bahadur)
20. The Hedonists (Jia Zhangke)

Shout out: A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies), American Honey (Andrea Arnold)The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn).
***
Neil Bahadur
1. Ta’ang (Wang Bing)
2. As Without So Within (Manuela de Laborde)
3. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition (Zach Snyder)
4. 025 Sunset Red (Laida Lertxundi)
5. The Death of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
6. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
7. Aquarius (Kleber Filho Mendonca)
8. Elle (Paul Verhoeven) / Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
9. For May and December (Aftermath) (Isiah Medina)
10. This Castle Keep (Gina Telaroli)
11. Sully (Clint Eastwood) / Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
12. Werewolf (Ashley Mckenzie)
13. Short Stay (Ted Fendt)
14. Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids (Jonathan Demme)
15. The Hedonists (Jia Zhangke)
16. Rat Film (Theo Anthony)
17. The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
18. Dirty Grandpa (Dan Mazer)
19. Hermia and Helena (Matias Pinero)
20. Never Eat Alone (Sofia Bohdanowicz)
21. Hell or High Water (David Mckenzie)
22. Austerlitz (Sergei Loznitza)
23. The Love Witch (Anna Biller)
24. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)
25. Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi)
***
Isiah Medina
- Dunkeldeutschland (Juliane Jaschnow, Stefanie Schroeder)
- 025 Sunset Red (Laida Lertxundi) 
- Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello) 
- Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder) 
- AS WITHOUT SO WITHIN (Manuela De Laborde) 
- Nightlife (Cyprien Galliard) 
- It has a Golden Red Sun and an Elderly Green Moon (Ulla von Brandenburg) 
- Vertigo Sea (John Akomfrah)  
- République (Alexandre Galmard)  
- Lumapit Sa Akin, Paraiso (Stephanie Comilang)
***
Ryan MacDuff
1. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
2. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
3. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) 
4. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho) 
5. The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues)
6. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas)
7. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade) 
8. Werewolf (Ashley McKenzie) 
9. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)
10. The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon)
***
Lars Aumueller
- A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino)
- Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
- Dheepan (Jacques Audiard)
- The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)
- Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater) 
- The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook)
- Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
- Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
***
Soufian Jalili
1. No Man Is An Island (Tim de Keersmaecker)
2. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
3. Our Loved Ones (Anne Émond)
4. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)
5. The Road To Mandalay (Midi Z)
6. Dheepan (Jacques Audiard)
7. Divines (Houda Benyamina)
8. Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
9. The Uncondemned (Nick Louvel, Michele Mitchell)
10. Heaven Will Wait (Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar) / Sand Storm (Elite Zexer)
***
Pat Mullen
1. Jackie (Pablo Larraín)
2. The Apology (Tiffany Hsiung)
3. Window Horses (Ann Marie Fleming)
4. Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves (Mathieu Denis, Simon Lavoie):
5. Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)
6. Arrival (Denis Vileneuve) 
7. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie)
8. I am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck)
9. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)
10. Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood)
***
Thomas Prieto
1. Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
2. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
3. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
4. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
5. Killzone 2 (Soi Cheang)
6. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)
7. Lost and Beautiful (Marcello Pietro)
8. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (Karan Johar)
9. Sully (Clint Eastwood)
10. HyperNormalisation (Adam Curtis)
***
Noah Taylor
- The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn)
- Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight)
- Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
- Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) 
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- Pee-wee's Big Holiday (John Lee)
- Oasis: Supersonic (Mat Whitecross)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards)
- The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (Juho Kuosmanen)
- Tickled (David Farrier, Dylan Reeve)
***
Caroline Giroux
1. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
2. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) 
3. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
4. 13th (Ava DuVernay)
5. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
6. We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice (Alanis Obomsawin)
7. Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi)
8. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
9. I am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck)
10. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
***
Mark Barber
1. The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues),
2. Cosmos (Andrzej Żuławski)
3. Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)
4. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Zack Snyder)
5. The Unknown Girl (Dardennes brothers)
6. Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)
7. Hacksaw Ridge (Mel Gibson)
8. Hail, Caesar! (Coen brothers0
9. Theo and Hugo (Olivier Ducastel, Jacques Martineau)
10. Blair Witch (Adam Wingard)
***
Patrick Devitt
1. My Golden Days (Arnaud Desplechin)
2. In the Shadow of Women (Philippe Garrel)
3. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) 
4. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)
5. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
6. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
7. Always Shine (Sophia Takal)
8. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
9. Sully (Clint Eastwood)
10. American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
***
Tom Ue
- Little Men (Ira Sachs)
- Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore)
- Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)
- Natasha (David Bezmozgis)
- Little Wing (Selma Vilhunen)
- A Monster Calls (J. A. Bayona)
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards)
- Florence Foster Jenkins (Stephen Frears)
- The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
***
Paolo Kagaoan
- La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
- Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) 
- Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
- Christine (Antonio Campos)
- Deepwater Horizon (Peter Berg)
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
- Lemonade (Beyoncé, Kahlil Joseph)
- Sing Street (John Carney)
- Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)
- Moana (John Musker, Ron Clements)
***
Leslie Supnet
- Ditch Plains (Loretta Fahrenholz, 2013)
- Hypnosis Display (Liz Harris, Paul Clipson, 2014)
- Les Châssis de Lourdes (Rhayne Vermette, 2016)
- Poem (Dan Browne, 2015)
- Music is Magic or Godddamn You, Half-Japanese Girls – Video with performance and live score by Ohbijou (Alison S. M. Kobayashi, 2016)
- Der Springer (Henning Frederik Malz, 2015)
- The Masked Monkeys (Anja Dornieden, Juan David Gonzalez, 2015)
- Indefinite Pitch (James N. Keinetz Wilkins, 2016)
- Film Walk – Multiple 16mm projection, performance  (Hangjun Lee, 2012)
- Holland, Man  Expanded cinema performance (Aaron Zeghers, 2015)
***
Cody Lang
1. Elle (Paul Verhoeven) 
2. High Rise (Ben Wheatley) 
3. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos)  
4. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)
5. O.J. Made in America (Ezra Edelman) 
6. Three (Johnnie To) 
7. The Mermaid (Stephen Chow) 
8. Yourself and Yours (Hong Sang-soo) 
9. Kaili Blues (Bi Gan) 
10. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
***
Paul Williams
- Safari (Ulrich Seidl): Ulrich Seidl's documentary about affluent German families on safari in South Africa and Namibia is the most emotional and ethically complicated film of the year. As the rich Europeans stalk and slaughter some of the most impressive and beautiful animals on the planet, and their privileged morality gradually strips away, we're left with a raw portrait of humanity we do eventually empathize and identify with as we question our own privileged preconceptions.  
- The Club / Neruda / Jackie (Pablo Larrain): The great maximalist Pablo Larrain released three films in 2016; all are amazing. The Club is about a group of disgraced priests living in a hidden away house in a rural Chilean beach town with a former nun as warden. They sort of work through their shit by regressing into paranoid, brooding layabouts. Neruda is my favourite of the three and appropriately examines Chilean cultural icon Pablo Neruda with a hedonistic aesthetic later contrasted with the pastoral countryside as he dashes across the country in hope of setting sail to Europe with a ruthless police inspector (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) hot on his heels. Well, we've all seen Jackie by now and its praise is justified. Those, like myself, made a bit nervous by Larrain's mainstream debut can rest assured that it's frank depiction of Jaclyn Kennedy's first week following JFK's assassination as she struggles to maintain her public persona, while riding her own erratic emotions and intense grief, is as subversive in presentation as his previous work, and won't win him any Oscars, right!?
- The Seventh Fire (Jack Pettibone Riccobono): Coke-addicted, alcoholic Rob Brown is sentenced to prison for a long stretch and begins to address a long-delayed sense of remorse about his own misspent life and the violence he's brought to his American Indian Minnesota reserve as his community's resident drug dealer. Riccobono's documentary is among the saddest I've ever seen and the most honest.
- Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello): Part Dawn of the Dead part Le diable probablement, Bonello's political action film about a group of young Parisian men and women who form a terrorist cell and carry out an ingeniously plotted series of day-long attacks against the populace is as utterly cinematic as it is ice cold. We watch in horror as all these young people confront a fate we probably all deserve. 
- Those Who Make Revolution Make Halfway Only Dig Their Own Grave (Mathieu Denis and Simon Lavoie): Uh, this one makes the list as my biggest regret of the year. All of its TIFF screenings conflicted with either my job at the festival or other films I thought I wanted to see more. Way of the Dragon?? Really, Paul?? Anyway, it's made Canada's Top Ten and Ima see it next month! Fo sho!
***
Daniel Goodbaum
- My film about a pissed-off squirrel.
- Pass-thru (Neil Breen): the drone camerawork is really special. Is Neil Breen controlling the drone at the same time he's acting in this? I think the mainstream media has failed us by not figuring out what's going on with Neil Breen.
- Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Koreeda): I wish I had a bunch of sisters. I have two brothers, and they have never made me salted preserved plums.
- The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos).
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins): I have a heart! I have feelings! I do have to say, that meal the main character eats at the diner at the end of the film would've been even better if he was using my homemade carrot-based condiment, 6ix sauce. Made of roasted carrots, roasted garlic, cilantro, and thai chilies. Tasty!
- The Young Pope – Season One : This show is good! It's only been released on Italian TV so I had to watch an non-subtitled torrent version, but every time there's a scene in Italian, I just assume that those Cardinals be scheming. Very watchable!
- The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn): Don't trust that demon, it's neon! 
- Evolution (Lucile Hadzihalilovic): Play this film at 3x speed and it's a good way to kill a half hour.
- The trailer for Barry.
- The Bret Easton Ellis Podcast: Who needs visuals when you can listen to Bret Easton Ellis talk about filmmaking? Podcasts are films.
***
TOFilmCritic
1. Toni Eardmann: If you've got a better way to spend four and a half hours, I don't want to hear it.
2. Sully
3. Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n'ont fait que se creuser un tombeau: Look it up.
4. Kubo and the Two Strings: Two strings, yes, but four stars. Ignore the racial implications of casting virtually no leads of color for the voices, and instead marvel at the pitch-perfect animation and cultural appropriation. Marvellous.
5. The Fits: If you didn't find a way to somehow see this, then what's even the point of your life?
6. The episode of Gilmore Girls that I watched on my iPad on the way home from the La La Land screening. Made me believe in film again.
7. (Tie) Things to Come/Elle/Dream I Had About Huppert Doing...Things
8. Moonlight, I guess?
9. Horse Money
10. Untitled Alex Ross Perry Cat Film (select screening in my home, via Perry's Samsung Galaxy)
***
Vinz J. Orlof
1. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
3. Carol (Todd Haynes)
4. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
5. La Loi de la jungle (Antonin Peretjatko)
6. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
7. Ma Loute (Bruno Dumont)
8. Julieta (Pedro Almodovar)
9. Café Society (Woody Allen)
10. Ce sentiment de l'été (Mikhaël Hers)
***
 Find the list of Fred Mjg on the blog, Les nuits du chasseur de films.
***
Kevin Laforest
1. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)
2. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
3. Lemonade (Beyoncé, Kahlil Joseph)
4. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
5. Swiss Army Man (Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
6. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)
7. Captain America: Civil War (Russo brothers)
8. Prank (Vincent Biron)
9. American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
10. Juste la fin du monde (Xavier Dolan)
***
 Corey Pierce
1. The Little Prince 
2. Swiss Army Man 
3. The Edge of Seventeen 
4. Credit For Murder 
5. The Nice Guys 
6. Hunt For The Wilderpeople 
7. Kubo and the Two Strings 
8. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them 
9. Hail, Caesar! 
10. La La Land
***
Mehdi Pilehvarian
1. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu)
2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
3. Afterimage (Andrzej Wajda)
4. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
5. Brothers (Aslaug Holm)
6. Kékszakállú (Gastón Solnicki)
7. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)
8. Tower (Keith Maitland)
9. The Dreamed Path (Angela Schanelec)
10. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)
***
Jesse Hawken
1. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)
2. Hypernormalisation (Adam Curtis)
3. Weiner (Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg)
4. The Astrologer (Craig Denney, 1975)
5. My Scientology Movie (John Dower)
***
Dan Browne
Top 16 films I saw in 2016 (alphabetical by filmmaker last name): 
- Spectres of Shortwave (Amanda Dawn Christie, 2016),
- Feeler (Paul Clipson, 2016)
- Machine Space (Stephen Connolly, 2016)
- All My Life (After Baillie) (Clint Enns, 2016)
- personne (Christoph Girardet and Matthais Müller, 2016)
-  (I) Frame (Karissa Hahn and Andrew Kim, 2016)
- Apparitions (Alex Mackenzie, 2016)
- Untitled, 1925 (Madi Pillar, 2016)
- Answer Print (Mónica Savirón, 2016)
- Before the Flood (Fisher Stevens, 2016)
- Harbour (Eric Stewart, 2016)
- The Illinois Parables (Deborah Stratman, 2016)
- Nutag-Homeland (Alisi Telengut, 2016)
- Le bulbe tragique (Guillame Vallée, 2016)
- Les Châssis de Lourdes (Rhayne Vermette, 2016)
- Rituals 1-3 (Brian Wilson, 2016)

Top 16 films I saw in 2016 not made in 2016 (alphabetical by filmmaker last name):
- Provincetown Pieces (Joseph Bernard, 1979)
- Bright Mirror (Paul Clipson, 2014)
- Grading Tips for Teachers (Tony Conrad, 2003)
- Solitary Acts #4-6 (Nazli Dinçel, 2015)
- Life and People (Barry Doupé, 2014)
- Immortal Cats #1 (Scott Fitzpatrick, 2015)
- The Ties That Bind (Su Friedrich, 1984)
- L’Amour Réinventé (Maurice Lemaître, 1979)
- Sketch Film #1-5 (Tomonari Nishikawa, 2005-2007)
- Wolkenschatten (OJOBOCA, 2014)
- Ettrick (Jacques Perconte, 2015),
- Instabile Materie (Jürgen Reble, 1995),
- Engram of Returning (Daïchi Saïto, 2015)
- Ways + Means (Leslie Supnet, 2015)
- Hand Held Day (Gary Beydler, 1975)
- by Mark Toscano (Mark Toscano, 2015)
- Holland, Man. (Aaron Zeghers, 2015)
***
Richard Lippe
- Moonlight (Barry Jenkins) 
- Elle (Paul Verhoeven) 
- Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie) 
- Arrival (Denis Villeneuve) 
- Hail, Caesar! (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen) 
- Graduation (Cristian Mungiu) 
- Chi Raq (Spike Lee) 
- Little Men (Ira Sachs) 
- Being 17 (Andre Techine) 
- Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Love) 
***
Thomas Loree
1. Elle (Paul Verhoeven) 
2. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade) 
3. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas) 
4. La Mort de Louis XIV (Albert Serra) 
5. Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie) 
6. The Age of Shadows (Kim Jee-woon) 
7. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve) 
8. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman) 
9. The Ornithologist (João Pedro Rodrigues)
10. Love and Friendship (Whit Stillman)    

(Revised 2015 List: The Assassin; 11 Minutes; Son of Saul; Mia Madre; Carol; Mad Max: Fury Road; Everything Will Be Fine; In the Shadow of Women; Afternoon [Tsai]; The Lady in the Van).
    
Honorable Mentions: Daguerreotype (Kurosawa), Café Society (Allen), The Big Beat: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock 'n' Roll (director’s cut: Joe Lauro), X-Men: Apocalypse (Singer).    

Best Acting: Jean-Pierre Leaud (Louis XIV), Song Kang-ho (The Age of Shadows), Peter Simonischek (Toni Erdmann); Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham in Hell or High Water; Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann), Kristin Stewart (Personal Shopper), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Constance Rousseau (Daguerrotype),  Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran in The People v. O.J. Simpson, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian in The People v. O.J. Simpson, Amy Adams (Arrival), Karl Urban (Star Trek: Beyond), Kevin Spacey (Elvis and Nixon), Tom Bennett (Love and Friendship).

Favourite TV: The Walking Dead – season 6 (2015-2016), The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (Ryan Murphy, Anthony Hemingway and John Singleton).
Annual Golden Turkey Award: Salt and Fire (Herzog).
***
Dion Tubrett
1. Personal Shopper  
2. Elle  
3. Moonlight  
4. Hell or High Water  
5. Frantz  
6. Manchester By the Sea  
7. Train to Busan  
8. Graduation  
9. Nocturnal Animals  
10. Arrival
Honourable Mention (alphabetically): Certain Women, The Eyes of My Mother, Midnight Special, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sully.
***
Cameron Moneo
- In Still Time (Leslie Supnet)
- Menguante (Waning Moon) (Juana Awad & Jorge Lozano)
- Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye)
- Maternal Filigree (Sandra Davis)
- Matter of Clarity (Sandra Davis)
- Sweet Dreams (Freude Bartlett)
- Roadfilm (Standish Lawder)
- Dreamquest (Jane Elford)
- Black Forest Trading Post (Andrew Lugg)
- A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) 

If I could, I'd also like to mention Game 7 of the NBA Finals. That was the most compelling drama of the year for me.
***
Clint Enns
A Few of My Favourite Short Canadian Experimental Films and Videos from the last few years (in no particular order):
Winston Hacking – Music video for Andy Shauf 's Worst in You (2016)
Hacking's eloquent collage film makes use of some relatively simple techniques to achieve extremely sophisticated effects. This video is guaranteed to leave you scratching your head while tapping your toes.
Madi Piller – Trilogy, 1925 (2016)
A trilogy where each film begins with a poem. The poetry acts as a surrogate for Piller's grandfather, as the artist re-visits his journey across the Peruvian highlands after he left Romania in 1923 at the age of 22.  The images are beautifully photographed with superb sound-design by Rick Hyslop.

Check out:
Shock, Fear, and Belief: The Films and Videos of Madi Piller
with essays about the work by Stephen Broomer and Genne Speers and with a photo series related to the work.
Leslie Supnet –  In Still Time (2015)
Supnet's film uses still images from the Syrian civil war, laser printed directly onto film, raising questions about our complicity in the event through the moral imperative of bearing witness. The process of dealing with pain that is experienced by an event that is so close, yet so far away. 


Heidi Phillips – Thunderbolt (2015)
Ever feel like you were all alone and the world was falling apart around you?

David Jones – Temple Drone 3 (2016)
GIVE IN TO THE DRONE.

Sabrina Ratté – Built-in Views (2016)
Commissioned by the Toronto Animated Image Society, Ratté creates a work addressing the plasmatic in the digital age.  The
fluidity of the world (further amplified by Roger Tellier Craig's soundtrack)  provides a visual representation of a world where networked systems offer access to all forms of media, and the potential of universal knowledge.

Alison Kobayashi - Music is Magic, or Goddamn You, Half-Japanese Girls (2016)
Kobayashi's newest performance/video commissioned by Reel Asian with music by Ohbijou examines sisterhood and her teenage crush on Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo which is complicated by his fetishization of half-Japanese girls.

Aaron Zeghers – Holland, Man.
Experience what it is like to literally “give away the farm.”

Rhayne Vermette – Les Châssis de Lourdes (2016)
An incredibly strange film where architecture, imagined history and deficient memory collide. The work employs a regional humour, one that uses a sincere form of irony in order to blend fact and fiction in an attempt to reveal deeper truths. The narration is a blend of the profane and the profound, like the casual ramblings of your favourite pot-head philosopher.  For instance, in the film, it is revealed that some of the narrator's hobbies include soul music and hanging out with Manners the cat.  The film uses a dialect that is uniquely Franco-Manitoban involving mid-sentence transitions between English and French. An enjoyable and bizarre film that demands repeat viewings.

Guillaume Vallée – Le Bulbe Tragique (2016)
A metaphysical film examining cinema and its relationship to consciousness with a brilliant text by West Coast provocateur Al Razutis.

Nathalie Bujold – Études vidéographiques pour instruments à cordes: maquette des 3 écrans (2015)
This work t
reats video as an electronic thread, transforming the screen into a densely layered quilt.  By converting traditional needlework into video techniques, this work can be seen as a form of digital materialism and as contemporary craft.

Pleasure Dome will be presenting this work and others by Nathalie Bujold on March 4, 2017 at CineCycle.

***
Erik Anderson
I must admit feeling somewhat sheepish picking the ten best movies of the year, as quite honestly, I have no business doing so. After all, I didn't see every film made this past year. Nor am I sure if it's even possible for anyone to do so. Nor am I sure what certifies someone to even make such an empirical declaration even if they could. It is of course, somewhat (mostly?) a subjective thing. That said, there is something about movie rankings that always makes me unnecessarily passionate and uncomfortably combative (though naturally in the best way possible). Thus, with my arm not even slightly twisted, I shall indulge for the sake of indulgence in this, the most bourgeois of pursuits: film rankings.


In descending (ascending?) order:

11. Manchester By the Sea.

Part of the reason I'm making a list of eleven is because with all the hype surrounding this film, it felt necessary to answer to it (or its omission) were I to only make a list of ten. And it is indeed, a fairly good film. It doesn't quite live up to the hype, however. The film is a little feckless in style, and loosely inconsistent in performance, humour, and dramatic approach. Thinking about this holistically, it occurs to me that I just didn't think it was very well directed, as those issues would all fall under the director's wing. Narratively it used some rather tired conceits in some even tired-er ways. For instance, most of the first half of the film works on restricted narrative wielded in the most elementary manner: we (the audience) don't know what's up with the gloomy protagonist's past (i.e. why he's so gloomy). Yet the characters in the film all seem to already, and are often whispering about him-- 'Is that ol' Whatshisface? Oh man, I feel bad for ol' Whatshisface. I mean, after what happened to old Whatshisface it's no wonder he's bummed out!'. It's a trite method of obfuscation meant to bring us to the boiling point of demanding exposition, and sure enough, we get the big emotional backstory -as told by the protagonist- about halfway through the film. However, once this exercise in exposition was through, and the cards were on the proverbial table, Manchester started to find its legs. Finally the film was left to its own devices, and could deal with its resulting scenario, which is really a story about the dynamic between an uncle and his nephew. And to that end, it begins to work quite well. Affleck is good, though it's really Williams (as his ex-wife) who steals show, giving what is surely to be an Oscar-nominated supporting performance.

10. Frantz.

Each time I see a film by Francois Ozon, I'm fairly sure I know what I'm going to get: cigarettes and nipples. Indeed, Ozon (a frenchman) makes almost stereotypically French films -or at least, what one might assume French films to be, based on stereotypes- yet with Frantz he tries for something a bit more pan-European. Indeed, the 'European' notion is at the coeur of Frantz, in that it depicts a post WWI love story that traverses national lines and loyalties to appeal to commonality and love. In this sense it shares some thematics with something like the Grande Illusion. And like Renoir's masterpiece, it too is set in black and white and adopts a more classical cinematic approach in keeping with the era. It's elegant, captivating, and finely told. A very nice film, and undoubtedly one of the higher points in Ozon's career.

9. Moonlight.

Perhaps the only movie to outdo the hype of Manchester By The Sea, Moonlight is now destined to score big come awards season. And perhaps it's not difficult to understand why. After all, it's beautifully shot, deftly directed, and wonderfully acted (Mahersala Ali in particular is a standout who will likely get a supporting nom). What's more, considering the issues of diversity that have dogged Hollywood, it's an artful yet crowd-pleasing film about African Americans made by an African American (Barry Jenkins) that’s easy to get behind. That said, this has all perhaps culminated in accolades so stratospherically hyperbolic you'd be forgiven if you thought there might be some guilt-infused pandering at play by Hollywood pundits. The pull-quotes roughly go like this:

'This is the greatest achievement in the history of cinema and/or man, and nothing else will ever come close again, not even the curing of cancer.'

But of course, nothing could live up to rhetoric so lofty. It's a very good movie, certainly. And as mentioned before, the acting and direction are impeccable... but at the end of the day, what is it? Well, it's basically just a melodrama about a guy who figures out he's a little gay. Which is pretty much the plot of every indie film in the last 10 years. So, Moonlight is by no means reinventing the wheel, it's simply putting it in a different demographic context and doing it very very well. The approach is delicate, the pacing is sublime, the character studies are rich... yet it also includes moments which are rather obvious, cliched, or predictable. And because of this it never quite reaches the ethereal heights of the hype bestowed upon it. It remains on Earth, amongst the living, deserving of high praise & esteem but not sainthood, a beautiful melodrama done very very well. Clearly there is lots to look forward to from Jenkins.

8. The Happiest Day in The Life of Olli Maki.

As impressive as Jenkin's second feature was, Kuosmanen's debut feature is just as self assured directorially, though even more idiosyncratic narratively, and unlike Jenkin's symphonically grandiose approach to simplicity, where the everyday is uplifted to Shakespearean and/or mythical levels, Kuosmanen attempts to match the humility and quirky folksiness of his characters with their humble and folksy setting, and does so with winning humour and disarming charm. The film depicts the real life story of a featherweight boxing contender -Olli Maki- as he simultaneously falls in love and struggles to lose weight in the run-up to his anti-climactic title bout, which occurred vs the American champ Davey Moore in 1962. Nothing at the time might seem more counterintuitive than a boxing champion from the little backwoods country of Finland, and indeed, Maki's coach/manager is depicted as trying to motivate Maki by placing the weight of all of Finland on his small-town shoulders, as if it was a nation-building moment, yet when the inevitable occurs and Maki has seemingly let down coach and country, he takes it in humble stride, arm in arm with his main squeeze. Indeed, it’s almost as if it's the happiest day in his life.

It's a little gem, and won the Certain Regard prize at Cannes.

7. Nocturnal Animals.

I have not seen A Single Man. This seems reasonable to mention because for each person I know who has seen both, the topic of Nocturnal Animals is invariably responded-to with something about how good A Single Man was, or how it was even better. It's kind of like how every exhausting person in the world might say they 'liked the book better' when you ask about a specific film... as if that has any relevance whatsoever. Incidentally, Nocturnal Animals is about a book called Nocturnal Animals in the movie Nocturnal Animals. Though I don't believe it's based on a book. Tom Ford's second film is elegant, intelligent, suspenseful, stylistically interesting, and aesthetically lush, as perhaps one might expect from a former fashion designer. I often complain that there are too many revenge films out there, and Nocturnal Animals is indeed a revenge film, but in a much more challenging meta-modernist sense. We watch revenge in the story-within-a-story, yet the real revenge is the former story itself. This layering and cutting between narrative realities helps keep the film riveting, and Ford shows a deft hand at visually & tonally depicting the two worlds. It's certainly not a happy or warm film, but then again, they say revenge is a dish best served cold.

6. Arrival.

Amy Adams clearly has an eye for picking projects, and here she gives another great performance in Denis Villeneuve's alien sci-fi puzzler (she's in Nocturnal Animals as well). It's hard to say much about it without providing spoilers, but suffice it to say it's a 'first contact' movie wherein the ramifications aren't just war, but something more out-of-the-box. Villeneuve continues to show he is indeed one of the most consistently sharp and formidable directors out there. It's well shot, well paced, thoughtful and considered, it's suspenseful and satisfying; hard to take anything away from it. A near-impeccable film.

5. The Salesman.

Hard to know exactly where to place this film. It's upsetting, challenging, and will be difficult for just about everyone. Farhadi's latest is an example of restricted narrative done masterfully, with the restrictions necessary to match the societal restrictions on the subject matter itself and the politics therein, be them about gender, justice, etc.. if that makes any sense (it will when you watch the film). There is morality at play, social mores, cultural taboos, and the universally understandable strains on personal relationships that come from all of it. It's insightful, astute, uncomfortable, empathetic and complicated.

4. La La Land.

Cards on the table: I hate musicals. I hate them. I have no idea why people are singing and dancing in them, and unfortunately this seems to be a pretty important staple of the genre. Yet I have noticed that most people seem to really really like musicals. I don't understand this phenomenon either. Personally I would rather read the book... So suffice it to say, if I hate musicals and you like musicals, and I think this was the fourth best film of the year then you're probably going to lose your mind for it. La La Land is pretty great, I must admit. Stone and Gosling are great, the set pieces are great, the music and the dancing are... tolerable. Yet what makes it so good is its grounding in reality. Damien Chazelle had already proven an astute eye for character and naturalism with Whiplash, and here again he brings his sharp eye, ear for dialogue, and clever mind to the task of sending-up, throwing-back to, and reinvigorating the silliest of genres with an underlying layer of realism. Indeed, the two best scenes (as far as I'm concerned) were both minimal moments of simple argumentation between Gosling and Stone. Neither scene had dancing or music, and though they could have erred on the side of cliched banality in another director's hands, Chazelle infuses them with acrid truths, making the viewer feel something they're never meant to feel in musicals: momentarily, reflectively, uncomfortable. Thus fulfills the promise of his directorial approach. It's still a musical, and it's still an escapist romp, though it's intelligent, funny, and masterfully done. No doubt will be considered a classic. A triumph of the genre...

Albeit a silly genre.

3. I, Daniel Blake.

Maybe I shouldn't have this quite so high. Maybe it should be swapped in place with the Farhadi. It's hard to know what to do with the latest from British leftist provocateur Ken Loach. It's not much to look at, and there a couple questionable performances and a few clunky moments as well, but nonetheless very few films are ever so effectively lucid and convincing in what they're trying to get across (with perhaps the exception of certain documentaries). Of course, Loach's polemical approach always runs the risk of making his films feel on-the-nose or didactic, and indeed, this film isn't free of moralizing. It clearly has something to impart on the viewer. Though it's also impossible to quarrel with, in its exposing of the very specific (and coercive) failures embedded in the employment welfare system in Britain. Anyone who feels society is letting people (and/or even forcing them) to fall between the cracks will sympathize, and yet so will anyone who's merely been frustrated with speaking to automated voices on the phone. Nice to see some light shone on the aging demographic too as they struggle to keep up with the speed of youthful technology. The film ends with a powerfully humane speech by newcomer (and standout) Haley Squires, and it's hard not to leave the theatre galvanized,  feeling rage against the machine as you wipe away your tears.

2. American Honey.

The latest from Andrea Arnold is a sprawling, rambling portrait on wheels of some youth on the margins of America & its Dream, and it's bursting at the seams with vitality. The filmmaking is loose and clearly employs a lot of improvisation, with the form matching the content: that of an aggregate summation of a fleeting impression, like an ode to the memory of a time in one's life that still feels visceral but could never last in hindsight. The energy is infectious. Newcomer Sasha Lane is great in the lead role, Elvis' granddaughter Riley Keough is ruthless in a supporting role (yes, THE Elvis), and Shia LaBoeuf absolutely eats the screen alive. He probably deserves the Oscar (though is unlikely to get one, given his checkered past). It's sensorial, sensational, frenetic, alive and melancholic all at once. Wonderful stuff.

1. Personal Shopper.

There seem to be trajectories to creativity that most cannot hide from. Most of the music we consume on a daily basis is made by people under 30, for example. As for filmmakers, one might assume that the experience and wisdom accrued from a life lived might naturally make for a more insightful touch, but most of the filmmakers canonized for the ages made their masterpieces in their 30s. Coppola made The Godfather at 33, Scorsese made Taxi Driver at 34, Paul Thomas Anderson made There Will Be Blood at 37, and Francis' daughter Sophia made Lost in Translation 13 years ago when she was 33... Of course, some directors continue to make challenging work well beyond their 30s, Loach for one hasn't lost his spirit at 80, Villeneuve is now in his 40s and riding high, Arnold is 55, but perhaps the best example was Ingmar Bergman, who seemed to get better with age, making masterpieces- Persona at 48, Cries and Whispers at 54, Scenes From a Marriage at 55, Fanny and Alexander at 66, and wrote The Best Intentions at 73, well beyond his earlier hallmarks like the Seventh Seal (he was 39 then). Yet it remains unusual for most filmmakers to hit new heights beyond those initial jolts of inspiration in their 30s. Perhaps that is part of what makes Olivier Assayas' latest works so exciting; at 61, he seems to only be getting better.

His latest film, Personal Shopper, comes on the heels of perhaps his best -and most intellectually towering film- The Clouds of Sils Maria. And like Clouds, it stars Kristen Stewart, though this time in the lead role. It tells the story of a medium, looking for spiritual closure from her deceased twin while working for a vacuous celebrity. Meanwhile she becomes sinisterly toyed-with by the sociopathic boyfriend of the celeb. This is against the backdrop of her own search for meaning and a strained relationship. If it sounds unusual, it's because it is. The film is challenging, confounding, suspenseful, artful, cryptic, unabashedly intellectual and utterly original. It also has a benchmark performance by Stewart; the best of her career, and perhaps of her generation's. There is one scene that drags near the end, but it nonetheless remains a bewildering artistic achievement of unusual freshness, psychological depth, and intellectual fortitude. In short: a masterpiece.

So there you have it. I wish I had seen more. There is great buzz around the German film Toni Erdmann for example. But no list like this can be without its blindspots or subjective arbitrations. There were certainly a couple other films that I might put ahead of Manchester, for example The Commune by Vinterberg comes to mind. Nonetheless, I hope you've enjoyed what is clearly the most empirical and objective Top 11 list of this year's films to be found anywhere in the world. ;) Happy viewing.
***
 Kendall Grant
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade): Incisively funny, brilliantly performed, and yes, featuring one of the best nude scenes (and Whitney Houston renditions) of all time, Maren Ade's three-hour epic has been making waves since Cannes for good reason. This is the intimidating standard against which all future "German comedies" will be measured.  
2. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch): The first of three "quiet" films to be loved by few and ignored by many (see below), Paterson is a small cinematic miracle without drama that somehow accumulates great power and leaves its competitors in the dust. Jarmusch's sensitive script and direction and Adam Driver's superb performance pay off in spades.  
3. L'avenir (Mia Hansen-Løve): Thoughtful, immaculately constructed, and packed with profound observations, L'avenir finds Hansen-Løve delivering on the promise of Eden. With all due respect to Isabelle Huppert's more acclaimed performance (see below), this represents the pinnacle of her astounding work in 2016.  
4. Elle (Paul Verhoeven): Against all odds, Verhoeven takes a story that could be accurately billed as a "rape revenge movie" and makes it far more compelling and complicated, with nuance, exacting editing, and a memorable central character brought fully to snarling, ferocious life by Isabelle Huppert.  
5. Jackie (Pablo Larraín): Natalie Portman is dazzling as JFK's widow, outshining even her previous Oscar win for Black Swan. Larraín shatters biopic norms (see below) and many have rejected his 2016 output as "cold". Forget the naysayers: with phenomenal cinematography and writing from Noah Oppenheim, as well as the best score of the year courtesy of Mica Levi, Jackie is the real deal.  
6. Neruda (Pablo Larraín): Gael García Bernal has been amassing a stunning body of work for 15 years (Amores Perros, Bad Education), and he adds another jewel with Larraín's second excellent biopic of 2016, focusing on the famous Chilean poet. Fascinating and formally groundbreaking, with terrific supporting turns, Neruda presents another well-known artistic figure in a new light.  
7. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt): The third of the "underrated" trilogy, Certain Women is perhaps destined to have been overlooked: such is Reichardt's (Meek's Cutoff) eternal struggle. Lily Gladstone, who has received some well-deserved attention, is heartbreakingly good, but the entire cast is worthy of accolades, and the third act completes one of the most moving films of the year.  
8. The Handmaiden (Park Chan-wook): As delightful and delectable as dark chocolate, The Handmaiden is Park's thrilling return to form after the less-interesting Stoker. How he manages to indulge in lesbian sensuality and then marry it with female liberation is anybody's guess (help from the Fingersmith source material), but either way, this is twisted, riveting stuff draped in gorgeous filmmaking. 
 9. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan): A towering performance by Casey Affleck and a carefully crafted screenplay by Lonergan (as well as the presence of Michelle Williams, who elevates anything in which she appears) mix potently with a tragic narrative and the results have brought many to tears since Sundance. After the slight stumble that was Margaret, Lonergan deserves everything that's coming his way.  

Honourable Mentions: Silence (Martin Scorsese), Moonlight (Barry Jenkins), The Wailing (Na Hong-jin), American Honey (Andrea Arnold), Graduation (Cristian Mungiu), Little Men (Ira Sachs), 20th Century Women (Mike Mills), The Woman Who Left (Lav Diaz), Don't Think Twice (Mike Birbiglia), Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu), Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater), Being 17 (André Téchiné).

Top Documentaries: OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman), Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson), Weiner (Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg).