So, I found 2019 not a great year for new releases; lots of popular films but not that many outstanding ones. Those that stood out for me both in terms of craft and subject were:
Rosie, Eire. This was a drama about homelessness in Dublin. Very well done and the cast were impressive. It was distributed independently so I am afraid many people may have missed it.
Happy as lazzaro / Lazzaro Felice, Italy. A compelling drama, both of exploitation and the problems of migrants. One of the most imaginative stories I have seen for a long time.
A Season in France, France. A drama about an African migrant family. This was a bleak tale but finely done.
Never Look Away, Germany. An artist travels from East Germany to the West and from Socialist Realism to the avant-garde. Fascinating.
Pain and Glory, Spain. An exploration of sexual orientation and of cinema and of art; beautifully put together.
Bait, Britain. This title only qualified on 35mm. The digital version did not handle the distinctive techniques on the film well.
So Long, My son, China. One of several epic dramas from the territory presenting a canvas that was large in terms of time and space; a study of the contradictions of family relationships.
We also enjoyed several screenings of classics in their original format of 35mm. Sans Soleil / Sunless, France 1983 was part of a weekend of screenings curated by the Pavilion of the Artist Moving Image Network. This is a classic documentary, visually stunning and with a complex tapestry of themes. Among the other gems of the weekend was Colloque de chiens, France 1977; a sardonic 20 minute film on 35mm and in colour. The canine characters were a metaphor.
We asked our blog contributors for their highlights of the year and this is what they came up with.
My highlights from the films shown at the Picture House are:
- Elle, France 2016
- I Am Not Your Negro, USA, 2016.
- Lady Macbeth, UK, 2016
- The Handmaiden, South Korea, 2016
- Lover For A Day, France
- Kedi, Turkey, 2016
- Thelma, Norway
- Loving, USA, 2016
- Detroit, USA
- Human Flow, Germany
and from the film festival at different venues
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Showing at Hyde Park from January 12th), USA
- Mutafukaz, France/Japan
- The Teacher, Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2016
On a different day I could have included Neruda, Loveless, 20th Century Women or Human Flow.
My top 10 of 2017, sticking to films that got a general cinema release this year:
- Certain Women (USA, dir. Kelly Reichardt)
- Le Parc (France, dir. Damien Manivel)
- Toni Erdmann (Germany, dir. Maren Ade)
- Machines (India, dir. Rahul Jain)
- Cameraperson (USA, dir. Kirsten Johnson)
- Moonlight (USA, dir. Barry Jenkins)
- By the Time it gets Dark (Thailand, dir. Anocha Suwichakornpong)
- The Untamed (Mexico, dir. Amat Escalante)
- Dina (USA, dir. Antonio Santini & Dan Sickles)
- A Ghost Story (USA, dir. David Lowery)
The new films that impressed me this year, in the order of when I saw them, are
A special mention for Casey Affleck in
And of the classics from the past,
- Cloud-Capped Star / Meghe Dhaka, India 1960, really impressed me.
I restricted this list to things I saw for the first time at the Picture House, otherwise the list could also have included Paddington 2, The Last Jedi, Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk.
- Manchester by the Sea, USA, 2016
- A Monster Calls, UK, 2016
- 20th Century Women, USA, 2016
- mother!, USA
- The Florida Project, USA
- Good Time, USA
- A Ghost Story, USA
- My Life As A Courgette, Switzerland/France, 2016
- Jackie, USA, 2016
- Bad Genius, Thailand
I’m a bit disappointed that my list is mostly English language films but a lot of the ‘foreign language films’ released this year such as A Man Called Ove, The Handmaiden and Toni Erdmann I saw at LIFF30 so haven’t included here.
Once again the Picture House team have put together a list of their top 10 films of 2016 and as Wendy says in the newsletter, it’s a mighty fine list:
- Son Of Saul
- Embrace Of The Serpent
- Hunt For The Wilderpeople
- I, Daniel Blake
- Your Name
- Our Little Sister
Keith has already posted some thoughts on 2016 and we’d love to hear yours in the comments.