Saturday, December 31, 2016

Unseen Films Awards 2016

It’s time for this year’s Unseen Film Awards. As opposed to last year when the winner was clear cut, this year’s award was more a hard fought battle. Passions were high as everyone had one film that really was their favorite-and damn it they were going to fight to the death to defend it (see below).

The voting this year was different than last year. Where last year I asked for the winners in a whole bunch of categories this year I simply asked for a list of no more than five films which intellectually are the best films of the year and a list of no more than five films that were your favorites intellect be damned. I did this because in many cases people will give one list if they think it's public consumption and other for what they watch when they are on the couch. I also asked for anything from any film that the voter thought should be noted.

This resulted in some really interesting responses. I was hoping for titles that were not the typical list of films that mirrored all the other film lists- and since this is the Unseen Films family that’s exactly what I got – responses that were completely and wonderfully unique. Oh sure some of the “big” films appeared but all of the films that people were most passionate about were not the big films, instead they were films that were unique to the voter. So much for the heard mentality. As with a dinner of the Unseen family the awards were lots of discussions about all sorts of things.

Frankly I am delighted. As I said I wanted things not to go in any expected way and that's what happened. Even based on early voting when I kind of thought things would go one way but things swerved and then swerved again.

After much swerving I am pleased to announce that the winner of this year’s UNSEEN FILM AWARD is:


For those of us who were at the press screening at the New York Film PATERSON was the film everyone referred back to for comparison. For those of us who saw the film in the theater since it's late in the year release the film was an unexpectedly wonderful way to end the film year.

It was the late in the year viewers who broke the virtual tie that the awards had been in from when voting started.  PATERSON was deadlocked literally until a day ago with HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE which was the film everyone compared everything at Tribeca to.

Because WILDERPEOPLE is a hair's breath's second place, it's loss was simply the result of positioning on some weighted lists,  I have to award the film the Award For MOST HAUNTING FILM of 2016. While that may not fully fit with a film that is essentially a feel good comedy, it is appropriate for a film that hung around for nine months and was always in the mix of any discussion of the best/favorite films of the year, something that even last years winner for MOST HAUNTING, KUMIKO THE TREASURE HUNTER never fully managed to be.

We are awarding the BEST ANIMATED FILM award to MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI. The Best Foreign Language short listed film from Switzerland rocked those of us who saw it. While the film did not figure into the official balloting it did come up in several conversations as a film spoken about with passion and surprise. It was a film everyone mentioned to each other as a film we all needed to see and felt should win an Oscar if there was justice. It is a film of quiet power that transcends the notion of just being an animated film.

The BEST SHORT this year is Shaun Clark’s NECK AND NECK. While this has been an excellent year for shorts there is something about Clark’s retelling of Othello that has haunted me more than almost any other film of any length. It was the fact that I have been carrying the film around in my head since I first saw it that was the deciding factor. There was no clearer indication of that then when I bought tickets to see Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo in Othello simply to compare the film to the play.

Our Award for BEST CINEMATIC EVENT is going to Brent Green and Sam Green's Live Cinema at BAM which transcended being a film or a live event to be something more.

The BEST REVIVAL goes to Joe Dante's MOVIE ORGY. Five hours of cinematic madness is like watching the director channel surf in a communal setting with the audience engaged with it and each other.

This year we’re giving a SPECIAL AWARD OF MERIT to two films that are going to inspire generations of young girls to come to follow their hearts and make them realize that they can do anything they want to regardless of what anyone says. These films went above and beyond in their depiction of women as kick ass heroes who didn’t need anyone other than themselves to make their dreams come true.

Paul Fieg’s GHOSTBUSTERS reimagined the classic film as something so entertaining and seemingly radical that it had all of the basement dwelling fanboy’s screaming foul before they ever saw a frame of it. It’s a film that moved many of the women I know deeply because it was the film that they wished they could show their younger selves to make them realize anything was possible. My overriding thought when seeing it was the thought of how different the world might have been these past three decades if all the women of the world had had this film to hang on to instead of the Ivan Reitman one.  No matter it's here now and hopefully it will change the world for the better. I am thrilled to death that my niece was going to be growing up in a world where this version was going to be her GHOSTBUSTERS

Equally worthy is Rémi Chayé's LONG WAY NORTH about a determined young woman who breaks with convention and runs away from home to rescue her grandfather who has gone missing on an arctic expedition. A grossly under seen animated film this is a that shows us what can happen when we follow our hearts and instincts and break with the confines of convention. One of the best films of the year its fantastic tale of female empowerment that women and girls need to see. They need to know that they can do whatever it is they put their minds to.

This year we’ve added a list of FILMS SO GOOD THAT IF YOU DON'T SEE THEM OUR CONTRIBUTORS WILL BEAT YOU UP. These are films which our contributors were madly passionate about and have been trying to forcibly to drag everyone to.


I have to single out Mondocurry's top film of 2016, and his film that he would beat you up if you don't see it, HAPPY HOUR. Its a five hour seventeen minute film about the lives of four women who thought they knew everything about each other. Its  slowly building film that lets you in on the lives of its characters in ways that most films never ever manage. Its a film that I wrongly left off my year end lists but which haunts you. Its a film that has improved since I first saw it, especially after several conversations with Mondo. HAPPY HOUR is a film you need to have on your radar. Of the films chosen passionately as the best film by our contributors it's the one you're least likely to run across and therefore the one you most need to be directed to

Regrettably this year we are not giving a Best Documentary award. It’s not that there wasn’t a best documentary (I think any of the voters could name at least five off the top of their heads), rather it’s simply there were so many documentaries that a good many of us simply didn’t see enough of the same films.

I received a large number of suggestions for other awards such as acting,songs, dance sequences, ect. but the award the choices were so singular that I couldn't get any sort of consensus. I suspect that next year the way to work that part of the voting out is going to be to get everyone together for dinner and have the conversation determine what gets the additional awards.

And that concludes the Unseen Film Awards for 2016. Congratulations to the winners. I suggest you keep reading Unseen Films over the next year so you can try and figure out what our winners will be next year.

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