As with every year my best of the year list is huge Animal Farm like affair that has two parts- the THE BEST OF THE YEAR and the BEST OF THE BEST. What follows here truly the best of the year films. They are the films and moments that moved me in one way or another. These are the ones that stood out from among the over one thousand films I saw this year. Seeing that many films I am allowed to do a monstrous list of great films- and because these are great films
The last two shots in A MONSTER CALLS- as perfect an ending as humanly possible- and just as valid as the ending of the book (which it tweaked for visual reasons)
The final battle in HACKSAW RIDGE- this is the hell of war.
CORPSE SERIES- funny as all hell horror comedy that just nails it all perfectly. This film needs to be seen because it is just that good.
WHITE HELMETS - moving short about the people who are trying to save Syria. While there are numerous great films about the horrors of the suicidal genocide going on in the country this is the one that has stuck in my brain and causes me to tear up when I think about it
HELL FOLLOWS- Brian Harrison's masterpiece short film plays like a crazed Japanese Yakuza film by Miike on steroids only bolder. I want to see what he does next-hopefully a feature version of this. I truly don't know why this film hasn't been a subject of much love.
REVOLTING RHYMES- hour long TV animation about the big bad wolf and his nursery rhyme nemesis. Its awesome with an ending that has a real and completely unexpected emotional kick.
RICE BALLS- Touching film of a father and a son and lunch. Gems like this is why the New York International Children's FIlm Festival Shorts collections are MUST sees every year.
RAT FILM- a look at rats in Baltimore that is so much more
MUMON- Yoshihiro Nakamura's Samurai "comedy" is an brutal take on the pointlessness of war. It is the master director working at the top of his game to make a film that sneaks up on you and punches you in the face (I probably should put it on the Best of the Best but compared to meeting the director it takes second place)
ANGEL WAGENSTEIN: ART IS A WEAPON- portrait of an artist and contrarian most people have not heard of gets better every time you see it.
1000 JUNKIES- unheralded masterpiece is an uncomfortable comedy about people trying to score drugs over the course of a day. It was one of the real unexpected pleasures of Tribeca this year that everyone tried to sell to everyone they met as crown jewel hiding in plain sight.
GILBERT- portrait of Gilbert Gottfried that is funny and moving.
KNIFE SKILLS - moving short about a program to reintegrate convicts into society is just great. When it was done I was staring at the screen wondering why this film wasn't on everyone's must see list
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS- Agatha Christie as an exploration of guilt, justice and regret is a well known murder mystery made greater by becoming about something else.
6 WEEKS TO MOTHER'S DAY- Portrait of a woman and her school that forces you to rethink how we teach and treat our children
STREET LIGHT HARMONIES- awesome film about doo wop that is must if you have any interest in the music. This is going to be a PBS pledge drive staple if they pick it up.
NAILA AND THE UPRISING- wonderful portrait of a woman and her place in history during the first interfada
LBJ- Woody Harrelson deserves Oscar consideration in Rob Reiner's unexpectedly great portrait of a man who would be president. While not wholly factually accurate it still feels emotionally right
TRENCH 11- One of the best horror films of the year takes the tired military monster film and makes it truly scary and compelling.
4 SISTERS- Claude Lanzmann revisits his SHOAH material and turns out wonderful portraits of four women who survived the horrors
TOM OF FINLAND- excellent portrait of the erotic artist may not be graphic enough for some but it still manages to be a touching film about following your heart and changing your world.
STANDING UP- possibly the best film on stand up comedy that I've seen
QUEERCORE:HOW TO PUNK A REVOLUTION- the story of how a couple of kids invented a movement and changed the world. Gritty, raw and alive.
THIS IS CONGO A look at what is going on in Congo from every side does what every documentary should do but doesn't.
BEATRICE- beautiful portrait of a young woman who won't let the loss of her limbs stop her from being the best fencer she can be.
FIRST REFORMED - Paul Schrader's newest film showed up unexpectedly at the New York Film Festival and rocked the house. Fueled by an Ethan Hawke performance that could get him an Oscar it's a film about love, loss, lack of hope, penance and redemption that goes into unexpected places with unexpected results. Schrader's best film in years and one of his best films period.
INSHALLAH DEMOCRACY- A look at what it is really like to be living in Pakistan where everyone isn't a terrorist and democracy is taking hold despite Western media's portrayal of it being oterwise
NAPPING PRINCESS A waking dream and blurring of story and reality becomes something special when you suddenly realize that the film is what cinema is all about.
HALL OF MIRRORS- Portrait of Edward Jay Epstein as he investigates Edward Snowden. A wonderful portrait of a man who has changed the world as we know it.
The Best of the Best follows tomorrow.