- Manchester By The Sea : Kenneth Lonergan
- Twentieth Century Women : Mike Mills
- Hidden Figures : Theodore Milfi
- Moonlight : Barry Jenkins
- Certain Women : Kelly Reichardt
- Graduation : Cristian Mungiu
- I Am Not Your Negro : Raoul Peck
- The Levelling : Hope Dickson Leach
- In Between : Maysaloun Hamoud
- On Body & Soul : Ildiko Enyedi
- Mudbound : Dee Rees
These are the films I enjoyed most this year (some of them first released in 2016) listed in the order I saw them rather than in any hierarchy; with the exception of ‘On Body & Soul’, which was streamed on Mubi and deserves to be shown far more widely, they were all seen in one cinema or another. If I were forced to choose a top three or four – Go on! Make me! – they would be ‘Graduation’, ‘In Between’, ‘On Body and Soul’ and ‘Manchester By The Sea’.
I could make a list of almost equal measure of those movies that, to my eyes, were over-hyped, over-rated or just plain bad. Top of that list would be Pablo Lorrain’s ‘Jackie’, a wooden study in hagiography almost equalled by the same director’s pompously ‘arty’ ‘Neruda’ – quite a feat to have two lousy efforts released in the same year. Despite some considerable critical acclaim, Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Elle’ was as unpleasant and exploitative as I should have anticipated – can we just see that rape scene from a different angle one more time, please? Both ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’ were as empty as they were over-long and overwrought and I’m sorry but, in the face of much positivity, I almost totally failed to ‘get’ ‘Toni Erdmann’.
Next year, must try harder.