Saturday, December 31, 2016


Top Ten Films of 2016

More than ever, we need an escape from reality by watching movies. In a cinematic world, we can be touched, educated, enchanted, entertained, thrilled, and enraged, as well as deceived, fooled, and annoyed. That's why we love to go to the movies. Once again, it's the time to compose a top-ten list of feature films I saw in 2016. Because it's almost impossible to define the term "a film in 2016," as always, I stick with my own plain and simple rule: I select ten (no more, no less) best films from the 265 feature films (including documentaries) that I saw during the calendar year of 2016, no matter when and if a film is released in the US in 2016.

Here are the top ten best feature films during 2016. (Note that the Internet Explore browser doesn't support the reversed list as 10, 9, ..., 1, so you have to mentally reverse the list below, which shows the #1 film on the very bottom.)

  1. A War (Krigen | Denmark 2015 | in Danish | 115 min. | My review)

    Danish writer-director Tobias Lindholm's intelligent and thought-provoking third feature vividly depicts how the so-called collateral damage continues to have a profound impact on everyone both physically and mentally, abroad and at home.

    A War Official Site

  2. Paths of the Soul (གངས་རིན་པོ་ཆེ | China 2015 | in Tibetan | 115 min. | My review)

    Chinese writer-director Zhang Yang's (张扬) stunning docudrama tells a pilgrimage story of a group of faithfuls who are determined to complete an inconceivable journey.

    Paths of the Soul Official Site

  3. Home Care (Domácí péče | Czech Republic 2015 | in Czech | 92 min. | My review)

    In this hilarious directional debut, the Czech writer-director Slávek Horák creates a wonderful home-care nurse character who is amiable, competent, dedicated, hard-working, humorous, and efficient.

    Home Care Official Site

  4. Spa Night (USA 2016 | in Korean | 93 min. | My capsule review)

    The writer-director Andrew Ahn's superb feature directorial debut tells an engaging story about an introvert Korean American teenager David (Joe Seo) in Los Angeles who struggles with his sexuality while fulfilling his obligation to help out his parents.

    Spa Night Official Site

  5. Please Remember Me (我祗認識你 | China 2015 | in Shanghainese | 78 min. | Documentary | My review)

    This gripping documentary, by Chinese director Zhao Qing (赵青), doesn't only bring the "unprecedented, pervasive, and enduring" aging issue to the front and center, but also affectionately tells an endearing love story between an elderly couple.

    Please Remember Me Official Site

  6. The Look of Silence (Denmark/Indonesia/Finland/Norway/UK/Israel/France/USA/Germany/Netherlands 2014 | in Indonesian | 103 min. | Documentary)

    In this powerful documentary, the director Joshua Oppenheimer follows an optometrist Adi whose brother was among the victims of the Indonesian Genocide half a century ago. While performing in-home eye-exams, the soft-spoken Adi interviews his brother's killers who are still in power and remain silent about their hideous actions.

    The Look of Silence Official Site

  7. The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta? | Brazil 2015 | in Portuguese | 121 min.)

    When a lifelong maid's daughter comes to the city to take an exam, the seemingly routine life turns up-side-down. This terrific film fantastically captures the subtle exchange of emotions among a few superbly crafted and marvelously performed characters.

    The Second Mother Official Site

  8. Thirst (жажда | Bulgaria 2015 | in Bulgarian | 90 min. | My review)

    This Bulgarian director Svetla Tsotsorkova's wonderful directorial debut is more of a character study than storytelling, portraying a few nameless characters who are thirsty for water, love, and a new life beyond a deserted hill.

    Thirst Official Site

  9. The Demons (Les démons | Canada 2015 | in French | 118 min.) | My review)

    The sensible and complex emotion of a 10-year-old boy is beautifully captured in this writer-director Philippe Lesage's spellbinding film.

    The Demons Official Site

  10. Manchester by the Sea (USA 2016 | 135 min. | My review)

    In this deeply affecting film, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan masterfully creates a touching drama about love, grief, guilt, redemption, hope, and living.

    Manchester by the Sea Official Site

Until next year...

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