My favorite films of 2016:
I didn’t get to see as many films as usual so there are some films I might have liked more but didn’t get to see, but here are the films that intrigued me for one reason or another.
1) Right Now, Wrong Then (dir. Hong Sang-soo) Fantastic, subtle performances by Kim Min-hee and Jeong Jae-yeong.
2) Happy Hour (dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
A five-hour-and-17-minute drama focusing on four middle aged Japanese women, none of whom is a professional actress. LOVED this! Got to meet the filmmaker in San Francisco.
3) Star Wars: Rogue One. (dir. Gareth Edwards) Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, and Diego Luna! The dark tone fit the national mood and mine as well.
4)Kaili Blues (dir. Bi Gan) A really intriguing setting and interesting cinematography. The story was at times frustratingly oblique but I know the filmmakers had to deal with a lot of censorship, so perhaps it’s amazing they could find a way to tell this story of a crime and the brothers who were broken apart because of it.
5) The Lobster (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos) Odd, quirky, and not for everyone, but I appreciated the absurdity of the vision of a world where it is criminal to be single.
6) Toni Erdmann (dir. Maren Ade). It’s billed as a comedy but I found it at times grimly realistic in its depiction of workplace sexism and the ravages of globalization.
7) Spa Night (dir. Andrew Anh) Loved the realistic performances by all the actors, its depiction of multicultural L.A., and the gutsy lead performance by actor Joe Seo.
8) Arrival (dir. Denis Villeneuve) The cinematography blew me away, and gave the film its nearly mystical air. Loved the inky/smoky language of the heptapods, which recall some of the smoke ring engravings of artist Frank Stella.