Author Topic: Top Discoveries of 2016  (Read 2091 times)


  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 16063
  • Oo-da-lolly, Oo-da-lolly, golly what a day!
    • Corndog Chats
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2017, 08:08:27 AM »
Films seen for the first time in 2016 rated 3.5 or higher:

Porco Rosso
Only Yesterday
Scenes from the Suburbs
Pas de Deux
My Neighbors the Yamadas
A Man Escaped
Battlefield Baseball
Fanny & Alexander
The Asphalt Jungle
The Great Train Robbery
The Covered Wagon
The Iron Horse
High And Low
3 Bad Men
Steamboat Bill Jr.
"Time is the speed at which the past decays."


  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2288
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2017, 10:42:08 AM »
1. Wo hu cang long / Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)

2. Memento (Christopher Nolan, 2000)

3. Andrey Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)

4. All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950)

5. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

6. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

7. The Third Man (Carol Reed, 1949)

8. Fanny och Alexander (Ingmar Bergman, 1982)

9. Strangers on a Train (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951)

10. Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)

11. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

12. Fitzcarraldo (Werner Herzog, 1982)

13. West Side Story (Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins, 1961)

14. Relatos salvajes / Wild Tales (Damian Szifron, 2014)

15. Gett (Ronit & Shlomi Elkabetz, 2014)

16. Assault on Precinct 13 (John Carpenter, 1976)

17. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)

18. Sanger fran andra vaningen / Songs from the Second Floor (Roy Andersson, 2000)

19. The Cameraman (Buster Keaton & Edward Sedgwick, 1927)

20. Cyrano de Bergerac (Jean-Paul Rappeneau, 1990)

Full list.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 06:59:26 AM by Teproc »


  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 24041
    • smirnoff's Top 100
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2017, 08:18:07 PM »
« Last Edit: January 01, 2017, 10:40:08 PM by smirnoff »


  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 20859
  • Check your public library
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2017, 10:59:14 PM »
This thread is the best.
There's no deceit in the cauliflower.


  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1997
    • Criticker reviews
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2017, 11:50:53 PM »
I wish I had pictures.

1. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970) 10/10
This is not just the best movie I've seen for this challenge, or this month, it's the best movie I've seen in over a year, at least. I was hooked right from the almost wordless opening scene which is paced perfectly, and scored with the great soundtrack that gives the whole film it's slightly surreal tone. There are many layers and tones here, and every one of them perfectly in synch with the whole. Is it a crime film or a social critique, a drama or a comedy? All of them and none of them, and that's what's so great. Surely this must be Volontè's crowning performance, he relishes every scene and allows the audience to see the intricate mental state of his character as the story unfolds and the complexity grows, but he never overshadows the film, instead he punctuates the venom and incredulity with appropriate touches at every turn. That venom, helping the film straddle the line between serious drama and absurd satire in an expertly adept balancing act, is the key to the film. Making me laugh and still treat everything on screen with the dramatic weight the film gives it is no small feat. I love the way the narrative unfolds and the way the tone slowly shifts towards an unpredictable ending, or maybe I was so engaged that I wasn't worried about trying to predict it. The biting critiques of both a system and the individuals within it are sharp and unending, but like everything else stay on their own layer, peeking out visibly but never taking over.

2. Seventeen (1983) 10/10
The inevitable comparison here is Wiseman's High School, another film about high school life. Superficially they are similar in their fly on the wall style that looks in on classrooms and reveals generation contrasts and varying approaches to learning. But past the surface they are noticeably different. Where High School is rather clinical, has noticable editing and is focused primarily on the institution, Seventeen is bursting with humanity. The focus here is on the students, a few in particular, and looks at their lives both in and out of school. Through this we get a surprisingly unfiltered look at not just their lives, but their school and their community. We see racial and social tensions, we see hopes and expectations and more than anything a picture of a time and place influenced, but in many ways separated from the greater world context that is hardly discussed. The things we see are sometimes mundane, sometimes important, but the film makes no particular emphasis beyond what life does on its own. While the film is to some degree filtered by DeMott's camera, it is more than anything filtered by the perspective of the participants, whose age and interests determine what is given significance.

3. Le tout nouveau testament (2015) 10/10
Why do I watch random films from lists? Because some are great. Jaco Van Dormael isn't my discovery of the month because I'd already seen and loved Mr. Nobody, but he's definitely pushed his way into my favourites list. Too bad he hasn't made more features.

As for the film itself, it's a refinement of his style and opens up the scope from a single person to a half dozen while still retaining that deep personal feeling. I love the playful tone, the wonderful visuals, the sense of humour that is sometimes innocent and sometimes jaded yet maintains consistency across the spectrum. I love the way the film incorporates existential questions without turning them in treatises or lectures. Most of all, though, I love every single characterization, building so much out of little moments and finding humanity in absurdity.

4. Calle Mayor (1956) 10/10
I have one single complaint about this, the dubbing of Betsy Blair. Her performance is otherwise great, though, as is everything else in the film. The way it captures both the stifling small town feel and the emotional constraints of the two leads and weaves them together makes for a film rich with both personal and social examination. Blair's character is what lifts the film up to its great heights for me, though. She gives the film strong melancholic tone, but it never feels downbeat or particularly pitiable.

5. Återträffen (2013)[The Reunion] 10/10
This isn't a comedy, but it's so strong it still brought out some laughs, or maybe it's a month of comedies changing my mental approach to films. An outcast during her school years goes to a class reunion and drama ensues. It's raw and it's great and just when I thought it was going in the wrong direction it throws a wrench into the mix and raises things to another level. There is, thankfully, a lot I don't relate to, but I relate to enough of it that it hits a lot of sensitive chords. As such, I really enjoyed the film as a character study, but even more as an exploration of social dynamics. The best part is how it manages to take multiple approaches to the content, you have the open discussion about childhood relationships, the observed exploration of adult reactions and expectations and, most interesting to me, the buried questions of why and how this is all set in motion. Not the factual reasons but the emotional underpinnings that lead the various people to approach or shy away from certain moments and the very specific goals and approaches they take.

6. Dreams of a Life (2011) 9/10
I really didn't think this was anything special at the start. Yeah, there's a great hook of reconstructing the life of a woman found dead in her apartment after 3 years, but it starts pretty quickly with reenactments that I never got fully comfortable with. The heart of the film is the interviews, and the very smart editing used to contrast them. As the film goes on the reenactments and other little stylistic flourishes are just background dressing for an intriguing examination of many aspects of human interaction. There's the mystery of who this person was and how she ended up as she did, but the actual truth ends up being secondary to the many impressions and speculations of the variety of people in her life. The way all these people talk about her leads to a whirlwind of impressions from me, not just in what they say but how they say it. Some with trepidation, some with confidence, some with love, others with regret, others with pity others with confusion. They're all talking about this dead woman, but what they're really doing is revealing themselves in what kind of things leave impressions on them and what they value or highlight, or conversely what they criticize or ignore. What really gets to me is the supposed shock that this could happen, particularly because for most of them it's not how could this happen 'to her' but a more general how can someone isolate themselves to the point where their death isn't investigated for three years. This is not something all that shocking to me, but still seeing all these assumptions verbalized, and the many others that are implied, is very intriguing to me. The film forces these people to see the world the way I see it every day, if only peripherally and seeing them respond to that is fascinating.

7. Totò the Hero (1991) 9/10
Wonderful tale of youth and old age that uses eccentric plot devices to keep things light and amusing while it delves into the sorrow and isolation of the main character. Much like Mr. Nobody it's something that is heavily stylized and emotional and either clicks or it doesn't, thankfully it does for me.

8.Thirst for Love 9/10
There's so much more to this than how well shot it is, but I want to start there because it's a strikingly gorgeous film.It's not just the shot composition, though. There are some great static shots, like the dinner scene above, but the real marvels are the scenes where the camera glides and/or zooms, effortlessly focusing our attention just where it needs to be, sometimes closing the perspective and sometimes opening it and sometimes just adding flair and always perfectly in tune with the mood of the characters. There are even some meta New Wave touches that add to the film's unique style, but they're used sparingly and effectively.

At it's core it's a relatively simple story of obsessive love; There are some twists and turns in that give it some rising and ebbing action and lead to a really strong climax, but the character and emotional study where the film shines. Every scene unveils a new little bit of complexity to the lead character whose forlorn passion grows from mundane to all consuming, all while the construction of the film makes it feel like the character has barely changed at all, only our perspective and knowledge have changed how we perceive her. This is a very good candidate for making my top 250 someday on rewatch.

9. The Saddest Music in the World (2003) 9/10
I had forgotten just how much fun Maddin could be. Slightly depressive, melancholy fun, but fun nonetheless. It's such fun absurdity yet feels completely emotionally sincere and that tone makes the fun so much better than silly laughs could. The performances are all good, but it's McKinney who stands out, really capturing the tonal mix of the film and giving it that needed energy and snark to push it through. Love the visuals too, really it's all great.

10. Rubber (2010) 9/10
Whoa, this was great. I knew it was a film about a tire, but nothing else, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect beyond something weird. Besides that, though, it has another unique gimmick that gives everything an extra layer of abstraction and the tone works perfectly so that it's genuinely funny while still having a real sense of horror on several fronts. It's just impressive how many ways there are for this concept to fall apart and yet the whole thing works nearly flawlessly. I doubt anything this month will top it.

11. The Hands of Orlac (1924) 9/10
Silents can be a bit of drag sometimes, and this one has a few pacing issues, but it's so great otherwise that it hardly matters. The story is both fun and creepy, and I love the turns it takes. The real highlight is the cinematography, as you'd expect from an Expressionist silent. Every shot does such a great job of establishing the dreadful atmosphere, and the performances enhance it further. It's great.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2017, 12:04:59 AM by PeacefulAnarchy »


  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32393
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2017, 11:55:23 PM »
Toto the Hero is a film I've always avoided for some reason. Thanks for the push to see it. Same with Rubber. Sounds like I need to see Reunion and Orlac as well.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and Seventeen will sneak on to my list as well.

« Last Edit: January 01, 2017, 11:57:38 PM by pixote »
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.


  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3738
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2017, 01:34:52 AM »
Looking at my 2016 discoveries, I can divide them into two groups, with the exception of one film...

And that was Stagecoach (1939). I'm not all that familiar with John Ford, having only seen The Searchers which I especially appreciate for its scale and surprisingly nuanced performance from John Wayne, but where The Searchers is "epic", Stagecoach is quick, lean, mean, straight to the point. Simple premise, characters that you've seen before, but (in what almost sounds Hitchcockian), you stick them all together, introduce some obstacles and the result is something that's surprisingly thrilling for what I've seen from its era of cinema.

The rest of my discoveries were first, films that I wanted to see from directors I greatly admire. And second, in an effort to try to watch films that were just plain fun, unique and offbeat, I found myself adding to my Netflix queue what was much more escapist genre fare.


Martin Scorsese- The Aviator (2004) is an epic made with all the gusto you'd expect and an insanely towering/commanding performance from DiCaprio. Cape Fear (1991) was also unexpected in that Scorsese tried to make it perhaps feel like an "older film" with jarring cuts and angles, a Saul Bass intro, and Bernard Hermann/Elmer Bernstein's classical score... the actors give it their all with Robert De Niro and Nick Nolte's frantic cat and mouse dynamic (or instead of a cat, a rabid dog) being much more interesting then I expected the pairing of those actors to be.

Quentin Tarantino- I was worried about Kill Bill (2003-2004)'s combined length, but even with a day long break between the two volumes, it really holds up as a five hour Tarantino flick. Each scene and moment full of his unique perspective and energy and where Jackie Brown ends with a quiet reflection and The Hateful Eight ends in a moment of intensity... Vol. 2 ends somewhere in between with a tense showdown juxtaposed by the deep and meanginful connection Bill and the Bride have. The last scene with Thurman and Carradine ranks as one of QT's best. Also some of the best action sequences of any Tarantino project.

Paul Thomas Anderson- Punch-Drunk Love (2002) feels like an outlier in the best way possible to PTA's work. Sandwiched between Magnolia and There Will Be Blood (2007), it's shorter, sweeter, but still with that focused character work found in any of his scripts that brings out the best in any actor and in this case, Adam Sandler is perfectly cast. Next, I was worried There Will Be Blood would feel like a titan of a film to get through. But like everything Anderson does, it's just as intimate and because of its style and setting, Anderson's more careful approach still feels just as strong and suitable. Day-Lewis makes a three hour film feel like it went by all too quickly.

Adam McKay- My favorite absurdist filmmaker whose comedy I put on a pedestal alongside Judd Apatow and dare I say Mel Brooks, but with Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), McKay skewers America just like he did with Anchorman and The Big Short. He gets the best from Will Ferrell, whose characters may seem too similar, but when he works with McKay you can see his understanding of which 'type' of film McKay wants and Ferrell adapts to that.

Nicolas Winding Refn- A lot of these films are full of intensity, but Bronson (2008) takes the crown in that regard. It's a raging movie. It starts and doesn't stop. Refn, being far from conventional, uses Charlie Bronson on a stage as his framing device and it makes both him and Hardy seem like these master manipulators who are directly asking us to revel in and experience the chaos.

Richard Linklater- Dazed and Confused (1993)... Maybe the greatest coming of age film I've seen. And it's just about people freaking walking around on the last day of school and the night that follows. Funny and random, but never a dull moment with every piece of this ensemble bringing life to characters everyone knows, but no one can find in the same place unless you're at... well a school. Waking Life (2001) is challenging, and I don't tend to want to just laud a film for there being nothing like it, but there is nothing like this. I didn't get a lot of it. I just listened to it and I let my attention wander because I think it was almost supposed to. Like a dream, I find myself sort of zoning in and out as characters rattle on, but when it ended, I felt like I still had an experience. Bernie (2011) is more straightforward, but like the other two films, I'd hate to call this tradititional. It has a biting wit to it and such fun and perplexing performances from everyone. The use of unknown, or maybe even non-actors, lends such a great flavor to it.

Steven Spielberg- I expected The Color Purple (1985) to be 'middle-of-the-road-Spielberg'. Maybe it's because attention and emphasis is placed on the race and background of the cast and crew that make movies, but Spielberg gets Alice Walker's story because of its undeniable humanity. Coming off of Indy and ET, I also feel he energizes this piece appropriately. He knows when to have his camera whipping around and when to let the acting and writing speak instead. I think it's fair to say this is where you see the start of the Spielberg that we came to see in Schindler's List, Amistad or Saving Private Ryan. Whoopi Goldberg's performance is also a revelation. You feel everything she is going through. You want to stay with her and when the movie ends, you miss her character.

Werner Herzog- The filmmaker that I came to know the most this year. Grizzly Man (2005), Encounters at the End of the World (2007) and Into the Inferno (2016) showcased his stunning relationship with nature and how little we can comprehend our lack of control over it (ranging from animals to fire to ice). The photography in these pieces are remarkable, you see images that you can never see anywhere else and that a still shot that isn't part of a sequence of music cues and edits couldn't possibly convey. But I found Into the Abyss (2011) to be his most stunning work. What I do love about Grizzly, Encounters and Inferno are the moments where Herzog interviews people. The characters he finds... but with Abyss those normally humorous and amusing (although Grizzly Man has some foreboding elements) interviews now have a tragedy and somberness to them. The film challenged my own thoughts and opinions about capital punishment and watching these people in this film, seeing the reality and truth in their eyes- it's a damn good arguement to present to someone who isn't sure how to feel about the issue. And yet Herzog still allows room for us to get to that place of thought on our own.

Steven Soderbergh- His work always moved between commercial and arthouse, but Erin Brockovich (2000) may seem like a kitschy 'checks-all-the-boxes' sort of story, but only if you come to the film with that agenda. I'd be the first to admit it doesn't deserve the high honors it received at many awards ceremonies, but it's such a well constructed film. Susannah Grant's script, especially its dialogue, shows us these characters in such a plain and endearing way and can move from comedy to tragedy with ease. And talk about unexpected chemistry, but I never thought Julia Roberts and Albert Finney would be one of my favorite pairings. The back-and-forth they have just keeps the film zipping along. Soderbergh's skilled hand guides us, but he knows enough to let the story, which is compelling in its own right, be the star.

The Coen Bros.- Barton Fink (1991) and O' Brother Where Art Thou? (2000) both leave me at a loss. It's not that I don't want to sit and talk about every aspect of the movies, but a Coen Bros. film just engrosses you to the point where you've lived in their world(s) enough that any observation or statement is better off just being experienced by watching the film. Fink feels as epic as No Country or True Grit, but that could just be because the the visual of John Goodman running down a hotel corridor engulfed in flames should be one of the more defining images of all time. And O' Brother is just so much fun. No one plays self-righteous better than Clooney.

Clint Eastwood- With Unforgiven (1992) being about ten years before the Academy Awards would develop a love affair with his films, it's funny to think of it as almost a "cap" on Eastwood's career. I almost want it to be the last thing he makes because the behind-the-scenes poetry of that would match the poetry found in the film. Then again, that doesn't matter. It's a great film on its own merits. You don't even need to think of this as a revisionist western and be familiar with the trappings of that genre. It's about men when they come to face their potential ends and obsessions. Eastwood's patience and Hackman's persistence make the film feel less than its running time (which I realize isn't long, just saying how involving they can be in their performances).

Spike Lee- Similar to what I said about Spielberg and Purple, I figured He Got Game (1998) would be 'middle-of-the-road-Spike'. But he takes this story (which he also wrote) and imbues it with a unique point of view and style and emotion that you just buy into it. Such an earnest film and for how stylized it is, it never feels like it isn't authentic or trying to lead us on. Aaron Copeland's compositions are reminiscent of Lee's work with Terrence Blanchard in what I guess I'd call scoring against the grain. The music is never what I'd expect and never plays when I expect it to. Also, RAY ALLEN CAN ACT?!?!?!?! The guy is holding his own with Denzel Washington! That long take with him and Rosario Dawson on the bench in the green light (if I remember correctly) was brilliant.

It's late and I'm tired and I'll check back tomorrow for Part 2 and to check for spelling/grammer. I look forward to reading what everyone else posts whether its links, lists or pictures. This is one of my favorite yearly threads as well.
"Be yourself, unless you suck."- Joss Whedon

My Switchboard


  • Global Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 32393
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2017, 01:40:10 AM »
Remember the March Madness: Communal Watchlist marathon? I'd love to see a variation of that this year where we watch titles mentioned in this thread.

I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.


  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4170
  • Something about a pillow.
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2017, 02:05:32 AM »
Eventually I'll be forced to watch Fanny and Alexander, won't I? It's not a matter of which marathon, it's just a matter of when,
"I've been very lonely in my isolated tower of indecipherable speech."

Films Watched in 2017



  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 29133
  • Marathon Man
Re: Top Discoveries of 2016
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2017, 07:53:19 AM »
Remember the March Madness: Communal Watchlist marathon? I'd love to see a variation of that this year where we watch titles mentioned in this thread.
That's a Great Idea. I could build a Letterboxd list so people can filter out what they've seen.
1. When should we do it? Does it pack in to much to place this in April between March in the West and Music of May?
2. Should it include all the Discovery Threads? (I think it should) If we do that, should we limit it by only including active members, which increases the possibility of generating discussion?

Eventually I'll be forced to watch Fanny and Alexander, won't I? It's not a matter of which marathon, it's just a matter of when,
And a matter of which version, since many here believe the full mini-series version is a vast improvement over the theatrical cut.