6. The End of the Tour
Starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, this is the second film on the list directed by James Ponsoldt. The film tells the story of an interview that took place over the course of five days between David Lipsky, a Rolling Stone reporter, and David Foster Wallace, who was promoting his landmark 1996 book Infinite Jest. Ironically, the interview on which the movie was based was never published.
As the days progress, the two men develop a tenuous relationship, although it’s never clear whether complete honesty exists between them. Both leads give tremendous performances, showing emotional range and depth in their exchanges with each other. Segel, in particular, does a masterful job of displaying the quirks, eccentricities, and obvious brilliance of Wallace.
The screenplay, by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, is sharp and insightful. The film faired poorly at the box office despite receiving 91% on Rotten Tomatoes and 82 on Metacritic and was completely ignored by the Oscars and Golden Globes, possibly because of its low-key story that lacked the grandeur awards are usually looking for.
This film tells the story of a man named Paterson, who lives in Paterson. A bus driver and aspiring poet, we see a week in the life of this seemingly ordinary man revealed in intricate detail.
The film is directed by Jim Jarmusch, whose previous film was the also excellent and overlooked Only Lovers Left Alive. Paterson is played by Adam Driver, who is quickly emerging as one of films most interesting actors. His excellent performance here was book ended by similarly strong work in Midnight Special and Silence.
In Paterson, we follow the central character as he drives his daily bus route, observing the world outside and listening to conversations on the bus. All these details infuse his poetry, which he meticulously records in his notebook.
Paterson’s daily routine is stable and predictable. His wife Laura, conversely, is always exploring new dreams and ambitions. Paterson loves his wife and supports her pursuits, while she in turn supports him and his poetry.
This film is unique in that you don’t feel as if you are watching a film. Rather, it seems like you are personally watching as these people’s lives are being lived. It’s a very immersive experience which draws the viewer in from the opening frames. There are some very amusing scenes at Paterson’s local bar, where he stops like clockwork while walking his dog.
With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96% and a Metacritic score 90, Patterson was one of the best reviewed films of 2016. No major award nominations were forthcoming, however.
8. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
The film revolves around Minnie (Bel Powley), her mother (Kristen Wiig), and the boyfriend of her mother. (Alexander Skarsgard). Minnie, like most teenagers, is full of raging hormones, longing for acceptance, and seeking a sense of place and purpose in her world. To help achieve these things, Minnie enters into a love affair with boyfriend of her mother. What follows is a story of Minnie and her confused and messy sexual coming of age.
The film is directed by Marielle Heller, who makes an exceptionally strong debut with this powerful film. At times funny, at times provocative, and at many times uncomfortable, the film never sits in judgment of the characters or their behavior.
Bel Powley is excellent in a challenging role that demanded considerable bravery. Her character grows and changes tremendously during the film, requiring Powley to deliver a complex and nuanced performance.
The film received no major award nominations despite being very well received critically, with a 94% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and 87 from Metacritic.
Krisha was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2016, with ratings of 97% from Rotten Tomatoes and 86 from Metacritic. While the film did receive two nominations at Cannes, it was ignored completely by both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes.
The Film is directed by Trey Edward Shults, who has more recently directed the excellent 2017 horror film It Comes at Night. Krisha Fairchild plays Krisha, who arrives at the homme of her sister in Texas on Thanksgiving morning.
With both her immediate and extended family present, Krisha is greeted with a combination of pleasantness and suspicion. The unease of the characters is immediately palpable, making the viewer acutely aware that things are not right with the family dynamic.
Krisha makes attempts to reconcile with her family members, but is rigidly rejected as the suspicion and long harbored anger increase. Family secrets are revealed and a serious confrontation is unavoidable.
This was the feature film debut for Shults, who does an excellent job of disrupting the viewers sense of balance. The cast is uniformly excellent, particularly Fairchild in the lead role. This is, without question, one of the best films of 2016.
10. A Ghost Story
This 2017 film stars Academy Award winner Casey Affleck and Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara. It is directed by David Lowery, who previously directed the 2013 film Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. In A Ghost Story, we are offered a grand meditation on the meaning and enormity of time, the power of loss, and our connection to the greater forces of existence.
It is a film in the seeking and questioning tradition of Terrence Malick, a film both profound and mysterious. Mera plays M, a woman grieving the recent loss of her husband C (Affleck).
Determined to comfort his mourning wife, C returns to his home in his spectral state. However, his recent passing has caused him to become unstuck in time, making a reconnection with the women he loves impossible.
Rather, he must watch passively while also undertaking a journey through time and history while confronting the unanswerable questions of existence. This film is haunting, surreal, and profoundly different from almost any other film of the year. Both leads are strong, but the really story here is the feelings, ideas, and mystery conjured by thee film.
The movie received a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes and an 84 on Metacritic. Awards were elusive, however, with no Oscar of Golden Globe nominations received.