The Austin Chronicle

Kimberley Jones’ Top 10 Films of 2016

By Kimberley Jones, December 30, 2016, Screens

1) Moonlight

An exquisite exploration of how identity is shaped, the mask we make to hide that identity, and what sweet release there is in letting the mask slip.

2) La La Land

"Why do you say 'romantic' like it's a dirty word?" With song and dance, Damien Chazelle rehabilitates romance for our cynical age.

3) 20th Century Women

Mike Mills' companion piece to Beginners is a funny, tender tribute to his mother and other boss women who shaped him as a proto-feminist Seventies skate punk.

4) The Handmaiden

The crotch-cam made me hoot, but Park Chan-wook wasn't just paying lip service to the female gaze.

5) American Honey

Andrea Arnold has an eye for ferocious new talent. She doesn't harness Sasha Lane – she lets her run sublime riot.

6) The Lobster

Love is blind, amirite?

7) Don't Think Twice

Mike Birbiglia's ensemble piece about competition and community in a fracturing improv group was funny, yes, and ... so melancholic, too.

8) Aquarius

Brava, Sonia Braga. I'd throw roses at her feet if I could.

9) A Bigger Splash

So sexy. So sinister. And rock-solid proof that Tilda Swinton doesn't even have to open her mouth to dazzle.

10) Maggie's Plan

This underseen comedy was just a daffy delight.

Near Misses

Hail, Caesar!; Little Men; Weiner; Paterson; The Nice Guys

Most Overrated

Doctor Strange, Finding Dory, Florence Foster Jenkins

Most Underrated

Maggie's Plan, The Dressmaker, Passengers

Wild Card

Daring? Derivative? Emo MRA? A love story for the ages? Swiss Army Man was something all right, I just don't know what. But I know I'm still thinking about it.

Acting Kudos (Male)

Adam Driver (Paterson), Denzel Washington (Fences), Ralph Fiennes (A Bigger Splash), Daniel Radcliffe (Swiss Army Man), Ben Foster (Hell or High Water)

All five slots could've gone to the extraordinary cast of Moonlight: The three actors playing the silent, watchful Chiron at different ages (Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes), and Mahershala Ali and André Holland in small but impactful supporting roles.

Acting Kudos (Female)

Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women, Maggie's Plan), Sonia Braga (Aquarius), Min-hee Kim and Tae-ri Kim (The Handmaiden)

Annette Bening (20th Century Women) could level a building with a look. That squint is magnificent.

Best Director

Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Park Chan-wook (The Handmaiden)

Best Original Screenplay

Mike Mills (20th Century Women), Rebecca Miller (Maggie's Plan), Kelly Fremon Craig (The Edge of Seventeen)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship), Eric Heisserer (Arrival)

TV Series/Event:

Bless The Great British Bake Off. It's been a damn stressful year, and I self-medicated with this reality import that's more cuddles than competition. And in the euphony sweepstakes, "self-saucing pud" gives "cellar door" a real run for the money.

Worst Film

Author: The JT LeRoy Story: This infuriating, ethically icky doc let itself be seduced by the literary world's most notorious con artist.

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