The Austin Chronicle

Marc Savlov’s Top 10 Films of 2016

By Marc Savlov, December 30, 2016, Screens

1) La La Land

The purest, most deliciously romantic musical in post-millennial memory, feet on the ground, head in the stars.

2) The Love Witch

Director Anna Biller's ultra-stylized take on Seventies-era feminist horror is so immersive you'll check for bloodstains after watching.

3) Cameraperson

Kirsten Johnson's life as seen through her reporter's lens is less a typical documentary than a heartbreaking tone-poem. Genius.

4) Tower

Keith Maitland's rotoscoped doc about the victims of Charles Whitman's UT Tower rampage is essential Austin viewing, hands down.

5) Gimme Danger

Jim Jarmusch's documentary on Iggy Pop and the Stooges will blow your mind and your 5.1 surround sound system. Raw power, baby!

6) Kubo and the Two Strings

A surprisingly complex storyline perfectly matched to some of the most lovely animation – origami! – of the year.

7) Little Sister

A modern-day parable for the gods and monsters (and goths) within all of us.

8) Arrival

Mars doesn't attack in this alien visitation masterpiece, but humanity sure does. An elegant reminder of the power of language and love.

9) American Honey

A trippy, brutally honest, and altogether exhilarating portrait of contemporary youth. Wild at heart and weird all over.

10) The Handmaiden

Korean auteur Park Chan-wook shows a lighter and marginally less bloody touch in this gorgeous slice of love and death.

Near Misses

Lion, The Brand New Testament, Loving, Moonlight, Deadpool

Most Overrated

Jackie, Hell or High Water, Moana

Most Underrated

Don't Think Twice, De Palma, Sing Street

Wild Card

Best horror film that was not actually a horror film: Morgan Spurlock's doc Rats

Acting Kudos (Male)

Willem Dafoe (Dog Eat Dog), Julian Dennison (Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Tom Hanks (Sully), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Anton Yelchin (Green Room)

Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals): Good cop or bad cop, you'll never want to drive to Marfa again.

Acting Kudos (Female)

Sasha Lane (American Honey), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), Samantha Robinson (The Love Witch), Emma Stone (La La Land)

Samantha Robinson (The Love Witch): Witchy proto-feminism never looked so alluring, or so colorful. Mario Bava would be proud.

Best Director

Keith Maitland (Tower), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Denis Villeneuve (Arrival)

Best Original Screenplay

Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Mark Haimes, Chris Butler (Kubo and the Two Strings), Andrea Arnold (American Honey)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals), Todd Komarnicki (Sully), Justin Marks (The Jungle Book)

TV Series/Event:

Ash vs. Evil Dead: Who would have thought this riff on Sam Raimi's splatterpiece would have legs like this 35 years on? "Groovy!"

Worst Film

Blair Witch: Remaking a genre classic is always a dicey proposition, but the otherwise great Adam Wingard's snoozy fuckup was less terrifying than Sesame Street's Elmo.

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