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December 04, 2016


Every year critics habitually bemoan how awful the previous year's film were. However, 2016 truly was the worst year for Hollywood movies as far back as you or anyone you know can remember. Cinematic abominations like Ben-Hur, Ghostbusters, Suicide Squad or Sully don't stack up. Sure there were exceptions — Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Snowden and The Shallows were pretty good, but even these rarities don't come up to par against solid foreign offerings such as Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake or Paul Verhoeven's Elle.

Hollywood's never-ending stream of instantly forgettable movies, predictably aimed at 14-year-olds, is enough to keep any sentient adult from leaving the comfort of his or her home. Who could blame them? Projector prices have come down significantly in recent years. Blu-rays and streaming services (such as Netflix or FilmStruck) look as good on a 75" screen at home as they do at your local multiplex. Not to mention you don't have to worry about fellow audience members pulling out cell phones, kicking your chair, rattling cellphone or talking over the film.

Film production interlopers such as Netflix and Amazon Studios are strategically giving Hollywood a run for its consistently bloated budgets. Both companies are producing and distributing documentaries and independent films that give audiences movies that don't rely on overblown gun violence to entertain.

2017 promises to deliver ever more bland sequels, remakes and superhero disasters from Los Angeles. Still, the playing field is shifting. In the meantime you might want to check out some of the best films of 2016. They might not be the biggest moneymakers, but any movie lover knows that quality isn't always reflected in box office receipts.


While Ava DuVernay’s documentary doesn’t fully articulate the incremental genocide of blacks in America, she does spell out the country’s ongoing slavery of blacks in its prisons. Get schooled.



Ma Loute

Bruno Dumont’s devilish French period farce of class conflict and cannibalism draws delicate lines of surrealism, satire and magical realism over the film’s explicit use of slapstick humor. This is one sophisticated high-wire cinematic act.

Ma Loute


Hell or High Water

David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water is a politically motivated neo-western torn from the pages of Sam Shepherd’s playbook. Gritty performances from Ben Foster, Chris Pine, and Jeff Bridges make movie magic happen.




Co-screenwriter/director Catherine Corsini crafts a fine romantic lesbian drama filled with organic feminine passion and ethical import. Audiences looking for female-led dramas that are genuine by design need only seek out this impressive film.




“Paterson” is the kind of movie that you walk out of a different person. The film purifies the viewer in a gentle and loving way. It reminds us that we are all poets if we invest a little of our experiences into words and supportive actions.



I Am Not Your Negro

Samuel L. Jackson’s pitch-perfect rendition of James Baldwin’s unmistakable voice is as pure as Baldwin’s recollections of his murdered civil rights peers Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. collected in his unfinished manuscript “Remember This House.”  

James Baldwin


The Handmaiden

Erotic, social, emotional, and political intrigue attend Park Chan-Wook’s baroque psychological thriller set in Korea under Japanese colonial rule during the early to mid 20th century. Stunning.  



Manchester By The Sea

Proof that Casey Affleck is the finest actor of his generation, writer-director Kenneth Lonergan’s familial drama breathes with pain, humor, and grit. See this movie on the big screen with an audience. You’ll never forget it.




“Elle” is a diabolically gleeful black comedy brimming with sly social commentary and traumatically induced sexual fetishes. Verhoeven’s masterful direction, Isabelle Huppert’s nuanced performance, and David Birke’s unfiltered adaptation of Philippe Dijan’s novel combine to form a perfect film. 



I, Daniel Blake

Dramatically understated, and yet precisely composed, "I, Daniel Blake" presents a pointed call to political social and political action. Long live Ken Loach.


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