Posted by: ckckred | December 31, 2016

What Was the Best Non-2016 Movie You Saw This Past Year?

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2016 may be a very climatic year, but I saw a multitude of new great movies.  I watched more silent films in the past twelve months than I did beforehand, and I can tell you F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans was the best movie I saw in 2016 and epitomizes contemporary cinema perfectly.  Other great new pictures I watched this year included D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance*, Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle and Playtime, Erich von Stroheim’s Greed, John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and Fritz Lang’s Destiny.  But what about you?

*Since my adolescence, I’ve always held strong prejudice for Griffith mainly due to the explicit racist nature of The Birth of a Nation, but after watching Intolerance and a multitude of his short films I’ve greatly misunderstood the director’s talents.  While I still hold contempt for Nation, I would argue that Intolerance proves that Griffith was one of cinema’s greatest and most innovative dreamers.

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Responses

  1. I saw quite a few for the first time this year – hard to pick one as Andrei Rublev, Touch Of Evil, Breathless, Dr Strangelove and The Battle Of Algiers all made a strong impression and were streets ahead of any 2016 releases I caught. However I’m going to go for Kurosawa’s Ran – a masterpiece! Happy new year and all the best for 2017

    • Can’t go wrong with Kubrick, Welles, or Godard. I’ve had a DVD copy of Ran for a couple of years but have had trouble finding time to watch it, better get on it.

  2. Mon Oncle and Playtime? I love it! I feel Tati is such an unknown to many these days. I love him and both of those films. Also check out Mr. Hulot’s Holiday. Fabulous comedy. Funny you mention Griffith. I rewatched Birth of a Nation this year. Was going to follow it up with a second viewing of Intolerance but ran out of time. Soon though.

    I guess for me Mustang really stuck. It was a 2015 movie but just saw it a few months ago. It would have topped my Best of 2015 list if I had seen it in time. Other films I loved – Touch of Evil and Ace in the Hole instantly come to mind.

    • Before this past year I knew very little about Tati but Mon Once and Playtime are so much fun. I was fortunate enough to see both on the big screen, and I can’t imagine seeing the latter on a regular size television.

      I definitely held a big grudge against Griffith for so many years for Birth of a Nation. It’s undeniably a well-made movie but its racism and endorsement of the KKK ultimately ruins the film for me. But I absolutely loved Intolerance and many of Griffith’s short features, all of which have aged very well.

      I missed Mustang in 2015 too, still need to see it. Touch of Evil is a classic and the opening scene is one of Welles’ finest moments.

  3. I’d have to say STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and SHANGHAI EXPRESS. Of course, repeats viewings of favorites like A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, HEAT, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, THE ICE HARVEST, ALIEN, ALIENS, GALAXY QUEST, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, and IN BRUGES should count for something. 😉

    • Strangers on a Train is an excellent movie and one of my favorites by Hitchcock. And you can’t go wrong with North by Northwest, Heat, or Alien too.

  4. Mon Oncle and Playtime are soooo good. I’m embarrassed that I have yet to see Sunrise, Greed, AND Intolerance.

    I was extremely lucky to get to go to Sundance last year, so the peak of my movie-watching this year was seeing The Lobster in a gymnasium converted into a gigantic, packed-out theater venue at Sundance.

    As far as non-2016 films go, the greatest discoveries were Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and Slacker. The Double, that 2013 movie starring Jesse Eisenberg, was a huge pleasant surprise for me too.

    • You got to go to Sundance? Nice! It’s been a while since I’ve gone to a film festival, but seeing The Lobster there must have been incredible.

      It’s difficult to find a proper copy of Greed available; off the top of my head it’s not on DVD but there is a reconstructed 4-hour cut is on VOD. I saw the 2 hour edition in a theater with a live pianist and it was an incredible experience.

      I have unfortunately not seen any of the films you listed, should really get on that.

      • I did! The Lobster had already premiered at other festivals, but it was great!
        That sounds like the best possible way to see Greed nowadays. I went to a similar showing of City Lights a few years ago and it was sublime. I’ve definitely noticed how hard it is to find the film though. Maybe someday…
        Mishima and Slacker are both Criterion, but you can actually watch them in their entirety on YouTube. And The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is only in a Criterion box set, but The Double is on Netflix! 🙂

      • I was very lucky to see Greed with a live accompaniment, it really changes the experience. I need to go to more special re-screenings, I did that a lot this past year and it makes viewing the movies much better.

        I’ve had Slacker on my Hulu queue for a while now and I have no good reason for not seeing it, especially since Dazed and Confused is one of my favorite comedies. I should really watch that.

  5. I embarrassingly did not stray too far from the schedule that 2016 provided. As the overwhelming majority of films I watch are ‘assignments’ for my blog I keep things modern but I usually try to fit in other stuff in between. Last year was a poor example! But one thing I saw that was by definition not a ’16 release (it was a 2015 one though haha!) and that really stunned me was Ciro Guerra’s foreign language bid for the 88th Academy Awards, his Embrace of the Serpent. That might have been one of the most singular, coolest cinematic experiences I have ever had and I really urge more people to give that a look if they ever happen to come across it.

    • Every year I usually see less and less of modern cinema and more classic films, not because I have disinterest in contemporary movies but due to my fascination with past cinema. I unfortunately have not watched Embrace of the Serpent, will add that to my queue.

  6. In Your Eyes, The Good The Bad & The Ugly, Akira, Predestination : )

    • Can’t go wrong with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. I’ve never seen Akira though, but I’ve been meaning to watch that recently.

  7. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but it’s easily one of the most ambitious films ever put on screen, for my money, that happens directed by Paul Schrader, no less. It become an instant all-timer for me and I’m surprised how criminally underseen it is.

    • Although I’ve loved all the films Schrader collaborated with Scorsese on, I’ve never watched any of the films he’s actually directed. I should get on that.

      • You should. Mishima is almost a class apart from everything he’s done, monumental in every way. But films like Affliction and the most recent Dog Eat Dog are also amazing in their own way.


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