This Week in Rankings

Since the last update I made several end of the year lists for 2016: of The Best Older Films I Saw, The Best Books I Read, and The Best Films of the Year (via conventional chronology), along with a collection of pictures I took of passages from books I read throughout the year. I also announced the nominees for this year’s Endy Awards and wrote about the first two of Tsui Hark’s Once Upon a Time in China movies. Over at Seattle Screen Scene I wrote about Paul WS Anderson’s Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, the Jackie Chan vehicle Railroad Tigers, Cheng Er’s The Wasted Times, and Derek Yee’s The Sword Master.

Also at SSS, we had the results of our annual year-end poll of local critics, programmers and directors, along with a fourpart roundtable discussion of the year in film among regular SSS contributors. I wrote about Oliver Stone’s JFK for Movie Mezzanine, contributed some Double Features to Mubi’s year-end collection, wrote about Toni Erdmann and Zhao Tao for InReview Online, voted in Movie Mezzanine’s end of the year poll and wrote about the Best Chinese Films of the Year and my Film Discoveries of 2016 for them. I also recapped the 2016 Vancouver International Film Festival for Offscreen.

These are the movies I’ve watched and rewatched over the last few weeks, and where they place on my year-by-year rankings.

Dangerous Encounters – First Kind (Tsui Hark) – 5, 1980
When Harry Met Sally… (Rob Reiner) – 8, 1989
Once Upon a Time in China (Tsui Hark) – 5, 1991
JFK (Oliver Stone) – 12, 1991
Once Upon a Time in China II (Tsui Hark) – 10, 1992

Once Upon a Time in China III (Tsui Hark) – 50, 1993
Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondō) – 3, 1995
Resident Evil (Paul WS Anderson) – 18, 2002
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (Alexander Witt) – 34, 2004
Resident Evil: Extinction (Russell Mulcahy) – 14, 2007

Missing (Tsui Hark) – 28, 2008
All About Women (Tsui Hark) – 32, 2008
Resident Evil: Afterlife (Paul WS Anderson) – 11, 2010
Wishful Drinking – 51, 2010
Resident Evil: Retribution (Paul WS Anderson) – 13, 2012

Pompeii (Paul WS Anderson) – 27, 2014
The LEGO Movie (Chris Miller & Phil Lord) – 63, 2014
The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer) – 59, 2015
A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino) – 108, 2015
Silence (Martin Scorsese) – 5, 2016

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins) – 9, 2016
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (Paul WS Anderson) – 14, 2016
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (Karan Johar) – 19, 2016
The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig) – 25, 2016
Tower (Keith Maitland) – 30, 2016

The Wasted Times (Cheng Er) – 31, 2016
Rogue One (Gareth Edwards) – 32, 2016
Train to Busan (Yeon Sangho) – 36, 2016
Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan) – 38, 2016
Let Your Heart Be Light (Sophy Romvari) – 39, 2016
Split (M. Night Shyamalan) – 45, 2016

Garfunkel & Oates: Trying to be Special (Riki Lindhome & Jeremy Konner) – 65, 2016
The Wailing (Na Hongjin) – 67, 2016
🌲🌲🌲 (Various) – 76, 2016
13th (Ava DuVernay) – 82, 2016
Railroad Tigers (Ding Sheng) – 85, 2016

Sword Master (Derek Yee) – 88, 2016
Allied (Robert Zemeckis) – 89, 2016
Hell or High Water (David Mackenzie) – 92, 2016
Sing (Garth Jennings) – 95, 2016
Star Trek Beyond (Justin Lin) – 108, 2016

2016 Endy Awards

These are the 2016 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Rankings & Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order and the winners are bolded. You can see my live-tweeting of the ceremony here. And the Endy goes to. . .

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Once Upon a Time in China II (Tsui Hark, 1992)


“When we are young, we learn the myths. And we interpret them as we get older. After all, we see they are just myths.” – Lu Haodong

“Gods are useless. You must rely on yourself.” – Wong Fei-hung

“Vigorous when facing the beatings of ten thousand heavy waves
Ardent just like the rays of the red sun
Having courage like forged iron and bones as hard as refined steel
Having lofty aspirations and excellent foresight
I worked extremely hard, aspiring to be a strong and courageous man
In order to become a hero, One should strive to become stronger everyday
An ardent man shines brighter than the sun

Allowing the sky and sea to amass energy for me
To split heaven and part the earth, to fight for my aspirations
Watching the stature and grandure of jade-coloured waves
at the same time watching the vast jade-coloured sky, let our noble spirit soar

I am a man and I must strive to strengthen myself.
Walking in firm steps and standing upright let us all aspire to be a pillar of the society, and to be a hero
Using our hundredfold warmth, to bring forth a thousandfold brilliance
Be a hero
Being ardent and with strong courage
Shine brighter than the sun” – “A Man Should Strengthen Himself

In some quarters seen as superior to the first film, perhaps because of its tighter focus (only a few main characters, including a recognizable to the West historical figure in Sun Yat-sen), specific historical moment (set in September 1895 at the beginning of the Boxer Rebellion, as opposed to the vague late 19th century of the first film), and the presence of Donnie Yen (his second attempt at stardom, after supporting roles in a handful of films in the late 80s). I appreciate the grander sprawl of the first film, however.

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Once Upon a Time in China (Tsui Hark, 1991)


Tsui Hark is the John Ford of Chinese cinema, and Once Upon a Time in China is his Stagecoach. Not only does it redefine a genre on the cusp of its rebirth (in this case the period martial arts film, which had lain dormant through the late 80s much as the Western had been relegated to cheap serials through the 1930s), but it expresses a total historical vision entirely through archetypes, which are by turns deepened and confounded. Much has been made of the film’s nationalism, an apparent sharp turn from the more scathing works of Tsui’s New Wave films, but like Ford Tsui’s patriotism is more complex than it appears on the surface.

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