The Best Movies of 2018 (So Far)

We are now halfway through the year and as has become an annual tradition here at The End, it’s time to look back at the best movies of the year so far. As I discussed in the 2013 halfway post, the consensus movie-dating system is nonsensical and posits New York as the center of the universe. Far more logical (and much easier to use) is a system reliant on imdb’s dating system, which locates a film in whatever year it first played for an audience. That’s what we use here for all Rankings & Awards as it’s the most fair to all eras and areas. (A dating system reliant on playing in a certain locality I think can be valuable for a publication that is geographically specific, like a local newspaper or website. But here at The End, we have a global reach.)

A by-product of the system is that a number of films that first go into wide-release in any given year actually had their premiere in the year before. A number of the films on many critics’ halfway-point lists will include these films, films that find their proper home here on my 2017 list. And so here we have two lists: the Best Movies of 2018, following the strict imdb dating system, and the Best 2017 Movies of 2018, which includes those films from last year that you might find on a more chronologically-illogical list. I also have a third list, Best Unreleased Movies of 2017, of last year’s films that have yet to see a New York release and therefore don’t (yet) exist by the standards of most critics. And a fourth list, a halfway version of my annual Best Older Movies list, counting the top movies I saw for the first time this year that are more than a few years old.

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The Best Movies of 2018 (So Far)

1. Grass (Hong Sangsoo)
2. Little Forest (Yim Soonrye)
3. Dead Pigs (Cathy Yan)
4. The 15:17 to Paris (Clint Eastwood)
5. Matangi/Maya/MIA (Steven Loveridge)
6. Operation Red Sea (Dante Lam)
7. The Monkey King 3 (Soi Cheang)
8. Avengers: Infinity War (Anthony & Joe Russo)
9. Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson)
10. Black Panther (Ryan Coogler)
11. La cartographe (Nathan Douglas)
12. Girls Always Happy (Yang Mingming)
13. How Long Will I Love U (Su Lun)
14. Detective Chinatown 2 (Chen Sicheng)
15. The Widowed Witch (Cai Chengjie)
16. The Commuter (Jaume Collet-Serra)

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The Best 2017 Movies of 2018 (So Far)

1. Claire’s Camera (Hong Sangsoo)
2. 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami)
3. The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Evan & Galen Johnson)
4. Let the Sunshine In (Claire Denis)
5. Angels Wear White (Vivian Qu)
6. The Day After (Hong Sangsoo)
7. 1987: When the Day Comes (Jang Joonhwan)
8. Before We Vanish (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
9. Western (Valeska Grisebach)
10. Zama (Lucrecia Martel)
11. The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci)
12. Ismael’s Ghosts (Arnaud Desplechin)
13. Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson)
14. Lu Over the Wall (Masaaki Yuasa)

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The Best Unreleased Films of 2017 (So Far)

1. Maison du bonheur (Sofia Bohdanowicz)
2. Bad Genius (Nattawut Poonpiriya)
3. Love and Goodbye in Hawaii (Shingo Matsumura)
4. The Village of No Return (Chen Yu-hsun)
5. 77 Heartbreaks (Herman Yau)
6. The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts (Don Hertzfeldt)
7. Fail to Appear (Antoine Bourges)
8. Hit the Night (Jeong Gayoung)
9. Love Education (Sylvia Chang)
10. Pumpkin Movie (Sophy Romvari)
11. SPL: Paradox (Wilson Yip)
12. Prototype (Blake Williams)
13. Sekigahara (Masato Harada)
14. Chang-Ok’s Letter (Shunji Iwai)
15. Wrath of Silence (Xin Yukun)
16. The Great Buddha+ (Huang Hsin-yao)
17. Wasteland No. 1: Ardent Verdant (Jodie Mack)
18. Mr. Long (Sabu)
19. From Nine to Nine (Neil Bahadur)
20. Scaffold (Kazik Radwanski)
21. Manhunt (John Woo)

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2018 Discoveries (So Far)

1. Kamikaze Taxi (Masato Harada, 1995)
2. Long Arm of the Law (Johnny Mak, 1984)
3. Final Victory (Patrick Tam, 1987)
4. Lost in the Mountains (Hong Sangsoo, 2009)
5. That Day, On the Beach (Edward Yang, 1983)
6. Dream Lovers (Tony Au, 1986)
7. Love Unto Waste (Stanley Kwan, 1986)
8. Cops and Robbers (Alex Cheung, 1979)
9. Princess D (Sylvia Chang, 2002)
10. Tonight Nobody Goes Home (Sylvia Chang, 1996)
11. Crime Story (Kirk Wong, 1993)
12. Duel to the Death (Ching Siu-tung, 1983)
13. Siao Yu (Sylvia Chang, 1995)
14. Women (Stanley Kwan, 1985)
15. Passion (Sylvia Chang, 1986)
16. Hit Team (Dante Lam, 2001)
17. Clan of the White Lotus (Lo Lieh, 1980)

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The Best Older Movies I Saw in 2017

An annual tradition here at The End, this is a look at my favorite film discoveries of the year, any movie more than a few years old that I saw for the first time in 2017. Previous years include: 2016201520142013201220112010200920082007, and 2006. I watched just over 300 films this year, about 80 of which qualified for this list, and these are 60 of my favorites.

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In the Heat of the Sun (Jiang Wen, 1994)

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5 Centimeters per Second (Makoto Shinkai, 2007)

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Mambo Girl (Evan Yang, 1957)

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A Grin Without a Cat (Chris Marker,1977)

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At Long Last Love (Peter Bogdanovich, 1975)

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Vampir-Cuadecuc (Pere Portabella, 1971)

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The TAMI Show (Steve Binder, 1964)

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Le trou (Jacques Becker, 1960)

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The Wild, Wild Rose (Wong Tin-lam, 1960)

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Eight Taels of Gold (Mabel Cheung, 1989)

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Ace Attorney (Takashi Miike, 2012)

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Beast Cops (Gordon Chan & Dante Lam, 1998)

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Let It Be (Michael Lindsay-Hogg, 1970)

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The Odd Couple (Lau Kar-wing, 1979)

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Merrill’s Marauders (Samuel Fuller, 1962)

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The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996)

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A Fishy Story (Anthony Chan, 1989)

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Touchez pas au grisbi (Jacques Becker, 1954)

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Miracles: Mr. Canton and Lady Rose (Jackie Chan, 1989)

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The Goddess (Wu Yonggang, 1934)

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The Garden of Words (Makoto Shinkai, 2013)

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Chicken and Duck Talk (Clifton Ko, 1988)

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Dead or Alive (Takashi Miike, 1999)

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Love and Duty (Bu Wancang, 1931)

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Diau Charn (Li Han-hsiang, 1958)

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Monterey Pop (DA Pennebaker, 1968)

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The Chase (Arthur Ripley, 1946)

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Shaolin Martial Arts (Chang Cheh, 1974)

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Something’s Gotta Give (Nancy Meyers, 2003)

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Carry On Pickpocket (Sammo Hung, 1982)

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The New One-Armed Swordsman (Chang Cheh, 1971)

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The Private Eye Blues (Eddie Fong, 1994)

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All About Women (Tsui Hark, 2008)

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Romance of the Western Chamber (Hou Yao, 1927)

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A Bittersweet Life (Kim Jeewoon, 2005)

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Jumping Ash (Josephine Siao & Po-chih Leong, 1976)

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If You Are the One (Feng Xiaogang, 2008)

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The Beguiled (Don Siegel, 1971)

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Hong Kong Nocturne (Inoue Umetsugu, 1967)

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Pandora’s Box (Adam Curtis, 1992)

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Missing (Tsui Hark, 2008)

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Time Out for Trouble (David S. Glidden, 1961)

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Teppanyaki (Michael Hui, 1984)

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The Young Master (Jackie Chan, 1980)

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Moon Warriors (Sammo Hung, 1992)

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Sunday in Peking (Chris Marker, 1956)

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The June Bride (Tang Huang, 1960)

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Assembly (Feng Xiaogang, 2007)

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Jimi Plays Monterey (DA Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus, 1986)

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Infernal Affairs II (Andrew Lau & Alan Mak, 2003)

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If You Are the One 2 (Feng Xiaogang, 2010)

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Mr. Nice Guy (Sammo Hung, 1997)

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Wicked City (Peter Mak, 1992)

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The Black Tavern (Teddy Yip, 1972)

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The Dream Factory (Feng Xiaogang, 1997)

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Sun, Moon and Star (Evan Yang, 1961)

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Once Upon a Time in China V (Tsui Hark, 1994)

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Song of China (Fei Mu, 1935)

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James Baldwin: the Price of the Ticket (Karen Thorsen, 1989)

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Dance of the Drunken Mantis (Yuen Woo-ping, 1979)

Books of 2017

Here is a ranked list of the books which I finished reading in 2017:

  1. An Elemental Thing – Eliot Weinberger
  2. Love in a Fallen City – Eileen Chang
  3. True Grit – Charles Portis
  4. South and West – Joan Didion
  5. Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei – Eliot Weinberger
  6. Welcome to the Monkey House – Kurt Vonnegut
  7. The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula K. Le Guin
  8. Invisible Cities – Italo Calvino
  9. The Selected Poems of T’ao Chien
  10. The Conquest of America – Tzvetan Todorov
  11. The Death and Life of Great American Cities – Jane Jacobs
  12. The Ghosts of Birds – Eliot Weinberger
  13. October – China Miéville
  14. Grand Hotel Abyss – Stuart Jeffries
  15. Draft No. 4 – John McPhee
  16. SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome – Mary Beard
  17. The Writing Life – Annie Dillard
  18. The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History – Frank Dikötter
  19. Poems – Wang Wei
  20. The Earth is Weeping – Peter Cozzens
  21. The First Salute – Barbara Tuchman
  22. Against Everything – Mark Greif
  23. Once Upon a Time in China – Jeff Yang
  24. Autobiography of Red – Anne Carson
  25. A Memoir – Chang Cheh
  26. Wong Kar-wai – Peter Brunette
  27. The Last of the Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

I’m starting a new thing as well this year. For awhile I’ve been writing down lines from movies in the Notes app on my phone. Sometimes they end up in reviews, or as standalone letterboxd blurbs, and sometimes they don’t. I’m going to keep one for every year, and publish it at the end, without context. Here is this year’s, which began only in June.

A cat is never on the side of power.

15 years later, some wolves still survive.

Oh Doris, you think everything is treason.

Let’s keep praying

Stop being negative. It’s all in your head. Think of something more cheerful. Can’t you be normal?

Folks like us don’t have a clue.

Don’t go to weird places.
What’s that supposed to mean?

You need tissues for your issues.

Killing Japanese takes energy. Have some congee.

All you people are good for is poetry and stealing.

See you after the victory.

Things in this world can’t stand scrutiny.

Isn’t working to survive a drag?

Nothing is fun. You just work and die. That’s your life.

       Aphrodisiac flour made from the tears of a hundred year old pig forced into heat.

Film pickled in sea snake soup.

If a grinning toothless goat is what you want, you can find one anywhere.

White-brow monk is a turtle son of a bitch.

Nice guys, but . . . poorer.

One of the main things we began to discover was that our theoretical calculations did not have a strong correlation with reality.

Renoir!

Awful disappointing weather today.

If I was bored I’d go out and buy something, like cheese, or quails’ eggs.

No Christine, that’s a frog. Bears wear hats.

The idlers want to shudder at the thought of dangerous work.

Parasites are another excuse

This was a Dracula indeed

Find the true meaning of Christmas! Money! Money! Money!

It’s the spirit of the actors that counts. The interest they have in their director.

As last by as the sun and the earth exist, we can always survive.
You are amazing.
We all are.

There are gatherings and separations in life. Don’t feel sad for temporary partings, because the final victory is coming.

And here are the photos of text I took throughout the year.

A Top 100 Films of All-Time

It is time once again for a Top 100 Films of All-Time list. As I’ve done for the last few years, the first ten spots on the list comprise a hypothetical Sight & Sound-style ballot. We had an on-going project related to this on The George Sanders Show, that will now be based at Seattle Screen Scene. This top ten is presented here in chronological order. The remaining 90 films were randomly selected from a consideration set of 1400 films, which excluded films that made my Top Tens in 2012201320142015 and 2016.

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1. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)

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2. Children of Paradise (Marcel Carné, 1945)

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3. The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963)

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4. The Young Girls of Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1968)

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5. A New Leaf (Elaine May, 1971)

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6. Celine and Julie Go Boating (Jacques Rivette, 1974)

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7. Wheels on Meals (Sammo Hung, 1984)

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8. Broadcast News (James L. Brooks, 1987)

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9. Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch, 1992)

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10. Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995)

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11. Trouble in Mind (Alan Rudolph, 1985)

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12. Bullitt (Peter Yates, 1968)

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13. Zodiac (David Fincher, 2007)

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14. Wings (William Wellman, 1927)

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15. Three Crowns of the Sailor (Raúl Ruiz, 1983)

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16. The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis, 1963)

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17. Ivan the Terrible Part 2 (Sergei Eisenstein, 1958)

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18. Faust (FW Murnau, 1926)

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19. Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (Albert Lewin, 1951)

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20. Hearts of the World (DW Griffith, 1918)

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21. Resident Evil: Retribution (Paul WS Anderson, 2012)

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22. The 7th Victim (Mark Robson, 1943)

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23. Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)

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24. Happy Go Lucky (Mike Leigh, 2008)

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25. Waiting for Guffman (Christopher Guest, 1996)

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26. The Infernal Cakewalk (Georges Méliès, 1903)

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27. I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)

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28. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood, 1992)

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29. Dream of the Red Chamber (Li Han-hsiang, 1977)

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30. Le bonheur (Agnès Varda, 1965)

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31. A Better Tomorrow (John Woo, 1986)

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32. LA Story (Mick Jackson, 1991)

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33. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964)

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34. Viridiana (Luis Buñuel, 1961)

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35. Sisters of the Gion (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1936)

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36. Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, 2015)

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37. Carnival in Flanders (Jacques Feyder, 1935)

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38. Isn’t Life Wonderful (DW Griffith, 1924)

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39. Wife! Be Like a Rose! (Mikio Naruse, 1935)

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40. Sanshiro Sugata (Akira Kurosawa, 1943)

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41. The Butterfly Murders (Tsui Hark, 1979)

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42. The Letter (William Wyler, 1940)

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43. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies, 2011)

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44. Gone in 60 Seconds (HB Halicki, 1974)

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45. Badlands (Terrence Malick, 1973)

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46. Week End (Jean-Luc Godard, 1968)

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47. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-laing, 2003)

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48. The Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1928)

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49. Throw Down (Johnnie To, 2004)

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50. One AM (Charles Chaplin, 1916)

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51. The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent, 1974)

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52. Animal House (John Landis, 1978)

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53. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

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54. Don’t Look Back (DA Pennebaker, 1967)

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55. Fucking Åmål (Lukas Moodysson, 1998)

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56. The Big Road (Sun Yu, 1935)

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57. Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1988)

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58. L’Avventura (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)

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59. Thunderball (Terence Young, 1965)

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60. The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (Cristi Puiu, 2005)

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61. Street Scene (King Vidor, 1931)

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62. Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1997)

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63. Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (FW Murnau, 1931)

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64. Cemetery of Splendor (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015)

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65. Wagon Master (John Ford, 1950)

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66. Pauline at the Beach (Eric Rohmer, 1983)

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67. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)

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68. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)

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69. The Chess Players (Satyajit Ray, 1977)

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70. The Road Warrior (George Miller, 1981)

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71. Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1962)

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72. Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (Wolfgang Reitherman, 1968)

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73. Easter Parade (Charles Walters, 1948)

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74. Jason and the Argonauts (Don Chaffey, 1963)

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75. Napoléon (Abel Gance, 1927)

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76. Election (Johnnie To, 2005)

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77. Vampyr (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1932)

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78. Henry V (Laurence Olivier, 1945)

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79. Murders in the Rue Morgue (Robert Florey, 1932)

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80. The Way of the Dragon (Bruce Lee, 1972)

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81. The Lavender Hill Mob (Charles Crichton, 1951)

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82. The Wind (Victor Sjöström, 1928)

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83. Oxhide (Liu Jiayin, 2005)

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84. Two for the Road (Stanley Donen, 1967)

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85. I am Cuba (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1964)

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86. China Girl (Henry Hathaway, 1942)

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87. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (Gore Verbinski, 2006)

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88. Follow the Fleet (Mark Sandrich, 1936)

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89. When Harry Met Sally. . . (Rob Reiner, 1989)

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90. The Front Page (Lewis Milestone, 1931)

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91. The Red and the White (Mikló Jancsó, 1967)

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92. Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995)

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93. Dawn of the Dead (George Romero, 1978)

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94. Man of Aran (Robert Flaherty, 1934)

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95. Nomad (Patrick Tam, 1982)

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96. Stella Dallas (King Vidor, 1937)

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97. Rome, Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)

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98. Aguirre: The Wrath of God (Werner Herzog, 1972)

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99. 7 Women (John Ford, 1966)

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100. Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami, 2012)

The Best Movies of 2017 (So Far)

We are now halfway through the year and as has become an annual tradition here at The End, it’s time to look back at the best movies of the year so far. As I discussed in the 2013 halfway post, the consensus movie-dating system is nonsensical and posits New York as the center of the universe. Far more logical (and much easier to use) is a system reliant on imdb’s dating system, which locates a film in whatever year it first played for an audience. That’s what we use here for all Rankings & Awards as it’s the most fair to all eras and areas. (A dating system reliant on playing in a certain locality I think can be valuable for a publication that is geographically specific, like a local newspaper or website, which is what we use at Seattle Screen Scene. But here at The End, we have a global reach.)

A by-product of the system is that a number of films that first go into wide-release in any given year actually had their premiere in the year before. A number of the films on many critics’ halfway-point lists will include these films, films that find their proper home here on my 2016 list. And so here we have two lists: the Best Movies of 2017, following the strict imdb dating system, and the Best 2016 Movies of 2017, which includes those films from last year that you might find on a more chronologically-illogical list (and despite the title, also includes one film from 1985, which only premiered in New York this year). I also have a third list, Best Unreleased Movies of 2016, of last year’s films that have yet to see a New York release and therefore don’t (yet) exist by the standards of most critics. And a fourth list, a halfway version of my annual Best Older Movies list, counting the top movies I saw for the first time this year that are more than a few years old.

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The 25 Best Films of the 21st Century

The Times started this earlier this week, and like I’ve said, I’m unable to resist the call to list making. For the past few years, when one of these comes out I get annoyed that mainstream critics’ list don’t contain enough Chinese films, and that the ones they do list are the most boring, obvious choices. The Times list has three, which considering they only list 25 movies, isn’t a bad ratio, and only one of them is In the Mood for Love or Yi yi, which is nice. I haven’t done an actual best of the century list for awhile, so here it goes. One film per director, but with no more than three other titles by them I think are great listed as an aside.

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1. The New World (Terence Malick, 2005)
Also: The Tree of Life, Knight of Cups, Song to Song

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2. Millennium Mambo (Hou Hsiao-hsien, 2001)
Also: Three Times, Flight of the Red Balloon, The Assassin

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3. Oki’s Movie (Hong Sangsoo, 2010)
Also: The Day He Arrives, Hill of Freedom, Yourself and Yours

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4. Running on Karma (Johnnie To & Wai Ka-fai, 2003)
Also: My Left Eye Sees Ghosts, Exiled, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2

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5. Tropical Malady (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2004)
Also: Blissfully Yours, Syndromes and a Century, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

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6. Mulholland Dr. (David Lynch, 2001)
Also: Inland Empire

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7. La Commune (Paris 1871) (Peter Watkins, 2000)

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8. Oxhide II (Liu Jiayin, 2009)
Also: Oxhide, 607

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9. Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010)
Also: Like Someone in Love

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10. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee, 2000)

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11. 2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004)
Also: In the Mood for Love, My Blueberry Nights, The Grandmaster

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12. The Midnight After (Fruit Chan, 2014)

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13. Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, 2008)

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14. Love Exposure (Sion Sono, 2008)
Also: Suicide Club, Tokyo Tribe

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15. It Felt Like a Kiss (Adam Curtis, 2009)
Also: The Century of the Self, The Power of Nightmares, The Trap

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16. The Missing Picture (Rithy Panh, 2013)

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17. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
Also: The Limits of Control, Only Lovers Left Alive

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18. Linda Linda Linda (Nobuhiro Yamashita, 2005)
Also: La La La at Rock Bottom

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19. Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
Also: Ali, Public Enemies, Blackhat

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20. La danse (Frederick Wiseman, 2009)
Also: At Berkeley, National Gallery, In Jackson Heights

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21. Baahubali (SS Rajamouli, 2015 & 2017)

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22. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke, 2015)
Also: Platform, Still Life, The Hedonists

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23. Los Angeles Plays Itself (Thom Andersen, 2003)
Also: Get Out of the Car, The Thoughts that Once We Had

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24. 35 Shots of Rum (Claire Denis, 2008)
Also: Friday Night, L’Intrus, Bastards

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25. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Tsai Ming-liang, 2003)
Also: What Time is it There? Stray Dogs, Journey to the West

150 of the Best Chinese-Language Films of All-Time

I’ve been doing some cataloguing lately, trying to organize my books and movies and make some kind of plan for how I’m going to attack the Chinese Cinema over the next year or so. Three and a half years ago, I started a chronological Johnnie To project that, by design, immediately ballooned into a comprehensive exploration of Chinese-language film. In that time, I’ve made it seven films into To’s career and 327 films into China in general. It’s increasingly absurd to consider it To-specific, and I’d love to rename it (I never liked the name anyway) but the prospect of renaming and tagging all those old posts is daunting. Anyway, I’m hoping to spend this year taking a long look at Shanghai cinema of the 1920s-40s (at least as much as is available) and Hong Kong films of the 1950s. As well I’d like to catch up with the rest of the films I haven’t seen from Filipe Furtado’s letterboxd list of Favorite Hong Kong Films, which has served as an essential guide for me since the Summer of Sammo. And as I was thinking about where to go next, I thought it might be useful to sum up where I’ve been, and so here’s a list of 150 great Chinese films. The list is ordered chronologically.

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