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)

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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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A Top 50 Films of 2016, More or Less

As I did last year and the year before, I’m making a Best of the Year list following the conventional system for what counts as a 2016 film, mainly the nonsensical and ahistorical system that decrees that critics may only consider movies to have existed once they have played for a week in a commercial venue in New York City, or, in a new twist this year, on a television or streaming service in New York. This is the system that claims my favorite film of 2013 (La última película), which played for a week in Seattle in 2014, can only be considered a 2015 film because that is when it finally got a New York release, although it played Los Angeles for the first time in 2016. Not to mention the absurdity that my favorite film from 1991, Isao Takahata’s Only Yesterday, qualifies for this list, along with a 30 year old Edward Yang movie and an Apichatpong Weerasethakul movie I saw in Vancouver in 2012. But alas, we all must bow to convention, however silly, every once in awhile.

My 2016 list of course will never be finalized, as there’s no such thing as a final list here at The End: there are always more new movies to discover and old movies to reevaluate. But in a couple of weeks I’ll have the nominations up for the 2016 Endy Awards, with the winners to be announced during the Academy Awards ceremony. This list is a snapshot of my favorites of 2016 as they stand now, on the last day of the year.

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1. Only Yesterday (Isao Takahata)

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2. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)

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3. Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman)

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4. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)

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5. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)

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6. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)

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7. Lemonade (Beyoncé Knowles & Kahlil Joseph)

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8. Things to Come Mia Hansen-Løve)

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9. SPL 2: A Time for Consequences (Soi Cheang)

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10. Cemetery of Splendor (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

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11. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)

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12. Sully (Clint Eastwood)

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13. Sunset Song (Terence Davies)

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14. The Love Witch (Anna Biller)

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15. The Terrorizers (Edward Yang)

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16. Three (Johnnie To)

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17. Kaili Blues (Bi Gan)

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18. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sangsoo)

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19. Everybody Wants Some!! (Richard Linklater)

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20. The Mermaid (Stephen Chow)

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21. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (Karan Johar)

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22. The Age of Shadows (Kim Ji-woon)

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23. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)

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24. The Thoughts that Once We Had (Thom Andersen)

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25. Mekong Hotel (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

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26. Hail, Caesar! (The Coen Brothers)

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27. Crosscurrent (Yang Chao)

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28. The Edge of Seventeen (Kelly Fremon Craig)

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29. I Am Not Madame Bovary (Feng Xiaogang)

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30. The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra)

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31. Tower (Keith Maitland)

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32. Rogue One (Gareth Edwards)

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33. Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)

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34. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)

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35. Train to Busan (Yeon Sangho)

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36. OJ: Made in America (Ezra Edelman)

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37. De Palma (Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow)

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38. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)

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39. Short Stay (Ted Fendt)

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40. Aquarius (Kleber Mendonça Filho)

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41. The Witch (Robert Eggers)

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42. My Beloved Bodyguard (Sammo Hung)

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43. A Train Arrives at the Station (Thom Andersen)

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44. The Wasted Times (Cheng Er)

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45. One Night Only (Matt Wu)

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46. Indefinite Pitch (James Kienitz Wilkins)

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47. SoulMate (Derek Tsang)

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48. Call of Heroes (Benny Chan)

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49. Garfunkel and Oates: Trying to Be Special (Riki Lindhome & Jeremy Konner)

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50. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)

Books of 2016

2016 was the first time since I started writing about movies on the internet that I averaged less than one film watched per day, with somewhere around 320 movies seen over the course of the year. Some of that is schedule-related: my kids are at such an age that watching a single movie in one sitting is difficult, let alone the two or three per day I could squeeze in when they were less ambulatory. But some of that is also a shifting of priorities: I read (and finished) more books this year than I had in all my five plus years of parenthood put together. And since this is the end of the year, and since I love to make lists, here is a ranked list of all the books I read (and finished) in 2016:

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1. Where I Was From – Joan Didion

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2. Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion

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3. A Death in the Family – James Agee

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4. Mrs. Dalloway – Virginia Woolf

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5. Annals of the Former World – John McPhee

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6. The Fire Next Time – James Baldwin

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7. The Proud Tower – Barbara Tuchman

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8. Harmonium – Wallace Stevens

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9. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

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10. Lyrical Ballads – William Wordsworth & Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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11. The White Album – Joan Didion

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12. White Teeth – Zadie Smith

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13. The Souls of Black Folk – WEB DuBois

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14. Eminent Victorians – Lytton Strachey

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15. A Collection of Essays – George Orwell

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16. Meditations in an Emergency – Frank O’Hara

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17. Lady Susan – Jane Austen

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18. Salvador – Joan Didion

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19. Justine – Lawrence Durrell

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20. Violet Energy Ingots – Hoa Nguyen

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21. Kora in Hell : Improvisations – William Carlos Williams

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22. 1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed – Eric Cline

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23. Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman

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24. The Silk Roads – Peter Frankopan

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25. A Galaxy Not So Far Away – Glenn Kenny, et al

The Best Older Movies I Saw in 2016

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 2016. Previous years include: 201520142013201220112010200920082007, and 2006. I watched 320 or so movies in 2016, less than one third of which qualified for this list. Here are 60 that I liked.

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1. Mahjong (Edward Yang, 1996)

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2. Love Exposure (Sion Sono, 2008)

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3. Canyon Passage (Jacques Tourneur, 1946)

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4. The Yakuza Papers (Kinji Fukasaku, 1973-74)

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5. Distant Voices, Still Lives (Terence Davies, 1988)

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6. School on Fire (Ringo Lam, 1988)

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7. Viva Erotica (Derek Yee & Law Ch-leung, 1996)

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8. Tokyo Sonata (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2008)

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

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10. La bête humaine (Jean Renoir, 1938)

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11. The Long Day Closes (Terence Davies, 1992)

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12. Prospero’s Books (Peter Greenaway, 1991)

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13. Duelle (Jacques Rivette, 1976)

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14. Phantoms of Nabua (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)

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15. Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano, 1993)

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16. The Big Road (Sun Yu, 1935)

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17. Viola (Matías Piñeiro, 2012)

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18. Suicide Club (Sion Sono, 2001)

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19. Persuasion (Roger Michell, 1995)

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20. Swamp Water (Jean Renoir, 1941)

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21. Noroît (Jacques Rivette, 1976)

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22. The God of Cookery (Stephen Chow, 1996)

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23. Violent Cop (Takeshi Kitano, 1989)

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24. Dirty Gertie from Harlem USA (Spencer Williams, 1946)

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25. Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1997)

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26. The Unchanging Sea (DW Griffith, 1910)

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27. Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001)

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28. La chienne (Jean Renoir, 1931)

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29. Burning Paradise in Hell (Ringo Lam, 1994)

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

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31. Medicine for Melancholy (Barry Jenkins, 2008)

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32. The Golden Coach (Jean Renoir, 1952)

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33. Beyond Hypothermia (Patrick Leung, 1996)

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34. Under the Cherry Moon (Prince, 1986)

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35. The Bitter Stems (Fernando Ayala, 1956)

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36. The Stunt Woman (Ann Hui, 1996)

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37. The Anthem (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2006)

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38. The Razor’s Edge (Edmund Goulding, 1946)

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39. So Dark the Night (Joseph H. Lewis, 1946)

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40. Ebola Syndrome (Herman Yau, 1996)

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41. Viva (Anna Biller, 2007)

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42. Youth of the Beast (Seijun Suzuki, 1963)

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43. Looking for Mr. Perfect (Ringo Lam, 2003)

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44. Gates of the Night (Marcel Carné, 1946)

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45. Stage Door (Shu Kei, 1996)

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46. Wishful Drinking (Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato, 2010)

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47. Desk Set (Walter Lang, 1957)

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48. Bastards (Claire Denis, 2013)

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49. Death Duel (Chor Yuen, 1977)

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50. A Letter to Uncle Boonmee (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2009)

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51. Big Bullet (Benny Chan, 1996)

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52. The Flame and the Arrow (Jacques Tourneur, 1950)

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53. Young and Dangerous 3 (Andrew Lau, 1996)

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54. The Sorrows of Satan (DW Griffith, 1926)

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55. The Black Pirate (Albert Parker, 1926)

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56. Shanghai Grand (Poon Man-kit, 1996)

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57. Mysterious Object at Noon (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2000)

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58. Mismatched Couples (Yuen Woo-ping, 1985)

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59. The Fun, The Luck and The Tycoon (Johnnie To, 1990)

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60. Prison on Fire II (Ringo Lam, 1991)