#1: The Dance of Reality (Alejandro Jodorowsky, Chile)
What little I’ve seen of Jodorowsky’s work has confused and impressed me. I don’t know what the story is about, but I love the way it’s told. I generally respond well to things that make me think “What the fuck was THAT all about?”
There’s not enough of it around.
#2: Tangerine (Sean S Baker, USA)
There was no way I was gonna be disappointed with a movie made on i-phones starring unschooled transgender actors.
But this film delivered above and beyond. It was pacy, hilarious and made no apologies, though in the end, it was surely more about sex work than life as a trans person?
However … young filmmakers have no excuses NOT to make their work, and experienced Hollywood types have no reason to spend big bucks on theirs.
#3: Carol (Todd Haynes, USA/UK)
See that bit with Cate Blanchett raising the merest hint of eyebrow as her beloved walks across a crowded restaurant towards her? That’s the Oscar right there!
Seriously understated and intimate, this is proof that Todd Haynes is worthy of a major award. And soon.
#4: Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller, USA)
A film that treated teenage sexual appetite seriously.
While my only real experience of being a teenage girl was dressing as one when I was a teenage boy, DOATG just rang true. It was funny, sad, frightening and uplifting in turn, and Bel Powley turned in one of the performances of 2016.
Of course the kids want to fuck. That’s pretty much all they want to do! Kristen Wiig was just the icing in the cake.
#5: The Ecstacy of Wilko Johnson (Julien Temple, UK)
I saw this on the Beeb, having missed it at the Tyneside Cinema. And I saw it just when I needed to.
Wilko has been an inspiration since I first saw him on the telly on Geordie Scene in 1975. And this year, for obvious reasons, he was even more of an inspiration.
May the Goddesses bless you Wilko!
#6: Dreamcatcher (Kim Longinotto, USA)
Basically, ex-hooker Brenda Myers-Powell drives around Chicago dishing out advice, hugs and condoms to street workers. Think it sounds boring? Wrong. Think it sounds grim? Not likely.
This documentary is a stunning, uplifting exploration of how love can change lives. Heartbreaking and inspiring at every turn.
#7: Amy (Asif Kapadia, UK)
The proof of a great documentary is that it opens up a new world to the viewer. I knew very little of Amy Winehouse, and cared even less until I saw Kapadia’s film (and I saw it three times!).
She was great singer, but what I didn’t appreciate was how great a writer she was. I filled the gaps in my record collection after seeing Amy.
#8: The Duke of Burgundy (Peter Strickland, UK)
Apart from a seriously sexy performance by Sidse Babett Knudsen, an extra ordinary soundtrack by Cat’s Eyes, and stunningly claustrophobic art direction, this had some of the most beautiful lingerie seen at the cinema. Win win win.
#9: The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/UK/Greece/France/ Netherlands)
Another “what the fuck was THAT about?” movie, and so much fun.
Colin Farrell (the poor man’s Nigel Pivaro) starred opposite the delicious Rachel Weisz and I’m still none the wiser. Dating, terrorism, over reliance on modern medicine? All of those and more (but don’t ask me what!).
NOTE: enough Ben Whishaw please. We’ve seen him now. He can go away and leave us alone.
#10: Brooklyn (John Crowley, Ireland/UK/Canada)
Cried. All the way through. Having been exiled so many times in my life, and rarely having settled, I felt this very keenly.
It hit hard and it felt like a kiss.