You already read the 2016 ranking lists of all cinema critics and cinema magazines in the world but you still miss the most important one, which is, as everybody knows, the TOP 15 of Zazie.
90 movies seen in cinema theatres (even in Tokyo!), few deceptions, many good movies and some absolute gems: this was my cinematographic year.
The older I get, the more I prefer movies able to turn me upside down, to shake me, to shock me, to let me speechless and submerged by feelings.
It is more a question of guts than facts, and it’s also about a personal, small battle to give movies made by women the right place in contemporary cinema.
Not simply because they’re women, but because there are - out there - some incredible film makers and actresses who are amazing artists and who should be recognized by the world.
Nevertheless, this must be the only Top 15 where you will not find nor Elle neither Mademoiselle.
Anyway, the best movies of 2016 are:
15 - The Nice Guys by Shane Black (US)
Oh my goodness how much I loved this movie!
Maybe because I really didn’t expect it: the director’s filmography is not exactly my cup of tea, and I have to admit that the only reason why I wanted to see The Nice Guys was Ryan Gosling.
Big surprise: a perfect screenplay, a story set in the ‘70s in LA (the atmosphere reminded me of my favourite Altman movie, The Long Goodbye), one of the best female roles ever (Holly March!) and the unexpected comic talent of both actors (and especially of Ryan).
Biggest laugh of the year by far!
Biggest laugh of the year by far!
14 - One more time with feeling by Andrew Dominik (UK)
Born as a movie about the new album by Australian singer and composer Nick Cave, Skeleton Tree, this film actually became the story of an unbearable pain, the one Nick Cave and his wife had to suffer when they suddenly lost their child (a 15 years old boy).
Music, words, images, memories and despair put all together in an unforgettable film.
The most heart breaking one of the entire year.
13 - Hail, Caesar! by the Coen Brothers (US) + Café Society by Woody Allen (US)
Two movies that in my head were basically just one: in both cases, a spectacular fascination for the Hollywood of the ‘30s (Allen) and the ‘50s (Coen Brothers), a stinging sense of things forever lost (Allen), some musical numbers that La La Land could just dream of (Coen Brothers), the blessed irony that those three always had and, above all, an unconditional love declaration to one thing and one thing only: cinema!
12 - Bella e Perduta by Pietro Marcello (Italy) + Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot by Gabriele Mainetti (Italy)
Two movies that can’t be more different from each other, but that in my head represent the greatest opportunity for Italian cinema to be recognized worldwide: Mainetti with the story of a local super hero and Marcello with the story of a talking buffalo are here to demonstrate that we have amazing film makers, full of talent and full of inventive, original, poetical possibilities. Daje, ragazzi!
11 - Ce sentiment de l’été by Mikhaël Hers (France/Germany)
How difficult it is to make a light movie about the heaviest theme of all, the loss of a beloved one?
Very difficult indeed, but not impossible, as young French filmmaker Mikhaël Hers perfectly demonstrates in this lovely, delicate and yet deeply moving story about the grieving process of Lawrence (amazing, as usual, Norwegian actor Anders Danielsen Lie) who suddenly loses his girlfriend on a bright summer day. Set between Berlin, Paris and New York, this film is a real hymn to hope and life.
10 - Ma vie de Courgette by Claude Barras (Switzerland)
The sweetest movie of the year, it’s a strange creature made using the stop-motion technique. Courgette, a little boy who never knew his father, at the death of his mum is put into a foster home with other boys and girls like him. Never loved enough, always too lonely, often at war with the rest of the world, Courgette will learn that life could reserve nice surprises and not only bad blows.
The best feel good movies in ages. Adorable!
9 - Arrival by Denis Villeneuve (US)
It looks like every year there is a Villeneuve movie in my Top 15.
Well, it’s not my fault if his films are always able to surprise me and to touch me.
In this case, Villeneuve uses the shell (not only metaphorically!) of a science-fiction movie to talk, once again, about human beings, their deepest desires and their quest for the meaning of life.
This is also one of the most romantic movies of 2016, where a woman is able to win a man’s heart over aliens. I swear I didn't see that coming!
8 - Julieta by Pedro Almodovar (Spain)
There are other film makers and then there is Pedro.
Every time he makes a movie, it is a renewed joy, for me.
I grew up with his films: I have been a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown even before I was able to talk. No one else is able to speak about women and feelings and pain and the complexity of the heart as he does. In Julieta, he goes back to the ‘80s with the maturity of our days, to tell an excruciating story of love and hate between a mother and a daughter.
The Almodovar touch is always (and always will be) a blessing.
7 - Divines by Houda Benyamina (France)
Winner of the Camera D’or at the last Cannes Film Festival and followed by a never-ending and super feminist speech by the réalisatrice receiving the prize, Divines is a movie for which I have a special love. Maybe it is not perfect, but hey, who cares. There is more life and cinema and guts in 10 minutes of this film than in hours of accurate but dull works I’ve seen this year. The story of a friendship between two girls coming from the worst Parisian banlieu is strong, badass and pitiless.
Tu dois avoir du clito pour la montrer, quoi!
6 - Toni Erdmann by Maren Ade (Germany)
Another movie made by a woman (yeeeees), and what a woman: Maren Ade, already the producer of Miguel Gomes movies (chapeau!), has now written, directed and produced one of the most hilarious, crazy, intense movie of recent years, demonstrating that the adjectives german and comic could go very well together. It will be reductive, though, to say that the strange relationship between a funny father and his serious (or pretending to be) daughter is just a comedy. There is so much more in this movie, able to touch unexpected cords of the heart. A great surprise from the beginning till the end.
5 - Juste la fin du monde by Xavier Dolan (Québec)
If you are not aware of my love for Xavier Dolan, this simply means you’re not a reader of my blog.
I adore this guy: I think he is a genuine genius and that his career will be long, fruitful and plenty of magnificent films. His sixth work, winner of the Grand Prix du Jury at the last Cannes Film Festival is here to prove it. Going into a completely new direction, Dolan creates a movie essentially made by close ups and dialogues that look like streams of consciousness. The actors’ performances are amazing, the direction is amazing, the dialogues are amazing.
La Palme D’Or, au juste, c’est pour quand??!
4 - I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach (UK)
Palme D'Or at the last Cannes Film Festival, I, Daniel Blake is THE movie everybody should have seen in 2016. Loach, 80 years old, is never bored of talking about people nobody cares about: the weakest, the poorest, the completely forgotten by the so-called modern society we live in.
With a dignity and a strength that set an example to the world, he slaps us in the face and makes us feel ashamed with the most human of all stories.
God bless this man!
3 - AQUARIUS by Kleber Mendonça Filho (Brasil)
My personal hero for 2016 is Dona Clara, a 65 years old Brazilian woman from Recife who survived a cancer, raised a family of three children, lost her husband and still enjoys swimming into a wild sea, dancing, listening to music, going out with friends, drinking and having sex with men (even with young gigolos). When a real estate company tries to kick her out of the apartment she spent almost all her life (to make money with a new housing complex), Dona Clara not only doesn’t accept to be threaten by them but she goes to war with all her energy, her intelligence and her strength.
Best ending scene of the last decade. When you get out of the movie, you feel like you can conquer the world. Girlspower!!!
2 - Manchester by the Sea by Kenneth Lonergan (US)
There are movies that will be forever stuck in your memory (and you know while you're watching them).
Films impossible to forget, because the screenplay is too good, the mise-en-scène is perfect, the dialogues are stunning and because the story is so emotionally complex, the pain so well depicted, that you are just speechless in front of them. When, on top of all this, the actors' performances are astonishing (please give an Oscar to Casey Affleck because the Zazie d'Or is obviously already on his way), well, there is nothing else to add.
This is one of those precious movies, I hope you didn't miss it.
1 - American Honey by Andrea Arnold (US)
I don’t like youth movies, I don’t like road movies.
When I read that Andrea Arnold had made this kind of film in America (she is British), I was more than skeptical about the result. When I read that the movie was almost 3 hours long, I was even more perplexed.
Then I went to see it (for ‘Cannes in Paris’, last May) and I have been literally submerged by the biggest wave of emotions I felt in ages. Arnold took me from my seat and brought me into this van around the Midwest roads with a bunch of young folks and the music of Rihanna at full blast.
And especially with Star, a 17 years old girl with nothing to lose and everything to learn, a force of nature, a wild and fragile creature.
This was a very good trip indeed.
The best one of all!