Best of 2016

This comes a little later than usual, but since Oscar season is fast approaching, better late than never!

My complete 2016 Watchlist/Ranking
The 2016 Next Projection Awards (my contributions included)

Films qualify for my Best of 2016 when their initial commercial release occurs in either their country of origin or elsewhere during the year 2016; unreleased films such as festival fare in search of distribution are not considered (besides within the category itself).  World Cinema released in 2016 within US and Canada which hold prior release within their origin country are also not considered.

Best Film of 2016:

  1. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)moonlight“the camera searches for and amplifies the quiet peace found in fleeting moments of connection with others”
  2. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)paterson

    “Through its dreamlike aesthetic, lethargic rhythm, and patterned mise-en-scene, Jim Jarmusch’s densely philosophical tone poem manages to convey a certain unutterable phenomenology, one which is surrealistically experienced in life’s poetic coincidences and confusions. It is mindfully realized through an acute sense of reality as a projection by the unconscious; it is the inner self manifest.”

  3. Manchester By The Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)


    “Well structured and novelistic, a Dostoevskien tragedy conveying self-isolation and effacement in face of of a life disarmingly out of harmony, where thoughts and actions misalign and communication barriers forge rifts between self and others.”

  4. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)


    “Constructs resonant images of great affecting power by way of a measured Fordian rhythm befitting the women and town it at once profiles. Sublime, austere filmmaking.”

  5. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)


    “Through matter-of-factness, the film endearingly implies that nothing really matters besides living and that living without humour is not really living at all.”

  6. La La Land (Damien Chazelle)


    “It is at once a flight of fantasy as well as a determinedly down-to-earth evocation of reality. It straddles these antipodal modes of cinema carefully, implying that originality and homage, high and low art, exuberance and melancholy, and realism and escapism can sit cordially beside one another.”

  7. Silence (Martin Scorsese)


    “Scorsese’s mature realization of the politics herein is absent of polemics; it’s presentation absent of indulgence: the two features commonly attributed to films of this nature.”

  8. Things to Come (L’avenir, Mia Hansen-Love)


    “A plaintive yet restrained drama of Schrodinger inspired revelation. To observe is to enact. Such is her new freedom.”

  9. KONELĪNE: our land beautiful (Nettie Wild) (Canadian release only)


    “A magnificent display of cinematography and sound which is grounded through the grandeur and scope of its thematic intentions. Both poetic and informative with captivating visuals.”

  10. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)


    “A labyrinthian fever dream where music, persona, and gunshot each play a role in the collective hallucination. Modern Caraxian.”

  11. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)


    “Huppert is captivating in this complex character study of startling psychological depth conveyed by one and only Paul Verhoeven.”

  12. Hello Destroyer (Keven Funk) (Canadian release only)


    “Striking cinematography and understated performances drive this riveting debut about a Hockey player shamed for doing what he was bred to do.”

  13. Everybody Wants Some (Richard Linklater)


    “Fun, spirited, warm, and nostalgic. Pairs uproarious comedy with nuanced conversation and honest exchanges.”

  14. 20th Century Women (Mike Mills)


    “A maturely scripted, engagingly shot, and humourously performed drama on masculinity & modern female perspectives.”

  15. Spirit Unforgettable (Pete McCormack) (Canadian Release Only)


    “John Mann is the living phantasm of an eternal soul, a piece of evidence that an artist’s selfless act of creation becomes liberated in the conscience of its beholders. The music is no longer Mann’s; he barely recognizes it. Yet he poignantly observes an audience of thousands sing along to words he once wrote. He is a living dying immortal.”

  16. Knight of Cups (Terrence Malick)


    “All in all, the film’s poetic nature makes it more akin to a musical symphony than to cinema proper. It borders between genius and superficial, creating most often a mass ornament of female bodies and the ‘high-life’

    Best Film Released Elsewhere From USA/Canada Prior to 2016:cemetery

  1. Cemetery of Splendor (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)”Cemetery of Splendour is truly a grounded and meaningful evocation of the ineffable world of metaphysical objects and thought.”
  2. Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo)
  3. Embrace of the Serpent (Ciro Guerra)
  4. Murmur of the Hearts (Sylvia Chang) (No North American Release)
  5. Louder Than Bombs (Joachim Trier)
  6. Human (Yann Artrus-Bertrand

Best Film Without Distributionmaudite

  1. Maudite Poutine (Karl Lemieux)”Visual and aural forms of distortion, abstraction, fragmentation, dissociation, and obscuration artfully convey a thoughtful narrative via poetic, affective, and visceral means. What is most notable of the film is its clear sense of an authorial presence and unique stylistic vision, one which is surprisingly mature and nuanced given it is a first feature.”
  2. Lost Solace (Chris Scheurman)
  3. 1:54 (Yann England)

Best Foreign Language Filmtoni

  1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)
  2. Things To Come (Mia Hansen-Love)
  3. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello)

Best Director:certain

  1. Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women)
  2. Jim Jarmusch (Paterson)
  3. Barry Jenkins (Moonlight)

Best Cinematographer:moonlight

  1. James Laxton (Moonlight)
  2. Denis Lenoir (Things to Come)
  3. Van Royko (KONELINE: our land beautiful)

Best Editing:20th

  1. Leslie Jones (20th Century Women)
  2. Affonso Goncalves (Paterson)
  3. Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders (Moonlight)

Best Screenplay:MBTS_3869.CR2

  1. Manchester By The Sea 
  2. Silence
  3. Certain Women

Best Soundtrackla-la-land

  1. La La Land
  2. Things to Come
  3. Nocturama

Best Actor:
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actor Adam Driver arrives at the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/Getty Images)

  1. Adam Driver (Paterson)
  2. Peter Simonischek (Toni Erdmann)
  3. Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea)

Best Actress:isabelle

  1. Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
  2. Emma Stone (La La Land)
  3. Cynthia Nixon (A Quiet Passion)

Best Supporting Actor:maher

  1. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
  2. Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea)
  3. Ashton Sanders (Moonlight)

Best Supporting Actress:certain

  1. Kristen Stewart (Certain Women)
  2. Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women)
  3. Jena Malone (Neon Demon)

Best Animated:

  1. Mixed Match (Jeff Chiba Stearns) – (Partially Animated)
  2. Zootopia (Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
  3. Sausage Party (Greg Tiernan, Conrad Vernon)

Best Documentary:koneline

  1. KONELINE: our land beautiful (Nettie Wild)
  2. Spirit Unforgettable (Peter McCormack)
  3. City 40 (Samira Goetschel)

Best Short:

  1. I Am Here (Eoin Duffy)
  2. Srorrim (Wayne Wapeemukwa)
  3. Blind Vaysha (Theodore Ushev)

Most Anticipated of 2017:losts

  1. The Lost City of Z (James Gray)
  2. Untitled Hong Sangsoo Project with Isabelle Huppert and Min-hee Kim
  3. Song To Song (Terrence Malick)

About Kamran Ahmed

I have a Masters in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto. I work as a freelance writer and film critic in Vancouver. My writing is primarily distributed through Next Projection, an online film journal based in Toronto.
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