14 December 2016

Goodbye 2016: The Prototypical List

December is really one of the funnest times of the year for Internet Culture Pundits - for everything revolves around...THE LIST. The Top 10 for the year is a fickle and cruel beast that no one can really nail just right. It's funny - I made my own preliminary list last week, although I still have a few films to catch. I'll usually give myself the most time possible and reveal my Top 10 during the final days of the year in order to really encapsulate all of 2016. This isn't an 11-month deal, baby!

A lighter side of Coppermouth.

Still, after I made a list of what I know is good and a few more I need to still see, I started searching around to compare to what other people had done. I was amazed at how off I seemed to be from the general trends. There seems to be a few core lists of things that are emerging as the most popular options. This article from last year still holds up as the guideline for all Top 10 lists, which will often be some combination of popular (or relatively, or at least critically popular) hits, a few niche indies, and one big mainstream hit. Even the Golden Globes does this - how else was Deadpool (2016) nominated for Best Comedy? On the other side of the spectrum is crazy overboard small films that no one has seen, which may revel in pretentiousness or come from some genuine place of intricate criticism.

In anticipation of my own Top 10, I wanted to highlight two lists I found which exemplify this ridiculousness. The fist is Peter Travers' list for Rolling Stone, which reads like the most predictable list ever, in order:

La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water
Birth of a Nation

Now, Sully is actually an interesting pick, because although it seems to have gained some awards notice and definitely popular notice, it's often been left off these lists, likely for being too populist or something. Birth of a Nation also seems to have descended from being total frontrunner to some garbage film, mostly because you suddenly can't talk about it or praise it without calling out Nate Parker's acquitted rape case from seventeen years ago. It's neither something to be exonerated or exiled, but there's a perceived insensitivity if you don't mention it, just as I'm doing now. It's also generally a fantastic year that there are so many good films this year dealing with Black issues that aren't driven by a slavery narrative, which for a while there seemed like the only way to tell authentic Black stories.

Now there are definitely some other films that keep hovering in and out of everyone's Top 10 - namely covered in David Edelstein's list for Vulture, again in his order:

La La Land
Hell or High Water
20th Century Women
O.J.: Made in America
The Witness
The Handmaiden
Zero Days
Toni Erdmann
Don't Think Twice
The Fits
Little Men

There's a couple films here that I learned about by reading this list. The worst by far in this bullshit, though was Richard Brody at the New Yorker:

Little Sister
Love & Friendship
Men Go to Battle
Kate Plays Christine
Happy Hour
Knight of Cups

Again, Sully pops up interestingly, and some of these have popped up here and there, but holy shit is this obscure. After going through other major lists, the only other films I'd add to maybe contend for the most Prototypical List are:

American Honey
A Bigger Splash
I Am Not Your Negro
Everybody Wants Some!!
Embrace of the Serpent

So, those are your options. Some combo of La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, O.J.: Made in America (which I don't think is even a movie, right?), Silence, Toni ErdmannHell or High Water, then whatever combination of obscure indies ought to do the job. Keep in mind that Kate Plays Christine brought in a crisp $24,000 so far. That's of course reductive and critical list appearances can alone beef up any film struggling for distribution.

Needless to say, my personal list varies from this shit dramatically. I am always much more interested in genre films that seem to eschew critical love. But needless to say, keep an eye out for these flicks, especially as Oscar season comes along. Ultimately the one flick that seems to appear everywhere is Moonlight, which I don't really have an interest in, at least superficially. I ought to watch it and be blown away. It's about black werewolves, right?

What's in your Top 10 for the year?

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