45 Years, British drama about a creaky marriage.
The Boy & the World. A Brazilian animated movie, it actually fits the cliche “unlike any movie you’ve seen before.” Preview here, other links here, good for niños but not only. Excellent soundtrack by Nana Vasconcelos.
The Second Mother. A Brazilian comedy of manners about social and economic inequality, as reflected in the relations between a maid, her visiting daughter, and the maid’s employer family. Now, to my and maybe your ears that sounds like poison, because “X is about inequality” correlates strongly with “X is not very good,” I am sorry to say. This movie is the exception, subtle throughout, and you can watch and enjoy it from any political point of view. It helps to know a bit about Brazil, and it takes about twenty minutes for the core plot to get off the ground. Links here.
Cemetery of Splendor, Thai movie by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, here is a good review.
City of Gold, a documentary with Jonathan Gold doing the ethnic food thing in Los Angeles.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is an original movie, mostly about race, full of cinematic allusions (LOTR, First Blood, Smash Palace, classic Westerns, Butch Cassidy, Thelma and Louise, so many more) and Kiwi finery as well. None of the reviews I read seem to get it and I don’t want to send you to any of them.
The Innocents, how did those Polish nuns get pregnant?
Maggie’s Plan, a fun comedy, not at the top of this list but intelligent comedies are a dwindling species.
Ixcanul, a Mayan movie from Guatemala, might this story of an unwanted pregnancy be this year’s best movie? Here is one useful review.
Sausage Party, beyond politically incorrect, I kept on thinking I would get sick of the stupid animation and yet I never did. I remain surprised they let this one play in mainstream theaters.
Sully. He should have turned the plane around immediately under any plausible calculus, and he didn’t, so you have to give this movie the Straussian reading.
Weiner is a splendid movie with many subtle points, including in the philosophical direction. In another life, Huma Abedin could have been a movie star. She has exactly the right mix of distance and involvement, and she dominates every scene she is in, even when just sitting quietly in the background. Um…I guess she is a movie star. Starlet. Whatever.
Difret, an Ethiopian legal drama.
Andrei Tarkovsky, Ivan’s Childhood (reissue). This is one of Tarkovsky’s worst movies, and yet one of the best movies in virtually any year.
The Handmaiden, by Park Chan-wook. Imperfectly eroticized violence, but beautiful nonetheless.
Elle, by Paul Verhoeven.
Nocturnal Animals, by Tom Ford.
The bottom line
My top picks are Ixcanul, American Honey, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Cemetery of Splendor, and Sky Ladder, with Arrival being the best mainstream Hollywood movie.