I categorize them on the basis of when I watch them, so there is always some slippage at the beginning and the end of the year, all the more for foreign films, which can come to the U.S. as much as a year or two later than their original release dates. Of course this year was very different and there was hardly anything wonderful from Hollywood. Here is the list, as usual in the order I saw them:
Monos, Spanish-language, Lord of the Flies-type elements.
The Guilty, Danish police story, mainly talk, limited settings, really good.
Just 6.5, Iranian war on drugs movie, brutal at times, culturally fascinating.
The Wedding Plan, a few years older, a Rama Burshtein movie, imagine an Israeli woman setting out to get married by a particular date no matter what.
Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy. I think you need to have a preexisting connection to Mexico and Mexican food to enjoy it. I do.
Graduation, 2016 Romanian movie about trying to cheat on your kid’s exam. Excellent.
An American Pickle, Straussian critique of the Woke.
Tenet, if only to see a blockbuster again.
Cuties, yes it was really good, even if sometimes uncomfortably exploitative in its treatment of the source material, namely dancing young teen girls.
My Octopus Teacher, god-awful sentimental and storified, but everyone loved it.
The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman, set in Cameroon, about cross-cultural differences.
Chez Jolie Coiffure, set in a Brussels hair salon, women from Cameroon and DRC talk to each other, from the same director as Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman, they make a nice set piece and are both quite short.
The Wild Goose Lake, set in Wuhan, a kind of Chinese noir, you have to already like Chinese cinema for this one.
Talking About Trees, Sudanese movie about the reopening of cinema.
Lovers Rock, Small Axe, Jamaican emigres in 1980 London.
Usually I put this list out later in the year, but what is the point of waiting?