This year’s 12th edition of the Scary Movies festival at Film at Lincoln Center premiered Ari Aster’s extended version of “Midsommar” this past Saturday.
There’s always mention of 1999 and 2007 as the defining years of “recent” cinema, but I keep vouching for 2016 to be added as a marquee year.
It just felt like great movies were being released every single week in 2016. Cannes had one its best lineups ever, so did Sundance and Toronto. In all, I found a grand total of 60 movies that were good, very good or great.
All of these have their fair share of admirers and have, one way or another, left their mark on the American movie landscape. A ton of them are what one would qualify as undervalued or underrated.
2016 had the perfect amount of quality foreign-language, indie and big studio releases:
La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester By the Sea, Arrival, Paterson, Toni Erdmann, Silence, O.J: Made in America, Krisha, Aquarius, Certain Women, The Handmaiden, Green Room, Everybody Wants Some!!, The Lobster, The Witch, Zootopia, Hell or High Water, Elle, Loving, Cameraperson, American Honey, The Invitation, Right Now Wrong Then, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Edge of Seventeen, The Founder, Jackie, 20th Century Women, Captain America: Civil War, Sully, The Wailing, Hacksaw Ridge, The Neon Demon, Patriots Day, The Accountant, Deadpool, A Bigger Splash, Don’t Breathe, Miss Sloane, The Salesman.
Some more hidden gems …
Gleason, Weiner, Newtown, Lo and Behold, Hush, In a Valley of Violence, Lights Out, Don’t Think Twice, The Eyes of My Mother, Indignation, Equity, Triple 9, Eye in the Sky, Little Men, Captain Fantastic, Midnight Special, Nocturnal Animals, Sing Street, Rogue One.
Also, notice that there wasn’t a single Netflix film in the bunch. With the advent of today’s algorithm-driven streaming content and the lack of big studio adult-oriented dramas, I fear we might never again get a year quite like this one, or at least not in the foreseeable future.
And so, here I am, officially kick-starting my campaign for 2016 to be mass-recognized as the last great year for American moviemaking.
UPDATE: a lot of readers mentioning 2019 as the actual “great” year: “Uncut Gems,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” “The Irishman,” “Parasite,” “Knives Out,” “Richard Jewell,” “Pain and Glory,” “Joker,” “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” “Us,” “Ford v Ferrari,” “Marriage Story,” “Avengers: Endgame,” “Dolemite is My Name” “Gloria Bell,” “Dragged Across Concrete,” “The Art of Self-Defense,” “American Factory,” “I Lost My Body” …
Maybe four flat-out masterpieces in 2019 and three in 2016, but the sheer voluminous amount of good to very good films in ‘16 was quite something and far exceeds the ‘19 output.