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1. This is Not a Film
The Iranian director, under house arrest for working on a movie the authorities didn't like, responded by making this fake documentary about not making a movie in his apartment. It's a sharp, bitter and brilliant critique of state suppression.
2. Beyond the Black Rainbow
Moving at the pace of a mind on powerful hallucinogenics—as though it can't move forward because it's so fascinated by the objects in its field of vision—this sci-fi mescaline mindfuck is a batshit allegory for adolescence. There is bliss in its hypnotism, tranquility to discover through its technological aesthetic.
3. Girl Walk // All Day
Set to a Girl Talk album, this goofy dialogue-free dance movie is set all around the city, capturing the pure joy and exuberance of being alive in New York.
This epically high-concept time-traveling sci-fi was about breaking self-perpetuating cycles of violence; it was both intellectually engaging and emotionally wrenching.
Set over 45 years and two continents, this is a globe-trotting, era-spanning, multi-generational epic: a colorful, stylish and sexy tragedy, no less than the history of the second half of the 20th century. It's also a musical and, if not Honoré's masterpiece, at least the film that's the most him, a sort of mash up of everything he's done before.
6. Kill List
Part kitchen-sink drama, part hit-man buddy picture and part pagan death-cult horror movie about an assassin unraveling during a peculiar assignment, this is both a Jacob's Ladder-y perplexing nightmare fantasy and an emotionally grounded look at the effects of war on the ordinary people forced to fight it.
7. The Color Wheel
Alex Ross Perry
Brooklynite Perry directed, cowrote and costarred in this road-movie/incest comedy about a brother helping his sister move out of an ex-boyfriend's home. The Hawksian dialogue and physical comedy are boffo, and the dramatic core is poignant.
This cartoon really earns its feel-good ending with its unbearably sad second act. Its inherent tragedy of the decent guy who's made to feel like a bad guy works universally, but it's an especially great allegory for the dynamic between parents and children. The script is on a par with the first Toy Story, the voice work (especially Sarah Silverman) is unusually strong, and the casual anti-monarchism is a welcome alternative to the usual princessphilia.
9. Sleepwalk With Me
Like Annie Hall-lite (hey, Carol Kane!), this hilarious comedy about couplehood had a stinging moral: people stay in relationships for the worst fucking reasons!
10. Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry
This documentary about the Chinese artist shows a fearless political dissident clashing with his repressive government. Like early-days-of-AIDS doc How to Survive a Plague, it's not just inspiring—it's galvanizing!
HONORABLE MENTION: Christian Marclay's The Clock
Technically this movie was released last year, but I didn't catch up with it until it played at the Lincoln Center Festival over the summer. Had I seen it last year, it would have been number one on my list! It's the ultimate film, the best movie ever made, cinema stripped of narrative pretension and reduced to its essence: time. Plus, it's full of movie stars!