Best Movie Scenes of 2016

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The Oscars were not that long ago, so I guess I better run down the best scenes of 2016.

A lot of great food scenes: dinners in Elle and 20th Century Women, plus the frobscottle feast in The BFG. Also, The Neon Demon stopped by a bar, but I don’t think they ate much.

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Best Movies of 2016

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

This ranking was originally posted on News Cult in December 2016.

Yes, it’s another best movies of the year list, which you are reading perhaps because you know me personally. Or maybe you don’t know me in the flesh, but you follow my writing and want to keep up with my opinions regardless of how much you agree or disagree with them. Or it could be that you have stumbled upon this article by sheer happenstance. In that case, I shall do best to steer you straight.

Is this list more “right” than any other critic’s? It is certainly correct in the sense that it has come from a place of honesty. I feel enthusiastic about these films, and so I have decided to say to the world, “This is my interpretation. Perhaps you will feel the same.”

Enjoy!

10. 10 Cloverfield Lane
An anthology-style cinematic universe grows into itself in its second chapter. Mary Elizabeth Winstead finds herself in a bunker under the iron fist of John Goodman, giving the performance of his career. A drum of acid is even scarier than the monsters supposedly outside. Our pulses adapt to the rhythm of the thrills.

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This Is a Movie Review: The Neon Demon

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About halfway through The Neon Demon, I realized, “Oh, this is a comedy.” The audience had been chuckling throughout, and I wasn’t sure if those moments were meant to be funny, but after a certain point, I thought, “This has to be intentional.” It hit me during the scene when Jesse (Elle Fanning – innocent, affectless) and the cabal of models (Jena Malone – fierce; Bella Heathcote – piercing eyes, affectless; Abbey Lee – severely angled, affectless) are at a bar with a designer (Alessandro Nivola). The entire movie’s dialogue is so devoid of personality and context, but the bar scene is where it is really heightened into Waiting for Godot-worthy absurdism. Nivola pokes at the core of the statements that aim for profundity and mean nothing. I don’t know if Nicolas Winding Refn intended to make a parody of an overly stylized art film, but that is what he did.

Like any good parody, The Neon Demon intuitively understands the genre it takes aim at. But it actually comes at it a bit sideways. The plot (young ingénue is eaten alive by a performance industry) is not so much the target of lampooning as much as it is the canvas draped in self-evident pretentiousness. We’ve seen this story before – All About Eve, Showgirls, Black Swan, etc. – but never this deconstructed. If you cannot jive to The Neon Demon’s wavelength completely, fear not, as its closest antecedent is Suspiria. Just like that landmark giallo, the plot is opaque, but the aesthetics (hypnotic score, violently vibrant colors) are undeniable. See this one on the big screen, and be agog.

I give The Neon Demon 8 Examples of Symbolic Cannibalism out of 9 Implied Promises of Real Cannibalism.