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Films released in my lifetime that have influenced me the most

It’s my birthday today and since I thoroughly enjoy doing weird geeky things in my free time that are tons of fun for me but usually make no sense to anyone else, I decided to make a list of my top 3 favourite films of each year that I’ve been alive.

1989 The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover / The Seventh Continent / Mystery Train
1990 Close-Up / Trust / The Match Factory Girl
1991 Double Life of Veronique / La belle noiseuse / Raise the Red Lantern
1992 La vie de boheme / Husbands and Wives / Conte d’hiver
1993 Trois couleurs: Bleu / The Scent of Green Papaya / Naked
1994 Satantango / Trois couleurs: Rouge / Chungking Express
1995 Ulysses’ Gaze / Maborosi / Dead Man
1996 Fargo / Breaking the Waves / Drifting Clouds
1997 Funny Games / Taste of Cherry / The Mirror
1998 Eternity and a Day / Festen / The Big Lebowski
1999 The Wind Will Carry Us / Rosetta / Eyes Wide Shut
2000 Werckmeister harmonies / In the Mood for Love / Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors
2001 Mulholland Drive / What Time is it There? / Fat Girl
2002 Open Hearts / All or Nothing / Hable con ella
2003 Goodbye, Dragon Inn / Dogville / The Return
2004 Innocence / Nobody Knows / Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2005 Water / L’enfant / Cache
2006 Bamako / After the Wedding / Volver
2007 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days / Stellet licht / You, the living
2008 Wendy and Lucy / Revanche / 35 rhums
2009 Antichrist / White Material / Dogtooth
2010 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives / How I Ended This Summer / Poetry
2011 Once Upon a Time in Anatolia / A Separation / The Turin Horse
2012 Like Someone in Love / Post Tenebras Lux / Amour
2013 La vie d’Adele / Under the Skin / The Great Beauty
2014 Winter Sleep / Ida / Jauja
2015 Son of Saul / The Tribe / The Assasin
2016 Toni Erdmann / Cemetery of Splendor / Certain Women
2017 Moonlight / Raw / I Am Not Your Negro

 

I’m having my own Oscars: 2016

Best Films

  1. Toni Erdmann (directed by Maren Ade)
  2. Cemetery of Splendour (directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul)
  3. Certain Women (directed by Kelly Reichardt)
  4. Moonlight (directed by Barry Jenkins)
  5. Graduation (directed by Cristian Mungiu)
  6. Captain Fantastic (directed by Matt Ross)
  7. I, Daniel Blake (directed by Ken Loach)
  8. Paterson (directed by Jim Jarmusch)
  9. The Handmaiden (directed by Park Chan-wook)
  10. Our Little Sister (directed by Hirokazu Koreeda)
  11. Sweet Bean (directed by Naomi Kawase)
  12. I, Olga Hepnarova (directed by Tomáš Weinreb and Petr Kazda)
  13. Mina Walking (directed by Yosef Baraki)
  14. Aquarius (directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho)
  15. In the Shadow of Women (directed by Philippe Garrel)
  16. Mellow Mud (directed by Renārs Vimba)
  17. Chevalier (directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari)
  18. 24 Weeks (directed by Anne Zohra Berrached)
  19. Mountain (directed by  Yaelle Kayam)
  20. Family Film (directed by Olmo Omerzu)
  21. Home Care (directed by Slávek Horák)
  22. Our Everyday Life (directed by Ines Tanović)
  23. Death in Sarajevo (directed by Danis Tanović)
  24. Arrival (directed by Denis Villeneuve)
  25. Nightlife (directed by Damjan Kozole)

I am quite happy about the fact that films listed above come from no less than 16 different countries: United States (5), Czech Republic (3), Japan (2), Germany (2), , Bosnia and Herzegovina (2), Slovenia (1), Romania (1), France (1), United Kingdom (1), Greece (1), Latvia (1), Thailand (1), South Korea (1), Brazil (1), Afghanistan (1), Israel (1).

Best Woman-Directed Films

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  1. Toni Erdmann (directed by Maren Ade)
  2. Certain Women (directed by Kelly Reichardt)
  3. No Home Movie (directed by Chantal Akerman)
  4. Sweet Bean (directed by Naomi Kawase)
  5. 24 Weeks (directed by Anne Zohra Berached)
  6. Chevalier (directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari)
  7. Mountain (directed by Yaelle Kayam)
  8. Our Everyday Life (directed by Ines Tanović)
  9. Body (directed by Małgorzata Szumowska)
  10. Maggie’s Plan (directed by Rebecca Miller)
  11. Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Løve)
  12. A Good Wife (directed by Mirjana Karanović)
  13. The Fits (directed by Anna Rose Holmer)
  14. The Edge of Seventeen (directed by Kelly Fremon Craig)
  15. The Invitation (directed by Karyn Kusama)
  16. California (directed by Marina Person)
  17. The Love Witch (directed by Anna Biller)
  18. As I Open My Eyes (directed by Leyla Bouzid)
  19. American Honey (directed by Andrea Arnold)
  20. Into the Forest (directed by Patricia Rozema)

Most underrated films

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“I’m just a scared, ugly, useless person.”

“But maybe everyone’s a little bit ugly. Maybe we’re all just dying sacks of shit, and maybe all it’ll take is one person to just be okay with that, and then the whole world will be dancing and singing and farting, and everyone will feel a little bit less alone.” (Swiss Army Man)

  1. James White (directed by Josh Mond)
  2. Swiss Army Man (directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) – I get that this film might be a bit over the top and gross for some people, but in all its weirdness it is one of the sweetest, humane films about friendship, partnership and love. It’s about how hard it is for us to connect due to restrictiveness of numerous social norms that trap our true selves and make us ashamed of who we really are beneath the mask that we present to the outer world. It’s sweet and heartbreaking – with some truly laughing out loud moments. Not to mention terrific acting by Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe.
  3. 10 Cloverfield Lane (directed by Dan Trachtenberg)
  4. Green Room (directed by Jeremy Saulnier)
  5. Born to be Blue (directed by Robert Budreau) – one of the best but least talked about biopics of the past year. Also one of Ethan Hawke’s best performances to date.
  6. My Revolution (directed by Ramzi Ben Sliman)
  7. Morris in America (directed by Chad Hartigan)
  8. Ghostbusters (directed by Paul Feig) – this film just does not deserve the crap it got this past year. At all. Far from being perfect; but hey, so was the original.

Best Documentaries

  1. No Home Movie (directed by Chantal Akerman)
  2. Life on the Border (directed by the refugee children)
  3. 13th (directed by Ava DuVernay)
  4. Free to Run (directed by Pierre Morath)
  5. Houston, We Have a Problem! (directed by Žiga Virc)
  6. O.J.: Made in America (directed by Ezra Edelman)
  7. Fire at Sea (directed by Gianfranco Rosi)
  8. Weiner (directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg)
  9. The Witness (directed by James Solomon)
  10. Janis: Little Girl Blue (directed by Amy Berg)

Best animated films

  1. My Life as a Courgette (directed by Claude Barras)
  2. The Red Turtle (directed by Michael Dudok de Wit)
  3. April and the Extraordinary World (directed by Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci)
  4. Long Way North (directed by Rémi Chayé)

Biggest disappointments

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  1. Everybody Wants Some!! (directed by Richard Linklater) – ode to masculinity, machoism and yes, even misogyny. I had high hopes for this one (I am a huge fan of Linklater after all) and while I get the time capsule concept of the movie, I cannot watch college guys bashing over girls for two straight hours.
  2. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (directed by Tim Burton)
  3. Nina (directed by Cynthia Mort)
  4. By the Sea (directed by Angelina Jolie) – this film looks gorgeous, but it is oh so very boring. It definitely had potential, but Jolie’s writing skills are too poor to keep a viewer engaged for two whole hours.
  5. Suicide Squad (directed by David Ayer)

Worst films of the year

  1. Yoga Hosers (directed by Kevin Smith) – I was never really a fan of Smith, but some of his old films – especially Clerks and Chasing Amy – are actually not all that bad. This one, however, is horrendous. The worst film I saw this year.
  2. Sisters (directed by Jason Moore) – as much as I like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, their comedic attempts don’t translate well to film. This film is awful and simply unwatchable.
  3. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (directed by Jake Szymanski) – stupid impro jokes aside, this film tries so hard to come off as progressive… but it ends up being just another comedy that promotes hetero-normativity, monogamy and marriage as a solution to our every problem.
  4. Bad Moms (written and directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore) – because these two guys know so much about motherhood they decided to make a film about it. It’s like Mean Girls, but with grown women, you know? Because women sure can’t function any other way but by forming cliques and competing against each other.
  5. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (directed by Nicholas Stoller) – the first part was stupid. So is the second one.
  6. Me Before You (directed by Thea Sharrock)

Ma révolution (2016): growing pains of revolutionary Tunisian youngster

Marwann is a carefree teenager on the verge of turning 15 who spends his evenings running around the streets of Paris and unsuccessfully crashing parties of their fellow high-school students to which he never gets invited with his best and equally unpopular friend Felix. Not that they particularly care about being a part of their high-school elite; Marwann’s reason is quite more naive and innocent, for he is simply trying to catch the attention of his attractive classmate Sygrid, a somewhat distant and disinterested Parisian that runs with the “cool crowd” and seems to be completely out of his reach. But this all drastically changes when the Jasmine Revolution breaks out in Tunisia, opening Marwann a whole new world of possibilities for finally breaking out of the shadow by becoming an impressive young revolutionary, fighting for the cause of his homeland.

The film is set in late 2010 when Tunisian president of 23 years was ousted after numerous street demonstrations and other forms of civil resistance that eventually led to democratization of the country and inspired similar protests and attempts of revolution throughout the Arab countries. Marwann, who represents a second generation of Tunisian immigrants, initially does not seem to care much about his cultural roots, nor does he really know anything about Tunisia, its politics or the meaning of the revolt that took over the country. But then he almost by chance finds himself celebrating Tunisia’s uprising that takes place in his neighbourhood, although it is more than clear by that point that his participation is far from politically motivated. As a 15 year old boy, having a good time is mainly all that is on his mind and if this ended up being at the celebration of a Tunisian Revolution, so be it. But when a reporter catches him in a revolutionary pose that ends up being on a cover of a local newspaper, he almost overnight becomes the face of the revolution. And from all his previously failed attempts, it ends up being this event that secures him a spot among the “cool kids”, for he finally becomes a part of their weed-smoking after-school hangouts. But what is even more important; he also starts receiving an increasing amount of attention from Sygrid who seems to be intrigued by the cause and interested in participating in solidarity protests that seem to be taking over the streets of Paris. It is only natural then that he embraces his revolutionary persona, begins to learn about the cause of this political unrest and, for better effect, starts greatly exaggerating his involvement with Tunisian resistance.

While the revolution and Marwann’s gradual reconnection with his Tunisian roots are important parts of this delightful coming-of-age story, they never end up taking over the story completely, for this is first and foremost a story about first love and the revolutionary fight that every teenager eventually partakes in while trying to form their own identity. The revolution thus ends up being both a beautiful metaphor for the turbulent life stage called adolescence that Marwann needs to overcome, as well as an inspiring side-story that gives us some insight into how the idea of homeland changes from one generation of immigrants to another. Marwann, as most youngsters his age, is getting increasingly torn apart between trying to become someone his family expects him to be, while still fitting in with his Parisian peers – and the Jasmine Revolution ends up being just the right event that helps him at successfully navigating both sides of his adolescent life. Him starting to learn about Tunisian history and about the meaning and possible outcomes of protests currently taking place is making his parents immensely happy for they believe he is finally becoming genuinely interested in a country they consider their home, while his newly-obtained and greatly exaggerated involvement in the cause also seems to have a great impact on Sygrid who as a result starts to become ever more affectionate.

While he is mostly all talk and no actions, his parents seem to possess a more genuine revolutionary spirit and it is not long before the two decide to temporarily move back to Tunisia to support the revolution and participate at the increasingly intense civil resistance. Although Marwann initially fights against it, them moving seems to mark his journey towards manhood; him finally being away from the world previously known to him, living under a watchful eye and careful guidance of his uncle and starting to appreciate the country from which his mischievous grandfather once immigrated in search of a better life and future for his family, can be understood as an initiation ritual of sorts, marking his transition from an egoistical child who hardly ever worries about things that do not directly concern him, into a fully grown man who is starting to understand the complexity of the world.

His uncle Lotfi, although in a minor role, therefore ends up being a significant mediator between Marwann’s two lives – between his old life of a Parisian high-school student and his new life of discovering and gradually reconnecting with his Tunisian ancestry. As they are wandering through the streets of Tunis, we can feel the revolution in the air and by the time they find their way into an underground club where a local rapper is performing his infamous song about Tunisian police (that was at the time of shooting banned in the country, causing the mentioned rapper quite a few problems with the authorities), we almost feel like we ourselves are a part of the resistance, participating in their fight for a better future.

This feeling, however, soon gets pushed away as Marwann returns to Paris to be reunited with his love, but even though the ending felt somewhat unsatisfying, My Revolution ultimately ends up being a heart-warming coming-of-age story about the pains of growing up and learning to embrace one’s ancestry. And even though the film acknowledges the growing fear of terrorism that is leading to increased militarization of France, it refreshingly stays away from even mentioning the religion of Marwann’s family. It does not happen often enough to see a film about an Arab family where Islam is never even mentioned, let alone being presented as the core of their identity and family dynamics. This alone makes My Revolution a much-needed film about France’s Arab diaspora and even though the film is initially addressing teenage audience, its delightful and amusing story and endearing, naturalistic performances (even by the first-time actor Samuel Vincent) will make Silman’s debut feature a pleasant viewing experience for all generations.

I saw this film on the opening night of International Film Festival for Children and Youth “Eye on Film” in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

The Basics:
Directed by: Ramzi Ben Silman
Written by: Ramzi Ben Silman, Thomas Cailley and Nathalie Saugeon
Starring: Samuel Vincent, Anamaria Vartolomei, Lucien Le Guern, Nassim Haddouche, Lubna Azabal, Samir Guesmi
Running Time: 80 minutes
Year: 2016
Rating: 7