Top 10 Film Discoveries of 2016

As always, over the course of the year I run into a number of fantastic older films that I had previously never seen. In 2016 there were more than usual because I watched a TON of stuff, more than I had in many years, and I dug hard into my favorites genres of martial arts and horror. I figured if I was going to focus on watching movies in my limited free time, I might as well further explore the genres that truly excite me. You gotta do what feels right, and nothing feels more right to me than Hong Kong movies and horror.

So here ya go: my top 10 films I saw in 2016 that were new to me. Maybe you like them, too?


#10 Navajo Joe (1966)
Directed by Sergio Corbucci

Sergio Leone is the most well-known director of Spaghetti Westerns, but everyone should know about Sergio Corbucci, too. He made Navajo Joe just a few months after releasing the genre classic Django, and Navajo Joe just might be the better and more entertaining film. Burt Reynolds stars as Navajo Joe, a Native American out for revenge. The film is taut, lean and action-packed; if you’re a fan of westerns, this is a must-see film. And it might even make a non-believer think twice about the genre’s possibilities.

#9 The Grandmaster (2013) – HK Version
Directed by Wong Kar-Wai

In any obsession or addiction, there is always a feeling of chasing that initial high achieved during the discovery phase. When I was first getting into Hong Kong movies in the mid/late ’90s, I watched all of Wong Kar-Wai’s then-released films and really enjoyed them (even though I don’t think I ever really “got” them). I was so excited to watch The Grandmaster when it was first released that I ordered the Hong Kong Blu-ray as soon as it was available. But it sat on my shelf for something like three years because I had heard middling things about it and I couldn’t muster the desire to watch it. But then I did, and not only did I love The Grandmaster, it made me once again feel the rare, sweet bliss that defined my discovery of Hong Kong film. It’s not a martial arts film by the traditional definition, but it is a beautiful film about the martial arts, the philosophies at their foundations, and the difficult pursuit of reaching the pinnacle in a skilled art.
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Top 10 Film Discoveries of 2015

2015 was full of great films for me, most of which I didn’t review for Silver Emulsion. What can I say, my time has dwindled and my interest in the blog has diminished a bit. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but one thing that hasn’t faded is my love of film. I usually watch mostly old movies, and in 2015 I cuddled deep under the warm blanket of older films even more than usual. I only saw eight 2015 movies in 2015, and two of those were right at the end of December so they hardly count. If you care, Mad Max: Fury Road is easily my pick for the best of the year (if not the last few years), and I doubt anything could unseat it. Anyway, enough about what this post isn’t!

Below I present the Top 10 films I saw in 2015 that were new to me. Maybe you like them, too?


#10 Q (1982)
Directed by Larry Cohen

q

I’ve always been interested in exploring film in its many forms, but having Silver Emulsion has really pushed me far beyond what I would have otherwise done. In some cases, this has been a huge waste of time, but delving into the films of Larry Cohen has been one of the most rewarding journeys the blog has set me on. I watched three of his films last year and I loved them all (Bone & God Told Me To were the others), but Q was definitely the one that I enjoyed the most. The sheer audacity of the idea is exciting all on its own; it’s the kind of idea that if made today they’d say things like, “This wouldn’t have been possible without CG,” but here it is in all its 1982 glory. Admittedly, some will likely balk at its relatively low-budget FX work, but I found the FX to be absolutely enchanting and perfectly fitting for the film. Highly recommended!

#9 Nightmare City (1980)
Directed by Umberto Lenzi
Reviewed May 21, 2015

nightmarecity

I’ve never been much of an Italian horror fan, and I hate running zombies. Nightmare City showed me that both can be absolutely amazing. The zombies are little more than crazed dudes with mud smeared on their faces, but it doesn’t matter. The energy with which they assault the living, and the fun creativity of the film’s locations, make for one of the most fun zombies films of all time. Just watch it and thank me later.
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Top 10 Film Discoveries of 2014

I usually watch mostly old movies, and 2014 was a banner year for that. I think I saw something like 12 2014 movies in 2014, so there’s really no point in me making a Top 10, or even a Top 5, of those. My favorite was easily The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, if you care. So as I have done the past couple of years, I instead present a Top 10 of films I saw in 2014 that were “New to Me.” Enjoy!


#10 The 14 Amazons (1972)
Directed by Cheng Kang
Reviewed February 7, 2014

14amazons_5

I saw less Shaw Brothers films in 2014 than I intended to, but the ones I did see were largely very impressive. One of the best was Cheng Kang’s large-scale epic The 14 Amazons. Based on the Generals of the Yang family group of stories that have been passed down through Chinese culture since as early as the 11th century, The 14 Amazons relates the story of how the Yang family widows and their teenage grandson went into battle to defend the western Song borders. It’s got everything you could want in a war adventure film… and more (like the human bridge)! Highly recommended!

#9 Oldboy (2003)
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Reviewed January 27, 2014

oldboy_3

Even though Oldboy is relatively new in comparison to the other movies on this list, it was one of those that I was most shameful about not having seen yet. And boy am I glad I finally sat down to watch it! It’s a stunning film that twists and turns its way to an outstanding finale that refuses to be forgotten. Suddenly all those praiseful conversations that made me feel shame in my Oldboy ignorance made sense. There are a lot of films that get branded with the “Modern Classic” label, but Oldboy is one that is truly deserving of the title. If you can, do your best to see the film unspoiled and knowing as little as possible! You’ll be glad you did.
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Top 10 Film Discoveries of 2013

Even more so than usual, I’ve slacked off seeing 2013 films during 2013. So instead of a dual-pronged attack of a 2013 Top 10 and a “New to Me” 2013 list, I only have the latter to share. But don’t fret, there are many great non-2013 movies… but you already knew that!


#10 Cinderella (1977)
Directed by Michael Pataki
Reviewed May 7, 2013

cinderella_3

There were definitely many films that I saw in 2013 that were better than Cinderella, but the memories from this one are burned deep into my brain and have refused to fade over time. I don’t think my situation is unique either, as my review has quickly become one of the most visited on this site thanks to a huge amount of people searching for “cinderella snapping pussy” or some variation on that. Oh, and “cinderella corn cob vibrators” comes up fairly often as well. It would seem that these images are universally locked in the psyche of anyone who sees them, causing people across the world to scour the Internet for information on this movie haunting the backs of their brains. It’s a strange one, to be sure, but it’s fun if you’re open to a softcore musical.

#9 Piranha (1978)
Directed by Joe Dante
Reviewed October 21, 2013

piranha

Speaking of films that continue to cause ripples far after the credits have rolled, I’m convinced that all the kids in my elementary school who talked about piranhas infesting the local waterways had either seen this film or had been indirectly affected by someone else seeing it. I don’t know if a film could have that level of influence today. But even if I’m way off base, and I just happened to go to school with a bunch of paranoid, obsessed fans of actual piranhas, Piranha is a film that’s an absolute wild ride of awesome horror comedy. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Oh, and you know that creek in the hills behind your house? A guy at work told me they found a piranha up there. Watch out, man, and make sure you tell everyone you know.
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Top 10 of 2012 (so far…)

I am notoriously slow about seeing recent movies, so I haven’t seen many of this year’s biggest and supposedly greatest films. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make an arbitrary list based on the ones I did see! And my list will probably have stuff you won’t see on other lists because those people actually saw more 2012 movies! So take this list for what you will, I enjoyed every one of these movies a bunch when I saw them, and I’d imagine the movies in the top half of the list will still make the grade even after I’ve seen some of the other 2012 films. Anyway, here goes!


#10 The Grey (2012)
Directed by Joe Carnahan
Reviewed June 25, 2012

thegrey

Initially, The Grey was a movie I brushed off as being “some stupid Liam Neeson vs. wolves” movie. But over time as the positive public opinion of the film surfaced, I decided I’d give it a go. I thought, “Well, it’s Liam Neeson vs. wolves, so it’ll at least be entertaining.” What I got was far more than anything I had expected, as The Grey manages to excite both visually and philosophically. I don’t think it’s especially brilliant or anything, but it’s definitely worth seeing if you’re not scared of spending your evening in some extremely bleak territory. Liam Neeson is great, as always, and he does indeed go toe-to-paw with a pack of wolves. Good stuff.

#9 The Expendables 2 (2012)
Directed by Simon West
Reviewed September 3, 2012
Also reviewed by Stephen

expendables2

The Expendables 2 isn’t a great movie, and it’s definitely a worse movie than The Grey. But the sheer star power, pulling at every nostalgic memory of my youth, sucked me back in time to when I used to sit on the couch holding a plastic tommy gun and watch these same musclebound men take care of business. It was a surreal experience, and one that was designed specifically for me and the members of my generation. I don’t expect anyone else to understand or care, but The Expendables 2 was everything I had wanted the first Expendables film to be. And it had JCVD. Winning.

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Top 10 Film Discoveries of 2012

This isn’t a traditional end-of-the-year list, it’s one that takes a look back at all the old stuff I watched for the first time this year. The only caveat was that in order to make this list, the film could not be a recent release. So anything that came out in the last couple of years or so was immediately disqualified because that’s more me being lazy about catching up with stuff than actually discovering anything. But never fear, I saw tons of great movies this year, and cutting this list back to 10 was absolutely excruciating. But here goes!


#10 Eraserhead (1977)
Directed by David Lynch
Reviewed August 27, 2012

5

David Lynch is a director I’ve never been able to get into, so when I was tasked with reviewing his first film for The Lamb’s Review Tournament excitement was not my top emotion. But despite all signs pointing to me potentially hating it, Eraserhead came out swingin’ and compelled me to like it. It’s not a film for everyone, and it is rather hard to sit through at times, but the sheer power of the filmmaking talent on display and the raw, powerful images continue to stick with me to this day. The film has never been far from my mind since I watched it, and I imagine I’ll like it even more on a re-watch (not that I really plan to re-watch it!). Definitely check it out if you’re into surrealism, or if you want to see one of the strangest tales ever made about the horrors of parenthood.

#9 The Stuff (1985)
Directed by Larry Cohen
Reviewed October 13, 2012

3634945210_f688d62de9

The Stuff is one of those ’80s horror movies I had heard so much about, but never got around to seeing until now. Not only does it hold up extremely well, I think I actually did myself a favor by waiting, as I don’t think I would’ve picked up on all the biting satire in my youth. But that’s the beauty of The Stuff, it works as both a satirical piece AND a horror comedy tribute to ’50s monster movies. I was introduced to the work of Larry Cohen a few years ago when I saw Maniac Cop, and now The Stuff reminds me that I need to delve a little deeper still.

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Favorite & Least Favorite Films of 2011

It’s that time of year again! I honestly haven’t seen a good majority of the big films released this year, but it’s already mid-February so I figure I should get this up before nobody cares. Below is my list of the 2011 films that have left an impact on me, either good or bad.

My usual end-of-year list disclaimer: I have a serious complex about trying to categorize and list my top movies of the year, therefore I refuse to do so. Lists are arbitrary and mean next to nothing to anyone but the one who makes them, so if the list means nothing to me, then it becomes worthless. I’ve tried to figure out a good way to do this so that films I truly enjoyed could get a year-end nod without me having to break anything down and decide any sort of order. The list is completely subjective and I purposefully called this “Favorite Films” so that the focus is on my enjoyment and not simply filmmaking quality. So with that said, here’s a quick glance at my favorite and least favorite films of 2011. This is by no means definitive.


Favorites:

The Skin I Live In

Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Contagion
Forks Over Knives
Take Shelter
Thor
Midnight in Paris
Attack the Block

Honorable Mentions:

Pearl Jam Twenty
Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop
Source Code
Super
Born to be Wild

American: The Bill Hicks Story

Worst:

Hall Pass
Killer Eye: Halloween Haunt
Hanna
Red Riding Hood
Choy Lee Fut

And a new category,
Most Over-Rated:

The Tree of Life
Drive
The Artist

2011 Movies I still plan to see that might be good:
Season of the Witch (Hahaha, yeah I know…)
I Saw the Devil
Another Earth
The Guard
Straw Dogs
Red State
The Rum Diary
The Descendants
Hugo
The Muppets
Shame
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
The Sorcerer and the White Snake
Wu Xia
From Up on Poppy Hill

Think I got it wrong? Wondering why a certain favorite film isn’t on the list? Drop a comment below!

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