Vancity Theatre’s best films of 2016

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      If the job of compiling the year’s best films should be handed to anyone, it’s probably our friends at the Vancouver International Film Centre. And voilà! Beginning Monday (December 19) with Whit Stillman’s Love & Friendship and running until January 1, the Vancity Theatre caps another year at the movies with 20 prize arguments for the continued health of big-screen storytelling. Here’s the lineup, with a few choice comments of our own:


      Love & Friendship (USA) “The sardonically titled Love & Friendship gives us a delightfully detestable villain in [Kate] Beckinsale’s career high, as Lady Susan Vernon.…[Its] burnished cinematography and elegant performances offer a droll soulfulness that embodies everything we still love, and like, about Jane Austen.” December 19 (1:45 p.m.) > Ken Eisner

      Sing Street (Ireland)  “A former bass player for the Frames, writer-director John Carney…is on surer ground in Sing Street, with his own Irish upbringing viewed through wish-fulfillment goggles.” December 20 (1:45 p.m.)  > Ken Eisner

      Eye in the Sky (U.K./South Africa)  “By the time we reach the inevitable climax, we’ve been put through a gut-wrenching emotional war. It turns out to be as exhausting as it is illuminating.” December 21 (1:45 p.m.) > John Lekich

      Son of Saul (Hungary)  “[Director László Nemes] uses a masterful sense of restraint as a kind of narrative veil, letting the unbearable tragedy seep through in measured, if undeniably potent, doses. The result makes it possible to watch the unwatchable.” December 21 (6 p.m.) > John Lekich

      Sully (USA)  Pilot Chesley Sullenberger saved 155 lives when he ditched an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River in 2009. Clint Eastwood has had a bumpy ride as a filmmaker, but he lands this tense portrait with equivalent craft and skill. December 22 (1:45 p.m.) > Adrian Mack

      The Mermaid (China)  “Splash meets The Cove in this genuinely strange and ceaselessly entertaining box-office smash from China.…The film’s a weird treat, but please leave your tadpoles at home.” December 22 (5:30 p.m.); December 24 (3 p.m.)  > Ken Eisner

      Hunt for the Wilderpeople (New Zealand)  “[Writer-director Taika Waititi’s] approach reaches a crowd-pleasing peak in the tale of overweight Maori preteen Ricky Baker…shuttled between unfortunate foster homes before landing with an eccentric rural couple.…the movie’s intense charm, killer performances, and offbeat music—from Nina Simone to ’70s soft rock—make it a must-see for 2016.” December 23 (1:45 p.m.); December 31 (1 p.m.)  > Ken Eisner

      Maliglutit (The Searchers) (Canada)  “The plot…draws from the kidnapping quest at the heart of John Ford’s classic The Searchers. But [Zacharias] Kunuk’s film is so much more shaded by his Inuit culture, full of spiritual visions and painstaking re-creations of old-time daily life.” December 26 (1:45 p.m.) > Janet Smith

      Living with Giants (Canada)  All the sweetness and pain of a young Inuk’s life is captured in this vivid, illuminating film, which took the best-Canadian-documentary prize at this year’s VIFF. December 26 (3:45 p.m.) > Adrian Mack

      The Age of Shadows (South Korea)  The first of three instant classics comin’ at ya from South Korea, this head-spinning spy thriller set during the Japanese occupation is the shortest 140 minutes you’ll spend in a theatre all year. December 27 (1:45 p.m.) > Adrian Mack

      The Handmaiden (South Korea)  “As [director Park Chan-Wook’s] camera very plainly demonstrates at least twice during this insanely rich and enjoyable film, the dominant POV in The Handmaiden belongs to the vulva.” December 27 (4:30 p.m.)  > Adrian Mack

      The Wailing (South Korea)  A cop fears that he’s losing his daughter to the evil that grips a small community in writer-director Na Hong-jin’s wild thriller, which vacillates between low comedy and the heaviest of horrors on its way to a conclusion that will haunt you for weeks after. December 27 (7:15 p.m.) > Adrian Mack

      Koneline: Our Land Beautiful (Canada)  “It sticks to kaleidoscopic impressions of a sometimes dreamlike landscape, and lets viewers decide how they feel about what they’re seeing.” December 28 (1:45 p.m.) > Ken Eisner

      The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (Canada)  Brett Story’s strange, abstract documentary traces the outlines of the U.S. prison-industrial complex without ever entering one of its overcrowded facilities, making for an especially potent and affecting spectacle. December 28 (3:45 p.m.) > Adrian Mack

      Everybody Wants Some!! (USA)  “A consistently funny, sometimes introspective riff on [writer-director Richard] Linklater’s own experience of setting out on a baseball scholarship.…John Hughes it ain’t, but you’ll remember these kids just as if you grew up with them.” December 29 (1:45 p.m.) > Ken Eisner

      The Fits (USA)  “[Writer-director Anna Rose Holmer] obviously comes from a place of deep affection for her subjects; for once, they’re portrayed as struggling for creative expression, not against poverty and violence.” December 29 (4 p.m.)  > Ken Eisner

      Hell or High Water (USA)  “All that’s left are needless personal grudges at the losing end of trickle-down economics, reduced to an unforgettable final exchange that could have been ripped from a Sam Peckinpah movie.” December 29 (8 p.m.)  > Adrian Mack

      Our Little Sister (Japan)  “Viewers…may be surprised to find that you can make a superb, two-hour movie about people being kind to each other.” December 30 (1:45 p.m.) > Ken Eisner

      Aquarius (Brazil)  “One of Brazil’s most enduring stars gets the role of a lifetime in Aquarius. This ambitious effort sums up many of the changes Sonia Braga has witnessed, in her career and her country.” December 30 (7 p.m.) > Ken Eisner

      Cameraperson (USA)  “It takes a while to adjust to the seemingly scattershot collection of people and places encountered in this unusually constructed and exceptionally powerful documentary.” January 1 (8:20 p.m.) > Ken Eisner