It Comes at Night

Restrained, rigorous, and unrelentingly bleak, It Comes at Night is a daunting drama with a grueling mood; a lithe exploration of family amidst intense scrutiny and paranoia; and a patient, pulse-pounding thriller that’s – refreshingly, terrifyingly – not about the things that go bump in the night. Lean and mean, it comes packaged to rouse people from their slumber and keep them up shaking in their beds.

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Martyrs

Resolutely bleak, extraordinarily harrowing, and relentlessly upsetting, Martyrs is a shocking, disturbing French arthouse horror that earns its reputation, a memorable journey of vile deeds that one does not wish to remember but cannot forget. It’s a grisly thought provoker that’s nearly overwhelming in its capacity to provoke not only thoughts, but disgust, chills, nausea, and everything in between.

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Let the Right One In

Unbearably moving, crisply intelligent, and gorgeously lensed, Let the Right One In is a superb accomplishment on every level: a remarkable coming-of-age story, a disturbing horror film, and a devastating romance. Ice-cold and incredibly captivating, it’s one of the best films of the year.

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Get Out

Deftly implemented, unsettlingly relevant, and blisteringly funny, Get Out is an impressive horror debut that’s perfect for Sundance, an agile social commentary, and a terrific calling card for its young director. Spinning with twists and turns and uneasy tension (the first scene will trigger severe heart palpitations), it’s savvy, smart entertainment that’s mostly bold.

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2016 Retrospective

2016 was a borderline disastrous year for the world. Brexit, the rise of Trump, ISIS attacks, the Syrian refugee crisis, the Zika virus, the deaths of Leonard Cohen and David Bowie (not to mention Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, and Anton Yelchin, among many others) cast a pall over our theatres. But filmmakers near and far – from Romania, Brazil, and the Philippines to South Korea, Iran, and Texas – came to the rescue with a bounty of work to distract, disturb, and delight.

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2016 Year-End A&S Nominations

Dozens and scores of films later, with superb renditions of Sundance (that police station scene), Cannes (that wig), Telluride, and TIFF behind us yet again, I present the inaugural Year-End A&S Nominations, in advance of my 2016 Retrospective, coming in January. Twenty-seven films are represented below: one special mention goes to Justin Hurwitz for La La Land, in honour of the catchy songs that mark (along with Emma Stone) the high points of Damien Chazelle’s crowd-pleasing musical. See below for the full results.

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American Honey

Perpetually engaging and enthusiastically irresponsible, American Honey is a fascinating coming-of-age story with naturalistic performances; and a free-spirited road movie with languishing, exultant moments. Gleefully unhinged and indulgent, it’s a wild ride through sex, drugs, and hip hop, with the journey led by one of Britain’s preeminent auteurs working out of her supposed comfort zone.

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