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Thrillers, a rock doc and a ghost story mesmerize, but bad horror drags down 2016

Our reviewers weigh in with lists of little seen movies from the past year.

“Only Yesterday”: Made in 1991 but finally released in America this year, this Studio Ghibli gem is a lovely ode to the female adolescent experience. Isao Takahata’s animated drama revels in memories big and small with a subtle touch that’s rare in film, animated or otherwise.

“Under the Shadow”: This unsettling film tells a truly terrifying ghost story that doesn’t sacrifice its profound themes at the altar of scaring the audience. Though it’s set in Iran in 1988, its commentary on issues feels timelier than ever.

“The Invitation”: The tension in Karyn Kusama’s thriller builds slowly, from the initial awkwardness of a dinner party with an ex to a violent, surprising climax. It makes particularly nice use of its setting, both in the house’s modern architecture and its placement in the Hollywood Hills.

Year in review: Entertainment 2016 »

“We Are X”: The best type of documentary fully immerses you into its world, even if you had no knowledge of the subject at hand. This rock doc creates instant fans of the band X Japan, making audiences wish they knew the words to their hits to sing along.

“Always Shine”: Films this dark and heady are rarely fun, but Sophia Takal’s picture is thrilling both in its suspenseful story and its successful execution. Her movie finds two actresses (Mackenzie Davis and Caitlin FitzGerald) pitted against each other, commenting on the roles that women are cast in both on screen and off.

More, please: Films that explore the adult daughter-parent dynamic with authenticity, humor and heart. Male filmmakers have mined the father-son connection endlessly, but female directors offer new insight with movies such as “The Meddler” and “Toni Erdmann,” reminding us of the complex nature of these relationships.

No más: Bad horror movies slipping in one last jump scare before the credits roll. Thanks, “The Forest,” and numerous others over the years that have interrupted relief that the movie is over with one last, cheap gasp.

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