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Character-driven, kinetic filmmaking crosses genres in 2016

Trey Edward Shults and Krisha Fairchild in the movie "Krisha."
(A24)

Our reviewers weigh in with lists of under-seen movies from 2016, as well as trends they’d like to see more and less of.

“Krisha”: A superior blend of cinematic vivacity and commanding star turn, this turbulent family holiday drama marked a killer debut for director Trey Edward Shults, who cast his aunt Krisha Fairchild as the disturbed wild card at a Thanksgiving get-together. Fairchild’s emotional horror show of a portrayal was one of the year’s strongest. 

“The Fits”: Anna Rose Holmer’s remarkably self-assured debut feature about aspiring drill teamers is a burst of poetic kineticism, flavored by percolating adolescent emotions and the woozy air of a psychodramatic mystery. Young newcomer Royalty Hightower is a real find, beautifully centering a state-of-mind experience.

“Nuts!”: Even a provocative, part-animated curio like Penny Lane’s richly entertaining documentary can fall through the cracks. In spilling the bizarre story of an early 20th century Midwestern doctor turned radio celebrity, Lane made a cheeky, rug-pulling corker that now feels like a prescient look at our longstanding fake-news gullibility. 

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Year in review: Entertainment 2016 »

“The Measure of a Man”: Quietly yet forcefully, Stèphane Brizè’s story of a proud working class man (a superb Vincent Lindon) in the soul-crushing miasma of post-layoff survival, is this world’s anti-labor economy made achingly resonant. An everyday tragedy with a labyrinthine despair, it recalls the best work of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

“The Wailing”: Murders, superstitions, demons and village hysteria are the ingredients in this unholy mauling on your most smug I’ve-seen-it-all horror sensibilities, thanks to the epic genre acumen of South Korean director Na Hong-jin.

More please: Documentaries that approach their subjects with experimentation and imagination, such as “Tower,” “Fire at Sea” and “I Am Not Your Negro.”

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No más: Comedies that feel like one long raunch-obsessed gag list assembled by gutter-minded hacks increasingly blind to the more satisfying humor of behavior, situation and wit. The shock has long gone, but the vigor with which body parts, fluids and predictable inappropriateness routinely get mixed seems only to escalate.

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