2016 presented some gripping documentaries and extraordinary visions

Director Brian De Palma, left, and actor John Travolta on set of "Blow Out" from the documentary "De Palma."

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.

“De Palma”: Brilliant, oft-misunderstood director Brian De Palma talks to fellow filmmakers Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow about his tumultuous career, going movie by movie in a stripped-down documentary that doubles as the story of what happened to the early ’70s “New Hollywood” crowd once they started mixing art and show business.

“The Eyes of My Mother”: Shot in stark black-and-white, writer-director Nicolas Pesce’s debut film is like a deeply disturbing horror novella, with an edge-of-the-seat prologue about a rural home invasion gone wrong and then a long, semi-sympathetic look at how the little girl who witnessed the crime grew up to be a psychopath.

“Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids”: Director Jonathan Demme proves once again that he’s the maestro of the concert film, turning a massive Las Vegas arena show into an at once joyous and intimate experience.


Year in review: Entertainment 2016 »

“April and the Extraordinary World”: French cartoonist Jacques Tardi’s retro-futurist aesthetic is perfectly suited to the stylized designs of animation, but what’s so remarkable about this brainy fantasy film is how it turns his ideas into a cohesive story, following an adventurous young scientist on an alternate Earth. The steampunk look and twisty plot make for a lively “what if?”

“Peter and the Farm”: The daily misery of one opinionated, frequently drunk, 68-year-old Vermont farmer provides the drama in one of the year’s best documentaries: an unflinching look at how the paradise of his youth has become a prison in his old age.

More please: Small-scale action-adventure flicks. “The Shallows” and “Green Room” are great examples of how to make entertaining genre films that don’t cost $100 million and don’t feel overstuffed and unfocused.


No más: Hollywood, please stop announcing “shared universes” and six-picture “arcs” before the first film of a series even goes into production. Just make one good movie. If people like it, make more.

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