Brazilian film had a banner year, as my readers will see when I finish this list.
Click on hyperlinks for full reviews.
16. The 40-Year-Old Version (dir. Radha Blank).
A playwright approaching middle age subject to the vagaries of white liberalism, Rahda turns to a rapper for inspiration and perhaps love. Rahda Blank’s directorial debut compensates for its stilted dialogue with engaged performances and for limning the nether zone where adults aren’t sure they’re too old to keep up with the kids and too young to take it easy.
15. Invisible Life (dir. Karim Aïnouz).
Karim Aïnouz’s adaptation of Martha Batalha’s novel about two sisters separated for life has the texture of a Tennessee Williams play and the pace and attitude of a telenovela.
14. Ema (dir. Pablo Larraín).
“Few who watch Ema will resist talking about it before the end credits have rolled. Other than an eye for the purploid visual, the latest by Pablo Larraín has nothing in common with Jackie, Neruda, and No; it has little in common with reality, period. At its center is a star-making performance by Mariana Di Girolamo of impressively polymorphous sexuality as the title character.”
13. Summer of ’85 (dir. François Ozon).
“Figuring out which eighties pop star Benjamin Voisin reminded me of kept me distracted when Summer of ’85 got lumpy. Roland Orzabal? Charlie Sexton? Andrew Ridgeley? With his swollen insolent mouth, porcelain cheekbones, and ridiculous hair, Voisin incarnates an era of fashion that threatens to slink into obsolescence but never does. François Ozon’s latest film stars Félix Lefebvre as Alexis, a sixteen-year-old boasting his own fabulous blond locks who spends a heady few weeks as the object of desire, employee, and lover of Voison’s David.”