Category Archives: Top 10 Lists

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2023: MAINSTREAM EDITION

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Here is my obligatory/traditional annual top 10 list of movies, ranked according to mainstream standards. In other words, weird movies are allowed on this list, but I attempt to rank the 2023 releases according to their general cinematic merit, intended for people who don’t specialize in the surrealer genres. If you want an advance peek at the weird list (coming tomorrow), check out our latest episode of Pod 366.

There are a fair number of films that might have made this list but for the fact that I didn’t have time to get to them in 2023. Notably, I wasn’t able to screen awards contenders All of Us Strangers, American Fiction, American Symphony, Anatomy of a Fall, Apolonia Apolonia, The Color Purple, Fallen Leaves, Ferrari, Four Daughters, Maestro, May December, The Mother of All Lies, Rustin, Saltburn, Society of the Snow, The Taste of Things, or The Zone of Interest before drafting this list. I expect to see most of these before awards voting season concludes, and some of them may end up deserving inclusion here.

Before the official top ten starts, here are 2023’s numerous honorable mentions, in alphabetical order: Beau is Afraid, Beyond Utopia, Blackberry, Blind Willow Sleeping Woman, Dream Scenario, Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves, Give Me Pity!, John Wick 4, Killers of the Flower Moon, Lynch/Oz, Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, Past Lives, Robot Dreams, Suzume, Talk to Me, Unicorn Wars, Unidentified Objects, and When Evil Lurks.

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And now, the official list:

10. Once Within a Time: Curtains open on a glowing, chanting golden tree woman, then children watch a couple with wicker cages around their heads wander through incidents of apocalypse, technology, and wonder. Simultaneously ancient and hyper-modern, Godfrey  Reggio‘s visually-stunning surrealist experimental feature is as an apocalyptic dispatch from the far reaches of reality and a major cinematic event of 2023. With a new Philip Glass score, Iranian vocalist Sussan Deyhim as a tree-mother-goddess-spirit with a glowing heart, and a very special guest star as a pied piper who speaks in saxophone solos. Under an hour long, but because of its esoteric nature (Reggio dubs it a “bardic fairy tale”) its exposure was limited to museums and major art-house venues; hopefully it will find it’s way onto disc/streaming services soon.

9. The Origin of Evil [L’Origine du mal]: A sardine factory worker (a ruthless but needy Laure Calamy) reconnects with her rich, estranged father, who lives in an isolated mansion with four women, each of whom have their own secrets and schemes. A meticulously plotted French film where no one may be who they seem, slowly unraveling a great deal of nasty behavior amidst a sprinkling of satire and split screens. You’ll be wondering who’s plotting against whom— Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2023: MAINSTREAM EDITION

TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2022

2022 is officially in the books, and we’re still here, against all odds.

Actually, for the purposes of weird movie accounting, we put 2022 to bed last month. Our annual movie calendar ends on the last day of November, to allow 366 Weird Movies Yearbooks to go out in December. We’re not missing out on much; usually, December releases are limited to extended universe entries and Oscar bait dramas. This year, however, we do have to apologize to one movie that got caught in the late November rush: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead‘s low-budget supernatural paranoid thriller Something in the Dirt. It might have the weirdo qualities necessary to make this list, but I confess I still haven’t seen it. So much to see!

mad god (2021) posterAs always, there were hard cuts at the bottom of the list. The eerie Finnish feathery horror Hatching was the last film cut from the top ten list. The whimsical dream auditing romance Strawberry Mansion also scored strong with our staff—when it was released in early 2022, I assumed it would finish in the top 10, but the weird movies just kept flowing in and passing it by.

I personally finalize this list. The staff here has input, but I set the voting rules, create the universe of candidates, and break all ties. Therefore, if you feel that it’s a crime that fan-favorite Everything Everywhere All at Once came in at a measly #3 when any idiot can see it obviously deserves to be #1, I am the idiot to blame. When ranking, I use a secret proprietary formula that accounts for cinematic craftsmanship, the degree of surrealism/weirdness, and the perceived prestige in the weird movie community based on buzz and reader feedback, then I shuffle them into whatever arbitrary order I momentarily feel like without regard to any of that.

So, on to the official Weirdest Movies of 2022 List! As always, films are listed in random order—the weirdest of orders.

7. Neptune Frost – In an alternate-reality Rwanda, an escaped coltan miner teams up with an intersexed refugee to hack global information systems through their dreams. This Afro-surrealist feature is also a musical (and the music is its most successful element). There’s almost too much to process here in this intellectualized film that deals with politics (global, local and imaginary), the intersection of technology and mysticism, gender identity, and more. It’s part of a larger independent universe that includes a concept album, “MartyrLoserKing,” from co-writer/composer Saul Williams.

2. Flux Gourmet – A “culinary performance” art troupe (e.g. a woman smears herself with tomato soup while a pair of DJs mike up her digestive tract and mix it with the sound of a blender) perform a one-month residency, where cutthroat rivalries and digestive problems Continue reading TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2022

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2022: MAINSTREAM EDITION

Here is my obligatory/traditional annual top 10 list of movies, ranked according to mainstream standards. In other words, weird movies are allowed on this list, but I attempt to rank the 2022 releases according to their general cinematic merit, intended for people who don’t specialize in the surrealer genres. Don’t worry, the top 10 weird movies of 2022 are coming (and early adopters of the 2022 Yearbook already know what they are).

I’ve been prioritizing the smaller/rarer/weirder movies in my screenings, so there are a fair number of contenders that might have made this list but for the fact that I didn’t have time to get to them in 2022. In particular, I didn’t get to see All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Emily the Criminal, Glass Onion, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, RRR, Tar, or The Whale before drafting this list. I expect to see all or most of these before awards voting season concludes, and some of them may end up deserving inclusion here.

Before the official top ten starts, here are 2022’s numerous honorable mentions (it was a particularly rich cinema year), in alphabetical order: The Adult Swim Yule Log [AKA The Fireplace], Apples, Bardo, a Chronicle of a Handful of False Truths, The Batman, The Black Phone, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Crimes of the Future, The Fablemans, The Fire of Love, Flux Gourmet, Hatching, The House, Inu-Oh, The Long Walk, Mad God, Masking Threshold, Men, The Quiet Girl, Resurrection, Ultrasound, Vengeance, Wildcat, and Wyrm.

And now, the official list:

10. Moonage Daydream: A moonage montage showcasing the work of , with previously unseen concert footage, vintage interviews, and Bowie’s own reflections on his artistic process. Director Brett Morgan embraces Bowie’s aesthetic of chaos and paces the film like he’s found the Thin White Duke’s private coke stash, filling the screen with overlapping images of concert footage, random film clips, ephemera, and psychedelia, cramming four hours of visuals into two hours of movie. It’s an impressive audiovisual assault, although it can be overwhelming at times. Arguably the #1 movie of the year for people who’ve taken too many edibles. Morgen sneaks clips from nine separate Canonically Weird movies into the mixtape (only one that you can guess for sure).

9.  Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: A fictional documentarian films Marcel, a shell with shoes on, and his grandmother (voiced by , also a shell with shoes on) as they make do living alone in an airbnb after being accidentally left behind when their former owner relocated his shell collection. Totally charming, funny and unforced, sweet without being treacly, it’s like an completely unlikely combination of The Borrowers and Grey Gardens. Although it’s a mix of animation and live action, it will probably get an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature.

Still from Marcel the shell with shoes on

8. The Northman: A Viking prince swears revenge on the uncle who killed his father and usurped the throne, and years later returns to Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2022: MAINSTREAM EDITION

TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2021

After tomorrow, 2021 will be in the books. Despite starting off with an attempted coup and ending with a new superinfectious mutant virus, the past twelve months were actually a little better than 2020—and that shows you where we’re at. As long as we’re in the end times, with plagues and insurrections and heat waves at Christmastime and half of Facebook praying that a secret cabal is really directing all this chaos, we might as well enjoy a few weird movies along the way—even if they’re increasingly starting to look like documentaries.

Actually, for the purposes of weird movie accounting, we put 2021 to bed last month. Our annual movie calendar ends on the last day of November, to allow 366 Weird Movies Yearbooks to go out in December. We’re not missing out on much; usually, December releases are limited to extended universe entries and Oscar bait dramas.

Keep an Eye Out is Au Poste!As always, there were hard cuts at the bottom of the list. The penned surrealist noir The Show, in particular, caught us off guard with a late November Blu-ray drop. The conspiracy horror The Empty Man scored well with some of our staff, but came up empty in the end. The elegiac, absurdist sketches of ‘s About Endlessness were weighty and weird, but fell victim to more-of-the-same syndrome. ‘s eerily noisy Memoria certainly would have made this list, but it didn’t make it’s official debut until December. And of course, a couple of festival favorites bearing 2021 copyright dates—the whimsical dream auditing romance Strawberry Mansion and ‘s decades-in-the-making Boschian stop-motion hellscape Mad God—haven’t been distributed yet and will have to wait until a future year for consideration.

I personally finalize this list. The staff here has input, but I set the voting rules, create the universe of candidates, and break all ties. Therefore, if you feel that it’s a crime that Titane comes in at a lousy #4 instead of the #1 any idiot can see it so obviously deserves, I am the idiot to blame. When ranking, I use a secret proprietary formula that accounts for cinematic craftsmanship, the degree of surrealism/weirdness, and the perceived prestige in the weird movie community based on buzz and reader feedback, then I shuffle them into whatever arbitrary order I momentarily feel like without regard to any of that.

So, on to the official Weirdest Movies of 2021 List! As always, films are listed in random order—the weirdest of orders.

9. UndergodsTwo corpse collectors link tales—sometimes via Continue reading TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2021

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2021: MAINSTREAM EDITION

Here is my obligatory/traditional annual top 10 list of movies, ranked according to mainstream standards. In other words, weird movies are allowed on this list, but I attempt to rank the 2021 releases according to their general cinematic merit, intended for people who don’t specialize in the surrealer genres. Something like ‘s surrealist policier Keep an Eye Out can (and did!) make this list, but they will not automatically be catapulted to the top. Don’t worry, weird movies fared fine in this general list, as you’ll soon see—but stay tuned for the top 10 weird movies of 2021 tomorrow, where, when adjusted for weirdness, some of the same movies may show up in a different order.

I’ve been prioritizing the smaller/rarer/weirder movies in my screenings, so there are a fair number of contenders that might have made this list but for the fact that I didn’t have time to get to them in 2021:  Belfast, Cyrano, Dune, Encanto, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, Power of the DogThe Tragedy of Macbeth, and West Side Story, among others. I expect to see all or most of these before awards voting season concludes.

Before the official top ten starts, here are 2021’s honorable mentions: About Endlessness, The Alpinist, Annette, The Beta Test, Cruella, Drive My Car, In the Earth, In the Heights, Last Night in Soho, The Nowhere Inn, Pig, Saint Maud, The Suicide Squad, and The Summit of the Gods.

10. Raya and the Last Dragon: Set in a mythical kingdom loosely based on Chinese mythology, this brightly animated Disney tale follows a girl on a quest to collect five pieces of a shattered gem to bring back dragons and stop a plague. The latest stop on modern Disney’s multicultural, female-empowered tour proves the formula still works, and the art direction is superlative as always. Raya seems likely to be overshadowed by Disney’s other big 2021 release, howver, Encanto (which I have yet to see).

Promotional image from Raya and the Last Dragon

9. Keep an Eye Out [Au Poste!]: Read our review. A long interrogation of an innocent man accused of murder is complicated by another accidental death. Beginning with the arrest of a man for conducting a symphony orchestra in his underwear, this strange and funny, dialogue heavy 75-minute surrealist goof with absurd deaths and time-travel paradoxes inside of flashbacks is ‘s most ian movie to date. This technically came out in 2018 in France but was not theatrically distributed in the U.S. until this year, so we’re counting it now.

8. Agnes: Read our festival review. A demon possesses a sister at a conservative Carmelite nunnery, causing a crisis of faith for one of the nuns. Well-made on a low budget and totally unexpected; it begins as a black exorcist comedy and satire of the Catholic Church, then lurches into melodrama and ends on a surprisingly sincere note. The whiplash tone change will alienate many, but it is justified by faith. It has its share of critical defenders, but you won’t see it on many other year-end lists.

Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2021: MAINSTREAM EDITION