Category Archives: Top 10 Lists

WHERE’S THE WEIRDNESS?, PART 2: TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES NOT (YET) ON HOME VIDEO

Here’s a (long-awaited?) update on a list we first published in 2011, back when DVD was the king of vintage movie viewing. (At the time we published it, it was our most commented-on post, and actually contributed to this site’s growth). Now, in the Netflix binge age, changes in the movie market have made DVDs, and even their HD successor, the Blu-ray, less significant—although we don’t think they’ve yet fallen in status to “quaint.” Any movie most people can think of—Captain America: Civil War, Pulp Fiction, Casablanca—-can be bought on DVD; unavailability, or even restricted availability, in that format is a clear indicator of obscurity.

We prefer promote films that are readily available either on physical media, or at least on legitimate streaming platforms, to the List, and hold off on those that don’t have a release. There are a couple of exceptions where we’ve added films that are still to this day only available on used VHS copies (Toto the Hero and Marquis being prominent examples). In the early days of the site, there were a couple of times (The Reflecting Skin comes to mind) when we wrote a movie up, only to find a lavish physical disc released a few months or years later. Although there are some advantages to being an early champion of an unavailable film—like the satisfaction of receiving a pat on the back when it finally gets released (again, The Reflecting Skin) —we’d still rather spend a List spot on a movie people can easily find and own. It’s easier to review and select a List entry from the vast pool of movies we can actually buy, rent or stream. And holding off allowed us to add surprises like Belladonna of Sadness, the nearly-lost 1973 psychedelic Japanese rape-revenge witchcraft anime, to the List the minute they become available.

For that reason, we held off on a reviewing and/or approving a handful of movies that almost certainly could have ranked alongside their listed brethren, had they had a release. It’s not a 100% thing, but being able to be purchased is definitely an advantage for a weird film, in our minds. When you’re dealing with the very last items on a large list, and you’ve already selected the can’t-miss titles, that small advantage can make a difference to a movie making our final cut or not.

Yeah, we know: today, everything is available on the Internet. You can probably find all of these “unavailable” titles in digital format with the help of Google and the willingness to accept the risk of downloading a virus from a shady pirate website. Our preference for legitimate releases is legitimately old-fashioned, but we’re not ashamed of it. We like prints that have been restored to reflect the director’s original vision, extra features that expand our understanding of the film, permanent ownership of a real physical object we can actually touch, and the idea of money going into the pockets of the people who made the film and/or assembled the product. Sue us.

Just to show that all hope is not lost, five titles—Arrebato (1980), Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968), Eden and After (1970), Death Laid an Egg [La morte ha fatto l’uovo] (1968), and Kin-Dza-Dza (1986)—showed up either on DVD or on streaming platforms since we wrote the first list way back in 2011. Four of those went straight to Certified Weird (the other one we have yet to see). We have tracked down five new obscuro titles to take their place.

These ten movies are all “honorable mentions” of a particular kind. Any of them could have made the List, but for the vicissitudes of distribution. And who knows: maybe the Criterion Collection will add Continue reading WHERE’S THE WEIRDNESS?, PART 2: TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES NOT (YET) ON HOME VIDEO

TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2018

2018 was deep in weirdness. Although we deemed only a trio of movies (one of which was technically a 2017 release) as worthy of Certification as among the 366 Weirdest Films of All Time, there were a lot of hard cuts at the bottom of this year’s top 10 list. At the beginning of the year, we were confident that the homoheroic spoof Fags in the Fast Lane would remain among the ten strangest cinematic offerings by December, and yet it got lost among a multitude of odd releases. Chained for Life was a metanarrative farce starring real-life “freaks” making a movie in their off hours, but it didn’t sniff the top 10. Nor did ‘s Double Lover (despite featuring the year’s most innovative gynecological camerawork), Australia’s microbudgeted Hitler Lives! (despite depicting Nazi war criminals as marionettes), or the Suspiria remake (despite having the best avant-garde exploding-witch choreography of the year).

Poster for Mandy (2018) - weirdest movie of 2018Besides that wealth of weirdness on the big screen, we should note that the small screen brought us the second (and sadly final) season of the metaphysical comedy/mystery “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency,” while  went miniseries mad with the Nippo-Gothic “Tokyo Vampire Hotel” (also released in a condensed and even more incoherent version as a feature film). And, on a final note, we’ll mention that we’re holding off on ranking ‘s surreal Hollywood noir Under the Silver Lake, which is going back to the editing bay for a rework after debuting to puzzled audiences at Cannes (we expect his original vision will be both better and weirder, but eventually think we’ll be able to see both side-by-side for comparison).

As for the choice of movies: as always, I personally pick them using 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 rank them in whatever arbitrary order I momentarily feel like without regard to any of that. As always, films are listed in random Continue reading TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2018

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2018 – MAINSTREAM EDITION

Here is my annual top 10 list of movies, ranked according to mainstream standards. In other words, weird movies are allowed in this list, but I attempt to rank 2018 releases according to their general merit, intended for people who don’t specialize in the genre. Provocative cults film like Sorry to Bother You and Mandy can (and did!) make this list, but they will not automatically be catapulted to the top, and when ranked by mainstream standards they may even show up in a different order. Stay tuned for the top 10 weird movies of 2018 at a later hour.

2018 Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): BlackKklasman, Black Panther, Border [Gräns], Double Lover [L’amant double], Eighth Grade, Game Night, Madeline’s Madeline, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Night is Short, Walk on Girl, November, Paddington 2, A Quiet Place, Science Fair, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Suspiria, Thoroughbreds, Widows, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, You Were Never Really Here

10. Free Solo: This documentary follows rock climbing legend Alex Honnold as he attempts to become the first person in history to climb Yosemite’s 3,000 foot tall El Capitan using nothing but his limbs and his wits. A fellow climber compares the feat to an Olympic competition, except that if the athlete gives anything less than a gold medal performance, he dies. My pick for doc of the year; breathtaking views, drama, and a good reminder that excellence is abnormal.

9. Incredibles 2: Mr. Incredible takes a turn as a house-husband when his wife Elastic Girl is chosen as the spokeswoman in a campaign to rehabilitate the image of surperheroes; an evil plan is afoot, and the Incredibles’ newest arrival reveals his superpowers. Superior fluff that benefits greatly from its sleek, James Bond-inspired retrofuturist design. Nice baby/raccoon battle, too. Brad Bird made this sequel an incredible(s) 14 years after the original. Don’t worry if you don’t remember the first one too well; I never even saw it, and I loved this one.

8. Mandy: Read the Certified Weird entry! A lumberjack takes revenge on the Manson-like hippie cult that killed his true love, Mandy. The prophesied Nic-Cage-kills-bikers-and-hippies-while-tripping-on-acid fantasia you’ve been waiting on is here. Somehow, the 92% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes translated into 0% consideration during awards season; horror movies are starting to break out of the critical ghetto, but sadly, midnight movies probably never will.

7. First Reformed: Counseling a troubled environmentalist parishioner slowly leads a minister at a “tourist church” (an intense Ethan Hawke) into the very depths of despair he preaches against. Challenging and thought-provoking character study aimed at cinephiles.  still has it. God’s lonely man, indeed.

Ad for First Reformed

6. Sorry to Bother You: Read the Certified Weird entry! When telemarketer Cassius Green learns to use his “white voice,” he shoots up the corporate ranks, becomes a “power caller,” and is asked to compromise his principles in a shocking way. Seemingly coming out of Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2018 – MAINSTREAM EDITION

TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2017

2017 saw a decrease in the number of truly great weird films released. Maybe it was because the year’s political climate was so bizarre that no surrealist could outweird reality: what screenwriter could come up with a character as absurd as “the Mooch“? Whatever the reason, we only saw two 2017 releases (so far, at least) attain the coveted “Certified Weird” status, versus five laureates in 2016. On the other hand, it was an excellent year for re-releases, with the Oedipal transvestites of Funeral Parade of Roses once again tramping across arthouse screens, and ‘s chicken-centric giallo Death Laid an Egg getting a clucking good restoration and subsequent Blu-ray debut. And any year which sees new films from a particularly fervid , a relatively restrained , and a steadily strange Yorgos Lanthimos can be called a loser—and that’s not even mentioning ‘s return to the small screen with the absolutely bizarre “Twin Peaks: The Return.” So let’s pay tribute to the weirdness of 2017 past: the eel transfusions, killer mermaid musicals, and rectum-faced women that strangened our screens, while we look forward to the oddness certain to come in this weird year of our Lord 2018.

The Lure Weirdest Movie of 2017As for the choice of movies, as always, I personally pick them using 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 rank them in whatever arbitrary order I momentarily feel like without regard to any of that. As always, we list the films in random order—the weirdest of orders.

7. Slack Bay  – Unexplained disappearances plague a seaside resort frequented by an odd bourgeois family. Slack Bay finds writer/director carrying over a number of themes and tropes from his hit television miniseries Lil’ Quinquin: the resort setting, bumbling gendarmes, and a mixture of absurdist comedy and dark metaphysical mystery. Our mused “The film goes all in on the oddness, contrasting over-the-top dramatics with an aggressively blasé attitude toward the more salacious elements of its story. Writer/director Bruno Dumont wants very badly to put you off your guard, mixing in livewire topics like cannibalism, incest, and gender confusion with characters who are carefully calculated to be ridiculous.”

1. The Lure [Córki Dancingu– Certified weird! We’ve been waiting for two years for ‘s 2015 Polish debut The Continue reading TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES OF 2017

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2017 – MAINSTREAM EDITION

Here is my annual top 10 list of movies, ranked according to mainstream standards. In other words, weird movies are allowed in this list, but I attempt to rank 2017 releases according to their general merit, as a guide intended for people who don’t specialize in the genre. Therefore, a provocative, nearly Surrealist film like mother! will rank highly in a year-end weird movie list, but only earns an honorable mention as a notable 2017 release here. (That said, there is an entry here to shock the unaware). Stay tuned for the top 10 weird movies of 2017 at a later hour.

2017 Honorable mentions (in alphabetical order): Baahubali 2; Baby Driver; The Big Sick; Brawl in Cell Block 99; City of Ghosts; Columbus; A Cure for Wellness; Darkest Hour; Dunkirk; The Florida Project; A Ghost Story; Graduation; Jane; The Killing of a Sacred Deer; Lady Bird; The Lego Batman Movie; Logan; The Lost City of Z; mother!; My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea; A Quiet Passion; Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Stronger; Thelma;Thor: Ragnarok; The Women’s Balcony; Wonder Woman; Your Name

10. Mudbound: The epic tale of two families–black sharecroppers and white landowners–in Jim Crow Mississippi, and the unlikely (and tragic) friendship between two sons who bond over their WWII service. Great historical detail, a fine ensemble cast, and a chilling ending are the high points in this excellent adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s novel. A Netflix production with a limited theatrical release.

9. Only the Brave: Trying to clean up so he can support his daughter, a recovering drug addict (Miles Teller) joins an ambitious wildfire-fighting crew led by a gruff workaholic (Josh Brolin). Nothing in this inspiringly macho adventure drama feels forced or exaggerated for effect; it is a honorable and touching tribute to the real life firemen who risk their lives to protect ours. Overlooked by both critics and box office patrons, this is a very solid, uncontroversial and inspirational movie that should move just about anyone.

8. I, Tonya: The true (?) story of Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding, from her abusive upbringing to the famous Nancy Kerrigan kneecapping incident that effectively ended her career. A tragicomic, distaff Raging Bull ripped straight from yesteryear’s tabloids, it’s entertaining, but also unexpectedly rich and quintessentially American. Chain-smoking stage mom Allison Janney makes for the year’s most hateful, unrepentant villains (at least, for those who miss Jonathan Banks in Mudbound).

7. The Disaster Artist: Struggling actor Greg Sestero befriends the odd, inept Tommy Wiseau—a mystery man of uncertain origins and bottomless wealth—who produces the disastrous self-indulgent camp classic The Room. The “making of” scenes of are very funny, but the core of the movie is the legitimate friendship between the two men—a call to stay loyal to those who show you loyalty, however weird they may be. If you’re looking for insights into Wiseau’s origins, the source of his fortune, or how he got to be so indescribably odd, you won’t find them here. But you’ll feel fondly towards him anyway.

6. Coco: A Mexican boy, the unhappy son of a family of music-hating Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2017 – MAINSTREAM EDITION

10 WEIRDEST MOVIES OF 2016

Merriam-Webster anointed “surreal” the “Word of the Year” for 2016, so maybe the film world was just capitalizing on the zeitgeist when movies about a hotel prison for single people, a farting corpse, and an underage model devoured by the beautiful people all got major exposure on cinema screens this year. Old hands like and were joined by a promising crop of (often bloody) new blood: “,” , and Anna Biller. Pregnant druggies, greasy stranglers, and hooty-tooty disco cuties paraded across screens, while castaways rode corpses to freedom and Muppets assisted at the birth of Satanic alien spawn.

We had no problem filling out our list of ten weird ones for you to check out, and that’s not even counting the revival of 1973’s Belladonna of Sadness, the softcore psychedelic witchcraft rape-revenge anime that was so unseen it basically could count as a new release in 2016. We’re also leaving off a trio of features seen only at film festivals: the Polish mermaid musical The Lure; Psychonauts: The Forgotten Children, the feature-length expansion of the hit Spanish short film “Birdboy“; and She’s Allergic to Cats, the underground/avant-garde romantic comedy filled with grimy video art montages exploring the struggles of an L.A. dog groomer who wants to make a version of Carrie starring cats. (Plus the dialogue-free pharmaceutical horror [?] Atmo HorroX which, while not a favorite, beat everything in 2016 in terms of sheer weirdness). Any of those films would have made the list had they received actual distribution; hopefully, all of them will show up on next year’s list.

The Lobster Weirdest Movie 2016As for the choice of movies, I personally pick them using a secret proprietary formula that accounts for cinematic craftsmanship, the level of surrealism/weirdness, and the perceived prestige in the weird movie community based on buzz and reader feedback, then I rank them in whatever arbitrary order I momentarily feel like without regard to any of that. As always, we list the films in random order—the weirdest of orders.

9. The Brand New Testament: God is alive and living in Brussels, and he’s a jerk. His 10-year old daughter hacks his computer and leaks humanity’s death dates, then goes to Earth to write a new Gospel. Literate and genially blasphemous comedy with bizarre touches, like sleeping with a gorilla.  Also #6 on our 2016 mainstream movie list, which should tell you that it’s quality exceeds its weirdness. Director is already represented twice on the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies of All Time.

1. The Lobster – Certified Weird! Dogtooth‘s Continue reading 10 WEIRDEST MOVIES OF 2016

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2016: THE MAINSTREAM EDITION

It’s fashionable to rag on 2016—with good reason—but this was an excellent year in film. My honorable mentions from the year past include a couple of fantastic foreign animated features that were ignored by the mainstream press: the French steampunk fantasy April and the Extraordinary World and Harmony, the only movie where the World Health Organization is cast as a villain. Also worthy of a mention are two-time Certified Weird director ‘s Arrival (almost a postmodern Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and I Am Not Your Negro, which is basically just Samuel L. Jackson reading unpublished reflections of writer James Baldwin—making it the most authoritative commentary on race relations in a year that included 13th and the epic O.J.: Made in America. Either could have made the top ten in a weaker year. We should also mention Weiner, a documentary giving us unprecedented access to the title character’s bizarre act of political self-destruction—a man so hounded by his own incomprehensible demons that he could not keep from publicly humiliating himself again even after the movie’s release. And how could we forget Swiss Army Man, which easily made the list of the 366 Best Weird Movies of All Time but barely missed 2016’s pan-genre top ten. With those out of the way, let’s get down to the ten films that did make the cut:

10. Peter and the Farm: Documentary following Peter Dunning, a depressed 68-year old alcoholic Vermonter who works his declining farm alone. Poetic and honest; Peter despairs, but keeps drinking and keeps farming, realizing he and his farm have become one. A good antidote to the populist and inspirational Gleason: not everyone is cheerfully persistent in the face of death. Some critics felt the documentary was exploitative, but I believe the articulate Peter is in full possession of his faculties (when sober) and is deliberately pushing our noses in a view of mortality we would prefer to deny.

9. Finding Dory: A fish with very early onset Alzheimer’s is lost in the ocean for years and tries to find her way back to her home and parents, assisted by characters from Finding Nemo, a “septopus,” and other colorful aquatic anthromorphs. There are four great things about this movie: the fast-moving plot, the cute sea creatures, the excellent animation, and I forgot the other one.

8. The Jungle Book: Mogwli, an orphaned “man cub” raised in the jungles of India by a pack of wolves, has adventures with the talking animals while fleeing the man-killing tiger Shere Khan. This is the first of Disney’s recent series of live action remakes that is clearly superior to the animated original. Jon Favreau keeps most of the humor and a little bit of the music but ramps up the peril and expands the scope so the movie feels like an epic adventure rather than a lightweight musical comedy.

7. Moana: Defying her parents, an island princess sails off to find a mischievous trickster demigod (voiced by the Rock) to help save her home. Once again, Disney successfully tweaks their formula with this Polynesian themed winner that features unique sidekicks (a particularly dumb chicken, an impudent tattoo) and adversaries (coconut pirates, a giant singing crab). The name had to be changed in Continue reading TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2016: THE MAINSTREAM EDITION