2016: The Year in Movie Moments

By  · Published on December 15th, 2016

A new video presents a different kind of Best-Of list.

This time of year there’s no shortage of Best-Of lists; we’ve already brought you at least two this month. But if there’s a problem with Best-Of lists, it’s that inevitably they all end up kinda the same. Sure, everyone throws in a dark horse, a foreign film, or an indie darling to make themselves seem more broadminded or cultured than the next guy, but top three across the board are typically the same, at least in mainstream culture. Take this year: Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, La La Land; have you seen a mainstream Best-Of list that doesn’t feature some order of these titles in the top spots? And are they really the year’s best? Like Samuel L. Jackson recently said, certain movies are Oscar bait, they’re made to fit the criteria of what we think makes a Best Picture. Typically you can identify them by the time of year they come out, the dramatic chords they strike, and the plethora of A-list white people in their casts. There are of course exceptions – this year Moonlight most notably – but I think if we’re all honest there have been plenty of quality films made in the past just as good as Moonlight that have received little to zero mainstream recognition because of their perspective, their message, or the color of their cast and crew. Would Moonlight be getting all this mainstream recognition if the culture and the Academy hadn’t been lambasted last year for being so white? I really like to think so – Moonlight is incredible, go see Moonlight, tell everyone you know to go see Moonlight— but I also can’t help thinking the mainstream might be compensating a little for its past ignorance. After all, when you call someone racist or homophobic, the first thing they tend to do is point out they have minority and gay friends. We’ll find out if I’m paranoid if Moonlight wins the top Oscar, which it should, or if something…lighter walks away with gold.

All this is to say, Best-Of lists can get monotonous at best, predictable at worst, and they’re never wholly representative of the filmgoing year, which isn’t made up of specific films as much as it is filmic moments, and those come from all corners of cinema, they are scenes and performances from movies that we in lofty critical towers might not deem the “best,” but that have still contributed to defining the cinematic experience of a certain timeframe.

In that spirit, the Best-Of list we’re bringing you this week isn’t counting down the year’s best movies, it’s cataloging the year’s best movie moments, it’s a piecemeal composite of scenes from here and there that when viewed both separate from their original context and included in a medley of similar accomplishments reveals that the year in film is not a masterpiece painted in just a few strokes, but a mixed-media mosaic with as many authors as audience members. It comes from editor Janz Anton-Iago, a.k.a. The Moviejerk, and it is a true celebration of all film, from the sure-things to the long-shots, the coulda-beens, the never-weres, and every flick in between.

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