Sight and Sound annual year-end poll involving UK and international film critics nominating their top 5 films of the last 12 months reveals Maren Ade’s German-Austrian comedy Toni Erdmann as 2016’s best film.
What was your favourite film of 2016? Did it make the BFI’s top 10 films of the year as decided by a bunch of leading UK and international film critics? For them, Toni Erdmann, the comedy from writer/director Maren Ade, was the strongest film of 2016, beating the likes of Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea to the top spot.
Ade, who is one of three female directors in this year’s top five alongside Kelly Reichardt and Andrea Arnold, said: “This makes us extremely proud, especially considering how many films you all watch in a year – and since we are all longstanding followers of the poll!”
The strong presence of female filmmakers in the top 5 reveals bold and original storytelling talent, both in development of the film’s script and direction. Toni Erdmann, the best film of 2016 according to the poll, drew adoration following its screening at BFI London Film Festival this year, while Reichardt’s Certain Women, in fourth place, won Best Film in BFI London Film Festival’s Official Competition. Jury Prize-winning film at this year’s Cannes Film festival, American Honey from British director Andrea Arnold came fifth in the poll.
Nick James, Editor, Sight & Sound said: “I am delighted that our poll recognises the talent of women directors at the top of the art form; this follows closely on from Sight & Sound’s Female Gaze issue which shone a light on overlooked female filmmakers, and it is encouraging to think that such neglect will soon be a thing of the past. I send my congratulations to Maren Ade, Kelly Reichardt and Andrea Arnold, but also to Barry Jenkins, for his deeply moving, trail-blazing second feature and to Paul Verhoeven, who has made a powerful and subversive woman-centric film.”
Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight came in second place following its global critical acclaim at international film festivals this year, including the Toronto International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival, where it won Audience Choice Award.
In third place Paul Verhoeven’s thriller Elle, starring the iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert, was met by shocked laughter at the Cannes Film Festival this May, where it was nominated for the Palme d’Or as well as playing in ‘Official Competition’ at the BFI London Film Festival.
Isabelle Huppert also stars in Things to Come (L’Avenir) in eighth place and was both written and directed by female filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve. Both these films and nine others in the top 20 feature strong women at their core, from Toni Erdmann in first place starring Sandra Hüller as a career-driven woman experiencing an awkward reunion with her father; to Hayley Squires as a single mother struggling with the benefits system in I, Daniel Blake placing sixth; and the titular character played by Laia Costa in Sebastian Schipper’s one-take wonder Victoria rounding off the top 20.
10. The Death Of Louis XIV (Albert Serra)
9. Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)
8. Things To Come (L’Avenir) (Mia Hansen-Løve)
7. Manchester By The Sea (Kenneth Lonergan)
6. I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach)
5. American Honey (Andrea Arnold)
4. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt)
3. Elle (Paul Verhoeven)
2. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins)
1. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade)