Continuing our mid-year top 10s, below are Kevin Rakestraw’s picks for the best films to be release this year so far. There are a number of surprises on his list so be sure to check it out and se if there are any here you haven’t seen yet.
#10 – LA SAPIENZA directed by Eugène Green
What, at first glance, appears to be simple story of one man attempting to salvage his career and his marriage turns into a complex entanglement of history, spirituality and Baroque architecture.
#9 – BUZZARD directed by Joel Potrykus
Joshua Burge is fantastic as small-scale scam artist Marty Jackitansky; equipped with a Krueger-rigged Nintendo Power Glove and pockets swole with bogus check money, Marty humorously attempts to upgrade his lifestyle.
#8 – REALITY directed by Quentin Dupieux
Perhaps Dupieux’s most accessible and mature film to date. Films within dreams, dreams within dreams within other films housed within other dreams. Films and dreams, dreamfilms folding back into themselves until the end and beyond
#7 – DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS directed by Spike Lee
A modern reinterpretation of Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess. Zaraah Abrahams delivers a great performance as Ganja Hightower, easily improving upon the original even though the experimental slow-motion audio-layering is no where to be seen.
#6 – WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS directed by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi
Featuring one of the year’s best supporting performances (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), this mockumentary masterpiece of the day-to-days of vampire roommates continuously impresses with its comedy and its special effects.
#5 – APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT directed by Amanda Wilder
A non-talking head documentary, in the vein of Wiseman, about the opening of a free school in New Jersey and its early stage tribulations. Children are treated as equals, but more often than not the adults and children meet each other somewhere in the middle.
#3 – SABBATICAL directed by Brandon Colvin
Robert Longstreet delivers, perhaps, the best performance in his career, subdued and low-key, in a film that is meticulous and restrained as Colvin methodically builds to a somber confrontation, long repressed feelings finally boiling to the surface if only for a moment.
#3 – WILD CANARIES directed by Lawrence Michael Levine
A young couple’s domestic squabbles parallel the murder mystery that may, or may not be, be afoot. Levine’s lively script, along with the performances and comedic beats, culminate in one of the year’s most rewarding comedies.
#2 – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD directed by George Miller
Creativity abounds in Miller’s Mad Max; explosions galore, fire tornadoes, discernible action cinematography, amazing special effects…honestly, I shouldn’t have to explain myself.
#1 – HARD TO BE A GOD directed by Aleksey German
A cinematic masterpiece of scope, creativity and ingenuity; German’s long-suffering accomplishment is a marvel of filmmaking and world-building, one that (more than likely) will not be topped for some time to come.
Let us know in the comments how this list stacks up against your own, and be sure to click here for all our other mid-year top 10s.