Best Films of the Year

The Barnesyard’s Top 5 Films of 2017 So Far

By Daniel Barnes

1) Your Name.

In a year filled with films that successfully cohabited honest humanity with the supernatural, this animated teenage symphony to God from Japanese director Makoto Shinkai rises above them all.  Restless yet wise, the film plays like a Studio Ghibli version of an emotionally loaded, metaphysical mind-scrambler like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Donnie Darko.

2) Good Time

Robert Pattinson has made some bold choices in recent years, preferring to work with outsider directors instead of cashing in on his fame, but he continued to exude a low-energy indifference until his startlingly brilliant turn in Josh and Benny Safdie’s outrageous urban nightmare.

3) Personal Shopper

Sign that we’re living in the last days, No. 7,830,268: the two best lead performances of the year so far were delivered by the stars of the Twilight franchise (cue: locusts).  Kristen Stewart re-teams with Clouds of Sils Maria writer-director Olivier Assayas for this entrancing and unsettling story of a medium trying to connect with her recently deceased twin brother.

4) A Ghost Story

The most literal ghost movie of 2017, but also the most unexpectedly challenging, as director David Lowery conjures supernatural cliches (including spirits in white sheets with holes for eyes) only to rewire them into this Linklater-meets-Kubrick story of the timelessness of grief.

5) Get Out

As the darkest recesses of white privilege and hate continue to strut their stuff on the national stage, Jordan Peele’s smart, funny and stylish Black Lives Matter horror movie only grows more pungently cathartic.

Check out my 2017 Fall Movie Preview HERE.

Daniel Barnes @ the SN&R – 12/25 issue

maxresdefault*In this week’s SN&R, me and Jim Lane offer our picks for the 10 best films of 2014 (it’s not clear in the online version, but my contribution ends after the list of best performances).

Here are my picks for the top 10 films:

1) Under the Skin; 2) Inherent Vice; 3) Listen Up Philip; 4) Boyhood; 5) Mr. Turner; 6) Stranger by the Lake; 7) We Are the Best!; 8) Snowpiercer; 9) Foxcatcher; 10) The Grand Budapest Hotel

And my top 5 documentaries:

1) Visitors; 2) The Overnighters; 3) Happy Valley; 4) Mistaken for Strangers; 5) Rich Hill


*Helped by intensely physical performances from Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, director Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher has the teeming, sweat-lodge claustrophobia of a wrestling room.


*The musically monotonous Into the Woods combines the worst of Stephen Sondheim with the worst of hack director Rob Marshall.

*Angelina Jolie’s soulless WWII biopic Unbroken plays like softcore torture porn.

3-the-hobbit-3-the-battle-of-the-5-armies-what-to-look-forward-to-the-hobbit-3-the-battle-of-the-five-armies-review*If director Rupert Wyatt really knew when to fold ’em, he would have done it when someone suggested that Mark Wahlberg play the self-destructive, nihilistic, university professor protagonist in The Gambler.

*The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the final (fingers crossed!) chapter in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth wank-a-thon, is another long and dismal cartoon.