Published Jan 11, 2017
(dir. by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve)
Like so many of the best documentaries, Tickled starts out as an investigation into something relatively simple and even silly before becoming a trip down the rabbit hole into a vast conspiracy that seemingly knows no bounds. Directors David Farrier and Dylan Reeve initially set out to determine the origin of online videos depicting the odd world of competitive tickling, but when their innocent inquiries are met with harassment and the threat of litigation, they know something bigger is afoot. To reveal too much would be to spoil its many surprises, so let's just say that the documentary is another reminder that the internet contains plenty of seedy and lurid enterprises — and they can be far more sinister than you might imagine. (Read more.)
3. Ouija: Origin of Evil
(dir. by Mike Flanagan)
The original film in the Ouija franchise is a dismal, derivative affair that offered no thrills or scares, but the prequel to the original, set in 1967 and following a widowed mother of two daughters, was a surprisingly satisfying followup. Ouija: Origin of Evil nails the look and feel of '60s horror in its staging and palette choices. The film itself, in another surprising twist, is quieter and more nuanced than it needs to be, and Annalise Basso and Lulu Wilson put in strong performances as sisters Lina and Doris. As the possessed Doris, Wilson delivers an icily creepy monologue about what it feels like to be strangled that ranks as one of the best horror moments of 2016.
Laura Di Girolamo
2. The Edge of Seventeen
(dir. by Kelly Fremon Craig)
Saying that a film that saw wide release, had a reasonably-long stay in theatres, and received near universal acclaim is underrated is a little strange, to be sure. The shame is just how many got to see writer and director Kelly Fremon Craig's story of high school discovery. This should've filled theatres and been broadly loved for its crackling humour, its light and knowing performance from Woody Harrelson as a high school teacher, and its showcase of the immense talents of Hailee Steinfeld. In the lead role, she manages a challenging mix of tones while carrying the whole film, a feat large enough that it deserves an audience to match.
1. Other People
(dir. by Chris Kelly)
There was nothing quite like the Sundance press screening of Other People, which saw a room full of the world's biggest film critics alternate between snotty ugly crying and snorts of laughter. The film really does demonstrate that full range of emotion. Starring Molly Shannon in a criminally under appreciated role, the film documents a mother's death from cancer. But it's also a movie about suburbia, alternative comedy, coming out as gay and the ubiquity of Train's "Drops of Jupiter." Other People is truly a singular film, and one that deserves your immediate attention. (Read more.)