Alex’s Top Film Discoveries of 2016

Here we go with my favourite vintage films I watched for the first time this year, they’re in no order and I can’t vouch that you’ll enjoy them if you watch them, but here are my favourite new old finds from the past 12-months!

Alias Nick Beal (1949) An undeservedly obscure Noir here, starring Ray Milland as the shadowy figure of Nick Beal, a mysterious man who helps out an ambitious district attorney with leads that crack big cases, but who really is Nick Beal? An essential slice of prime Noir mixed with a teasing dose of the fantastic; it’s a great watch and well worth trying to track down.


An American Dream (1966) Stuart Whitman leads the cast of this over-the-top drama that comes with a crime tinged edge, it’s a powerhouse of back stabbing and over acting as a TV hosts finds himself mixed up with the police and the mob after the death of his wife.  The nihilistic tone is perfect and the eye popping colours and sets place this obscurity right in the heart if the 60s! Also know by the fantastic title of: See You In Hell, Darling.

The No Mercy Man (1973) Possibly my favourite film find of the year, it’s a familiar tale but an early take on it, where we follow a Vietnam veteran who returns home to find his town overtaken by bikers, carnies and all sorts of corruption.  Of course things are going to get violent, but it’s how violent and how freak-out psychotic our hero gets that places this at the top of the list. Vietnam flashbacks are all over the place as the tensions builds to a truly wild showdown.

Family Honor (1972) We’ve already talked about this super low budget gangster feature on the blog, but it’s worth highlighting again simply for how raw and gritty this thing is! Unseen for years this is more of a drama really with a dose of crime dropped in towards the end, fans of grim and raw New York City should check this one out for sure.

Geronimo (1990) We dropped this Christian scare film on the Duke audience back in 2016 and it rocked the place all night long. A disillusioned Christian camp volunteer agrees to work with a group of inner city kids over their stay at a summer camp in the hope of him finding his religion again and them learning how to get along with everyone. Only things don’t work out like that as everything seems to go wrong in the worst possible ways. Featuring a group of street kids who act the Christians off the screen this is a super fun watch and way better than the standard Christian efforts.

Joey (1986) This super obscure 1980s music drama doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, but does pack itself with enough guts and authenticity that it makes the list simply for how enjoyable it is. Mix that in with a host of great musical appearances, including the one and only Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and you’ve got yourself a totally mixed up rock’n’roll, doo-wop infused 1980s teen film oddity.

Paris Is Burning (1990) The only documentary to make the list this year is a fascinating look at the world of male drag balls in late 80s New York City. This one had passed me by but I’m so glad to have caught up with it now, it’s a great document of a scene I knew nothing about and it’s incredible to see how important these events are for those taking part and how they live for their glamorous short time in the spotlight.

Child’s Play (1972) A classic slice of psychological drama from the always great Sidney Lumet, here Beau Bridges stars as an idealist young teacher who gets mixed up in a long running feud between two teachers at an exclusive religious school. Dark as night and very bleak with a film stealing performance from James Mason, who seems to embody every unpleasant teacher that’s ever walked the hallowed halls of education.

The London Connection (1979) Imagine if Disney decided to make their version of The Sweeney, only it’s aimed at kids; that’s what we’ve got here with this little known Disney live action crime thriller. OK it’s really more of a spy adventure, but the sight of old British cars chasing around the dusty backstreets of 1970s London brings to mind far more violent images than I think they really intended. Roy Kinnear features, of course.

Blue Murder (1985) Ah here we go with an entry from the great Emmeritus Productions from Canada, a company who manage to imbue a strange other-worldly tone to all their productions, as if the films are produced from another dimension where people don’t have real emotions, just pretend ones. Here’s another odd entry from them as a policeman tracks down a killer who’s taking out porn stars in an attempt to stop their films from being made, yes it’s as odd as it sounds…


Here’s a few other films I watched but that didn’t quite make the top list: Fresh Horses (1988), Sheila Levine Is Dead And Living In New York (1975), War Dancing (1989) and Rock’N’ Roll Cowboys (1987).

Plus my favourite new film of 2016 was…

And my favourite new TV show was…

Check out my favourite films finds from 2014 here!

Evrim’s Top 10 for 2016

As we have done so for the past few years, in January, here at Duke Headquarters, we’d like to compile our personal best of the year – please note, as always, that these are in no order: they are simply the 10 best experiences I had watching a film.

RAW: Julia Ducournau’s ferocious coming-of-age tale is not only brutal, deviant and intelligent but also slyly funny. The story of a girl coming to discover who she really is a at veterinarian school is filled with grotesque but laugh-out-loud moments as well as the best final shot of any film in 2016.

WE ARE THE FLESH: Emilio Rocha Minter‘s strange tale is not for everyone: the shock tactics he employs and the very in-your-face nature of the film has already alienated audiences all across the globe as documented in angry reviews and social media responses – but look beyond the initial repulsion and what you find is a beautiful piece of subversive, discordant cinema that exists to challenge the perceptions of its’ audience. Set in Mexico City, the story of siblings who encounter a hermit who offers them endless temptation is bound to get a reaction from you one way or another.

PSYCHO RAMAN: Anurag Kashyap is singularly the most exciting filmmaker working in India today and in ‘Psycho Raman’ he has concocted something incredibly special: a bitter look at the dark underbelly of India, peopled with lost souls which works as much as a love story as it does a thriller. Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s performance is nothing short of breath-taking and his final monologue is guaranteed to send shivers up your spine.

THE HANDMAIDEN: Park Chan-wook continues to astound and astonish by never giving the audience what they expect. A tale of endless double cross, ‘The Handmaiden’ really comes alive in its touching discourse on love – both real and perverse.

ASURA: CITY OF MADNESS: If you’ve ever lamented the lack of tough-as-nails noir films making it into cinemas, rejoice – for Asura is that which we’ve lacked for so long. Eschewing any straight logic in favour of bitter aggression, Asura lives up to its tagline 1000 times over: ‘Only the most evil will survive’. This tale of a corrupt cop, the corrupt mayor her serves and the askew district attorney who wants to nail the mayor hits all the ugly notes required to make you want a drink after watching it.

TONI ERDMANN: At once cringeworthy, hilarious and beautifully humane, this tale of a father trying to reconnect with his daughter is a fantastic example of how unexpected cinema can be: on surface, a very classic story, ‘Toni Erdmann’ is anything but: a discourse on the rampant ugly capitalism, a journey of discovery of who you were and the a testament to the power of ‘dad jokes’, it proudly stands as one of the best of the year.

ARRIVAL: It’s hard to know what Denis Villeneuve will ever come up with – so disparate and wildly different his filmography is, each film is like discovering a new filmmaker. With ARRIVAL, he concocts the best kind of sci-fi we can hope for: intelligent and emotional with a visual and narrative level of inventiveness that proves to us why he’s one of the best in the business.

KAMMATIPADAM: Rajeev Ravi’s epic story of childhood friends is worthy of the comparisons to ‘Once Upon A time in America’ – it’s a social document looking at the history of urbanization through the eyes of young men who become thugs. Despite its running time, the film never drags and by showing us a part of rural India which India let alone the West rarely sees on the screen. Rajeev creates a world which is as foreign and fascinating as frighteningly familiar to our own.

THE UNTAMED: ‘The Untamed’ is my favourite film of 2016. There’s no two ways about it. Amat Escalante’s strange tale is impossible to summarise: the best way experience it is blind. So, let me just say that there’s no other film this year which can astound you, shock you and leave you thinking for hours afterwards.

PLAYGROUND: Playground is a difficult film. It’s a film that will , upon first viewing, repulse its audience and vilify itself. That’s no surprise. However, the more you think about it, the more its shock value will leave its place to reveal something more urgent. A discourse on the nature of violence and a warning to the current generation whose legacy is filled with violent acts, the story of one day in the life of Polish schoolchildren is a heartfelt plea from a filmmaker who never feels exploitative in his capturing of the sense of loss at the heart of society. A must-see picture who rings even more true in our post-fact mentality.

No less important were the following:


Check out Evrim‘s top films for 2014 right here!