fantastic fest 2016 awards

You never know what you’re going to get at Fantastic Fest, the Austin-based genre film festival that takes great delight in immersing attendees in the strangest, wildest, and most unique movies from around the globe. Over the course of eight days, I saw 27 movies. I saw some of the best films I’ve seen all year. I saw oddities I will never forget. I saw some things I wish I could forget. As is always the case, I missed a few big titles, like Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, the divisive The Greasy Strangler, and the crowd-pleasing Bad Black.

But now, it’s time to put a bow on this year’s fest. Sure, the festival itself has juries on hand to recognize films in the line-up, but there’s only one awards ceremony that really matters here – the one that I create out of thin air to throw imaginary accolades at my favorite movies from the line-up.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in the best, weirdest, funniest, oddest, scariest, etc. movies to emerge from Fantastic Fest 2016.

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Everything We Saw at Fantastic Fest 2016

fantastic-fest-2016

When the smoke cleared, I ended up seeing 27 movies over eight days at Fantastic Fest 2016. The Austin-based genre film festival always has a strong line-up of odd, unusual, and unique movies from around the world, but this year was truly exceptional – I saw very few movies I wouldn’t recommend in some capacity. I even saw a handful of movies that are in serious contention for my end-of-the-year top 10.

For the sake of completeness, I have compiled all of my Fantastic Fest coverage into one place, with links to my reviews and smaller capsule reviews for everything that didn’t get their own post. If you’re looking for a something terrifying or unique or action-packed or tear-jerking or just plain unusual, there is something here for you.

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the age of shadows review

Almost every Kim Jee-woon film is a blasted battlefield where style and substance have declared war on one another. Most of the time, the two reach a stalemate – films like The Good, The Bad, The Weird and I Saw the Devil are energetic masterpieces that often feel as if they’re teetering on the edge of collapse, films whose expansive running times are justified by the sheer amount of things happening on the screen. It may take awhile, but even The Last Stand (Kim’s first and, so far, last foray into Hollywood) taps into his innate desire to tear up everything on the screen with gleeful, gory debauchery. It’s his default mode and it has served him well.

The Age of Shadows is a quite the departure for the director, who has returned to South Korea and has returned with a slick historical spy epic that finds his most identifiable traits being moved to the back burner, for better and worse.

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the age of shadows trailer

A few years ago, South Korean filmmaker Kim Jee-woon‘s sojourn in Hollywood came to an abrupt end when The Last Stand was a box office bomb. And while I have a soft spot for that goofy, endearingly odd movie, a late-period Arnold Schwarzenegger shoot ’em up was probably not the best use of the man who directed A Tale of Two Sisters, A Bittersweet Life, I Saw the Devil, and The Good, The Bad, The Weird. Here’s a filmmaker who has always been at his best when he’s allowed to go totally for broke. He wasn’t made to juggle aging action stars and studio notes.

Now, Kim has returned to his homeland and has a new movie arriving this year. And I’m a little biased because I have loved almost all of his work so far, but The Age of Shadows looks like one of 2016’s more exciting movies, an espionage story that looks genuinely fresh and tense.

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