John Waters is not only one of history’s most eccentric filmmakers, but also one of its most eccentric film viewers. An annual tradition better than most is the release of his top ten movie list over at Artforum, each one a mix of high and low culture, and utterly unlike anyone else’s. This year is no different. For example, he loved Joan of Arc, the latest curio from French auteur Bruno Dumont. He also adored film festival favorite Joker.
Granted, the gritty DC spin-off grabbed the bottom slot, but that’s nothing to sneeze at. Waters even appears to have seen a kindred spirit in director Todd Phillips, whom he believes made a transgressive work of art. “Irresponsible? Maybe. Dangerous? We’ll see. The first big-budget Hollywood movie to gleefully inspire anarchy,” he wrote. “Bravo, Todd Phillips! Only you could get away with it.”
The remainder of Waters’ list is a blend of art house and mainstream, more the former than the latter. He gave the top slot to Climax, Gaspar Noé’s phantasmagoric dance-acid movie, in which Sofia Boutella and fellow hoofers get accidentally dosed and come spectacularly undone. As ever, he singled out diamonds in the rough seen on almost no other end-of-year list, in this case Border, a Swedish-Danish drama-fantasy about trolls that he compared to Eraserhead.
Waters loves punishing art cinema, but he made room for two upbeat titles: the Aretha Franklin concert movie Amazing Grace and Penny Lane’s doc Hail Satan?, a positive look at the rebels who run the modern Satanic Temple.
Speaking of a fun night out at the movies, he gave Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood the number three spot, saying it was “a real crowd-pleaser that deserves every bit of its critical and financial success for pulling the rug out from under America’s true-crime obsession and daring to give the Manson murders a feel-good happy ending that manages to be both shocking and terribly funny.”
Waters’ complete top ten list can be read below:
1. Climax (Gaspar Noé)
2. Joan of Arc (Bruno Dumont)
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)
4. Border (Ali Abassi)
5. Amazing Grace (realized and produced by Alan Elliott)
6. Hail Satan? (Penny Lane)
7. Pain and Glory (Pedro Almodóvar)
8. The Golden Glove (Fatih Akin)
9. The Souvenir (Joanna Hogg)
10. Joker (Todd Phillips)