John Waters has been hailed as the Pope of Trash, known for turning bad taste into good art. As the brain behind Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, his expansive career has proved he knows his stuff when it comes to cinema, so he’s taken to Artforum to review the best of this year on screen.
While last year the auteur recommended Baby Driver and Wonderstruck, this year’s list has an eclectic mix of comedies, romance, and factual docs like Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, which looks at the lead-up and all out of the Rodney King riots. He explained that it made him cry because it “makes you hate cops, then white people, then racist African Americans, then racist Korean people, and then yourself for forgetting all the details of this tragedy”.
He doesn’t stray away from the political in the list, also recommending Blindspotting, a Sundance favourite about a man on parole with three days left on his sentence. “You’ll squirm. You’ll identify. You’ll choke on your own gentrified excuses. The smartest and funniest film about race and class in a long, long time,” Waters added.
Each film recommendation comes with a personalised blurb, as he unpacks what makes the films unique and beautiful – even the absurd Nicolas Cage film about a day when American parents decided to kill their children. He describes Mom and Dad as “a laff riot” even though some critics felt the ham horror was “hit and miss”.
See the rest of his recommendations below:
1. Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (Bruno Dumont)
2. American Animals (Bart Layton)
3. Nico, 1988 (Susanna Nicchiarelli)
4. Mom and Dad (Brian Taylor)
5. Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada)
6. The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson)
7. Custody (Xavier Legrand)
8. Sollers Point (Matthew Porterfield)
9. Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992 (John Ridley)
10. Permanent Green Light (Dennis Cooper and Zac Farley)