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John Waters Names Gaspar Noé’s ‘Climax’ the Year’s Best Film

At year's end, John Waters' top 10 list is always a dark treat.



John Waters has revealed his top 10 films list for Artforum and, in keeping with the “Pink Flamingos” director’s typically eccentric taste, it’s always a dark treat. His top pick for the year is Gaspar Noé’s acid-laced dance freakout “Climax.” “Frenzied dance numbers combined with LSD, mental breakdowns, and childhood trauma turn this nutcase drama into ‘The Red Shoes’ meets ‘Hallucination Generation,'” Waters wrote.

Waters is also high on “Joker,” the most controversial movie of the year. “Irresponsible? Maybe. Dangerous? We’ll see. The first big-budget Hollywood movie to gleefully inspire anarchy. Bravo, Todd Phillips! Only you could get away with it,” Waters wrote. It’s number 10 on his list, which also includes Bruno Dumont’s “Joan of Arc,” the creepy Swedish fairytale “Border,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir” (which topped Sight & Sound’s recent list), Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain & Glory,” and more. See the full list below.

Of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” Waters wrote affectionately, “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.”

He also successfully captures whatever the hell is going on “Border,” which pushes the buttons of audience discomfort in a very Watersian way. “If ‘Eraserhead’ had cousins, this transgressive troll couple would have welcomed them into their jaw-droppingly bizarre world of over-developed noses, maggot-eating diets, and pedophile-hunting duties. You won’t believe this one!”

Waters said that “Pain & Glory” was the first Almodóvar movie to shock him. “It’s not one bit funny or melodramatic and even the colors are muted, yet it goes beyond the valley of maturity and over the top of riveting self-reflection to gay mental health. You’re not dying, Pedro, independent cinema is.”

While the cult hero has not released a directorial feature since 2015 with “Kiddie Flamingos” — which depicts a kid-friendly table read of his iconically nasty “Pink Flamingos” script — he will soon take to the road again with his one-man comedy special “A John Waters Christmas,” kicking off in Los Angeles and ending in his native Baltimore.

10. “Joker”

9. “The Souvenir”

8. “The Golden Glove”

7. “Pain & Glory”

6. “Hail Satan?”

5. “Amazing Grace”

4. “Border”

3. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

2. “Joan of Arc”

1. “Climax”

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