Ballots and Best-of Lists

Best Films Released Since I Became SN&R Film Critic


Under the Skin

By Daniel Barnes

I have been contributing reviews, feature articles, best-of lists, columns and more to the Sacramento News & Review since 2000.  However, I did not graduate to the main review of the Film page until Summer 2013.  When I learned that there was an opening for a film critic at the paper, I applied for the position with a spec review of Upside Down, which I published for the first time last week.

My first long review, an admittedly overenthusiastic take on Pedro Almodovar’s I’m So Excited! (I really was so excited!), appeared in the 8/1/13 issue of the Sacramento News & Review.  It was the first of over 125 long reviews that I would contribute to the paper as a film critic.  This collaboration reinvigorated my writing career and eventually gave me the confidence to quit my day job and become a full-time freelancer.

I write about a lot more than movies these days, but now that I have reached this milestone, I wanted to look back at some of the films that inspired me over the last five years.

These are the top 25 features and top 10 documentaries released in American theaters since that first review got published on 8/1/13 (NOTE: this excludes earlier-in-2013 releases like Upstream Color and The Act of Killing that would otherwise make these lists).  Click the title of the film to read my original review.


1) Under the Skin
2) A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
3) Inherent Vice
4) Mistress America
5) The Florida Project
6) Inside Llewyn Davis
7) Phantom Thread
8) The Handmaiden
9) Mad Max: Fury Road
10) Anomalisa
11) Boyhood
12) Mr. Turner
13) Snowpiercer
14) Timbuktu
15) The Duke of Burgundy
16) We Are the Best!
17) First Reformed
18) Three
19) The Witch
20) American Honey
21) Elle
22) The Hateful Eight
23) Your Name.
24) Silence
25) Her

Listen to Me MarlonTOP 10 DOCUMENTARIES

1) Listen to Me Marlon
2) Cameraperson
3) O.J.: Made in America
4) The Look of Silence
5) Narco Cultura
6) LA 92
7) The Work
8) The Overnighters
9) Let the Fire Burn
10) Visitors