From controversial bans to restored classics, it was a big year for Thai film. Here are our five favorite flicks, listed alphabetically.

Dao Khanong (By the Time it Gets Dark) 

Directed by Anocha “Mai” Suwichakornpong

From the producer of Pee Chai – My Hero, which was chosen as Thailand’s representative for the foreign-language category at the 2016 Oscars, comes yet another film that breaks boundaries. Following the lives of several characters who are loosely connected to the 1976 Thammasat Massacre, Anocha plays with non-linear storytelling and narrative blindspots to create a film unlike any other we've seen in Thai cinema. We walked out of the cinema completely satisfied and utterly confused. 


The Island Funeral

Directed by Pimpaka Towira

It was a big year for indie cinema in 2016, with one of the frontrunners being this road trip movie about a young Muslim woman traveling to the Southern conflict zone in Pattani. While being exposed to the horrors that take place in those areas, we were left on the edge of our seats as the director kept us as equally in the dark as the lead characters. Safe to say, it's no surprise that the film picked up awards at the Tokyo International Film Festival in 2015 and the 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival in 2016. Check out our interview with the director here


Motel Mist 

Directed by Prabda Yoon 

Despite being pulled from cinemas last-minute by TrueVisions due to controversial scenes, Prabda Yoon's debut flick eventually made it to the big screen in its original form—and we're very glad it did. Following several love stories that take place within a mystical love motel, this is a film that manages to combine aliens, dildos and personal revenge in one story and not come off as completely sleazy. You'll come for the unique storyline and stick around for the amazing, otherworldly visuals. 


Porn Jak Fah 

Directed by Jira Maligool and Nithiwat Tharathorn

The feel-good romantic comedy of the year follows an ex-musician who is tasked with leading his office coworkers in a performance. The non-stop laughs and plentiful eye-candy from Sunny Suwanmethanon and Ter Chantavit is a winning combination. On top of everything, we love that all the songs were tributes to HM King Bhumibhol Adulyadej's compositions.


Santi Vina 

Thavi “Kru Marut” na Bangchan

Despite being initially released in 1954 and becoming the first Thai film to win international awards, this period romance film never made it to the big screen in Thailand after the footage was damaged and lost. In 2016, 60 years later, the film has been restored by the Thai Film Archive and shown for the first time to Thai audiences and at the Cannes Film Festival—to much critical acclaim. Following the story of a blind man and his lover, who are constantly fighting off haters who abuse him for his disability, this is not only an emotional love story but a gem in the history of Thai film.  


See also: The best Thai films of 201525 classic Thai films you must watch