The year had no shortage of talking animal movies — and might have even hit a nadir with the atrocious Lion King remake where Disney asked us to believe photorealistic African animals moved their mouths to form words like humans. There’s no forced dialogue or anthropomorphizing in Iván Osnovikoff and Bettina Perut’s documentary Los Reyes, which follows the exploits of two street dogs in a Chilean street park. And yet, Chola and Football are more alive than any two animals that have graced the screen in years. Osnovikoff and Perut’s observant camera captures their relationship and routine without personification or explanation. (And unlike Chola and Football, the filmmakers are quite aware of what the trash left in the park and the cranes surrounding the open air say about the city of Santiago that surrounds them.) If ever anyone could capture what it is like to go through life as a dog, this would be it. Los Reyes makes for the boldest reinvention of cinematic grammar this year but never feels like an academic exercise because the lovable pooches win us over time and again. 14/10, best boys.
Availability: Currently in limbo between theatrical release and DVD/streaming.