My Best Movies of 2016

Doctor StrangeImage result for doctor strange

Film’s kaleidoscopically trippy visuals and surprisingly layered performances (courtesy of Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton), Marvel not only gave us the year’s best franchise-character launch, it also whipped up Hollywood’s most subversive midnight stoner movie.

FencesImage result for fences movie

. As a frustrated working-class husband and father undone by his own pride, Washington is like an exposed nerve. And Viola Davis, as his long-suffering wife who’s been bending for so long that she’s about to break, delivers a performance of radiant warmth and ferocious intensity

The InvitationImage result for the invitation

At the end of the year, it’s easy forget movies that impressed back in the Spring. But Karyn Kusama’s psychological chiller is a hard movie to shake

Toni ErdmannImage result for toni erdmann poster

Bizarre and disarming, hilarious and heartbreaking, Maren Ade’s German idiosyncratic import gets to the messy heart of a very strained relationship between a lonely, eccentric merry prankster (Peter Simonischek) and his workaholic daughter (Sandra Huller)

JackieImage result for jackie

Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s astonishing, gorgeously stylized drama reinvigorates the traditional biopic form, and provides a singular showcase for Natalie Portman’s indelible under-the-skin performance; it’s like no film—or First Lady

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Moana

A color-saturated Polynesian rhapsody led by a tough, smart, utterly beguiling young heroine (Auli’i Cravalho) Moana carries the essence of everything classic Disney does best, with an added circa-2016 sheen (joyful multiculturalism, songs co-penned by Lin-Manuel Miranda).

Captain America: Civil WarImage result for captain america civil warA rift comes between Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers (a.k.a. Captain America) and Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark (Iron Man) after the world’s governments try to rein in the crime fighters and put them under U.N. oversight. New alliances are formed, brutal smackdowns are dispensed, and a few new faces are sprinkled into the mix. (It’s actually one of the few Marvel flicks where brand extension feels organic rather than craven.) If all superhero movies were as good as Civil War, no one would complain about the number of them.

 

Sing Street

Image result for sing streetBut hope arrives in the form of an acid-washed angel named Raphina (Lucy Boynton), an aspiring model far too gorgeous and sophisticated for the local delinquents—though she might be persuaded to open her heart to a bona fide rock star.

 

Midnight Special

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The truth is out there in Jeff Nichols’ supernatural thriller, an eerie sci-fi tone poem that quietly upends the whiz-bang conventions of the genre. An anxious father (Michael Shannon) has managed to extract his 8-year-old son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), from a Texas doomsday cult (led by Sam Shepard, as a gentleman-preacher type with shades of Branch Davidian madness). But the cult wants him back, and now so does the government.

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The Handmaiden

Loosely adapted from British novelist Sarah Waters’ 2002 Victorian-era novel, Fingersmith, and recast in 1930s colonial Korea, the film follows a young grifter named Sookee (Kim Tae-ri) assigned to serve Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee), a lonely Japanese aristocrat held captive by a cruel uncle at his remote country estate. Sookee’s duty is to set the stage for a seduction by Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo, who is neither a count nor a Fujiwara).

Hell Or High WaterImage result for hell or high water

 A folk-hero ballad for the age of predatory lending, the film stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as West Texas brothers who set off on a string of bank heists to save their late mother’s ranch (which happens to sit on millions in untapped crude). The Howard siblings are desperate men, but they still have their pride.

Manchester By The SeaImage result for manchester by the sea

An ornery Boston janitor (Casey Affleck) loses his older brother (Kyle Chandler) and is forced to return to his hometown to care for his teen nephew (Lucas Hedges). Those are the bones of it, at least, but Lonergan fills every frame with the clarity and compassion of his vision. (Whatever you’ve heard about a to-be-revealed tragedy is true; what gets mentioned less is that the movie is also funny as hell.)

Moonlight

We first meet Chiron (played at various stages by Alex R. Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes) as a wary latchkey kid in Miami drawn out of his shell by a local drug dealer (Mahershala Ali), then watch as he grows slowly, fitfully into his own skin. The movie could easily be dismissed as a panopticon of hot-button intersectional issues—addiction, poverty, single parenthood, black male sexuality.

La La LandImage result for la la land

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, reteaming from 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love (with sparks intact), play struggling young artists in modern-day Los Angeles whose dreams seem out of reach. At least until they find each other in, of all places, a traffic jam on the 105 that erupts into a show­stopping frenzy of singing and dancing.

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X-Men: Apocalypse

X-Men: Apocalypse is a 2016 American superhero film based on the fictional X-Men characters that appear in Marvel Comics. It is the ninth installment in the X-Men film series and a sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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Deadpool

Wade Wilson  is a former Special Forces operative who now works as a mercenary. His world comes crashing down when evil scientist Ajax tortures, disfigures and transforms him into Deadpool. The rogue experiment leaves Deadpool with accelerated healing powers and a twisted sense of humor. With help from mutant allies Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead , Deadpool uses his new skills to hunt down the man who nearly destroyed his life.

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