SPECIAL: The Best Movies of 2016

10. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Image: Roadside Attractions

One of those movies that prove a brilliant piece of art doesn’t have to be enjoyable to be great, Manchester by the Sea was undoubtedly the saddest major release last year, but the journey it forces you along is unforgettable. Recent Oscar-winner Casey Affleck stars as Lee, a shell of a man who endured an awful tragedy years earlier in his hometown and is now forced to return and confront his past after the death of his brother. Don’t avoid it because of how heavy a picture it is; just make sure to have some tissues handy.

(Read my full review here.)


9. HELL OR HIGH WATER

Image: CBS Films

A modern-day Bonnie and Clyde with an “Occupy Wall Street” mentality, Hell or High Water is a story of two brothers: level-headed Toby (Chris Pine) and impetuous Tanner (Ben Foster). When their mother’s ranch is about to be foreclosed upon, they decide to start robbing the very banks they’ll be paying off. Pine and Foster shine as brothers who couldn’t be more different but share a bond hard for movies to normally capture, and screenwriter Taylor Sheridan handily proves that his brilliant script for last year’s Sicario was no fluke.


8. CAPTAIN AMERICA:
CIVIL WAR

Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Captain America: The First Avenger was arguably the worst of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while sequel The Winter Soldier was arguably the best, so all eyes were on Civil War to see which way it landed. While it doesn’t quite match the skill and execution of The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War — with returning directors Joe and Anthony Russo and a mammoth cast of all-stars — proved to be superior to either Avengers movie and unequivocally the strongest superhero movie of the year.

(Read my full review here.)


7. MOANA

Image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

In 2013, Frozen proved to be the strongest Disney movie animated in-house since their early ’90s Renaissance. Three years later, they’ve topped themselves with Moana, the visually wondrous and narratively gutsy tale of a tribal daughter (Auli’i Cravalho) who sets sail on a quest to save her island village alongside demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson). With one of the strongest female protagonists in their history, animation that put peers Zootopia and Finding Dory to shame, and the catchiest batch of songs in a Disney soundtrack since The Lion King (courtesy of Lin-Manuel Miranda), Moana is proof they do still make ’em like they used to.

(Read my full review here.)


6. WEINER

Image: Sundance Selects

The best documentary of the year is exactly the type of movie only the non-fiction genre can pull off. Weiner follows disgraced Congressman and punchline Anthony Weiner during his run for Mayor of New York City in 2013. By blessed serendipity, the doc crew watches Weiner as, just when on the verge of fixing his image and making serious headway in his campaign, a second sexting scandal breaks. Playing out with timing that would seem too unrealistically perfect in a scripted comedy, what starts as the documenting of a man mounting a comeback instead becomes a riveting chronicle of a public figure who can’t stop sabotaging himself.


ON THE LAST PAGE: The five best films of 2016...

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