#1 Manchester by the Sea
|A story of death, loss and depression, Manchester by the Sea is also an entertaining, eloquently constructed film about hope and moving on. The brilliance of Manchester by the Sea lies in its ability to completely envelope you into its world, and with its universal themes that is rather easily accomplished. It’s a very simple story that it tells, but one that can leave a loving impact on its viewers.||2016 |
Directed by: Kenneth Lonergan
Screenplay by: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges
|See full review of Manchester by the Sea|
#2 Hell or High Water
|It’s West Texas. Small towns, dirt roads, dirtier cars and well-traveled criminals. Meet the Howard brothers Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster); they’re about to rob a bank. Hell or High Water is an electrifying good story. Part crime drama, part family relations, part heist movie merged into a film that is pure good story-telling and mesmerizing filmmaking.||2016 |
Directed by: David Mackenzie
Screenplay by: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges
|See full review of Hell or High Water|
Beautifully touching, deeply affecting film of hope, tragedy and triumph.
|The true story that Lion is based on is one of those tug-at-your-heart-strings, clear-your-tear-ducts type of stories that you hope is more uplifting than just sad. That’s one of the things about Lion that stands out the most: it never concentrates on the sad or heart-string-y moments. It focuses on the interesting moments and just enough of everything else to make it emotionally-satisfying and not emotionally-draining. It’s a story so sincere and honest that Lion will stick to your heart.||2016 |
Directed by: Garth Davis
Screenplay by: Luke Davies
Based on the book by Saroo Brierley
Starring: Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar
|See full review of Lion|
#4 La La Land
|La La Land couldn’t have a more fitting title. An homage to LA, but more than that, an homage to the dreamers of LA and the life-as-a-musical that they could have. La La Land sells itself strictly as a romantic musical. The characters sing and dance as they fall in love – and even if that’s all it is, it would still be a pretty good movie. It's a movie that survives on the pure cinematic experience, but also provides a bit of soul.||2016 |
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Screenplay by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
|See full review of La La Land|
Understated approach to historical importance.
|Loving is about the Lovings, and that is their real last name. A couple from Viriginia whose story takes flight in 1958. The movie is an historical discussion and a romance about pure love. We’re introduced to Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred (Ruth Negga) just before they get married. She’s pregnant, he’s elated, and there is absolutely no doubt that their marriage is one of love, and not convenience or social pressures.||2016 |
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Screenplay by: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga
|See full review of Loving|
Interesting, fascinating and entertaining story of love, death and beliefs.
|Indignation is a story of love, death and faith. It’s a story of college experiences, the Korean War and determination. And it’s told with an eye for detail, and an ear for dialogue, and told through a lead character who is simultaneously completely confident with who he is, and completely unsure what he’s supposed to do. It’s fascinating to watch unfold, even if it never goes far, and it’s almost always entertaining.||2016 |
Directed by: James Schamus
Screenplay by: James Schamus
Based on the novel by Philip Roth
Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon and Tracy Letts
|See full review of Indignation|
Engaging characters shine through in a dark comedy balancing humour and tragedy.
|Joshy’s tagline “The wedding’s off. The party’s on.” might make you think of a pure comedy born from a romantic comedy-styled break-up. You would probably be forgiven even though that’s not it. However, it is the type of movie where the less you know going in, the better it is. So I’ll just say, it’s a dark comedy. It starts dark, it gets funny, and then it gets heavy. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.||2016 |
Directed by: Jeff Baena
Screenplay by: Jeff Baena
Starring: Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally
|See full review of Joshy|
#8 The Intervention
Comedy and drama in an ensemble about marriage and life.
|The Intervention is the first feature film written and directed by actress Clea DuVall and she hits that sweet spot between comedy and drama. It’s an ensemble piece about four couples coming together for a weekend getaway at an old family estate in Savannah, Georgia. Although as the title suggests, it’s not a simple gathering, it’s an intervention.||2016 |
Directed by: Clea DuVall
Screenplay by: Clea Duvall
Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Vincent Piazza, Ben Schwartz, Jason Ritter
|See full review of The Intervention|
#9 Eye in the Sky
Smart, thought-provoking thriller.
|CD, collateral damage, is the one term used to describe a little girl selling bread in Nairobi. Eye in the Sky is a tough watch, but it so expertly weaves in between the characters on different continents that all have a stake in this deadly (no matter how you look at it) attack. Military personnel have zeroed in on a person of interest, a radicalized terrorist who is literally plotting the destruction of countless of lives.||2015 |
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Screenplay by: Guy Hibbert
Starring: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman and Barkhad Abdi
|See full review of Eye in the Sky|
A bio-pic that forces you out of your comfort zone.
|Jackie is an odd movie, and given its genre, that will come as very surprising. Biopics generally have tried-and-true formulas to introduce you to the world of the subject. Not exactly the case in this movie. We’re not taking a look at the world around Jackie Kennedy, but getting inside Jackie Kennedy. This is the story of Jackie before the assassination, during the assassination, and after the assassination.||2016 |
Directed by: Pablo Larrain
Screenplay by: Noah Oppenheim
Starring: Natalie Portman
|See full review of Jackie|
#11 Everybody Wants Some!!
Finds a few golden nuggets in the entertaining realism.
|In just the last two years, filmmaker Richard Linklater has looked at a boy’s formative years, the marriage of two middle-aged characters, and now he’s going back to college. He has called Everybody Wants Some!! a spiritual sequel to the 1970s high school stoner comedy Dazed and Confused. A highly regarded early film for him, but one that I could just never get into. Instead of the last day of high school, it’s now the first weekend of college in the 1980s for a new set of characters.||2016 |
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Screenplay by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Blake Jenner, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell
|See full review of Everybody Wants Some!!|
Thrives in the unevenness of life.
|Beautiful and brilliant at times, brutal and uncomfortably real at others, Moonlight is a tough watch. Thought-provoking for sure, but it’s entirely up to you to find a connection to these characters – or this character, only one is actually explored. The film is a three-part story. The first part is Little (young Chiron), a small African American kid bullied on a daily basis and raised by his crack-addicted mother, and even at that young age is searching for a better way of life.||2016 |
Directed by: Barry Jenkins
Screenplay by: Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Starring: Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes
|See full review of Moonlight|
#13 The Man Who Knew Infinity
Tells a good, well-balanced story.
|The Man Who Knew Infinity is a biographical drama about a mathematician. While that is enough to draw me in, a can understand that others will need a bit more. Dev Patel as mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan provides that and more. Ramanujan is only 25 years old and from India (under British rule at the time) and is a mathematical genius. It’s been confirmed by enough teachers and others around him, that he can accept that fact without any arrogance.||2015 |
Directed by: Matt Brown
Screenplay by: Matt Brown
Based on the biography by Robert Kanigel
Starring: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons
|See full review of The Man Who Knew Infinity|
#14 Hidden Figures
|The best thing about Hidden Figures is its story. Based on real events about a trio of African American women who worked for NASA and literally helped launch a man into space, it’s a story that’s not all that well known, you’ll learn something, and it’s easy to get interested in. It also helps that the entire cast works well together and can add a lot of bravado and humour to the movie. A true crowd-pleaser in every sense of that phrase.||2016 |
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Screenplay by: Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
Based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner
|See full review of Hidden Figures|
#15 10 Cloverfield Lane
Uncertainty abounds at 10 Cloverfield Lane.
|I tend to steer clear of monster movies, and I hate found footage movies, so I want nothing more to do with Cloverfield. But then this previously unknown J.J. Abrams-produced, Cloverfield “sequal” stormed out of the wood-work with tantalizing, mysteriously good critics reviews, and I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I’m a sucker for movies that can’t be fully explained, or rather shouldn’t be fully explained, and that’s exactly how the 10 Cloverfield Lane masterminds wants it to be.||2016 |
Directed by: Dan Trachtenberg
Screenplay by: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, and Damien Chazelle
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr.
|See full review of 10 Cloverfield Lane|
#16 Other People
Sweetly funny and insightfully dramatic.
|Other People is sweetly funny, insightfully dramatic and an all-around crowd pleaser despite the tragic elements of the plot. David (Jesse Plemons) has returned home to be with his dying mother. He’s desperate to be the successful son, but he’s a comedy writer with no big gigs on the horizon and was recently dumped by his ex-boyfriend Paul (Zach Woods), so he’s content to just pretend that Paul is still his current boyfriend.||2016 |
Directed by: Chris Kelly
Screenplay by: Chris Kelly
Starring: Jesse Plemons, Molly Shannon, Bradley Whitford
|See full review of Other People|
#17 Miss Sloane
Smart, gripping, political thriller.
|When it goes up against the deep pockets and heavy hitters of awards season, Miss Sloane can’t quite hold its own. It’s not as “important” as some of its competitors, although there is relevance and timeliness to it. It also goes for a curious, but effective, mix of the flashiness of summer blockbusters and the dialogue-heavy, character centricity of December dramas. Starring perennial awards favourite Jessica Chastain, it’s inevitably going to get grouped in with the latter group, but it’s a smart, entertaining movie that deserves a watch.||2016 |
Directed by: John Madden
Screenplay by: Jonathan Perera
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong
|See full review of Miss Sloane|
#18 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
The female-side of war told in an entertaining and fascinating character study.
|A movie about a female journalist covering the war in Afghanistan doesn’t exactly scream comedy, and getting the audience to accept that it is, is probably Whiskey Tango Foxtrot’s only misstep. The goal was to tell the female side of the story which is rarely its own subject. And that’s exactly what connected me to this movie, even if I wasn’t entirely enthralled by some its comedic details.||2016 |
Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Screenplay by: Robert Carlock
Based on book by Kim Barker
Starring: Tina Fey
|See full review of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot|
A hero to believe in.
|While Sully is the story of a hero, the lesser-known story behind it casts doubt. The movie opens with an impressive and dramatic plane crash – not a real plane crash but the product of his nightmares. He’s a man hounded by the media, separated from his family, and the subject of a contentious National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearing. It’s that latter part that didn’t make the media cycle (they don’t like anything that might take away national hero status) and the part that this movie focuses on.||2016 |
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay by: Todd Komarnicki
Based on "Highest Duty" by Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger
Starring: Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart
|See full review of Sully|
#20 Dear Eleanor
Charming and entertaining journey with history, family, friends and an escaped convict.
|Dear Eleanor combines so many perfectly compatible elements that it just effortlessly tells a story both fun and light, and historically interesting. Set in 1962 with two fifteen year-old girls, the movie is part road trip comedy, part historical drama, part coming-of-age dramedy, and all flows together very nicely because the adventure the girls find themselves in is funny, delightful, thought-provoking and very charming.||2016 |
Directed by: Kevin Connolly
Screenplay by: Cecilia Contreras, Amy Garcia
Starring: Liana Liberator, Isabelle Fuhrman
|See full review of Dear Eleanor|