Best Movies from 2016

The Best of 2016! Check out these great films; some lesser known, a small number of Hollywood, and bigger indie releases.

#1 Manchester by the Sea


The intertwining of love, death, depression and beauty.
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


Action, adventure and an entertaining crime caper.
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

#3 Lion


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


A movie of love, music and soul.
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

#5 Loving

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

#6 Indignation


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

#7 Joshy


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

#10 Jackie


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!!

#12 Moonlight


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


Crowd-pleasing history.
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

#19 Sully

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