top 10 movies of 2016 sing street

5. Sing Street

34 points

John Carney’s coming-of-age musical is the feel-great movie of 2016, an inspiring, hopeful, and relentlessly positive look at art as the best way to build friendships, escape a rotten situation, and find out who your truly are.

“From the amazing, catchy original soundtrack of songs created by director John Carney to the fantastic ensemble of young talent playing the titular band, this is just a feel-good, music-charged gem about the bonds of brotherhood, daring to dream in the face of authority that punishes you for being different, and just being true to what’s inside you.” -Ethan Anderton

“If you look at its component parts, Sing Street should have been a treacly disaster. However, writer/director John Carney showcases a gentle and thoughtful touch that elevates its movie-of-the-week premise into something joyful and beautiful, a testament not only to music, but to youthful rebellion and the joy of creation.” -Jacob Hall

top 10 movies of 2016 manchester by the sea

4. Manchester by the Sea

34 points

A movie as tragic as Manchester by the Sea shouldn’t be this engrossing, this funny, and this accessible. The beauty of Kenneth Lonergan’s film is how it approaches the universality of grief – sadness isn’t a single emotion, but rather dozens of different, smaller emotions colliding at once.

“…this movie delivers such an authentic portrayal of grief, the bond of family and the struggle of loss that it never feels like it’s just trying to be an Oscar contender.” -Ethan Anderton

Manchester by the Sea had me completely engaged from beginning to end, laughing and crying, but it wasn’t until a few days later when Kenneth Lonergan‘s heartbreaking (and often very funny) film about grief started to really get to me.” -Jack Giroux

“…while Kenneth Lonergan’s film is appropriately brutal and uncomfortable and unflinching in its portrait of crippling tragedy, it is transcendent because it recognizes that the passage of time breeds comedy. The gallows humor in Manchester by the Sea is as effective, and as important, as the gut-punching sorrow, a perfect reflection of how we protect ourselves with the mundane and the ridiculous lest we totally fall apart.” -Jacob Hall

“There’s nothing especially noble or meaningful about the way its characters suffer, and the film has no interest in piling on the misfortunes — the tribulations they’ve already been through are enough. Its empathy takes the form of a clear-eyed acknowledgment that there are some wounds that will never heal and some wrongs that can never be righted, and that the rest of the world keeps on marching forward even when your own has stopped.” -Angie Han

top 10 movies of 2016 la la land

3. La La Land

53 points

Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash is a movie punch-drunk in love with the past, but also keenly aware of the present. The language of classic Hollywood musicals is re-appropriated to tell a thoroughly modern (and thoroughly melancholy) story of dreams that come true and dreams that don’t.

“This movie is cinematic perfection. It’s a love story that isn’t necessarily about the romance between a boy and a girl. It’s a story about the romance that we have with our dreams and ambitions. It’s about the dreams that we strive for, and those same dreams that we give up when another dream comes along.” -Ethan Anderton

“Stunning is the right word to describe La La Land. Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash is often a visual marvel, partly because of [Ryan] Gosling and [Emma] Stone’s undeniable charisma, their excellently choreographed moves, and those costumes.” -Jack Giroux

La La Land is a melancholy film, but it knows that every beautiful moment is composed of shards collected from previously broken dreams. Life is hard, love is hard, and you’re going to fail a lot and wish that things could have been different…but every failure makes you stronger and every love will arm you to face the days ahead.” -Jacob Hall

top 10 movies of 2016 moonlight

2. Moonlight

61 points

The only film to occupy two number one spots among the /Film staff, Moonlight is 2016’s most empathetic movie, a powerful, subtle experience that confronts masculinity and sexuality with a gentle, often funny, often romantic, and occasionally painful touch.

“This is a movie about what it really means to be a man, a challenge to how masculinity is defined, especially among the black population. But most of all, it’s a story about love, loving yourself, and letting yourself love who your heart tells you to love.” -Ethan Anderton

“More than any other film on this list, it managed to immerse me into the life of another human being, and invited me to contend with his struggles, his triumphs, his moments of discovery, his tragedies, his pain. It also elicits a reaction that I think we all need more of in the coming days: empathy.” -David Chen

Moonlight loves its characters and wants you understand them, to walk with them on their journey. It’s a bumpy road, but it’s a trip worth taking. The reward at the end is understanding. And love.” -Jacob Hall

“I’d been expecting something bigger, louder, more ostentatiously Important given all the hype, and wasn’t quite sure what to make of the subtle, slow-burn drama I’d gotten instead. Then in the days that followed, I kept thinking about it. And thinking about it. I saw it a second time, and then a third. I’d see it again tonight and tomorrow if I could. This movie has gotten under my skin, and I never want it to go away.” -Angie Han

top 10 movies of 2016 arrival

1. Arrival

63 points

Perhaps Arrival was destined to be /Film’s number one movie of 2016. It was the only movie to be present on every single list and it really does have something for everyone: it’s a wickedly intelligence science fiction movie and a stirring visual effects spectacle and a beautiful story of what you do (and what you give up) for love.

“This is a movie which starts as a compelling story about humanity trying to sort out its first encounter with alien life, and then turns it into something even more significant and intimate by way of a third act revelation that will deliver one of the biggest gut punches you’ll receive this year.” -Ethan Anderton

“It’s easy to see how this adaptation might not have been able to pull off its ending since the movie is so story-driven and fast-paced, but [Denis] Villeneuve, screenwriter Eric Heisserer, and Amy Adams deliver with a devasting ending that sticks with you long after the credits roll.” -Jack Giroux

“It’s a sentimental reveal, but it’s one that tugs on the heartstrings while simultaneously providing a specific human face for the film’s most oblique science fiction concepts. Arrival is a film powered by hope, overjoyed by discovery, and in love with human possibility. It will also make you cry a whole bunch.” -Jacob Hall

“It’s all too uncommon to see a sci-fi film that stresses empathy and cooperation over paranoia and conflict, and more unusual still to see one that does so by venturing into the field of linguistics. But gradually, Arrival reveals the bloody, beating heart powering that giant brain.” – Angie Han

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