Life, Animated

10. Life, Animated

This is one of the most moving documentaries I’ve ever seen. Director Roger Ross Williams tells the story of Owen Suskind, a young man with autism who is coming into adulthood. At three years old, Owen suddenly went silent, unable to connect to his family or anyone else. But suddenly, after repeated viewings of Disney movies, Owen began to connect what he was seeing in Disney’s animated classics to the world around him. It was his key to conveying his thoughts and feelings. The documentary chronicles the struggle his parents had helping Owen grow up and the big steps he’s taking as a grown man moving into his own apartment for the first time. Documentary footage is cleverly juxtaposed with clips from various Disney movies, as well as some stunning original animation that brings Owen’s emotions to life. Believe me when I say you’ll laugh and cry.

Indignation

9. Indignation

This adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel of the same name went mostly unnoticed when it was released towards the end of the summer, but it’s a must-see coming-of-age romance. Logan Lerman gives a career-best performance in a movie that runs the gamut of spiritual, moral and romantic themes as a young Jewish man finds himself attending a Christian college that doesn’t jibe with his self-proclaimed atheist beliefs. Challenged by not only his superiors but also by love and lust from a young woman (Sarah Gadon) with a complicated past, Marcus must figure out who he is and what’s really important in life. It’s a magnificent directorial debut from James Schamus.

the edge of seventeen

8. The Edge of Seventeen

Whether or not you are or have ever been a teenage girl, you’ll find something to relate to in this masterful coming-of-age comedy. Hailee Steinfeld is turning into a fine young actress, and as a teenager facing struggles in her journey into adulthood, including crushes and maturing friends, she gives a performance that will be a staple in her career for years to come. The Edge of Seventeen is funny, charming, witty and gives Woody Harrelson a scene-stealing supporting turn as the high school teacher we all wish we had. We need more directors like Kelly Fremon Craig to make movies like this, but more importantly, we need to pay attention to them.

Popstar

7. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Akiva Shaffer and Jorma Taccone, who make up two-thirds of the faux rap group The Lonely Island, haven’t turned out a hit movie, including this one on my Top 10 list. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t delivering some of the best comedies in recent years. Hot Rod, MacGruber, and The Watch are all sorely underrated and criminally underseen. That trend continued with Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, a mockumentary that is every bit as good as This Is Spinal Tap, containing some of the best original comedy songs ever created for a movie. Andy Samberg, the third part of The Lonely Island trio, makes for a perfect dimwitted hip hop star who is dumb but not dumb enough to be over-the-top unbelievable. With a cavalcade of talking head cameos to make it feel as much like a real documentary as possible, this was a movie that deserved so much more attention and praise than it received.

Don't Think Twice

6. Don’t Think Twice

As someone who has an obsession with comedy and has even dabbled in the world of stand-up and improv, this one resonated with me on a number of levels. I have friends who are just like the ensemble at the center of this movie directed by stand-up comedian Mike Birbiglia, who also stars alongside Keegan Michael-Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher. Not only is this a movie following the aspiring careers of a pack of comedians and friends, it’s about coming to terms with our place in life, and whether being complacent in life by giving up on a lifelong dream makes you less successful, or if it just allows you to find something else equally as meaningful in your life. Mike Birbiglia continues to be a director to keep an eye on in the future.

Continue Reading Ethan Anderton’s Top 10 Movies of 2016 >>

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