5. Arrival

A sci-fi film that is as powerful and moving as this doesn’t come around very often. The fact that it’s an original, intelligent and even profound piece of filmmaking is even more impressive. Writer Eric Heisserer, who was previously responsible for reboot missteps like A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Thing, crafted a masterful script that was turned into a truly mesmerizing film by director Denis Villeneuve. 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. You’ll have a pit in your stomach, a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople trailer

4. Hunt for the Wilderpeople

After delivering a movie that was beloved by pretty much everyone at /Film last year (What We Do in the Shadows), director Taika Waititi has come through with another hilarious addition to his filmography, but this one has much more heart. Hunt for the Wilderpeople follows a misunderstood adolescent boy (Julian Dennison in a charming breakthrough performance) who has gone from one foster family to another, unhappy with the hand he’s been dealt. He tries to be tough, but he’s just a chubby little kid who needs a family. He finds surprising happiness in a rural house out in the bush of New Zealand, but ends up on the run with his “uncle” (Sam Neill) after a family tragedy leaves them both lost in their own way. But out in the wildness, they strike a strange, hilarious bond, and they take law enforcement (including the stupendous Rachel House) on a chase straight out of a 1980s action movie.

Sing Street

3. Sing Street

There’s one particular musical sequence in the middle of Sing Street which solidified that this movie was going to end up on my Top 10 Movies of 2016. It was a bold thought since I saw the movie all the way back in January when it premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, but I absolutely adored this movie. 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. And I just can’t get enough of it. I’ve introduced this movie to several friends and family members, never getting sick of watching it. Once you hear “Drive It Like You Stole It” and see the sequence in which it comes to life, you’ll want to listen to it over and over.


2. Moonlight

This was a movie that plenty of critics were raving about. Having avoided learning anything about it throughout its run at festivals and the critical praise that followed, I finally caught it in early December not knowing anything about the story. All I knew was that this movie was supposed to be great. As the portrait of a gay black boy unfolded before me, I felt sympathy, remorse, anger, love and more as he struggled to figure out his place in the world. From his young years when he was known as Little (Alex R. Hibbert), only just starting to feel the repercussions of a mother hooked on crack; to his even more confusing, hurtful teenage years when he was called by his true name, Chiron (Ashton Sanders); all the way to his adult years as Black (Trevante Rhodes), when he’s a grown man, but not exactly the man that lies in his heart. 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.

La La Land

1. La La Land

What can I say about the sheer majesty of this movie that hasn’t already been said by everyone else? 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. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are two dreamers who love each other, just like the men and women of the classic musicals of the past that director Damien Chazelle is emulating. But in the end, they sacrifice their love for each other so that each might achieve their dreams. Maybe that’s a love that’s stronger than the happily ever after that some other movies give us. A love that dares to lose itself to keep another’s dream alive.

“So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles
The painters, and poets, and plays

And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy, as they may seem”


Well, that’s a wrap on my Top 10 Movies of 2016. As usual, sound off with your thoughts below, give us your own Top 10 Films of 2016, respectfully tell me what you didn’t like about mine. Maybe offer something more engaging than the typical “Why no *INSERT MOVIE YOU LOVED AND I DIDN’T HERE*” in the comments.

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