Including movies that came out in 2016.
  1. Arrival
    I was blown away when I saw this film on opening night. I sat in awe for the last 30 minutes. It explores so much about life, and time, and what that all really means. It also tackles the idea of unconditional love better than I have ever seen before. Amy Adams delivered one of the best performances of 2016 and still lost out on an Oscar (didn't even get a nomination). I liked Denis Villeneuve before, but this movie shot him to my top 5 favorite directors. This is my favorite sci-if film ever.
  2. Lion
    I cried. Hard. The first half has one of the best child performances that I have ever seen, and while the 2nd half drags its feet abbot, the ending redeems all problems. The title explanation at the end hit me so hard. I've always loved stories about children overcoming insane odds and this one fits perfectly into that category.
  3. Manchester by the Sea
    Kenneth Lonergan wrote one of the best screenplays I've ever experienced. The slow reveal of all the important information that finally culminates in that emotional boom halfway through the film stuck with me for days after first seeing it. Casey Affleck, while maybe not the best person in the world, delivered an amazingly subtle performance. It's a true character study that is shown through effortlessly placed cameras and realistically impactful acting.
  4. 10 Cloverfield Lane
    This film was released pretty early in the year, but it's still extremely powerful. John Goodman gave one of his best performances ever and Mary Elizabeth Winstead showed her true potential. Dan Trachtenberg is a new director but the film could have fooled me. Everything in it is so mysterious and intense, and it results in a very character-driven work of art. Some complaints about the ending are out there, but I love how the film just shamelessly put everything it had on the table.
  5. Captain Fantastic
    This movie is about a father overcoming his struggles just as much as it is about his children discovering their place in the world. Being centered around the funeral of a dead mother, the film is surprisingly hopeful. Viggo Mortensen rightfully earned an Oscar nomination for this movie.
  6. La La Land
    I loved this movie. I felt happy and sad and in love and heartbroken. The ending was designed and set up perfectly, and it's bittersweet finale was really powerful. I don't quite think Emma Stone earned an Oscar here, but I won't deny that she gave a great performance. The music was real strong despite the fact that it wasn't performed by performers. If anything, that made it better, because it took the common idea of a musical and brought it down to Earth.
  7. Moonlight
    Although it won Best Picture, in an insane fashion, it falls at #7 on my list. I loved it, though. It explored Chiron's character beautifully and raised many questions that many people have never had to face. You feel for Chiron, and most of all, you feel for him days after you watch the movie. The best part of this film is the subtlety that sticks with you after the first viewing.
  8. Hell or High Water
    This was a surprising release. The casting was great. It's hard enough to cast a single good set of partners, but this movie managed to do that twice. Jeff Bridges' friendly racism really shined a light on the Southwestern U.S. and explored ideas that stories about racism typically don't address. There's also a constant struggle between right and wrong in this movie, and I don't think it ever officially settles anywhere.
  9. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
    The trailers made this movie look good, but I didn't expect it to end up on my top 10 list. Packed with hilarious music and true dedication, Popstar managed to not take a break from quality during its entire runtime. I still listen to the soundtrack and I still quote the movie. "I will eat your head".
  10. The Nice Guys
    Shane Black brought a familiar story to the screen in a very new light. The fantastic casting of Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling made for a movie packed with amusing bickering and fighting. I laughed the whole time and was really drawn into its outrageous story.
  11. Honorable Mentions
    Zootopia, Sing Street, Don't Breathe