My Favorite Movies of ’16 (And What the Oscars Should Really Look Like)

Top Ten

  1. Hidden Figures


It is a little paint-by-numbers and watered-down, but Hidden Figures is a movie that delivers at every turn with memorable characters based on truly vital (albeit hidden) figures.

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  1. Sing Street


A hidden gem made by a talent filmmaker with a certain niche for the “music movie” that contained some refreshing performances by young unknowns. It’s definitely worth seeking out.

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  1. Lion


Lion has an odd narrative structure, but it demonstrates the power of true-story films, especially ones that focus on subjects outside the US.

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  1. Arrival


Arrival may be the movie that endures from 2016. Denis Villeneuve is a great director at the height of his craft and this film stuns visually and has a tone and style that should be cribbed by the rest of Hollywood.

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  1. Gleason


As powerful, life-affirming, and faith-renewing as a viewing experience can get.

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  1. The Edge of Seventeen


The Edge of Seventeen is the best high-school movie of the decade with two fantastic performances.

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  1. Everybody Wants Some!!


Richard Linklater’s films are experiential, require numerous viewings, and age incredibly well. Everybody Wants Some!! is one of his best.

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  1. OJ: Made in America


If OJ was condensed into two or three hours—which is not possible by the way—it would probably be number one. It’s just hard to get over the length (as a theater experience). The doc is every bit as good as everyone says and when you consider there’s fifty years of history there, 7 ½ hours isn’t that long of a watch. In a way it is a pseudo-history lesson of a America in the second half of the 20th century.

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  1. Manchester by the Sea


As tough as this movie is to stomach, what it does with narrative form and comedy amidst tragedy makes it undeniably unforgettable and, perhaps, great.

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  1. La La Land


I understand the venom and backlash that this film is getting. It does not have great songs and the narrative is unremarkable. But…one remembers films not for their technical proficiency or the skill of its creators—which this film does have aplenty—but because of how they make you feel. La La Land is just the embodiment of feelgood, even when it’s somber.

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Honorable Mention: Patriots Day; Hell or High Water; The Nice Guys; Fences; The Jungle Book; Nocturnal Animals; Life, Animated; Moonlight; Genius


Who Should Have Been Nominated (And Should Win) at the Oscars

Best Actor

Ryan Gosling, La La Land | La La Land is a duet.

Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Sing Street | Could be a future star. Multi-tool talent.

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge | Garfield’s performance is one of the more underrated topics of this year’s awards season.

Denzel Washington, Fences | Denzel is an icon and he’s in his element here.

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea | One of the great performances of the decade.

Best Actress

Emma Stone, La La Land | La La Land is a duet.

Amy Adams, Arrival | Adams has been taking some heat for her ubiquity and lack of flash, but she is consistently good and does special subdued things in Arrival, especially with her eyes.

Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures | Surprisingly effective and understated (for her).

Viola Davis, Fences | Davis is as steady and emotive as they come. This is also her in her element.

Haley Steinfeld, The Edge of Seventeen | There is just a higher level of difficulty to create something funny and real in a  genre with smaller stakes that is considered disposable. She is a truly special talent.

Best Supporting Actor

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals | Better than the other stellar performances in this film. The definition of scene-stealing.

Dev Patel, Lion | It’s a weird performance to judge, since Patel is essentially the lead actor but only appears in the second half of the film. Still affecting.

Jude Law, Genius | Nobody saw this film, but Law’s manic energy as literary icon Thomas Wolfe is a career highlight.

Woody Harrelson, The Edge of Seventeen | Harrelson’s skill for levity with both heart and punch is unparalleled.

Maherhsala Ali, Moonlight | Ali gives an archetype an empathy, world-weariness, and subtlety that has never before been seen on film.

Best Supporting Actress

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures | A steady and resilient supporting actress doing her thing.

Janelle Monáe, Hidden Figures | A firecracker.

Nicole Kidman, Lion | Kidman’s future (and present) as a character actress will be promising and may outshine her decades as a leading lady.

Naomie Harris, Moonlight | She is totally believable as a drug-addled single mother in Miami’s ghettoes. Harris is a Brit who acted the hell out of a role that spans decades in course of three shooting days.

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea | The best performance in the best scene of the year. Absolutely devastating realness.

Best Director

Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge | Seriously…the direction of the war scenes is top-notch.

Barry Jenkins, Moonlight | Nobody’s future is as much a guaranteed success and an enigma at the same time.

Ezra Edelman, OJ: Made in America | It doesn’t matter that it is a documentary. Edelman achieved something extraordinary deserving of extraordinary praise.

Denis Villeneuve, Arrival | A top 5 working director.

Damien Chazelle, La La Land | It’s just Damien’s year. For all of La La Land‘s backlash the big scenes and set-ups cannot be ignored.

Best Adapted Screenplay



Hidden Figures



 Best Original Screenplay

The Nice Guys

Everybody Wants Some!!

Sing Street

The Edge of Seventeen

Manchester by the Sea

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