The Ten Best Movies of 2016

3. LA LA LAND –  The musical homage that is somehow less than its predecessors but unique and greater because of its modern day spin.  The jazz sound and the charms of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone help garner director Damien Chazelle’s (WHIPLASH) vision into pure magic.  While flawed in its consistency, LA LA LAND’s success is aided in timing.  Among a year with so much darkness in life and in film, LA LA LAND is the perfect anecdote of enchanting escapism.

Casey Affleck in Manchester By The Sea

2. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA – I cried, I laughed, and I cried some more.  MANCHESTER BY THE SEA wrecked me.  Writer and director Kenneth Lonergan reveals pain and heartache in an understandable way that reminds us that we don’t always know the full story of someone else’s life. The entire atmosphere in character and location was pitch perfect. Its ending is in reality both sad and hopeful.

Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge

1. HACKSAW RIDGE – I’m happy to see that Hollywood is finally given Mel Gibson a second chance. After BRAVEHEART, PASSION OF THE CHRIST, and APOCALYPTO, Gibson once again directs one of the best films of the year. Based on the incredible true story of WWII medic Desmond T. Doss who became the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.  Sure it’s sometimes overly sentimental or cheesy but the film makes up for it with its inspiring message.   It’s not only a riveting cinematic achievement in its brutal depiction of battle, but it also shows the importance of helping and loving your brother no matter your beliefs. HACKSAW RIDGE is an encouraging example of faith, courage, and humility. This may not be the best film of the year, but it definitely had the biggest impact on me.

Runner’s Up: 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, GREEN ROOM, MOONLIGHT, THE NEON DEMON, PEE WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY, SING STREET 

Every year there are a group of really good films that fall short of reaching great status.  2016 seemed to have more than usual. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen a lot of these movies on other’s “Best Of” lists but I felt it was important to name some of the films I truly admire and respect but fell short for one reason or another from having an emotional impact. In no particular order:  SWISS ARMY MAN, THE WITCH, MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, ELLE, KRISHA, HANDMAIDEN, LOVING, FENCES, PATERSON, and A MONSTER CALLS

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