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2016: 12 Movies We Enjoyed Watching

Posted by January 31st, 2017 No Comments » Year End 2016: 12 Movies We Enjoyed Watching
Introduction by Adam Lawrence

In 2016, movies held a pretty special place for most folks – this year was a doozy and movies were there to provide a soothing balm of escapism. Sure, the summer blockbusters mostly sucked ass and it seemed like every other movie released was some kind of experiment designed to calculate just how far our standards have fallen for good story, strong characters, and whatever passes for authentic emotion. Mighty Marvel moves on, 40-year-old franchises still reign, and sometimes it feels like there hasn’t been a movie made specifically for an adult audience in years.

But don’t fret! There are diamonds in that rough and they deserve to be polished and displayed for all to see. There were feel-good movies released that actually made you feel genuinely good, like Moonlight, strange flights of fancy like The Lobster, and sure, while the Marvel Mega Monolith shows no signs of slowing down, with Doctor Strange and Deadpool, we started to see some changes to the formula, and certainly for the better. Here, then are some movies we liked in 2016.

Captain America: Civil War

Embrace of the Serpent

Embrace of the Serpent is the hallucinogenic, colonialist, time jumping, mystic, naturopathic, humanitarian, Herzog-esque epic you never knew you wanted but desperately needed last year. And it looks like a Sebastião Salgado photograph come to life. – Aaron Semer

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

The Lobster

In a film landscape where 80 percent of the movies that get noticed have protagonists with capes and scowls, it’s particularly refreshing when a movie as unique, original, and weird as The Lobster comes around. In a not-too-distant future, Colin Farrell (in a career-best role) checks himself into The Hotel, where residents have 45 days to find a mate, otherwise they are turned into the animal of their choice. Farrell’s choice is the titular lobster. While the delightful glee of exploring the world that could allow this to happen in the first place fades by the final act, The Lobster poses questions that will stay with you for days, like the best game of Truth or Dare.  – Adam Lawrence

Doctor Strange  

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This adventure/comedy set in New Zealand is irresistibly engaging, mostly based on the strong acting performances. Based around a juvenile delinquent and his reluctant foster father’s run from authorities, Hunt for the Wilderpeople remains humorous and intriguing through its entire 101 minutes. – Ben Allen


Gimme Danger

Gimme Danger is an impressive documentary about The Stooges written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. The film tells the story of the band through interviews, archival footage and their groundbreaking music. – Ben Allen

Midnight Special

Manchester by the Sea

I got divorced this year. I’m not bragging, I just want to be clear that I spent a lot of time in 2016 being sad, upset, or otherwise unsettled. Suffice to say, it makes sense that my favorite movie of 2016 was also one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen. Manchester by the Sea starts with a death, then flashes back to deaths remembered, all while hinting at deaths off-screen, but this is not a von Trier-style pile-on. Writer/director Kenneth Lonergan is determined to find the everyday grace in the face of unimaginable grief – his camera lingers just a beat longer than expected on the rubble of the aftermath. Life still goes on. Even though he just lost his father, the teenager at the center of the story is still trying to get laid. Even though he thought he insulated himself from grief’s long shadow, a never-better Casey Affleck still must contend with “raising” his only remaining family member and all that entails. While tragedy frames the story, Lonergan gets all the little details right, which is why you should see it. – Adam Lawrence

OJ: Made In America


Like an abbreviated Boyhood, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight follows the course of one American male from early school age through adulthood. Unlike Linklater’s epic from 2014, Moonlight follows the path of a boy growing up in the Miami projects with a drug-addled single mother and an obviously confused sexual identity. Jenkins’ choice to cast three different actors playing one role pays off, however, by choosing his actors based on their eyes. What’s refreshing about Moonlight is its utter lack of cynicism – we don’t know exactly what will happen to Chiron after he revisits an important figure in his adolescence as an adult, but we’ve seen enough people come in and out of his life who wish him no harm – and some who do – that we’re left hoping for the best without having to fool ourselves that a happy ending is possible. – Adam Lawrence

Also receiving votes: Arrival; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; By the Sea; Don’t Think Twice; Moana; My Scientology Movie; The Nice Guys; Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping; Pee Wee’s Big Holiday; Star Trek Beyond; Star Wars: Rogue One; War Dogs; The Witch; X-Men: Apocalypse; Zootopia

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