10. La La Land
•A late edition to the list. I'm so glad I decided to wait until after I saw this sweet and charming movie. I'm not going to go into details here because I just posted the review last night but go out and support this movie people. It's a wonderful throwback to the classic Hollywood musicals.
9. Captain America: Civil War
•This is everything you could possibly want in a superhero movie. There's so many characters and yet they take the time to develop each one. Also, the action/fight scenes are so well choreographed and amazing you'lI have a massive nerdgasm in your seat. I had a huge smile on my face the whole time I was watching this.
•A gripping coming of age story about a young African American man who struggles to find his place in the world. Told in three parts- you see him as a child, teen, and adult. While I felt the third act was a little weak (but by no means bad) in terms of the acting and writing, it was definitely worth seeing.
•Disney once again hits it out of the park with a movie that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. The story centers on Judy Hopps, who becomes the first bunny cop in the city of Zootopia (where animals both predator and prey live peacefully together) As she struggles to prove herself, she teams up with conman fox Nick Wilde to solve a case where several predator animals are reverting back to their savage ways. Such a heartfelt story (that I'll admit had me tearing up at times) with themes that are so relevant to today's world. I could watch this one over and over again and never get tired of it.
•If you don't cry during this one there's something seriously wrong with you. Based on the incredible true story of Saroo Brierly (played as a child by Sunny Pawar and as an adult by Dev Patel), who at 5 years old boards a train in Calcutta while looking for his brother and wakes up nearly a thousand miles from home. He's eventually adopted by an Australian couple. 25 years later, with the help of Google Maps, he sets off to find his birth family. Dev Patel is really good in this, but the real star here is Sunny Pawar. He shows such incredible acting abilities for someone so young. You spend a good chunk of the movie with him and watching this part of the story is so heartbreaking. Makes you really appreciate everything you have.
5. The Eagle Huntress
•Had a chance to see this movie at the film festival this year. A beautiful true story about a 13 year old girl from Mongolia named Aishlopan, who becomes the very first female eagle hunter in her country. With the help of her very loving and supportive family, she sets off on her journey. I was sucked into this story right from the beginning with its strong message and stunning cinematography. Gave me chills and earned a standing ovation from the whole audience when it was over. This is one I really think everyone should see, especially young girls.
•One of the most beautiful love stories I've seen in years. Joel Edgerton & Ruth Negga play Richard & Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who were arrested for getting married (which was illegal at that time) in Virginia. Their case went to the Supreme Court and paved the way for many people today. I really admire director Jeff Nichols for choosing to focus this movie on the love story instead of the court case (which most directors probably would've done). It's pretty much a given now that Joel Edgerton & Ruth Negga are going to get Oscar nominations. And it's well deserved.
3. Manchester by the Sea
•This movie was such an emotional punch in the gut. Not that that's a bad thing. Far from it. Casey Affleck stars as Lee Chandler, who returns to his hometown near Boston after his brother dies and reluctantly becomes the guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick. Being back in town also forces him to deal with another heartbreaking tragedy that was the reason he left town in the first place. While some might be bothered by the slow pace of the film, I think it really works here. They might as well just give Casey Affleck the Best Actor Oscar now.
2. I, Daniel Blake
•This is a movie that I think most people can find something to relate to. As someone who has dealt with being unemployed in the past, it really hit home with me. Features a very strong cast, including Dave Johns. He plays Daniel, a man in his late 50s who is recovering from a major heart attack which has left him unable to work. He's forced to navigate through the U.K. version of the unemployment system and along the way he meets a young single Mom and her two kids. I'm so proud of director Ken Loach for making such a strong statement here with this very raw and honest movie. Hopefully more people will watch this and maybe bring about change to these very flawed systems.
I spent a long time going trying to figure out where I was going to place these next two movies. In the end, I just couldn't put either of them at anything but number one. I absolutely love both of these movies for different reasons. They made such a strong impression. So yes, it's a tie this year.
1. Hacksaw Ridge
•Probably the best war movie I've seen since Saving Private Ryan. Say what you what about Mel Gibson, but he can make a damn good movie. He doesn't sugar coat war at all- you see every horrifying moment in graphic detail. And not only that, but he shows you the effects it can take on someone mentally, even years later. Featuring a strong cast including Andrew Garfield, who gives the performance of his career. Not for the weak stomached but something I feel everyone should watch at least once.
1. Hell or High Water
•This brilliant western, crime/family drama kept me on the edge of my seat and so engrossed in it that I lost all track of time. The movie stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as two brothers who rob a series of banks in order to save their family ranch. Hot on their trails is Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges), who is nearing retirement, and his partner Alberto (Gil Birmingham). I think one of the things I love most about this is you're not only routing for these two brothers, but you're also routing for the police as well. There's not a bad performance as well. I just wish this was getting more recognition, especially for the acting and breathtaking cinematography. I can't recommend this movie enough. I proudly own it on blu ray and will watch it over and over again.
The following movies didn't quite make the cut. Not because they weren't good enough, I simply ran out of room. They're still worth checking out.
•Queen of Katwe
•Florence Foster Jenkins•Eye in the Sky