Of the 104 movies I saw in 2016, these were the best.
Honorable Mentions: Deadpool, Don't Breathe, Fences, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hail Caesar!, I Am Not A Serial Killer, The Jungle Book, Life Animated, The Lobster, Loving, Midnight Special, Sully, 10 Cloverfield Lane, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, The Witch.
My Top 11-20 (in alphabetical order):
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR - DC Comics may not have figured out the movie business post-Nolan, but Marvel's humming along. Civil War brought together some old favorites and new and featured one of my favorite fight-scenes ever in a comic book movie.
DEEPWATER HORIZON - Director Peter Berg's tribute to blue-collar consequences to white-collar greed may be the most respectful disaster movie ever.
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN - Hailee Steinfeld has arrived.
GREEN ROOM - This claustrophobic thriller stars Anton Yelchin as a band member where he and his mates barricade themselves in a green room at a Nazi club after they witness a murder. Patrick Stewart is the skinhead leader who just wants these rockers disposed of. The sense of dread builds at the right pace and there's a realistic feel to how everything goes down.
THE INVITATION - Low-budget indie drama that starts like a thriller and keeps audiences guessing where it's going.
THE NICE GUYS - Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling made for 2016's most surprisingly funny comedy duo.
ROGUE ONE - This Star Wars stand-alone answers one of the big questions from the original trilogy and just adds depth to the franchise in general.
SING STREET - John Carney once again writes and directs a movie about people writing music, but by setting this in high school in the 1980's, there's the extra pleasure of nostalgia.
WEINER - Fascinating documentary about one of the most self-destructive politicians of the decade.
ZOOTOPIA - Disney had great success with an all-animal cast for Robin Hood, so they do it again with Chinatown.
..... My Top Ten:
10. HIDDEN FIGURES - Inspirational true story about the African-American women who helped put John Glenn into space.
9. LOVE & FRIENDSHIP - Kate Beckinsale blazes through this Jane Austen adaptation from her old pal Whit Stillman. She says so many cruel things but with such a smile on her face that no one around her knows how to handle it.
8. MOONLIGHT - A very distinct, unique character study of a boy who doesn't say much, but we can still get what he's going through. Writer/director Barry Jenkins is going to be someone to follow.
7. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA - Heartbreaking drama about a messed-up guy who's named guardian of his nephew after his brother dies. Career-best work from Casey Affleck.
6. HACKSAW RIDGE - Director Mel Gibson is back, giving us a story of a conscientious objector to WWII who still found a way to serve in the military without firing a shot.
5. LA LA LAND - This throwback to old musicals is delightful, but especially when you consider it's from the guy who made the verrrry different Whiplash.
4. NOCTURNAL ANIMALS - Tom Ford knows exactly what story he wants to tell here and I was on board. On its surface it's just a story-within-a-story about a woman reading a new novel by her ex-husband, but the way that story weaves in with flashbacks of their relationship is superbly done.
3. LION - Moving true story of a little boy lost in India, and how as an adult he tries to find his mother.
2. ARRIVAL - This contemplative movie makes an alien arrival almost a subplot, to the more focussed story of how a linguist (Amy Adams) deals with the complications of trying to decipher an alien language.
1. HELL OR HIGH WATER - This modern-day Western is perfectly paced, with a pair of young bankrobbers and a pair of old cops trying to stay ahead of the other. it was my favorite movie of the year.