The best five movies I saw in 2016

What a year for movies. I still haven’t seen Fences, Jackie, Moonlight, Hell or High Water, Loving and other wonderfully reviewed movies, but I still have time before the Oscars to do so. Right now I decided to briefly write about the five best movies I saw in 2016. La La Land was a great film, but it just missed the cut as did The Jungle Book and Don’t Breathe. I’ll probably get hate for leaving off La La Land, and although I really enjoyed the movie, I enjoyed five other movies more. Here they are:

5. Don’t Think Twice

This movie had a 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes for a little while in the summer. Right now it’s a 99. It’s a movie about chasing your dreams but it’s also a movie about realizing what you want in life. Improv performers carry out shows in New York City with hopes of someday appearing on Weekend Live (basically Saturday Night Live). The movie, staring Mike Birbiglia, Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher and Chris Gethard, probably relates to the thousands of people trying to make it as actors and actresses in New York and Los Angeles. Chasing a dream that you might not even want can be daunting. You figure out who you are in the process and things usually work out but that doesn’t mean there won’t be hard times and times you want to just give up altogether. One of the telling lines from the movie was, “your 20s are all about like hope, and then your 30s are all about realizing how dumb it was to hope.” It appears in the trailer above, but the quote describes how the mindset shifts as you grow older and have perspective on your situation. Not everyone can be “successful” in the public eye but it’s a real beautiful film about understanding yourself.

4. 10 Cloverfield Lane

I almost forgot this movie came out in 2016 since it was so early in the year. My friend Matt Moretti told our groupchat about it, and I’m glad I listened to his recommendation. Damien Chazelle (director of La La Land, Whiplash and Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench) was one of the screenwriters for this project. John Goodman plays Howard, a survivalist, wonderfully. The movie begins with Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, leaving her apartment in a hurry. It’s clear her fiancé (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and her had a fight. As she drives on the highway, a truck hits her. She wakes up chained to a wall in a basement. The bunker where Howard, Michelle and Emmett (played by John Gallagher Jr.) reside feels very real. The story has many twists and turns, but it wouldn’t be right to give anymore away. I cannot recommend this movie enough.

3. Arrival

It’s another movie recommended by Matt Moretti. Amy Adams was wonderful in this science-fiction masterpiece. Ted Chiang wrote Story of Your Life, a short story, which became Arrival. I asked for his collection of short stories for Christmas, and that’s what I’m currently reading. (Thanks, Kevin McKeever for the book). It’s a vital story about the importance of communication, and there’s also mystery that unfolds throughout the movie. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t into science-fiction movies, either. Aliens, known as heptapods, come to Earth. Dr. Banks, played by Adams, is a language and communication specialist. Her team tries to figure out why the heptapods arrived, and what they want from Earth. Jóhann Jóhannsson is nominated for best original score at the Golden Globes for his work in Arrival. It’s a visual masterpiece. It’s a movie that’ll be enjoyed for years to come.

2. Manchester by the Sea

It’s hard to explain Manchester by the Sea without giving away too much information. It’s a deeply depressing film. But somehow it’s easy to find hope in it. Casey Affleck has to take care of his nephew Patrick after going through something you couldn’t imagine ever going through. The acting across the movie was astonishing. Michelle Williams was phenomenal. She does these distressing dramas perfectly. The movie, despite it’s depressing tendencies,  has many funny parts and Lucas Hedges, who plays Patrick, was a breath of fresh air.

1. Sing Street

Stop whatever you’re doing and watch this movie. It’s on Netflix, so you shouldn’t have a problem streaming it. It’s the best movie I saw this year. There’s something about the 1980s in Dublin, Ireland. The characters are genuine. They’re honest teenagers who create a band because Conor, referred to as Cosmo, falls for Raphina. Raphina, played by Lucy Boynton, is a wannabe model who Cosmo sees following a day at his new school. Behind the tutelage of his older brother, Cosmo discovers his passion for music. Cosmo, played by Ferdia Walsh-Peelo,  fantasies about Raphina, asking her to be in their music videos. The music, mostly done by Gary Clark, aspect of Sing Street takes this move to a new level – “Drive It Like You Stole It,” “Girls,” “Up,” “To Find You” and “Brown Shoes.” 

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