By Jack Rico
So I think we can finally start narrowing down the Top 10 Movies Of 2016. I have not seen several of the films on this list due to the fact they have not screened yet for New York press, but this list isn’t really an official announcement, it’s more a playful speculation, an educated guess, a curated observation of what I’m hearing from festivals, insider knowledge from studios and fellow critics’ opinions. So here we go…
Manchester By The Sea: A major frontrunner for best film of 2016, this story directed by Kenneth Lonergan, stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler and tells the life of a solitary Boston janitor who is transformed when he returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew. Manchester by the Sea is a deeply poignant, unexpectedly funny exploration of the power of familial love, community, sacrifice and hope.
La La Land: The visual music storytelling of young director Damien Chazelle is a special thing to see. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in this homage to musicals set in modern day Los Angeles about how two artists explore the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams. An aspiring actress, and a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts.
Moonlight: This is the year of the black film director and Barry Jenkins’s ‘Moonlight’ is perhaps its epitome. This tender, heartbreaking story of a young man’s struggle to find himself is told across three defining chapters in his life as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality. This groundbreaking exploration of masculinity – a sensual, intoxicating piece of cinema that uncovers deep truths about the moments that define us, the people who shape us most, and the ache of love that can last a lifetime.
The Founder: I don’t know why, but I feel this movie is going to bring it. Directed by John Lee Hancock, this movie about the McDonald’s franchise, details how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a struggling salesman from Illinois, maneuvered himself into a position to be able to pull the McDonald’s company from the MacDonald’s brothers and create a billion-dollar empire.
Hacksaw Ridge: Many are calling this film Mel Gibson’s comeback to Hollywood. He was persona non-grata seemingly until now, which goes to show people… it’s always about your work. Based on the true story of small town boy turned army medic Desmond Doss (played by Andrew Garfield) who, in the battle of Okinawa during World War II, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun. A “conscientious objector,” Doss fought on the front lines without a weapon, as he believed that while the war was justified, killing was nevertheless wrong. The film stars Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths and Vince Vaughn.
Jackie: Many of us remember the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Texas. But not many of us remember how Jackie Kennedy coped with her husband’s passing. And how ironic that a chilean director by the name of Pablo Larrain is the one to tell it to us. This searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, portrayed by Natalie Portman, as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of “Camelot” that they created and loved so well.
Silence: Director Martin Scorsese brings to life a film he’s been working for most of his life. In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Christianity. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, Adam Driver.
Fences: This film is going to go far because Denzel Washington not only stars, but also directs and produces on this film based on a screenplay by August Wilson from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The movie explores of the evolving African-American experience and examines race relations, among other themes.
Arrival: A mix between Chris Nolan’s ‘Inception’ and Terrence Malick’s ‘Tree of Life,’ this slow, cerebral, high-brow sci-fi drama is the antithesis of what ‘The Martian’ or ‘Star Trek’ or even ‘Interstellar’ is. When a mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team – led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) – is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.