17 Movies You Really Should Have Seen In 2016

2016 was quite a year for both the world and for the movies. Still despite some of the questionable films coming out of Hollywood (cough cough Suicide Squad), there were some stunning masterpieces that reminded us that no matter what is happening around us, films always offer a wonderful escape. Here are the best films of 2016.

Ryan Reynolds starred as anti-hero Wade Wilson aka Deadpool, a former secret ops turned mercenary who is attempts to hunt down the man who destroyed his life. The film is unlike anything you've seen from a superhero flick with a ton less CGI action, more amazing dialogue and vulgar language. If this doesn't make you smile, we don't know what will. Check out the trailer here.
20th Century Fox
Despite the rightful controversy surrounding director Nate Parker's rape trial and the firestorm of criticism that buried the film, The Birth Of A Nation is a fantastic film. Based on the uprising bolstered by slave Nat Turner in 1831, it's beautiful and compelling. The film does take some liberties when it comes to historical facts, but if you're going to watch Casy Affleck in Manchester By the Sea, you should give The Birth of A Nation a chance as a film as well. Watch the stunning trailer here.
Instead of the terrifying alien encounters that we are used to getting from Hollywood, Amy Adams' Arrival was all about connection. A super complex and emotional performance from Adams paved the way for a fantastic film. Check out the trailer here.
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STX Entertainment
Starring Hailee Steinfeld as the angst-filled and annoying teen Nadine, The Edge of Seventeen is a welcome return to our teenage years. Void of those annoying coming-of-age tropes that are aplenty in other teen flicks, The Edge of Seventeen shows just how painful growing up really is. Watch the trailer here.
What more could you want than seeing Chris Pine and Ben Foster in a modern-day western? Hell Or High Water has bank robbers, cowboys, and plenty more. Pine and Foster star as brothers who steal from banks and Jeff Bridges stars as the lawman after them. It's a gorgeous film that hasn't gotten nearly enough credit. Watch the trailer here.
Focus Features
A gorgeously subdued film about the power of love and the faults of humanity, Loving is a compelling character driven film on American history. Director Jeff Nicholas hones in on the two very real people whose decade-long battle with the state of Virginia helped topple the grotesque anti-miscegenation laws of the era. Carried by stunning performances from Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, Loving is much more than a footnote in our history books. It’s an intimate portrait of race and American life. Watch the trailer here.
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Amazon Studios
Adam Driver plays a New Jersey bus driver and poet named Paterson who write poems every day before his bus shift. A man reluctant to embrace his gift, it's a pleasure to watch him turn his daily encounters into prose. What the trailer here.
Fox Searchlight
With a stunning performance from Natalie Portman as First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the days following the assassination of JFK, you'll see beyond the stories and photos and memories that history and the media have left behind. Instead, Jackie is an astonishing portrayl of a woman's public and private life. Watch the trailer here.
A masterful work that is much needed  during the era of Black Lives Matter, Trump's America and the rise of white supremacy, Ava DuVernay's Netflix documentary 13th cuts through all of noise. Slavery was abolished in 1865 with the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution which states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” 13th threads the line between this amendment and our current era of mass incarceration in the United States which disproportionally affects people of color. Watch the trailer here.
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People often write Disney flicks off as "kids film" but lately, the animation studio has been churning out some real gems. As one of the best films of the year, no other animated featured measured up to Zootopia. The film tells the story of racial injustice, prejudice and unjust persecution on the eve of Trump's America. The best part of it was that Zootopia did all of this by using an adorable bunny and a fox, will delivering poignant messages to kiddies (and adults who seem to need them most). Watch the trailer here.

Returning to their roles six years after the Tony Award-winning revival of August Wilson's Fences stunned Broadway; Denzel Washington and Viola Davis  at long last presenting the sixth play in Wilson Pittsburg Cycle to film audiences. Fences follows 53-year old sanitation worker Troy Maxson and his family, who are struggling to thrive in the racially tense era. What the trailer here

OJ: Made In America
ESPN Films
Ezra Edelman's  5-part, 467-minute sweeping documentary on the rise and fall of Orenthal James Simpson, juxtaposes the former NFL player's life against racial tension in America. A lengthy but exceptional piece about Black identity, class and rage is a must-watch film for 2016. Check out the trailer here.
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Martin Scorsese has been developing this project fro the past twenty-five years and it shows. Silence follows two Portuguese Jesuits (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) in the 17th century as they travel to Japan is search of their mentor priest (Liam Neeson). During their journey they risk torture and brutality for preaching Christianity. This two and a half hour long masterpeice is not for the faint of heart, but worth the watch. Watch the trailer here.
CJ Entertainment
Set in Korea in the 1930's under the Japanese occupation, The Handmaiden follows a clever pickpocket and a con man who devise a plan to seduce a Japanese woman out of her inheritance. Watch the trailer here.
Amazon Studies
Once again, we can't excuse the behavior of public figures like Casey Affleck, but as a film critic I can objectify look at Manchester By the Sea as a film separate from the actor's personal life. In Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester By the Sea, Affleck stars as Boston janitor who is facing unspeakable tragedy. Check it out the trailer here. 
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Musicals can be hit or miss,  but Damien Chazelle’s romantic musical is the stuff of dreams. La La Land follows Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as an aspiring jazz singer and actress who try to make it in Hollywood while keeping their relationship together at the same time. It was unexpected, perfect and strikingly innovative. After a year like 2016, we need all the singing and cheer we can get. Check out the trailer here.
Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s stunning play, “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” Moonlight is a riveting masterpiece on Black queer identity, hyper-masculinity, and compassion. It’s a film that speaks more loudly in its silences than the most overpacked and overblown action films. Watch the trailer here.