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"Captain Fantastic" - Balancing personal emotional hardships with the never-ending task of parenting, Viggo Mortensen puts on one of the finest performances of his career as a father who has to learn to put what he thinks is best for his children aside in order to give them a more stable life in "Captain Fantastic." This thought-provoking, oddball indie film also challenges the notion of what it means to educate, parent, and live in a society so fixated on things over relationships. 8.5/10
"American Honey" - A unique coming-of-age story that looks at the lost youth of middle America. Director Andrea Arnold makes a bold choice to shoot the film in a 4:3 aspect ratio, creating a very intimate experience against the expansive, gritty backdrop of Heartland, USA. Breakout star Sasha Lane gives a riveting performance. 8.5/10
"Queen of Katwe" - This film didn't get much notoriety or marketing, especially for a Disney movie. This is a touching, inspirational underdog story bolstered by brilliant performances from Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo, and newcomer Madina Nalwanga. It shows that greatness can come from anywhere if only given the opportunity, even from the slums of Uganda. 8.5/10
"The Edge of Seventeen" - "The Edge of Seventeen" givea a darkly humorous and honest look at a modern day coming-of-age story. It manages to be charming, smart, and mature, even in its vulgarity. Imagine what "The Breakfast Club" could have been if they had social media, and you've got this film! 8.5/10
"Swiss Army Man" - Be aware from the start that "Swiss Army Man" is about a suicidal man who drags around a farting corpse. If you can get past this plot, what you will find here is a deceptively deep comedy that examines the nature of love, life, and friendship, aided by two spectacular performances by Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, a unique soundtrack, and a whole lot of humor. 8.5/10
"Moonlight" - Taking previously uncombined subject matters and flawlessly integrating them in such a seamless manner, director Barry Jenkins has created something truly unique and special with his powerhouse film "Moonlight." Even the way the story is told is different. The acting is stellar all around, the cinematography is magnificent, and it is extremely compelling. 9/10
"The Handmaiden" - Park Chan-wook is a master South Korean director with an eye for stunning visuals and engaging stories featuring lots of twists and turns. "The Handmaiden" is an erotic drama full of scandal and intrigue that builds and builds until its ultimate intentions are revealed. A must see for fans of foreign cinema! 9/10
"Loving" - Who would have thought a court battle that occurred in the 50's & 60's could be so relevant in 2016? "Loving" takes two breathtakingly subtle performances by Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton and combines them into a heartbreaking, powerful, and pertinent film about two real life people who wanted a chance to love each other just like everyone else. Jeff Nichols's masterclass directorial efforts and a simple but important premise makes this film one of the best dramas of the year. 9/10
"Nocturnal Animals" - Talk about a wild ride! Tom Ford's "Nocturnal Animals" is intoxicatingly dark and twisted, bleak but captivating, extremely well acted, and visually striking. This one will leave you thinking long after the credits role, but go in knowing as little as you can. 9.5/10
"Hunt for the Wilderpeople" - One of the best movies of 2016, "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" is immeasurably funny, supremely witty, deeply emotional, and expertly directed by Taika Waititi. With great performances by Sam Neill, Rachel House, and a breakout performance by Julian Dennison, your life will be a little less bright if you don't watch this gorgeously shot gem of an indie film from New Zealand. 10/10