Marjorie Baumgarten’s Top 10 Films of 2016

Manchester by the Sea

1) Manchester by the Sea

With aching sadness without sentimentality, this film shows how human connection is the best salve for grief.

2) Moonlight

With acute poetry, Moonlight finds the personal and the universal in one American boy's story of growing up black, poor, and gay.

3) La La Land

The film's appeal to the gut rather than the head camouflages this musical's compound achievements.

4) Elle

A smart thriller featuring a brave performance by Isabelle Huppert stuns, shocks, perplexes, and excites.


5) Nocturnal Animals

Harrowing tale blends high art and low crimes with delicious performances and life reflections.

6) I Am Not Your Negro

Fifty years on, unpublished letters on race in America by James Baldwin pack an insightful and inciteful wallop.

7) Wiener-Dog

Todd Solondz stays true to his misanthropic vision and reveals a dachshund's life that's as profound as the donkey Balthazar's.

8) Paterson

The poetry of the quotidian infuses Jim Jarmusch's perceptive yet laconic narrative observations.

9) Tower

Just when you thought there was nothing new to learn about the UT Tower shootings, this film opens new perspectives.

10) Captain Fantastic

Questions about parenting methods have rarely been as front and center as in this unconventional drama.

Near Misses

Maggie's Plan, The Edge of Seventeen, Toni Erdmann, Hell or High Water, Fire at Sea

Most Overrated

The Lobster, Jackie, The Handmaiden

Most Underrated

Sausage Party, Maggie's Plan, Morris From America

Wild Card

2016 – The Year That Quality Television Surpassed Quality Movies: or Why Am I Stuck Seeing so Many Crummy Movies When I Could Be Staying Home Watching Better Television?

Acting Kudos (Male)

Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea), Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals), Ethan Hawke (Maggie's Plan, Born to Be Blue), Paul Dano (Swiss Army Man), Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)

Casey Affleck taps new depths as a man eaten alive by his inner emotions in Manchester by the Sea.

Acting Kudos (Female)

Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Emma Stone (La La Land), Rebecca Hall (Christine), Greta Gerwig (Maggie's Plan, Weiner-Dog, Jackie, 20th Century Women), Julianne Moore (Maggie's Plan)

No single performance made more of an impression than Greta Gerwig's outstanding turns in four separate movies this year.

Best Director

Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Damien Chazelle (La La Land)

Best Original Screenplay

Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), Rebecca Miller (Maggie's Plan), Todd Solondz (Wiener-Dog)

Best Adapted Screenplay

David Birke (Elle), Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro), Tom Ford (Nocturnal Animals)

TV Series/Event:

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee: Pointedly funny and feminist take on the news goes where no man has gone before.

Worst Film

Collateral Beauty: This dopey schmaltz seems all the more ill-conceived when compared with this season's other grief drama Manchester by the Sea.

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