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Metro In Focus: Rough year, except at the movies: The top 10 films of 2016

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Santa isn’t the only one who makes lists in December.

Every year around this time I put together my annual best and worst movies lists. This year I’m changing it up. 2016 was a corker of a year in and out of movie theatres. It felt like 365 days of bad road so I’m going to concentrate on uplift; the very best of a bad year.

1. A Bigger Splash: This look at beautiful people, jealousy and desire is worth the price of admission to see Ralph Fiennes, Lord Voldemort himself, strut his stuff to disco era Rolling Stones. He unleashes some of the goofiest dance moves since Elaine Benes in what must be his loosest performance ever.

2. Deadpool: As played by Ryan Reynolds Deadpool is part of the Marvel family, a distant cousin to Iron Man and Captain America, but he’s a refreshing super-antihero, a weaponized bad attitude come-to-life with a chip on his shoulder and a raunchy quip on his lips.

3. Everybody Wants Some: Director Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood was a slice-of-life that showcased twelve years in the upbringing of a growing boy. His latest movie is also a slice-of-life but in a much-condensed form, spanning just three funny and affectionately nostalgic days in the life of a 1970s college baseball player.

4. The Handmaiden: This is an epic story of madness, con games, double crosses, double-double crosses, kinky sex, desire and more. Director Chan-wook Park wrings every ounce of lascivious pleasure from the film’s sprawling story of sex and intrigue.

5. Hell or High Water: Echoes of the Coen brothers ricochet throughout Hell or High Water but with its deliberate pace, Nick Cave’s moody score and Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster as the leads, it’s more than a stop-gap between Coen Brothers neo westerns, it’s one of the most richly satisfying movies of the year.

6. La La Land: From a trickily edited opening song-and-dance number to a spectacular ballet among the stars to heartfelt human feelings, this Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling musical doesn’t just breathe new life into an old genre it performs CPR on it, bringing its beating heart back to vibrant life.

7. Loving: Loving is simultaneously a powerful look at a racist time and, when it asks, “What is the danger to the state of Virginia from interracial marriage?” a timely and universal reminder that Loving v. Virginia was just one of many steps humanity has to take before everyone is afforded fundamental rights.

8. Manchester by the Sea: Manchester by the Sea is a finely acted look at grief and the aftermath of heartbreak but it’s also very a funny odd couple/buddy flick that isn’t afraid to flip flop between drama and comedy.

9. Moonlight: Moonlight is a compelling film about a young man finding a place in the world. Director Barry Jenkins splits the story into thirds, each examining a different time in the life of Chiron, a young, gay African-American man, as he comes to grips with who he is

10. Paterson: Paterson luxuriates in the mundane aspects of a poetry writing bus driver’s life, and is punctuated by on-screen depictions of his poetry. What could have been insufferable turns into a beautifully rendered portrait of people who find beauty and art in everyday life.

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