Gina Florio
January 05, 2017 8:54 pm
Amazon Studios

We know we’re only a few days into 2017, but award season is upon us. Soon enough it will be Oscars time, and we’ll be tuning in to see who snagged Best Actor and Best Actress, and whether our favorite film got any shout-outs. Before it all goes down, you want to make sure you’ve seen your fair share of 2016’s best movies — or else you’ll feel completely lost.

There were quite a few masterpieces that caught our eyes this year. We came across some heartwarming films that touched our hearts, action movies that had us on the edge of our seats, and movies that made us laugh so hard we cried. A few of them are still in theaters, so you’ve got some time left if you want to get the full movie experience. But the rest of these movies are either available on DVD or they’re already at your fingertips to stream. So set aside some time this weekend, make yourself a snack, and invite some friends over, because you’ve got a lot of movies to get through. After the buzz of the holidays, you could probably use the downtime anyway.

Here are 12 of the best movies of 2016. Happy watching!

1Manchester By the Sea

This one is still in theaters, so you have no reason not to see it. Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams soar together, and you’ll definitely shed a tear or two for Casey Affleck’s nephew who recently lost his father. It’s not your typical Boston movie, so don’t brush it off when you hear the accent.

2La La Land

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. We don’t really need to say anymore than that, but it’s already dubbed one of the best movies of 2016. Also, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. In case you didn’t know, the brilliant director of Whiplash is responsible for this musical masterpiece. Also, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

3Other People

Arguably the most underrated movie of 2016, Other People is a hilarious yet heartbreaking movie about a comedy writer in New York who has to go home to Sacramento to take care of his dying mother. It was written and directed by SNL writer Chris Kelly — it was a biographical tale of his own family’s experiences. Alert: You will sob.

4Moonlight

Here’s a tale about a black gay man in Florida. The story follows him from childhood into adulthood. It’s complicated, heartbreaking, and it will stay with you for a very long time.

5Deadpool

Ryan Reynolds dazzles more than ever in this whip-smart, downright hilarious Marvel movie that brought in the highest numbers at the box office of any R-rated movie ever. It’s brilliantly violent with a wicked soundtrack. Perfect movie to watch with your besties.

6Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Where to even start with this film? It’s about a foster kid who runs amok the wilderness with his foster father. You just have to watch it. The genius filmmaker from New Zealand, Taika Waititi, (Boy, What We Do In the Shadows) stuns yet again with a movie that will warm your heart. Plus, the landscape of NZ is absolutely breathtaking.

7Captain America: Civil War

We know what you’re thinking. Another Marvel movie?! There have been so many lately. But this one is worth watching, trust us. Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., and Scarlett Johannson are joined by a huge crew of superheroes, all of whom shine through a clever script and an actual storyline. Big action and a lot of heart.

8Hell Or High Water

Chris Pine is hardly recognizable in this movie with that Southern drawl and mustache, and he proves that he’s got serious acting chops. Hell Or High Water is about two brothers who rob the bank that’s about to foreclose on their family ranch. It sounds like a simple tale, but it turns into a complex story, and Chris Pine and Ben Foster are mesmerizing when paired together.

9Lion

Harking on themes of home, family, identity, and heritage, Lion stars Dev Patel, an adopted Indian who decides to embark on a journey to find his birth parents. Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara give incredible performances as well. Oh, and it’s based on a true story.

10Fences

You’d be mad not to see this movie, especially because it’s pegged to be nominated for a lot of Academy Awards this year. It takes place in the 1950s, and Denzel Washington (who also directed the film) plays a man who missed out on his chance to be a professional baseball player — all because he was too old to be admitted when they finally accepted black athletes. You’ll get so invested in him and his family that you won’t want the movie to end.

11The Handmaiden

Admittedly, this film may be an, er, strange experience for those of you who aren’t familiar with the work of South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook. It’s an erotic psychological thriller set in 1930s Korea, and it’s carried by two strong female leads (fist pump). Get ready for boundaries to crossed and narrow conceptions about gender to be shattered.

12Jackie

“People like to believe in fairytales,” Jackie says in the opening line of the trailer. Jackie Kennedy was a one of the most iconic women of the last century, and this movie shows how strong she had to be in the face of national tragedy and personal heartbreak. There are whispers that Natalie Portman will be nominated for an Academy Award for this performance.

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