Top 10 Films of 2016

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Wilson Morales’ Top 10 Films of 2016
by Wilson Morales

December 30, 2016

Of the many films I have seen this year, these are the films I thought were the best of 2016. Some will be recognized come Oscar time and some may not, but if you get a chance, check out these films and see for yourself why I considered them among the top 10.

1.Moonlight

Moonlight posterWritten and directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight stars Naomie Harris, André Holland, Mahershala Ali, Janelle Monáe, Alex R. Hibbert, Jaden Piner, Ashton Sanders, Trevante Rhodes, and Jharrel Jerome.

The film is based on the play by Tarell McCraney “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.”

A timeless story of human self-discovery and connection, Moonlight chronicles the life of a young black man, told across three defining chapters in his life from childhood to adulthood, as he experiences the ecstasy, pain, and beauty of falling in love, while grappling with his own sexuality in a rough neighborhood of Miami.

2. Fences

Fences is the big screen adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer and Tony winning 1983 play.

Directed by and starring Academy Award winner Denzel Washington, the film also stars members of the 201o Broadway revival including Academy Award nominee and Emmy-winner Viola Davis as Ruth Maxon, Stephen McKinley Henderson as Jim Bono, Russell Hornsby as Lyons, Mykelti Williamson as Gabriel. Newcomers include Jovan Adepo as Cory, and Saniyya Sydney in the role of Raynell.

Both Washington and Davis are Tony Award-winners for their performances in the play’s 2010 Broadway revival.

FENCES tells the story of Troy Maxson, a one-time promising baseball player, now working as a Pittsburgh garbage collector.

It’s the story of a man torn between the glory of his past and the uncertainty of his future. Emboldened by pride and embittered by sacrifice, Troy is determined to make life better for future generations, even as he struggles to embrace the dreams of his own son.

3. La La Land

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Written and directed by Academy Award nominee Damien Chazelle, La La Land stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, Finn Wittrock, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno, Jessica Rothe, Tom Everett Scott and Josh Pence.

LA LA LAND tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.

Making his acting debut in a major motion picture, John Legend plays charismatic band leader Keith. Keith and Sebastian played together years ago and they reunite again when Keith offers Sebastian a spot in his band which is about to launch a major tour in support of their latest CD.

4. Manchester By The Sea

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Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, and C.J. Wilson.

In Manchester by the Sea, the life of a solitary Boston janitor is transformed when he returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew. The story of the Chandlers, a working-class family living in a Massachusetts fishing village for generations, Manchester by the Sea is a deeply poignant, unexpectedly funny exploration of the power of familial love, community, sacrifice and hope.

After the death of his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler), Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked to learn that Joe has made him sole guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Taking leave of his job, Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea to care for Patrick, a spirited 15-year-old, and is forced to deal with a past that separated him from his wife Randi (Michelle Williams) and the community where he was born and raised. Bonded by the man who held their family together, Lee and Patrick struggle to adjust to a world without him.

5. Patriots Day

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Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Peter Berg from a script written by Berg, Matt Cook, Matt Charman, Paul Tamasy, and Eric Johnson, PATRIOTS DAY is an account of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and the everyday heroes who inspired the world in the extraordinary hours that followed.

Starring Mark Wahlberg, John Goodman, Kevin Bacon, J.K. Simmons and Michelle Monaghan, PATRIOTS DAY will open nationwide on January 13, 2017

In the aftermath of an unspeakable attack, Police Sergeant Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg) joins courageous survivors, first responders and investigators in a race against the clock to hunt down the bombers before they strike again. Weaving together the stories of Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon), Police Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman), Sergeant Jeffrey Pugliese (J.K. Simmons) and nurse Carol Saunders (Michelle Monaghan) this visceral and unflinching chronicle captures the suspense of one of the most sophisticated manhunts in law enforcement history and celebrates the strength of the people of Boston.

6. Hidden Figures

Directed by Ted Melfi, Hidden Figures is based on the incredible untold true story of the brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.

Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams is also onboard as a producer and music composer.

Based on Margot Lee Shetterly book “Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race,” the film will focus on centers on Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), a brilliant African-American mathematician who, along with her colleagues Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history — the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and his safe return. The three women crossed all gender, race and professional lines while embarking on the mission.

Also featured in the film are Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, and Glen Powell.

7. Sing Street

Inspired by writer/director John Carney‘s (ONCE, BEGIN AGAIN) life and love for music, SING STREET shows us a world where music has the power to take us away from the turmoil of everyday life and transform us into something greater.

The cast includes Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, and Mark McKenna.

SING STREET takes us back to 1980s Dublin seen through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy named Conor (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who is looking for a break from a home strained by his parents’ relationship and money troubles, while trying to adjust to his new inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious, über-cool and beautiful Raphina (Lucy Boynton), and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. There’s only one problem: he’s not part of a band…yet. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver what he’s promised – calling himself “Cosmo” and immersing himself in the vibrant rock music trends of the decade, he forms a band with a few lads, and the group pours their heart into writing lyrics and shooting videos.

8. Zootopia

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Directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore and co-directed by Jared Bush, the animated film Zootopia takes place in the animal-filled city of the same name, as it follows optimistic Officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin). She discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery.

Other characters and the actors who will voice them include Shakira as Gazelle, Idris Elba as Chief Bogo (head of the Zootopian Police Department), Octavia Spencer is Mrs. Otterson, J.K. Simmons is Mayor Leodore Lionhearted, Tommy Chong is Yax the Yak (“a most enlightened, laid-back bovine”), Nate Torrence is Benjamin Clawhauser, Jenny Slate is Assistant Mayor Bellwether (“a sweet sheep with a little voice and a lot of wool”), Alan Tudyk is Duke Weaselton (“a small-time weasel crook with a big-time mouth”), Raymond Persi is Flash (“the fastest sloth working at Zootopia’s DMV — the Department of Mammal Vehicles”) and Bonny Hunt and Don Lake are the voices of Judy Hopps’ mother and father, Bonnie and Stu (“a carrot farmer from Bunnyburrow”).

9. Hell or High Water

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Directed by David Mackenzie from a script written by Taylor Sheridan, Hell Or High Water is a modern action drama set in West Texas where the distinction between honest men and outlaws has blurred beyond recognition.

The cast includes Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Gil Birmingham.

A story about the collision of the Old and New West, two brothers — Toby (Chris Pine), a straight-living, divorced father trying to make a better life for his son; and Tanner (Ben Foster), a short-tempered ex-con with a loose trigger finger — come together to rob branch after branch of the bank that is foreclosing on their family land. The hold-ups are part of a last-ditch scheme to take back a future that powerful forces beyond their control have stolen from under their feet. Vengeance seems to be theirs until they find themselves in the crosshairs of a relentless, foul-mouthed Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) looking for one last triumph on the eve of his retirement. As the brothers plot a final bank heist to complete their plan, a showdown looms at the crossroads where the last honest law man and a pair of brothers with nothing to live for except family collide.

10. The Jungle Book

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Directed by Jon Favreau, The Jungle Book is an all-new, live-action/CGI epic adventure about Mowgli (Neel Sethi), a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. But Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan (Idris Elba), who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery, guided by panther-turned-stern mentor Bagheera (Ben Kingsley), and the free-spirited bear Baloo.

Along the way, Mowgli encounters jungle creatures who don’t exactly have his best interests at heart, including Kaa (Scarlett Johansson), a python who’s seductive voice and gaze hypnotizes the man-cub, and the smooth-talking King Louie (Christopher Walken), who tries to coerce Mowgli into giving up the secret to the elusive and deadly red flower: fire.

The all-star cast also includes Lupita Nyong’o as the voice of the fiercely protective mother wolf Raksha, and Giancarlo Esposito as the voice of wolf pack’s alpha male Akela.

 


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