2016 has been an interesting year in the world of film. While the past year has been notorious for deaths of a slew of famous actors and actresses (such as Alan Rickman and more recently Carrie Fisher), we've also gotten a lot of excellent films in 2016. So what movies should you see before the Oscars air on February 28 so that you're 'in the loop?' Below, we'll talk about some of the best films of 2016 and the reasons why they were so highly-acclaimed.
La La Land
'La La Land' is a romantic musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, directed by Damien Chazelle. This film tells the story of Mia (played by Emma Stone) and jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and the course of their blossoming romance, which is magically charted through a score of excellent songs. Damien Chazelle is no stranger to the Oscars, having been nominated for five awards and winning three back in 2015 for 'Whiplash'. The film has been hailed as a 'breath of fresh air' in Holywood, although it's more of a throwback to films such as 'Singing in the Rain'. Stone's performance was widely acclaimed, so her winning the award for Best Actress is certainly a strong possibility.
Because the director wanted to shoot the scene in the tradition of old musicals without cuts or editing, Ryan Gosling learned how to play the piano and played it himself in one take on his first day of shooting. Gosling had no prior piano training
Manchester By the Sea
Casey Affleck stars as a man who must take care of his rebellious nephew after the untimely death of his brother in this tearjerker of a film. It was directed by Kenneth Lonergan, and Affleck's performance was particularly well received. Expect to see this movie as a contender, specifically, Casey Affleck possibly winning the award for Best Actor.
This is the third film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan after 'You Can Count on Me' and 'Margaret'
'Moonlight' is an ambitious narrative epic directed by Barry Jenkins which charts the course of a man's life as he struggles with his homosexuality, identity, and drug abuse. The character, called Chiron, is played by three different actors throughout the course of his on-screen 'life'. It will most likely be a strong contender in the upcoming awards season. Mahershala Ali's performance has been particularly praised so that we may be looking at an award for Best Supporting Actor for him.
The film is based on the unproduced play 'In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue' by MacArthur Fellow Tarell Alvin McCraney
'Arrival' is a science-fiction film from director Denis Villeneuve starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. The movie involves the arrival of 12 mysterious alien ships and a race against time to communicate with the visitors. Though this could sound like a generic sci-fi plot, the film is quite cerebral and has been widely praised so could be seeing some nominations.
The original name for the film was 'Story of Your Life'. However, test audiences did not like the title, and therefore, it was changed to 'Arrival'
Disney's CGI film 'Zootopia' smashed expectations at the box office (making over 1 billion dollars internationally) and has been widely critically acclaimed. With its subtle themes, such as the effects of racism, there's more to this film than meets the eye (which is quite a lot, given the spectacular computer-generated imagery). The film will probably win the award for Best Animated Feature, though that's not guaranteed. It has two other very well-received Disney movies, 'Finding Dory' and 'Moana', with which it will have to compete.
It was November 2014 when the production team decided to change the story to emphasize Judy Hopps as the main character rather than Nick Wilde
'Moana' is another CGI Disney film set in ancient Polynesia. The film has been well-received for its encouraging story and excellent music, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame. Moana could, therefore, be a serious contender for the Best Original Song Award.
Moana is the second Disney Princess to have a story not based on a fairy tale or legend, nor having a love interest. The first one was Merida from 'Brave' (2012)
'Hacksaw Ridge' stars Andrew Garfield as a World War II soldier who refuses to carry a weapon but still manages to save the lives of over 70 other soldiers. This film is directed by Mel Gibson (which, let's be honest, could hurt its showing at the Oscars) but we might see it nominated for and perhaps winning some technical awards.
Film debut of Milo Gibson. He is the son of Mel Gibson, and this is the first cinematic collaboration between the two
'Silence' is a film by esteemed director Martin Scorsese about Jesuit missionaries in Japan. Scorcese, reportedly, has been trying to get this movie made for the past 25 years. It's been critically well-received, and we can probably expect it to receive a nomination for best picture, as Scorcese's last five films have.
The story is based on actual historical facts, but while keeping the character name of the hero's mentor Father Ferreira who was an actual historical figure
'Jackie' is a biographical drama about the life of Jackie Kennedy, First Lady of the United States, directed by Pablo Larraín. The larger-than-life historical figure is played by Natalie Portman, whose performance received much acclaim (being nominated for a SAG Award and a Golden Globe). We can probably expect her to receive a nomination for Best Actress, although it wouldn't be her first - she won that award (among others) back in 2011 for her performance in 'Black Swan'.
Director Pablo Larraín with this film gives a boldly unconventional spin to the biopic genre, mixing historical footage with complete fictional re-creations, and excavating just one critical moment in Jacqueline Kennedy's life, but in all its intricately woven layers
'The Handmaiden' is a Korean film based on the novel 'Fingersmith', directed by Park Chan-Wook. The setting is changed from the novel, taking place during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930s. The movie is one of the most erotic of recent years, so be warned, but it could snag the award for Best Foreign Film of 2016.
'The Handmaiden', Based on the novel 'Fingersmith' by Sarah Waters (published in 2002). The novel is set in London during the 19th century, but the film is set in Korea in the 1930s, under Japanese colonial rule