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58 Best Movies & Shows Released in 2016

Shot in black and white to be the best dialogue-driven, character-study film it can be; Blue Jay stars Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass in a cozy, slow-burning film. Their characters, respectively Amanda and Jim, are former high-school sweethearts who run into each other in their hometown 20 years later. They talk, they get coffee, and then beer and jelly beans, until they find themselves to Jim’s mother’s house. As they familiarize themselves again, and the movie moves forward, it abandons its romantic chops to become a truly heartfelt and real film. A revelation of a movie.

9.1

This is a fantastic BBC thriller series. Perfect writing, exceptionally well-developed characters and great actors across the board make this production a classic crime show. A middle-aged Yorkshire Police sergeant is coming to terms with the release from prison of a man who had caused her great harm. His comeback coincides with a kidnapping attempt by a local drug kingpin. A seemingly quaint small town reveals its crime underbelly in a plot that mixes personal vendettas with life-threatening crime. Happy Valley has a great sense of suspense, it’ll keep you on edge at all times. It might not seem like much at the start of the first episode but grows on you. It also follows the BBC tradition (think Luther, Line of Duty, Broadchurch) of addressing the darker side of police work.

9.0

Deep in the suburbs of Paris, Divines follows the story of Dounia (played by Oulaya Amamra) and her best friend Maimouna (played by Déborah Lukumuena). Director Houda Benyamina serves a nest of social issues – welcoming the viewer into a world where poverty is pervasive and adults are haunted by their own ghosts, where there is a life vest only in the reliance on friendship. The nature of this bond between the two female characters is deep, playful, and backed by mesmerizing acting on behalf of Amamra and Lukumuena. Just as prevailing throughout the film is the commentary on immigrant diasporas and the power of idealization. The girls fantasize about financial excess with guttural determination, guided only by the realization that their escape from their current lives has to come to fruition no matter what the cost. This film is entrancing and thought-provoking. You won’t be able to look away.

9.0

A delicate and profound exploration of loss, and an unbelievably well-made drama, Manchester By the Sea is a true triumph. Its focus on the characters, its timely unfolding of story elements, as well as its world class acting are only equal to the best European dramas. This deep and slow exploration of the human condition has rarely been successful in American cinema, if ever. The last best attempt was probably another movie  by director Kenneth Lonergan, You Can Count on Me. Manchester by the Sea is where he unveils his full potential, and takes the viewer deep into the tensions and history of a building handyman, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck). His angry but quiet life is interrupted by news that his brother suffered a heart attack, and upon going back to his hometown he finds that he is the only one left to take care of his teenage nephew. A truly amazing movie, not to be missed, and a huge success too.  It grossed around $80 million on a budget of $8.5 million.

9.0

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Like all great documentaries, Angry Inuk is about way more than its tagline. At first glance, it's about how anti-sealing activism has been harming Inuit communities since the 1980s, to the point of instituting the highest rates of hunger and suicide anywhere in the "developed" world. But beyond, it's about the complicity of the government of Canada. A crushed seal-based economy means that the Inuit have to agree to oil and uranium mining in the Arctic.Angry Inuk is also about the corrupt behavior of animal rights organizations like Greenpeace: seals are actually not on the endangered animal list but NGOs focus on them because they make them money.It's an infuriating but incredibly important documentary. One that is not about how Canada has a bad history, but about how Canada is harming the Inuit right now.

8.8

A hilarious BBC/Viceland comedy about an underground hip-hop station and the unique characters that run it. Kurupt FM is lead by MC Grindah, a disillusioned but dedicated DJ. He is introduced in the first episode by his wife as someone who has been arrested before, but only for “silly little things” like “drug dealing and hate crimes”. His friend and manager is Chabuddy G, a “business” man who lives in the cybercafé he runs with his Eastern European wife he can’t communicate with, all while trying to start a company to import “peanut dust” (the last bits of peanut that remain at the end of a peanut pack). People Just Do Nothing is legitimately funny with quick episodes and even quicker seasons. The first one only has four episodes, so it’s a guilt-free yet amazing binge.

8.6

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Hirokazu Koreeda can do no wrong. The director of Shoplifters and Still Walking is a master of dissecting complex family dynamics through a handful of events. In Our Little Sister, three close sisters who live at their grandmother's house learn that their absent father has passed. They travel to the mountains to attend his funeral and meet their half-sister, Suzu, for the first time. Suzu is invited to live with the sisters and join their bond.This movie is a true-to-the-form slice of life, it's almost drama-free. This absence of plot is an absence of distractions: the sisters are all that matters to Koreeda. His only focus is on how this family becomes bigger, sees past grief, and how the group of close-knit sisters that grew up together can make room for a new addition.

8.5

The Fundamentals of Caring is an offbeat comedy/drama starring Paul Rudd as a man attempting to overcome his looming divorce by becoming the caretaker for a teenager with muscular dystrophy (Craig Roberts, Submarine). The two develop an unconventional relationship based largely on sarcasm and profanity, delivering many laugh-out-loud moments, while also slowly exposing the pain each is carrying inside.Together, at Ben’s urging, they embark on a road trip across the western United States for Craig to see the world. It’s somewhat formulaic but fun and touching road movie that covers much familiar ground, but also offers a fine illustration of caregiving, personal growth, and emotional healing. Paul Rudd is as good ever, and Roberts is utterly superb. One of the best movies on the Netflix Originals catalog, and an undeniable winner, all-in-all.

8.4