125 Best Movies & Shows Released in 2016 (Page 7)

Staff & contributors

Find the best movies and show to watch from the year 2016. These handpicked recommendations are highly-rated by viewers and critics.

In rural Korea a policeman starts to investigate peculiar and violent events that most of the people in his village attribute to the arrival of a new Japanese resident. As the occurrences keep multiplying, and different perspectives in the film are shown, you start to lose touch with reality in the face of what can only be described as genius film-making. As critic Jada Yuan puts it, the film operates on a level “that makes most American cinema seem clunky and unimaginative”. For this reason, and while The Wailing is a true horror flick with a great premise, it’s also more than just that: it boosts a mind-boggling, interesting plot that will have you thinking about it long after the credits roll. Protip: grab the person next to you and make them watch this movie with you so you can have someone to discuss it with after!

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Actor: Bae Yong-geun, Cho Han-cheul, Chun Woo-hee, Do-won Kwak, Han-Cheol Jo, Heo Jin, Hur Jin, Hwang Jung-min, Hwang Suk-jung, Jang So-yeon, Jeon Bae-soo, Jeong-min Hwang, Jo Han-chul, Jo Yeon-hee, Jun Kunimura, Jung-min Hwang, Kim Do-yoon, Kim Hwan-hee, Kim Ki-chun, Kwak Do-won, Lee Jung-eun, Lee Seon-hee, Lee Yong-nyeo, Moon Chang-gil, Park Sung-yeon, So-yeon Jang, Son Kang-gook, Sung-yeon Park, Woo-hee Chun, Yoo Soon-woong, 赵汉哲

Director: Hong-jin Na, Na Hong-jin

Rating: Not Rated, TV-MA

Set between the years 1977 and 2005, this Polish drama goes through various stages in the life of the controversial surrealist-expressionist painter Zdzisław Beksiński. The extensive video archive left behind by the artist was used to craft an intimate portrait of three interdependent people: Beksiński himself, his suicidal and neurotic son, and his wife.

Beksiński is superbly played by veteran actor Andrzej Seweryn, known for his appearance in numerous Andrzej Wajda films. Even though the film focuses less on Zdzisław's painting career and more on his relationship with his family, it will definitely inspire you to dig deeper into both his tragic life and impressively dark body of work. 

Genre: Drama

Actor: Aleksandra Konieczna, Alicja Karluk, Andrzej Chyra, Andrzej Seweryn, Danuta Nagorna, Dawid Ogrodnik, Magdalena Boczarska, Zofia Perczynska

Director: Jan P. Matuszynski

Rating: N/A

This moving biopic is about Maud Lewis, the legendary Canadian painter who suffered from arthritis. In the film, Maud gets away from her controlling family by finding a job as a live-in housekeeper for a local fish peddler. It is there where she begins to paint, before marrying the fish peddler in spite of their different personalities. Sally Hawkins, who plays Lewis, brings undeniable spark and soul to the role, for which she had to undergo an astonishing physical transformation.

Maudie is a beautiful and uncomplicated film that challenges the conventions of marriage and relationship roles, while at the same time celebrating Maud Lewis’ paintings and life’s simple pleasures.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Billy MacLellan, David Feehan, Ethan Hawke, Gabrielle Rose, Greg Malone, Kari Matchett, Kate Ross, Lawrence Barry, Marthe Bernard, Nik Sexton, Sally Hawkins, Zachary Bennett

Director: Aisling Walsh

Rating: PG-13

In Between is a beautiful and poignant film that offers a sensitive and nuanced exploration of the lives and experiences of three Palestinian women living in Tel Aviv. The film follows their struggles to reconcile their traditional and cultural identities with their desire for independence, freedom, and self-expression. The stunning visuals, evocative and emotional score, and brilliant performances of the cast combine to create a powerful and moving portrait of resilience, sisterhood, and hope. Profoundly human and deeply affecting, In Between offers a fresh and important perspective on the complex realities of life in Israel and Palestine.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Amir Khoury, Firas Nassar, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Mouna Hawa, Samar Qupty, Shaden Kanboura

Director: Maysaloun Hamoud

Based on the short story “God Sees the Truth, But Waits” by Leo Tolstoy, The Woman Who Left is a film about people with nowhere to go. Set in 1990s Philippines, the film follows Horacia, an ex-convict seeking revenge on her former lover who masterminded her unjust 30-year imprisonment. Along the way, she meets various people—a hunchback balut vendor, vagabonds, and an epileptic trans woman, among others—all downtrodden in their own unique ways and united only by their nightly wanderings, with whom Horacia’s true nature is revealed and reconfigured with every encounter.

Lav Diaz’s signature slow cinema minimalism and sharp chiaroscuro lighting allow for a meditative experience, further enhancing the film’s immersive quality. Despite its bleak atmosphere, The Woman Who Left remains hopeful amidst moral quandaries, where things eventually fall into their rightful place, albeit in unexpected ways.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Charo Santos-Concio, John Lloyd Cruz, Kakai Bautista, Lao Rodriguez, Mae Paner, Michael De Mesa, Nonie Buencamino, Shamaine Buencamino

Director: Lav Diaz

Jessica Chastain plays a driven Washington lobbyist called Elizabeth Sloane in this high-speed political thriller. After being pitched to work for the gun lobby, she decides to work for the opposition: an NGO trying to pass a background check bill. It's a long movie, and even if everything happens fast, it still lags. 

The events do wrap up by the end to explain the complex plot. Not to mention, Chastain's performance something to behold and is reason enough to watch. Her character's hidden motive and questionable methods make her an anti-hero, but Chastain always keeps a lure of hope that her character will redeem herself. That delicate balance might be the most thrilling aspect of Miss Sloan.

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Actor: Aaron Hale, Al Mukaddam, Alexandra Castillo, Alison Pill, Anand Rajaram, Andrew Moodie, Angela Vint, Austin Strugnell, Christine Baranski, Chuck Shamata, Courtenay J. Stevens, Craig Eldridge, David Wilson Barnes, Doug Murray, Douglas Smith, Dylan Baker, Ennis Esmer, Grace Lynn Kung, Greta Onieogou, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Gurdeep Ahluwalia, Helen Johns, Jack Murray, Jake Lacy, Jessica Chastain, Joe Pingue, John Lithgow, Kevin Jubinville, Kyle Mac, Lucy Owen, Mark Strong, Meghann Fahy, Michael Cram, Michael Stuhlbarg, Murray Furrow, Noah Robbins, Ola Sturik, Raoul Bhaneja, Sam Waterston, Sergio Di Zio, Zach Smadu

Director: John Madden

Rating: R

Classroom chatter and inside jokes; the rhythmic routine of class, band practice, and communal mealtime; colorful paints and a keen Shakespeare play; paperback books, pages bookmarked with dogears. These are the precious, ordinary wonders of Headfort, a preparatory boarding school in Ireland. 

School Life observes Amanda and John Leyden, who have each taught at Headfort for over four decades. As they both near retirement, so too looms the promise of a tranquil retreat into the countryside—and questions of what they leave behind in their school, their classrooms, and their students. Idyllic and gentle, this documentary offers a brief but meaningful look into the school lives of bright children indelibly influenced by their earliest mentors.

Genre: Documentary

Director: David Rane, Neasa Ní Chianáin

Rating: PG-13

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Richard Linklater’s spiritual successor to Dazed and Confused invites you back to 1980 with a group of college freshmen discovering and navigating their first taste of young adulthood. Linklater is best known for balancing authentic dialogue and earnest performances, both of which shine in this movie. Notable performances are given by all in this ensemble cast, whose chemistry is electric and infectiously light-hearted. Everybody Wants Some!! is as fun, loud, and wild as any good night you don’t want to forget.

Genre: Comedy

Actor: Adriene Mishler, Alexandria Payne, Asjha Cooper, Austin Amelio, Beau Smith, Blake Jenner, Christina Burdette, Courtney Tailor, Cyndy Powell, Devin Bonnée, Diane Selken, Dora Madison, Forrest Vickery, Glen Powell, J. Quinton Johnson, Jason Liebrecht, Jenna Saab, Jessi Mechler, Jonathan Breck, Juston Street, Lizzy Pop Muro, Lynden Orr, Olivia Griswald, Paula Marcenaro Solinger, Rene Rhi, Ryan Guzman, Sophia Ali, Taylor Ashley Murphy, Tory Taranova, Tyler Hoechlin, Will Brittain, Wyatt Russell, Zoey Deutch

Director: Richard Linklater

Rating: R

In this French movie based on a true story, a med-school graduate from Congo is offered a job as the doctor to the president of Zaire. He refuses and chooses instead to move to a small town in France in hopes of getting French citizenship and securing a better future for his children.

The story, which starts in 1975, is set in a village where people had never seen a Black person. To that, Seyolo, the doctor, says: “so what? Now they will.”

The culture clash is both villagers-to-new-arrivals and the other way. Seyolo tells his family that he was hired in a village “north of Paris”, but all they hear is “Paris”, only to be shocked by the state of the rainy and muddy countryside village.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Actor: Aissa Maiga, Bayron Lebli, Bernard Eylenbosch, Bwanga Pilipili, Diogène Ntarindwa, Édith Le Merdy, Emilie Rouhart, Ingrid Heiderscheidt, Jean Bediebe, Jean-Benoît Ugeux, Jean-Marie Barbier, Jean-Michel Balthazar, Jonathan Lambert, Julien Rambaldi, Kamini Zantoko, Laurent Caron, Marc Zinga, Marie-Philomène Nga, Marius Yelolo, Mata Gabin, Medina Diarra, Micheline Dieye, Narcisse Mame, Riton Liebman, Rodolphe Jonathan Lambert, Rufus, Stéphane Bissot, Stéphanie Crayencour, Sylvestre Amoussou, Tatiana Rojo, Thomas Vandenberghe, Vincent Lecuyer, Vincent Martin

Director: Julien Rambaldi

Rating: N/A

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Soul Mate has a familiar premise, has a standard love triangle, and at times, goes through the same formulaic story beats that any moviegoer would recognize. However, what makes the film unique is that it’s not focused on which character should get the guy, but on the friendship between two women and what's really driving them apart. In director Derek Tsang’s capable hands, we learn about their dynamic in fragments and through crucial moments. Gorgeous cinematography and editing turn memories golden in nostalgia. But it’s ultimately Zhou Dongyu and Sandra Ma’s performances that solidify the friendship. Theirs is a study of contrasts between the independent yet freeloading Ansheng versus the stable but yearning Qiyue. It’s the actresses who prove that the real soul connection can be found between these two women instead.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Cai Gang, Ma Sichun, Toby Lee, Zhou Dongyu

Director: Derek Tsang

Rating: Not Rated

British filmmaker extraordinaire Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank) draws the perfect portrait of two young American drifters who fall in love.

Star (Sasha Lane) runs away with Jake (Shia Laboeuf), a traveling magazine salesman with more experience on the road. The freedom is tempting at first, especially given her difficult situation at home, but Star is quickly confronted with the risks that come with running away.

American Honey is shot in a succession of moments that take place almost entirely during golden hour, as if to say that the best part of the day comes right before dark.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Andrea Arnold, Arielle Holmes, Chris Bylsma, Crystal Ice, Isaiah Stone, Kaylin Mally, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Laura Kirk, McCaul Lombardi, Riley Keough, Sasha Lane, Shawna Rae Moseley, Shia LaBeouf, Veronica Ezell, Will Patton

Director: Andrea Arnold, 安德里亚·阿诺德

Rating: R

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