Best films of this year

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I am always perplexed this time of year, when I hunker down and try to lay out the “best of” list for the year. I scour over the names of films that I watched over the past nearly 12 months, and I peek at the lists created by other critics, even the ones in my home town, and still, I find the chore challenging and frustrating. It feels, sometimes, like the lists of the majority guide the choices others make, and I shy away from that, if I can. As usual, there are films I have not seen before finishing my list, “Patriots Day,” “Hidden Figure,” “Silence,” “The Red Turtle” and others that might not even make it into Austin area theaters. 

 Best Picture

1. “La La Land” – Cazelle’s is a truly inspiring throwback to old time movie musicals

2. “Moonlight” – Accounts the story of one boy’s plight to survive the obstacles of life – chronicles him from boyhood to adult. 

3. “Hell or High Water” – Chronicles a pair of bank robbers who want to make banks pay (by robbing them) to prevent foreclosure on their ranch. Texas Rangers take up pursuit.  

4. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” – This is a story similar to the animated feature UP and is an engaging adventure tale. 

5. “Deadpool” – not on too many critics’ top 10, but Deadpool (rated R) makes an antihero the hero.

6. “Florence Foster Jenkins” – Meryl Streep is delightful as a tone deaf music aficionado who thinks she can sing.  

7. “20th Century Women” – This is a well-crafted tale of diverse and unique women and the cast is exceptional.

8. “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” – I liked it – a lot! Star Wars fans should embrace this standalone addition to the franchise. 

9. “Jungle Book” – Superior animation make this a must see tale of a boy raised by wolves.

Best Director

1. Damien Cazelle  – “La La Land”

2. Mike Mills – “20th Century Woman”

3. Jon Favreau – “Jungle Book”

4. Barry Jenkins – “Moonlight”

5. Denis Villeneuve – “Arrival”

Best Actor

1. Jake Gyllenhaal – “Nocturnal Animals”

2. Denzel Washington – “Fences”

3. Collin Ferrell – “The Lobster”

4. Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea”

5. Ryan Gosling – “La La Land”

6. Andrew Garfield – “Hacksaw Ridge”

7. Viggo Mortensen – “Captain Fantastic”

8. Adam Driver – “Paterson”

9. Tom Hanks – “Sully”

10. Joel Edgerton – “Loving”

Best Actress

1. Rachel Weisz – “Denial,” “The Lobster”

2. Rebecca Hall – “Christine”

3. Emma Stone – “La La Land”

4. Meryl Streep – “Florence Foster Jenkins”

5. Ruth Negga – “Loving”

6. Amy Adams – “Arrival,” “Nocturnal Animals”

Annette Benning – “20th Century Woman”

Sally Field – “Hello My Name is Doris”

Susan Sarandon – “The Meddler”

Jessica Chastain – “Miss Sloan”

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali  - “Moonlight”

Jeff Bridges – “Hell or High Water”

Hugh Grant  - “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Michael Shannon – “Nocturnal Animals” 

Stephen Henderson – “Fences”

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – “Fences”

Naomi Harris – “Moonlight”

Michelle Williams – “Manchester by the Sea”

Nicole Kidman – “Lion”

Felicity Jones – “A Monster Calls”

Best Animated Feature Film

“Kubo and the Two Strings”

“Moana”

“Zootopia”

“Sing”

“Finding Dory”

Worst Movies of the Year

“Weiner-Dog” – Dog gone horrible.

“My Fat Greek Wedding 2” – Seeing the sequel is worse than the nastiest divorce.

“The Shallows” – Asininity puts this film in deep water.

“The Legend of Tarzan” – Not even a chest pound or an ape-man holler – in this ridiculous flop!

“Nine Lives” – Kevin Spacy, what were you thinking? A cat-astrophe of a film!

“Bad Moms” – shame, shame on filmmakers! They need a time out. 

“Why Him?” – Why make such crap is the better question.

“Swiss Army Men” – Bomb that needs to be bombed!

“Inferno” – Good thing Tom Hanks made Sully this year, because Inferno goes up in flames!

“Dirty Grandpa” – Actually, I am thinking more like disgusting grandpa.

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