Want to watch only the best movies 2016 has to offer? Have a 400-hour gap in your schedule coming up? Then continue on with our gallery of 2016 Certified Fresh movies (i.e. movies at least 75% on the Tomatometer after crossing a threshold number of reviews: 80 for wide releases, 40 for limiteds), in chronological order!
(Jan 22): Ip Man 3 isn’t the most tightly plotted biopic a kung fu fan could ask for, but the fight scenes are fun to watch — and at times, the drama is even genuinely poignant.
Ip Man 3
(Jan 22): Smart, visually arresting, and scathingly funny, Aferim! depicts a world that many American filmgoers have never seen — but will still, in many respects, find utterly familiar.
(Jan 29): As shockingly compelling as it is dispiriting, The Clan delivers hard-hitting lessons even for viewers unfamiliar with the real-life history behind its story.
(Jan 29): Kung Fu Panda 3 boasts the requisite visual splendor, but like its rotund protagonist, this sequel’s narrative is also surprisingly nimble, adding up to animated fun for the whole family.
Kung Fu Panda 3
(Feb 3): Rams transcends its remote location — and somewhat esoteric storyline — by using the easily relatable dynamic between two stubborn brothers to speak universal truths.
(Feb 5): Packed with period detail and perfectly cast, Hail, Caesar! finds the Coen brothers delivering an agreeably lightweight love letter to post-war Hollywood.
(Feb 5): Southbound doesn’t entirely avoid the jarring shifts common to anthology films, but thanks to some thrilling twists and turns, this horror road movie is a surprisingly smooth ride.
(Feb 5): The Club finds director Pablo Larraín continuing to pose difficult questions while exploring weighty themes — and getting the most out of a talented cast.
(Feb 12): Tense, intelligent, and refreshingly low-key, A War is part frontline thriller, part courtroom drama — and eminently effective in both regards.
(Feb 12): Fast, funny, and gleefully profane, the fourth-wall-busting Deadpool subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining — and decidedly non-family-friendly — results.
(Feb 12): Glassland’s grim setting is leavened by writer-director Gerard Barrett’s compassionate treatment of his characters — and bolstered by a strong cast led by Toni Collette and Jack Reynor.
(Feb 12): Beautifully filmed, powerfully acted, and rich with meaning, Mountains May Depart represents another outstanding outing from writer/director Zhangke Jia.
Mountains May Depart
(Feb 12): Where to Invade Next finds documentarian Michael Moore approaching progressive politics with renewed — albeit unabashedly one-sided — vigor.
Where to Invade Next
(Feb 17): As rich visually as it is thematically, Embrace of the Serpent offers a feast of the senses for film fans seeking a dose of bracing originality.
Embrace Of The Serpent
(Feb 26): Eddie the Eagle’s amiable sweetness can’t disguise its story’s many inspirational clichés — but for many viewers, it will be more than enough to make up for them.
Eddie The Eagle
(Feb 26): Only Yesterday’s long-delayed U.S. debut fills a frustrating gap for American Ghibli fans while offering further proof of the studio’s incredibly consistent commitment to quality.
(Feb 26): The Last Man on the Moon takes a justifiably reverent look at a largely unexplored chapter in the history of American space exploration — and a side of astronaut’s lives that’s rarely considered.
The Last Man On The Moon
(Mar 4): Cemetery of Splendor gracefully eludes efforts to pin down its meaning while offering patient viewers another gently hypnotic wonder from writer/director Apichatpong Weerasethakul.
Cemetery of Splendor
(Mar 4): The Boy and the Beast combines familiar parts to create a gripping, beautifully animated adventure with inventive storytelling to match its visual appeal.
The Boy And The Beast
(Mar 4): Well-acted and blessed with a refreshingly humanistic focus, The Wave is a disaster film that makes uncommonly smart use of disaster film clichés.
(Mar 4): The brilliantly well-rounded Zootopia offers a thoughtful, inclusive message that’s as rich and timely as its sumptuously state-of-the-art animation — all while remaining fast and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained.
(Mar 11): Smart, solidly crafted, and palpably tense, 10 Cloverfield Lanemakes the most of its confined setting and outstanding cast — and suggests a new frontier for franchise filmmaking.
10 Cloverfield Lane
(Mar 11): Even for viewers who’ve never read or heard of food critic Jonathan Gold, City of Gold offers a thoroughly entertaining introduction to a talented writer and brilliant career.
City Of Gold
(Mar 11): Hello, My Name Is Doris is immeasurably elevated by Sally Field’s remarkable performance in the title role, which overpowers a surfeit of stereotypical indie quirk.
Hello, My Name is Doris
(Mar 11): Touching, funny, and thoughtful, Marguerite honors its real-life inspiration with a well-acted and ultimately inspirational look at the nature of art and the value of a dream.
(Mar 18): Raw, bracingly honest, and refreshingly unconventional, Krisha wrings fresh — and occasionally uncomfortable — truths from a seemingly familiar premise.
(Mar 18): Midnight Special’s intriguing mysteries may not resolve themselves to every viewer’s liking, but the journey is ambitious, entertaining, and terrifically acted.
(Mar 18): My Golden Days is a complex, well-acted coming-of-age drama.
My Golden Days
(Mar 18): The simple story is a little short on laughs, but there’s plenty of sweet wackiness for Pee-Wee Herman fans to enjoy.
Pee-wee’s Big Holiday
(Mar 18): Sweet Bean’s deliberate pace demands patience, but the satisfying simplicity of its story — and Kirin Kiki’s absorbing performance — yield an array of riches well worth the wait.
(Mar 25): Bursting with a colorful imagination befitting its promise-packed title, April and the Extraordinary World offers spectacular delights for animation fans willing to venture off the beaten path.
April and the Extraordinary World
(Mar 25): Born to Be Blue benefits from a highlight-reel performance from Ethan Hawke and an impressionistic, non-hagiographic approach to Chet Baker’s life and times.
Born To Be Blue
(Apr 1): As taut as it is timely, Eye in the Sky offers a powerfully acted — and unusually cerebral — spin on the modern wartime political thriller.
Eye In The Sky
(Apr 1): Francofonia may test the patience of the uninitiated, but viewers willing to delve into a beautifully filmed look at the intersection of art and war will be richly rewarded.
(Apr 1): Led by an outstanding performance from Cliff Curtis, The Dark Horsetackles complex themes with a richly layered, unpredictable, and deeply affecting story.
The Dark Horse
(Apr 1): As thought-provoking as it is visually compelling, The Witch delivers a deeply unsettling exercise in slow-building horror that suggests great things for debuting writer-director Robert Eggers.
(Apr 8): Nostalgic in the best sense, Everybody Wants Some!! finds Richard Linklater ambling through the past with a talented cast, a sweetly meandering story, and a killer classic rock soundtrack.
Everybody Wants Some!!
(Apr 8): The Invitation makes brilliant use of its tension-rich premise to deliver a uniquely effective — and surprisingly clever — slow-building thriller.
(Apr 15): Heartfelt, thought-provoking, and above all funny, Barbershop: The Next Cut is the rare belated sequel that more than lives up to the standard set by its predecessors.
Barbershop: The Next Cut
(Apr 15): Sing Street is a feel-good musical with huge heart and irresistible optimism, and its charmimg cast and hummable tunes help to elevate its familiar plotting.
(Apr 15): First Monday in May may not resonate far beyond its target demographic, but for fashion aficionados, it should prove utterly absorbing.
The First Monday in May
(Apr 15): As lovely to behold as it is engrossing to watch, The Jungle Book is the rare remake that actually improves upon its predecessors — all while setting a new standard for CGI.
The Jungle Book
(Apr 15): With The Measure of a Man, director/co-writer Stéphane Brizé uses one man’s heartrending story as a beautifully acted microcosm for life in the 21st-century global economy.
The Measure of a Man
(Apr 16): Stellar performances and gripping subject matter help Confirmation overcome production values that occasionally feel as dated as the infamous real-life case it covers.
(Apr 17): Dark Horse offers a thoroughly crowd-pleasing look at an incredible — and inspirational — real-life story that will thrill equine enthusiasts and novices alike.
(Apr 22): Elvis & Nixon may not do much to expand on its absurdly iconic photographic source material, but it’s rarely less than engaging thanks to its talented starring duo.
Elvis & Nixon
(Apr 22): Visually splendid and narratively satisfying, Tale of Tales packs an off-kilter wallop for mature viewers in search of something different
Tale of Tales
(Apr 22): Hockney offers few revelations for viewers familiar with its subject, but it remains an affectionate and thoroughly entertaining look at a British national treasure.
(Apr 22): Men & Chicken’s bizarre setup only skims the surface of a challenging, well-acted comedy with a warm heart to match its grotesque visuals and dark themes.
Men & Chicken
(Apr 22): The Meddler transcends its cutesy title and familiar premise with a heartfelt look at family dynamics that’s honored by a marvelous performance from Susan Sarandon.
(Apr 29): Green Room delivers unapologetic genre thrills with uncommon intelligence and powerfully acted élan.
(Apr 29): Keanu’s absurd premise and compulsively watchable starring duo add up to an agreeably fast-paced comedy that hits more than enough targets to make up for the misses.
(Apr 29): Viva flirts with melodrama, but ultimately rises on the strength of strong performances and a thoroughly relatable message
(May 4): Absorbing, visually arresting, and powerfully acted by an immensely talented cast, A Bigger Splash offers sumptuously soapy delights for fans of psychological adult drama.
A Bigger Splash
(May 6): Captain America: Civil War begins the next wave of Marvel movies with an action-packed superhero blockbuster boasting a decidedly non-cartoonish plot and the courage to explore thought-provoking themes.
Captain America: Civil War
(May 6): Dheepan offers a timely, powerful look at the modern immigrant experience in Europe.
(May 6): Layered performances from Nicole Kidman and director-star Jason Bateman add extra depth to The Family Fang’s sharply observed look at domestic dysfunction.
The Family Fang
(May 13): Last Days in the Desert offers enough stately grandeur and spiritual exploration to offset an occasionally ambiguous narrative.
Last Days In The Desert
(May 13): Love & Friendship finds director Whit Stillman bringing his talents to bear on a Jane Austen adaptation — with a thoroughly delightful period drama as the result.
Love & Friendship
(May 13): Achingly lovely on both visual and narrative grounds, Sunset Song adds another small gem to writer-director Terence Davies’ filmography.
(May 13): As strange as it is thrillingly ambitious, The Lobster is definitely an acquired taste — but for viewers with the fortitude to crack through Yorgos Lanthimos’ offbeat sensibilities, it should prove a savory cinematic treat.
(May 20): Almost Holy offers a close-up look at a fascinating figure whose controversial work and extraordinary story pack the narrative punch of a well-written drama.
(May 20): With a typically absorbing performance from Greta Gerwig leading the way, Maggie’s Plan gives rom-com sensibilities a smart, subversive twist.
(May 20): O.J.; Made in America paints a balanced and thorough portrait of the American dream juxtaposed with tragedy and executed with power and skill.
O.J.: Made in America
(May 20): The Nice Guys hearkens back to the buddy comedies of a bygone era while adding something extra courtesy of a knowing script and the irresistible chemistry of its leads.
The Nice Guys
(May 20): Weiner uses sharp insight and untrammeled access to offer a portrait of a political and personal collapse that’s as queasy as it is undeniably compelling.
(May 23): Anchored by Bryan Cranston’s phenomenal performance as LBJ, All the Way is an engrossing portrayal of a complicated man during a pivotal moment in US history.
All the Way
(May 27): Chevalier uses a simple fishing trip as the backdrop for a slow-building, queasily compelling look at the modern male dynamic.
(May 27): The Idol wrings fresh enjoyment from its well-worn formula, delivering a crowd-pleasing rags-to-riches biopic fueled by gripping performances and a solidly written script.
(Jun 3): Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping updates the rock mockumentary for the 21st century mainstream — and hits many of its low-hanging targets with side-splitting impact.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
(Jun 3): As gripping as it is unique, the thrillingly kinetic The Fits marks debuting writer-director Anna Rose Holmer as a singular talent.
(Jun 3): The Wailing delivers an atmospheric, cleverly constructed mystery whose supernatural thrills more than justify its imposing length.
(Jun 3): The Witness can’t hope to truly untangle the true crime case at its center, but offers a series of fascinating — and troubling — insights in the attempt.
(Jun 8): From Afar is narratively elliptical to a fault, but for patient viewers willing to allow the story to unfold at its own unhurried pace, the end result is its own absorbing reward.
(Jun 10): De Palma may not make believers out of the director’s detractors, but they’ll likely share longtime fans’ fascination with his career’s worth of entertaining stories.
(Jun 10): The Conjuring 2 can’t help but lose a bit of its predecessor’s chilly sting through familiarity, but what remains is still a superior ghost story told with spine-tingling skill.
The Conjuring 2
(Jun 10): The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble offers a thrilling and too-rare glimpse of art’s power to bridge personal and cultural divides.
The Music of Strangers
(Jun 17): Tickled uses an investigation into a silly-seeming subculture as the launching point for thought-provoking insights into online bullying and the destructive abilities of the internet.
(Jun 17): As fascinating as it is affecting, Raiders! offers an insightful look at fan culture while presenting a poignant portrait of friendship over the passage of time.
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
(Jun 17): Funny, poignant, and thought-provoking, Finding Dory delivers a beautifully animated adventure that adds another entertaining chapter to its predecessor’s classic story.
(Jun 22): Nuts! lives up to its title in the best way, offering a delightfully unorthodox look at a bizarre — and largely unexplored — chapter in American history.
(Jun 24): Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words offers an illuminating primer for Zappa novices as well as an entertaining retrospective for diehard fans.
Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words
(Jun 24): The charmingly offbeat Hunt for the Wilderpeople unites a solid cast, a talented filmmaker, and a poignant, funny, deeply affecting message.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
(Jun 24): Powerfully acted and emotionally affecting, The Phenom proves a baseball movie can step away from the mound and still deliver a heater down the middle.
(Jun 24): Lean and solidly crafted, The Shallows transcends tired shark-attack tropes with nasty thrills and a powerful performance from Blake Lively.
(Jun 24): For filmgoers predisposed to enjoy Todd Solondz’ brand of black comedy, Wiener-Dog won’t disappoint — but those put off by previous works need not apply.
(Jul 1): Life, Animated offers a heartwarming look at one family’s journey, and a fascinating message that’s more than enough to outweigh its unanswered questions.
(Jul 1): Microbe and Gasoline brings Michel Gondry’s distinctive gifts to bear on an oft-told tale, with thoroughly charming results.
Microbe and Gasoline
(Jul 1): The BFG minimizes the darker elements of Roald Dahl’s classic in favor of a resolutely good-natured, visually stunning, and largely successful family-friendly adventure.
(Jul 1): The Innocents isn’t always easy to watch, but its nuanced exploration of complex themes — and its refreshing perspective — are well worth the effort.
(Jul 8): Fast-paced, funny, and blessed with a talented voice cast, The Secret Life of Petsoffers a beautifully animated, cheerfully undemanding family-friendly diversion.
The Secret Life of Pets
(Jul 8): Captain Fantastic’s thought-provoking themes — and an absorbing starring turn from Viggo Mortensen — add up to an above-average family drama with unexpected twists.
(Jul 8): Our Little Sister uses the story of one fractured family to offer universal — and deeply moving — observations on the human condition.
Our Little Sister
(Jul 8): Factors beyond Gibney’s control prevent Zero Days from offering a comprehensive look at its subject, but the partial picture that emerges remains as frightening as it is impossible to ignore.
(Jul 15): Ghostbusters does an impressive job of standing on its own as a freewheeling, marvelously cast supernatural comedy — even if it can’t help but pale somewhat in comparison with the classic original.
(Jul 15): Phantom Boy’s stunning animation and old-fashioned charm more than make up for a relative lack of narrative depth.
(Jul 22): Don’t Think Twice offers a bittersweet look at the comedian’s life that’s as genuinely moving as it is laugh-out-loud funny — and a brilliant calling card for writer-director Mike Birbiglia.
Don’t Think Twice
(Jul 22): Lights Out makes skillful use of sturdy genre tropes — and some terrific performances — for an unsettling, fright-filled experience that delivers superior chills without skimping on story.
(Jul 22): Star Trek Beyond continues the franchise’s post-reboot hot streak with an epic sci-fi adventure that honors the series’ sci-fi roots without skimping on the blockbuster action.
Star Trek Beyond
(Jul 22): Summertime (La Belle Saison) presents a well-acted, beautifully framed period romance that offers a refreshing perspective on its era in the bargain.
(Jul 22): Train to Busan delivers a thrillingly unique — and purely entertaining — take on the zombie genre, with fully realized characters and plenty of social commentary to underscore the bursts of skillfully staged action.
Train to Busan
(Jul 22): The Childhood of a Leader mirrors the rise of fascism in post-WWI Europe with a well-acted, confidently crafted look at one young man’s unsettling coming of age.
The Childhood of a Leader
(Jul 22): Equity brings a welcome change of perspective to the financial thriller genre, along with a nuanced story and a terrific cast led by a powerful effort from Anna Gunn.
(Jul 29): Gleason stands out among sports-themed documentaries by offering a clear-eyed look at its subject’s physical deterioration — and an intimate portrait of the family affected by his ordeal.
(Jul 29): Indignation proves it’s possible to put together an engaging Philip Roth adaptation — and offers a compelling calling card for debuting writer-director James Schamus.
(Jul 29): Into the Forest grounds its familiar apocalyptic framework with a relatable look at the bond between two sisters, compellingly brought to life by Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood.
Into the Forest
(Jul 29): Tallulah’s narrative insight, thoughtfully written characters, and talented cast add up to an absorbing family drama that transcends genre tropes and capably overcomes its flirtations with melodrama.
(Jul 29): Miss Sharon Jones! only captures a portion of its subject’s power — or her inspiring story — but that’s more than enough to offer absorbing, entertaining viewing for fans and newcomers alike.
Miss Sharon Jones!
(Aug 5): Little Men takes a compassionate look at the ways in which adult problems impact childhood friendships — and offers another affecting New York drama from director Ira Sachs.
(Aug 5): Beautifully animated and faithful to the spirit of its classic source material, The Little Prince is a family-friendly treat that anchors thrilling visuals with a satisfying story.
The Little Prince
(Aug 12): Blood Father meets every expectation a film fan could have for a latter-day Mel Gibson action thriller with its title — and even, in some respects, handily exceeds them.
(Aug 12): Well-acted and solidly crafted, Disorder (Maryland) relies on patiently established slow-burning tension to set the stage for an intelligent, intimate psychological thriller.
(Aug 12): Florence Foster Jenkins makes poignant, crowd-pleasing dramedy out of its stranger-than-fiction tale — and does its subject justice with a reliably terrific turn from star Meryl Streep.
Florence Foster Jenkins
(Aug 12): Hell or High Water offers a solidly crafted, well-acted Western heist thriller that eschews mindless gunplay in favor of confident pacing and full-bodied characters.
Hell or High Water
(Aug 12): My King uses a medical catastrophe as the catalyst for a fully realized, thought-provoking look at love and co-dependency.
(Aug 12): Pete’s Dragon continues Disney’s current live-action winning streak with an update that gives the original a visual overhaul without overwhelming its sweet, soulful charm.
(Aug 12): Sausage Party is definitely offensive, but backs up its enthusiastic profanity with an impressively high laugh-to-gag ratio — and a surprisingly thought-provoking storyline.
(Aug 19): The unsettling Imperium boasts troublingly timely themes and a talented cast led by Daniel Radcliffe as an undercover FBI agent infiltrating a ring of white supremacists.
(Aug 19): Kubo and the Two Strings matches its incredible animation with an absorbing — and bravely melancholy — story that has something to offer audiences of all ages.
Kubo and the Two Strings
(Aug 19): Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World finds Werner Herzog bringing his distinctive documentarian gifts to bear on a timely topic with typically thought-provoking results.
Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
(Aug 19): Morris from America adds some novel narrative twists to its father-son story — and gains added resonance thanks to a powerful performance from Craig Robinson.
Morris from America
(Aug 24): Kate Plays Christine blurs genres — and the line between fact and reality — with a cleverly provocative docudrama look at newscaster Christine Chubbuck’s life and death.
Kate Plays Christine
(Aug 26): Don’t Breathe smartly twists its sturdy premise to offer a satisfyingly tense, chilling addition to the home invasion genre that’s all the more effective for its simplicity.
(Aug 26): I Am Not A Serial Killer honors the book it’s based on with a well-acted drama that leavens its gore and dark themes with wry humor.
I Am Not A Serial Killer
(Aug 26): In Order of Disappearance’s black comedy doesn’t always hit its targets, but on the whole, it still adds up to a sly, entertaining revenge thriller.
In Order of Disappearance
(Aug 26): Mia Madre explores thought-provoking themes with director/co-writer Nanni Moretti’s reliably skillful blend of comedy and pathos.
(Aug 26): Southside With You looks back on a fateful real-life date with strong performances and engaging dialogue, adding up to a romance that makes for a pretty good date movie in its own right.
Southside With You
(Sep 9): Author: The JT LeRoy Story serves as a worthy primer on its fascinating subject as well as an insightful look at the ever-evolving nature of modern celebrity.
Author: The JT LeRoy Story
(Sep 9): Fresh and inventive yet immediately accessible, Camerapersondistills its subject’s life and career into an experience that should prove immediately absorbing even for those unfamiliar with her work.
(Sep 9): Ambitious and beautifully shot, Demon delivers a gripping — and sadly final — testament to the singular talent possessed by director/co-writer Marcin Wrona.
(Sep 9): Equal parts enthralling and unsettling, London Road uses an unusual documentary/musical hybrid to tell a grim true-life tale.
(Sep 9): Other People resists easy melodrama, rewarding viewers with a smart, subtle look at family dynamics with a talented cast and a finely calibrated blend of funny and serious moments.
(Sep 9): As comfortingly workmanlike as its protagonist, Sully makes solid use of typically superlative work from its star and director to deliver a quietly stirring tribute to an everyday hero.
(Sep 16): Bridget Jones’s Baby might be late on arrival, but fans of the series should still find its third installment a bouncing bundle of joy.
Bridget Jones’s Baby
(Sep 16): We love them, yeah, yeah, yeah — and with archival footage like that, you know The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years can’t be bad.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years
(Sep 23): Chronic demands patience from the viewer — and yields rich dividends with an affecting story and a committed starring performance by Tim Roth.
(Sep 23): Goat isn’t an easy watch, but its thought-provoking themes, talented cast, and all-out intensity offer rewards for viewers willing to tough it out.
(Sep 23): The Lovers and the Despot offers a compelling — albeit by no means comprehensive — look at one of the more bizarrely stranger-than-fiction episodes in cinematic history.
The Lovers And The Despot
(Sep 30): A Man Called Ove’s winsome sincerity — and Rolf Lassgård’s affectingly flinty performance in the title role — keep it from succumbing to excess sentimentality.
A Man Called Ove
(Sep 30): American Honey offers a refreshingly unconventional take on the coming-of-age drama whose narrative risks add up to a rewarding experience even if they don’t all pay off.
(Sep 30): Deepwater Horizon makes effective use of its titular man-made disaster to deliver an uncommonly serious — yet still suitably gripping — action thriller.
(Sep 30): If Denial doesn’t quite do its incredible story complete justice, it comes close enough to offer a satisfying, impactful drama — and another powerful performance from Rachel Weisz.
(Sep 30): Smart and refreshingly free of sentimentality, Long Way Northtakes viewers on a beautifully animated adventure grounded in fully realized characters and genuine emotion.
Long Way North
(Sep 30): Queen of Katwe is a feel-good movie of uncommon smarts and passion, and outstanding performances by Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo help to elevate the film past its cliches.
Queen of Katwe
(Oct 7): 13th strikes at the heart of America’s tangled racial history, offering observations as incendiary as they are calmly controlled.
(Oct 7): The Birth of a Nation overpowers its narrative flaws and uneven execution through sheer conviction, rising on Nate Parker’s assured direction and the strength of its vital message.
The Birth of a Nation
(Oct 7): Under the Shadow deftly blends seemingly disparate genres to deliver an effective chiller with timely themes and thought-provoking social subtext.
Under The Shadow
(Oct 12): Tower probes into a painful chapter of American history with sensitivity and grace — and revisits its events from a valuable new perspective.
(Oct 14): Certain Women further demonstrates writer-director Kelly Reichardt’s gift for telling the stories of ordinary people with uncommon empathy and skill.
(Oct 14): Led by a powerful performance from Sônia Braga, Aquarius uses a conflict between a tenant and developers to take an insightful look at the relationship between space and identity.
(Oct 14): Rising on the strength of Rebecca Hall’s gripping performance, Christine offers an empathetic look at its subject’s public career and painful private life.
(Oct 14): Miss Hokusai illuminates the life and creative legacy of its brilliant subject with a beautifully animated biopic whose absorbing visuals are matched by its narrative grace.
(Oct 21): Fire at Sea offers a clear-eyed yet empathetic look at a corner of the world whose terrain may be unfamiliar to many, but whose people’s story remains universal.
Fire at Sea
(Oct 21): In a Valley of Violence offers a smartly conceived homage to classic Westerns that transcends pastiche with absurdist humor and a terrific cast.
In a Valley of Violence
(Oct 21): Moonlight uses one man’s story to offer a remarkable and brilliantly crafted look at lives too rarely seen in cinema.
(Oct 21): Ouija: Origin of Evil swerves its franchise’s planchette unexpectedly to YES with a surprisingly scary and dramatically satisfying follow-up to its lackluster predecessor.
Ouija: Origin of Evil
(Oct 21): The Handmaiden uses a Victorian crime novel as the loose inspiration for another visually sumptuous and absorbingly idiosyncratic outing from director Park Chan-wook.
(Oct 26): Oasis: Supersonic foregoes a comprehensive approach to its multi-platinum subjects in favor of an appreciative — and stirring — look at their heady early years.
(Oct 28): Its infectious enthusiasm for its subjects – and Iggy Pop’s ingratiating presence – more than make up for the effortlessly entertaining Gimme Danger’s relative lack of context or depth.
(Nov 2): Effectively stirring and bolstered by thrilling visuals, The Eagle Huntress uses its heartwarming message to fill up a feature that might have made for an even more powerful short film.
The Eagle Huntress
(Nov 4): Doctor Strange artfully balances its outré source material against the blockbuster constraints of the MCU, delivering a thoroughly entertaining superhero origin story in the bargain.
(Nov 4): Hacksaw Ridge uses a real-life pacifist’s legacy to lay the groundwork for a gripping wartime tribute to faith, valor, and the courage of remaining true to one’s convictions.
(Nov 4): Loving takes an understated approach to telling a painful — and still relevant — real-life tale, with sensitive performances breathing additional life into a superlative historical drama.
(Nov 4): Trolls brings its instantly recognizable characters to the big screen in a colorful adventure that, while geared toward the younger set, isn’t without rewards for parents.
(Nov 11): Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person’s sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams.
(Nov 11): Elle finds director Paul Verhoeven operating at peak power — and benefiting from a typically outstanding performance from Isabelle Huppert in the central role.
(Nov 11): The Love Witch offers an absorbing visual homage to a bygone era, arranged subtly in service of a thought-provoking meditation on the battle of the sexes.
The Love Witch
(Nov 18): A Street Cat Named Bob uses a fact-based feelgood tale as the inspiration for an unapologetically heartwarming movie that should move all but the most cynical of viewers.
A Street Cat Named Bob
(Nov 18): Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them draws on Harry Potter’s rich mythology to deliver a spinoff that dazzles with franchise-building magic all its own.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
(Nov 18): The Edge of Seventeen’s sharp script — and Hailee Steinfeld’s outstanding lead performance — make this more than just another coming-of-age dramedy.
The Edge of Seventeen
(Nov 23): With a title character as three-dimensional as its lush animation and a story that adds fresh depth to Disney’s time-tested formula, Moana is truly a family-friendly adventure for the ages.
(Nov 25): Creepy, provocative, and aesthetically absorbing, Evolution marks a satisfying step forward for director/co-writer Lucile Hadzihalilovic.
(Nov 25): Lion’s undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre.
(Dec 2): Jackie offers an alluring peek into a beloved American public figure’s private world — and an enthralling starring performance from Natalie Portman in the bargain.
(Dec 2): The Eyes of My Mother uses a shocking trauma to fuel a hauntingly hypnotic odyssey whose nightmarish chill lingers long after the closing credits.
The Eyes of My Mother
(Dec 2): A union to cherish between a writer-director and star working at peak power, Things to Come offers quietly profound observations on life, love, and the irrevocable passage of time.
Things To Come
(Dec 9): La La Land breathes new life into a bygone genre with thrillingly assured direction, powerful performances, and an irresistible excess of heart.
La La Land
(Dec 9): Well-acted and lovely to look at, Nocturnal Animals further underscores writer-director Tom Ford’s distinctive visual and narrative skill.
(Dec 9): The Brand New Testament takes a surreal, subversive, and funny look at Biblical themes through a modern — and refreshingly original — lens.
The Brand New Testament
(Dec 16): Manchester by the Sea delivers affecting drama populated by full-bodied characters, marking another strong step forward for writer-director Kenneth Lonergan.
Manchester by the Sea
(Dec 16): Inventive, intelligent, and beautifully filmed, Neruda transcends the traditional biopic structure to look at the meaning beyond the details of its subject’s life.
(Dec 16): Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground — and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
(Dec 28):Patriots Day offers a stirring, solidly crafted tribute to the heroes of a real-life American tragedy without straying into exploitative action thriller territory.
(Dec 21): Julieta finds writer-director Pedro Almodóvar revisiting familiar themes — and doing so with his signature skill.
(Dec 23): Silence ends Martin Scorsese’s decades-long creative quest with a thoughtful, emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director’s finest works.
A Monster Calls
(Dec 23): A Monster Calls deftly balances dark themes and fantastical elements to deliver an engrossing and uncommonly moving entry in the crowded coming-of-age genre.
A Monster Calls
(Dec 23): I, Daniel Blake marks yet another well-told chapter in director Ken Loach’s powerfully populist filmography.
I, Daniel Blake
(Dec 25): From its reunited Broadway stars to its screenplay, the solidly crafted Fences finds its Pulitzer-winning source material fundamentally unchanged — and still just as powerful.
(Dec 25): In heartwarming, crowd-pleasing fashion, Hidden Figures celebrates overlooked — and crucial — contributions from a pivotal moment in American history.
(Dec 25): Toni Erdmann pairs carefully constructed, three-dimensional characters in a tenderly funny character study that’s both genuinely moving and impressively ambitious.
(Dec 21): Paterson adds another refreshingly unvarnished entry to Jim Jarmusch’s filmography — and another outstanding performance to Adam Driver’s career credits.