The MacGuffin’s Top 10 Films of 2016

13th Movie Header Image

4. 13th

From Allen Almachar’s review: “Film is the most powerful art form in the world. It instills in us a level of empathy for others from all different walks of life. At its best, it makes us reconsider things about humanity and hopefully helps us grow into better versions of ourselves. There is no better example of that than in Ava DuVernay’s powerful documentary, 13th (2016). This is one of the best films you’ll see not just this year, but of any year. DuVernay jumped into the public eye with Selma (2014), but it’s here where she has entered the pantheon of great modern filmmakers. She has made a searing, detailed exploration of racial inequality as seen through the prison system. Racism is the defining black mark of this country, a wound that has not healed in the few hundred years of America’s existence. While some deny it and others refuse to acknowledge it, DuVernay addresses the racial problems that have plagued our society head on, tackling it without hesitation.”

Manchester by the Sea Movie Header Image

5. Manchester by the Sea

From Nick Ahlers’ review: “The depiction of Patrick immediately following his father’s death is a marvel. Not just the palpable contentions and realistic overlapping, yelly dialogue between him and Uncle Lee, but the simple fact that his life does not end when Joe’s does. Good portions of the film deal with the high school struggle of rigorous hockey practice and trying to get laid with the girl’s parent in the other room. In another movie this could feel superfluous or in poor taste but, as proven capably in previous efforts You Can Count On Me and Margaret, Kenneth Lonergan’s master touch comes in dealing with the messy tangents of reality. He mines authentic as hell performances from his primary cast while also managing to flesh out those with just a few scenes. (How have I gotten this far without touching on the absolutely stunning performance by Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex-wife?)”

Midnight Special Movie Header Image

6. (tie) – Midnight Special

From Sarah Ksiazek’s review: “Midnight Special is one of those rare, original science fiction films that had me from start to finish. I did not figure out who or what Alton is until the moment of truth. The final act is equal parts adrenaline and wonder. Looking up to that screen and seeing the payoff of the story Jeff Nichols created is one of those cool moments in film I will not forget and having seen it at SXSW only makes it more memorable. The original score by David Wingo also comes together with the visuals to make the final act memorable. I did not want it to end.”

Star Trek Beyond Movie Header Image

6. (tie) Star Trek: Beyond

From a review by Cassidy Robinson: “Simon Pegg and Doug Jung’s screenplay almost celebrates the filler spot many mid-franchise sequels eventually occupy, but it’s this multi-million-dollar relative smallness that rescues the picture from being too encumbered by plot and fan-service. There isn’t anything especially remarkable to say about “Star Trek Beyond” other than it knows how to balance tone, story, action and characters in way that keeps the audience from thinking too much about its construction as a piece of consumable popcorn product.”


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Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

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