Top 10 Movies of 2016

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The 2017 Academy Awards are finally upon us, and this year we can safely praise the industry for not imitating #OscarsSoWhite. The hashtag heard round the world last year explained the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations, but not this year.

The Academy has nominated four Best Picture movies about people of color (Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion and Moonlight), seven acting nods for performances of color as well as nominations in categories such as directing, screenplay and cinematography.

This year it really comes down to two movies. One focuses on black America and personal diversity while the other is about following your dreams. Moonlight and La La Land are undoubtedly the two movies to beat.

la la land or moonlight

While I’m fearful that the overrated La La Land will sweep the Oscars, Trevor Dueck argues that “two white tarts dancing and singing in Hollywood might have come out a year too late.” I’m not so sure about that though.

As the director of Moonlight Barry Jenkins explains, “They could not be more different films. I don’t think a love for one has to be to the rejection of the other. I can only speak to the film I made, which was made in the service of shining a light on a character who is often marginalized. Where that falls in the context of the awards season, I can’t say. But I love that regardless of where we are right now, a year and a half ago, we sat down to make this thing, and that’s exactly how I felt and it’s how I feel now.”

Everyone knows my stance on the undeserving Goliath that is La La Land (see here), but this feel-good musical has earned a whopping 14 nominations, a record only shared with All About Eve and Titanic. WTF, right? Even the LA Times asks who will survive the onslaught of La La Land? After sweeping the Golden Globes, it’s proven to be an unbeatable force.

But there were more great movies this year than those two. Many of those movies were ignored by the Academy entirely but were some of my favorites of the year.

Here are my top 10 personal favorite movies of 2016!

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Review: Moonlight is the Best Movie of 2016

Moonlight 2016 posters

5star

“At some point you’ve got to decide for yourself who you gonna be. And let nobody make that decision.”

Moonlight brings the internal struggle of being a gay black man in America out of the shadows by shining a light on the concept of masculinity within the context of personal identity.

“What’s a faggot?” asks young Chiron, mercilessly bullied by classmates each day, because they consider him different.

Moonlight unfolds in three chapters of one man’s life, from childhood to young adulthood, as he discovers who he is as a black, homosexual man in the Miami projects. With themes including race, homophobia, identity and black masculinity, it’s a miracle that a film of this nature was made. It’s going to be the answer to last year’s #OscarsSoWhite.

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The film is based on the unproduced play by gay black playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue. “Black men loving each other is a radical idea,” McCraney admit. It certainly isn’t a conventional story, but it’s one that desperately needs to be told.

Being poor, black and struggling with sexual identity are things I know absolutely nothing about. What I can relate to in Moonlight is identity and how society can negatively affect personal development in crucial stages of life. It’s bold exploration of personal adversity is exactly what the world needs to see right now.

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