9. The Shallows Blake Lively, third-best Travelling Pant, single-handedly carries what could’ve been a monumentally stupid B-movie to absolute triumph.
8. American Honey Andrea Arnold’s meandering, tense piece about a group of young rural kids feels like a lost documentary from the early 90s, yet incredibly vital to now.
7. The Edge of Seventeen Wherever you think this movie will turn, it doesn’t. (Even Mean Girls had a villain.) Kelly Fremon Craig’s debut is above all the things John Hughes made famous, but a spiritual sister of his nonetheless.
6. Arrival A reliably terrific Amy Adams holds this movie in her empathetic hands, a rare alien drama where the goal isn’t an explosive climax. Denis Villeneuve’s best English film so far.
5. Maggie’s Plan Rebecca Miller tries her hand at farce, allowing a game Julianne Moore to deploy a ridiculous accent as new wife Greta Gerwig tries to return Ethan Hawke. (You know this has happened to Uma.) Wonderful.
4. Paterson Girls’ best gift is easily Adam Driver, an actor of uncommon, unpredictable energy who never comes off as gimmicky. Here he is very still and drives a bus and writes poetry.
3. Moonlight Barry Jenkins took eight years to follow up his small, striking debut Medicine for Melancholy, but what a second act: A gentle, carefully considered story of one man’s life.
2. La La Land Emma Stone will break your heart and sing it back together again in this masterful musical from Damien Chazelle (Whiplash). That Gosling kid is pretty good too.
1. OJ: Made in America* It aired on television but screened in enough theatres to qualify for the Oscars; regardless our time this year was best spent with these eight astonishing hours of history that reframe OJ’s murders as a great American tragedy that echoes across generations.