Get ready for a movie marathon.
This article originally appeared on Instyle.com.
Much has been written about the downside of 2016—the punishing election cycle, the innumerable celebrity splits—but amdist all the bad and the ugly, one very positive fact has become abundantly clear: It’s also been a pretty solid year for film. For those times when it felt like all the news was bad news, there was always an awesome flick in theaters we could escape to for a good laugh—or a good cry.
Now, 2015 was a tough act to follow. With massively successful movies like The Revenant (still pouring one out for that poor horse), Inside Out, and Room still fresh in our minds, 2016 had to go big in order to stand out in the cinema department. And stand out it most definitely did! Read on to get our take on the best films of the year (so far!) and be sure to keep a tally of how many of these pics pick up award nominations.
The Birth of a Nation
Everybody Wants Some!!
An ode to summertime in the 70s, billed as the spiritual sequel to 1993’s Dazed and Confused? Enough said! The cast of cuties includes Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Glen Powell, Ryan Guzman, and the gorgeous Zoey Deutch.
We’d watch anything starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis! Washington directed and stars in this big screen adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play. (This one hasn’t actually hit theaters yet, but if you live in New York or Los Angeles, it’ll open this Friday, Dec. 16, before it hits theaters nationwide on Christmas Day.)
We waited 13 long years for this sequel, and it was well worth the wait. Pixar sure knows how to put together an animated adventure.
Hell or High Water
Oh, how we love a good ol' Western heist flick. Here, Chris Pine and Ben Foster star as our criminally inclined protagonists.
You always hear about the late John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth, but rarely do you hear about the team responsible for putting him there. This is the inspiring untold story of Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), three African-American women working for NASA in the 1960s, who played an integral role in turning around the worldwide Space Race. Get your tissues ready, because this inspiring story is sure to tug at your heartstrings. Catch it in theaters, starting Christmas Day!
Our obsession with the Kennedys continues, and this time, we’re hearing the story from Jackie’s perspective. Be prepared to see a lot of Natalie Portman this awards season.
The Jungle Book
La La Land
The Light Between Oceans
The Little Prince
This appropriately-named film tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving (played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga, respectively), an interracial couple who were instrumental in getting interracial marriage legalized in the United States. It’s sure to get some awards attention.
Manchester by the Sea
Watch this one if you need a good cry, because it’s sad—like, really, really sad. Casey Affleck shines, nonetheless!
Disney introduced its first Polynesian protagonist this fall, and it was a treat for the whole family. Auli’i Cravalho and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson voiced the main characters.
You’ve never seen Adam Driver like this before. And by that we mean in a bus driver’s uniform! But his performance is solid and further proves his acting chops. Catch it in theaters at the end of the month, on Dec. 28.
Queen of Katwe
Newcomer Madina Nalwanga plays 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi, a young girl in Uganda whose world changes when she is introduced to the game of chess. Lupita Nyong’o stars as Phiona’s mother Harriet, and David Oyelowo plays Robert, the soccer player-turned-missionary who brought the mentally challenging game to the village children.