Year-in-Review: Best movies of 2016

Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

1. "Swiss Army Man"

Yes, my highly subjective pick for the year's best film stars a farting corpse, but hear me out. It's also a hilarious and surprisingly poignant look at loneliness and the human condition. Oh, and wildly original.

2. "The Lobster"

Yorgos Lanthimos' dark satire creates a world where single people are required to find a mate or be turned into animals. It was the year's best black comedy and includes some great commentary on the societal pressure to pair off.

3. "Moonlight"

Is it a story about growing up black in a poor neighborhood? A story of a young man coming out? Or a love story across the years? "Moonlight" is all of these things, and a tender look at a deeply human story.

4. "La La Land"

Damien Chazelle's love letter to old-school musical love stories is bursting at the seams with heart, thanks in no small part to the all-around performances of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

5. "Manchester By the Sea"

Kenneth Lonergan's third film is his best yet, a tender story of an uncle unexpectedly turned caregiver after the death of his brother.

6. "Don't Think Twice"

Comedian Mike Birbiglia's second feature film focuses on a tight-knit improv comedy troupe struggling with the successes of one of its members. It was as funny as you'd expect, but also had surprising emotional depth.

7. "Hell or High Water"

A cops-and-robbers tale set in modern Texas, this was one of the most brilliantly executed crime thrillers of the year.

8. "The Neon Demon"

To say that Nicolas Winding Refn's latest work is not for everyone would be a huge understatement, but I admired the construction and audacity of this stylish horror story.

9. "The Witch"

Speaking of stylish horror, this terrifying folk tale set in 17th-century New England crawled beneath the skin with a healthy dose of subtext.

10. "10 Cloverfield Lane"

The second film set in the "Cloverfield" universe was a perfectly taut thriller that played like an amazing episode of "The Twilight Zone."

11. "Everybody Wants Some!!"

Richard Linklater's "spiritual sequel" to "Dazed and Confused" had that same easygoing naturalistic vibe with a talented casts of relative unknowns. Alright, alright, alright ...

12. "Arrival"

Denis Villeneuve's thoughtful and deliberate sci-fi drama delivered a different take on alien invasion, anchored by an understated but evocative performance by Amy Adams.

13. "American Honey"

Director Andrea Arnold created a wild and free coming-of-age story about a young woman who joins a band of traveling misfits.

14. "20th Century Women"

Writer-director Mike Mills follow-up to "Beginners" was a beautifully acted and fantastically unique story about a young man and three women who are helping to raise him.

15. "Nocturnal Animals"

Tom Ford's return to the director's chair is a story within a story that boasts a bevy of great performances and twists.

16. "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"

The first standalone story from the Star Wars universe is a darker and more grownup war movie with a strong female lead.

17. "Jackie"

Far more than just a showcase for Natalie Portman's (outstanding) lead performance, it is a unique biopic that tries to capture more mood than details.

18. "The Fits"

Director Anna Rose Holmer's feature debut speaks its own language but is also enthralling, anchored by a breakout performance from young Royalty Hightower.

19. "The Nice Guys"

Writer-director Shane Blake ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang") had a lot of fun in the noir-y playground of this tale of two mismatched '70s private detectives.

20. "Deadpool"

Funny, irreverent and decidely R-rated, this poured some fresh life into a superhero genre that's starting to all feel the same.