2016 was a tough, tough year, and I am thankful that I could find some comfort at the movies. We humans tend to forget the bad things that happen to us, preferring to focus on the positive, especially when looking back at our lives. That’s why we feel nostalgic about the past. This is just a sampling of the movies, performances, and moments I will feel nostalgic about when I remember this wretched year (I will do my best not to spoil the movies).
Channing Tatum as a jolly sailor in Hail, Caesar!
Contender for Best Line of the Year: “Would that it were so simple”
Worst Pet of the Year: Black Philip
Contender for Best Line of the Year: “Wouldst thou like to know the taste of butter? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously”
Mary Elizabeth Winstead facing off John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane
The meteor shower of Midnight Special
The whole “Martha” bit in Batman v. Superman. More ridiculous melodrama in superhero movies, please!
Ralph Fiennes dancing to the Rolling Stones in A Bigger Splash
Speaking of which, I’ll be forever thankful to the casting Gods that put Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts in the same movie.
Ryan Gosling surprising with how far his comedic chops extend in The Nice Guys
The morbid humor of The Lobster, and it’s haunting closing note.
Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett) foolishly trying to impress his “unintended” by wondering which two of God’s 12 commandments to take off the list in Love & Friendship.
Hero of the Year: Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan in Love & Friendship. A role model to us all.
The wonderful musical montages of Swiss Army Man
Piper, which played before and was much, much better than Finding Dory
Blake Lively fighting a motherfucking shark in The Shallows!
Best Wild Animal of the Year: Steven Seagull
The blessed moment in which I realized the The Neon Demon‘s overtly obvious and superficial and its intensely stylish images made for the most brilliant marriage of form and content.
The lovely surprise that was Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon
The amazing visuals of Kubo and the Two Strings
The impossibility that the soul of “old New York” was reincarnated in a child actor in the form of Michael Barbieri (in Little Men)
That amazing scene between Logan Lerman and Tracy Letts in Indignation
That sassy old waitress who will only serve you steak in Hell or High Water
Which by the way is an impeccably cast movie, every single supporting and cameo role is so well cast!
The flight attendants shouting “Brace! Brace! Brace! Head down, stay down!” in Sully
Most Unexpected Ending: Clint Eastwood decides to end Sully like you would an episode of an eighties sitcom
David Oyelowo’s magnificent shirts in Queen of Katwe
The ballsy “I don’t give a fuck” move of playing Rihanna’s “We Found Love” when Sasha Lane meets Shia LaBeouf in American Honey
The fact that the two best comedic set-pieces of the year came from the same movie: “The Greatest Love of All” and the au natural birthday party in Toni Erdmann.
The third part of Moonlight, especially Andre Holland smoking that cigarette.
Mahershala Ali’s explanation when Little asks him what “faggot” means, also from Moonlight.
Not caring about the fact that the songs in Sing Street were probably too good to have been written by that particular group of offbeat teenagers because they were so goddamn good.
The moment we get to the “second part” of The Handmaiden, and the whole thing folds onto itself and suddenly we’re watching from a different perspective and suddenly I’m so fucking happy I’m watching this movie.
Contender for Best Line of the Year: “I wish I had milk so I could feed you”
Amy Adams breaking down a sentence on the chalkboard to convince Forest Whitaker that she needs more time in Arrival
The way the teenagers dress and look like actual teenagers and not movie stars in The Edge of Seventeen. Serious kudos to the costume and makeup department!
Inception taken to a whole other level and the city endlessly folding onto itself in Doctor Strange
The inappropriate but much welcome humor in Elle, especially everything related to Isabelle Huppert’s relationship to her dimwitted son.
That cute money-loving platypus from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Julie Delpy’s darkly hilarious monologue about her poor poodle in Wiener-Dog
“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana
…and everything Jemaine Clement says in that same movie
The outstanding marriage of emotional truth and camp of Natalie Portman’s performance, and how she tells Billy Crudup she “doesn’t smoke” in Jackie
The use of editing and that unnerving score to depict a woman’s downward spiral in Krisha
Best Ending of the Year: Lots of worthy contenders, but there few scenes as transcendent as the last five minutes of The Fits.
The haikus of Hunt for the Wilderpeople, as well as this glorious scene:
Most Relatable Moment of the Year: Isabelle Huppert going back to retrieve that Ikea bag from the trash in Things to Come
The superbly natural way the relationship between Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges develops in Manchester by the Sea
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dancing in front of the Los Angeles sunset in La La Land
Best Action Set Piece of the Year: The whole third act of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Gael García Bernal being told he is a “supporting character” in Neruda.
The fact that Pablo Larraín had not one, or two, but three very good movies come out in the U.S. this year, and one of them was a masterpiece.
The moment in which the towel lifts and Julieta is revealed in Pedro Almodóvar’s latest movie
Elle Fanning “walking like a man” in 20th Century Women
Annette Bening and Billy Crudup trying to dance to Black Flag, also in 20th Century Women
Pet of the Year: Marvin the bulldog from Paterson
And finally, I’ll remember the beautiful poems in Paterson, be it the work of William Carlos Wililams, or those written for the film by Ron Padgett. Especially, I’ll remember that little girl’s “Water Falls”. Some call it rain.