We watch lots of movies at home and every year we rate them and send our list of favorites in a year-end letter to friends. Last year I didn’t write a year-end letter and this year we didn’t watch as many movies. So I decided to combine our list for the two years. Oh, and because I write this blog I’m thinking of giving up the Christmas letter altogether. So, friends near and far, this is for you.
The Best Movies Vic and Nancy Watched at Home in 2016–17
In order by release year
The Big Sick, 2017. Comedian Kumail Nanjiani stars in his own story. Culture clashes, family clashes, and Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as the movie parents of the year. Great romantic comedy.
Junction 48, 2017. Ebullient Palestinian youths try to make it in the hip-hop scene in Tel Aviv.
War Machine, 2017. An all-too-believable war satire. Brad Pitt as the iron-jawed, clueless general.
The Keepers, 2017. Netflix documentary series about the cold case of a nun’s murder and abuse in a Catholic girls’ school.
Silence, 2016. Scorsese’s haunting drama set in 17th century Japan. What happened to the first Portuguese priests who tried to bring Christianity to Japan? Who converted whom? Gorgeous, sometimes hard to watch, and long but worth every minute.
Moonlight, 2016. Goes to the aching heart of a gay coming-of-age in drug-soaked Miami. The three actors who play this almost silent character at different ages are amazing.
Embrace of the Serpent, 2016. One of those movies that haunts you. We watched it twice to get the story straight and it was even more moving the second time. With careful consideration of my mood at the time, I’d watch it again.
Certain Women, 2016. This quiet drama grows on you. Sit by the fire to stay warm while you watch the winter scenes in this Montana movie. Michelle Williams, Laura Dern, and the lesser known Kristen Stewart and Lily Gladstone are great.
Tower, 2016. I didn’t expect to enjoy watching a partially animated docudrama about the first mass school shooting, U of Texas 1966. Well, maybe enjoy isn’t the word, but the animation gives some helpful distance.
Manchester by the Sea, 2016. We heard this was great but depressing. Maybe so but we liked it. Michelle Williams again.
The Birth of a Nation, 2016. Nat Turner rebellion. Sometimes hard to watch, important history.
Kubo and the Two Strings, 2016. Excellent anime.
Captain Fantastic, 2016. Viggo Mortensen and six unforgettable kids move from life off the grid in the Northwest to civilization.
Snowden, 2016. Hero, villain, or self-dramatizing genius? Oliver Stone’s version of this story for our times.
Sully, 2016. Tom Hanks as hero to anyone except perhaps the Federal Aviation Administration, which gave Capt. Chelsey Sullenberger a hard time after he landed that Airbus 320 on the Hudson River.
Lion, 2016. An Indian man separated from his mother at age 5 and adopted by an Australian couple looks for his birth family. Based on a true story.
A Hologram for the King, 2016. Tom Hanks redeems this rather odd movie, which is better than the book by Dave Eggers.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople, 2016. Absolute charmer from New Zealand. We didn’t recognize Sam Neill until the credits.
Our Kind of Traitor, 2016. Who can resist John le Carré? I read the novel several years ago and forgot it so the taut plot was totally new to me in this movie version.
Dark Horse, 2016. You won’t want to miss “the hoof-pounding saga chronicled in this upbeat documentary.” (Not to be confused with The Dark Horse, during which I fell asleep.)
Love and Mercy, 2015. Biopic about Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys. So much turmoil behind that smooth harmony.
The Martian, 2015. Read the book and see the movie, in either order. The book, which started out as a geek’s blog, has more of this great story.
Spotlight, 2015. Boston Globe and the child molestation scandal. Best true-life journalism thriller since All the President’s Men.
The Danish Girl, 2015. Life is stranger and better than fiction in this moving true story about a transgender person in the 1930s. Eddie Redmayne is amazing.
Room, 2015. I have to say I liked the movie better than the very popular book.
Bridge of Spies, 2015. Can’t beat Spielberg + Hanks. Was this a true story? I don’t remember or care. We loved it.
Brooklyn, 2015. Another award movie we liked a lot but I can’t remember why. Good acting, for sure.
Mustang, 2015. From Turkey–love, teenage girls, and a strict grandma.
Eye in the Sky, 2015. Even pacifists will cheer for a successful drone strike when Helen Mirren plays the colonel in charge.
Where to Invade Next, 2015. A funny and optimistic documentary by Michael Moore? Believe it.
Race, 2015. Both senses of the word. Jesse Owens and the Hitler Olympics.
The Intern, 2015. Robert De Niro plays a true gentleman. Such a good actor. And Anne Hathaway isn’t bad either.
He Named Me Malala, 2015. This ebullient young lady got shot in the head advocating for women’s education in Pakistan but that didn’t stop her. Inspiring documentary.
Infinitely Polar Bear, 2015. If your dad must be bipolar, hope that he’s Mark Ruffalo.
What Happened, Miss Simone? 2015. Rare archival footage makes this compelling documentary of the legendary singer/activist Nina Simone.
Truth, 2015. What really happened to Dan Rather? His career got derailed but here he is, being played by Robert Redford.
Sweet Bean, 2015. Slow but soulful, great characters, sheer heaven for Japanophiles like me.
The Witness, 2015. Remember the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese, whose cries for help in the streets of Queens went unheeded? This documentary by her brother sets the record straight.
Man Up, 2015. Great rom-com, thanks to gawky-to-gorgeous Lake Bell.
The Big Short, 2015. Making entertainment and some sense out of the 2008 economic crash. Pleasure from pain?
A Borrowed Identity, 2014. An Arab teenager raised in Israel struggles to fit into an elite school.
Short Term 12, 2013. We don’t usually go for tearjerkers but we liked this one set in a group home for teenagers.
The Dance of Reality, 2013. Pure Jodorowsky: artsy and odd but entertaining. His take on his own childhood.
A Decent Arrangement, 2011. A young Indian-American returns to India to find a bride. Nice understated romance.
Undefeated, 2011. Sweet documentary about an inner city high school football team.
Sufi Soul: The Mystical Music of Islam, 2005. Enthralling documentary on rare Sufi musicians in Egypt.
What would you add to this list?