10 Best and Worst Movies of 2016

Awards season is nearly upon us.

— -- Awards season is nearly upon us, but you may have missed many of the best movies of 2016.

Film critic Peter Travers, who has seen nearly 400 movies this year, put together his list of the absolute best and worst movies of 2016. It’s your guide to all the films you still need to make time to see and those you should avoid.


10. 'Birth of a Nation'

This film tells the story of Nat Turner, an enslaved man who led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831.

"Nate Parker's movie is one of the best-reviewed movies of the year," Travers said.

He added that it is "one of the best movies about what slavery is and what a slave rebellion is ever in Hollywood history."

9. 'Hell or High Water'

"'Hell or High Water' stars Jeff Bridges in one of his best performances as a Texas sheriff having to deal with two brothers played by Chris Pine and Ben Foster," said Travers.

In the film, the brothers plan a series of heists at branches of a bank about to foreclose on the family ranch. But the soon-to-be retired sheriff stands in their way.

"Here's a tough, kind of intimate look about what violence is and what it is in men and how it's tied into their character ... [it's a] really smart, stinging movie," Travers said.

8. 'Loving'

"'Loving' is a movie about a real case, a couple called the Lovings who were arrested because he was white and she was black," Travers explained. "And they couldn't marry in the United States because in the 1950s it was illegal to do it. Joel Edgerton is the husband. Ruth Negga is the wife. Two better performances would be hard to find. So look this one up and definitely see it."

7. 'Sully'

"Sully" is directed by Clint Eastwood. It stars Tom Hanks as American Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who landed his damaged plane in New York's Hudson River.

Travers called it "one of the great classical pieces of filmmaking this year."

6. 'Jackie'

Another one-name movie making it into the top 10 is "Jackie." It comes from Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín. The film centers on Jacqueline Kennedy the week after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy.

Travers said moviegoers will see "Natalie Portman giving a performance every bit as good, if not better, than the one that won her an Oscar for 'Black Swan.' This is a reinvention of the biopic, not something that you see on TV," said Travers. "But something that says, 'I'm going to look at this woman in ways that you've never seen before.' She's steel. Great performance and not just a great performance but a great movie."

5. 'Silence'

"'Silence' is the movie from Martin Scorsese that he's been basically talking at least to me about since 1989," said Travers. "He loved this book, written by a Japanese convert to Christianity, set in 17th century Japan."

The film centers on two Portuguese priests, one played by Andrew Garfield, the other by Adam Driver. They go to Japan to try to find out what happened to their mentor, a priest played by Liam Neeson.

"And it's about faith. It's about doubt. It's a challenge," Travers said. "For people that don't want to be challenged in movies outside of the Marvel Comic Universe, this movie's gonna take a piece out of you. But it is so worth it."

4. 'Fences'

"'Fences' is a movie that Denzel Washington directs starring himself and Viola Davis, who played this on Broadway and won Tony Awards," said Travers.

The story comes from playwright August Wilson and it delves into the life of an African-American family in the 1950s, with a father bitter over a missed opportunity to play professional baseball.

"What Denzel does as a director and an actor is extraordinary," Travers said. "What Viola Davis does along with him is a kind of duet, a partnership, that makes you just sit up and say, 'I can't believe this kind of acting.'"

3. 'Moonlight'

"'Moonlight' [is] an extraordinary film about the black experience in America," said Travers.

It is directed and written by Barry Jenkins. It tells the story of one boy who grew up in the Miami projects who's gay, who's an outsider, who feels that he can't reach out to anybody in love. He's played by three separate actors at different ages.

"It's the kind of movie that seems to come out of nowhere and make you say, 'Who's the guy that did this? How is a miracle of a movie like this possible?'" Travers said.

2. 'Manchester by the Sea'

Kenneth Lonergan wrote and directed "Manchester by the Sea."

"It stars Casey Affleck who should already have his name engraved on an Oscar," said Travers. "He's a guy facing tragedy in his life basically trying to take care of his nephew who is alone in the world. It sounds like it's serious to the extreme and it isn't. It's funny. It's human. It's sad. It makes you believe that you're watching a life that's actually being lived, not a Hollywood version of anything, just terrific in every way."

1. 'La La Land'

"The top 3 on my list are all so close to each other. But I'm picking 'La La Land,' which is written and directed by a young man, Damien Chazelle, who has said to himself, 'I'm going to reinvent the musical. I'm tired of everybody just being nostalgic about what it's going to be. I'm going to cast Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. I'm going to set it in LA right now. And I'm going to make what musicals meant to people -- in terms of their beauty, in terms of their yearning, in terms of how they make you feel. And I am going to do it with all the technique I have at my disposal,'" Travers said.

"Damien Chazelle, he directed 'Whiplash' and one other movie. He doesn't have the experience to do this. And yet what he does is to basically reinvent cinema for now," Travers continued. "I get really excited when a young filmmaker comes along and says, 'Let's start from scratch. Let's make it fresh.' There isn't a fresher, more live movie in 2016 than 'La La Land.'"

Now that you're up to speed with all of the must-see films, here are the movies Travers said you should avoid.


10. 'Office Christmas Party'

Travers characterizes this movie as "desperate."

"[It's] filled with people I really like -- Kate McKinnon, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston. This is a movie so desperate to be funny that it never is," said Travers. "Just in case you're tempted, don't. You can thank me later."

9. 'Allegiant'

The science-fiction adventure film starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James also makes the worst movies list.

"It always wanted to be 'The Hunger Games' and it wasn't," said Travers of "Allegiant." "This was the third chapter in it, so dull, that the fourth movie is probably going directly to television."

8. 'American Pastoral'

"American Pastoral" is based on a Philip Roth novel and is directed by Ewan McGregor, who also stars in the movie.

"It's done with the best intentions, but it is awful from scene 1 to when it says 'the end,'" said Travers. "Everything about this represents the worst of indie cinema, pretentious, long, badly acted, horribly written. It just made me want to scream and look at the screen itself and say, 'Make it stop!'"

7. 'Alice Through the Looking Glass'

The sequel to "Alice in Wonderland" also finds a solid spot on the list. The same ensemble of actors, including Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska, returns for this installment, but according to Travers, the vibe is not the same.

"When [director] Tim Burton did it, it had a lot of pizazz, at least visually," Travers said. "But now it looks like someone threw up on the camera ... disgusting, awful, do not go near it."

6. 'Independence Day: Resurgence'

It's been two decades since Will Smith's hit science-fiction flick "Independence Day." But this year saw the release of a sequel to the film, "Independence Day: Resurgence." According to Travers, it does not live up to the original.

"Will Smith was really smart to avoid this one," he said.

5. 'Inferno'

This film stars Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones. It's directed by Ron Howard.

"You can tell Ron Howard's heart isn't in it. You could tell Tom Hanks' heart isn't in it," said Travers. "Please no. No more."

4. 'Allied'

Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard come together in the Wold War II love story "Allied."

Travers said this movie has "no chemistry. There was more chemistry in the false rumors that he and Marion Cotillard were having a thing off camera, which they both denied. In that, there was some energy. In the movie, there was nothing. It just lies there."

3. 'Collateral Beauty'

A-listers fill the screen for "Collateral Beauty." The names include Will Smith, Dame Helen Mirren, Keira Knightley and Edward Norton. Travers said the storyline itself makes you want to bolt for the exits and added, "Why on the set didn't people say to each other, 'What are we doing here?'"

2. 'Warcraft'

The movie "Warcraft" based on the video game comes in at No. 2 on the worst list.

"Over $100 million spent to produce this bilge and it just dies there on the screen," he said. "Some movies deserve more than a review. They deserve a stake through the heart. 'Warcraft' is one of them."

1. 'Suicide Squad'

"What do I think was the most offensive movie possible for me to see in 2016?" asked Travers. "'Suicide Squad.' All of these ... people who were so nasty in the comic books [now] all have hearts. We're supposed to feel for them. You know what? I felt nothing. 'Suicide Squad' makes me really happy to say goodbye to the movie year 2016."