The 20 best movies of 2016

20: The Witch

Robert Eggers' deeply unsettling directorial debut seethes with puritanical dread rather than relying on "quiet quiet bang" scares, and while its arcane language and slow pace may frustrate casual Halloween horror audiences, it takes a special sort of film to make a goat absolutely terrifying. Sorry 'The Shallows' Steven Seagull, animal performance of the year belongs to demon goat Black Philiip.

19: Son of Saul

This modest Hungarian holocaust drama won countless awards this year, including the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, for writer-director László Nemes. It's grimly intense, but utterly unforgettable, reminding us of the humans at the heart of history's most shameful hour.

18: Nocturnal Animals

There was no "difficult second album syndrome" for Tom Ford on 'Nocturnal Animals'. The neo-noir thriller, Ford's first new film since 2009's 'A Single Man', was an emotional gut punch with terrific performances from all involved including the superlative Amy Adams.

17: The Hateful Eight

Tarantino's snowbound western began life as a sequel to 'Django Unchained' but his 3-hour single-location epic managed to surpass his previous film in just about every sense. Supremely tense, laugh out loud funny, and unrelentingly violent, QT was back to his best.

16: Hell or High Water

David McKenzie's neo-western, written by 'Sicario' scribe Taylor Sheridan, crept into cinemas with very little fanfare earlier this year, but the critical acclaim surrounding it was deafening. Featuring standout performances from Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges, this is destined to become a cult classic.

15: Doctor Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch's Marvel debut seemed like a risky prospect, but the Disney powerhouse's first venture into the magical realm was an unprecedented success. With dazzling visuals, mind-bending action sequences, and an assured performance from La Batch, this visit to the Doctor was anything but painful.

14: The Big Short

Laugh about the financial crisis? Go on then. And it’ll make you enormously angry too. Adam McKay's drama exposed the men who predicted and profited from the global credit crunch with help from a stellar - and bewigged - cast including Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, and Christian Bale.

13: Hunt For The Wilderpeople

Empire Magazine named Taika Waititi's coming of age comedy the best film of the year, and the people of New Zealand certainly agreed where it became the most successful Kiwi film of all time. Sam Neill and Julian Dennison play 2016's most memorable duo who go on the run from the law across the beautiful New Zealand landscapes.

12: Deadpool

It gave the superhero genre a much needed kick up the rear end, not simply with the violence and swearing, but by playing things simpler, smaller scale and character-based. It took risks and revitalised the format in a way no other comic book movie did in 2016, and boasted more genuine laugh-out-loud moments than any comedy released this year.

11: Captain America: Civil War

Marvel's long-awaited smackdown between Captain America and Iron Man didn't disappoint with that epic airport showdown providing fan boys with enough superhero-on-superhero action to keep them going until 'Avengers: Infinity War'. Spider-Man's debut set up nicely for 2017’s ‘Homecoming’ too.

10: The Revenant

Although Leonardo DiCaprio has arguably had better performances in his career, it's the cinematography, the backdrops, the support cast (Tom Hardy, Will Poulter) and the sheer breathtaking brutality of this film that totally won us over. Bleak yet beautiful.

9: Sing Street

'Once' was great, 'Begin Again' not so much, but writer/director John Carney scored here with a loving portrayal of a kid, unrequited love, his band, with some serious issues sneaked in too. The songs are great too.

8: Midnight Special

In an era when most superhero movies feel like they’re put together using a computer algorithm, this indie was quirky (in a good way), anchored by the incomparable Michael Shannon – a man who makes every scene he’s in feel like the most important thing in the world. Is it an indie thriller, is it a sci-fi? The less you know before watching it, the better.

7: Spotlight

Most films about journalists either make them out to be scumbags (often quite accurate), or genius saints. This story about The Boston Globes' catholic sex abuse expose pitched it correctly; you generally get the story by sheer, bloody-minded, often boring hard work.

6: Everybody Wants Some!!

'Everybody Wants Some!!' is one of Richard Linklater’s finest, capturing a spirit and energy that defines our formative years into adulthood, lingering on the notion of time passed, gathering such naturalistic performances from his cast and yet maintaining a comedic edge, profound and nuanced throughout.

5: Zootropolis

Disney's return to the world of talking animals harked back to the golden era of 'The Lion King', 'The Jungle Book', and 'Dumbo' with a thoroughly modern twist. The world of Zootropolis was a visually stunning backdrop to an important message about equality, discrimination, and social stereotypes. Plus those sloths were freaking hilarious.

4: The Nice Guys

A new Shane Black movie is always cause for celebration, and this one features our new favourite double act of Baby Goose and Rusty Crowe. The tunes, the collars, the one-liners: it’s the only movie of 2016 that feels like it was made for adults.

3: Arrival

Denis Villeneuve's alien invasion transcended the genre to give us one of the most emotional, thought-provoking and downright moving cinema experiences of the year. Anchored by another stunning performance from Amy Adams, 'Arrival' is a film that offers something new with every repeat performance, reminding us as the human race that we're stronger together.

2: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Gareth Edwards’ stunning 'Star Wars' story fills gaps in the galaxy you didn’t know needed filling. Despite knowing the outcome - Spoilers: the Rebels steal the Death Star plans - It feels urgent, important, and thrilling right up until the credits roll. Every nod, wink and Easter egg to the original trilogy feels necessary rather than forced, and it brings a whole new meaning to 'A New Hope'. But most importantly, it gives fans the Darth Vader we’ve always longed to see.

1: Room

Brie Larson's performance was more than worthy of her Oscar win, in this harrowing, emotionally-charged, and brilliantly directed drama based on Emma Donoghue's acclaimed novel. Larson's undoubtedly great but we shouldn't forget child actor Jacob Tremblay who truly shines in his breakthrough role. Brilliant performances, amazing direction, all while exploring an emotional and sometimes moral quagmire. This was a small film, but it was the most accomplished and connecting, and our favourite of 2016.

2016 has been a pretty lousy year in the real world. We’ve lost countless stars of stage and screen, headlines from around the world have been relentlessly grim, and the less said about global politics the better.

Life has been much kinder inside the safe and cosy confines of the cinema, where we’ve been gently reminded that everything will be OK in the end. Here’s Yahoo Movies UK’s favourite films of 2016 collated from the personal Top 10 lists of our most trusted contributors. How many have you seen?

Contributors: Ben Arnold, Ben Bussey, Tom Butler, Jody Clark, Ben Falk, Ryan Leston, Stefan Pape, Rebecca Perfect, Ben Skipper, Mike P Williams, Gregory Wakeman, Rob Young.

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