What is there to say about movies in 2016? In some ways, the year in film was defined by failed blockbusters, at least in the critical sense. “Marvel ran the game last year, but DC is taking its shot this year with two enormous releases,” we wrote at the beginning of this year. DC certainly did take their shot with Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, but they missed badly with both. Joining those two blockbusters in the dumpster were the likes of Independence Day: Resurgence, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Star Trek Beyond. Marvel meanwhile, ever the exception, chugged along with Civil War and Doctor Strange. Really, the most successful blockbuster of the year wasn’t even a blockbuster—it was Deadpool, Marvel’s irreverent, made-for-cheap sensation. But on the whole, as time goes on, it seems clear that the bigger a movie is (and usually, the more money it makes), the more devoid of feeling it will be. A disconcerting trend if there ever was one.


But 2016’s film slate wasn’t all bad. This year included movies featuring unimaginable creativity and bold, captivating statements—including, most surprisingly, documentaries so evocative and well-executed that they transcended their genre. And in another positive turn, 2016’s palette was far more diverse than years previous. Oscar nominations are not yet out, but it seems safe to assume that this year’s ceremony won’t be mired in yet another debacle of underrepresentation. 

There’s plenty from 2016 to celebrate. Just keep reading.