It was a mammoth year for film; arguably the best of the decade to date! Many outright gems just missed inclusion on this list. “Sing Street.” “Manchester By The Sea.” “Hunt For The Wilderpeople.” “Captain Fantastic.” I saw and wrote about more new movies this year than ever before. Below are the ten I found to be most effective, distinct, intoxicating, consequential. The ten that I’ll carry with me always.

10. Southside With You

As the Donald Trump presidency takes hold, Richard Tanne’s directorial debut “Southside With You” suddenly seems like science fiction. Also known as the Obama first date movie, “Southside” tells the story of two bright, community-minded people unknowingly beginning an historic romantic relationship. When the film came out this past summer, it was a substantive, inimitably well-acted date movie. Six months later, it’s something to aspire to; a startling symbol of the hope and idealism that’s since been dampened. But not lost. Full Review…

9. Pete’s Dragon

The premier remake of the year was a left-field delight. Disney’s live-action redo craze has yielded mixed results, but charging “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” filmmaker David Lowery with rebooting 1977 flop “Pete’s Dragon” proved an unexpected masterstroke. Lowery’s version is gentle and kind and everything so many modern family films neglect to be, ending up a must-see for anyone who’s ever had a pet; or more broadly, anyone who’s ever been a child. That means you. Full Review…

8. 20th Century Women

Neither Annette Bening nor Greta Gerwig were nominated for Oscars for their work in “20th Century Women,” an absolute travesty that fortunately won’t affect the movie’s legacy one bit. It’s destined to be discovered and treasured for a long time to come, providing warmth and laughs to all in need of its considerable wisdom. Full Review…

7. Nocturnal Animals

For his second feature, Tom Ford dropped unconventional thriller “Nocturnal Animals” onto unsuspecting multiplexes. Starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, the film is best experienced cold, without the burden of misleading trailers or television spots. Although not for mainstream audiences, Gyllenhaal fans used to the actor’s sterling selection of projects should find it their wheelhouse. He, Adams, and Michael Shannon make an ideal team for a twisted, twisty drama that immerses as much as it thrills. Full Review…

6. Arrival

Speaking of Amy Adams, sci-fi elegy “Arrival” delivered the starring role the actress had long been building towards. Guided by “Sicario” director Denis Villeneuve, the result is a spiritual epic not fully appreciated until its closing moments. While the journey alone is worthwhile, the destination carries sweet chariot home, reconfiguring everything we’ve just seen. It’s an absolute must for science fiction fans – and a deserving Best Picture nominee. Full Review…

5. Green Room

Dear Jeremy Saulnier, please never stop making movies. Nearly a year before Nazi-punching rightfully recaptured the country’s imagination, Saulnier’s “Green Room” carried the art form to unforeseen heights. In one of Anton Yelchin’s final performances, he and Alia Shawkat play punk band members doing their best to rain holy hell down upon a backwoods white supremacist (Patrick Stewart) and his minions. Come for the music, stay for the indelible suspense, stay even longer for Yelchin’s definitive performance. Full Review…

4. American Honey

Andrea Arnold’s 160-minute “American Honey” proved divisive with critics. It’s long on the clock and short on plot. But let me tell you this: the glory of a rat-tailed Shia LaBeouf dancing in the middle of a K-Mart to Rihanna’s “We Found Love” is the closest 2016 came to the showing mine eyes the glory of the coming of the Lord, proving once and for all that love really can be found in a hopeless place. Sasha Lane’s lead performance as a roving teenager is every bit as memorable as LaBeouf’s, shepherding an extraordinary road movie into the promised land. Full Review…

3. Christine

The true story of suicidal reporter Christine Chubbuck is not an easy watch, but it’s vital; perhaps the most empathetic film to come along in years. Rebecca Hall’s headlining performance is loving and sensitive and everything Christine Chubbuck was in the face of her demons. Mental health issues are a reality for many of us, eternally underrepresented in film. And when they are represented, they’re all too often stigmatized. The film is sad and horrifying but also deeply moving, culminating in an epilogue that will break every heart in a five mile radius. “Christine” is an incredible work of art. Full Review…

2. Paterson

Actor Adam Driver had a very good year! For further evidence of his very good year, see below. But “Paterson,” bearing his first true-blue starring role, is a stunner, with the actor working absolute magic with director Jim Jarmusch. It’s an outwardly humdrum comedy-drama that sneaks up on you, like falling in love. One moment you’re curious, the next moment you’re hanging on every word Garden State bus driver and poet Paterson has to say. Don’t resist. Just go. Full Review…

1. Silence

Driver didn’t headline Martin Scorsese’s latest – that would be Andrew Garfield, inexplicably nominated for Best Actor in “Hacksaw Ridge” rather than “Silence” – but proved an essential piece to its puzzle, nonetheless. “Silence” is just shy of a masterpiece, and time may very well get it there. As a true-life tale of Christian missionaries in 17th century Japan, the picture is both brutally violent and preternaturally humane – like Garfield’s other 2016 movie pretended to be – coming down firmly on the side of compassion. It’s also Scorsese’s best movie in decades, demanding nearly as long of study and appreciation. Watch it. Watch it again. It’s an astonishing act of both faith and craft – two elements of film eternally linked. Full Review…

-J. Olson