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Time Out's best films of 2016

Tom Huddleston

It's been a funny old year at the movies. There have been lots of terrific films - but, some might argue, very few flat-out masterpieces. We lost some truly great stars - Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder and Anton Yelchin, to name just three. And, of course, Hollywood continued to amaze the world with its capacity to act out in public, from celebrity divorces to on-set tantrums (mentioning no massive bald names, of course).

Here at Time Out, we've been busily putting together our list of the best movies of 2016. It hasn't been easy: how do you judge a massive blockbuster like 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' against a tiny indie like 'American Honey'? But we've finally wrestled it down to 25 movies that we think are truly outstanding. We hope you'll agree with us - and hey, if you don't, that's what comments boxes are for.

In the process, we also identified a few big trends in the films of 2016. Some made us very happy indeed, others made us fear for the future of cinema. Here's a quick look at the movie movements that shaped the year.

Yay! Women up front

2016 was the year when women really stepped up the fight for parity both in front and behind the camera. Almost half the movies on our list feature female central characters, and three of them were directed by women - not perfect, but a good start.

Boo! Online sexism

This was also the year of 'Ghostbusters', when a solid, funny mainstream comedy became the victim of a truly unpleasant online campaign, much of it directed by the film's magnificent breakout star Leslie Jones. So there's still a long way to go.

Yay! Great docs

Another continuing trend was for amazing documentaries - there are two on our list, but we could've listed many more, from the creepy political comedy of 'Weiner' to the crusading power of '13th'.

Boo!  Lame sequels

It's the same every summer, but 2016 really pushed the boat out on the naff follow-up front: 'Independence Day: Resurgence', 'X-Men Apocalypse', 'Batman Vs Superman', 'Finding Dory'... the list goes on.

Yay! Serious subjects, taken seriously

There was a lot of anger floating around in 2016, and the movies harnessed it brilliantly, from Ken Loach's anti-austerity polemic 'I, Daniel Blake' to last winter's big Oscar winner 'Spotlight'. We love movies that make a point.

Boo! Snarky superheroes

Hollywood has always loved to blur the line between hero and villain, and in 2016 that meant anti-heroes with big mouths and bad attitudes. The result was sarcastic and soulless blockbusters like 'Deadpool' and 'Suicide Squad'.

Yay! New directions in horror

Horror movies have been stagnating in recent years, but 2016 offered some fresh new ideas. 'Under the Shadow' was a cracking ghost story set in war-torn Tehran, 'Bone Tomahawk' brought horror to the wild west and 'The Witch' took us into the distant past.

Read our list of the Best Films of 2016

Had enough of this year? Here are the 2017 movies we can't wait to see


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