The 15 Best Movies of 2016

14 of 16

Image courtesy of Netflix

3. 13th

One of the greatest film injustices of all time is that Selma received zero recognition during the Academy Awards in 2015. After ushering in the #OscarsSoWhite discussion, director Ava DuVernay’s gone on to become one of our most dynamic and necessary directors. She’s transitioned from narrative filmmaking back to her documentary roots with 13th, a Netflix release that many are touting as the year’s best movie, irrespective of its documentary conventions.

DuVernay dissects a clause in the 13th Amendment that allows for slavery to continue against those convicted of a crime. What follows is a discourse on the state of race in the United States and the prison industrial complex. Race and corporate greed clash, with DuVernay’s talking heads expertly and eloquently detailing how the prison system is rigged against minorities. Never wasting a moment of her lean hour and 40-minute runtime, the director charts the increase of people in prison in the wake of the Reconstruction, and how recent claims of police brutality are a byproduct of a system that’s been inundated in our culture for decades. In a year that’s seen race become a huge discussion politically, 13th is the year’s most essential film and continues to situate DuVernay as a directorial titan.

Next: The Neon Demon