The 15 Best Movies of 2016

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Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios

13. Queen of Katwe

This is the last Disney production on this list, I swear. (I told you their live-action unit did better work!) Queen of Katwe is such a wondrous story that despite its hackneyed release in September, it’s stuck with me ever since. Phiona Mutesi (newcomer Madina Nalwanga) enjoys the game of chess, and her coach (David Oyelowo) believes she’s a prodigy in the game. But it puts her at odds with her determined mother (Lupita Nyong’o) who wants her daughter to learn more about the harsh realities of life.

Director Mira Nair tells a tale of strength: strength in the power to achieve our dreams, the strength of intelligence, and the strength of a mother’s love for her children. Queen of Katwe is at times funny, thrilling (yes, there are thrills where chess is played) and sad, many times in the same scene. In a year where movies aimed for the lowest common denominator or, if you’re Michael Bay, denigrated educated people, Queen of Katwe praises not just intellect, but intellect in our young girls. The cast of young stars and veterans are all top-shelf. Madina Nalwanga and Lupita Nyong’o should be in Oscar conversations but, again, Disney really dropped the ball on this film’s release. You shouldn’t miss out on it, though!

Next: Hell or High Water