The 15 Best Movies of 2016

9 of 16

Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight

8. Jackie

Pablo Larrain’s Jackie is an anti-biopic. Unlike other true-life stories where a character’s exploits or failures are recounted, Jackie takes the long way round towards getting inside the head of the enigmatic Jacqueline Kennedy. Following the former First Lady in the wake of her husband’s assassination, Larrain looks at how Jackie is scrutinized by those around her – the new President (a grumpy John Carroll Lynch), her brother-in-law Robert Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard acting nothing like RFK), and her friends. The slow, methodical pace allows for a deep look into the mind of a woman wracked with grief, yet forced to act for the public’s approval. This has been a great year for projects about the burdens of being a woman forced to conform to what others want, and there wasn’t a figure better at it than Jackie Kennedy.

And let’s not forget Natalie Portman’s performance, because it sure seems that the Academy is. Portman’s always been great at playing the smiling everywoman, but here she’s presented with an opportunity to show a woman uninterested in being “on.” We watch Jackie try to find a way of pleasing others, but herself and her children foremost. We don’t often see the First Lady’s life recounted in cinema, and, more than anything else, that sets Larrain’s biopic apart.

Next: Hidden Figures