10. Barbershop 3.
Starring: Ice Cube, Common, Nikki Minaj and Cedric The Entertainer
This is the biggest surprise of the year so far for me. Barbershop 3 is hilarious like its predecessors, but it also packs an emotional wallop. Placed right in the heart of Chicago, this movie confronts such issues as gang relations, arbitrary shootings and the racial caste system of our time. With staggering 92% Rotten Tomato rating, Barbershop 3 is a message movie without being preachy and it has something important to say.
PARENTAL GUIDANCE: This movie could be good way into an important conversation with your children about why lower class, black families are still fighting so much poverty and violence, and what a possible solution could be. Having said that, Barbershop 3 has PG:13 language throughout as well as several woman dressed in revealing clothes. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN UNDER 12.
9. Nice Guys.
Starring: Russel Crowe, Ryan Gosling and Kim Basinger
Shane Black. the writer and director of Iron Man 3 brings us a very different, and very clever movie. Gosling and Crowe bring impeccable chemistry and tons of heart to their characters. The plot isn't entirely original but the writing is some of the best around, the performances are pitch-perfect and the movie is a lot of fun.
PARENTAL GUIDE: Due to the violence, sexual material and language this is not a movie to take anyone under 16 to.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds
Every bit as crass as it's reputation insists, Deadpool has plenty of action, fast story telling and a brilliant performance by Ryan Reynolds. This is a hilarious and ridiculously self aware twist on the superhero genre.
PARENTAL GUIDE: This is a very R rated movie full of crude humor and graphic violence. Not recommended for anyone under 17.
7. Civil war.
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlet Johnson, Tom Hollund, Chadwick Bossman, Sebastian Stan, Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd
A more traditional super hero movie than Deadpool, but that isn't a bad thing at all. Nobody directs stunning action scenes like the Russo brothers. This movie dives deep into tough questions and takes the courageous move to not offer easy answers. This is master-class film making.
PARENTAL GUIDE: There is some intense fight scenes that might be too intense for anyone under 10.
6. Eye In The Sky
Starring: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and Alan Rickman
I haven't seen the true colors of war so brutally exposed in years. I've never seen a movie tackle a controversial issue and so evenly present every possible argument. No matter where you stand with the choices that are made, this movie presents your case fairly. Add to it powerful performances by Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul and Alan Rickman (in his final role) and you have the first great movie of 2016.
PARENTAL GUIDE: This movie has some R rated language and disturbing images. However, it opens a very healthy and well informed dialogue about the nature of war and the ones responsible that would be very beneficial for children over 13.
Starring: Katey Segal and John Gallager Jr.
Though a very familiar premise for a suspense thriller, Hush is evidence that expert directing with crystal clear vision is more than enough to compensate for a lack of originality. The story of a deaf girl living alone in the woods who fights an insane killer is every bit as thrilling and suspenseful as it should be.
PARENTAL GUIDE: This is a extremely suspenseful movie, as well as containing some scenes of disturbing violence. Not recommended for anyone with a heightened sensitivity to scary movies.
4. The Conjuring 2.
Starring: Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson
The first Conjuring is easily in my top 20 favorite movies of all time; so to say I was nervous about this sequel would be a massive understatement. So you can only imagine my delight when I watched a movie with the same caliber of expert film making. I love this movie not just because Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson have never been better, not just because it is arguably scarrier than the first; but because in spite of it being a horror movie, it is also the most faith affirming movie experience I've had in years.
PARENTAL GUIDE: This movie is full of jump scares and scenes with extreme tension; as well as a few disturbing images. Not recommended for anyone with a heightened sensitivity to scary movies.
Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman and Idris Elba
No movie in the last several years has tackled themes of homophobia, xenophobia and the all around fear of the "different" than Zootopia. Of course, it being a family film, the heavy themes are presented to us in what could be considered a modern parable. Not only does this tackle extremely complex and difficult subjects; but it never stops feeling like a fun and consistently entertaining family film. This film reminds us that great art preaches without making the audience feel patronized.
PARENTAL GUIDE: Take your whole family to this movie! Use this as a tool to discuss the relevant topics of fearing people who are different than us and how followers of Jesus could respond.
2. The Jungle Book
Starring: Niel Setthi, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Scarlet Johanson, Lupita Nyongo, Idris Elba and Christopher Walken
This is one of the most visually appealing movies I have ever seen. Period. The CGI is so convincing that when I got home interacting with my pets revealed how real these animals look. What is even more spectacular about this movie, is the integrity of the story remains completely intact. This movie is full of heart and humor; and it features a phenomenal debut for Niel Setthi.
PARENTAL GUIDE: Some of the content might be too intense for viewers under 7.
1. Sing Street.
Ferdia Welsh-Peelo and Jack Reynor.
There is no way for me to overstate how much I love this movie. Every aspect of this simple story is exemplary. The script, the performances and the music are all threads woven together to present to us a beautiful tapestry. One of the few movies that allows the audience to escape whatever is going on in their world, and sit in this compelling piece of art; all happening with no special effects of famous faces, just great story telling and great music. Though it is early, and my favorite movies of the year are traditionally released between October and December, this is one of those movies I think will stay on my top ten for the rest of the year.
PARENTAL GUIDE: The movie contains some language and teens in emotional circumstances. Not recommended for children under 10.