La La Land
Some kind of transcendent magic happens in Damien Chazelle's starry-eyed musical, with one foot (in tap shoes) firmly planted in the past, and the other (in taps, too, of course) planted in a me-first, modern-day world. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the struggling Los Angelenos who fall in love despite a mutual wariness, walking and talking, singing and dancing, amid a swirl of classic Hollywood references.
Loving True story of an interracial couple who were jailed for getting married in 1950s Virginia. Their case led to the Supreme Court decision invalidating race-related marriage laws. PG-13
Manchester by the Sea Kenneth Lonergan proves once again he's one of America's finest dramatists with this working-class drama about loss, grief, and family obligations. Casey Affleck is sensational in an Oscar-worthy performance as a self-hating melancholic who has lived a miserable life as a janitor since he lost both his children in an accident. When his older brother dies, he must return to his tiny hometown and assume responsibility for his teenage nephew. R
Moonlight A true American masterpiece, the sophomore feature from Barry Jenkins is a heady mix of brutal social realism and poetry as it tells the coming-of-age story of a young black gay man from a Miami ghetto. Divided into three parts, it tells the story of Chiron as a 10-year-old, a high school student, and a 20-something professional as he wrestles with external forces he can't control, including poverty and drug crime and internal desires he cannot ignore. R