Top 10 Best Movies of 2016

7. Arrival

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Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to last year’s Sicario boasts the same brand of gorgeously portentous widescreen imagery as well as a female protagonist thrust into head-spinning territory. In this case, however, the subject isn’t Mexican drug cartels but aliens, who mysteriously arrive across the globe in giant ships, and who don’t communicate in anything like a decipherable human language.

Enter Amy Adams’ linguist, who—paired with Jeremy Renner’s mathematician—is tasked by the U.S. government with finding a way to communicate with these extraterrestrials, known as «heptapods» because of their seven-limbed physical form. What endues is a thrilling «first contact» drama that also splits its focus to concentrate on Adams’ protagonist’s grief over the loss of her daughter—twin narrative threads that eventually dovetail into a poignant portrait of the circular nature of life, and the way in which written and spoken language help connect us all to our pasts, present, and future.

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