DIFF 2016 — Top 5 Movies On Every List

Five obvious movies to watch at the 13th Dubai International Film Festival

The 13th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival is almost here, and it brings us 156 films from 55 countries in 44+ languages. As has been the highlight of DIFF every year, this year too features some of the best movies of the festival circuit, among them the top award-winners and those that have garnered considerable critical acclaim. In the first of our two Top-5 articles, we pick movies that are the popular highlight at this year’s festival.

Birth of a Nation

Nate Parker is the force behind this 1831-set period drama based on the story of an enslaved black man who led a violent slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. Parker is the director, producer and writer of the movie, and he also plays the lead actor. Having gambled his career and personal money into a movie he believed in, Parker has managed to make a movie that won the Grand Jury prize as well as the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, besides gathering critical acclaim and Oscar talk.

I, Daniel Blake

Veteran British director Ken Loach’s new film is the easiest pick of this year’s DIFF. As is his forte, Loach continues his examination of the regular joe’s frustration with the State. This time he focuses on one Daniel Blake, who is unemployed due to a recent heart-attack and has to rely on welfare support. The movie is this year’s Palme d’Or winner, the top film award for most cinephiles, and also a winner at Vancouver and Locarno, putting it on the top of the “must-watch” list.


The JFK assassination looked at with a different focus, this movie is about how recently widowed First Lady dealt with her husband’s murder in the time immediately after the tragedy. Natalie Portman is receiving high-praise including talk of a second acting Oscar for portraying the titular Jackie Kennedy, who was well known for her dignity and poise. Another multiple-award winner, Jackie has picked awards for film, screenplay and acting at various festivals including at Toronto and Venice. Director Pablo Larraín has another movie playing at DIFF this year, Neruda. We recommend you watch it too (read about it here)


This is just the fifth movie by director Jeff Nichols but he has a unique voice and an ability to extract phenomenal performances, especially from Michael Shannon. The actor plays a supporting role in this historical story of an interracial marriage that pushed a couple to fight all the way to the Supreme Court for their right to live as a family.interracial drama. Nichols explores rural America again, and this time with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Nega, two actors who have been regularly giving us exemplary work in recent times.

Manchester By The Sea

Widely regarded as the best drama of the year by most who have watched it, Manchester By The Sea has already picked up multiple accolades at various awards including for Best Actor (Casey Affleck), Best Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams), Best Screenplay and Best Film. It tells the story of Lee Chandler, played by Affleck, who unexpectedly becomes the guardian of his nephew following his brother’s death. An emotional telling, all accounts suggest the movie will make you cry, so be prepared.

If you liked our recommendations on this list, wait for our soon-to-be-published article “DIFF 2016 — Top 5 Movies Under The Radar

About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.