Many critics have argued, oddly, that 1996 was more or less a sub-par year for movies. Maybe it was the plethora of lame Hollywood offerings that they were responding to, but to ignore the incredibly deep independent film offerings this year would be more than just a little myopic. Some people go to movies to escape reality and others go to be wooed by special effects and the possibility of seeing their favorite celebrities naked for a few short moments. But for whatever reason I prefer to go to the movies to see the best actors an actresses in the business recreate reality on the screen. Most of the movies on this list are in fact mere slices of life whose success is almost entirely dependent on the strength of a few individual performances. If you haven’t yet seen many of these movies because you didn’t believe the hype, then I would seriously urge you to reconsider. Each of the movies that comprise this list are truly thoughtful, imaginative and remarkably acted masterpieces that, I assure, become classics over time.