When people talk about what a terrible year 2016 has been, they could be referring to any number of things, from virus scares to the death of beloved celebrities to whatever the fuck happened on November 8. What they can’t mean is the movies, though. Only those who spent all their money on the biggest Hollywood product could really complain about the cinema of 2016. As usual, there was no grand unifying element linking all of the year’s finest films, but there were some shared themes and motifs: grief, and coping with it; strained family bonds; the responsibility (and burden) of religious faith; and, of course, cars. More than a few of the year’s best films also took time to highlight the details of normal life, tethering their drama, comedy, or delirious fantasy to something mundanely relatable. The 20 films below all have at least one thing in common: They made 2016 a little easier to bear, either by offering an escape from its nightmares or helping make sense of them.