Well, we made it. 2016 has come and gone. It’s certainly been… eventful, hasn’t it? I hope you all had a good year regardless.
As far as movies go; 2016 gave us some pretty good ones, and some pretty bad ones. So, what I’ve done here is rank all of the movies from 2016 that I got to see. I’ll go from worst to best, and give a brief SPOILER-FREE review of each one as I go. I had a great time writing this, and if you read it, I’m sure you’ll have an even better time! Wow! How about that?
Please keep in mind: there are a lot of movies that came out this year that I wasn’t able to see. I’m a busy guy. Also keep in mind: this is only based on my opinion, and I’m just some guy. If you disagree with me, that’s great! We can have a friendly little debate in the comments section if you like!
Batman V Superman
I think I’m going to be talking about this movie for the rest of my life. This isn’t even the first time I’ve written something about it. It’s just… it’s so bad, even to the point of being offensive. Director Zack Snyder took these beloved, iconic characters, and then completely ignored what made them beloved and iconic to begin with. I could go on, but I’ve already talked this movie to death. Shame on you, Zack Snyder!
Just to be clear – this movie isn’t really any better than BvS. I have it ranked higher for one reason: I had a better time while watching it. Where BvS is dour and sullen, Suicide Squad is totally outlandish and ridiculous. There was a lot of laughter in the theater when I saw this, but not for the reasons we were supposed to be laughing. Seeing Killer Croc get down on all fours and gallop into a sewer is nothing short of absurd – and that’s just one example. If you enjoy terrible movies, you can give BvS a miss. But watch this one.
After a few of the X-Men go to see Return of the Jedi in this movie, one of them remarks, ”Everyone knows that the third movie is always the worst.” It’s almost like the writers knew what they were doing. Apocalypse comes off the backs of X-Men: First Class (which is great) and Days of Future Past (which is fine). And man… this one is just a real mess. It’s not awful; as usual, the cast is pretty solid, and it is a lot of fun to see the different X-Men bouncing off one another. The villain is largely unimpressive – because he doesn’t do anything – but it’s clear that Oscar Isaac had a lot of fun in the role. I guess this just hasn’t been a great year for comic book movies.
Independence Day: Resurgence
I love the original Independence Day – Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are great, the script is just subtle enough, and nothing about it makes me cringe. But the sequel? Not so much. First off, Will Smith is nowhere to be found, and his absence is really felt. Goldblum is still pretty good, but doesn’t have enough to do. Honestly, there’s not much else going for this movie. It’s just as much of a spectacle as the original – maybe even more so – but the whole thing feels less like someone trying to tell a story and more like a committee trying to make money. The ending is a clear setup for another sequel, which I’m sure will be… just as good.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I think I’m in the minority when I say that I don’t love the Harry Potter movies. I do like some of them, but on the whole, I think they’re kind of mediocre. Beasts continues this trend. It’s not all bad; Eddie Redmayne pulls in a solid performance, and some of those beasts are pretty fantastic. But, there are quite a few plot holes in this one, especially near the end. Oh, speaking of the end – I won’t give anything away, but there is a very unpleasant reveal. There are four sequels planned, so only time will tell how this whole thing plays out.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Visually, this movie is stunning. It’s animated by the same people who made Coraline, and looks just as good. The story takes some unexpected turns, which is nice to see in what some people might call a kid’s movie – but “unexpected” doesn’t necessarily mean “good.” Like a lot of other movies on this list, the ending does not sit well with me – I won’t say why. But, most people liked it more than I did, so it’s probably worth a watch. Also, Charlize Theron plays a talking monkey. So that’s pretty good.
You know what? Moana is fine. It’s fun, it’s an imaginative world, and the animation is truly incredible. My big problem with this movie is the plot; it’s unbelievably by the book. Every turn the story takes can be seen from a mile away, even if you’re trying not to. This is really kind of a bummer, because there is a lot of great stuff in here. If you’re looking for something light, or something to show the kids, this is a good one. But there’s a much better kid’s movie later on this list.
Doctor Strange is your standard Marvel origin movie. A very talented individual has a fall from grace, discovers some new ability, beats the bad guys and becomes a better person because of it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? The special effects are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, and it honestly might be worth a watch just for that. The cast is pretty on point as well, especially Chiwetel Ejiofor. I wonder how you pronounce that name…
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Rogue One was a bit of risk for Star Wars – it’s the first non-numbered movie of the franchise, and feels more like a war movie (think Saving Private Ryan) than a sci-fi. But it pays off! It’s certainly not perfect – the first act is hard to follow, and most of the characters are kind of dull – but there is a lot of really great stuff in this. It’s nice to see a less optimistic view of the Star Wars universe, where not everyone is a hero. There are a few returning characters from 1977’s A New Hope; a few aren’t great, but one of them is absolutely spectacular. You’ll know who I’m talking about.
My Blind Brother
This movie’s a bit of a hidden gem – it came out in March, but I hadn’t heard of it until very recently. It’s kind of great. The story is your pretty standard rom-com, but it’s done with a subtlety that makes the whole thing feel very sincere. The cast is really something special, too – especially Jenny Slate, who is absolutely charming. Nick Kroll and Adam Scott are also great, perfectly capturing the competitive nature of some brothers. This movie won’t surprise you much, but it’s funny, and sad, and sweet, and definitely worth your time.
Star Trek Beyond
The perfect antidote to Independence Day: Resurgence – this movie gets right everything that movie got wrong. The references and homages to the originals, the characters, the stakes – all great. The villain (played by Idris Elba!) feels a bit shallow at first, but his motivations become much clearer by the end. I’ve always been more of a Star Wars boy, but Star Trek Beyond is really a treat. If you want an honest and fun action sci-fi, this one’s for you.
The Nice Guys
This one’s even more fun than Star Trek. It’s directed by Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3) and very much feels like a Shane Black movie. The 1970s aesthetic works quite well as a backdrop, but the best part is the dynamic between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Who would’ve thought those two would make such a great duo? This movie is one you shouldn’t miss.
The Jungle Book
You might think that a movie about photorealistic talking animals wouldn’t be very good, but The Jungle Book is great! Director Jon Favreau knows exactly what he’s doing. The cast is absolutely superb – almost uncannily so – and each one totally fits the character (and animal) they’re given. Ben Kingsley plays an old, wise panther! Lupita Nyong’o plays an affectionate mother wolf! Bill Murray plays a goofy bear! It doesn’t get any better than that.
Captain America: Civil War
I said earlier that 2016 was a bad year for comic book movies. But, CACW (and the next movie on the list) really stood out to me. It’s not perfect, but this movie takes chances that most movies like this wouldn’t. None of the action scenes seem superfluous, each character’s motivations are totally clear, and no one feels under-represented. Best of all, the conflict is between two “heroes,” and it’s never clear who we should side with. AND, they finally got Spider-Man right. About damn time.
I love Deadpool! It’s exactly what we all wanted out of a superhero movie – even if we didn’t know we wanted it. Ryan Reynolds is perfect for the role, and was integral to this film’s success. It’s absolutely sacrilegious – between the incredible violence and crass humor, you might not want to show this one to the kids (or your parents). I like this movie so much, it’s actually what made me want to start writing for Bearcast Media!
Swiss Army Man
This movie is… bizarre. But not in a bad way! It’s like if Louie CK and the people who made Rubber remade Castaway. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, get right into it. If not, you should still give it a chance. The story is genuinely funny, and uplifting, and very emotional at times. I feel confident in saying that this is Daniel Radcliffe’s best role. Yeah, I said it!
Man, this movie is good. It’s your sort of “high-concept” sci-fi, very much in the vein of Interstellar or Inception – but better than both of those. Amy Adams pulls in what might be the best performance of the year – it’ll almost certainly get her an Oscar nom for Best Actress. Speaking of, this is probably the most “Oscar-worthy” movie on this list. The story is a little hard to follow at times, but that’s the only thing keeping this from the #1 spot on this list.
Not only does this take the title for Best of 2016, it was also the most pleasant surprise. On the outside, Zootopia looks like another forgettable kid’s movie with talking animals. But don’t be fooled – this movie is fantastic. All of the characters are clearly defined, the jokes are actually funny, the story takes turns you wouldn’t expect, and the whole thing just works. There’s quite a bit of social commentary as well, which I won’t get into right now. This is a movie I’d feel comfortable showing anyone. And it’s on Netflix!
My New Year’s resolution from last year was to see more movies. Nailed it. On the whole, it wasn’t a bad year for movies. Maybe not quite as good as 2015, though. Or 2014. Man, that was a year…
What did you think of my list? Is there anything that I missed and should go out and watch? Think I’m just a big dumb idiot? You’re not alone! Let me know what you think in the comments section below. As always, thanks for reading!