It’s the most wonderful time of the year – at least for this critic. Yes, 2016 has finally come to a close, and thank god for that. From celebrity deaths to certain rough political aspects, 2016 has been a weird one for sure, and movies are definitely part of the equation. In fact, this might be one of the hardest annual lists to make for me in quite sometime, since there was quite a bit of bad mixed with a lot of good. But don’t worry, we got enough fuel for the fire for each list respectively. Let’s start off with the Worst Movies of 2016….
10. Alice Through The Looking Glass
If there was one sequel that really didn’t deserve to exist, Alice Through The Looking Glass would be it. Why? Because the first of Disney’s live action Burton-led Alice films already felt more like a sequel than it should have, and had so many flaws that it was hard to find exactly where the franchise could or should go. Looking Glass offered no purpose for a continuation of the story, and seemed just an excuse to make Johnny Depp seem wacky again. And guess what? It was as boring and predictable as you can imagine.
9. Collateral Beauty
Remember the 90’s, when people made good small movies that sometimes mixed reality with the fantastical? That even would bring concepts that seemed more the kind of thing Frank Capra would make in the 40’s? Well, that’s what Collateral Beauty wanted to be. The kind of Oscar-baiting, filled with Academy Award winning actors, tiny little movie with lots of feelings type of movie – and did it succeed? Nope. And the lying trailers didn’t help it at all either.
8. Sausage Party
I’m certainly not one to consider myself a total prude. But there’s a level of weirdness within mainstream movies (especially when it comes to the exploitation of sex and various other taboo topics) that I can take without truly wanting to sink into my seat with disgust. And Seth Rogen pushed me to my limit with Sausage Party. Though the concept of having a grocery adult version of Toy Story sounds awesome on paper, the result was like watching a 14-year-boy’s fart comedy fantasy and ideas of gender roles/sexual identity come to life in grotesque fashion. Add in the whole animators-not-getting-paid factor, and Sausage Party is one unfortunate hot mess.
7. Rules Don’t Apply
Poor Warren Beatty. I wanted to see your passion project – a love story set amidst the end of Howard Hughes’s career – be a big Oscar worthy success. Hell, he worked on the movie for 20 something years. But unfortunately, Rules Don’t Apply ended up seeming like two very different movies being sandwiched together with no true guidance, while also being Beatty’s excuse for getting his friends in funny costumes.
6. The Huntsman: Winters War
Even me being the big sucker for Fairy Tale movies that I am, The Huntsman was just the level of stupidity that made me laugh in a lot of the moments I probably shouldn’t have. Covering certain missing characters in the worst way possible, Emily Blunt doing her best impression of Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending, and Chris Hemsworth plus Jessica Chastain having incredibly weak chemistry made this a snooze. Maybe a snooze with pretty costumes, but definitely a snooze to the core.
5. Independence Day: Resurgence
The original Independence Day was in no way Academy Award worthy in perfection, but is a classic production of the 1990s and gave us the Will Smith we love. But its sequel Resurgence had the magical ability of taking an already stupid concept and somehow making it even more mind numbingly dumb. It also did a similar magic trick by making icons Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman utter lifeless zombies of uselessness on screen – shame on you Resurgence!
4. Nine Lives
I’m not exactly sure how this happens, but the studios continue to surprise me, and Nine Lives proves that big time. I cannot even try and explain how a studio decided to green lit a movie with Kevin Spacey turning into a cat, along with a majority of the other B-plot elements of this special cinematic experience. But somehow this film got the go-ahead and now we have one of the most talked about releases this year – for all the wrong reasons.
3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
If you read my review, you’ll know that I’m not a fan of BvS. From the terrible editing, to the plot holes, awful casting and everything in between, this excuse for Zach Snyder to throw some action figures togethers in front of the screen made every bone in my DC loving body break into piles of sand. And with the only saving grace being Ben Affleck and Wonder Woman’s brief apperaence, BvS is a huge wound that hopefully Justice League will be able to heal come next November.
2. Gods of Egypt
Winter always provides us with movies that usually end up on lists like this – but not all of them are as bad as Gods of Egypt. And when I mean bad, I’m talking like some future episodes of Rifftrax bad. With the infamous white washing of the cast, the terrible dialog and the involvement of Power Rangers-esque designs for the godly cast, director Alex Proyas seems to not realize how ridiculous his movie is. Because when I see Geoffrey Rush with a fake long pony tail riding in a yacht in space, that screams serious filmmaking – said no one ever.
When looking at it from the outside, Passengers is a harmless form of entertainment that will get streamed and enjoyed by the masses that refuse to look into the deep and unfortunate mistakes that it has made. But truly, Passengers is my worst film of 2016 simply because of how much of a disappointment it was. It didn’t have to be Academy Award winning, but for a movie that created so much buzz and controversy from the get go, the result was nothing short of failure.
And now for a change of pace, here are the best….
Right out of the gate, Disney gave us one of their most unique and dare I say thought provoking movies (animated or otherwise) of the year. Zootopia takes our love of cute animals and what Disney does best, and taking it to new heights of adult storytelling – making us ask questions of race, gender and relationships that your typical Disney flick doesn’t dare to speak of.
9. Nocturnal Animals
Nocturnal Animals isn’t going to be for everyone. I mean the opening shot is a bunch of obese individuals dancing in the nude with operatic music playing behind them – but somehow with such eye pop visuals, Nocturnal Animals was a cinematic experience that stuck with me. It’ll leave some being confused, frustrated – while others will never want the ride to end. I’m a member of the latter group for sure, taking in the incredible performances (especially by Aaron Taylor Johnston) and fantastic, almost exploitation style filmmaking by Tom Ford with great enjoyment.
Disney has been knocking it out of the park lately, and considering how much I adored Zootopia, I wasn’t sure how they could top that. But then Moana arrived on our movie shores, and not in a long time has anything the House of Mouse made resulted in such an emotional reaction from yours truly. With beautiful images of femininity, female empowerment, incredible music, wonderful lessons and some of the best animation Disney has ever done, Moana takes everything that Pocahontas and Mulan started for the company and fixed any flaws its princess predecessors had. Almost too perfect at times, Moana is Disney seriously at its best.
7. The Nice Guys
Comedies are a dime a dozen in holiday, but the ones that work are much more rare. With that in mind, The Nice Guys is truly one of those rare gems. With a fantastic opening sequence that sets the stage, and three of the most charismatic leads in any film this year, writer/director Shane Black proves that original movies of this nature can still work in modern Blockbuster only Hollywood. Although the movie under performed at the box office, there’s a possibility that it’ll have a great shelf life in many cinephile’s film collections. Will we ever get a sequel? I have big dreams for this special movie.
6. Edge of Seventeen
You’ll notice that a lot of my movies from this year relate to something that hit home for yours truly, and Edge of Seventeen fit that bill big time. Like the lead character (played by Hailee Steinfeld) I always felt like a too-much-talk old soul type, that loved everything my peers hated and was too smart for my own good (while also making equally stupid decisions.) From her awkward progression with her romantic interests, to the amazing moments with Woody Harrelson as her wise Social Studies teacher – there was a lot to hold dear with Edge of Seventeen.
The emotional roller-coaster that is Moonlight might seem like a hard, Oscar bait pill to swallow, but it is a masterpiece in many ways. Telling the story of one character through three acts of their life is nothing new, but Moonlight seems to take everything that Boyhood lacked in its end product and make something very special. With an incredible supporting cast, including Naomi Harris and Mahershala Ali, amazing cinematography by James Laxton, and near perfect director by Barry Jenkins – the magic of Moonlight is that it tells a simple tale in the most complex of ways.
4. The Handmaiden
There are few films that grasp exactly the right amount of every bit that a perfect cinematic experience should offer, but The Handmaiden achieved it all. Sexy, fearless, funny, scary – the whole package was delivered in the most beautiful of boxes. Director Park Chan-wook delivers his tamest film (in terms of the visual violence), but also his most mature. Every shot, line and motion is planned accordingly like a ballet, making it hard to ever take your eyes off of its splendor.
3. Kubo and the Two Strings
I didn’t think any other animated movie could be better than what Disney offered in 2016, but with Kubo, LAIKA took their filmmaking to new heights of truly stunning craftsmanship. There’s a lot to take in from the first frame and onward, and the only way to describe it is breathtaking (which is the understatement of the year.) Filled with complex themes for the genre, and taking them on with the mature almost Miyazaki-like nature, Kubo is everything you could want in an animated film and more.
2. Sing Street
A Romantic Teen Drama about a boy in Ireland making a band in the 80’s? Sing Street had me in love with only but a sentence of its description. But what made this movie land at the number two spot is simply its humble nature. With a cast of mostly unknowns and first-timers, Sing Street has that unique ability of feeling like it was a snapshot from your own life, and brings about that painful whimsy we all had in our adolescence. With the addition of an incredible soundtrack, writer/director John Carney has made the closest thing to a John Hughes movie in a long, long time.
1. La La Land
It’s not often that you find movies that truly capture the phrase “They don’t make them like this anymore” – but somehow La La Land has let those words escape many a critic, including yours truly. Yes, La La Land is as close to perfection as any movie in 2016 got for me. I loved everything else on this list – don’t get me wrong – but there’s something that made La La Land more than just a movie but a true experience. Combining the magic of Gene Kelly classics like Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris, along with modern elements of Los Angeles’s less than glamour parts, made this musical fantasy one grounded in the reality of lost love and dreams not exactly coming true. A risk that paid off in most respects, La La Land deserves this spot on the list and on your shelf forever.
So what were your top 10 Best and Worst movies of 2016? Comment below with your list and give me all of the movie feels. Do you think La La Land is the best? Or do you think Rogue One would be on your list? Give us all the opinions!