Best and Worst of 2016

2016 has been a brutal year for several reasons, a lot of people will agree that the year has taken its toll on culture, politics and even film. A lot of people will agree that they are happy to see the back of it!

In terms of films, I was disappointed in 2016’s movies. Looking back there was a lot of anticipation gearing up for this year, mostly in the realm of superheroes: Captain America Civil War; Batman Vs Superman; Suicide Squad; Deadpool, for example. Honestly (and maybe showing my age nowadays) the comic book deliverance was incredibly lackluster in 2016!
Of course, there were those films we all knew weren’t going to work. The year was host to many unnecessary sequels, prequels and remakes! No doubt a trend that will escalate, but this year certainly has a lot of duds (and if not duds, generally unneeded) Independence Day 2: Resurgence, Magnificent Seven, Ghostbusters, Jason Bourne, Blair Witch, Ben Hur (which I missed) and The Huntsman: Winter’s War. On and on, the summer blockbusters were disastrous.

So, as per usual, I must say that these lists are my opinion and a lot of these films are very close together in rating! Goes with the problem that this year was pretty average. But there’s probably only five or six films I couldn’t stand.

A total of 82 films this year! Smashing last year’s awful score.

Starting with the 10 best, and working our way down through everything else to the 10 worst, in descending order.
Enjoy. Or don’t.

Theatrical Releases of 2016

1. The Revenant
Released in January for us in the United Kingdom, don’t forget how incredible The Revenant really was. A superbly shot and photographed experience, juxtaposing cruel, bleak reality of a dying man seeking revenge with the beauty of an ice gripped forest in the 1820s American wilderness. An incredible, enveloping experience that draws your blood cold.
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2. Room
This year started out strong. Room has two incredible performances in Brie Larson and the young Jacob Tremblay, one of the best child performances in recent years. Such a compelling, emotional experience of two people trapped together; one suffering and the other oblivious. Their characters evolve with tremendous realism as the outside world is revealed to them…
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3. Anomalisa
The intensity continues. Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa is an incredibly human experience that uses surrealism and stop-motion animation. An insightful dive into the more subtle worries and internalized tensions we can bear in modern society; a loss of self and a desensitization to human connections. A simple story with surprising emotional weight for stop-motion.
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4. Arrival
Easily the first on the list that is my sort of movie. Denis Villeneuve continues his streak of thought-provoking, compelling and visually gorgeous films with Arrival, a science fiction story with a sharp, narrow focus on world changing events. With a subtext of unity and the human incapacity of communication, especially in today’s world and across continents, Arrival is a surprisingly nuanced experience.
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5. The Handmaiden
Released in the States, The Handmaiden is widely released in the UK next year. Korean director Chan-wook Park continues to stun with his mix of dark, unhinged material and incredible skills with this erotic thriller. Full of complex character work and a screenplay so precisely designed that it unfolds twists and turns beautifully, it is probably not for the faint-hearted, but I could find little at fault here!
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6. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
A love-letter to fans of the original films and a prequel that actually strengthens them rather than reduces them, Rogue One is a dazzling triumph despite this reviewer’s doubts over the director. While I am biased towards Star Wars, I am also fiercely picky over it too: Rogue One isn’t perfect, but it has a jaw-dropping final act!
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7. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Another game changer. Audiences were confused, even angry, that this wasn’t a sequel to Cloverfield. Personally, this is a fantastic movie for JJ Abrams production company to take. The codename Cloverfield can now mean mystery, suspense, sci-fi originality in the history of movies. 10 Cloverfield Lane is a twisting, character-driven masterclass.
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8. Deadpool
Honestly, there’s a reason Deadpool is the only comic book adaptation to make my top list this year, despite it having some big flaws. Deadpool has sparked a possible rise in R-rated comic book movies; that is a good enough reason as any for it to be in this top ten. Maybe we can get some variety, maybe not all comic book adaptations need to be recycled, safe and mass produced? Really funny, really blunt, abrasive, lewd and crude. We love Deadpool.
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9. The Nice Guys
Asides from Deadpool, I don’t think I’ve had so much fun in the cinema than I did while watching The Nice Guys. Russell Crowe and especially Ryan Gosling are on fire in this Shane Black movie. Steeped in 1970s and Christmas flare, mixed with detective work and hilarious slapstick comedy, The Nice Guys was a nice change of pace.
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10. The Neon Demon
Sneaking into the top ten, with a lot of hot competition, The Neon Demon is a black pit of horrors set in the fashion industry; depicting a young girl’s transformation from innocent to monster. Nicolas Winding Refn directs a visual and audio marvel, an unhinged, almost satanic tearing on the senses. I won’t soon forget it.
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11. The Shallows
12. The Jungle Book (2016)
13. Spotlight
14. The Hateful Eight
15. Kubo and the Two Strings
16. The Big Short
17. Zootropolis
18. Creed
19. Moana
20. Sully
21. Don’t Breathe
22. The Accountant
23. Star Trek Beyond (2D)
24. The Girl on the Train
25. Green Room
26. The Girl with all the Gifts
27. Captain America: Civil War (2D)
28. Swiss Army Man
29. Kung Fu Panda 3
30. Midnight Special
31. Finding Dory (2D)
32. X-Men: Apocalypse (2D)
33. Allied
34. Batman: The Killing Joke
35. Hail, Caesar!
36. War Dogs
37. Hardcore Henry
38. Suicide Squad (2D)
39. Lights Out
40. Magnificent Seven (2016)
41. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them (2D)
42. Independence Day: Resurgence
43. The BFG (2D)
44. The Purge: Election Year
45. The Boy
46. Jason Bourne
47. Doctor Strange
48. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2D)

10. Sausage Party
Let’s be honest. Sausage Party is nothing but an exercise in “what can we get away with” and “how many parents can we anger”. Asides simply not being my sort of film, or the rumoured underpaid animators working on it, the film is trash: just a slew of needless swears, toilet humour and crumby animation.
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9. Passengers
I like sci-fi and for the most part Passengers isn’t a bad movie. But something went wrong here. Asides Pratt and Lawrence presenting some good chemistry here and there, this film is shockingly written and incredibly tedious, especially once everything is said and done. Instantly forgettable.
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8. Blair Witch
Now we are getting somewhere. Blair Witch may not be the most unnecessary film revival this year, but it is close. Absolutely rife with needless, repetitive and annoying jump-scares and some of the biggest horror tropes I’ve seen in a while, Blair Witch is a staggering waste of time, treading no new ground in the sub-genre its originator created!
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7. Warcraft: The Beginning
Possibly the most forgettable film this year.
Honestly, what happened? Based off of Blizzard Entertainment’s mega video game franchise, the woefully misguided Warcraft: The Beginning is a nightmare of jargon, cliches and fantasy tropes blended into a visual mess of CG-animation. I should have loved this film, but as an outsider I was lost and alienated.
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6. The Conjuring 2
And so, James Wan adds yet another film to one of my top ten lists, despite 2013’s The Conjuring being actually very tense and very good. But Conjuring 2 is one of the least scary horror films I’ve seen in a while, succumbing to Wan’s tried-and-tested laughable jump-scares from the trashy Insidious franchise. Dodgy CG and ropy acting isn’t helping either.
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5. The Huntsman: Winter’s War
Matched with Warcraft as one of the most forgettable films this year. Wow. Nobody asked for a prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman, not even those who want to see Hemsworth topless or others who wanted another Ice Queen character asked for it. What a bland, toothless fantasy trip through the woods this was.
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4. The Forest
Nowhere near as clever as it should have been, The Forest could have been exceptionally crafted by an Eastern cast and crew, but this American story set in a Japanese “suicide forest” felt like it was missing something. Jump-scares are often completely irrelevant, there is no emotional weight when that should be the focus. Felt like wasted potential.
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3. Ghostbusters (2016)

What can I say that hasn’t already been said. Honestly it would do the internet a small favour if I simply didn’t have this on my list, if we all just forget about it.
After a firestorm of media attention, blatant lying trailers, nerd-rage, director-rage, actress-rage, the foolhardy remake proves to be unfunny. Simple as that. No disrespect to the actresses at all; this film simply wasn’t written funny. As a comedy, that really sucks.
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2. Gods of Egypt
Wow. Wow.
When your expectations are “that low” that you go to the cinema to see if a film is “that bad” and they are met, yeah, Gods of Egypt is… it is phenomenally bad. How this got made, by the director of The Crow no less, beggar belief. Some of the worst CGI I have ever seen in the last twenty years. Gerald Butler destroying the scenery as a Scottish Egyptian. Geoffrey Rush looking pained and awkward, on fire, flying through space. Absolutely stunning.
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1. Nine Lives
I was dragged into seeing this.
I knew it was bad.
But no. I had to be witness to it. Kevin Spacey is a businessman-turn-cat. Even in the 90s or late 80s this would have been a disaster! There’s no heart, no soul, no charm. Just a vacuum. A void. A cold desperation as you slump into your chair, staring at the most misguided gaudy garbage you’ve ever seen.
I am usually silent while watching films, but this got me to vocalise: “What the hell is happening?
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Rentals 2016
Now we have a list of the films I had never seen before, but weren’t released in 2016.

1. Paprika
2. Capote
3. The Gift
4. Captain Phillips
5. Enemy
6. Rocky 2
7. Waltz with Bashir
8. Serpico
9. The Lobster
10. Rocky 3

11. Premium Rush
12. The Peanuts Movie (2D)
13. Rocky 5
14. Take

10. Punisher: War Zone
9. The Punisher (1989)
8. Before Midnight
7. Rocky 4
6. Only God Forgives
5. Aftermath (2012)
4. Troll
3. The Human Centipede 2
2. The Room
1. Troll 2

Troll 2 and The Room are easily the worst films I’ve seen all year. They don’t even quantify as “films”!
I also don’t care how much you like Rocky 4, it is so stupid.

2017 is shaping up to be a back-breaker for movie journalism. There are so many films released next year!
We have a pile of big name blockbusters arriving: Star Wars Episode VIII in the winter; Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast; Transformers: The Last Knight (that’s the fifth film in the franchise) The Fate of the Furious; Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk; Vin Diesel’s reprise in XXX3: The Return of Xander Cage; Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (really?) John Wick 2; Fifty Shades Darker; The Lego Batman Movie; T2: Trainspotting; Kong: Skull Island; Power Rangers; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales; War for the Planet of the Apes; Stephen King’s long overdue Dark Tower; Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets; Split; Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Pixar’s Coco!

We have three heavy-weight Marvel movies to content with: Spider-Man: Homecoming; Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, as well as 20th Century Fox’s Logan. Of course DC Comics are hoping for a revival with the anticipated Wonder Woman and the highly debated Justice League which could be the death of the DCEU…

There are even a good handful of questionable decisions too, including: Rings, the insane sequel to the American remake of the J-horror Ringu; Ridley Scott’s “anticipated” Alien: Covenant; the American live-action interpretation of anime classic Ghost in the Shell; Dwayne Johnson’s Jumanji; Blade Runner 2049; Tom Cruise’s The Mummy which is the possible jumpstart for the Universal Monster movies; Baywatch and even The Emoji Movie

Yeah, makes 2016 look empty! We are going to be very busy and it isn’t even including the array of independent and foreign films! Insane!

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