This is something I want to get into more often. I want to do a top 10 list of the movies I saw from the previous year. It’s a request I’ve received from several readers, both in the comments and through Facebook. Being that it’s mid-February already, I am happy to oblige, but, I haven’t actually seen every movie from 2016 that I wanted to see. So while I’m happy and willing to do the list, please keep in mind that if you don’t see a particular film ranked on here, it’s likely because I’ve yet to see it.
Or maybe I didn’t like it. That’s always an option too!
From my personal hit list, I haven’t seen the Jungle Book, Doctor Strange, X-Men Apocalypse, or Star Trek: Beyond. I’m not sure how they may have ranked if I had seen them, but just note that they won’t appear here. I was willing to wait to do this blog until I had seen everything I wanted to, but January is getting close to ending and I don’t want to put this off for too long. So, I took the movies I had seen, ranked them, and I am happy to count them down for you now!
But before we get to the good stuff, I’d like to take the moment to give a dishonorable mention to three movies I saw in 2016 that I really didn’t care for. They are:
MY BOTTOM 3 MOVIES OF 2016
HONORABLE MENTION: GHOSTBUSTERS
The reason I list Ghostbusters as an honorable mention is because I actually kind of liked it. As a remake of the original film, it’s fun but is nothing close to being as classic or even as funny. The all female cast bothers some misogynist idiots, but the only issue I had with it was the attempt to load the movie with “female” humor. Not in a funny or clever way, but in a “hey we’re girls and we’re gonna throw it at the guys” way. I’m sure that appealed to some people, but not me. Go ahead, call me misogynist if you want. The film had cool special effects, was well-paced and well-executed in a lot of ways, and Kate McKinnon and Chris Hemsworth absolutely stole the show. If nothing else, watch this movie for those two. They delivered some legitimate LOL moments for me. It’s worth a look. Not as bad as people seem to think it is, but not as groundbreaking and revolutionary as a girl power type movie should be either. Still, it’s better than Ghostbusters II…or the NES game…
3. BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
It definitely ruffles a lot of people’s feathers when I mention that I didn’t care for this movie. What you have to understand is that with the lone exception of Batman, I’m not a DC Comics fan. I don’t like Superman, and honestly never had. I don’t care for the other heroes at all, except for Batman and his universe of characters…and to some extent, Wonder Woman, because she rocks. Other than that, DC isn’t really my thing, but I’m still open to seeing what they can deliver, especially with them needing to compete against Marvel with their Justice League movie in 2017.
In any case, while I was overall disappointed in what I felt was a poorly paced and at times confusing or boring movie, there were a lot of bright spots here. Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader was exceptional, and in my opinion, one of the best overall portrayals of Batman ever put on screen. He nailed both Bruce Wayne AND the Dark Knight, which few have been able to do. I also LOVED Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, which seems to make people even madder than me just saying I didn’t like the movie! I thought his take on the iconic Superman villain was done extremely well and entertaining. Fortunately, I’ve seen a lot of people like this version of Lex too, so that makes me happy. Wonder Woman being featured was a nice plus and sets up her standalone film. The teases to the other Justice League members was cool to see as well. Overall I was entertained, but wasn’t engrossed in this one like any of the Marvel films or even the Dark Knight trilogy. I get why people enjoyed it. I take nothing away from that. I just found it to be, “meh.”
2. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
You know, I was really excited to see this one. Even though I didn’t think an Independence Day sequel was necessary at all, I really wanted to see these characters again. Sure, we didn’t get Will Smith back (and a kind of annoying way to writing him out) and Randy Quaid’s character perished as a hero in the first movie, but we got to see Jeff Goldblum, Brent Spiner, and Bill Pullman all reprise their roles. Hell, Judd Hirsch even returns (and definitely steals the show here!) Unfortunately, while the effects and action were well done, the entire movie left me extremely unimpressed, and kind of annoyed by the end.
Maybe if this movie was a standalone alien invasion film, it could have been cool. But this was a sequel to one of THE cult 1990’s disaster films, if not the biggest one of them all! As cheesy as the first movie could be, it left a huge pop culture footprint on all of us. This one didn’t do anything close to that. There are no groundbreaking special effects here because we’ve seen all by now. There’s no really cool destruction scenes like the original, except for the absurd planet-sized spaceship with its own gravity – and even that fails to get a big reaction. No new characters grab us and make us care about them like the original film’s characters did. All this movie amounted to was a popcorn flick cash grab. That isn’t a bad thing at all! It just wasn’t what I thought it could have been, and thus I wound up glad I didn’t pay to see it in the theater. I’m not gonna go so far as to say don’t watch this, but I’m sure as hell not recommending it either.
1. SAUSAGE PARTY
At least with Independence Day and Batman V Superman, I can come up with positives and understand why people liked the movies. For this one, I got nothing. And when I say I got nothing, I mean NOTHING. I actually really like Seth Rogan and generally find him funny, especially when he surrounds himself with a great cast (like this movie admittedly had). But the execution of this garbage ended up being something I REALLY couldn’t stand. The premise I thought was actually an intriguing one, with sentient food discovering what lies beyond when they’re purchased from the supermarket. But oh man, the execution…I don’t even know where to begin with this one.
First off, while I get this is an adult comedy, there’s too much ridiculous vulgarity in the dialog. Too much swearing does not make you funny. The imagery was appalling. It was like it was designed solely to an audience high on bath salts. but little else. And making bath salts hallucinogenic? Even me, the dude who has never even gotten high, knows that’s not possible! The humor is mostly your standard frat style humor, which I can sometimes enjoy. It’s hit or miss really. This was a HUGE miss for me. I can’t even say that the puns were clever or the allegory towards religious beliefs made me chuckle or think! The only thing I wanted to do was purge myself of this movie. The visuals from the decisively not empty condom, to the cruel slaughtering of food as children, and of the people themselves, up to the ungodly long and not entertaining food orgy that closes the movie (and to hell with spoilers here, the real spoiler is don’t waste your time here) Sausage Party disgusted and turned me off like the later seasons of Drawn Together (and its awful movie) did. It was just trying to be gross for the sake of being gross. This movie does have an audience, but I’m not one of them.
I would rather marathon the Twilight saga, Gigli, and every movie where Hulk Hogan attempts to act than ever sit through this nonsense again. I do NOT recommend this movie for any reason. It’s actually a candidate for my Worst Movies of All Time list. It may even be #2 now, over Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m dead serious.
Treat this movie like spoiled food and do NOT indulge on it.
Okay, so now that I’ve purged myself of the negative, shall we get to the positives? Time to kick back, grab your favorite movie based snack, a giant cup of cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper (my favorite soda ever) and join me as I happily count down:
MY TOP 10 FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2016
Spoilers may be present in the following text. You have been warned.
10. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Maybe no one will believe me, but I’m not doing this on purpose. 10 Cloverfield Lane falls into slot #10 because it was the 10th best movie I’ve seen this year. It’s not as telegraphed as Tye Dillinger being number 10 in the Royal Rumble or anything, but it is a fun little coincidence. Tye would be proud of what I did here. I’m sure of it.
Everyone knows by now I’m one of the few people who thought JJ Abrams’ 2008 the found footage monster movie was a really good film. Hell, I included it on this countdown for a reason! So when I heard that Cloverfield was getting a sequel (that quite literally came out of nowhere as it was a well kept secret) I sat up and took notice. I wasn’t sure what I’d get, as it turned out this movie wasn’t a sequel, but a “blood relative” in that it took place in the same universe as the first movie. Still, I’m a sucker for smash ’em up monster romps, so I knew I would see it. I didn’t get a monster movie…sort of. What I got was a psychological thriller starring, of all things, a REALLY intense John Goodman who proves his acting range is as strong as ever. Michelle, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is ran off the road one night ans awakens chained to a bed in a windowless room by John Goodman. He claims everyone outside his shelter is dead from some kind of toxic gas, but Michelle slowly uncovers the truth about what’s going on. I won’t say much more there, because every twist and turn has to be experienced to be believed, but the audience is put right in the frightened girl’s shoes as she desperately looks for answers and an escape. There are lots of edge of your seats moments and shocking twists that make you gasp at what happens next. I will admit that the ending’s payoff isn’t quite what you’d expect, but the buildup to get there is certainly worth your time. The way the suspense builds is done very well, and the eventual tie-in is satisfactory.
If you like suspenseful horror thriller type movies that rely more on psychological terror rather than jump scares, you’ll definitely want to journey to 10 Cloverfield Lane. It may take place in the same universe as Cloverfield, but these movies are far from being similar. In fact, dare I say it, this is the better of the two movies.
9. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS
Give credit where credit is due. With Pixar and Dreamworks long holding the crowns in computer animation superiority, it’s nice to see Universal’s Illumination Entertainment break out with the brilliant Despicable Me franchise. While the Minions are a tad overplayed by now, they’ve become a pop culture staple, and allowed Universal to compete evenly with the two juggernauts. This has also allowed them to give us some pretty entertaining films in the process.
What do you pets do when you are not at home? As it turns out, they all get together in somewhat of a secret society type of way and really make the most of their free time. And what happened to all those pets that were abandoned by their owners? They have their own underground society, called the Flushed Pets, and they’re led by a white bunny named Snowball, voiced by Kevin Hart in one of two things I’ve actually enjoyed him in so far (the other being This Is The End where he dies after helping kill poor Aziz Ansari). Max and Duke are forced to bond, help each other out, and be rescued, all in one day’s time. I won’t say much more, because the film itself is rather enjoyable, and has a lot of clever takes on the different roles of the pets in our lives. From the hyper excited dogs, to the fat and indifferent cats, to the animals that make people wonder how they can even justify as having pets, this movie quite literally gives us a creative look into the secret life of pets.
Illumination Entertainment is still milking the crap out of those damn Minions, but with Despicable Me 3 on the way, at least we’ll get more Gru (and Trey Parker!) This movie is also getting a sequel, as is Sing, which came out at the end of the year to positive reviews too, so it’s clear that Illumination has a lot to offer us and they aren’t done yet. While it’s doubtful they’ll dethrone Pixar or Dreamworks from the top of the hill, Universal will prove that it can build a hill of its very own. And hopefully, will do so with more original concepts like this one. By the way, even though I saw it in the commercials a hundred times, I still laughed really hard at the poodle putting on heavy metal and rocking out.
8. SUICIDE SQUAD
So earlier I mentioned that I’m not a DC fan, and that’s true. But I also said I’m willing to check out their work and will always acknowledge when I enjoyed something they put out. Not only did I really enjoy Suicide Squad, I’ve noticed I need to add it to my list of movies I liked that others didn’t, and put it pretty high. I’ve hardly seen any positive reviews for this movie! Maybe because I’m not overly familiar with all of the source material used here? No, that’s not an excuse or anything. I had fun and others didn’t. And that’s fine. Besides, I knew I was going to love this movie for one reason: Harley Quinn.
If you know me personally, you know I love Harley Quinn. REALLY love Harley Quinn. Her character is fascinating to me. Yes, even her Stockholm Syndrome, and no, I don’t want a relationship like hers and the Joker’s. Margot Robbie had a hell of a role to fill and I think she did it perfectly. Some people complained about the booty shorts. You know why she picked them? Because they’re sparkly and fun. Some people complained about her lack of accent, among other things. It’s a creative take on the character, which has been done in comic book films countless times. Why else was Suicide Squad hated? I’ve heard complaints about the character development, personalities, action scenes, source material loyalty, and most of all, Jared Leto as the Joker. But, I enjoyed all those things, so while I respect the critics’ point of view about it, I don’t agree with it. I had a good time watching the characters interact, watching the action scenes and special effects, laughing at the dialog, and seeing a different kind of Joker that – dare I say it – was better than Heath Ledger’s. All of these elements made for what I thought to be an enjoyable movie. I also really liked the original Teen Titans cartoon on Cartoon Network without having knowledge of the source material. And from what I’ve heard, DC is killing it with their TV shows, so maybe I should watch those too? In any case, I found this to be a great time at the movies, and in retrospect, a better choice for Will Smith than what he could’ve chosen instead.
People have criticized me heavily for liking this and not liking Batman V Superman, trying to tell me I “have it all wrong.” Well, if the original comics should be my reference, then maybe I do. But that’s only in your eyes, not mine. In my eyes, I had a good time here, and I plan to re-watch this movie many more times. My enjoyment of a film doesn’t impact your lives at all, and you can stop trying to use your DC Comic logic to change my mind. I had fun. I love Harley Quinn. Time to move on.
7. FINDING DORY
I will say this now. I don’t believe this film was as good as the first one, nor do I even consider it in the top percentile of Pixar movies. And it’s still a really good film. That should tell you something. Pixar truly is the king of mountain here (sorry Dreamworks) and it isn’t hard to see why. Finding Dory takes the characters we all loved from Finding Nemo, and brings them back into our lives. Only this time, the focus is on the Blue Tang voiced by Ellen DeGeneres: Dory.
If Baby Dory doesn’t warm your heart like Baby Groot did, you may need to check your pulse. We get to meet Dory’s family and discover how she got separated from her parents so long ago. The result is a journey to find her family where we meet new characters and some familiar faces. Hank the Octopus is a standout for sure, voiced by Ed O’Neill of Married with Children fame. The brilliant Albert Brooks makes his return as Marlin (sadly not as Hank Scorpio) and of course little Nemo is back, but this time he’s helping his dad make a serious revolution. There are other characters along the way but I won’t spoil that for you here. I will say this: the movie is heartwarming, it’s big and epic just like its predecessor, and it will make you want to just keep swimming yourself. Oh, and once again, the filmmakers found another clever sea creature communication joke. It’s not as good as the seagulls, but the seals are certainly hilarious in their role.
Pixar’s outings continue to impress, and Finding Dory will remain a great movie for years to come. And that short film before it was ADORABLE.
When I first heard about the Deadpool fandom, I didn’t really know too much about who he was or why he was so popular. So I did a little research and asked my comic-savvy friends to explain his popularity. My statement following was something like this: “So he’s R-rated, constantly breaks the fourth wall, and drops endless pop culture references?! HOW AM I JUST NOW DISCOVERING THIS???” Combine that with his hilarious backstory taking a shot at DC Comics (not for any rivalry reason did I enjoy this, I just think stories of “sticking it” to the people you feel wronged you is great, especially when you do better) and I had myself a new favorite superhero. So imagine my excitement when I heard that Deadpool was getting his own movie! Who cares if he became THE cosplay character of 2016 (minus Harley of course)? Deadpool was getting his own R-rated movie!
While I can honestly say this movie didn’t blow me away, I was entertained. Thoroughly and extremely entertained the whole way through. Casting Ryan Reynolds as an apology for what was ultimately a bad Green Lantern movie was genius. (Author’s note: I’ve never actually seen this movie, but 100% of my comic-savvy friends told me to stay away, so I shall). It’s obvious that the studio had a good time making this, but I do wonder what more they could have done if ALL the Marvel heroes were being used strictly by Marvel Studios. In any case, Deadpool did all the things I wanted him to do. He made me laugh. He referenced pop culture items. He broke the fourth wall. And most importantly, he kicked ass. Deadpool was the the second most fun time I had watching comic book characters on the big screen this summer (wait for it) and I cannot wait for the sequel.
And real quick, you people constantly whining that too many people cosplay as Deadpool or Harley Quinn need to get a life. Who cares if that’s how they want to dress when they go to a convention? Maybe that’s their favorite character and they just want to have fun? “Ugh, they should be more original.” Sorry, not everyone wants to go as the super obscure anime character 10 people will recognize. Some people want to go as their favorites. Hell, maybe I’ll do a Harley Quinn cosplay! (Do not avert your eyes. You will love me).
Simply stating that “Disney did it again” is almost a redundant comment at this point. Whether you love their newer films or not, you cannot deny that Disney gave some classic hits in works like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6, effectively putting Pixar on full notice that “hey, we can totally compete with you guys!” Zootopia, Disney film #55 in the animated canon of film, is no exception.
Judy Hops just wants to be a police officer. She goes from her simple country life to the big city, and becomes the first rabbit on the force. Of course, every cop is a much larger and more intimidating animal, but that doesn’t stop the plucky young bunny from living out her dream. She ends up with the sly fox Nick Wilde in a metropolis of anthropomorphic animals, all serving hilarious roles to their species (the sloths in particular steal the show here). The film also takes a risky but effective social stance on stereotyping and discrimination, as only Disney can. A far cry from the racist black crows from Dumbo, wouldn’t you agree? There’s plenty of action, suspense, and a twisting storyline to keep you entertained while you enjoy yet another stunning display of Disney animation at work.
If you liked any of Disney’s recent work, you’ll definitely love this movie. And if you like Disney’s work in general, you’ll definitely love this movie. Seriously, if you haven’t seen Zootopia yet, what are you waiting for?
4. FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Ah, the Wizarding World! How we all missed you! With the last Harry Potter movie released in 2011, the only way fans would get their fill of magic now would be by going to Universal Studios or seeing the Cursed Child. We were all excited to see magic return to the big screen. We were more excited when we found out we’d get to follow Newt Scamander through Manhattan in the 1920’s.
Newt arrives in New York City, befriends a Muggle and a crafty witch and her eccentric sister, and adventure begins! We get a taste of what the magical world was back then – admittedly not that different from our adventures at Hogwarts really. This time, we Americans get to experience magic on our side of the pond. For the first time, we get to hear about the American school for witches and wizards, Ilvermorny. We also get a very interesting piece of information about squibbs, which may in fact lead to a big reveal about a famous wizard’s sister from the Potter era (I won’t say what here in the event of spoiling this for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie yet, but everyone who did you all know what I’m talking about). And let’s be honest here. Is Jacob not the best Muggle/No-Maj character in all of Wizarding World lore now? And is Newt actually a time lord? Those wacky wizards sure do love making stuff bigger on the inside don’t they? That fulfills my British joke quota for this blog I think.
It was a welcome return to a land we all love from an entirely different point of view. I believe all famous fantasy worlds with this much of a cult following should branch out and explore the endless possibilities their worlds have to offer. We’re getting a taste of that as the years roll on, and this was only the beginning. Newt and his fantastic creatures will return, and when they do, I will be excited to be part of it.
If Disney hit a home run with Zootopia, they hit a grand slam when the follow-up film Moana was released. Cataloged as #56 in the Numbered Classics vault, Moana was everything a Disney film should be and more. A beautiful world, with interesting and hilarious characters, an incredible soundtrack, and a princess who wins our hearts without falling in love. Moana has something in it for everybody!
Based on actual Polynesian legends, Moana sets off to return the heart of Ta Fiti, goddess of the earth and life, to its rightful place alongside demigod Maui (voiced by the People’s Champ himself, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). The story gives you feelings, then a lot of laughs, then more feelings, then more laughs, then tons of action, laughs, feelings…it kind of goes on like that. It’s one of the best movies Disney has ever put out. And I truly mean that. Think as good as the animation renaissance with the Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, and Lion King good. Moana isn’t just a great Disney movie. It’s a great overall movie. One of the best I’ve ever seen. And that is saying a lot.
But as good as Moana the film is, one of its anchors is the fact that its soundtrack is incredible. “Where You Are,” “How Far I’ll Go,” “We Know the Way,” “You’re Welcome,” and “Shiny” are must-listens. The rest of the soundtrack is amazing too. Even the score hits a mark! Moana is one of Disney’s absolute best movies of all time, and I hope it rides a wave of popularity for a very long time.
2. CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
Despite establishing earlier in this blog that I’m not the biggest comic book fan out there, I AM big fan of most of the heroes of Marvel Comics. I watched every single film in the MCU canon so far (except Doctor Strange mentioned earlier) and have really enjoyed seeing this huge story arc unfold in front of me. The Avengers, the first one, was my favorite film of them all, because it put the most heroes on screen at once, in a huge scale battle that told a ton of stories at once without missing a beat on anyone. After the Rise of Ultron was only okay, I wasn’t sure anything would top that movie from my list. Then along came Civil War, and the ceiling was shattered.
On one side of the coin is Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. On the other side is Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. With five heroes each behind them, they engage in one of the best superhero battles ever put on screen, in what may be my favorite superhero movie of all time (so far). With so many characters, it would be easy to have someone forgotten about or pushed aside, but this movie finds the pure balance, giving everybody their spotlight where ever they can. They give us tons of laughs too. The chemistry between Cap and Tony has been perfect since day one, and this film only serves to enhance it. Plus, we finally get an amazing version of Spider-Man on film! No reboots with Uncle Ben dying again, we just get pure Spidey and his gadgets, with the classic Spider-Man wit we all know and love. This movie has everything you could want. A great story with some emotional moments and plot twists, big screen action you’d want from an epic superhero tale, funny characters we can all love and relate to, and the continuation of what is becoming one of the best film franchises that will ever exist. If you want something close to a perfect superhero movie as you’re going to get, this is what you’re looking for.
Ironically, this film is technically a Captain America movie, which in my opinion, there hasn’t been a bad one of. I wasn’t impressed with every Iron Man film, and Thor’s two movies didn’t really excite me. First Avenger and Winter Solider though, were great films, getting better each time. Civil War not only surpasses them, but it surpasses every other Marvel movie released to date. It’s hard to see if Infinity War will manage to surpass this, but with a rumored 70+ heroes involved, I think the chances are good! Long live the MCU!
1. ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY
Okay, I know, it’s predictable that my favorite movie of the year ended up being the Star Wars movie. Be that as it may, it’s more than just me being a Star Wars fanatic that led to this decision. In my opinion, Rogue One was the best Star Wars story we’ve gotten since the Empire Strikes Back. It’s the prequel we should have deserved. It blew Force Awakens out of the water. It was more than just a great Star Wars story, it was a great movie, period.
Taking a much darker tone than the Force Awakens or even Revenge of the Sith, Rogue One tells the story of the (until now) unnamed rebels who risked their lives to steal the plans to the Death Star. Jyn Erso becomes one of the best female leads in Star Wars, on par with Princess Leia or even Rey (who is destined to be a legend in Star Wars). We also get a very colorful cast of characters, including a blind Force-sensitive warrior and a re-purposed sarcastic Imperial droid who steals every scene he’s in. We get some incredible throwbacks to the original trilogy including Grand Moff Tarkin, and the less obvious cameos like Red Leader and Gold Leader from the Battle of Yavin. We learn lots of important details leading into the events of A New Hope, get enough throwbacks and references to satisfy any fan of the series, and even get some jaw-dropping surprises too. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, the single greatest Darth Vader scene that’s ever been done, in canon or outside of it. You all know which one I mean. Anyone doubting Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm can rest easy after this movie. Rogue One is proof that Star Wars has so much more to tell, and will be able to entertain us until the end of the universe.
With Force Awakens impressing me, and Rogue One giving me hope, I am confident that Star Wars is on a roll. I look forward to Episode VIII, Episode IX, and all of the standalone films, including the Han Solo one. I will continue to love Star Wars until the day I become one with the Force, and the Force becomes one with me.
Name off your favorite films from 2016 in the comments, and if you’d like to see me do more lists like this, let me know! Signing off now! JERSEY RAIN!