Here follows a list of my favorite movies of 2016 (and 2015, where I just got to seeing them in 2016). You need not try and order the results; that is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no order.
– My favorites –
Captain America: Civil War
I was really looking forward to Civil War. It didn’t disappoint me on any level, really. I saw this twice in the theater: once with my wife, and once with my oldest son for his birthday. The standout moment was when Spider-Man exclaimed, “Holy s***!” and my son repeated it and started laughing hysterically. I recognize that they’re not the deepest movies ever, but darn it if Marvel just isn’t killing it, generally speaking. The casting is usually excellent, the stories are fun, and I just love the MCU. I really wish DC could get their act together with respect to their film universe, but I guess it’s not meant to be until the next reboot. Wonder Woman looks good though. Please be good, Wonder Woman!
The only thing I knew about Doctor Strange going into it was what I had learned from LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and The Super Hero Squad Show, none of which I actually remembered. I came out of it just in awe that Marvel can pull off these great movies with their lesser-known characters. Also, I really hope that Doctor Strange and Everett Ross meet in a future MCU film, because that would be awesome.
Last year I said regarding Spy:
It doesn’t surprise me that Paul Feig, the writer and director, also wrote and/or created and/or directed some other things I found funny, such as The Heat, Bridesmaids, and Freaks and Geeks. I’m looking forward to his version of Ghostbusters now.
I was not disappointed with his version of Ghostbusters. I like funny women. I found three of the four women in this movie very funny, and the other funny enough. Also, Chris Hemsworth. Ironically enough, the only parts of the movie I found lacking were the cameos from the original Ghostbusters. I really appreciated that the story was not just a rehash of the original Ghostbusters. It did its own thing, and was better for it. I have taken to referring to Pringles as “salty parabolas,” and hope to continue doing so for the forseeable future, and then some.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Whiny Anakin Skywalker aside, I’ve never really been too disappointed by a Star Wars movie. There’s just something magical about it that has continued to capture people for almost 40 years now. For me, Rogue One struck an interesting balance of feeling like the original Star Wars movies while benefitting from more modern filmmaking techniques. Aside, of course, from the really, really distracting CG Governor Tarkin and (spoiler alert) Leia. I’m generally never one to be taken out of a movie by CG, and Tarkin is one of the only times I can remember thinking that a video game character was standing next to real people.
I also was not a fan of (spoiler alert?) Darth Vader’s appearance in the middle; it felt forced to me (the end was just fine). Barring those two minor nitpicks, I can’t think of anything that would have made the movie better. I was also really surprised (in a good way) that (another spoiler) everybody died at the end. It seems like a rare occurence that a big budget movie depicts that level of sacrifice without finding some way to save the Good Guys at the last moment. (That is one of the things I really liked about the end of the Matrix trilogy, too.)
Star Trek Beyond
Along with Captain America: Civil War, this is one of two movies I saw twice theatrically. Considering how little I go to the theater, I suppose that’s saying something.
We are fans of Star Trek at my house. In 2015 we watched The Next Generation as a family (my daughter now loves it more than I can describe), and I’ve watched all of the original series and Deep Space Nine. Coincidentally, I am watching an episode of Star Trek: Voyager as I type this. (Voyager is not my favorite. Save for a few really good episodes, it’s been kind of hard to get through.) I really liked 2009’s Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness. Star Trek Beyond was just fantastic. I saw it opening night with my wife and some friends, and then a couple of days later again with my two older children (the youngest hilariously “hates” Star Trek, finding Star Wars superior in every conceivable way). And like the end of Rogue One, I’m glad that the villain wasn’t redeemed. I really thought for a second that he was going to change his mind and help Kirk.
I really hope that new Star Trek movies continue to be made with this cast, and I will miss Anton Yelchin.
– Other movies I enjoyed –
From 2015. While Quantum of Solace was comparatively weak, I have really enjoyed Daniel Craig’s run as James Bond. I really liked the opening “Day of the Dead” sequence. I’d put this third after Casino Royale and Skyfall.
I’m not sure why I put this on my Netflix DVD queue, but I did, and I really liked Dwayne Johnson in it. The story itself was nothing special, but his character and performance just did it for me.
Deadpool got great reviews, and I heard good things about it from some friends, but I was still skeptical that I would like it as much as I did. I’m definitely looking forward to the next one.
This was a worthy follow-up to Finding Nemo. Ed O’Neill was a great casting choice for the octopus Hank.
The Good Dinosaur
From 2015. If it’s Pixar, it’ll probably make the enjoyable list (possibly Cars 3 will this year, I don’t know; Cars is not my favorite). The visuals were amazing, even if the story wasn’t the finest to come from the Pixar shop.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
From 2015. I’m glad to say I liked all the Hunger Games movies.
This might have made the “Meh” category, but I couldn’t stomach putting Bourne in the same category as Batman v Superman or Suicide Squad. The movie was serviceable enough, with nice action sequences and fights as expected from a good Bourne entry, but it wasn’t quite on par with the original trilogy.
Kung Fu Panda 3
In my opinion, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon remain Dreamworks’ best, along with a few of the Shrek entries. I don’t think I’d mind if they kept making them for a while.
From 2015. I am a Matt Damon fan, and he was great in this.
The Peanuts Movie
From 2015. I love the Peanuts TV specials that I watched growing up (and still do, especially A Charlie Brown Christmas). The Peanuts Movie really captured everything I love about them, with the only downside being that it often felt like a “greatest hits” compilation of what’s come before. Not that that’s a bad thing.
Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping
I love me some Andy Samberg. This movie was over the top, hilarious fun. I cannot recommend it enough, except to people who would probably be offended by it, which group is many of the people I know. They should probably secretly watch it, too.
From 2015. I love me some Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I think they should have played each other’s character, though.
I found this to be the weakest of the X-Men films directed by Bryan Singer, but still pretty enjoyable overall. As with Days of Future Past, Quicksilver’s slow motion scene was a standout. Unfortunately, Wolverine felt a little bit shoehorned in.
Disney continues to produce great animated films in their “main” animated line the past several years. It’s kind of like being a kid in the ’90s again. I find myself looking forward to each of their films and not being disappointed at their arrival, and that is a good feeling.
– Movies that made me say, “meh” –
Batman: The Killing Joke
There was much hype about this film being made, based off one of the alleged greatest Batman stories ever (which I haven’t read, and therefore have no basis for comparison). It was DC’s first R-rated animated film. It featured Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and the Joker, who have been nothing short of stellar in those roles for 25 years. The story was definitely interesting. It just didn’t really move me, much like most of the recent DC Universe animated films (the last one I really liked at lot was Superman vs. The Elite, though the New 52 stuff hasn’t been terrible). And seriously, Batman and Batgirl having sex on rooftop? Weird.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Two films featuring Batman made my “meh” list in the same year. This is huge step up from 2013 when Man of Steel stomped on my heart so very, very much. (I still shudder a little every time I see a copy of the Ender’s Game film at the store.) The good about Batman v Superman: Superman didn’t kill anyone (I think), and Ben Affleck was overall pretty good as Batman. The meh-to-getting-bad: Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor, finding about the Justice League members by email, and Bruce bordering on Trump-level paranoia regarding the possiblity of Superman’s threat level (“…if there is even a 1% chance that he is our enemy we have to take it as an absolute certainty!”). The thing that broke the movie: “Save… Martha!” Come on.
Sorry, did I say two films featuring Batman? I guess I meant three. Deadshot and Harley Quinn were the only characters that interested me at all, and I maintain that Deadshot was only interesting because he was played by Will Smith. The story was pretty stupid: “Let’s get some bad guys together to save stuff. What? One of them already betrayed us and we have to stop her? Shoot.”
I suppose I’ll just quote myself from last year’s thoughts on Dumb and Dumber To:
Much like the first Anchorman movie, I love the first [Zoolander], and was not as impressed by the sequel. However, unlike the second Anchorman movie, I found little to redeem [Zoolander 2] from the halls of Meh-dom. It was just sort of there, occasionally amusing, and ultimately forgettable.
– Movies that made me say, “Why on earth did I watch this?” –
From 2015. Sure, the Fantastic 4 films from the previous decade were nothing to write home about, but you know what they had? Chris Evans. You know what the new one had? Nothing interesting. At all.
– 2016 movies I haven’t seen yet that I hope are good, or at least not terrible –