Top 10 Movies of 2016

In a perfect world, this piece would debut on January 2nd every year after I’d had the opportunity and time to see every significant movie from the previous year’s slate. In reality, I still haven’t had a chance to see a couple of the more important movies from 2016 (Lion, Silence, Jackie) and it’s basically February. Such is the lot of a pseudo-movie critic without access to the magic of screeners (and abundant free time). Podcast listeners will have no doubt by now listened to our annual end of the year recap and thus, you likely know my top 10 list better than I do. But having spent the last decade or so putting out mediocre content such as this, it seems wrong to forego publishing a written record of my favorite films from the year. You know, in case the Library of Congress comes a’ callin’. As always, the following top 10 list is a combination of what I would consider the “best” movies of the year and my “favorite” movies of the year. That is to say, my top 10 list would be different from my Oscar nominations list, at least in terms of order if not content altogether. Bear that in mind.

 HONORABLE MENTION: Captain Fantastic (Viggo Mortensen, George MacKay, Frank Langella)
As an uber-hippie dad raising his flock of children in the forest, Mortensen delivers his most human performance and provides the stability for the film that his character tries to give his family. As the story transpires and you see the ways in which he and his family are woefully but blissfully unprepared for the real world, you run through the gamut of emotions, finally settling on some form of “Well, good for them I guess.” It’s quirky and fun and heartful and features a stellar cover of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” which is all I’ve ever wanted in a film.

 10. Manchester By the Sea (Casey Affleck, Lucas Hedges, Michelle Williams) and Moonlight (Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Ashton Sanders)
I grouped these two together because they have two very significant common traits: Both are FANTASTIC films and I never really want to see either of them again. To be clear, Manchester By the Sea is by far the more depressing film whereas Moonlight tries (to some level of success) to leave the viewer with a sense of hope. Both, however, put you through the emotional wringer and I didn’t come out of either film demanding everyone around me go out and see these movies post haste. They’re HARD movies to watch, made even more powerful by two of the finest performances I saw this year (Ali in Moonlight and Affleck in Manchester). Thus, a top 10 list would be incomplete without this pair but wow, both films will push you.

 9. Pete’s Dragon (Bryce Dallas Howard, Oakes Fegley, Robert Redford)
Pete’s Dragon is sort of the antithesis of Manchester and Moonlight: it doesn’t necessarily amount to much in terms of significance but wow, do you feel good coming out of the theater. I haven’t watched the original Pete’s Dragon in two decades and I was okay with never having the occasion to think about this property again. David Lowery, though, turns this into one of the must-see family movies of the year, complete with a handful of solid performances and some of the finest camera work I’ve seen in a long time.

 8. The Jungle Book (Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray, Neel Sethi)
The Jungle Book and Pete’s Dragon bear many similarities (without mentioning their Disney connection) but I’d say that the former has a little more weight to throw around than the latter. The complexity of piecing this movie together into a cohesive whole is perhaps the most underrated task of the year. Jon Favreau has a brilliant sense for scale in these big movies and truly, this is his masterpiece. Beautifully rendered “characters” combined with a gorgeous backdrop and a child actor whose work against a green screen is tremendous, all things considered. The source material doesn’t hurt but Favreau raises it to new levels.

 7. The Lobster (Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly)
I had The Lobster higher on this list originally and took it down a peg based on its rewatchability. With most of these movies, I expect I’ll appreciate them even more with future viewings. The Lobster, though, is such a unique, weird movie that I’m not sure will hold up down the line. But for now, it remains one of the more singularly memorable experience of the year. Its bizarre premise (a future society in which single adults are turned into the animal of their choice if they fail to find a partner) will be a stopping point for some viewers but it works SO WELL within that weirdness and oh, the brilliance of Colin Farrell is unmistakable in a darkly comedic, tragic turn.

 6. A Monster Calls (Lewis MacDougall, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson)
The hands down winner for “Most Overlooked Movie of the Year”, A Monster Calls is a gut-wrenchingly beautiful adaptation of a gut-wrenchingly beautiful book. Seriously, readers, I know I’m an easy movie crier and choke up at almost anything emotional. But this is like a whole new ballgame. The story (a monster visits a pre-teen boy as he struggles with the ramifications of his mother’s terminal cancer) is delicately pieced together to allow the main character (MacDougall) to organically go through stretches of anger, depression, sadness, denial, and acceptance and the viewer “gets” to follow along from an unsafe distance. I was alone in the theater when I saw this one and I’m very glad because of all the ugly crying.

 5. Everybody Wants Some!! (Blake Jenner, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman)
An early frontrunner for Best of the Year, Everybody Wants Some got swallowed up and forgotten in the back half of the year, as tends to happen with Spring releases. Even still, it’s an insanely enjoyable film and fits right alongside Richard Linklater’s other, more celebrated works. It’s a simple film without much in the way of narrative or agenda but this is exactly what makes it work and will aid in its rewatchability.

 4. Arrival (Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker)
High-brow sci-fi is VERY difficult to pull off correctly. It is by its very nature extremely complex and usually somewhere in the unpacking of the design of said complexity, the narrative either loses steam or misses a step and stumbles. Now, listen, Arrival is not going to be a huge success with all parties. It’s not easy to follow along and if you’re not completely into the mystery element and the slow unfolding, you’re going to get lost or bored or both. But I’m so incredibly impressed with the way Denis Villeneuve put Arrival together. It is contained and focused, it is beautifully shot, and Villeneuve spins together this incredibly detailed plot in a way that lets each piece of information sink in, allowing the viewer to keep up with what’s happening. Arrival feels like the most realistic alien encounter movie yet made and oh, by the way, Amy Adams gives the best female lead performance of the year and it’s an absolute crime that she wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.

 3. Moana (Auli’I Cravalho, Dwayne Johnson, Rachel House)
Moana is the kind of movie where you find out someone hates it and you get mad at them. There are currently 10 negative reviews for Moana on Rotten Tomatoes and I am working on coming up with the appropriate revenge for each of these critics. If you don’t think Moana is all that great, that’s fine, to each his/her own. But if you think this is actually a bad movie, I’m sorry, but we have to fight, probably in some sort of steel cage. I honestly don’t have a single criticism of Moana. The story, the animation, the music, the voice work, it’s all brilliant and yeah, I’m biased because sometimes my son sings “Away Away” to himself when he’s trying to go to sleep. Fight me, I don’t care.

 2. La La Land (Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend)
I went back and forth with my top two, trying to decide where to rank each. Ultimately I slotted La La Land second because…I don’t know, probably just to be contrary? I’m openly anti-musical but this one gripped me from scene one to the final shot. I’ve seen criticism of the actual singing and dancing within La La Land (a fair assessment) but for me, perhaps because I’m anti-musical, this actually makes the movie work much better. La La Land exists in a real world in which songs and dances butt in from time to time rather than a world of song and dance that only occasionally touches on reality and I LOVE that difference. The soundtrack fits the film perfectly and Damien Chazelle demonstrates his mastery of his art at the ripe old age of 32 (kill me, please). Gosling and Stone, however, keep the movie on key (sorry, sorry) with their impeccable chemistry and general likability. The conclusion may strike a melancholy note but it’s a fitting end and one that will stick with me for quite some time.

 1. Hell or High Water (Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges)
I’ve been shoveling coal for the Hell or High Water train since I walked out of my viewing in August and I won’t stop now. I love this movie. There’s not one thing about it that I would change. From the landscapes and backdrops to the razor-sharp script (Taylor Sheridan, y’all; take note of that name if you haven’t already), the pointed message to the outstanding performances, Hell or High Water is a perfect movie. This is mesmerizing slow burn, a quiet movie filled with nuance and subtlety that explodes into fits of violence with dramatic effect. Bridges is incredible but we all knew that, anyway. We did not, however, all know that Pine is also incredible and Hell or High Water shows off his range better than ever before. Simply put, for my money, this is the best straight-up cops and robbers movie since Heat.

Top 10 Performances of 2016

Typically, it is this list that gives me more heartburn than those dedicated to the best and worst MOVIES of the year. I am extremely performance oriented; that is, when watching a movie, I tend to notice the acting first, the story/narrative/script second, and the directorial choices third. A great performance can overshadow a weaker script for me whereas a flat performance can deter my enjoyment of a great story. But in all honesty, 2016 wasn’t exactly rife with great performances, especially when it came to leading men and women. Plenty of “good”, not a lot of “great”. That said, those performances that were great were really great; like, historically great. It should be noted, too, that this list pertains to my own personal favorite performances of the year, not necessarily the “best.” By my count, seven of the 13 names mentioned below received Oscar nominations, a couple received other major award nominations, and the rest saw little in the way of award show fanfare. So keep that in mind as you peruse.  


HONORABLE MENTION: Craig Robinson, “Curtis Gentry” - Morris From America

Morris From America is a perfectly fine family dramedy with a unique setting (an African American widower and his young son move to Germany for work) that I hope finds an audience on Netflix somewhere down the line. It is a small, subtle movie and the pairing of Robinson with newcomer Markees Christmas works organically. The movie concludes with a beautiful, heartfelt conversation between father and son that serves as the cherry on top of the sundae for both the movie and Robinson’s performance. Robinson had me in tears, almost out of nowhere, with a speech that brings the entire movie together in two minutes.


10. Viggo Mortensen, “Ben” - Captain Fantastic

It’s been a very long time since I enjoyed Mortensen in a movie. He’s a very talented actor, obviously, but he often chooses unappealing roles in movies that don’t exactly speak to me. Captain Fantastic, however, is a gem and it is Mortensen, as the patriarch of a hippie family living off the grid, that brings the whole thing together. He runs the gamut of emotions with ease, often jumping back and forth between strong family leader and vulnerable man-child on the brink of self-destruction in a matter of minutes.


9. Hugo Weaving, “Tom Doss” - Hacksaw Ridge

Weaving’s is the smallest role of any on this list but while leading man Andrew Garfield is receiving all the award buzz, it is Weaving who, I think, gives Hacksaw Ridge its heart. It’s difficult to play a hard man torn apart by the hell of war but it’s even more difficult to make that man a sympathetic figure instead of simply pitiable. Weaving shines the most in the moments when Doss painfully forces himself to push through the memories that have driven him to the drink in order to fight for his son’s life.


8. Janell Monae, “Mary Jackson” – Hidden Figures

The strength of Hidden Figures (beyond the source material) lies in the incredible performances from virtually every member of the cast. Tarajai P. Henson and Octavia Spencer have (deservedly) garnered a great deal of attention this award season but a few days out from my showing, I’m still blown away by Monae. She gives so much life to Mary Jackson’s cement-like resolve and makes that character so ridiculously likeable. Monae is asked to do quite a lot to keep the film moving, a risky proposition given her limited experience as an actress, but she constantly pops off the screen and makes the most of the huge opportunity put before her.


7. Amy Adams, “Louise Banks” - Arrival

There might have been “better” female performances in 2016 than what Amy Adams turned in here (and I have two ahead of her on my own list) but I don’t think any of them were asked to carry the weight that Adams took on. To be honest, we just don’t get female performances like this very often, not because there aren’t loads of talented actresses available, but because typically this kind of role is written exclusively for males. She is THE lead in a big movie from a rising star director and she absolutely BRINGS IT in every scene, carrying a great script and a complicated concept to new heights it wouldn’t have achieved otherwise. As a longtime Adams superfan, I’m thrilled she was able to top of the year with this so that we can all maybe forget about her taking a bath with Superman for no reason.


6. Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges, “Toby Howard and Marcus Hamilton” - Hell or High Water

The first of two pairings on this list, I couldn’t pick one over the other and felt like I needed to recognize how their characters played off each other to make Hell or High Water what it is. While they only share one incredible scene, the cat and mouse game between cop and robber haunts the entirety of the film in a way I haven’t seen since Heat. Everyone knows Jeff Bridges is great and you won’t find a more respected actor in Hollywood. It is Pine, then, who turns heads, giving a performance that most people, critics and audiences alike, didn’t know he was capable of. There’s not much flash or sizzle to either of their performances but there is a ton of substance, with each of them one upping the other scene after scene, culminating in their final confrontation.


5. Colin Farrell, “David” - The Lobster

I’ve gone back and forth over the last few weeks, trying to decide where The Lobster itself will find up in my end-of-year rankings. But one thing I’ve never questioned is the brilliance of Colin Farrell’s performance. This is one of the weirdest, quirkiest movies I’ve ever seen and Farrell embraces the strangeness of it all with an easy grace and eloquence. He matches every dark and head-scratching turn within the movie with equal parts humor and emotional resonance and in doing so, he sells you on the reality of an absurd universe. Stop sleeping on Colin Farrell, you guys.


4. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, “Mia and Sebastian” - La La Land

Even more so than with Pine and Bridges, to split Stone and Gosling on this list would be a crime. It’s no secret that I love La La Land and I think writer/director Damien Chazelle is an actual genius who may well be THE face of “Hollywood Behind the Camera” for the next decade or two. But for me it is undeniable that a large part of Chazelle’s brilliance is tied into his casting. La La Land probably works with Emma Watson and Miles Teller (the original choices for Mia and Sebastian) but I don’t think it sings (please forgive the pun) the way it does with Stone and Gosling. Stone’s performance is the flashier of the two while Gosling remains more subdued, giving La La Land a stronghold for its consistent returns to its grounded, heartbreakingly realistic roots. Their chemistry is perfect and makes you pine for a yearly pairing in literally any setting they choose to work within.


3. Casey Affleck, “Lee Chandler” - Manchester By the Sea

This was quietly one of the most difficult roles of the year. Lee Chandler is an emotionally crippled (justifiably so) townie with a penchant for self-destruction who gets into bar fights in order to feel something. Affleck takes those characteristics, leans into them, and somehow pushes Chandler into becoming not only sympathetic but downright likeable. In doing so, he makes Manchester By the Sea so much more meaningful (and brutally difficult to sit through) than it would have been with simply a “good” performance. Affleck is always good, even in bad movies, but his work here is a showcase of his unending talent, a master class in realism and the complexity of emotion.


2. Viola Davis, “Rose Maxson” - Fences

We are lucky to live in a time which features a great many terrific and talented actresses who are finally getting a few more opportunities to shine. But I ask you, dear readers, are any of them better than Viola Davis? Answer: No. None of them. For proof of this statement, look no further than Fences, a very good movie with very real flaws made whole by Davis’s grace and power. Denzel Washington might be the greatest actor of his generation and Viola BURIED HIM on that screen, you guys. She reaches into the depths of her soul for both the times when she is required to be quiet and the times when she’s allowed to unload and it is truly a sight to behold. Give her the dadgum Oscar now and don’t stop giving her Oscars until her whole house is covered in golden statues.  


1. Mahershala Ali, “Juan” - Moonlight

Mahershala Ali is having a moment, dear readers, and I couldn’t be happier. Having plugged away in smaller roles that were honestly beneath him for the last 15 years, 2016 saw him finally get a chance to shine. Between House of Cards, Luke Cage, and Hidden Figures, it was difficult to miss Ali and even more difficult to ignore him once you saw him. He’s one of those guys who can say more in a silent head nod than most actors can in an entire film of dialogue. But his turn in Moonlight…well that’s something special. He is the core of the film (a film that, by the way, will be a major contender for Best Picture) and each of his scenes is packed to the brim with quiet power and barely contained emotion. I didn’t expect to get emotionally wrapped up in Moonlight but 20 minutes in, when Juan speaks to seven-year-old Little with delicacy and respect, I found myself welling up and instantly attached to both characters. It is a performance for the ages that should ultimately get Ali an Oscar and hopefully launch his career forward into the next stratosphere.

The Worst Movies of 2016

I think it’s fair to say 2016 wasn’t our best year in virtually any capacity. Whether it be movies, celebrity deaths, or the political current climate, there’s a substantial amount of evidence to suggest we somehow stumbled into The Darkest Timeline. The movie year started out with some promise but faded hard during the summer months, the time during which most viewers typically get their fill of the cinema. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of good, even great, movies this year. It’s just that most of them were smaller, indie/arthouse films which don’t resonate (for a variety of reasons) with the average movie goer. I’m excited to talk on the podcast and write about my favorite films of this year in the coming days but I think it’s important to point out that most of the movies that find a place on THIS list (in fact, all but one) had large budgets and big advertising campaigns whereas most of the films that make my top ten list are smaller in scale, budget, and market saturation. Some years are like that, to be sure, but this highlights the fact that 2016 feels like such a flop is because so many of the blockbusters failed to deliver. There were a LOT of movies that earned consideration for this list, more than I can remember in the recent past. Movies like Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2, The Huntsman 2, Tarzan, and a host of others would be locks here in most previous years but stood no chance against the worst of the worst in 2016. Let’s get on with it, shall we?


DISHONORABLE MENTION: Assassin’s Creed (Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 16%

I never cared much for the video game this movie is based upon but I thought if ever there could be a good film adaptation of a video game, this was probably it. Welp. Looks like we’ll never get the great video game movie the industry continues to insist we need. Assassin’s Creed is a mess of a script which could possibly be overlooked if the effects and action scenes worked well. Alas, they do not. What a massive waste of time for Fassbender and Cotillard both.


10. Swiss Army Man (Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 68%

There are a lot of people whose opinions I respect who will tell you Swiss Army Man is an excellent film. To that end, I will concede that perhaps this is a case of a movie being “not for me” rather than specifically “bad.” Even so, Swiss Army Man struck me so poorly that I couldn’t even finish it, quite a feat for a completist like me. I contend that if this exact same movie was directed in the exact same way by the Farrelly brothers instead of Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), the “farting corpse movie” would wind up sub-20% on Rotten Tomatoes.


9. Alice Through the Looking Glass (Mia Wasikowski, Johnny Depp, Sacha Baron Cohen)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 30%

Every year, I feel like we’ve reached the peak of “Unnecessary Sequel Madness” and then every year we see the sickness spread even further. It’ll be hard for 2017 (or any year to come) to top 2016 in this category, however. Did ANYBODY walk out of 2010’s Alice in Wonderland demanding a sequel in which Alice pretends to be Elizabeth Swann? Was ANYBODY clamoring to know the origin story behind the Mad Hatter? Is there ANYBODY who was dying to have Borat join the Alice universe? Apparently only very confused Disney executives need answer these questions.


8. Warcraft (Travis Fimmel, Ben Foster, Toby Kebbell)


Rotten Tomatoes Score: 28%

One of the bigger movie sins in my book is the wasting of talent (see: Fassbender and Cotillard above) on a terrible movie. In this case, I’m referring to Duncan Jones, a superstar filmmaker in the making who unfortunately hitched his horse to the wrong passion project. Warcraft took what seems like a decade to produce, keeping Jones out of the mix for more worthy projects, and ultimately flopped miserably in the U.S. A strong take overseas doesn’t offset the fact that the movie is atrocious in terms of scripting, performances, and (perhaps worst of all) look. The ugly, dated special effects only lend themselves to the feeling that this movie was three years past its expiration date before it ever debuted.


7. Gods of Egypt (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 16%

The fact that Gods of Egypt is ONLY seventh on this list should give you some indication of what a difficult year 2016 really was. Make no mistake, this an aggressively bad, embarrassingly produced film that is somehow worse on screen than in (terrible) concept. Who doesn’t think “Egyptian!” when they hear Gerard Butler’s dulcet tones? Heavy on ugly special effects and light on everything else, the one defense I can muster for Gods of Egypt is at least everyone (including the cast, I think) knew it was going to be terrible and thus, there is virtually no opportunity lost.


6. Now You See Me 2 (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 34%

In truth, NYSM2 is likely worse than some of the other films ahead of it on this prestigious list. In terms of sheer lack of necessity, NYSM2 probably outranks every other misguided movie of the year (and as noted above, 2016 was full of films that fit this bill). Even if you did NOT hate the first Now You See Me (I can only assume because you were drunk when you saw it or it was the first movie you had ever seen), I can’t imagine you walked out wondering aloud when you could return to the magic of this franchise. In all the Multiverse, there is not a single universe, dimension, or alternative world in which a Now You See Me series is needed or even wanted. The smugness of this sequel, the gall with which it stakes its claim to franchise status, and the excruciatingly stupid way in which the narrative unwinds itself should seat NYSM2 at or near the top of almost any worst of the year list. (How the Rotten Tomatoes score on this one isn’t below 10% is beyond me.) And yet…I have a soft spot for the utter idiocy of these movies because, after all, they’ve given our show so many hours of jokes and commentary and I guess that counts for something. Keep doing you, Now You See Me.


5. Suicide Squad (Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%

I knew Batman V Superman (see below) was going to be terrible. There were too many bad signs and too much Snyder to reasonably expect otherwise. But Suicide Squad had a chance, with a solid cast and a director who ostensibly knows what he’s doing. Didn’t quite work out that way, did it? Badly designed characters, incredibly lackluster/mailed in performances, and probably the worst script I saw put to screen all came together to create a stew no one could easily stomach. I’m still not sure what exactly Jared Leto’s Joker brought to the table and by all accounts Leto doesn’t know, either. I’ll also never be able to shake the image of Cara Delevinge’s embarrassing voodoo dance, the stuff of my nightmares. But hey, at least there’s also a lot of casual racism! David Ayer bears a great deal of responsibility for this train wreck but Suicide Squad has also convinced me that the WB-DC tree has been poisoned and it’ll take a decade of good films to erase that conviction. But hey, at least it kept Hot Topic in business for another year!


4. Independence Day Resurgence (Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 31%

I’m not one for proclaiming that a new sequel/prequel/reboot is “ruining my childhood.” But, wow, Resurgence pushed me to the limit. Independence Day is to this day one of my three favorite memories in a theater and this unwanted sequel seriously threatened to take that from me. If you’re going to do a sequel to a movie 20 years after the fact, you better have a great idea, you better be able to add something to the franchise’s legacy, and you better be able to find the appropriate tone to match the original. Strike one, two, and three. If you’re looking for even one positive about Resurgence, I guess you can point to the bus chase sequence but even that moment, the only real attempt at “fun” in the entire movie, is the result of a series of truly bizarre and genuinely awful “plot” developments that include Judd Hirsch adopting a group of orphans. Exactly what I was looking for in my alien destruction movie, to be honest.


3. Zoolander 2 (Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 23%)

Be honest: You forgot that Zoolander 2 came out in 2016, didn’t you? Maybe you forgot Zoolander 2 ever existed and if that’s the case, I’m very jealous of you. I’ve never been just a huge fan of the original Zoolander but it has its place. Having seen the sequel, I believe that place to be 2001. As with the previously mentioned unnecessary sequels, if you don’t have anything to add to your existing franchise, then just leave it alone. Zoolander 2 isn’t just wholly unfunny (offensively unfunny, if we’re being honest), it’s also oppressively stale, as if all of the “jokes” were written in 2001 (and perhaps they were). If this movie was released as a straight-to-DVD offering in 2004, it is simply “bad” and we all move on with our lives. But as a wide release in 2016, it’s historically bad.


2. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Joe Alwyn, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%

With every other film on this list, even the one that follows, I can see how a critic could wind up with a positive or “fresh” review. I clearly don’t agree with anyone who gave, say, Gods of Egypt a good review, and I might even think they’re blatantly wrong, but I can at least see what they might be able to key in on positively under certain circumstances. Not so with Billy Lynn. 48 humans who review movies for a living in some capacity or another sat through Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and not only managed to avoid the urge to hurt themselves but actually thought it was good. I can’t get there, guys. I do not understand this insanity. There is not ONE SINGLE POSITIVE about this movie. It’s ugly, it’s cynical, the “artsy” touches are embarrassing to a filmmaker of Ang Lee’s pedigree, and there’s not a single performance within the movie that could be graded above “below average.” For a film supposedly rooted in reality, Billy Lynn is incredibly out of touch, bringing “fresh thoughts” to a world that long ago accepted the awfulness of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m not even sure why or how this movie got made in the first place. We’re all going to move on from 2016 and forget Billy Lynn ever existed (and judging by the total $1.7 million domestic box office, most people never knew about it in the first place) but I want it written in stone that this movie is an abomination and no one involved should escape unscathed.


1. Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice (Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams)

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 27%

*SPOILERS AHEAD AND I DON’T CARE* I’ve rarely been angrier after a movie than I was with Batman V Superman and almost a full year on, I still get a little heated any time I really stop to give it some thought. More than anything else, Batman V Superman is a lesson in what happens when you turn over complete control of a big-ticket franchise to a filmmaker who has no clue what he’s doing and whose sensibilities are in direct opposition to approximately 80 percent of the population (and maybe even a higher percentage of critics). I don’t know what to say positively about BvS besides noting that Gal Gadot does make a good Wonder Woman, though she only occupies the screen for perhaps five total minutes. Most of Zack Snyder’s casting is questionable (Affleck MIGHT be a good Batman but not with Snyder’s), the rambling plot ranges from “incoherent” to “utterly stupid” (there is literally a trailer for upcoming DC films in the middle of the movie), and even the look of the movie, supposedly Snyder’s strong suit, is horrendous. Moreover, you can make an argument that there were worse movies in 2016 (and you might be right as this list is particularly strong in its awfulness) but I don’t think you can accurately make an argument that it isn’t the most wasteful movie of the year. That is to say, if you have Batman and Superman, two of the perhaps five biggest characters in all of American pop culture, and 300 million dollars to work with, it should be IMPOSSIBLE to make a movie that is anything worse than “okay.” How do you mess that up? If I have Batman and Superman, I should be able to make an “okay” movie with my iPhone. The opportunity lost here destroys any other movie this year and possibly any movie of the last ten years. I’m about 100 reasons into why BvS is so bad and I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the entire film and the entire battle between the titular characters, boils down to their mothers sharing the same name. ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME. I’m stopping now before I have another rage stroke.