For the past four years, I’ve been ranking every film I see- just the new releases, from January 1st to December 31st. The rankings are subjective, based entirely on how much I enjoyed and/or connected with or appreciated the film rather than on some sort of objective artistic criteria. Basically, this is a list of 125 films released in 2016 ranked according to how much I liked them.
Read the Full 2016 List HERE.
Fair warning- this is the bottom of the list so you’re about to read a whole lot of paraphrasings of “I hated this”.
An incoherent dystopian thriller that is only this high because it looks good and it’s full of good actors (even if they are doing so-so work). But, again, incoherent. And hard to care about.
102. Mother’s Day
The script of this formulaic ensemble comedy totally sucks but the cast is indomitably charming (we, as in the world in general, need more Aasif Mandvi) and it’s the last film ever made by the late Garry Marshall, whom I will always love.
103. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Why do they keep trying to make more Big Fat Greek stuff? The first film was perfect, just let it lie. It’s a nice enough world to jump into for a couple of hours (and Corbett, can never get enough Corbett), but they release things on DVD for a reason- so that you can just go watch the original instead of making another, lesser version.
104. Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates
There were times when I found this film deeply offensive, and others when I admired its nonsensical confidence. Efron, Devine, Kendrick & Plaza are a winning combo but it wouldn’t have been the worst thing to give them something a little less stupid to do.
105. Barbershop: The Next Cut
A tonally uneven plot about Southside violence solved with free haircuts is uplifted by general charm and ace supporting turns from the always amusing Utkarsh Ambudkar and Winston Bishop (technically Lamorne Morris playing someone named Jerrod but he’s literally exactly the same as Winston) but unnecessary silliness like an impromptu dance party and dressing Cedric the Entertainer up as a wacky grandpa make this film feel too much like a sketch to support its ambitious themes. The way-too-big ensemble cast has a ton of musicians- a stunt that only works when said musician acts enough to be called a multi-hyphenate (Ice Cube, Common) or is utterly delightful (Nicki Minaj), otherwise you end up with whatever Eve is doing in this movie- but we finally have an answer to a question I’ve been asking for 16 years- what ever happened to Sean Patrick Thomas?
I think this movie about a Gyllenhaal whose wife dies unexpectedly is supposed to be profound but it’s mostly just dull.
107. Maggie’s Plan
My main takeaway from Maggie’s Plan was the distinct feeling that writer/director Rebecca Miller has seen too many Woody Allen movies. Her trite plot about narcissistic academics falling in and out of inconvenient love is obnoxious and convenient, relying far too much on characters responding to simple problems by making big, complicated plans and refusing to tell each other the truth. The cast, however, is delightful. I’m a little bit tired of Greta Gerwig’s whole Greta Gerwig thing at this point but there will never be a day when I even start to tire of Julianne Moore, Ethan Hawke or Bill Hader- all geniuses making something out of the self-congratulatory nothings that are their characters.
Would someone please explain to me how cold and manipulative is an interesting take on Jackie Kennedy? This movie looks (and sounds) fantastic but its point of view is so expected and its humanity so very lacking. And while I liked the “Camelot” sequence at first glance (its placement in the trailer is perfect), the more I think about it, how is that a thing a human being would do? Oh right, Jackie never even tries to argue that Jackie was all that much of a human being.
109. Collateral Beauty
Nope. No no no no nope. Shit like this genuinely concerns me. I can give an actor a pass for being in a bad movie now and then- a good paycheck, an enticing shooting location, an easy schedule- people do bad things for acceptable reasons all the time. But how did this happen?! I could see Will Smith falling for this sentimental elevator pitch, and Keira Knightley’s been known to make a bad call or two, but Ed Norton? Edward freaking Norton is in this movie. Michael Peña! Kate Winslet. Helen Mirren. Most upsettingly, Naomie Harris (she won a “Hollywood Breakout Performance Award” this year because of Moonlight and this stinker gets to take partial credit because it’s for a full year a work. Ugh). They can’t all have been blackmailed, could they?
110. What An Idiot
This Canadian comedy starts out rough but finds some intriguing truth once it gets going and starts to show off the chemistry between the husband/wife duo who wrote and star in the film. Read my full review HERE.
111. Ride Along 2
I didn’t see the first Ride Along but with a movie this silly and simple, I didn’t need to have seen Ride Along 1 to be able to follow Ride Along 2. It’s your basic buddy cop caper with a decent supporting turn by the grossly underrated (and perennially underserved) Olivia Munn, predictable supporting turns by Ken Jeong and Sherri Shepherd, and a decent villainous turn by Benjamin Bratt. Kevin Hart and Ice Cube have surprisingly good chemistry and I think more movies about black cops certainly couldn’t do the world any harm (it would help if they were better movies, but still). In fact, the multiculturalism of this film in general is pretty good with actors from three different non-white races playing all seven major roles. It’s a dumb movie, but it’s got some things going for it.
112. The Legend of Tarzan
The main thing I remember about this totally unnecessary reboot by the guy who makes the Harry Potter movies is how horrible the effects are (but, then again, the Harry Potter effects are also bad so I don’t know what I was expecting). Margot Robbie is charming and has some good one liners, and I really want Alexander Skarsgård to have a career, but can we please put a moratorium on casting Christoph Waltz as the villain?
What was the point of this movie? No, really, what was the point? The “Miracle on the Hudson” was an incredible news story- basically the only purely good news story in, well, ever maybe?- but not every cool story has the legs to be a movie. There was no tension at all, at least not in this golly-gee-isn’t-Tom-Hanks-a-treasure interpretation (complete with Laura Linney as a supportive wife on the phone because parody is real life). Maybe a look at how the fame went to Sully’s head, or more focus on the individual passenger stories (Max Adler and Autumn Reeser were both on board but their characters’ experiences barely factored into the narrative at all), just something other than a pair of mustaches and a plot that can be summed up in “Did he do something wrong?… Of course he didn’t do anything wrong; he saved all those people!”
114. Get a Job
The only thing more annoying than a preachy “millenials are the worst!” story is two of my favourite actors starring in a trash film. The only thing worst than two of my favourite actors (Anna Kendrick and Miles Teller) starring in a trash film is when the supporting cast is this good too- John Cho, Alison Brie, John C. McGinley, Marcia Gay Harden, BRYAN effing CRANSTON?! Up is down, guys.
115. Brother Nature
One of those movies where a couple SNL people get together to write a script, cast their friends, call in a few favours, and somehow convince Bill Pullman to be in it. It’s not the worst thing that ever happened (Taran Killam, Bobby Moynihan, Gillian Jacobs and Kumail Nanjiani are all crazy charming) but it’s also just really not good. 100% less Kenan Thompson would be an improvement.
116. American Pastoral
I like Ewan McGregor so much (doesn’t everyone?) but why did he direct this miserable Philip Roth story about batshit women and the standup man whose life they ruin? The visual filmmaking is great but almost no one acts like a person (least of all Valorie Curry who brings back that infuriating sexy psycho thing she “perfected” in The Following) and that just matters more. Uzo Aduba is, as she always is and always will be, great.
117. Dirty Grandpa
So, obviously, this movie is terrible. Let’s get that out of the way right off the bat. Terrible. Don’t see it. It’s gross and stupid and embarrassing. But, like anything, if it catches you in the right mood (and comes out in a barren movie landscape filled with Oscar dramas you’ve already seen) it theoretically can be seen as having a few charms, mostly the fact that Zac Efron sings and Julianne Hough’s hair looks great. That’s it, though.
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in space. You just know that everybody who jumped on board with getting this film made did it because of that 7-word pitch. That should be all you need, right? The world’s two most beloved movie stars du jour and a big blockbuster-friendly concept. No, it turns out you need a story worth telling and characters worth watching. Who’da thunk?
119. Nocturnal Animals
Another one that looks pretty (Tom Ford knows pretty, just watch his opening scene that presents overweight women as the physical manifestations of “grotesque”. What an ass). There are some really effective scenes in this movie, namely Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s terrifying turn (why do people hate Aaron Taylor-Johnson? I think he’s great) but the whole thing is dreary, navel-gazing horror and it’s just impossible to care about that shit.
Ben Schnetzer is one of my favourite actors but he keeps ending up in these weird cautionary tales about toxic masculinity. This one is particularly brutal and spends way too much time watching the horror rather than investigating its causes or effects.
121. Now You See Me 2
There is zero logic in this crazy sequel, also zero stakes. The effects are cool and the cast is great but, um, why? And also what?!
122. A Hologram for the King
If you asked me a second after seeing this movie, a week after seeing it (once I’d had time to process the weirdness), a month, or certainly now- there was never a time in history when I could tell you what this movie was about.
123. The Man Who Knew Infinity
The sentimentality of this math genius film is crushing. And I say this as a fan of both sentimentality and math genius films (though I think only A Beautiful Mind manages to effectively combine those elements). And Dev Patel! This is the first time I’ve not loved (really loved, super duper loved) Dev Patel. But the moment when he cries looking at a statue of Isaac Newton is just unforgivable.
124. Ben Hur
My notes on this ridiculous would-be-epic just read “Jesus rain. Whispering”. I’m not 100% sure what I meant by that but this movie is damn stupid without a single great performance (or filmic element) to recommend it. I guess there was Jesus rain and a lot of whispering, though, so if that’s what you go in for…
125. London Has Fallen
Look, I have nothing against a good action movie. I quite liked the other “White House taken hostage” movie (White House Down) that came out at the same time as this monstrosity’s predecessor Olympus Has Fallen. But a good action movie is not just an action movie, it has to be at least one of two other things- a compelling drama or a heck of a lot of fun (ideally both, like Top Gun!). But London Has Fallen is a bad action movie, an action movie so bad that it crossed over from bad to toxic. It’s zero fun with bad effects and phoned-in performances but it also has dangerously simplistic, stereotypical politics and the sort of nonsensically aggressive masculine energy that inspires real life villains. If Hollywood wanted to make a big difference without making a big speech, they would start with cutting out shit like this.