If 2016 had to be summed up in one word, that word would be: Nooooooooo!!
Time and time again we were led up the proverbial garden path, promised so much, and by studios and production companies who must have known that their promises were emptier than the mind of a Republican voter on November 8. Sequels and remakes and reboots that nobody wanted clogged up our multiplexes and taught us to run for the hills in search of movies that didn’t play to the common denominator, and which wouldn’t treat us like sheep.
But luckily there were enough movies that fit that particular bill, and so 2016 wasn’t a total bust, and even though there are many who feel that 2016 was a good year for movies, the negative reaction that surrounded releases such as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Ghostbusters (to name but two) was a clear indication that the public wasn’t buying everything they were being told or sold. Inevitably, there was the battle between fans of Marvel and DC about whose product was the best, but it was a waste of time and data bytes: the problem for DC is that Marvel know exactly what they’re doing, and Warner Bros. (who are overseeing the DC Extended Universe) absolutely and positively don’t.
But aside from the continuing glut of superhero movies we were “treated” to, it was Disney’s year, with the top four highest grossing movies worldwide all being Disney-backed productions. The House of Mouse, in acquiring Pixar, and Marvel, and Lucasfilm, has put itself firmly on top of the pile in Hollywood, and there’s no likelihood of anyone toppling them anytime soon. That’s not necessarily a good thing, perhaps, but fortunately for Disney – and for us – they seem to know what they’re doing, and the high ranking for Zootopia is a perfect example.
10 Highest Grossing Movies Worldwide in 2016
10 – Rogue One – $706,054,705
9 – Suicide Squad – $745,600,054
8 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – $772,540,251
7 – Deadpool – $783,112,979
6 – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – $873,260,194
5 – The Secret Life of Pets – $875,457,937
4 – The Jungle Book – $966,550,600
3 – Zootopia – $1,023,784,195
2 – Finding Dory – $1,027,771,569
1 – Captain America: Civil War – $1,153,304,495
There were some surprise successes in 2016, with perhaps the top honours going to The Conjuring 2, a muddled, middling sequel that somehow managed to rake in over $300 million at the worldwide box office. Then there was Sully, Clint Eastwood’s under-rated re-telling of the Miracle on the Hudson, starring Tom Hanks and profitable to the tune of over $200 million. And also there was Don’t Breathe – made on a budget of $9.9 million and finding enough favour to bring in over $150 million. Conversely, there were several movies that proved unable to recoup even their production budgets, movies such as Snowden, Free State of Jones, and Keeping Up With the Joneses (though that shouldn’t be a surprise with the last one).
Looking ahead to 2017, there are enough superhero movies on the horizon for one of them to claim the top spot again, though which one is more open to debate than in 2016. Away from all the spandex, it’s even harder to predict which movies might break free of any box office preconceptions, though it would be hard to bet against the likes of War for the Planet of the Apes, or Dunkirk.
If there was one area where 2016 did excel, it was with its movie posters. There were some great examples seen throughout the year, and sometimes they were the best thing about the movies they were promoting (Alice Through the Looking Glass, for example). Here are six of the best:
If 2016 reminded us of any one thing it was that when movies are bad, they’re really bad. It was one thing to realise that the reboot of Ghostbusters was unlikely to work, but it was also unlikely anyone realised in advance just how unfunny it would be (except for maybe the cast and crew). Time and again, movies that were hyped to the skies and back again proved disappointing at best, and cruelly exposed at worst. Three sequels did their best to ride roughshod over their predecessors – even Ride Along (2014) is a far better movie in comparison with its sequel – and Anthony Hopkins appeared in a brace of “thrillers” that gave new meaning to the phrase “overwrought”. Elsewhere, Sacha Baron Cohen appeared contemptuous of his fans, the Earl of Greystoke was tasked with looking realistic against a constant backdrop of CGI vistas and jungle foliage, Blue Steel was shown to be a tired relic from fifteen years ago, Jackie Chan made one of the most poorly edited and assembled movies of the year, the Ghostbusters reboot had to rely on overseas ticket sales to recoup its budget, and the worst movie of the year – by a huge distance – trampled repeatedly over the legacy of one of British TV’s finest comedy series. What a year, indeed.
10 Worst Movies of 2016
10 – The Legend of Tarzan
9 – Ghostbusters
8 – Misconduct
7 – Zoolander 2
6 – Skiptrace
5 – Grimsby
4 – Ride Along 2
3 – Solace
2 – Independence Day: Resurgence
1 – Dad’s Army
To be fair, there were worse movies made and released in 2016, but it’s equally unfair to pick on the likes of, say, Steven Seagal – seven movies released, all of them bad – because his movies are made on modest budgets, with modest ambitions, and with a minimum of effort. They’re never going to be anything more than what they are, and weirdly, there’s a strange “nobility” in that. But the movie’s on the 10 Worst list aren’t made by the likes of Seagal or his direct-to-video compatriots, they’re made by people and studios with resources and actors and crews that should be able to make better movies. And the most annoying thing about it all? That they just don’t care, as long as we pay to see their movies.
Thank heavens then, that there were plenty of movies to shout about in 2016. All were varied, distinctive, and most importantly, able to connect with audiences on an emotional level – yes, even Captain America: Civil War. They were all beautifully shot, edited and assembled, provided enough thrills, laughs and teary-eyed moments for another twenty movies, and featured some amazing performances – step forward Amy Adams, Paula Beer, Julian Dennison, Kate Beckinsale, and Géza Röhrig. And if all that wasn’t impressive enough, the movie at Number One created its own visual and aural languages in order to tell its story, an incredible achievement at a time when the majority of movies made won’t take even the smallest of risks on their way to the screen.
10 Best Movies of 2016
10 – Love & Friendship
9 – Everybody Wants Some!!
8 – Kubo and the Two Strings
7 – Zootopia
6 – Captain America: Civil War
5 – Life, Animated
4 – Frantz
3 – Arrival
2 – Hunt for the Wilderpeople
1 – Son of Saul
Of course, Son of Saul was released in 2015, but with release dates as they are in the UK, it was never going to be seen back then. It’s likely that 2017 will see the same thing happen, and a movie (or maybe more) making their way into the Top 10. With the likes of Toni Erdmann and Elle still to be caught up with, as well as A Monster Calls and Silence newly arrived at UK cinemas, it’s encouraging that 2017 looks promising already.