By Gavin Arucan | Staff Writer
2016 has become known as one of the worst years in recent history for celebrity deaths, terrorism, disasters, and even movies. It is true that many of the most hyped for films of 2016, such as “Batman v Superman” and “Independence Day: Resurgence,” however there have actually be many spectacular films this year that may have flown under the radar of many moviegoers. Below I have compiled a list ranking the worst of 2016’s films to the greatest of this year’s films; most of which many people haven’t seen.
Of course, I haven’t seen every single movie of the year. You’ll notice some of the most critically acclaimed films like “Hacksaw Ridge” and “Arrival” are missing from this list as well as some huge blockbusters like “Star Trek: Beyond.” I’m a college student with two jobs, so I can’t go to see every movie that comes out in a year, although I did try my hardest. The following list contains movies ranging from the year’s biggest blockbusters to foreign and independent films. So, let’s take a look back through 2016’s catalog of films starting with the bottom of the barrel.
43. Norm of the North
In “Norm of the North,” Rob Schneider is a polar bear who likes to twerk. Need I say more? Not only does it feel like the writing and animating were done by a ten-year-old (sorry to all ten-year-olds), every aspect of the”film” is so infuriating that I had to watch the “film” in parts over a span of a couple of weeks in order to spare myself the torture of having to sit through it in one go.
42. Alice Through the Looking Glass
Coming off the drab and misguided live-action version of “Alice In Wonderland,” the sequel, “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” boasts a slightly more vibrant color palette but still retains Johnny Depp’s confused acting and an overall over-complicated story.
41. Justice League vs Teen Titans
This year’s direct-to-DVD addition to the DC Animated Universe is easily the slowest and most poorly written out of its predecessors. Much like another DC film released in 2016, the “vs” aspect of the movie doesn’t live up to the hype.
40. The Secret Life of Pets
The inclusion of dozens of characters in “The Secret Life of Pets” doesn’t mask the fact that this movie is a retelling of “Toy Story” with pets. The movie had a ton of competition this year with Pixar and Disney pushing out some of their best works, but all Illumination had to offer was a cast of cute characters.
39. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” stays close to book while boosting the entertainment factor by adding in the undead, yet the film is somehow extremely forgettable. I thought I watched this in early 2015 before realizing that it, in fact, was released earlier this February. I remember that I thought the pacing was a bit odd and the characters were decent, but I can’t actually recall a single scene in the movie.
38. Long Way North (English Dub)
Like most of the other English translations of foreign films on this list, “Long Way North” was actually released in 2015. This French animated film has beautiful colors to compliment the appealing paper-cutout animation style, but, sadly, since I’m judging the 2016 English release, I have to bring up the terrible voiceover quality as a huge deciding factor in ranking this film. It’s hard to immerse yourself fully in a film when you’re constantly taken out of it because of the constant white noise and crackling of the voice actor’s microphone.
“Sing” relies on the musical performances of its talking animal cast in it’s third act, so it’s nothing but fluff and bright colors to keep children entertained until then. While most of the characters are harmless and sometimes likable, the main character, Mr. Moon, is terribly unlikable due to his surprisingly selfish nature.
36. The Angry Birds Movie
The hit mobile game that everyone has been raving about finally got its own movie… five years after the fact. To give “The Angry Birds Movie” credit, it’s one of the best video game movies ever made, but that’s not at all a compliment. This film is fun enough and good for the kids, but it doesn’t provide much else of value.
35. Ice Age: Collision Course
Another animated film of a dying franchise, “Ice Age” makes its return to the big screen with another world-ending plot. How did this franchise go from returning a human baby to its tribe to Scratt creating the solar system with a UFO? “Ice Age: Collision Course,” however, embraces its insanity and creates a fun, albeit forgettable, adventure to save the world. I can’t say that I didn’t have a good time listening to Simon Pegg ramble, it’s just that “Ice Age” didn’t leave much of an impact on me.
34. Suicide Squad
Upon my first viewing, DC’s super villain team-up movie, “Suicide Squad,” ranked much higher on my list simply because how fun it was. “Suicide Squad” is a fun, dumb action movie, however, after watching it multiple times, the problems and cliches become much more apparent and a lot more painful to watch.
33. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
“Batman v Superman” was supposed to be the film that kicks off the DC Cinematic Universe that would rival Marvel’s successful franchise. Instead, it is riddled with plot holes, horrible acting on Henry Cavill’s part, and a manipulative third act. There are a few good aspects such as Ben Affleck’s Batman, the warehouse action sequence with Batman, and Jeremy Irons’ Alfred, but that’s not nearly enough to redeem the bore-fest that is “Batman v Superman.”
32. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
The sequel to the Michael Bay produced live action TMNT film sticks closer to the 80’s cartoon it is based on, but it still falls into the tropes that every below average action movie uses.
31. Batman: The Killing Joke
“Batman: The Killing Joke” had a lot going for it. Voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill return to their iconic roles as Batman and Joker respectively, and the source material is revered as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. However, in order to fill a feature running time, and entire first act was created to follow Batgirl, and it does not go over well at all.
30. X-Men: Apocalypse
The “X-Men” franchise was going in the right direction with its smash hits “Days of Future Past” and “Deadpool.” Sadly, “Apocalypse” is just a bunch of action movie fluff with several boring performances. The Quicksilver scene, however, is fantastic and makes the movie worth a watch.
The gender-swapped reboot of the beloved 1984 “Ghostbusters” is a lot better than the trailers presented it to be. About half the jokes are hilarious. The other half are sure to make you groan. It’s an average film but doesn’t come remotely close to capturing the magic of the original.
“Trolls” is a harmless jukebox-musical for kids. It doesn’t offer much aside from a few catchy songs and bright colors. Animated movies have proven to be a medium that can satisfy people of all ages, so while “Trolls” isn’t bad per se, it could be a lot better.
27. Pete’s Dragon
“Pete’s Dragon” is a heartwarming Disney movie about a boy and his dragon, but there’s really nothing special about it. It’s a lot better than the 1977 original, but there’s nothing that stands out as memorable.
26. Sausage Party
“Sausage Party” offers a clever commentary on faith and religion that has made it a surprise hit among many moviegoers. However, the comedy relies a bit too much on the novelty that cute cartoon food characters are cursing. It’s funny the first few times, but, by the end, the jokes just feel overused.
25. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
This film is a wonderful return to form for Tim Burton. The designs of the Peculiars are unique and the film is fun overall. There’s just one big problem, the main actor, Asa Butterfield, is bland. We follow his character throughout the entire movie, and he’s not interesting in the slightest.
24. Central Intelligence
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Kevin Hart’s comedic chemistry carry the film to hilarious heights despite its confusing plot.
The comedy duo of Key and Peele are always hilarious, and that’s no exception in “Keanu.” The two stumble their way through various comedic situations with the cutest kitten that’s ever been put to film.
22. The Jungle Book
Another Disney classic adapted to live action, “The Jungle Book” provides a fun adventure through a lush jungle with familiar characters. The special effects are some of the best of the year. The entire jungle and all the animals are completely CGI, yet they still seem so real.
21. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
There are two plots in the latest Harry Potter film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them;” the magical creature catching plot and the fight against a powerful magical being. The wizards and a muggle (or nomaj) work well in any scene that has a fantastic beast in it, but everything else seems contrived and confusing.
20. The Boy and the Beast (English Dub)
This anime film is similar to “The Karate Kid” in many ways. The relationship between the boy, Kyuta, and his master, a bear named Kumatetsu, is delightful to watch. The animation is flowing and the world full of anthropomorphic animals is intriguing.
19. Return of the Caped Crusaders
Adam West and Burt Ward return in animated form as the campy 1966 Batman and Robin. “Return of the Caped Crusaders” gives fans everything they want to see in this self-aware superhero comedy. There’s nothing to dislike.
18. The Little Prince
This wonderful animated gem premiered on Netflix after it was dropped from US theaters at the last minute. It’s heartwarming story and characters compliment the beautiful animation well.
17. Only Yesterday (English Dub)
“Only Yesterday” is a Studio Ghibli film that was first released in 1991 and finally got its official US release in 2016. It’s a wonderful slice of life story about girlhood and womanhood. The reason this film might have taken so long to reach US theaters is because Disney, who usually distributes the english dubs of Studio Ghibli films, didn’t want to have taboo subjects such as a girl having her first period in one of their films.
“Storks” is the only family-friendly animated film in recent memory that isn’t trying to give audiences a heartwarming Pixar-esque story. It is, in fact, a straight up comedy, and a gut-busting good one at that. The comedic timing is impeccable and Key and Peele provide voices for a wolf pack who are the funniest part of the film.
15. The BFG
Steven Spielberg adapts a classic Roald Dahl book with “The BFG.” The film has one of the best child actor performances ever with Ruby Barnhill as Sophie. The CG for the Big Friendly Giant is also very well done.
14. Doctor Strange
Marvel presents some of the greatest special effects from any of their long catalog of films. “Doctor Strange” is a unique combination of old Marvel cliches and creative new ideas. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a fantastic Doctor Stephen Strange.
13. Finding Dory
Pixar’s sequel to “Finding Nemo” isn’t going to be remembered as one of Pixar’s greats, but it comes close in many aspects. The septopus, Hank, has some fantastic animation work behind him. In fact, his seven tentacles nearly broke the limits of Pixar’s animation team. Dory’s short term memory loss is played more for drama rather than comedy, which makes even Pixar’s secondary material a tearjerker.
12. Kubo and the Two Strings
“Kubo and the Two Strings” boasts studio Laika’s most stunning stop-motion animation. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of “Coraline” or “ParaNorman,” the film is a fun and dramatic adventure akin to “The Legend of Zelda.”
11. Captain America: Civil War
“Civil War” may be Marvel’s best film yet. The action is grand, the actors are their strongest, and Spider-Man finally comes home to the MCU. Sure, there are a few plot holes, but the whole movie is such fun that it they hardly matter.
10. Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name)
Body-swap stories can go south fast due to their predictable nature. However, the anime film “Kimi No Na Wa” takes that idea and creates a unique body-swap romance story that I haven’t seen done ever before. The beautiful animation and drama make this film incredibly immersive.
9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
“Rogue One” may have muddled and tedious first half, but the third act has some of the best action sequences of the year. If I were to judge the movie just based on the action scenes, ending, and Darth Vader cameos, the film would probably rank as number one.
I love Disney movies and buddy cop films, so “Zootopia” is the perfect film for me. Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde have great chemistry and the film also works in some very relevant social commentary on racism, drug abuse, and discrimination.
“Deadpool” is the first rated R superhero film ever since the MCU popularized PG-13 superhero films. Ryan Reynold’s embodies the raunchy, fourth wall breaking Merc with a Mouth perfectly. Every character works well as a comic foil, especially Colossus, who is more of a PG-13 superhero thrust into a rated R climate. Even the romance in the movie is very believable.
6. The Nice Guys
“The Nice Guys” is a Shane Black directed, buddy detective film starring Ryan Gosling and Russel Crowe. The premise alone is great. Hollywood simply doesn’t make films like this anymore, and they never might again seeing how few people actually saw this in theaters. “The Nice Guys” may be the funniest film of the year and deserves to be bought on Blu-ray.
Disney’s Polynesian adventure musical, “Moana,” boasts strong performances by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Auliʻi Cravalho. The scenery and water animation are stunning and the songs written by Lin Manuel Miranda will be stuck in your head for weeks.
4. Swiss Army Man
“Swiss Army Man” is an amalgamation of everything the directors despise in film: fart jokes, acapella, and other annoying cliches. However, the directors cleverly twist those cliches into creative new ideas. For example, the fart jokes becomes a metaphor to the things in life we try to hide because society forces us to. Half of the audience at the film’s Sundance premiere walked out because, on the outside, the film seems stupid, but under its surface it’s a wonderful social commentary that can be interpreted in dozens of different ways.
3. Kung Fu Panda 3
The “Kung Fu Panda” franchise is strange in that it keeps getting better with every installment. “Kung Fu Panda 3” exceeds even the second movie, which is one of my favorite films of all time. The film is riddled with jokes and each of them get a laugh. The characters are all still lovable and the score by Hans Zimmer is addictive to listen to.
2. La La Land
Director Damien Chazelle returns for another movie about jazz. “La La Land” is a romance musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone reminiscent of classic 1950s musical films. The film is a love letter to dreamers and urges them to take action and achieve their dreams. The music in itself is like a character and plays beautifully alongside Gosling and Stone’s singing and dancing.
1. Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Taika Waititi’s New Zealand comedic adventure film starring Sam Neill and child actor Julian Dennison is a fun, beautiful, and nerve-racking experience. I felt like I was having an anxiety attack while watching because of how invested I was in the character’s problems. It’s a very lighthearted and colorful film, but you know that there can’t be a happy ending, so you’re waiting in fear throughout the movie to see if the characters will be okay in the end. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” quickly pulled me into its story with its fantastic acting and perfect direction, so it deserves the number one spot on this list.