155 films of 2016 ranked worst to best: #60-#36
At long last - a group of movies that can be unilaterally considered 'good.'
And this B-list includes an eclectic group of films, including documentaries, musicals, anti-romantic comedies, feel-good indie flicks and major studio superhero flicks.
#60: 'Midnight Special'
A stellar ensemble cast anchors this intriguing sci-fi mystery reminiscent of "E.T." or "Close Encounters." This film has an obvious respect for the audience's intelligence - so much so that it doesn't spoon feed the plot or the mystery.
#59: 'The Confirmation'
The search for a set of lost tools across a small, working-class town brings a good-mannered boy and his alcoholic father together in this endearing comedic-drama.
#58: 'Florence Foster Jenkins'
Of course the incredible Meryl Streep would be able to fill the shoes of the legendarily terrible opera "singer" Jenkins - while also embuing her with sympathy and humanity.
#57: 'Don't Breathe'
Three burglers trapped inside a house with a blind, but deadly homeowner. "Don't Breathe" proves a simple premise can rise to the top of genre flicks.
#56: 'Doctor Strange'
Yes, this is another Marvel character's origin story. And yes it's another Marvel hero fighting a vaguely defined and rather thinly developed villain. "Doctor Strange" - a rather obscure Marvel character - is surprisingly funny, visually innovative and all-round entertaining.
#55: 'The Love Witch'
"The Love Witch" earns every degree-of-difficulty point for so thoroughly reproducing the look, feel, tone and pace of a 1960s movie. Much like "Black Dynamite" or "Grindhouse" this supernatural drama taps into a retro vibe to create a vivid visually compelling film that must be appreciated for its craftsmanship.
#54: 'City of Gold'
Come for the intriguing story of an unlikely Pulitzer Prize winner - stay for a film that is more than just a loving portrait of a fantastic storyteller. This is a celebration of food critic Jonathan Gold, civic journalism and the City of Los Angeles.
#53: 'The Jungle Book'
While the original was a fun little romp through the jungle, this update is a heartfelt and thrilling adventure that's unexpectedly every bit as fun-loving as the animated classic.
#52: 'Captain America: Civil War'
"Civil War" is an exciting, entertaining and dramatic battle of ideologies that works because of the dynamic between Iron Man and Cap -- but is so much more fun because of the introduction of a few new superheroes (Black Panther and Spider-Man).
This was supposed to be a documentary about a competitive tickling ring - but the end result is an descent into the darkest corners of the internet subcultures and sexual fetishes. And just when the filmmakers make an unnerving discovery - just know that another even more unsettling reveal is just around the corner.
#50: 'The Founder'
Michael Keaton's turn as the friendly and ultimately ruthless McDonald's restaurant chain founder Ray Kroc is the highlight of this docudrama.
#49: 'Always Shine'
This dark psychological tale of resentment and jealousy has all the hallmarks of a modern day Hitchcock film.
A pair of understated and nuanced performances by its lead actors keeps this biopic grounded squarely on their relationship.
#47: 'Southside with You'
More than anything else, "Southside" is a sweet and disarming look at two people genuinely clicking. Remove the fact that the main characters are Barack and Michelle Obama and you'd still have a sweet and dimensional date flick.
#46: 'Patriot's Day'
Much like "United 93," this film does one thing exceedingly well: it establishes the tone and tenor of Boston before, during and after the bombings. It captures the relaxed tone before the race, the sheer chaos right after the bombing and the frenetic desperation to find the bombers in the days after the attack.
Simply put: this is the strongest Disney animated feature since "Toy Story 3."
#44: 'Hacksaw Ridge'
This is how to craft a film firmly rooted in Christian values without outright preaching or alienating the audience. "Hacksaw" allows the protagonist to make his point through his actions - and his persecution is that much harder to watch because of his conscientious position. Effective without resorting to heavy-handed storytelling.
#43: 'The Shallows'
This is a lean, mean and focused survival thriller. "The Shallows" pits an quick thinking surfer against a bloodthirsty shark in a desperate battle for survival. "The Shallows" is much better than it has any business being - and a lot of the credit should go to Blake Lively.
#42: 'Girl Asleep'
If Wes Anderson and Michel Gondry had a shared "Alice in Wonderland"-ish fever dream, it would look exactly like "Girl Asleep." This is a vibrant, inspired and truly visionary throwback to youthful angst. Founded in an teenage anxiety that everyone can relate to, "Girl Asleep" is an imaginative piece of cinema that is surreal, magical, eccentric, visually striking and elementally familiar.
#41: 'The Meddler'
Susan Sarandon's quirky and offbeat protagonist keeps this delightful character-driven comedy-drama surprisingly buoyant and endearing. This unexpectedly heartfelt and genuine relationship drama is one of the nice surprises of 2016.
#40: 'Finding Babel'
Somber and haunting, "Babel" is an evocative look back at an acclaimed artist who was very nearly wiped from the history books, a man whose story also serves as a cautionary tale for the modern world. Isaac Babel's story is not merely a one-off biography about one specific man - this is a timeless warning of the dangers of any totalitarian regime.
#39: 'Eye in the Sky'
This relentlessly intense military-political drama sets the decision makers in an impossible situation in this examination of modern warfare. This drama layers conflict upon conflict - both political and internal - as a committee of divided interests debates the legal, military and ethical factors in sending a missile strike into a populated town.
#38: 'Train to Busan'
Of the two foreign zombie horror flicks on this list of 155 films, "Train to Busan" is (by far) the smarter, more creative and more entertaining of the two. It works as a father-daughter relationship drama as well as a nerve-racking zombie popcorn flick.
#37: 'Bad Moms'
"Bad Moms" is easily the funniest pure comedy of 2016 - and it's one of the only non-sequel/non-adaptations to break $100 million at the box office. It takes the relatable plight of parenthood to an absurd extreme and allows its characters to indulge in flat-out raunchy, ridiculous behavior.
Just when the current golden age of comic book flicks started to feel stale, along comes "Deadpool." This fun, odd flick has the joyful exuberance of the senselessly violent '80s action movies. And for better or worse, this new type of energy is at least different from the homogenized, sanitized PG-13 action of so many modern comic book movies.