155 films of 2016 ranked worst to best: #85-#61
There are films better than these 25 movies - and there are many films much worse.
This is the middle of the pack. This is the end of the terrible movies -- this is also the beginning of the good movies. Some of these movies are just a few niptucks from being incredible - while others are a few good filmmaking choices from being unwatchable movies. But unlike some years, there are some good movies that were pushed down to this list.
#85: 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'
The magic and wonder of the Harry Potter universe is continued in this rudderless story about the time a non-dimensional character once when to New York City, lost some pets and bumped into a bad guy. Newt Scamander is no Harry Potter -- and Johnny Depp is sure as heck is no Voldemort.
#84: 'Last Days in the Desert'
Great films transcend to tell elementally true stories. "Last Days in the Desert" is prohibitively inaccessible to anyone unfamiliar with the Bible. And even in the best light, this is a plodding and glacially slow non-eventful story about the time Jesus walked around in the desert, met a family and spoke to the devil a few times.
#83: 'Certain Women'
Several strong performances highlight this anthology of small town slice-of-life vignettes focused on a few women living in Montana. "Certain Women" is an acquired taste - specially, it's geared towards audiences more interested in how a character feels than with actual plot points or decisions occurring.
#82: 'Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World'
Werner Herzog brings his brand of dry humor to his look at the history of computers and the internet and how connectivity has fundamentally altered society. While this doc answers a lot of "did you know" trivia bullet points, Herzog tries to cram too much information into the feature-length doc.
#81: 'Star Trek Beyond'
Pretty forgettable action movie with some fun action sequences. Hoping any future "Star Trek" flicks have a bit more depth to them -- unlike this shallow and vapid jaunt into the final frontier.
#80: 'The Autopsy of Jane Doe'
First act is legit creepy and unsettling. Third act is a just a mindless supernatural horror thriller.
#79: 'The Conjouring 2'
Being so similar in structure to the first "Conjouring" movie would normally be a major problem - but the original was strong to begin with. The film's ability to unsettle and chill is weighed down by a story structure seen too many times in supernatural horror: meet a family, some small creepy things begin to escalate and suddenly there's a demon in the house.
#78: 'Maggie's Plan'
The part where Maggie actually forms and begins to enact any sort of plan doesn't happen for the first half of the movie. This comedy takes way too long to build out its foundation before actually becoming an interesting story. The good news: by the time Maggie comes up with her plan, the movie becomes much more engrossing.
#77: '10 Cloverfield Lane'
Like a prolonged "Twilight Zone" episode, but in the best way possible.
Marion Cotillard is so perfectly cast as the alluring wife and possible double agent that it is positively impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.
#75: 'Hello, My Name is Doris'
"Doris" is an adorable, light indie comedy that dazzles when Sally Field takes centerstage.
#74: 'Frank & Lola'
Michael Shannon balances a man in love and a simmering anxiousness within that makes him capable of anything - especially when it comes to Lola.
#73: 'In Order of Disappearance'
The strength of this revenge thriller is just how surprisingly hilarious this pitch black comedy is. This tale of a snowplow driver's bloody killing spree is reminiscent of the Coen Brothers.
Meet one of the most frustrating (by design) film protagonists of 2016 -- and it's one of strongest aspects of "Kicks." His blind pursuit to get his shoes back takes him to some dark corners of Oakland and even darker corners of what he is willing to do.
This is edgy thriller thrusts the audience into the head of a bodyguard/war veteran dealing with PTSD as he tries to determine whether the family he is protect is in real danger - or if the threats are just in his head.
#70: 'In a Valley of Violence'
Not merely a stock Western shoot out flick. None of the characters are mentally or physically prepared when all hell breaks loose in a small old west town. Good to see John Travolta back on the screen!
#69: 'The Wave'
This Norwegian flick proves any studio can produce a smart and effective natural disaster flick with virtually no budget. This makes "San Andreas" or "2010" looks like absolute piles of garbage - and "The Wave" was produced on a micro budget compared to those money pits.
#68: 'Ouija: Origin of Evil'
The first "Ouija" film is an abominable excuse for a horror flick - but how "Origin of Evil" has a place among the relatively short list of sequels that are superior to their predecessor. Doris is one of the best characters in a straight horror flick in years.
#67: 'Swiss Army Man'
"Swiss Army Man" earns points for originality and for touching upon elegant and simple truths -- but suffers deductions for a conclusion that feels more conventional and lazy than inspired. But true to its peculiar premise to the end, the film's last line ("What the f*ck!?") sum up this film better than any logline ever could. "Swiss Army Man" is not for everyone and it will be one of the year's more polarizing films.
#66: 'Godzilla Resurgence'
Godzilla movies are traditionally not very complex movies - but "Resurgence" is a surprisingly heady swipe at bureaucracy. The monster herself is simply a device that reveals just how inefficient and impotent the government machine is to react in the face of undeniable danger.
#65: 'The Intervention'
Melanie Lynskey ("Two and a Half Men") steals the show from a great cast of comedy stars in this modern day "Big Chill."
#64: 'De Palma'
No everyone worships at the alter of Brian De Palma - but this documentary, which is primarily just clips from his movies and the legendary director sitting in a chair and talking to a camera, is absolutely captivating. The fact that the man can hold court while just sitting and talking is a testiment to his storytelling acumen.
#63: 'Finding Dory'
The "Finding Nemo" sorta sequel/spinoff is ... unnecessary. It provides answers to questions no body asked ("How does Dory know how to speak whale?") and throws the weight of a movie on the back of a gimmicky "no short term memory" side character from a much stronger movie. Sigh. Oh well, at least Pixar knows how to even give a supporting character an enjoyable adventure.
#62: 'Miss Sloane'
it’s impossible imagine anyone else but Jessica Chastain playing the titular role. She commands attention, exudes strength and effortlessly embraces Sloane’s callous nature.
#61: 'Morris from America'
Craig Robinson.("The Office") really deserves supporting actor acclaim for his turn as the widower father of a teenage ex-pat living in Europe. "Morris" takes a very specific situation and infuses it with universal themes that any audience can appreciate and relate to.