For 2016, superheroes continue to reign in film and TV, while other genres like sci-fi, fantasy, horror and related combos offered refreshing alternatives. Many of the best films and TV shows on this list were very profound and pushed the envelope, while others were just plain fun to watch.
10. 10 Cloverfield Lane: The spiritual sequel to Cloverfield was a tense and suspenseful thriller with a great performance by John Goodman as a doomsday prepper.
TIE: 9. Suicide Squad/X-Men: Apocalypse: Despite their flaws both superhero (and supervillain) films were enjoyable romps with unforgettable characters (Harley Quinn, the Joker, Deadshot, Magneto, Quicksilver, and more) and eye popping action-packed moments.
8. Doctor Strange: With the big-screen debut of Marvel Comics’ Sorcerer Supreme the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to remind us why their superhero films are currently the best of the crop compared to Fox’s X-Men Universe films (Deadpool aside, of course) and the DC Extended Universe movies.
7. Zootopia: The best animated film of the year dazzled us with eye raising animation and a clever script that highlighted important social messages about tolerance and prejudice.
6. Star Trek: Beyond: The film’s back-to-basics approach with Star Trek’s iconic characters paid proper homage to the TV show while having a genuine adventurous tone.
5. The Jungle Book: Even though the CG-created animals and environment were flawless and stunning, the film to its merit emphasized story and characters, which left a bigger impression.
4. Deadpool: As a faithful adaptation of the irrelevant and violent comic book, Deadpool proves that it’s possible to be true to comic book source material and still be an entertaining film.
3. Arrival: A provocative, well-acted and beautifully shot film about first contact with aliens smartly emphasized the communications hurdles humanity would face. The film’s ending was a true surprise and was just one of Arrival’s highlights.
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: The first Star Wars spinoff not only neatly ties in with Episode IV but is a great and exciting film in its own right with more nuanced characters and situations than seen in a typical Star Wars film.
1. Captain America: Civil War: The Avengers are torn apart from within as Captain America and Iron Man philosophically, then violently disagreed over allowing the government to supervise their team. Featuring strong performances and the best superhero fight scenes ever filmed, the film was an emotional ride for viewers.
10. Ash Vs Evil Dead: Grossly fun and action-packed as everyone’s favorite deadite fighter Ash Williams and his gang continue delighting horror fans.
9. Colony: Unexpectedly well done look at life under alien domination and that “big, beautiful wall” separating American cities is a chilling portent of what lies ahead.8. 12 Monkeys: Of the many time travel themed TV shows out there, this is the best of them as many episodes explored the convoluted nature of time travel.
TIE: 7. The Flash/Daredevil: The two best superhero TV shows were on the opposite ends of the tonal spectrum. The Flash is pure Silver Age awesomeness, while Daredevil reflects a more gritty and grounded mood, especially with the introduction of the brutal vigilante, the Punisher. Both shows featured intense and enjoyable comic book adventures thanks to well written scripts and engaging lead actors, plus supporting characters/actors.
6. The Walking Dead: The megahit series about brutal life after the undead destroy civilization has hit a creative wall and is past its peak according to many fans. Yet, for the most part The Walking Dead is still delivering more than adequate thrills, gross out moments and entertainment, even if the show went to far in Negan’s introduction and certain character deaths.
5. Black Mirror: A dark anthology series about the downside of technology offered many disquieting episodes about technology’s impact in our lives today and tomorrow.
4. Stranger Things: A wonderful ode to ’80s sci-fi movies featured terrific child performances, geeky Easter eggs and an intriguing mystery revolving around a missing child and an interdimensional monster.
3. The Expanse: This well-crafted series about a brewing war among human colonies in our solar system during the next century could wind up being the next great TV space opera.
2. Westworld: HBO’s potential successor to Game of Thrones went way beyond the original Michael Crichton movie about theme park robots running amok by presenting a thought-provoking series about existentialism and ethics.
1. Game of Thrones: Even though the fantasy series is drawing to a close, the sprawling epic continues to captivate viewers with its visceral tale of power struggles among kingdoms. One of the highlights was the epic episode “Battle of the Bastards” that put rival films to shame with its gut wrenching fight scenes.