Top 10 Films and TV Shows of 2016

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.

Films

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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.

xsuicideTIE: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

TV Shows

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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.

redhats invade9. 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.12 Monkeys Cole time travels8. 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.

dareflashTIE: 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.

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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.

El confronts monster Stranger Things4. 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Best Of 2014

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Best Sci-Fi TV Show

Doctor Who got off to a rocky start for the new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. But the show and the actor quickly found their footing and presented an eclectic and sometimes frenetic mix of the bizarre, silly and loftier themes. What helped where the imaginative scripts and Capaldi’s cutting performance as a more sardonic and mature Doctor, which was a good change of pace for Doctor Who.

Best Horror TV Show:

The Walking Dead continues to be one of the best genre shows on TV. This year saw the aftermath of the fall of the prison that scattered our heroes and introduced memorable characters. At the same time, The Walking Dead kept amping up the stakes with the Terminus cannibals and Grady Hospital storylines. It all ended with a feeling that no one is safe and nothing is secure.

Best Fantasy Show

Game of Thrones is the best produced dragons 2show on TV right now with its topnotch production values, crisp dialogue and scripts, and superior acting. Many episodes stood out which dealt with the deaths of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), the trial of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) and the siege of the Wall. The only problem is that the show is now running out of original material since it has almost caught up to George R.R. Martin’s books.

Best Documentary/Reality Show

The Real History of Science Fiction, was a splendid look at film and TV science fiction fare with some nods towards literary works. Each episode of the mini-series was based on a certain theme like robots, time travel and of course space exploration.

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Best Cancelled TV Show

Almost Human was a fresh and inventive sci-fi variation of the cop-buddy show thanks to terrific performances by Michael Ealy as an android cop and Karl Urban as his disgruntled human partner. The episodes were straightforward and entertaining as they explored the nature of having a soul and nifty future crimes.

Best Animated Show

Star Wars: The Clone Wars had a fitting final season that aired on Netflix instead of broadcast TV. While current fandom is content to put behind George Lucas’ prequel-based fare and all the attention is on Star Wars Rebels and next year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the final episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars did an excellent job of expanding the Star Wars universe with its explorations of the Force and by providing a segue way to the films.

Best TV Character

tyrionTyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones finally had enough of all the taunts and putdowns and the unjust charges laid on him. His epic courtroom rant in “The Laws of Gods and Men” saw him unleash his fury at those that wronged him including his father and this anger saw its culmination in the final episode of the season where he physically took out his rage on those that hurt him.

Most Missed TV Character

Beth Greene (Emily Kinney) on The Walking Dead was an underused character on the show. For the most part she was just known as the youngest member of the Greene family. But in recent episodes, Beth had matured and become self reliant which culminated in her final episode (and The Walking Dead’s midseason finale) where she was abruptly killed off. The death seemed pointless and enraged fans who were saddened by her death.

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Best TV Villain

Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) at first was slade wilsona trusted partner of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) while the future Green Arrow was stranded on an island as seen in flashback scenes on Arrow. But in the second season, this former merc proved to be Queen’s most diabolical enemy as he re-entered the superhero’s life and systematically began to take Queen down in a smoldering bid of vengeance. Raising the stakes for Queen was that Wilson was superior in strength and skills and pushed our hero to the edge. Bennett’s performance as Wilson was so memorable that the Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul (Matt Nable) couldn’t compare.

Most Improved TV show

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a big disappointment when it first premiered in 2013 because of banal scripts and listless characters. However, thanks to Captain America: The Winter Soldier the show truly came into its own by wholeheartedly embracing the game-changing premise from that movie where Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. Characters were killed off or did a complete 180 and the agents became fugitives while they struggled to defeat Hydra that seemed to be everywhere. Plus, the second season saw the show debut what will turn out to be an important component of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) by introducing the Inhumans.

Best Series Finale

being human usBeing Human, it was sad to see this American version of the British cult hit come to an end, but it ended quite well. All the story threads were wrapped up surprisingly well and the finale was bittersweet. A couple of the show’s characters died but had meaningful deaths with rewarding afterlives. Meanwhile, the surviving characters were given a conclusion where they were able to live happily and move on.

Best Sci-Fi Film

Guardians of the Galaxy highlighted a memorable year for sci-fi films. 2014 had some instant classics like Interstellar, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Snowpiercer, but Guardians of the Galaxy stood out over the rest. It was a fun throwback to pulpy space operas not seen since the original Star Wars trilogy. More importantly, the film had very endearing characters like Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) that made audiences care about them as they went about saving the galaxy.

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Best Horror Film

Oculus stood out among current horror films that rely all too much on cheap and easy jump scares. This film, which starred genre favorites Karen Gillan and Katee Sackhoff, instead used psychological horror and mind games that always kept the audience guessing while delivering authentic and natural frights.

Best Fantasy Film

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIESPeter Jackson concluded his three-part adaptation of the Tolkien classic with wall-to-wall action and his now trademark sweeping scenes of battlefields and armies. Although, The Hobbit trilogy may not have the same punch as The Lord of the Rings films, it was still a memorable viewing experience. And The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was a fitting conclusion to Jackson’s final sojourn to Middle Earth.

Best Animated Film

THE LEGO MOVIEThe LEGO Movie, this year had some great animated films like How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6. But The LEGO Movie was the best surprise not because of its use of famous characters like Batman or it being a cross of Legos and stop motion animation, but due to its championing of imagination and creativity.

Best Superhero Film

Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a bold, exciting sequel that outshone the original and upturned the MCU with its revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. the spy organization had been infiltrated by the evil Hydra organization. This, of course, forced our hero to go on the run as he tried to tear down the organization he once fought for while uncovering disturbing conspiracies. But the film also took time to humanize Captain America and reflect on his past. These simple touches are what made the film so memorable.

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Best Superhero on Film

Captain America (Chris Evans) in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, once again demonstrated why he is arguably the greatest hero in the MCU and a true patriot who questioned the Big Brother methods of S.H.I.E.L.D. This in turn led him to be a man truly out of place in society fighting a lonely and dangerous fight as many supposed allies turned against him. More importantly, his heroic actions would unravel the MCU forever.

Best Film Characters

Hands down, Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) stole the film Guardians of the Galaxy and were a big cause of that film’s success. Who would’ve imagined a year ago that two unknown CG characters would have so much heart and be so endearing to audiences?

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Best Line in a Film

“I am Groot”

Best Performance Capture

caesarCaesar the ape in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was exceptionally brought to life by Andy Serkis in what is probably his best performance. Many times in the film, one easily forgot that Caesar was not an actual chimp but a performance capture/CG creation. Just give the guy an Oscar already!

Best Film Villain

Koba the ape (performance captured by Toby Kebbel) in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a hideous, chilling and conniving villain who’s undying hatred for humans brings about a war between the two species. He was the most memorable villains seen in genre films for 2014.

Best Use of 3D & IMAX In a Film

Interstellar showed that director Christopher Nolan is undeniably the master when it comes to filming genre efforts on IMAX. Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy had unexpectedly terrific 3D effects thanks to director James Gunn who utilized the format to its best.

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Best Trailer for an Upcoming Film

Avengers: Age of Ultron, is one of next year’s most anticipated films and the moody trailer for it ratcheted up interest. It gave us the cool effects shots, especially the Hulkbuster Iron Man suit in action, but it didn’t play it safe with its dark forebodings (broken Captain America shield anyone?) and that creepy rendition of “I Got No Strings” from Pinocchio. On a side note the other best teaser trailer has to be for Avengers: Infinity War, Part I & II, which aren’t due until 2018 and 2019!

Biggest Disappointment

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 suffered the same fate as the infamous Spider-Man 3. It had too many villains, characters, subplots and worst of all too much studio interference that mandated that this film be used to launch spinoffs in a clumsy attempt by Sony Pictures to create its own superhero cinematic universe. In the end, this mess has put the Spider-Man film series in doubt, let alone the announced spinoffs.

Best App

Star Wars Scene Maker was an scene makerapp that allowed users to recreate scenes from the iconic original Star Wars. around. Or better it allowed anyone’s creativity to get going by allowing users to mix and match characters, weapons and vehicles and the best fun was seeing these setups come to animated life.

Best Video Game

Mario Kart 8 was a lot of fun to play and proved to be one of the best Mario Kart games ever made. Nintendo made this latest Mario game with incredible graphics, game play and delivering the simple joys that fans of the Mario Kart games have expected over the years.

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Best Hallmark Ornament: 2014 proved to be a landmark year for genre-related Hallmark ornaments. There were so many great ornaments like the xenomorph from Alien, the shark from Jaws or the flying DeLorean from the Back to the Future films. It was actually hard to pick out the best genre ornament, but in the end the best ornament was the Yoda Peekbuster. What made it stand out was its motion sensor that warned peekers away from gifts placed under the Christmas tree as Yoda admonished his distinct Yodaisms.

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Biggest News Item

In light of the recent calamities like super diseases, incompetent politicians, demagogues, and riots, entertainment genre news couldn’t compare. Still, there were a couple of news item that have had immediate ramifications, especially with the future of the Spider-Man film franchise. Those would have to be the announcements from DC/Warner Bros. and Marvel/Disney of a busy schedule of interrelated superhero films. Both camps’ culminations will include two-part Justice League and Avengers films. These revelation were very exciting and left other studios’ attempts at building their own cinematic universes in the dust.