2016's Most Anticipated Runner-Ups Part 1: Just Missed the Mark

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

I beg to differ, but whatevs

It's that time of year, folks. And I'm ready to dispense my ever-loving wisdom on what will most likely be our beloved cinematic treasures for next year. 2015 lived up to my hype - I'm having a hard time whittling down my top 10 list (I've immensely enjoyed 21 movies this year and that's not counting Star Wars!).

With that being said, there's a lot to love about 2016. Sure, there is sequels galore and superhero movies will always make for a majority of the conversation but over half the movies on my list are 'original' films. When I say original, I consider Suicide Squad or Doctor Strange an original movie simply because it's not a sequel to anything even though it is tied to a shared universe from other movies. But movies like The Jungle Book and Ghostbusters are clearly reboots or remakes.

So there's a lot of potentially great movies on the horizon and here are first five of the movies that didn't make the cut (in alphabetical order):

Arms and the Dudes
Starring: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller
Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Stephen Chin, Todd Phillips, Jason Smilovic
Release Date: August 16
Based on an article in Rolling Stone about two kids who became arms dealers for US troops in Afghanistan. They received a $300 million contract from the Pentagon, but would soon see it all come crumbling down. Todd Phillips, the director behind The Hangover trilogy and Old School, is a comedy vet and this sounds like such an absurd story for him to tackle, but perfect for him. The first thing that comes to mind is 2013's Pain and Gain, the based-on-a-true-story film that Michael Bay brought to life through giddy enthusiasm. It's such a bizarre story that I'm excited to see the chemistry between Miles Teller, an up-and-coming young star and the two-time Oscar-nominated Jonah Hill (still so weird to write that).


Most Anticipated Replacement

We're going to be starting tomorrow night with my Most Anticipated List for 2016, but before we get to that, I have to replace one last movie from this year's list. Midnight Special, number 23, at some point got pushed back to March of 2016. I didn't realize this until much too late. However, there are a number of movies coming out soon (or out just now) that I'm dying to see.

23. Brooklyn (PG-13) - Runtime: 111 minutes
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson
Director: John Crowley
Writer: Nick Hornby
Everything about this movie, from the first time I laid eyes on the trailer, has screamed ME. I am a sucker for coming-of-age tales and love a good romance. Plus Saoirse Ronan is an amazing actress who looks like she's killing it in this movie. In fact, it's been in mostly limited release until this weekend and it's currently one of the best-reviewed movies this year. So yeah, I'm checking this one out this week and you'll hear back from me on how awesome this is.

Most Anticipated Roundup: Positivity is the Watch Word

I'll keep this brief, but this roundup of reviews is almost purely filled with stuff I enjoyed, maybe even loved. There's one distinct turd in the whole list, but it's not enough to ruin the solid list of movies here.

 9. Crimson Peak (R) - Runtime: 119 minutes
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: Guillermo del Toro, Matthew Robbins

del Toro is one of my favorite directors and he delivers a unique and creepy story that's filled with brooding terror and amazing set pieces and visuals. A true piece of Gothic fiction will always win me over and del Toro doesn't disappoint. While not necessarily scary, Crimson Peak is creepy and haunting enough to draw you in. The story revolves around a lady, Edith Cushing, who is drawn to a mysterious outsider, Thomas Sharpe. After a family tragedy, Edith gets swept up and taken to Sharpe's mansion where she's daily haunted by unusually creepy stuff. The revelations at the end of the movie are laughably silly (to a point) but del Toro checks off all the good stuff on Victorian Gothic Fiction and it works well. It's a beautiful film with lots of distinct shots and the old mansion is a character unto itself.

If you're in the mood for some delicious drama, You won't get any better than this.

10. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. 2 (PG-13) - Runtime: 137 minutes
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
After the abysmally boring Part 1, the Hunger Games franchise goes out with a bang and thankfully most of the movie is filled with tense action and thrills like the first two films. It leaves you wondering what could've been if they'd just made one really strong film out of the material. I'm going to reveal SPOILERS here, but the only flaws I've had with the movie (and book) was that Katniss decides to vote yes on a final Hunger Games - which completely devalues all of her choices before that. It's completely out of sync with the rest of the films and the decision for her to choose a life with Peeta was kinda revolting to me too. In the end, Katniss doesn't need to choose a man to be with, she's a badass on her own and the last shot of her all domesticated and being a mom does a disservice to who she was throughout the film.

Despite this, the film is still spectacular and moving in all the right ways, a fitting end to the franchise.

29. The Night Before (R) - Runtime: 101 minutes
Starring: Joseph Godon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anthony Mackie
Director: Jonathan Levine
Writers: Jonathan Levine, Kyle Hunter, Ariel Shaffir, Evan Goldberg
I don't care what others think, Seth Rogen is hilarious to me and he's currently on a streak of great comedies (including The Interview) with no end in sight. The Night Before delivers a great mashup of Christmas delight and stoner hi jinks that work well together. At the heart of a lot of these R-rated comedies is friendship and love and that's what keeps this soon-to-be classic grounded despite all the crazy shit happening around these three friends. There are a couple of great cameos, including a great turn from Michael Shannon as the creepy high school teacher/weed dealer that dispenses wisdom along with bong hits. In the end, the drama and the comedy work well together and I can't wait to see what these guys cook up next.

A film you probably won't watch with the family on Christmas, but a classic you'll watch with your friends every year.

39. The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (PG-13) - Runtime: 132 minutes
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Kaya Scodelario
Director: Wes Ball
Writer: T.S. Nowlin

I was impressed with the first movie enough to go and read the whole Maze Runner trilogy and I gotta say I was pretty disappointed how it ended, but the book Scorch Trials was hella good and deeply disturbing at times. They changed the first movie so much that it's pretty much a different story moving forward and while the movie Scorch Trials isn't as good as the book, it's still a pretty fun action movie with lots of thrills. Although the pacing is a bit off - there are a few dull moments where you want things to move along quicker. And the mystery only gets deeper as the movie progresses where there's almost more questions raised than answered. Still, there's a delightful cameo from Gus from Breaking Bad (Giancarlo Esposito...who has a million credits on IMDb).

While this franchise won't ever live up to its YA predecessors, it's still a pretty fun action movie.

5. Spectre (PG-13) - Runtime: 148 minutes
Starring: Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux
Director: Sam Mendes
Writers: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth

Skyfall was one of the best Bond movies ever, so it was inevitable that the next movie couldn't match its lofty heights. Sam Mendes came back directing and while Spectre is pretty awesome, it lacks the emotional punch of Skyfall. The action in Spectre is the best in the Daniel Craig era and even the two and half hour runtime doesn't seem like too much. But there are times when the movie lacks any sort of coherence as Bond jots from location to location. And Christoph Waltz is way underutilized, showing up in maybe 3 or 4 scenes. He's the main villain and he's unfortunately in the background until the big reveal near the end. The plot is fairly relevant for today's world - with privacy issues and old techniques in intelligence-gathering (aka spies like Bond) becoming obsolete. SPOILERS - I just hope they can take the foundation of what was laid down in this movie and build upon it. I think Hans Blofeld would make a great adversary down the line.

Either way, this was a spectacular event movie that is fun from start to finish.

38. Spy (R) - Runtime: 119 minutes
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne
Director: Paul Feig
Writer: Paul Feig

I missed this one in the theater and I'm not too upset about it. The trailers really didn't do the movie justice, as it's pretty funny and a great parody of spy movies. I've been wary of McCarthy because it seems she's been pigeon-holed into being cast as the bumbling, weird character and relying too much on physical comedy instead of witty and clever jokes. Spy removes that equation - McCarthy's Susan Cooper is extremely capable and pretty awesome at being a field agent. Jason Statham is her profane counterpart throughout the movie that turns everything upside down while maintaining he's the better spy. Rose Byrne has always been solid in these comedies and she delivers as the main villain. So there's a lot to love here and I laughed quite a bit.

While this movie isn't worth repeat viewings, it's still a funny parody and worth checking out.
24. The Martian (PG-13) - Runtime: 144 minutes
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Drew Goddard

Wow. This is one of the year's best movies. Combining elements of Cast Away and Apollo 13, The Martian will certainly be referenced as one of those feel-good dramas that we all loved back in the 90s. This time it's Ridley Scott's turn to get in on that Robert Zemeckis-like action and he delivers a solid, thrilling tale. All of this movie depends on the lead delivering a great performance and Damon is up to the task. He successfully maintains that balance of being optimistic and slightly bonkers throughout and it works perfectly in this film. And the movie is cut perfectly - Scott deftly maneuvers between Mars and Earth where everyone is involved in getting Damon back home. It's a beautiful film that knows when to throw a joke in or two amongst the madness.

Hopefully this movie doesn't get overlooked during awards season - it seriously is one of the best this year.
22. The Walk (PG) - Runtime: 123 minutes
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: Robert Zemeckis, Christopher Browne

Speaking of Zemeckis, he did a pretty great job translating the amazing true story of Philippe Petit and his transcendent walk between the World Trade Towers back in the 70s. The documentary, Man on Wire, is amazing, but Zemeckis manages to take you right there on the wire with Petit. That sounds completely hokey, but this whole movie is hokey. Right down to the narration by JGL - where he's talking straight to the audience from the torch on the Statue of Liberty. It's amazing cheesy, but that's kind of how Petit's character operates - he's obscenely cheerful and full of optimism and hope throughout the whole film (and that seems pretty accurate comparing it to the documentary). I saw this in 3D and it was worth it - there are some insane moments in the film and it's scary even though you know everyone will be okay.

Although the movie does take about half and hour to get going, once it does, it's hard to not be on the edge of your seat.
44. The Wedding Ringer (R) - Runtime: 101 minutes
Starring: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad
Director: Jeremy Garelick
Writer: Jeremy Garelick, Jay Lavender
UGH. What a dumb, silly movie. The trailer at least made this look like a comprehensible film What you get is a mess of scenes stitched together like some Frankenstein's monster to make 101 minutes of garbage. I mean, there's a couple crazy scenes in this movie that just come out of nowhere - the whole bachelor party as an example - and nothing makes sense and you're supposed to laugh because it's so crazy, man! Like a dog licking a penis is funny, right?!? And the premise is so absurd that even in the heightened-reality of the movie, it's hard to swallow that none of these guys ends up dead or in jail or possibly both? I can't believe I decided this movie was worth seeing - it's awful and represents the worst of humankind's creativity. Or lack thereof.