So long, 2016 — entertainment year in review

By Ashley Pauls/Box Office Buzz

2016 was quite a year — in both good ways and bad. While 2016 will probably not go down in history as one of the most beloved years, at least it was a very good year in entertainment.

“Deadpool” kicked off the year with a bang, and the R-rated superhero comedy broke Ryan Reynolds’ apparent box office curse. While I didn’t end up loving the movie *quite* as much as the majority seemed to, I had a blast watching Reynolds’ gleefully unfiltered performance.

And speaking of superhero movies… DC and Warner Bros. hit some speed-bumps on their road to building a cinematic universe. Neither “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” nor “Suicide Squad” received very good critical reviews. Of the two, I actually preferred “Batman v. Superman,” which I think received more criticism than it deserved. Despite my initial skepticism, Ben Affleck made a pretty good Batman. Unfortunately, my opinion of “Suicide Squad” has gone down the more time that has passed since I saw it, and it arguably remains 2016’s most frustrating missed opportunity. Next year’s “Wonder Woman” needs to be a critical and commercial success in order to get the DC franchise back on track.

Marvel’s cinematic universe fared better, with two major hits: “Captain America: Civil War” and “Doctor Strange.” Although “Civil War” wasn’t technically an Avengers movie, it was, for all intents and purposes, an Avengers movie, and it was the best one yet. Whether you were #TeamStark or #TeamCap, this film took the MCU in an exciting new direction by delving into tricky ethical issues and resisting the temptation to give us a perfectly wrapped-up ending. “Doctor Strange” shook things up again for the MCU, taking us on a trippy, magical adventure and introducing Benedict Cumberbatch to Marvel’s superhero team.

2016 was a big year for several film franchises. While some fans have mixed feelings about the Star Trek reboot films, this summer’s “Beyond” seemed to be well-received. It was like a jumbo episode of the Original Series with a super-sized budget, and it contained many great moments between classic characters. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” returned fans to the magical world of Harry Potter, traveling back to 1920s New York. While it didn’t capture quite the same magic as the best of the Harry Potter films, it was still a fun adventure with plenty of whimsical creatures. And of course, Disney continued its revitalized Star Wars franchise with “Rogue One,” a prequel about how the Rebels stole the plans for the original Death Star. “Rogue One” was gritty and thrilling, with a tragic ending and a fantastic Darth Vader cameo. With the success of last year’s “The Force Awakens” and now “Rogue One,” the Force does indeed appear to be with Disney.

It was also a good year for smaller films; they may not have topped the blockbusters financially, but they made an impact of their own. “Kubo and the Two Strings” — a tale about a boy and his magical Japanese instrument — was a beautifully animated and poignant film. “Arrival” was a surprisingly intimate story about an alien invasion, reflecting on the power of communication and the importance of embracing life, with both its joys and tragedies. Both of these films felt particularly relevant this year.

The most controversial movie of the year was probably the “Ghostbusters” reboot. Although rebooting a beloved franchise typically gives fans at least some cause for concern, unfortunately the film’s all-female cast received a lot of hate. While the film was entertaining and funny — though not groundbreaking — unfortunately it couldn’t overcome all the bad buzz, and it under-performed at the box office.

No post about 2016 would be complete without hitting on some of the highlights from the smaller screen as well. TV continues to experience a resurgence of quality content, particularly nontraditional formats like Netflix. “Stranger Things” made a huge splash and has quickly become a pop culture staple, while Netflix and Marvel’s partnership continues to produce quality content, the most recent being “Luke Cage.” While I could probably fill up another post just talking about TV, one other highlight was the final season of “Downton Abbey,” PBS’ surprise hit. Even people who didn’t normally watch period dramas tuned in every week to follow the exploits of a wealthy British family and their servants. Like all the best TV show endings, it left us satisfied but wishing for just a bit more.

Although there were some truly great movies and TV shows this year, we had to say goodbye to many well-loved celebrities. With the loss of famous musicians like David Bowie and Prince, actors like Carrie Fisher and Alan Rickman, and historical figures such as John Glenn and Muhammad Ali, the year certainly ended on a bittersweet note.

We all hope brighter skies are ahead for 2017!

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