As with almost any year, 2016 has had its fair share of good and bad movies. We are right in the middle of the summer movie season, and it feels like there are way too many movies coming out every week. It is becoming really hard to keep up with them all. Either that, or a truly excellent movie may get little or no attention when during its initial launch. That being the case, it is really easy for some truly great movies to slip through the cracks.
In terms of what movies people are seeing this year, it isn't exactly a surprise. Though, one look at the Box Office Mojo 2016 top grossing movies chart, and there are a few things that weren't expected back in January. Disney is having another astonishing year, with Captain America: Civil War having grossed $1.147 billion worldwide, good enough for the top spot overall. Zootopia was expected to be a hit, but not a $1 billion blockbuster, good enough for the number two spot this year. If that wasn't good enough, Disney also killed it with The Jungle Book, which made $930 million worldwide. Those movies may have over-performed, but it isn't exactly mind blowing that a lot of people saw them.
We all know that superhero movies are going to do very well, even when they don't. Deadpool was considered to be a massive risk for Fox, and even if it had made half of the $780 million it wound up making, it would have been a huge success. On the flip side of the coin, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice made a seemingly very respectable $872 million, but it has been widely considered a failure, as it should have easily made $1 billion. Either way, a lot of people saw these two movies.
But what about the movies that may have slipped through yoru fingers? With Cannes and other film festivals taking place throughout the year, we may hear a lot of buzz for smaller movies, but might not ever get wind of when they are playing near us, or how to see them at all. Not only that, but the VOD market has grown so much, that a movie may barely have any kind of a theatrical release before winding up on your cable box or on iTunes to rent. In any case, it is pretty easy to miss a great movie these days.
2016 specifically has had some truly excellent movies that not nearly enough people have seen. These movies range from very tiny indie movies, to blockbuster level movies that just not enough people felt the need to take the time to go see for some reason. Even if you see a lot of movies, it is very likely you have missed at least a few of these, so here are 7 of the best 2016 movies you might have missed this year.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Some might say it is very unfair to put a movie that made more than $100 million at the global box office on a list like this. Those people would be wrong, in my humble opinion. 10 Cloverfield Lane is such a unique movie, and that may have been part of the problem which kept it from making the boatloads of cash it probably deserved. What's more is that none of us even knew that we were getting the long awaited sort-of sequel to Cloverfield we had been waiting years for until just a few months before its release. As anyone who saw the movie will tell you, it was worth the very long wait.
J.J. Abrams pulled a fast one over on us and disguised 10 Cloverfield Lane as an unheard of thriller that nobody cared about, directed by a total newbie in Dan Trachtenberg. The movie centers around three people who are locked in a bomb shelter after something mysterious goes very wrong on the outside. John Goodman delivers one the best and most chilling performances of his career and the isolation makes for an excellent thriller, until the world opens up at the end. What is so great and so fun about the movie is that it spends most of the time being one thing, and then very suddenly, becomes something entirely different. It is something that only a guy like Abrams could get away with and works out to be a terrible amount of fun. If you missed it in theaters, do yourself a favor and watch it on Blu-ray with some friends. It is like one, long, excellent episode of The Twilight Zone with a killer cast and a big budget. Need I say more?
I remember seeing the initial advertising materials for Keanu. I saw that cat and thought "This movie is going to crush it." As it turns out, it didn't. Not by any stretch of the imagination. The first Key and Peele movie only made just over $20 million in total at the box office, and that is a complete crime. Anyone who watched Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele do their thing on Comedy Central knows that they are some of the most gifted comedy minds working in Hollywood today,and Keanu serves as a great extension of that. For those that may not know, the movie is something of a spoof of the Keanu Reeves movie John Wick ,and revolves around Key and Peele trying to get their kitten back from a bunch of drug dealers.
For one, the pair couldn't have cast a cuter and more perfect kitten for the role of Keanu, and that oddly anchors the emotion of the movie. But really, nobody cares about that. What they really want to do is laugh, and Keanu will absolutely make you laugh. Either that, or you may be dead inside. Keanu is without question of the funniest movies of the year and has gone criminally under-appreciated. If you've liked anything you have ever seen Key and Peele do, then this is a movie you absolutely must see.
There are a lot of reasons that some movies don't wind up reaching a massive audience, but one of the primary reasons is that some movies just aren't for everyone. That doesn't make them any less worthwhile though,and that is where Green Room comes in. Horror movies in general are not for everyone, and that is not to say that this movie is a straight up horror movie, but that is what it mostly identifies as. Green Room is a very violent, brutal, unrelenting and gritty movie, and one that even certain horror fans may find to be a bit much at times. I am not saying this in order to convince anyone not to see it, but it is worth knowing.
Despite the movies very brutal nature, Green Room is a relentlessly effective thriller and features a stellar cast who all deliver great performances, including the late Anton Yelchin. Patrick Stewart also delivers a very different type of role than we are used to seeing him do, as the leader of a Nazi, skinhead group. The plot revolves around a punk band who is playing a show at a skinhead bar when something goes very wrong and the wind up trapped, being held captive and having to try and escape with their lives. If you can handle very bloody violence, then definitely see Green Room, because it is an excellent and very memorable movie that deserves an audience.
Jeff Nichols is becoming one of the best auteur filmmakers we have today, and he has accomplished that in a very short period of time. We had suspected that Nichols may be on the verge of becoming someone truly special after his last movie Mud, but with his latest effort Midnight Special, it became abundantly clear and impossible to ignore. In a world dominated by traditional superhero movies, Nichols took the concept of a boy with strange powers and sort of turned it on its head. Granted, the movie also feels like the middle of a story, rather than something totally linear, but it feels like the great Spielberg Amblin movies of old. The cast is absolutely killer, led by Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver. Midnight Special barely registered at the box office, but if Rotten Tomatoes is to be believed, critics and fans alike feel that this is a must see, and I would agree.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Michael Bay is a director that gets an awful lot of crap from critics and a large percentage of the moviegoing public who are no longer entertained by the Transformers franchise. The thing is, and he does make it is to forget, that given the right set of circumstances, he is actually a great filmmaker. As it turns out, he may have actually made his best movie this year, and it was almost totally ignored by everyone. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is a terrific war movie about the Benghazi incident from 2012. Sure, it was a very quick turn around for a movie about it, but that doesn't overwrite the quality of it. Bay has always been great at making stuff blow up, and given that this is a war movie, he definitely got the chance to do that. But what's different here is that the story actually works and the characters don't feel like caricatures. Even if you usually hate Bay, 13 Hours is a movie that you absolutely should see, because it is quite simply a great movie.
Netflix has been stepping up their game in a big way over the last year or so when it comes to getting exclusive movies for their streaming service. Interestingly enough, they tend to just drop the movies onto the site without making a big stink about it, so it can be very easy to miss some truly great stuff. Such is the case with the Blumhouse horror movie Hush. Netflix reportedly paid top dollar to get this movie, which led to the horror studio option out of a theatrical release. One might think that a direct to Netflix horror movie might lack in terms of quality, and they couldn't be more wrong. Hush is not just a great, original, and well done horror movie, it is just a great movie in general. The plot revolves around a deaf writer who lives in the woods by herself. Saying anymore would ruin the fun, but just know, it is truly terrifying and satisfying. For whatever it is worth, if you need more convincing, the movie currently has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and you don't have to pay to see it if you already have Netflix.
Every once in awhile a movie comes along that is simply impossible to hate. Sing Street is one of those movies. Director John Carney has a particular talent for merging music with movies, and he absolutely perfected it with this purely delightful movie about a boy who starts a band in order to impress a girl, all set against a backdrop of 1980s Dublin. The plot is very simple, but there is so much emotion, heart, charm and excellent music surrounding Sing Street that it becomes a truly infectious and undeniably lovable movie. The movie is no doubt a musical, and that can be a turnoff for some people. That being said, as a guy who really hates musicals, this is my favorite movie of 2016 and is a musical that doesn't really feel like a musical. The musical numbers in Sing Street are all organic enough to not take you out of it. They have the opposite effect actually. Not only that, but the original music for the movie is truly fantastic, catchy and will be stuck in your head for days of not weeks after your are doing watching it. So many award-worthy or blockbuster movies these days are dark, or about something that is a bit unpleasant to talk about. Sing Street is just simple, perfectly executed, cinematic joy through and through, and that is something we need more of. Every single person should see this movie, and probably pick up the soundtrack as well.
We are only halfway through 2016, and there are a lot of great movies to come in the remaining months of the year. The awards season is right around the corner, and oh yeah, there is another Star Wars movie coming out in December. But if you find yourself at home wanting something to watch, there are definitely some great, varied movies that you haven't seen that will help tide you over until you find that next hidden gem. All of the movies on this list are available on VOD or Blu-ray now.