2016 Media in Review: All the movies

Yesterday I posted about all the movies I’d seen in theaters during 2016, and now it’s time for the promised numbers nerdiness as I break down all the movies I watched (and the one I couldn’t finish) in 2016. Or you can skip the math and go straight to the list.

I typically track four stats on movies: the month I watched it, the year released, genre, and whether I’ve seen it before. This year I added whether it was DVD/streaming or in theaters and just made one list.

Of the 31 movies I watched this year (up from 2015’s 23, down from 36 and 47 the prior two years), 14 were repeats. That’s nearly half (45 percent), which means I succeeded in watching more things that were new to me than not.

The bulk of my movies this year (14  again) came from the 2010s. And with 8 (25.8 percent) being brand new this year, that probably explains why. It was a pretty even haul for the 1980s-2000s, with six (19 percent) from 1985-89 and five each (16 percent) from the other two decades. The lone outlier was 1939’s The Wizard of Oz.

When did I watch it?

July was by far my biggest month with six movies, four of which were at the theater.  August would have tied (all streaming or DVD) except for the one movie I could not bring myself to keep watching. More on that down below. I must have been spending October trying to catch up on last season’s TV shows, because I didn’t watch a single movie during my birth month. And I only watched one (3 percent) in January, March and November.


You know what? I’m going kill this section for this time. Because I didn’t always track that stat as I went, and I just don’t feel like making last-minute decisions on what constitutes a an action movie or a sci fi movie or if a superhero movie should be its own category or if a kids’ version of drama/action/adventure is different from the rest.

So let’s get down the the official list. Italicized movies were repeats, bold were in the theater, and plain-face were new to me. With the exception of theater movies, which I covered here, commentary is given where commentary is deserved.

The master list

1. Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015), animated – I’ve never seen the first one, but my brother and sister-in-law were watching this, and I was there, so I did, too. It was cute, and if I didn’t know the Dracula character was Adam Sandler, I probably wouldn’t have guessed.

2. Little Spies (1986), kids’ drama – Technically, this was part of The Wonderful World of Disney (formerly Disney’s Wonderful World of Color). It’s a TV anthology that started in the 1940s. When I was watching it in the ’80s, it was essentially a movie with a related introduction and act breaks hosted by Michael Eisner. This was how I first saw Flight of the Navigator, The Richest Cat in the World, and this movie, Little Spies, which is about some kids who rescue their dog from an evil kennel master with the help of Mickey Rooney. Obviously it’s going to be super dated and unrealistic, but it’s still a really fun little movie, and is very memorable. Parts of it I watched and it was like I just watched it the night before, that’s how well I remembered it. Plus, I swear you can watch one of the kids age considerably between the beginning and the end, which is kind of funny.

You can watch it on youtube today:

3. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), drama – Ah, the early 90s, before Johnny Depp got weird and Leonardo DiCaprio was best known as the stray kid the Seavers pseudo-adopted on Growing Pains. I do really like this movie, and it does make you wonder why it took 23 years and a bear mauling for Leo to win an Oscar.

4. Zathura (2005), family – Jumanji with a space-themed game and half the heart is still a pretty good movie.

5. Star Trek: Generations (1994), science fiction/action adventure
6. Iron Man (2008), superhero – The movie that started the MCU is still one of the best in the franchise.
7. Thor (2011), superhero

8. Son of Batman (2014), animated – It’s still a little weird hearing somebody who isn’t Kevin Conroy voice Batman, but I got over it for Under the Red Hood, and I got over it for this, too. I enjoyed it, and I’ll for sure watch its sequel, but this was perhaps the first Batman thing I’ve seen where I was a little pulled out by just how successfully violent pre-teen Damian Wayne was. I guess I’m just used to my Robins being a little older. And, you know, mostly not murderous ninjas.
9. Captain America: Civil War

10. The Substance of Fire (1996), drama – This shouldn’t surprise me given I created a hashtag for the ridiculous ways Netflix describes Star Trek DS9, but this film was so much more than its summary. Sure, siblings rally around their gay brother when their book publisher father won’t publish his boyfriend’s novel, but that’s like, 1/3 of the story, which is really about a dysfunctional family and the struggle one son in particular faces while caring for their aging, heading toward senile patriarch. It’s really good, with a great cast, including Ron Rifkin, Timothy Hutton, Tony Goldwynn and Sarah Jessica Parker.

11. Motivation 2: The Chris Cole Story (2015), documentary — Hey, I’ll watch all the skateboarding documentaries Netflix wants to rec me, and this one did not disappoint. As expected, it covered the early life, inspirations and rise of pro skater Chris Cole. Lots of great interviews, skate clips and stories. Sidenote: If you haven’t seen Rodney Mullen’s TEDtalk “Pop an Ollie and Innovate,” you totally should. Here it is.

12. The Next Best Thing (2000), dramedy
13. Space Camp (1986), adventure –
This film about a group of kids at Space Camp and the robot who sends them into the stars has a great cast of then-rising talent (Lea Thompson, Tate Donovan and Joaquin “Leaf” Phoenix) plus Tom Skerritt and is really hard not to love, even if it’s, shall we say, scientifically flawed.

14. The Wizard of Oz (1939), family
15. Return to Oz (1985), adventure –
My favorite Oz product, and it’s getting a documentary this year that I can’t wait for.

16. Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), science fiction/action
17. X-Men: Apocalypse
(2016), superhero
18. Star Trek (2009), science fiction/action
19. Ghostbusters (2016), comedy
20. Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013), science fiction/action
21. Star Trek Beyond (2016), science fiction/action

22. Near Dark (1987), supernatural – What a strange movie. It’s a vampire movie that never uses the word. I decided to give this a shot not terribly long after binge-watching Heroes (shared actor: Adrian Pasdar). I got it from Netflix and it sat on my shelf for months before I ever watched it. It’s not bad, and it kind of reminds me of a Lost Boys companion. The method to becoming un-vampirized is different, but I could imagine this roving band of vampires abducting and turning cowboys in the midwest while David and his gang stalk Santa Carla in California.

Gabe The Cupid Dog (2012), comedy/family – I’m sorry. I really tried to watch this story about a narrating dog who’s trying to break up its owner and girlfriend because the owner wants to move them from California to London. It was a cute enough premise, and I wanted to explore the other works of Teen Wolf’s Linden Ashby (this year I might tackle Mortal Kombat), but it was just bad. The dog’s voice actor was annoying, the lead human was bland, and while Ashby was doing his best early Matthew McConaughey impression, it wasn’t the most inspired of roles. I think I made it about 30 minutes.

23. Kindergarten Cop (1990), dramedy – I always say 90s Arnold Schwarzenegger is the best Arnold Schwarzenegger, and here’s the first proof. Twenty-six years later, and I still love this movie about the tough cop going undercover as a kindergarten teacher.

24. Kindergarten Cop 2 (2016), comedy – Eh. I don’t regret that I watched it, but I’ll never watch it again. This sequel puts Dolph Lundgren in the role of the cop turned teacher, and it lacks a lot of the original’s heart. It adds Bill Bellamy as the partner who helps Lundgren’s Detective Reed navigate the world of small children via earpiece, and that could have been really funny, but Reed was just a little too clueless (while thinking he knew everything) for it to work. Plus, there’s a fine line between straight up mocking the special snowflake culture and acknowledging the degree of ridiculousness that does exist while still supporting inclusivity, sensitivity and diversity. And Kindergarten Cop 2 isn’t nearly nuanced enough to handle it.

25. Star Trek: First Contact (1996), sci-fi action
26. Explorers
(1985), adventure – Man, this film about kids who build a space ship out of an old computer, carnival spare parts and a fever dream and meet teen  aliens who learned English from American TV does not hold up. But it’s good to see baby River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke.

27. Jekyll + Hyde (2006), horror/thriller) – Meh. Nothing really new or exciting here. A college kid invents a drug to enhance his personality and make him successful and it turns him into a killer who murders very nearly all his friends. And you know exactly how it ends in the first two minutes.

28. The Burbs (1989), comedy/thriller – Tom Hanks and his neighbors spy on the creepy family across the street who they think killed a member of the community. It really can’t decide if it wants to be a comedy or a thriller and there’s a whiff of childish “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” feel to it, but there’s a reason Hanks is the most  likable movie star around, and Carrie Fisher has a great role here, too.

29. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), fantasy/adventure

30. Doctor Strange (2016), superhero
31. Terminator Genisys (2015), action – I wrote about my second viewing of it here (where I determined it really holds up quite well post theater high), and then a couple weeks later I watched it again with my sister, and decided it just might have cemented its place as my second favorite Terminator movie with 1994’s The Terminator a very, very close third. (Terminator 2: Judgment Day of course topping the list.)

So, there you go. 31 movies in 12 months averages out to about 2.5 a month, which isn’t bad, considering how much TV takes up my free time. For 2017, I’m going to do the movie challenge my sister and I created, and adding the extra challenge of filling all categories with something I haven’t seen before. Read more about it here.

Leisure Time is on Twitter! Follow @TheLTtweet for post updates and smaller thoughts.


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