The 30 Movies I saw in 2016 (Ranked)


2016 has been a great year at the movies.

Action, Sports, Fantasy, Superheroes, Biopics, Slice of Life, Sci-Fi,  Comedy, Drama, Suspense, Thriller, Hollywood, Bollywood, Sequels, Prequels – 2016 had it all.

Here are the 30 movies I saw this year. Counting down from the not-so-great to the best of 2016.

Fairly standard plot with a surprisingly slow moving screenplay. Action sequences were ho-hum and the movie took its time in getting to the point. Unfortunately Tom Cruise in action mode is identified so much with Ethan Hunt, that the Jack Reacher franchise seems like a poor, low-tech and older cousin of the Mission Impossible series. Jack Reacher seriously needs to Never Go Back to this one.


What a great premise. A cricketer kidnapped on the eve of a final; A buddy cop setup with (Pumped with steroids) John Abraham and (Govinda+Akshay Kumar mix) Varun Dhawan; The return of Akshay Khanna – as a villain no less; Jacqueline; And….what a let down! Nothing came together. The chemistry seemed forced, the gags seemed stale and the story – what story! It had its moments (especially the Akshay Kumar cameo), but overall a strictly one time watch.


One of the many Akshay Kumar movies in this countdown, this one had him playing a Navy officer. Based on the real life Nanavati case, Akshay Kumar was terrific as usual, but the story moves slowly and eventually fizzles out. The twists seemed manufactured, the plot seemed convoluted and in the end the conclusion lacked punch. The movie needed to ensure that the lead character remains in the Grey zone – between good and the bad. But how do you make Akshay Kumar the bad guy?


Possibly the most disappointing movie of 2016. 2 of the biggest comic book superheroes ever, in the same movie, taking on each other. They even had Wonder Woman for company!! This was to be the punch of all punches to take on Marvel. But alas!! Dark, Overdone and  with the unintentionally funny “Save Martha” scene – the DC extended universe needs something really special from here-on to compete with Marvel. And Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? Let’s not even go there.
The 3rd movie in a trilogy is sometimes made only because it completes the trilogy. X Men nearly ends up like “that” third part. Nearly though. Better than the 2nd part, this one ensures that the trilogy does not end in disaster. Throwbacks to the original X-Men movies and a super all-powerful villain Apocalypse, save the movie from drowning under the collective weight of the franchise (this is the 8th one in the series!!)


DC comics waalo, take note. This is how a universe is expanded. Rogue One slots in between Episode 3 and Episode 4 and explains the backstory of how Princess Leia gets access to the original Deathstar plans. There were references galore to earlier characters (With Darth Vader getting decent screen time) and a number of new characters were introduced. I found the characters a little weak which was a bit off-putting. But I guess it was by design. You would still want the Skywalker family to be the most loved family in THE Galaxy far far away!


Akshay Kumar headlined this madcap 3rd part of the Housefull franchise. Needless to say I found him the best part of the movie. After Aakhiri Pasta of course. Ritesh Deshmukh was in his element as usual, with Abhishek Bachchan adding on well to the mix! Sharp, Funny, Fast with Boman Irani and Jackie Dada providing ample support – this was slapstick at its best. A bit overdone towards the end but overall, worth quite a few good laughs. Good to see Bollywood ramping out sequels (Though I dont think this will end with 3 movies only!)


Oh the courage of it all. What a brave heart. What a story. The subject was so strong that any movie on Neerja was sure to strike a chord. Put together a decently directed movie along with a truly Jhakaas performance by Sonam Kapoor and you have a winner. Although the story becomes a tad stretched towards the end, it had enough to make you emotional. In addition to one of the hijackers, Shabana Azmi as Neerja’s mom is the scene stealer here – adding just the right amount of heft to her inspiring story. Salute! 


I’ll be honest – I forced myself to see this one just for Bebop, Rocksteady and Krang and to relive the memories of one of the first few video games I played in the 90s. As it turned out, the movie was not bad at all! Although it lacked the finesse of big budget movies but the tone and tenor of the turtles and their relationship with each other and April was well captured. This one seemed to be made for the 90s fans – by a 90s fans themselves. Eagerly awaiting the inevitable 3rd one!! 


This Alia Bhatt – How old is she again? Because she performs like a veteran! What an year for her. A simple, slice of life movie made super relatable by her super acting. SRK gets a meaty cameo and he does not disappoint. This is possibly one of the few films where he does not have a love interest. So out go the raised arms and in comes the dry wit. Although I felt that after English Vinglish – this comes as a slightly lesser effort by Gauri Shinde. But with Doctor SRK in the house, no one was complaining. 


If this one would have gone bad, there would have been no looking back for DC. Although not up there yet, this was a marked improvement on Batman Vs Superman. Apparently there were large scale reshoots to make the movie funnier, faster and less darker then what it was originally supposed to be. And it did the trick for me. Many of these characters are expected to reappear in the DC Extended Universe and the movie sets things up nicely. But disappointingly very little of the Joker. Why so? Possibly he was the darkest part of the movie!!


Outer Space seems to be a current fascination for Hollywood. Either humans land up in space somehow (mostly Matt Damon) or aliens land up on earth. This is the latter. However, this one is different. It explores the scenario of aliens and humans interacting – without knowing each others language! (Unlike the Transformers and PK – who of course know our languages and even local dialects). Solid acting by the leads with a surprising and slightly warped climax, the movie kept me engaged. Although I felt it could have done with some more punch overall.


Karan Johar should have named this movie “Friend Zoned” and this movie would have made 300cr. All the engineers in India would have seen it. All the Koffee aside, KJO sure knows how to make a movie. Brilliant acting by the leads (I felt Anushka was the best, closely followed by Ranbir) and a solid soundtrack – I had a good time seeing this one. Needless controversy around Fawad Khan. Frankly his role could have been done away with altogether. Though a lot of people did not like it, but what to do – I am an engineer. I know ek-tarfa pyaar ki keemat! 


Every year there comes a movie which is not expected to do well but it surprises everyone with its content and performance. This year it was Happy Bhaag Jaaegi. Quirky, Funny and with the Indo Pak angle in the background – the movie checked all the boxes to become the sleeper success of the year. Jimmy Shergill did a similar turn as Tanu Weds Manu and while Happy was decent as well – Abhay Deol was refreshing and clearly stood out. Why are we not seeing more of him?


When superstars experiment, they do it with style. After doing some average movies in 2015, SRK decided enough was enough. So he appeared in a sort of remake of Darr. An average joe fan is obsessed with a star, the star whom he resembles facially. And with SRK himself playing the star and his lookalike – the acting was pitch perfect. And with the special effects, SRK was truly playing 2 totally different people. The movie was fast and though things become implausible towards the end – SRK delivered once again. This man can act. As and when he decides to.


Finally Durga Rani Singh was back on the big screen. Everyone had huge expectations from Kahaani 2 – goes without saying. And as a stand alone movie, I thought it was good movie. But when compared to the super and brilliant first part, things paled in comparison. The suspense was not as good as the first one and there were too many loose ends. The villain was weak and you could figure out how it was going to play out eventually. Never good for a suspense thriller. Arjun Rampal surprisingly was quite good. But this movie, like the first one, belonged to Vidya Balan. She is easily the best out there today.  


And Akshay Kumar is back. This man is a machine. By the time any of his movies come out, trailers for his next one have already started playing!  Based on the evacuation of Indians from war torn Kuwait (the largest ever evacuation apparently), the movie is part fact, part fiction with the central character of Akshay Kumar actually being an amalgamation of 2 real people. But our man makes it work. And how. A hero without being heroic – the movie has gripping scenes, a real historical backdrop and just the right amount of patriotism. Dear Akshay Kumar  – looking fwd 3-4 more of your movies in 2017!


What do you do when you have 10 years of blockbuster movies behind you? If you are Marvel, then you just simply introduce a new character!! A bit like Robert Downey’s Ironman, Doctor Strange is of the same mould. Smart, Rich, Witty, Successful, Full of himself – until an accident reforms him. We all know how it goes. Which is why Benedict Cumberbatch is the perfect choice for this role! He brings in the right kind of wit and humour to make this work. Else this could have been a weak reboot of Ironman. With phase 3 of the MCU taking off – we are in for a whole lot of action. Bring it on!


I always wait for an Anurag Kashyap movie with bated breath (Even Bombay Velvet!) and this one was no different. I went in expecting mayhem. And WOW. Darker than some of his darkest movies, Raman Raghav 2.0 is a study of a serial killer’s mind. Nawazuddin blazes on the screen in the negative performance of the year. He is crazy, evil, mad, logical, sinister, funny and totally unhinged – all in one go! He is so, so good that the other lead Vicky Kaushal (himself stunning in Masaan) just can’t keep up. Only if Nawazuddin was in a double role – this would have been much higher in my list.


I read somewhere that the trailer of this movie was the most disliked trailer ever on Youtube. To all the haters – you could not have been more wrong. It takes guts to remake the iconic Ghostbusters and then some more, to replace the male leads with female leads. And it turned out great! The humour was great (imagine the mighty Thor playing a Male Blonde eye-candy), the chemistry was awesome, the ghosts were scarier and the girls totally killed it (pun intended!). I really hope they come up with a sequel soon. Who you gonna call…(I know you said it)


I think this is the first time ever (at least in India) that a non-retired player has had a biopic made on him. But then Captain Cool is one of a kind. However this movie was less about Dhoni and more about Sushant Singh Rajput. He became MS Dhoni and MS Dhoni became him. Brilliant acting, accurate mannerisms, attention to detail along with MSD’s humble beginnings, struggle and word class achievements made this movie truly remarkable. The only complaint – Dhoni came across as too perfect. But when you are the producer as well, you can ensure such trivial things.


What Marvel has achieved is truly remarkable. And they show no signs of stopping!! Civil War was the 13th movie in the Marvel Universe. 13th!! And it was great! This is actually what Avengers: Age of Ultron should have been (even Marvel goes wrong sometimes) Only Thor and Hulk were missing in action as the Avengers team gets split right in the middle. Cap and Ironman were pillars around which everything was built. Black Panther was introduced along wit the new Spidey!! There has been a shift in dynamics within the MCU and I think something drastic is going to happen in the upcoming movies. Like I said – Bring it on!


After the super successful Harry Potter franchise, it would be difficult, no, impossible to make a similar engaging movie with wizards. Or so I thought. I was so wrong and so happy to be proven wrong. Set in the USA, about 50 years before the events of Harry Potter – JK Rowling is back as the creator, as the Wizarding world gets opened up to us again. With a seasoned director from the Harry Potter movies – the tone of the film takes off from the last Harry Potter movie. Funny, Action packed and with an awesome new cast and characters – I made an instant connect with them. This was like Harry Potter but meant for grown ups. Expected to be a 5 part franchise, this one surely has a “Fantastic” future ahead!


Bhaaaaiiii. That’s all. But wait. There is a story? Sports backdrop? Haryana you say? Yash Raj films? Some of the best actors around Bhai? Yes. And then – Bhaaaaiii. This was bound be big. And it truly was. The biggest movie of 2016, Bhai steamrolled competition and records like only he can. With every movie Salman Khan is getting better and Sultan was no exception. He is a superstar but he is not being complacent. There are subtle tweaks to accommodate his age and super stardom and then once all is setup, Bhai gets into the groove and delivers a knockout punch. Imagine Rocky fighting for Love. Yes. It happens only in India.


My word. The most irreverent movie I have seen in a while. Clearly the makers were having a blast making this movie. No punches were held back and it translated into the most fun I have had in a R-Rated movie ever. To top it all – the movie was released over the Valentines day weekend. Take that Cupid! Surprisingly our censor board was not too sanskaari and was good with all the cuss words. An Adult certificate was given and that was that. After a really sad turn as Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds comes into his own and totally owns Deadpool with his deadpan delivery and smart-ass lines. Superheroes rejoice – we have another winner. Imagine a movie with Ironman, Doctor Strange and Deadpool. Oh boy.


What Deadpool was for superhero territory, Udta Punjab was for Bollywood and the Anurag Kashyap brand of cinema. Top stars being part of an irreverent, but set in real world story – against the backdrop of the Drug menace in Punjab. There were cuss words galore and a needless controversy thanks to our censor board. But this was a movie which deserved to be seen in all its glory. 4 characters, separate journeys – all of whom come together thanks to Udta Punjab. While Shahid Kapoor and Alia Bhatt shone, the spotlight was stolen by the brilliant Daljit Dosanjh. And the music – oh man. I could have seen this one for the soundtrack alone. 


Pink. The name was all that I knew about this movie when it came out. That – and Amitabh Bachchan. Until the first reviews rolled in. And there was no stopping the movie after that. This is such an important movie, at so many levels. It’s hard hitting, relevant, real and much needed. So much so, that I feel this should be mandatorily shown in schools and colleges. The movie shakes you up and in a way, which you will not forget in a hurry. Top notch performances by the girls and (just like the poster) Big-B towering above them. If ever there was an example of the power of cinema – then this is it. Pink.


And the Bronze goes to…… You read about a movie being re-made, great stars, super director, new technology and you go – hmmmm. This will turn out good. But nothing prepared the world for The Jungle Book. Rich, colourful, Vibrant and amazingly lifelike. The kid playing Mowgli was the only real actor in the movie. Rest everything was totally and mind-blowlingly “unreal”. Amazing voiceovers, brilliant CGI, Super effective 3D, the element of thrill and danger, and at the centre of it all – the man cub Mowgli. This one truly took me (and possibly quite a lot of Indians) back to childhood when a certain phool was growing up- chaddi pehen ke. 


And the Silver goes to…..Aamir Khan rarely goes wrong. And when he goes right, he effectively sets new standards for Bollywood. This time he really went right and the bar has been set higher. Bhai thought he would sail home with the biggest movie of the year, but right towards the end of the year came Dangal. What a brilliant, brilliant movie. So much so that it nearly makes Sultan look amateurish. Everything about the movie (except the climax maybe) was pitch perfect. The language, the acting, the story, the emotions, the direction, and the girls – young and old both. Rooted and real with a strong sports+family+never give up message at its core, this is truly one of the best films of the year. 


And the Gold goes to……This gem of a movie. It rarely happens that the make-believe world of cinema is able to exactly mirror the real world. However when the story, screenplay, casting, music, acting, direction – all come together seamlessly, that’s when the magic happens. Fawad Khan, Rajat Kapoor, Ratna Pathak were stunning. So much so that the others (including Alia Bhatt and Rishi Kapoor!) were overshadowed! Nothing in the movie seemed contrived. I felt that the situations were real, the people on screen were real, their problems were real, and the way they reacted to them was real. This one is about family. We all might be different and have our differences – but in the end, we are all family. Magical. The best film of the year for me.


That’s it folks. Khel Khatam. Paisa Hajam!! Here’s to 2017!!!


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