The Geek Beat: The 10 Best Geeky Movies of 2016

The Geek Beat: The 10 Best Geeky Movies of 2016

Jan 04, 2017

In our last column, we took a look ahead to the geeky films we're most excited about this year, but what about the 12 months of movies behind us?

Last year was filled with epic highs and lows both inside and outside theaters, and for every film that fell short of expectations, there was a movie that either lived up to all of the hype or came out of nowhere to surprise us in the best possible way. From the unexpectedly moving alien encounter in Arrival to the brilliant, genre-busting wit of Deadpool, it was a good year for superhero, sci-fi, and fantasy fare.

Here are the 10 movies (listed in alphabetical order, not by how much we love them) that had much to do with making it such a great year for fans of geek-friendly cinema:

 

10 Cloverfield Lane

This loosely connected, pseudo-sequel to 2008's Cloverfield was a surprise to everyone when the trailer premiered back in January, and kept us all guessing right up to – and in some cases, after – the film hit theaters. The story of a woman who wakes up in an underground bunker and is told by her fellow inhabitants that a mysterious event has made the Earth's surface uninhabitable, 10 Cloverfield Lane is propelled along by the one-two punch of its grand mystery and a powerful performance from John Goodman that's one of the year's best.

 

Arrival

No one knew what to expect when Prisoners and Sicario director Denis Villeneuve decided to try his hand at science-fiction, but the result is one of the year's best sci-fi movies – and it's right up there among the year's best movies, regardless of genre, too. An emotional, thought-provoking film that takes a well-worn premise in bold and fascinating directions, Arrival challenges the way you think about humanity, life, time, and so many other topics while serving up an experience that never strays too far from its alien-encounter theme. Most importantly, however, Arrival shows the enormous potential of the sci-fi genre.

 

Captain America: Civil War

Every Marvel movie is an event these days, and the team-up films are even more so now that the studio's cinematic universe is so massive. There was no shortage of hype leading up to the release of Civil War, and the final product exceeded most fans' expectations by not only introducing a host of new characters, but also giving them ample screen time and some of the movie's most memorable sequences. Where previous films have felt like one-and-done affairs, Civil War actually felt like a seismic shift in the status quo of Marvel's live-action universe.

 

Deadpool

For quite a few years, it seemed like Marvel's mouthy mercenary would never get the solo adventure he deserved, but when he finally did it was everything fans hoped for... and then some. Over the top in all the right ways, Deadpool made a strong case for itself as the film Ryan Reynolds was born to star in, and the ripples from its success (to the tune of $363 million in U.S. theaters) will likely – and rightfully – be felt for years to come in the world of comic book movies and beyond.

 

The Jungle Book

Creating one believable CGI animal for the big screen is difficult enough, but digitally manufacturing an entire jungle full of realistic creatures that not only look and move like their real-world counterparts but also talk and sing, well... that's quite an achievement. Not only is The Jungle Book a visual masterpiece that takes the potential of digital filmmaking to an entirely new level, but it's also an excellent adaptation of a beloved animated movie that retains much of the original film's humor and heart while adding another dimension to the story.

 

Kubo and the Two Strings

Laika Studios' stop-motion feature was unlike anything else that arrived in theaters in 2016, and its blend of Eastern and Western storytelling offered up a criminally under-appreciated adventure that reminded audiences of a movie's ability to sweep you away in a breathtaking, fantastic experience. Much to the film's credit, it's easy to forget the painstaking process involved in bringing Kubo and the Two Strings to life on the screen, and an already great movie becomes even better when you do remember it.

 

The Little Prince

The first feature-length, animated adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic children's novel had a rough road to the screen here in the U.S., but it finally made it there with some help from Netflix. While some fans of the book took issue with the story that was crafted around Saint-Exupéry's original tale, the film did a remarkable job of capturing the innocence and wonder that's a hallmark of the 1943 story. There's a lot of beauty to be found in The Little Prince, and the film brings it to the screen in a wonderfully vibrant way.

 

Midnight Special

This sci-fi film from writer/director Jeff Nichols generated a lot of positive buzz during its limited release and quickly became an under-the-radar darling due to its impressive cast and clever story about a father and his supernaturally gifted son on the run from shadowy government agencies and a crazed cult. The film's emotional themes will certainly hit home for parents, but never feel heavy-handed or forced, and with Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Adam Driver playing key roles in the movie, there's a lot of great performances to go around in this low-profile, but highly entertaining thriller.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Hardcore and casual fans alike wondered how the first standalone feature in the new, rejuvenated sci-fi franchise's universe would be received, and Rogue One proved that a movie doesn't need to have “Episode” in its title to be a great Star Wars story. A Dirty Dozen-style space adventure, Rogue One offered a decidedly different sort of Star Wars adventure tonally, but never strayed too far from what makes Star Wars such a beloved franchise. If anything, it showed us how much untapped potential the saga still has.

 

The Witch

One of the scariest movie trailers of all time was followed by one of the creepiest movies in recent years, but what really stands out about The Witch is how fearlessly it told the story it wanted to tell in a unique – and let's face it, risky – way. The story of a Puritan family in 17th century New England plagued by their own paranoia bred and belief in a supernatural entity terrorizing them, The Witch burns slower than any horror movie in quite a while, but the payoff is well worth the unsettling journey.


Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at Movies.com, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV. You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.

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