What a year! The world’s a changing place and no less so than with the welcome onslaught of new movies, television shows, books, comics, and everything else that entertained us in 2016. All year long we tried to keep up with the best of what Hollywood had to offer and honed in on the genre content we thought was worth examining. We went back and looked at it all and pulled together our picks for our annual Best of the Best list. We watched all of nearly two dozen TV series, and enough of others to know we’d seen enough. We watched dozens of new movies, reviewed more than three dozen books (and read even more), and kept up with dozens of comic book titles. We witnessed the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Archie, and Captain America, the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and Charles Schulz’s Great Pumpkin, Rocky turned 40, and it was the 30th anniversary of Aliens and Labyrinth. And the Cubs finally won the World Series.
Today we reveal the best genre content of 2016–with our top categories from movies and television Best Sci-Fi Fix, Best Fantasy Fix, Best Superhero Fix, Best Animated Fix, and Best Borg, followed by our Best in Movies picks. The big winner was Rogue One, taking 13 spots, followed by Doctor Strange with three. Come back later this week for our TV and print media picks, our special look at Kick-ass Heroines of 2016, followed by our annual borg.com Hall of Fame inductees.
Best Sci-Fi Fix – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Lucasfilm). Although the franchise is more space fantasy than science fiction, all the elements of the best sci-fi were crammed into Rogue One. Epic space battles, aliens, and loads of sci-fi technology. A compelling story. We’re wagering this film will be a classic we go back to for years to come, upsetting Star Wars: The Force Awakens as the third best of the eight films in the series. It’s everything a sci-fi fan could want.
Best Fantasy Fix – The Huntsman: Winter’s War (Universal Pictures). Like Rogue One it was a prequel that was also a sequel. Better than the original Snow White and the Huntsman, this early 2016 release provided a high-fantasy story rooted in the classic fairy tale, rewarding viewers midway with a surprise change-up. Three tough female leads, four brave (and funny) dwarves, two epic quests, a fairy tale romance, and elaborate costumes and sets made for a perfect fantasy film.
Best Superhero Fix – The Magnificent Seven (MGM/Columbia Pictures). When we first reviewed The Magnificent Seven we were surprised it had adapted the Yul Brynner version and Akira Kurosawa’s earlier Seven Samurai so well. We were even more surprised at how well the cast, and cast of characters, worked together to create a true ensemble piece. It rivaled every attempt by the studios to make a great superhero team-up, and, but for the Western garb and setting, it rates as the year’s best of the superhero genre. Runner-up, a close contender for the win was the second appearance of Evan Peters as Quicksilver doing his speedster business slow-motion style again in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Best Retro Fix – Stranger Things (Netflix). It’s a TV series that would have made a solid movie hit in 1982. So many series appear unexpectedly these days with a full season ready to stream immediately. Most demonstrate why they couldn’t cut it with the networks or a major cable channel. Not so with some of Netflix’s series, especially the surprise hit Stranger Things. With a nicely eerie soundtrack, title font, a Twin Peaks-meets Steven Spielberg coming of age film cul-de-sac for the setting, and John Carpenter meets Stephen King vibe, it’s no wonder Stranger Things was the #1 talked about series this year. Our favorite part, besides the young heroine of the show, was the attention to throwback clothes, toys, posters, and 1980s pop culture references. It’s a series we’ll revisit in the future, and look forward to in its second season.
Best Borg/Best Movie Villain – Darth Vader (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Darth Vader returned in his best scene of the franchise outside of The Empire Strikes Back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It wasn’t James Earl Jones’s return to voice one of the best villains in the history of cinema that grabbed us, but the full-on rampage Vader takes to pursue the stolen Rebel plans in the film’s finale. Director (and lifelong Star Wars fan) Gareth Edwards gave fans exactly what they wanted, utilizing an impressive UK creature actor Spencer Wilding to do his bidding as the imposing Lord of the Sith. We also got a peek at what little of the man remained years after his battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi. We saw inside his cybernetic suit of armor via a scene featuring him floating in a bacta tank. Darth Vader remains one of the greatest borgs of all time.
Want to know who we picked for best in effects, soundtrack, and best sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, and horror movies of the year? Take a look after the cut…