Christmas day has arrived and as the new year inches its way around the corner, now becomes an appropriate time to look back on 2016's cinematic offerings. I had tempered expectations coming into the year, yet very few surprises and a narrow collection of upper echelon films leaves 2016 as less than impressionable. First up on the docket for the many year-end lists, let's examine the most overrated films of the past year.
Criteria: To classify a film as "overrated" it needs to be prevalent in at least two of three distinct areas. I take into account the film's critical reception, its box-office showing and awards season recognition.
Honorable Mention: Deepwater Horizon, The Lobster and Love & Friendship
#5. Doctor Strange
I left the theater at the end of Civil War completely pleased with the current state of the Marvel film universe. Therefore, once Scott Derrickson's dimension-shattering effort, Doctor Strange, opened to rave reviews that all it to currently stand at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, I needed to continue my loyalties to Marvel. Now, I can't hold Doctor Strange in the highest regard considering it lands on such a list, yet I must clearly state that I didn't "hate" the film. Instead, I view the blockbuster as a terribly mediocre effort that delivers a few intelligent ideas, but drowns its audience in mind-numbing visual effects and cheaply written jokes. Doctor Strange cashed in with a nearly $228 million box-office and currently sits on the Oscar short-list of 10 films battling for Best Visual Effects nominations. And for all those reasons, I must label Doctor Strange as an overrated piece of work.
#4. The Conjuring 2
As a devout horror fan who really enjoyed the James Wan's first installment to the franchise, I feel obligated to call out this sequel for what it really is, an over-extended and minimally effective scary movie. The Conjuring 2 grossed north of $100 million and found vocal support from every 4 out of 5 film critics. Those type of qualifications should amount to a stronger film than the one Wan delivered. The Conjuring 2 proves an overly ambitious horror effort, focusing extensively on two separate storylines, and consequently both feel shortchanged by this shared attention. Once again, like my last entry The Conjuring 2 isn't an awful film, it just falls well shy of all the adoration that it's accumulated.
For quite some time Denzel Washington's adaptation of August Wilson's Tony-winning play, Fences, was supposed the surprise film of the year. Early rumblings were positive and they've carried over into an incomprehensible 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While Fences stands as an absolute acting showcase, the film is otherwise riddled with flaws. Its reliance on story-telling dialogue bleeds through a paper-thin script than addresses different relationships with a careless lack of detail. A punishingly slow place and a complete absence of entertainment value, Fences has earned SAG's most prestigious nomination (Best Ensemble) and both lead stars, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, have fared well with individual SAG and Golden Globe noms, solidifying the film's shortcomings in every other area of filmmaking.
I know, bah humbug right? What type of person would rip a kids movie like Zootopia? Full disclosure, I'm picky when it comes to family films like this one. And, unfortunately, I walked out of Zootopia bored and uninterested in its long story and forgettable characters. Sure, it offered some valuable life lessons within the context of its story, but I have no desire whatsoever to sit through it again. Therefore, when you place into context a Golden Globe Nomination and the whopping $341 million box-office totals that the film pulled in, along with an astronomical 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, there are plenty of reasons to view Zootopia as a grossly overrated animated effort.
#1. Florence Foster Jenkins
If you ever wanted to spend nearly two hours watching Meryl Streep intentionally sing Opera music to the worst of her ability, here is your chance. And believe me, it's as dreadful as it sounds. Making an appearance on my annual "Most Overrated" list doesn't necessarily mean the film is a complete dud. Most of the time it's meant to call-out a mediocre effort that has been labeled as "great" by most of the viewing world. Yet, when it comes to Florence Foster Jenkins, you're given an awful film with unlikable characters that was somehow adored by critics and moviegoers alike. Achieving an unfathomable 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and garnering 4 Golden Globe Nominations, including Best Picture - Comedy/Musical, I just can't comprehend the love-fest surrounding this film. Thankfully, Florence Foster Jenkins only raked in a modest $28 million at the box office, meaning a lot of the general public hasn't seen the film. Therefore, even through its popular awards season run this winter, please listen closely and avoid one of this year's most intolerable films.