Dec 26, 2016

Listmania: Disappointments of 2016

One of the general consensuses is that 2016 wasn't the best year on record. While there was a lot to be thankful for, there was also a heavy dose of interference to ruin good times. Today's Listmania will focus on the Disappointments of 2016 from the world of film, TV, and all things pop culture. The following is a rundown of things that let us down over the past year, and will likely be sore subjects going forward. For now, they serve as a reminder for all of the good out there, there's still no way for things to go entirely your way.

The Undertaker

No, not the wrestler. This is an umbrella entry for the grim reaper who decided to take the lives of many fine talents. He even started the year off on a strong note with Close Encounters of the Third Kind cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond on New Years Day. He never slowed down and never discriminated fields, taking the lives of those young and old. Speaking as he pulled double time this year, one can only hope that he takes a rest in 2017 and let everyone enjoy their precious time on this Earth. It's been a tough year trying to determine who The Undertaker DOESN'T want to take away. One can only hope that the next few days are conflict-free.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

There is an unfortunate myth known as "The 27 Club" in which artists of that age are tragically killed. While the stories of Kurt Cobain or Jimi Hendrix may have more of a cultural impact, they don't hold anything on the baffling death of actor Anton Yelchin. The story goes that he was killed by his Jeep Grand Cherokee after exiting it to open his house's gate. The car rolled onto him and he died. The lawsuits are still going on, but it's a terrible way for a promising young talent to go. With that said, fans can at least be thankful that Summer 2016 had two films that reflected both sides of his charisma in Star Trek Beyond and Green Room. Still, he was someone with decades of great work to come. This shouldn't have been the end of the road.

The Golden Globe Awards Ceremony

For those ever complaining that awards shows are boring and awful, there is only two words that should be mentioned for this year: Ricky Gervais. The comedian best known for ruffling feathers by poking fun at Hollywood royalty returned to host The Golden Globes after saying that he would never do it again. He shouldn't have, as his profane, shameless jokes set a precedent for an evening that showed celebrities at their worst while yelling at teleprompters, slurring through introductions, and arguing why this needed to be on the air at all. Even Denzel Washington, recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, cared so little that he awkwardly laughed his way off stage within a minute of walking up. You can complain that awards shows are too pretentious, but be thankful that they have some class; otherwise you end up with garbage fires like this. 

Alicia Vikander Wins Best Supporting Actress Oscar

There's no denying that Alicia Vikander's 2015 is one of the best up-and-coming stories since Jennifer Lawrence three years prior. With a filmography that included Ex-Machina, Burnt, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., there was room to usher her into the Oscar nominated circle. However, her win for The Danish Girl is egregious for a variety of reasons, specifically that her role qualifies more as a lead (and that the title refers to her in dialogue). Also, the film is deceptively inaccurate to the transgender experience and overshadowed more honest depictions of the year, including Tangerine. With all of that said, she was just the weakest of five nominees and mostly won because she had the great narrative that Rooney Mara (Carol) and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) didn't. It's fine that she's a winner, but it will always be baffling why she won for such a mediocre movie that won't age well.

Match Game '16

Game show fans were treated to a great summer of reboots on ABC. Along with Buzzr bringing back vintage shows, ABC spent July playing new episodes of Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid, and To Tell the Truth. All of these were a hoot and a fun way to pass rerun season. Yet the one that disappointed was Match Game, in which Alec Baldwin played host to a panel of celebrities. In a year that proved just how much Baldwin will do for a paycheck (Boss Baby suggests that this will be the same next year), his choice to play a scathing, hormonal host whose flirting skills were more creepy than funny; ended up coming across as uncomfortable. Yes, Match Game was always a risque show, but it was also silly. Baldwin forgot that last part.


From the team that brought you The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire came a luscious ode to excess in the 1970's music industry. It was a show whose budget was able to get all the great tunes of the era, but whose writing often middled in wanting to be an edgy version of Mad Men with profanity and nudity. Instead, it was just a raucous, meandering time that featured the wildly uneven performance by Bobby Cannavale. While there's probably some charm to the music performances, the show still never found a nice balance. The show was so disappointing that HBO pulled a shocker when they cancelled a renewal for the series that they had given after the first episode's success. Now that's a bummer.


While one could make the argument that Cameron Crowe's post-Elizabethtown career has been floundering, Roadies is still the most disappointing new series of the year. Speaking as Crowe's youth was spent touring with bands as a roadie (see: Almost Famous), this should've been an extremely easy series to pull off. Instead, he updated it to the modern era and lost some of the magic shortly after. While it had moments of inspiration that felt personal, it still never felt like more than pappy melodrama without any stakes. It's telling when one of the most acclaimed episodes of the series featured a flashback to an elderly roadie touring with an iconic 70's rock band. More than anything, that suggests where this show should've started.

Hell on Wheels

From day one, it seems like Hell on Wheels was doomed to be AMC's black sheep of its original line-up. While Breaking Bad and Mad Men thrived, this western series about building railroads got excised to Saturday nights and had a quiet departure (free of the usual week-long marathon). While the show continued to be its average self, it managed to have both satisfying endings for some while a disappointing one overall. For a show all about building railroads and starting a new life, it is annoying that the ending comes across more as a chance to set up a sequel in Asia than a satisfying conclusion to a series that always thrived on being unexpected. 

Crisis in Six Scenes

There is the argument to be made that anything with Woody Allen as a person is disappointing - and the Cannes Film Festival wasn't short on that. However, his work as an artist is an acquired taste for intellectuals who enjoy his offbeat nature. However, his first "TV series" is particularly disappointing because it isn't even that. It wasn't a good sign when Allen himself admitted to regretting doing the project weeks before Amazon would release it. With that said, it's nothing more than a mediocre, later day Allen film with act breaks. It is at best forgettable and at worst the chance for Miley Cyrus to begin spouting things in a Jewish dialect. Whatever the case may be, one just has to be thankful that Cafe Society also came out this year to keep it from being a total waste.

Kanye West (?)

He is probably the definition of "love him or hate him" in modern pop culture. However, there's no denying how committed to his weird, often surreal, art he actually is. "The Life of Pablo" was a strange dive into his neuroses that remains fascinating from a lyrical and production standpoint - but is it any good? That is only the start of his strange year that featured his family getting mugged and his questionable mental health issues. Even his desire to run for president in 2020 can be met with a heavy eye roll. Is he a disappointment? Not if his meltdowns and braggadocio is a public act. However, it's still a little unsettling to see him spiral out of control, possibly losing the charm that makes him an innovator to modern musicians. 

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

There's no elephant in the room in terms of disappointment quite like Zack Snyder's mashing of D.C.'s greatest heroes. The movie has long been touted as one of the ultimate cinematic experiences in which Batman fights Superman. While the year in general was disappointingly full of good vs. good, there was something uneven about Snyder's vision that even at best was disappointing as a singular experience. This is a film full of powerful moments (both good and bad) that show the capabilities of cinema. However, it also haphazardly sets up the Justice League film in a way that leaves plenty to be desired (though that Justice League trailer is pretty cool). Still, it had Wonder Woman doing great work. Whatever the case may be, this is disappointing solely because it tried to be everything to everyone instead of just being true to itself.

Everybody Wants Some!!

Even if this movie was only so-so, just ask yourself how much better you thought it was going to be. It's from director Richard Linklater, whose previous two films (Before Midnight and Boyhood) are genuine masterpieces that reflect his craft as an indie filmmaker. A film about his personal past (and a spiritual sequel to the great Dazed and Confused) should've been a runaway hit. Instead, it was a tad meandering and full of dudes hanging out and being dudes. Sure, it's fun in the way that Linklater can make unimportant chit chat fun, but it's still a film that could've been leagues better than it ended up being. It's at best fine, and that may be the most disappointing part of it all.

The Jungle Book

Disney had a phenomenal year between Moana, Zootopia, Pete's Dragon, and The BFG (though the less said about Alice Through the Looking Glass, the better). Then there was The Jungle Book: the latest from director about town Jon Favreau that updated Rudyard Kipling's eponymous novel with amazing visual effects. Sadly, the story was a mess and couldn't figure out what exactly it wanted to be. It paid homage to the original film's lighthearted and fun nature so openly that its dark moments felt like a betrayal of its tone. It was neither too fun or too exciting, but usually confusing. While it will make for a solid installation set on mute, its story is too lackluster to put it on par with the other films released this year from the wonderful world of Disney.

The United States Presidential Election

Regardless of how you feel about the turnouts, the one thing that should be clear is how divided the country is. The year was full of hostility with budding opinions challenging each other in irrational ways. It likely lead to the spike in racism, misogyny, and violence. It is a black mark in history books now, but one can only hope that this starts a conversation in 2017 that will help everyone figure out how to live in some form of harmony. Otherwise this disappointment will only grow worse as time goes on. Still, it wasn't the best year in general for everyone. Maybe take a breather over the holiday break and come back next year with good intentions.

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