How do good movies manage to slip through the cracks? Sometimes a distributor hasn’t spent enough money on advertising and promotion. It may be that the reviews aren’t strong enough. And sometimes people just aren’t attracted to a particular movie. Here are some of my favorites from 2016 that didn’t draw the audiences I think they deserved:


Everybody Wants Some!  Apparently unable to find a better way to promote this, Paramount referred to it as the spiritual sequel to Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused. The public didn’t respond and missed out on one of the year’s most engaging films, with a cast full of young talent and rising stars. Read my original review HERE.


The Hollars. John Krasinski directed this warm, funny, and emotionally gripping family portrait from a screenplay by Jim Strouse. And you can’t top this cast: Margo Martindale, Richard Jenkins, Sharlto Copley, Charlie Day, Anna Kendrick, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Randall Park, and in a tiny role, Mary Kay Place. Read my original review HERE.


The Meddler. Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, and Sam Elliott star in Lorene Scafaria’s good-hearted dramedy about a widow who moves cross-country to be close to her daughter. I thought this might turn out to be a one-joke premise, but I was wrong…and it’s a great part for Sarandon. Read my original review HERE.


Pete’s Dragon. Disney all but abandoned this delightful movie, which bears no resemblance to the dreadful 1977 film of the same name. Good reviews across the board couldn’t persuade moviegoers to come, and they missed out on the best family film of the year. It’s never too late to make amends for that. Read my original review HERE. 


Midnight Special. Writer-director Jeff Nichols is earning well-deserved praise for his fall release Loving, but less attention was paid to this highly original science-fiction thriller—because it’s so difficult to categorize. The presence of Nichols stalwart Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Sam Shepard, Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst and the gifted young Jaden Lieberher should be enough to convince you that it’s worth your time. Read my original review HERE.


The Confirmation. Talk about a movie nobody saw! This one came and went in a flash, but caught my eye because it marked the directorial debut of Bob Nelson, who wrote Nebraska. It stars Clive Owen and child actor Jaden Lieberher, who’s so good in MidnightSpecial. A top-notch supporting cast all said yes to Nelson’s warm-hearted script, so why should you resist? Read my original review HERE.

Finally, we come to the two movies I’ve touted most often this year, for good reason:


Sing Street. The Irish filmmaker who brought us Once and Begin Again scores a bull’s-eye with this utterly charming, semi-autobiographical tale set in 1985 Dublin and filled with great musical moments. Everyone I know who’s seen this has fallen in love with it; don’t be left out. Read my original review HERE.


Don’t Think Twice. Comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia made a giant leap as filmmaker with this perfectly realized movie about a tight-knit New York City improv troupe and how one member’s success affects the delicate balance of the group. Birbiglia costars with Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher in a film you won’t soon forget. Read my original review HERE.

Click HERE for The Best Films & Performances You Missed In 2016 Pt. 1

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Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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July 2024