As most years go, 2016 was another rollercoaster at the cinema. There were some high highs and some loooooooooooooooooow lows. (The Divergent Series: Allegiant, the installment that basically killed that franchise.) Some of our favorite actors experienced those same ups and downs in their career, so below, we present 11 actors who starred in very bad and very good movies in the same year.
1. Octavia Spencer
Speaking of the once-promising Y.A. franchise-turned-possible made-for-TV movie (maybe?), no cast member experienced a bigger pendulum swing than Spencer, who was always underserved in those Divergent movies anyway. Thankfully, the year ended with an awards-worthy turn in Hidden Figures. Spencer already got the Golden Globe and SAG nominations.
2. Amy Adams
Has there ever been a more thankless role for a five-time Academy Award nominee than that of Lois Lane, who spends most of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice telling people, "I'm not a lady, I'm a journalist" and throwing around a kryptonite spear. Especially when followed by Arrival, which likely could earn Adams her sixth Oscar nomination.
3. Aaron Eckhart
It's not like Olympus Has Fallen, the 2013 film that spawned the sequel, London Has Fallen, was exactly cinema gold, but neither Eckhart's badass president or Gerard Butler's...whatever his job title is, could save the latter. Eckhart did garner serious Best Supporting Actor buzz for his role opposite Tom Hanks in the based-on-a-true story, Sully.
4. Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig & Leslie Jones
This one is a combo deal, because yes! McKinnon, Wiig, and Jones all actually did star in two films that were released this year: Ghostbusters, which was basically a two-hour showcase for each lady's comic styling as well as their incredible chemistry together, and then Masterminds, which was...not that. Not that by a long shot.
5. Johnny Depp
Depp was certainly accountable to more serious matters this year than the Alice Through the Looking Glass reviews, but, for what it's worth, those weren't great either. It's a bit of a cheat to call Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them his good movie, seeing his role is at best a cameo, but he'll play quite the significant role in the sequels, so we're counting it.
6. Viola Davis
Suicide Squad really nailed its casting, right down to Davis, who was a brilliant choice to play the crooked director of the skwad, Amanda Waller. Which makes it an even bigger shame that DC's latest comic book flick ended up being a hot mess. Davis likely isn't concerned over those bad reviews though, as she is set to -- finally! -- win her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Fences. (She already won the Tony for the Broadway run.)
7. Ben Foster
Just because Warcraft: The Beginning, in which Foster played the so-called "Guardian of Tirisfal," made hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide and is sure to get a sequel, does not a good movie make. On the other hand, the modern day bank heist flick, Hell or High Water, flew largely under the radar, but is a very, very good movie -- and is now earning dark horse awards buzz.
8. Chadwick Boseman
It was a good year to be Chadwick Boseman, the newest recruit in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, who made his debut as Black Panther to much fanfare in Captain America: Civil War. (He'll headline his own solo superhero movie in 2018.) It was such a g year that no one will likely remember he also starred in the mindbogglingly misguided Gods of Egypt.
9. Jennifer Aniston
Aniston's movie star career has had its share of ups and downs since her Friends days, and this year was no exception. The low? Mother's Day, which, in all fairness, was exactly what we expected. On the other hand, Office Christmas Party was something of a surprise A) in that it was much funnier than it looked, and B) we got to see Aniston let loose in the NSFW, Horrible Bosses-y way she does so well. Hearing her tell a small child, "F**k you" might just be one of our cinema highlights of 2016.
10. Toby Kebbell
Kebbell might not be a household name just yet, though that might be a different case had last year's Fantastic Four reboot -- in which he played Doctor Doom -- not been a disaster. Speaking of disasters: The Ben-Hur remake, in which he plays a Judas of an adoptive brother to the titular Ben-Hur! Thankfully, Kebbell found redemption with a powerful turn in the deeply moving drama, A Monster Calls.
11. Jennifer Lawrence
Lawrence herself hasn't exactly made it a secret that her X-Men future is uncertain following the latest episode, Apocalypse. After seeing the film, we're not exactly surprised. We much prefer her in films like Passengers anyway, which is getting negative reviews but -- hot take -- we quite liked it. More later this week, but for now, rest assured knowing that whatever you think of the space love story, it certainly isn't going to end Lawrence's career.
- Kate McKinnon
- Viola Davis
- Octavia Spencer
- Kristen Wiig
- Johnny Depp
- Jennifer Lawrence
- Jennifer Aniston
- Amy Adams
- Aaron Eckhart