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Let’s Play Pretend and Give Academy Awards to 2016’s Best Horror Movies

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Let’s Play Pretend and Give Academy Awards to 2016’s Best Horror Movies

The Academy may not recognize horror, but at least we can.

Ahead of the February ceremony, the nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will soon be announced, and we certainly don’t expect to see any horror films popping up on there. Of course, it would be quite untrue to say that horror is NEVER honored at the Oscars, but it’s so rare that most of us have just accepted that a horror presence at the event is something of an anomaly.

The bummer of the Academy largely ignoring horror is that the genre is often home to exceptional filmmaking and acting, and this past year has been no exception. In lieu of a traditional year-end ‘best of’ list, I’ve decided to instead honor my favorite horror movies of 2016 by bestowing upon them the Academy Awards that they’re sure to not actually receive. Because nobody is stopping us from playing pretend, and I feel that each of these films deserve recognition and accolades.

So if I ran the show, here are the 2016 horror movies I’d give Academy Awards to.

conjuring 2


I think it’s safe to say we’ve all become a little worn down by studio horror in recent years. It’s become commonly accepted that indie horror almost always puts Hollywood horror to shame, but the same can’t really be said about studio-made horror in 2016. And if you asked me today to name the very best horror movie of the year, I’d give you the same answer I would’ve given you back in June: The Conjuring 2. James Wan’s hit sequel was somehow an even better film than its predecessor, and from where I stand, it’s so much more than a superior sequel: it’s one of the best American horror movies ever made. Truly scary as well as emotionally powerful, The Conjuring 2 is not just James Wan’s masterpiece but a high-water mark for the genre at large.

Speaking of which…



No filmmaker alive today embodies the term “master of horror” more than James Wan, and with The Conjuring 2, he proved that his handle on the genre is only getting stronger with each passing film. Watching it, I mostly found myself in awe of the whole thing. In awe of how good Wan is at executing a scare. In awe of how much he makes you care about his characters and about every single little moment. I was also struck with the realization that I’m lucky enough to be alive at a time when one of the all-time great horror filmmakers is at the top of his game. With The Conjuring 2, we officially hit peak James Wan, and as it turns out, peak James Wan is every bit as impressive and masterful as peak Wes Craven, peak George Romero, and peak John Carpenter.

We’re all so lucky that Wan loves horror so much.



Released early in the year, Robert Eggers’ The Witch has undoubtedly been one of the most talked-about horror films of 2016; for whatever reason, some fans are still refusing to even accept that it’s a horror movie, while others feel it’s the most overrated movie of the year. However you feel about The Witch, one thing you cannot deny is that the performances are incredible across the board. English actor Ralph Ineson physically transformed himself to play family patriarch William, a man desperately trying to keep his family together against impossible/supernatural odds in 17th century England. Adopting a period-authentic dialect, Ineson embodied the character to a tee, turning in a powerhouse performance that is unquestionably worthy of Oscar consideration.

The Conjuring 2 Review


As scary as The Conjuring 2 is, what really makes the whole thing work so well is the same thing that made the first film such an incredible piece of horror cinema: the performances of Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as real-life couple Lorraine and Ed Warren. Though they’re primarily there to help another family in peril, it’s the relationship between Lorraine and Ed that is the highlight of the film; and thanks again to exceptional performances from both actors, the emotional connection to the characters couldn’t possibly be stronger. You can feel Lorraine’s love for Ed and vice versa, and as Lorraine Warren, Farmiga brings so much warmth and heart to the table. It’s rare that an actor makes you care so much about a character in a horror movie.



John Goodman has been such a great actor for so many years, but can you believe that he’s never been nominated for an Academy Award? That could very well change in 2017, as his performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane has generated a whole lot of Oscar buzz… and for damn good reason. In the film, Goodman plays Howard, a man living in an underground bunker who swears to a young woman that he’s saved her life by bringing her down into his hideout. Howard is the sort of guy who’s either the sanest person in the room or the craziest, and Goodman’s commanding performance ensures that you never quite know what to think of the character. One minute you feel for him and the next you’re terrified of him, and Goodman nails the nuance like few actors would be able to. Here’s hoping this is the year he finally gets Oscar recognition.

Green Room


I suppose it’s up for debate whether or not Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room is a horror movie, but if you’re asking me, it damn sure is. Furthermore, it’s the most horrifying, disturbing, and upsetting movie of the whole year. Centered on a group of young musicians who run afoul of sadistic neo-Nazis, the film is as intense and unforgettable as 2016 horror gets, and it’s highlighted by an outstanding supporting performance from Imogen Poots as a punk girl named Amber. The innocence she and co-star Anton Yelchin exude makes the horrific situation they’re in all the more devastating to watch, and the dry humor Poots brings to the role really makes you fall in love with the character. Poots is also a total badass when the role requires her to become one.



You may be over zombie films by this point, hell we may all be, but sometimes a movie comes along that’s so damn good that it makes you completely forget about how tired a particular sub-genre has become. Written and directed by Sang-ho Yeon, South Korean zombie flick Train to Busan is one of those movies, and it’s so exceptional that it restored my faith in zombie cinema at large. A lean, mean zombie film with zero wasted energy, Train to Busan is terrifying and intense while also being packed with so much depth and a surprising level of emotion. It’s one of 2016’s best horror films, foreign or otherwise, and it just might make you scared of zombies again.



One of the most impressive things about The Witch is how true it is to the period in which the story takes place. First time director Robert Eggers also wrote the script, which was so well researched and thought out that Eggers plucked much of the character dialogue out of actual diaries from 17th century England. By pouring through real accounts of witchcraft for several years to craft his own script, Eggers was able to capture and convey the Puritan lifestyle in great detail. The Witch is largely a dialogue-driven film, so it’s impossible to heap praise on what he accomplished without calling to attention the great care, time, and research that went into writing the script.



The Academy’s makeup category is actually “Best Makeup & Hairstyling,” but if we’re talking specifically about makeup effects in the horror movies released in 2016, there’s one film that comes to mind over all the others. Yes, I’m once again talking about Green Room, which is home to the most unsettling moments of brutality that I have honestly ever seen. As horror fans, we of course love on-screen violence, but the violence in Green Room is a whole different beast entirely. It’s so shockingly sudden, so unexciting, and so deeply repellent that it honestly made me queasy. Furthermore, it made me question why I even love violent entertainment in the first place. From a sliced up arm to a slit open belly, the movie’s makeup effects are almost TOO real.

Special shout-out also to Imogen Poots’ hairstyle in Green Room.



I already heaped a good deal of praise on the visual effects in The Shallows recently here on BD (check out an effects breakdown video we came across), so I’ll keep this one short and to the point: the computer-generated shark in Jaume Collet-Serra’s supremely entertaining sharksploitation flick is so good that I honestly didn’t even realize it wasn’t a practical creation until I did some research after coming home from the theater. The shark in The Shallows is the best we’ve seen since Jaws, which has given me a whole lot of hope for the future of CG monsters.



I’d be remiss to talk about 2016 horror and not mention The Invitation, one of the most unsettling and captivating movies released all year. There’s not a single weak aspect of Karyn Kusama’s exceptional thriller, and honestly, it’s deserving of being on this list in way more than just one category. But one of my personal favorite aspects of the film is Theodore Shapiro’s score, which is pitch-perfectly haunting. As Shapiro himself explained, “Most of the score is performed by one solo violin, overdubbing layer upon layer. The bareness of the solo string suggests the desert terrain of LA and the emotional barrenness of the main character Will.” A horror movie is nothing without a great score, and Shapiro helped solidify The Invitation as one of 2016’s best.



One horror film popping up on many lists this year is Nicolas Pesce’s The Eyes of My Mother, which you would not find on my own list had I written a traditional Top 10. Why not? Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of the film. I felt it was all style and no substance, and my 2-star rating on Letterboxd is one I stick by. But one thing I would like to mention about Pesce’s debut film is the cinematography, which came courtesy of Zach Kuperstein. The Eyes of My Mother is beautifully shot in black and white, and thanks to some unconventional techniques, Kuperstein makes nearly every shot into a work of art. Again, I found it to be an empty film, but damn is it pretty.

Which 2016 horror films would YOU give awards to? Let us know!



  • I damn near stopped reading after the first two awards….

    • John Squires

      Hey that’s cool. We all have different tastes. Different opinions. These are mine. Hope you can at least respect that, even if you disagree.

      • I feel ya brotha. James Wan is great at creating atmosphere, no question. Just wish he would take on more original projects.

  • Graham

    While somewhat entertaining, I didn’t really care for The Conjuring 2, despite good performances. I thought it was a whole lot of nothing in excessive packaging. I would choose any other film on this list to bump it out of the hypothetical Best Picture race. But this is a super cool idea! I’d still like to see any of these films (The Conjuring included) have a shot at the real Oscars.

    • Aaron Johnson

      I liked it, but I have two problems with it. The Nun was way too much like the Black Bride in “Insidious 2”. There are tons of repeat monsters in Blumhouse films. This was just one of them. And I still hate the title “The Conjuring 2”. It fit with the first one, not this one. Drives me NUTS. The films should be called “The Warren Files” or something.

  • Jammerz

    The Conjuring 2 is an excellent horror film and it’s cool to see it get the first two awards.

  • SilasBottlecap

    The Conjuring 2 is a genuinely good film, but I was pretty underwhelmed by it too. I would have picked The Wailing for Best Film.

  • tyler

    “Horror” is suppose to mean “an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; a shuddering fear.” I personally haven’t had that experience with these movies (except slightly with Conjuring 2) as I felt The Witch was an extremely boring and vague film. I never understood Cloverfield Lane being passed as a horror film in the slightest bit as it was about as tense as Forrest Gump. Just my opinion though. If I had to give any “horror” films this year an award it would have to be 47 Meters Down, 31, and Blair Witch, since they were really the only 3 that had me somewhat holding my breath and cringing.

    • Meisha’s Taint

      Gee never heard this tired talking point before………

    • 47 Meters Down wasn’t released this year. In fact, it hasn’t been released at all.

  • Braker

    Goodman isn’t a supporting actor in that movie. He’s a lead.

    • John Squires

      Howard is technically a supporting character, not leading.

  • 1EyeJack

    I’d give the Best Score award to The Neon Demon.

  • Seed

    Best score and cinematography to The Neon Demon.

    • Boypopproject


    • Meisha’s Taint

      Movie was pretty confusing but man it sure did look pretty!

  • Vicente Garcia

    Goodman is far and away a lead in 10 Cloverfield Lane, and by jove, The Conjuring 2 as best film?! Not when The Witch, The Neon Demon, Green Room, 10 Cloverfield Lane etc etc exist…

  • Jimmy Cthulhuhan

    Still looking for the disclaimer that states Wan partially owns this site.

    • Meisha’s Taint

      That would not shock me one bit

  • Eldritch Love

    I rented The Eyes of My Mother the other night because of these year-end lists and was very disappointed. Way over-hyped on all fronts.

  • kaido

    Vera is good, but not Mary good.

  • In my opinion Last Train to Busan is the best horror movie of the year!
    I saw last night and I loved, looks like the non-stop action of Mad Max but with zombies.

  • James Allard

    Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Design both for Blair Witch.

  • grimmgraves

    I noticed the cgi shark in The Shallows the second I saw it. I wasn’t really into the movie anyway, but that completely took me out of it.

    • Michael Morbius

      Agreed. I thought the effects were goofy and laughable, not to mention all the slow motion body shots of Lively as she just stares into the distance and takes deep breaths. Didn’t understand the hype on this one.

    • pablitonizer

      Exactly! Like…it was so fake to me, specially the jumping scenes, so bad CGI! Don’t get the love for this one tbh

  • Anthony DeRouen

    The Conjuring franchise has become the gold standard of studio horror. It’s too bad none of the other Blumhouse IP’s can reach its quality.

  • Eddie Dutra

    I agree with most of this list. John Goodman gave a fantastic performance in what I believe was the worst movie of 2016! Sorry, 10 Cloverfield Ln, you were a snore fest.

    • Meisha’s Taint


      I was shocked at how bad 10 Cloverfield was. Nothing happened for 95% of the movie and then it turned into a rip off of War of The Worlds…then it ended.

      My least favorite of the year for sure

      • Eddie Dutra

        I felt like the alien design was stolen from a Playstation 3 game, known as ‘Journey’.
        I liked The Divide a whole lot more!

      • pablitonizer

        Like I said before…I was watching one movie and then the last 10 minutes was a completely different movie…awful! John Goodman deserves recognition though

    • Michael Morbius

      10CL is incredible. Smartly written, wonderfully acted. Tense and entertaining. I was into it immediately and never felt bored once.

    • Naww, can’t disagree more. It was a very clever and tense movie and excellently acted. I loved it.

      Movies like 10CL are so easy to hate but I don’t think it deserves to be hated.

      • Eddie Dutra

        Clever? I knew John Goodman was a creeper the moment he was on the screen. He reminded me of Tim Robbins from the War of the Worlds remake. It’s a movie about three people hanging out in front of a dinner table, playing bored games, and had some really shitty alien design.

  • PsychoMantis18

    ‘With The Conjuring 2, we officially hit peak James Wan, and as it turns out, peak James Wan is every bit as impressive and masterful as peak Wes Craven, peak George Romero, and peak John Carpenter’ – Giving Wan recognition in your fantasy AA is ludicrous enough but this statement show’s you have absolutely no fucking idea what you’re talking about.

  • Cody

    The Neon Demon totally deserves to be nominated for cinematography, make-up/hair, costume, score, and editing. Possibly director, but it’s the production aspects that it deserves the most.

    • jurgmandr

      definitely for costume and cinematography. There were some fantastic shots in that turd of a movie.

  • Luca Vasto

    conjuring 2 best movie??? ahahha LOL

    totally agree about The Shallows, the shark kick ass

  • TheSlitheryDee

    This is actually a great feature. I dig that Wan is getting all due respect because he’s been the man in our little world for a while now. Also glad the Neon Demon didn’t get “awarded” as I find every movie that dude’s been involved in (other than Drive) to be non-sensical snoozefests.

  • The Conjuring 2 really? I mean it’s a good film, but it’s not even better than the first one in the first place, there’s no freaking way is better than The Witch.

    Other than Conjuring 2 being best picture and director, incredible article, I would totally be up fo it every year.

  • shawn lawson

    Conjuring 2 is his masterpiece? Fuck outta here. Death sentence all day son.

    • Sweet Reaper

      Hell yeah bro, I don’t know why a lot of people don’t seem to know about Death Sentence let alone that James Wan directed it. I love that movie and it made me like Kevin Bacon again lol. The whole cast is awesome in it, with a special appearance from John Goodman, and I always enjoy seeing Kelly Preston in anything!

    • jurgmandr

      Death Sentence is so good. Love that movie.

  • Charles Cumella

    The Conjuring 2 isn’t even close to being a “best picture” candidate, it’s not a good movie, it’s just cliche all around. Light’s Out is better and it’s not a good movie either… There are better movies this year, The Witch and Don’t Breathe come to mind. James Wan is a good director but after Furious 7 (in my humble opinion) he got lazy and crowd pleasing, which are really one in the same. But as long as we get one horror movie as a nominee or even as a winner I’ll be happy!

  • WOLF

    Conjuring 2 is definitely a well made movie. But something seemed off to me. For me, I think it was a bad idea to have the kids fake some of the events. It pulled me out of the movie and made me think about the real Warrens and how they are full of shit con artists lol. Conjuring 2 will not be remembered like “peak Craven, Carpenter, Romero” films.
    I thought the shark looked great in The Shallows. I think they completely blew it with the last 15 mins or so though.

    • Evan3

      I think Conjuring 1 will be remembered as fondly as peak Craven etc. See my thoughts above, I’d love to know your reaction as it generally aligns with yours.

  • Gatsbyshalloween

    Love horror and every genre in it. Fathers Day, Gutter Balls ,Conjuring 2, Evil Dead, Behind The Mask, Rabies,Adam Chaplin, Don’t Breathe to name some of my favs. But one thing that bothers me is how many “fans” cry and hate EVERYTHING. Hear a lot of this sucked, that sucked, he’s not that good, bring back the old stuff etc. Not enough appreciation and support for what’s right in front of us. Either you can’t let go of the past or people (horror fans)just love to hate on anything that breaks main stream. Argento has made quite a few shit films and still gets praised but Wan who keeps banging out hits can’t be up there? Fk out of here.

  • The Drucifer

    Best film: the witch
    Best director: the witch

  • Rodisco123

    “The Autopsy of Jane Doe “..bloody good !

    • Rijith Theril

      I agree mate.. too good..

    • Sasha Kozak

      Yup, loved it

    • jurgmandr

      one of the best movies of the year imo

  • You REEEALLY love the Conjuring 2 don’t you! Haha, it was a good movie, as was the first, but it wasn’t perfect. The movie would’ve benefited tenfold if they took that stupid nun out of it.

    • Evan3

      I was nodding my head in agreement… until you said they needed to axe the nun. The nun was one of the most effective scares of all horror-dom. What the movie needed to axe was the boring family at the center of the film!

      • The family was the ‘true’ story the film was based on though haha, and I thought Bill Wilkins was a pretty scary demon/ghost/whatever. As freaky as it looked the nun just seemed like an extra story arc they tagged on for easy scares to get more people watching. I enjoyed C2 but I was always interested in the Enfield Poltergeist story since a kid, so it spoiled it for me when they overkilled it with demonic nuns and such.

  • Texas Horror

    I haven’t seen The Witch yet, so I can’t really comment there (although multiple friends into horror have told me not to bother, which is probably why I haven’t gotten around to it). Having said that, I find it hard to believe that Ineson was better than Patrick Stewart was in Green Room. I think Green Room and Don’t Breathe are toss ups for best picture. I have a hard time believing that Don’t Breathe isn’t mentioned here. Hush was another great movie, in my opinion. It seems like it’s been out longer, but I believe it is a 2016 release. Emelie was another film that deserves some love. There were some disturbing and original scenes, and Sarah Bolger was great in that role.

    • Sasha Kozak

      The Witch and Green Room are two of the years best horror flicks imo. I would suggest atleast trying The Witch. It is to slow for some, but for many others it was perfect pacing. I liked Don’t Breathe to but I think those two above are slightly better (Also check out Eyes of My Mother and The Autopsy Of Jane Doe if you havnt)

  • James

    Wow the conjuring 2 was good but not THAT good. It doesn’t deserve this much praise.

  • Sasha Kozak

    Conjuring 2 was very well made but for me personally I enjoyed The Witch, Green Room, The Eyes of My Mother and The Autopsy of Jane Doe all more than I did Conjuring 2.

  • The Wolf

    The Witch should win almost everything here (save for Foreign picture) and save for score which should go to The Neon Demon. edit: Actually still give Poots the one for best supporting Actress.

  • Evan3

    Here’s my piece on Conjuring 2 having watched both it and Conjuring this year for the first time back to back. Until Conjuring 1, Saw was easily my favorite Wan film. I thought Conjuring 1 was excellent. Great score, effects, plot and FINALLY an injection of different ideas into an exorcism scene/possession movie (THANKS! And that is not talked up enough).

    Conjuring 2 was a film I admired, but can’t say I particularly liked. I really admire Wan and thank the studio for letting Wan bring us a tale that was not really a horror film after the success of such a pure horror film with the first. I thought it was gutsy as hell to have the film more focus on the nature of these “real life” possession scares, including even questioning our heroes’ journey. And I think the nun in the Warren house was one of the most effective scares to date.

    But largely, I think it failed. The pacing was off, with far too much time setting up the haunting as a fraud that when the real deal appeared, it was rushed. And Wan wanted to have his cake (not every haunting is real) and eat it too (BUT THIS ONE IS SUDDENLY INCREDIBLY REAL). It relied on too many coincidences and contrivances to work for me in the end (Larraine NEVER mentioned having that bible with her before it was needed…. Ed gets a literal “X” Marks the Spot to reexamine the tapes… he figures out how to decode the tapes extraordinarily fast… he ran into the house on his own for…reasons…. That guy is chopping away on the basement door for ages and yet only creates a whole small enough for Larraine? No way!

    Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated it. And Wan’s direction was top notch. But I just can’t say I liked Conjuring 2 much.

  • Biscoito18

    BEST FILM – The Witch
    BEST DIRECTOR – Robert Eggers
    BEST ACTOR – Logan Marshall-Green (The Invitation)
    BEST ACTRESS – Zoe Kazan (The Monster)
    BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Harvey Scrimshaw (The Witch)
    BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Kate Dickie (The Witch)
    BEST MAKEUP EFFECTS – The Autopsy of Jane Doe
    BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – 10 Cloverfield Lane
    BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – The Neon Demon

    • Juan Velez

      you have a good taste my friend, this is an A list

      • Biscoito18

        Thanks! 🙂

    • Lucca Cantisano

      That was pretty accurate, I’d only trade Logan Marshall-Green for Do-won Kwak (The Wailing) and give Best Screenplay to Green Room.

  • Daniel Alderson

    The Conjuring 2. Fuck off.

    • Darnell

      I nearly fainted lol.

  • Darnell

    The Conjuring 2 ????


  • Nebular

    Hell yeah! It was about time a major horror movie website to give The Conjuring 2 the credit it deserves. It’s hands down the best horror movie of 2016!

  • Jesse Bickers

    The Conjuring 2 was great, but I’d have to give best film to Don’t Breathe. The Witch was over-hyped, therefore, a major letdown–but a great horror film altogether.

    I’d also give Fede Álvarez’s DB ‘Best Cinematography’ as well (barely beating out Saulnier’s Green Room). Such a beautifully shot film.

    I can agree with your ‘Best Foreign Film’ pick, though. But it’d be hard for me choose one film of the three best foreign films of the year; Train to Busan, The Wailing, and Under the Shadow. All phenomenal films.

    2016 was a great year for horror and 2017 looks just as promising. If Get Out or A Cure for Wellness is any indication of what to expect in the upcoming months, 2017 could be even more superior in the horror genre.

  • flawless114

    Yes for the Conjuring 2! The Witch was shit, don’t get why everyone blows their load for that boring piece of crap.

  • dlockz

    Great list. My choice for best film invitation

  • Rafael Buxo

    The conjuring 2 seems pretty standard.

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