It was the best of times, it was — well, you know. “Captain America: Civil War” and “The Purge: Election Year” may sound like the zeitgeist, but if you’re looking for the defining movie of 2016, look no further than the new “Ghostbusters.” It was hardly my favorite, but it made me laugh. And while its transformation into a target of misogynist and racist vitriol was surprising, it was not especially shocking. It was just another reminder that female power remains deeply threatening, even in the realm of the imaginary.
As usual when it came to this year in movies, it was sometimes good if also hard, lean, bad and familiar times, both critically and commercially. “Box Office Meltdown,” a Variety headline shrieked in July; by Nov. 25, the trade was reporting “U.S. Box Office Tops $10 Billion” — “the fastest-ever that it’s reached the milestone.” It turns out that after the acrimonious presidential election, people were coming together at the movies. Then again, packed theaters could also be chalked up to the number of solid mainstream releases, including “Arrival,” “Almost Christmas,” “Doctor Strange” and “Moana.”