What's a great movie without a wonderfully despicable villain? 2016 brought us an onslaught of superbly cackling baddies and, in chronological order, we've rounded up our favourites.
The movie: The Revenant
So Leonardo DiCaprio finally, finally, finally clinched his stupidly overdue Oscar for Alejandro G. Inarritu's snow-blasted, brutal wilderness epic. But is his Hugh Glass the most interesting character in the movie? Is he heck. That accolade belongs to Tom Hardy, himself the recipient of an Oscar nom, as the mumbling, slippery and bearded antagonist Fitzgerald, whose unpredictability has us on tenterhooks throughout. Plus, he leaves Leo for dead. Booo!
Slappy the dummy
The movie: Goosebumps
This surprisingly excellent adaptation of R.L. Stine's beloved books stuck true to their blend of whimsy and menace, the latter courtesy of the author's infamous creation, Slappy. Anyone with the slightest fear of dummies or dolls was sure to get a shiver as the scheming villain took centre stage, star Jack Black's gleeful vocals lacing the movie with both menace and diabolical humour.
The movie: The Witch
Robert Eggers' remarkably assured debut feature is both an engrossing drama of Puritan angst and a bone-chilling tale of horror, as a devout family in 17th century America are torn apart by seeming supernatural forces. Said evil appears to congregate around the most sinister goat we've ever come across in cinema, a powerful reminder of how witches used animals (or 'familiars') to harbour their terrifying powers. And that ending? We've still got chills, now.
The movie: 10 Cloverfield Lane
When is a baddie not quite a baddie? When you're John Goodman in this riveting, sort-of-but-not-quite-prequel to found-footage smash Cloverfield. When a young woman finds herself locked in an underground bunker by Goodman's character Howard, he says it's because the world has been obliterated in a chemical attack - but is that the truth? The actor's fantastic performance, plus taut, intelligent writing and direction, keep our sympathies veering like a yo-yo as we inch ever closer towards the edge of our seat.
The movie: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Jesse Eisenberg's interpretation of Superman's arch enemy divided opinion but there's no denying it's a somewhat different take from your standard world-conquering baddie. In fact, his Luthor courses with the neurotic, jumpy spirit of his acclaimed Mark Zuckerburg portrayal in The Social Network, resplendent with tics and a gleeful sense of his own evilness.
The movie: The Jungle Book
Director Jon Favreau's engrossing and visually wondrous Disney update fashions a miraculous jungle landscape from the finest CGI Hollywood has to offer, the movie combining the light touch of the 1967 animated classic with the darker impulses of Rudyard Kipling's original source. The latter is largely down to the ferocious, hide-behind-your-hands threat of Idris Elba's rampaging tiger, a dramatic reminder that not everything in nature is soft and cuddly.
The movie: Captain America: Civil War
Is there any kind of baddie more despicable than one who can turn our heroes against each another? The rip-roaring third Captain America movie saw dramatic schisms appearing within the Avengers initiative, our heroes dividing into Team Cap and Team Iron Man. Orchestrating the fallout is the disquieting, calculating presence of Daniel Bruhl's Zemo, a refreshingly understated villain who nevertheless invites complex notes of sympathy once his motivations are ultimately revealed.
The movie: Green Room
We're used to Britain's finest Patrick Stewart being the baritone, level-headed voice of reason and compassion on both stage and screen. Kudos then to director Jeremy Saulnier who brilliantly turned Stewart's persona on its head in this down-and-dirty, fiercely violent thriller, the legendary actor chilling the blood as a neo-Nazi leader orchestrating a reign of terror on a besieged punk band. It just goes to show that an actor need not be loud in order to scare the crap out of us.
The movie: X-Men: Apocalypse
Like Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor, the terrific Oscar Isaac drew criticism for his portrayal of this classic, world-conquering X-Men antagonist, but frankly any actor who can emote and frighten us whilst buried under so any layers of make-up is clearly doing a good job. Plus, the moment where Apocalypse is galvanised to destroy the world after witnessing lurid 80s television is pretty hilarious.
The movie: The Nice Guys
No other 2016 villain was as suave, or as relentlessly evil in their suaveness, as Matt Bomer's stylised hitman in this rollicking action-comedy. Shane Black's triumphant return to the buddy comedy genre flies high off the back of Ryan Gosling and Russell's Crowe's bickering chemistry, but the late-arriving Bomer steals the show with his thoroughly creepy baddie. As proof of his ruthless intentions, he even throws a young girl through a window - now that's nasty.
The movie: The Conjuring 2
There is of course a rich tradition of engaging with a deliciously creepy ghost story at Christmas-time, so what better time to re-acquaint yourselves with this hideous phantom? James Wan's sequel to his 2013 smash brings us the horrifying 'true' story of London's 1970s Enfield hauntings, with rasping, cackling poltergeist Bill lurking at the centre of the phenomena. Or does he?
The Blind Man
The movie: Don't Breathe
A relentless, ruthless 100-minute exercise in nail-chewing suspense, this gripping thriller is the story of a group of unsuspecting thieves who fall foul of their latest victim: an ex-Army veteran who harbours more than a few nasty secrets. As the aforementioned blind man, Avatar actor Stephen Lang is a lean, taut force of nature, delivering a masterclass in physical performance as his villain suddenly emerges from all corners of the house when we're least expecting it.
The movie: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
We were absolutely bowled over by the sweet-natured, quirky charm of Taiki Waititi's offbeat wilderness epic, in which veteran Sam Neill and hilarious newcomer Julian Dennison forge a buddy partnership for the ages. But quietly stealing the show is New Zealand actress Rachel House as the resourceful, relentless child welfare services officer who marshals a nationwide manhunt for our heroes. In fact, she's so dedicated she compares herself to the Terminator, and Dennison's character Ricky to Sarah Connor (the wimpy one, mind).
The movie: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
You can always rely on the ubiquitous and brilliant Ben Mendelsohn to inspire hisses and boos whenever he steps onto the screen. Having delivered unforgettable psychos in films like Animal Kingdom and Slow West, he now infuses the terrific new Star Wars movie with a tangible sense of sneering antagonism.
However in an intriguing move, Krennic isn't your standard foe: in terms of authority he's a couple of pegs down from both Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin, possessing a desire to show off the power of his newly developed Death Star to the Emperor, as well as a ruthless drive that compels him to wonderfully wicked ends. We couldn't wait for this white-caped baddie to meet his spectacular end.
Who were your favourite villains of 2016? Who have we missed out? Tweet us your choices @Cineworld.