We didn’t see this year coming, but we heard it from all sides. In Signal & Noise 2016, you’ll find the way we made sense out of all of that sound.
If your movie doesn’t star a famous Chris, does it even exist? These days, it’s impossible to launch a franchise without at least one Chris on board, and the four major Chrises — Pratt, Evans, Hemsworth, and Pine — are the handsome guys getting all the work. Though the field may be crowded, the simple fact remains: 2016 was a good year to be a Chris in Hollywood, especially if you have striking smolder, blondish hair, a chiseled physique, and major superhero/sci-fi cred.
Pratt, Evans, Hemsworth, and Pine all had significant releases this year, as well as career-defining milestones, but which Chris reigned supreme? There can be only one winner. Lucky for you, there’s a rather painless formula for figuring it all out, but it requires the Herculean task of ranking the Hollywood Chrises — a task I’m more than willing to do.
Now, if this ranking was solely based on box-office performance, Evans would win, no question. Captain America: Civil War was the highest-grossing movie of the year, making over $1.1 billion worldwide. To put things into perspective, that’s more than Star Trek Beyond ($343.5 million), Ghostbusters ($229.1 million), The Huntsman: Winter’s War ($164.6 million), The Magnificent Seven ($160.9 million), The Finest Hours ($52.1 million), and Hell or High Water ($27 million) made combined.
But there’s more to this Chris equation than box-office earnings. It’s an imperfect science, but it’s a science nonetheless, which means we need more variables. So in addition to box-office numbers, I’ll be analyzing several other factors, including critical reception, general life choices, meme-ability, and social media presence. Scoring is simple: Each Chris will receive a score in each category, ranging from highest (400) to lowest (100). So let’s get to work:
Evans (400): See above. When it comes to box-office numbers, no other Chris comes close to touching Evans’s Civil War haul. Furthermore, Evans isn’t just a part of the Marvel machine; he’s the face of it. Robert Downey Jr. may get all the snarky quips, but it’s Evans who holds down the franchise’s emotional center. Nicely done, Cap.
Hemsworth (300): The Huntsman prequel that someone in Hollywood thought we needed was a critical and commercial flop, but Ghostbusters did find some success at the box office — don’t let the Ghostbros tell you otherwise. (Also, I’m not counting Hemsworth’s hilarious cameo in Marvel’s Doctor Strange because he wasn’t part of the marketing for the film.)
Pine (200): Star Trek Beyond made money, but it didn’t make Marvel money, or even DC/Warner Bros. money. Meanwhile, Pine delivered the best performance of all the Chrises in Hell or High Water, but that only earned a quiet $27 million. LOL, remember The Finest Hours?
Pratt (100): It’s a shame that what could be Pratt's biggest box-office hit this year — and possibly the Greatest Movie of All Time? — doesn’t open until Christmas. Morten Tyldum’s Passengers has everything holiday audiences want: Jennifer Lawrence, robot Michael Sheen, space sex, explosions in space, and more space sex. However, based on the fact that Sony doesn’t seem to know how to market the film, there’s a possibility that not even a space romp with Lawrence could save Pratt’s box-office year, as his only other film in 2016, The Magnificent Seven, bowed out at just $160 million. Where's Baby Groot when you need him? (Don't worry. He'll be back to collect all of your money next year with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.)
Pine (400): Pine turned in one of the year’s best performances in David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water, a blistering modern Western about two brothers who hatch a risky scheme to save their family ranch. Pine is know for his charisma, but in Hell or High Water, he buries it, revealing the sad, weary man underneath. Unfortunately, an Oscar nomination for Pine is a long shot at this point, with Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) and Denzel Washington (Fences) currently running up the score. But at least he’ll always have that 98 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Hemsworth (300): Aside from that one shot of Emily Blunt riding a giant snow leopard, The Huntsman: Winter’s War was terrible. But Hemsworth turned it all around in Ghostbusters. Hemsworth lampooned gender tropes with his performance as dopey blond secretary Kevin, who is essentially a living, breathing Ken doll with an Australian accent — and glasses without any actual lenses (so he doesn’t have to clean them). Hemsworth not only keeps up with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and scene-stealer Kate McKinnon, but he also walks away with the best joke in the entire film: Mike Hat. More impressively, the joke was improvised by Hemsworth.
Not to mention, under the tutelage of Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi, Hemsworth also made a memorable cameo as the God of Thunder in Doctor Strange and in the even funnier Marvel short, Team Thor, which premiered at San Diego Comic-Con. Forget Pratt; Hemsworth is the newly minted Funny Chris.
Evans (200): The only film Evans starred in this year was Civil War, so he’s lucky he was so good in it.
Pratt (100): Pratt is a delightful human, but he had a relatively quiet year. Call it Peak Pratt, or maybe Pratt Fatigue, but it's hard to watch his performance in The Magnificent Seven and not see Chris Pratt. It’s Chris Pratt riding a horse! It’s Chris Pratt in a cowboy hat! It’s Chris Pratt being a gunslinging charmer! It’s Chris Pratt shooting things and flirting with a pretty redhead! I honestly can’t even remember the name of Pratt’s character. That’s not to say that Pratt isn’t good in this movie — he is. He’s Hollywood’s billion-dollar everyman; he does the same thing in every movie, and it clearly works.
GENERAL LIFE CHOICES:
Evans (400): In 2016, Evans started dating Jenny Slate. Therefore, Evans (and Slate) wins when it comes to making life choices. This is also the year when Evans stopped lamenting his career choices and got woke AF. What a difference a year, and some distance from Jeremy Renner, makes.
Pratt (300): Can anyone think of one remarkable thing podcast star Chris Pratt did this year? No shade, but I’m coming up blank. Oh, wait. He talked about butt stuff. OK, and maybe he also made several visits to the Seattle Children’s Hospital because he’s Good Guy Chris, and Good Guy Chris always makes time for his littlest fans.
Pine (200): In case you missed it, Pine recorded a duet with Barbra Streisand Tha God for her latest album, Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. Did you know that Pine sounds like Ol’ Blue Eyes incarnate? Anyway, as Barbra puts it, “Chris Pine ... he’s one of the hotties today.” Indeed, Babs. But all the cuteness in the world does not make up for the fact that Pine is an egregious MANSPREADER WHO SHOULD BE PUT IN JAIL. Wonder Woman, get your man under control.
Hemsworth (100): Hemsworth and the internet’s former favorite boyfriend, Tom Hiddleston, filmed Thor: Ragnarok in Australia, where Hiddleston’s summer fling, Taylor Swift, reportedly spent some time on set. Hemsworth later commented on his co-star’s highly publicized romance, telling an Australian radio station, “He looks happy, mate.” The fact that Hemsworth knowingly contributed to the Hiddleswift scam puts him at the bottom of this list. On the bright side, he did apologize for dressing up as a Native American last year, so there’s that.
Hemsworth (400): Hi. Here are photos of Hemsworth stretching. You’re welcome.
Evans (300): What were Captain America and Iron Man fighting over, anyway? Well, it had something to do with government legislation, but that’s a total snooze, so the internet had some more colorful suggestions.
Pine (200): Pine not only had a great Star Trek press tour — he couldn’t keep his hands off co-stars Zachary Quinto and Sofia Boutella, literally — but he also ate food off the floor, which I happen to find endearing.
Pratt (100): I swear I genuinely like Pratt, but unfortunately for him, the Raptor Pose meme was so 2015.
What has he contributed to the internet in 2016? Honestly, Sony should have started marketing Passengers in July, because the internet loves nothing more than Hungry Jennifer Lawrence ... and Farting Jennifer Lawrence ... and Feminist Jennifer Lawrence ... and Farting Jennifer Lawrence and Farting Chris Pratt TOGETHER. Oh well. At least we got this photo shoot of him and a horse.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE:
Evans (400): Evans has a public Facebook page, but he doesn’t use it. (He hasn’t updated his cover photo since 2013.) He doesn’t have an Instagram because if he did, it would probably give him crippling anxiety. He’s generally a private dude. He’s an intermittent tweeter who usually only uses the app to support kids with cancer, the New England Patriots, or his buddy Sebastian Stan — but recently, he’s been more vocal about his liberal stances. For example, he’s not afraid to call out President-elect Donald Trump on his leadership “skills.” Personally, I love this new era of Woke Chris.
Pine (300): This was the year Pine and the entire cast of Star Trek discovered Dubsmash, which I guess is cute. But it’s this one in particular — of Pine, John Cho, and the late Anton Yelchin lip-synching to Aretha Franklin’s “Think” — that will really punch you right in the gut. Pine’s presence on social media may be nonexistent, but this alone made up for it.
Pratt (200): Pratt made a late-in-the-game save with these “selfies” of him and Lawrence promoting Passengers in Europe. He also gets major props for being the most social-media-savvy Chris — he’s active on IG, Twitter, and Facebook. When he’s not tweeting about the Seahawks, he’s tweeting about his wife, Anna Faris, and since my heart isn’t made of stone, I have to appreciate that. Their son, Jack, is also adorable.
Hemsworth (100): Hemsworth is a total dad, and as the resident Dad Chris (sorry, Pratt), Hemsworth never forgets to remind us that he lives a perfectly charmed life with wife Elsa Pataky and their three children. Seriously. It’s sickening.
Chris Evans is the Chris of 2016. (And I’m not just saying that because I keep a photo of him in a digital frame on my desk.) He earned it. Evans had the biggest release of the year, got into a Twitter feud with Pharma bro Martin Shkreli, discovered podcasts, and became Jenny Slate’s trophy boyfriend. TL;DR — he had the best year.
Check out more from the year in music, culture, politics, and style in Signal & Noise 2016.