OK, so we didn’t exactly go 30 for 30 last year (our apologies for Chappie, Jupiter Ascending, and – ahem – that 50 Shades thing), and we probably won’t get ‘em all right this time either, but there’s no way that’s gonna stop us from playing our hybrid Nostradamus-Roger Ebert. 2016 won’t feature anything as countdown-clock worthy as The Force Awakens, but we will get another Star Wars universe film in December, as well as more blockbusters with Marvel and DC heroes (Deadpool, Captain America, X-Men, Doctor Strange, Batman v Superman) and – maybe even more interestingly, villains (Suicide Squad).
We’ve got our eyes on comedies with Ben Stiller and Key & Peele, biopic dramas with Don Cheadle (as Miles Davis), Michael Keaton (as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc), and Tom Hanks (as Captain Sully!), and a handful of animated flicks that look quite promising as well. Of course finding an under-the-radar independent gem is often more satisfying than any popcorn flick too. So pull up your calendar and bust out a red pen. These are the 30 most anticipated movies of 2016.
Release Date: 2/12/2016. Much like it took the cast and crew of Anchorman some nine years to produce a sequel, Ben Stiller has let almost 15 go by before revamping his beloved and hilariously dense male model character. We have just one concern: Seeing as Zoolander’s ridiculous “Blue Steel” look turned into the infamous “duck face,” what will our news feeds look like for the next 15 years?
Release Date: 2/12/2016. While superhero movies have dominated the box office over the past decade-plus, watching spandex-clad good guys beat up spandex-clad bad guys can sometimes be hard to take seriously. With Deadpool, there’s no such pressure, as he’s known first and foremost for his off-color wisecracks. If you can handle Ryan Reynolds playing yet another superhero, this one could be fun.
Embrace of the Serpent
Release Date: 2/19/2016. Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, this Colombian, colonialism-centered story focuses on the relationship between an Amazonian shaman and two foreign scientists. Shot in gorgeous black and white, critics and festival audiences have loved it so far, tossing around terms like “soulful” and “strange.” Hey, we like soulful and strange.
Release Date: 2/19/2016. Director Robert Eggers took home Best Director at Sundance for this horror picture about a 17th century New England family that gets wrecked by witchcraft. The trailer oozes a beautiful and eerie authenticity, and along with the buzz we’re hearing about the psychological impact, The Witch seems to have a shot at being the year’s best fright flick.
Release Date: 2/26/2016. This heist-thriller from Australian director John Hillcoat (The Road, Lawless) looks rough, rugged, and raw with a killer cast (Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Woody Harrelson, and Kate Winslet). Expect corrupt cops, the Russian mob, and more flying lead than an explosion at the No. 2 pencil factory.
Release Date: 3/18/2016. A boy with mysterious powers and his father are forced to go on the lam in this sci-fi chase film from director Jeff Nichols (Mud) that was pushed back from a 2015 release. Filmed in New Orleans, this one looks like it might be more plot-focused, which is relatively rare for sci-fi like this. Oh, and expect the entire theater to whisper “Kylo Ren!” in unison when star Adam Driver enters the frame.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Release Date: 3/25/2016. Yes, we’ve got it on our list, but we have some serious concerns about the next installment in DC’s cinematic universe. For starters, Ben Affleck. But also, Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor? A conspicuously early March release date? And director Zack Snyder’s (Man of Steel) spotty record behind the lens? Wonder Woman’s long-awaited appearance could easily wind up as the highlight here.
Release Date: 3/25/2016. Jazz legend Miles Davis deservedly gets the biopic treatment in this film that star Don Cheadle has obviously put his heart & soul into. Cheadle was director, co-producer, and co-writer on the project, and while the reviews haven’t all been winners thus far, there’s certainly potential for greatness when focusing on this musical genius.
Everybody Wants Some
Release Date: 4/15/2016. What Dazed and Confused did for the 70s in 1993, Everybody Wants Some might possibly do for the 80s this year; that is, create a period-perfect, coming of age, comedy-drama that achieves cult status. The same director (Richard Linklater) is at the helm, with a cast of mostly unknowns, just as he had with Dazed, so the blueprint is there.
Tale of Tales
Release Date: 4/22/2016. Bizarre and beautiful, this adaptation of three stories from 16th-century poet Giambattista Basile looks high on style and just all-around freakiness. Italian director Matteo Garrone makes his English-language debut here, and he somehow got Salma Hayek to go chow down on what looks to be a huge, bloody heart. Mange!
Release Date: 4/29/2016. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele cranked out some wicked funny sketches during Key & Peele’s five seasons–now we get to test their silver screen chops. The plot (friends hatch a plan to retrieve a stolen cat by posing as drug dealers) sounds appropriately absurd, and we have plenty of faith in this duo’s ability to get laughs with even just a decent script.
Captain America: Civil War
Release Date: 5/6/2016. One of the most memorable storylines in comic book history finally gets its big screen representation in the first of the summer blockbusters this May. When the U.S. government passes a superhero registration act, dissension sweeps over Marvel’s roster of heroes, with Captain America and Iron Man diametrically opposed to each other. Watching those two trade blows could be one of the highlights of ‘16, or at the very least, fuel intense fanboy debates for years to come.
Release Date: 5/13/2016. Take the fascinating real-life story of Edward Snowden and add controversy king Oliver Stone and you’re guaranteed must-see cinema. The very capable Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Edward Snowden, the world-famous computer whiz who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013. We’re assuming Snowden himself has already pirated the movie and revealed the key plot points to IMDB.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Release Date: 5/27/2016. Johnny Depp and some of Disney’s top FX wizards return to the Alice in Wonderland universe this summer as the titular heroine travels back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Tim Burton is only producing this time, not directing, but based on the trailer, director James Bobin (The Muppets) seems to have nailed Burton’s surreal and color-soaked style.
Release Date: 5/27/2016. 16 years and running now and the X-Men well is showing no signs of drying up. Director Bryan Singer is undoubtedly the king of the mutant movies (X-Men, X-Men 2, Days of Future Past), and this time he’s going dark, as Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant, is awakened after thousands of years and wants to “cleanse” humanity.
Release Date: 6/17/2016. It’s hard to believe, but Finding Nemo, cemented as one of Pixar’s finest films, is now 13 years old. Much of the original voice cast is back for this summertime sequel, including Ellen DeGeneres as the dim-witted Dory. We’re guessing this one won’t be able to match Nemo’s magic, but still offer some solid family fun.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Release Date: 6/24/2016. From the “so bad it’s good” category comes this un-asked for but gladly accepted sequel to the 1996 blockbuster. Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, and Judd Hirsch are back from the original, along with Liam Hemsworth as Pullman’s son-in-law. The trailer looks a little darker than the original with lots of air combat and solid CGI—just don’t expect any award-winning dialogue.
Release Date: 7/1/2016. A young girl, the Queen of England and, a big friendly giant (hence the BFG) embark on an adventure to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have been invading the human world. The hall of fame dream team of Steven Spielberg and John Williams are reunited once again, with SNL alum Bill Hader handling the voice of the giant in this adaptation of the Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) novel.
Release Date: 7/15/2016. It’s a sizable pill to swallow, seeing a beloved franchise like Ghostbusters get rebooted into a borderline chick flick, but we’re hoping the all-female cast will lean heavily on the brilliant Kristen Wiig, quiet SNL star Kate McKinnon, a great script, and strong FX to ease our concerns. We’re hoping for a more than just Bridesmaids with proton packs.
Star Trek Beyond
Release Date: 7/22/2016. We know you can’t fully judge a movie by its trailer, but that’s usually what we tell ourselves when the preview is great–not the case with Star Trek Beyond. Fast and the Furious maestro Justin Lin takes over the director’s chair from J.J. Abrams, but at least in interviews he’s expressed a better vision for the film than the “Sabotage”-filled trailer indicates.
Untitled Bourne Movie
Release Date: 7/29/2016. After passing on The Bourne Legacy, Matt Damon returns to the role of Jason Bourne, with Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum) back to direct. Not much is known about the plot, but it’s a safe bet there’ll be ample intense action and plenty of shaky-cam shenanigans.
Release Date: 8/6/2016. Taken from the DC Comics universe, Suicide Squad features a bevy of bad guys who get used by a secret government agency to execute a dangerous black ops mission in exchange for clemency. The trailers are a blast, with some unique visuals and plenty of nutbag characters to keep us entertained. Will Smith is Deadshot, Margot Robbie plays Harley Quinn, and yes, we’ll finally get to see Jared Leto’s Joker.
Release Date: 8/12/2016. The best Disney movies often combine adventure, laughs, and a misty-eyed moment or two, and that’s exactly what producer Sean Bailey says we’ll get with the remake of 1977’s Pete’s Dragon. We haven’t seen any clips, but we know it’s again going to be live-action + animation, telling the story of a young boy who seeks refuge from his abusive adoptive parents with the help of a pet dragon.
Kubo and the Two Strings
Release Date: 8/12/2016. This 3D stop motion fantasy thriller comes from Laika, the animation studio responsible for Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, and as you might expect, visually, it’s dazzling. Starring the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, and Ralph Fiennes, Kubo tells the story of a young boy in old Japan who can only quell a spirit war by finding a magical suit of armor once worn by his dead father.
Release Date: 9/9/2016. If you were hoping Sully was a solo spinoff for John Goodman’s Monster’s Inc. character, sorry; that’d be “Sulley,” anyway. No, this Sully is about Chesley Sullenberger, who you may recall heroically landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in January 2009. Tom Hanks stars, Clint Eastwood directs.
Release Date: 9/9/2016. With no financial reason to not continue running down their roster of heroes, Marvel’s 14th film introduces the mainstream to Doctor Strange, the primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats, and a character who’s been in comics since 1963. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the good doctor, along with Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Rachel McAdams (The Notebook).
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Release Date: 11/18/2016. If you’ve been craving another trip to the Harry Potter universe, this J.K. Rowling-penned spinoff has you directly in its sights. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) stars as writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. Rowling wrote the screenplay as well, so there’s plenty of firepower behind this potential new franchise.
Bad Santa 2
Release Date: 11/18/2016. 2016 seems to be the year of long overdue sequels, and this continuation of the 2003 cult classic black comedy is another prime example. Billy Bob Thornton is back as the lovable/detestable department store Santa thief, and so is his little buddy, played by Tony Cox. Plus we see the lovely Christina Hendricks is on-board, and we’re always down with that.
Release Date: 11/23/2016. How did McDonald’s become the global giant it is today? We’ll find out this November when Michael Keaton plays Mickey D’s founder Ray Kroc who famously took control of the small hamburger chain started by brothers Mac and Dick McDonald and turned it into an empire.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Release Date: 12/16/2016. We waited 10+ years for The Force Awakens, and now the wait is mere months for the next Star Wars movie. This will be the first film in the Star Wars Anthology series, a collection of stand-alone films set in the Star Wars universe. On the timeline, Rogue One is just before the events of Episode IV (1977), with the plot centering on a group of Rebel spies on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.
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