The Anticipated 2016: (Introduction)

In All, Movies by David

As we head into the final stretch of the 2015 Movie Award season, we can now begin to look ahead to what is coming this year (give or take a The Revenant review, which I promise is coming) with The Anticipated 2016. Normally, I create a ranking system to determine my most anticipated movies of the year, but this year, while I will still have my top ten, there will be no order placed on them. This upcoming year looks to be an fascinating one. We have the biggest glut of super hero movies yet (with WB joining in on the fun), a number of big directors taking on ambitious projects, action films all over the place, more from the world of Harry Potter, and video game movies trying once again to get us to take them seriously. Hell, there is even a new Zoolander. It looks to be a big year for movies, and I am excited to see where it is all going. So let’s get to it, shall we?


2015 Holdovers

Both of these films were actually supposed to be on my list last year, but their release dates got pushed back into this year. I will still write about them, but it doesn’t feel right to put them in the 2016 list proper.

Knight of Cups

Will it be worth the wait?

  • This film was my top pick for last year when it was in the middle of its run through festival circuits before it was shifted into this year. Even if a Terrence Mallick film isn’t as rare as it used to be, each one should still be regarded as must see.
  • Release DateMarch 4th 2016
  • Trailer: Yes

The Little Prince

I can finally see it.

  • This film was also supposed to be released in 2015, and to be fair, it was in non-US markets, but its US release was pushed to 2016, so that is how it is going to be treated for these purposes.
  • Release Date: March 18th 2016
  • Trailer: Yes

Top Ten:

Kubo and the Two Strings

I want to trust you, Laika. I really do. Please don’t make me pay for that trust.

  • Studio Laika and I are in a little bit of a rough patch. After two films I absolutely loved with Coraline and Paranorman, it gave us Boxtrolls, which, while not a bad movie, was definitely a step down in quality. So I am a little wary of trusting the studio again. But what can I say? I love stop motion and samurais, and this film gives me both. I am just going to hope that Boxtrolls was a blip, and anticipate Kubo as a return to form for the studio. My expectations have been sufficiently calibrated this time, and dear God, just look at that trailer.
  • Release Date: August 19th 2016
  • Trailer: Yes, Yes, and Yes

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

This is about all we have so far, but it’s enough.

  • In a lot of ways, I am actually more intrigued by this film than I was by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This film is likely to be the least Star Wars a Star Wars movie can be. There will be no force powers, and it is very much going to be a war and heist story, making it the grittiest film the franchise will ever make. Now, do I want this with all my Star Wars movies? Definitely not. But to see it even once is really exciting. Plus, this looks like the film that will finally allow Gareth Edwards to show off his true talent, so I am all in. But I probably would have watched it anyway, just because it stars Felicity Jones. I have long been a fan of Jones’s work (starting with her fun turn in a Doctor Who episode), but had grown worried that she was forever doomed to only be stuck in romance roles ranging from, at best, her role in Like Crazy, and at worst, “the wife”, as in The Theory of Everything. Now, she is really good in both of these movies, but it would be a shame for her to be typecast in such a way. The rest of the cast of this Star Wars spin-off is just as interesting, with Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal himself), Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, and even Alan Tudyk set to have some role in the movie. Surprisingly, we still know little about this movie, but it has the look of a real winner.
  • Release Date: December 16th 2016
  • Trailer: Not yet, though there are some rumblings that could change soon.

La La Land

Ahh, man, the dancing. This is going to be good.

  • Damien Chazelle’s first feature film, Whiplash, was amazing, a treat for the eyes and ears with a unique look at what it takes to be exceptional. Chazelle seemed to have a unique voice, especially when it came to music in cinema. So when it turned out his next film was going to be a musical, I was in. When you add Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and JK Simmons to that, I am super in. I don’t really know what this film is about, but I don’t really care. I love musicals, and this could be really special.
  • Release Date: July 15th 2016
  • Trailer: No….

A Monster Calls/The BFG

Yes, there is a talking tree in this movie.

Please, just try, Spielberg. That’s all I’m asking.

  • Sometimes I cheat, and this is one of those times. This slot is more for the child’s fantasy movie that could break out in a huge way for both children and adults–ie., the next Hugo. Despite their similarity market position, though, these films appeal to me for different reasons. A Monster Calls is based on a book by my favorite YA writer, Patrick Ness, which adapted an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. Its hard to describe this book without ruining it, but let’s just say this is one of the most emotionally riveting books you will ever read. Ness wrote the screenplay, and J.A. Bayona (The Impossible) is set to direct. It also stars Felicity Jones, as well as Liam Neeson and newcomer Lewis MacDougall. This book is ripe for a great film adaptation, so I am psyched.
  • The BFG, meanwhile has one major thing going for it: Steven Spielberg may actually have to try. Spielberg has been phoning it in for years, and this is the first project other than possibly Tin Tin that feels like it would require all of his attention in order to make this Roald Dahl adaptation good. If Spielberg is on his game, this film, given the source material, could really be special, and I am excited to see if that turns out to be the case.
  • Release DateA Monster Calls: October 16th 2016 / The BFG: July 1st 2016
  • Trailer: Yes and Yes

The Magnificent Seven

There is nothing for this film for me to show you, so, umm, here is something from the original film. That works, right?

  • This kind of came out of nowhere, but is intriguing nonetheless. Seven Samurai is one of the greatest films ever, and the original The Magnificent Seven is a classic itself, so this remake has a lot to live up to. It’s admittedly questionable if Antoine Fuqua is the right man to pull off this ambitious project, but with True Detective‘s Nic Pizzolatto as a writer behind it, the potential for greatness is there. Add in a super intriguing cast consisting of the likes of Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Byung-hun Lee, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Ethan Hawke just to name a few, and there is a lot to anticipate about this movie. It is likely that this is the boom-or-bust film of this year. It is either going to be very good or very bad, and I am excited to find out which one it will be.
  • Release DateSeptember 23rd 2016
  • Trailer: No, in fact there really isn’t anything for this film yet.

Hail, Caesar

The fun oozes from this poster.

  • I have never been as big a Coen Brothers fan as most. I respect the movies they have made, but haven’t necessarily found them to be as great as most people (which is basically how I felt about Wes Anderson before The Grand Budapest Hotel), but man, the trailer for this movie just looks delightful. There is an energy to it that is infectious, and it really feels like a film that has a chance for me to finally feel the awe for the Coens that others have. Add in a dynamite cast, and this could be an early frontrunner for the Best Picture of 2016.
  • Release Date: February 5th 2016
  • Trailer: Yes

Ghostbusters

They certainly look awesome.

  • Ghostbusters has always been a weird franchise, but it is also one that has always been immensely entertaining. With the talented Paul Feig (whose last film, Spy, was phenomenal), this reboot is looking to be a lot of fun. The progressive wrinkle of the cast being gender swapped from the original creates ample intrigue from a box office perspective. This is a franchise that hasn’t been around in quite some time, so the name alone isn’t going to carry it to box office success. That means that if this film can be a box office smash (highly likely, but stranger things have happened), it will be another step towards confronting the backwards thinking in Hollywood about how successful female-fronted movies can be. The cast is super talented, and I am ready to not be afraid of no ghosts once again.
  • Release Date: July 15th 2016
  • Trailer: No

The Birth of a Nation

The press for this is still somewhat limited, so enjoy this picture.

  • A shot was fired from Sundance this year when Nate Parker’s passion project, The Birth of a Nation, sold its distribution rights to Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million. This film, which took its name from D.W. Griffith’s infamous and seminal 1915 release, comes at the perfect time. It’s the biopic of Nat Turner, a preacher and slave who in 1831 led a famed slave rebellion in Virginia. It was a smash at Sundance, sweeping the major awards, and looks primed to be a big player in next year’s Oscar Race. Now the question is whether it can continue its success in a wider release. Popular Sundance movies have been hit-or-miss–look no further than last year’s big winner at Sundance, Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, which is a really great movie, but which flopped at the box office. How The Birth of a Nation performs could, like a successful Ghostbusters reboot, challenge the backwards thinking about how well black-led movies can do in the box office. How Fox Searchlight handles the release of this film is also going to be equally as important, as one misstep and all of this film’s momentum will go to waste. All we can do now is wait and see what happens.
  • Release Date: TBD
  • Trailer: No, but here is Parker speaking about the film.

Moana

I can work with this.

  • I have said a lot about how disappointed I am in the Academy for basically making the Best Animated Film Category the Disney/Pixar Award, no matter the quality of film either studio releases. That doesn’t mean I don’t think Disney and/or Pixar can’t still make great films. Inside Out was one of the best movies in 2015, and shows that when either studio tries, they are capable of great things. That is why I am amped for Moana, which has the looks of being the next Disney classic (some may prefer Zootopia, but I still have massive reservations about that film). Young heroine adventure tales are Disney’s bread and butter, so this film looks like a return to form for the House of Mouse. Add in the continuing Disney efforts to make their so-called Disney princesses more diverse, and things are really looking up for this movie. Plus, it has the Rock in it, and as a rule I will basically watch anything the Rock has decided is worth his acting talents. Just don’t be as bad and racist as Lava was, and you’ll be off to a good start.
  • Release DateNovember 23, 2016
  • Trailer: Not really. This is the best we got so far.

The Girl on the Train

I don’t have much to work with, so here’s the book cover.

  • An adaptation of one of the hottest books of 2015, this book and movie is getting a lot of comparisons to Gone Girl, which is never a bad thing. While I am not totally sold on Tate Taylor as the director, he did do a very good job making The Help much better than it ever deserved to be (not to mention making it far less pandering). The cast, however, looks excellent, with Emily Blunt leading the way and Rebecca Ferguson and Justin Theroux also involved. I am a sucker for psychological thrillers, and this is supposed to be one of the better ones, so I am excited for what is to come.
  • Release DateWell, it was October 7th, 2016, but it looks like it just got pulled, because it is switching from Disney to Universal for distribution purposes. All indications are that it will still be released in 2016, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
  • TrailerNo, but it is a book so you can just go read it.

Honorable Mention

Midnight Special

Everyone: I am in, just by seeing those googles.

  • Jeff Nichols has been making very solid small budget films for a while that I really need to see (most recently, Take Shelter and Mud), and now he has returned with this sci-fi picture starring Nichol’s long-time favorite, Michael Shannon, about a father and son on the run from the government because of the son’s special powers. I am a sucker for films like this, and Nichols has built a reputation of being quite the filmmaker. The cast is great, with Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, and Joel Edgerton joining Shannon, just to name a few. This feels like the movie that could really allow Nichols to break out beyond the cinephile elite, while also being a great showcase for one of the few directors today committed to doing something different in each of his films. My lack of familiarity with the specifics of Nichols’ work keeps this from being in the top ten, but this is the kind of movie that I adore, and I am excited to see it in the near future.
  • Release Date: March 18th 2016
  • Trailer: Yes

Super Hero Exception

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Do I even want this to be good? Maybe…

  • I love super heroes, and even I am getting fatigued. So instead of bothering to cover the slew of super hero films this year, I am just going to pick one. Batman V. Superman may not even be the most entertaining super hero film this year (that will almost assuredly be Deadpool), nor the strangest (that will be, well, probably Doctor Strange) nor the most successful (that could very well be X-Men: Apocalypse, or Captain America: Civil War) nor even the best super hero film released by WB this year (that might be Suicide Squad), but it is by far the most important. Warner Brothers has grand plans to make a DC Cinematic Universe that rivals Marvel’s, but all of that depends on the success of this movie. If Batman v Superman fails, that will be a significant blow to WB’s plan, and could change the trajectory of the studio’s plans going forward. Maybe not enough to scrap everything, but possibly enough to reconsider the scope of their ambitions. It may seem like we have reached peak super hero, but if Batman v Superman is financially successful (being good would be a bonus), things are only going to get worse. So, yeah, this film is going to be covered because a lot of the future of popular cinema going forward is in this film’s hands, and I have no idea how I want all this to turn out.
  • Release Date: March 25th 2016
  • TrailerYes

Video Game Exception

Warcraft

This can be good, right? Right!?

  • Video games have been trying for years to translate to the live action film side of things, and, well, the results have been pretty damn awful. When Prince of Persia came out in 2010, it looked like things had turned a corner. Not because Prince of Persia was good–in fact, it was quite bad–but it considering how truly awful the history of video game movies had been, it at least seemed like we were getting closer to competent filmmaking. If Prince of Persia can be your floor and not your peak, then things are looking up. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, as the past half decade has not seen much change. High profile films like Bioshock or Uncharted never got made, and video game adaptations are back to square one (maybe even square zero, after Pixels). This year, though, things may change, as two high profile gaming franchises get their film releases (okay, three, but I am not looking at Rachet and Clank in this discussion because it isn’t live action): Assassin’s Creed and Warcraft. Now, I am not a fan of either gaming franchise, but both could make for good movies. I went with Warcraft over Assassin’s Creed simply because I trust Hollywood to create a fantasy story more than I trust them to make whatever the hell they decide Assassin’s Creed will be (the series has one of the most convoluted stories in existence). Also, Warcraft could be the true break out moment for director Duncan Jones, so this film has a lot going for it. Who is to say if this will all work out, but this may finally be the year we get a good video game movie, and the anticipation is killing me.
  • Release DateJune 10 2016
  • Trailer: Yes

Special Exception

Pride + Prejudice + Zombies

Well, at least the poster is rather badass.

  • As someone who has admitted that he is not a fan of horror films, this may seem like an odd inclusion. But I have a special place in my heart with this film, partially due some in-depth knowledge about the production (or more precisely the production problems) of this film, and also because I did quite enjoy the book (and note, I also enjoyed the original Pride and Prejudice, so this story in resonates with me in general). Honestly, I never thought this film would end up getting made, considering the delays, so the fact that it did was a victory in itself. The fact that the film was ultimately able to cast Lily James as its lead is also a boon, as it is very possible after her turn in Cinderella that she is going to be quite the star. Can the book be translated properly to screen? Who knows? I for one am really glad to get to find out.
  • Release Date: February 5th 2016
  • Trailer: Yes

Ten Other Films I Am Excited About

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • The Nice Guys
  • Everybody Wants Some
  • Deadpool (already mentioned, but it bears repeating)
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Let It Snow
  • The Jungle Book (I should not be excited about this, but the trailer looks good)
  • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
  • Keanu
  • 10 Cloverfield Lane

One note I must make is that I would love for more foreign films to make this list, but it is always so difficult to pin down when exactly these films will come out in America. Even then, a lot of them don’t get proper releases until the year after they come out elsewhere, so apologies, but I mostly have to simply ignore these films. I wish it was different, but that is where we are at right now.

That’s it for now. Check back in to see each of these covered in The Anticipated as we go forth in 2016.