January is almost over, and we’ve paid our regards to some of the best (and worst) films of last year. Some of our predictions from 2015 panned out, and some movies we’d overlooked turned out to be surprise delights. Now is the time when we look forward to the most anticipated movies of 2016 that have caught our attention. Maybe a year from now we’ll be talking about some of these flicks…for good or bad!
Ten Most Anticipated Movies Of 2016
10. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December)
Jumping back in time, director Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters) tells the story of an imperial scientist who helped to create the first Death Star, and of his defection to the rebels when he realizes the impact of his research. I guess maybe he didn’t realize the giant orbital laser platform with “Death” prominently in its name was going to be used for…death.
Edwards’ Monsters was a refreshing sci-fi tale that relied heavily upon solid acting and interesting characters. His Godzilla was a shambling horror, incoherent and bogged down by unbelievable characters. If we get more of the former and less of the latter, we could be in for character-driven film that will explore facets of the original trilogy universe in novel ways. Or we could get explosions, whiny protagonists and endless cameos from established characters. This one could go either way.
9. Rings (April)
Horror sequels are dicey propositions. I loved the first Ring movie, but the second one was a listless retread. Adding to my qualms is the fact that this was originally called The Ring 3D. I hope they recapture the creepy visuals and high tension of the original. Director F. Javier Gutierrez is an unknown quantity, and perhaps can bring some fresh inspiration to the series.
8. Solace (September)
The FBI, stumped by a serial killer (Colin Farrell) who always appears to be one step ahead of them, enlist the aid of a doctor who claims to have psychic premonitions (Anthony Hopkins.) When it turns out the killer also has psychic abilities, the case becomes a game of fourth dimensional cat and mouse.
A strong cast and intriguing premise. I like how they are flipping the roles from Silence of the Lambs, with Hopkins playing a benevolent investigator instead of the preternatural killer. The interactions between his character and his FBI handlers also has undertones of The X-Files, delving into belief and skepticism. Hopefully this one is a return to form for Hopkins.
7. Kubo and the Two Strings (August)
A young man lives a quiet life on the Japanese coast, playing his trusty shamisen for a living. An ancient spirit is unleashed, and Kubo must search for a mystical relic from his samurai father in order to save himself and his village from the gods and monsters who threaten them.
The stop-motion animation on display is engaging, and the voice casting is top knotch: Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, Matthew McConaughey and George Takei. It is also nice to have an original story that borrows from Japanese myth without attempting to westernize too many of the elements.
6. X-Men: Apocalypse (May)
Now that Professor X has gotten over his sulk with the aid of time-travelling Hugh Jackman, he’s finally putting together his team of exceptional mutants. Unfortunately, his team’s first big test will come from the alpha mutant Apocalypse, a creature from pre-history who may be the first and most powerful mutant to ever exist.
The rebooted X-Men has been up and down. First Class was just alright, but I loved Days of Future Past…right up until the point where they made Magneto the bad guy again. The series has felt like the only three mutants who matter are Magneto, Wolverine and Mystique. Hopefully having a new villain will shake up the dynamic and allow other players to get some lime-light. It is also a good sign that Oscar Isaac has been given the role of Apocalypse, as that guy plays a megalomaniac with some real style!
5. 10 Cloverfield Lane (March)
A young woman wakes up from a car accident only to find herself being held underground in a doomsday prepper’s bunker. The owner of the bunker claims to have saved her life, as well as the lives of the other people who live there (once again, apparently against their wishes.) While he also claims that the surface has been made unlivable by chemical attacks, there may be an even worse threat outside of their claustrophobic abode…
This trailer came out of nowhere, and John Goodman’s performance as the leader/jailer of the bunker was riveting. We don’t know the connection between this film and the giant monster movie, Cloverfield, but sources say this movie happens in the same cinematic universe without being a direct sequel. That’s fine by me, as the psychological drama aspects feel so much more interesting without needing a giant bogey man to show up.
4. Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday (March)
Pee-Wee Herman is back!
Very little has been confirmed about this film except it has Paul Reubens reprising his role as the iconic man-child Pee-Wee Herman, and that Netflix will be the venue the movie is released on. A short teaser seems to hint that this project is a tad closer in spirit to the excellent Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure and less like the disappointing Big Top Pee-Wee. I guess I have to go iron my grey suit and tiny red bowtie now…
3. Captain America: Civil War (May)
After the destructive events in Age of Ultron, world governments are wary about the uncontrolled nature of super heroes, and draft a resolution calling for the registration and supervision of all meta-humans. While many of the Avengers agree with Iron Man, and willingly submit to the oversight, Captain America and others refuse, citing personal liberty and the demonstrated danger of governments being controlled by entities like Hydra. The battle lines are drawn and heroes must chose which side they will fight on, as former friends and allies go to war.
I’m less excited about this being another MCU film than I am excited about it being another Captain America movie. The big blue boy scout was never one of my favorite comic book heroes, but Chris Evans and the writers for the first two Cap Am flicks have made me a believer. Civil War was a huge event in the books, but with the smaller cinematic universe to draw from, some of the awe of seeing dozens of heroes clash may not materialize. That being said, I love the way Captain America films get to explore politics and society, while still being great fun.
2. Deadpool (February)
Wade Wilson was given a death sentence when diagnosed with wide spread cancer. A shadowy outfit promised him power and a cure…but what he got instead was multiple personalities, horrible disfigurement, a kidnapped girlfriend and a pair of kick-ass swords. So not all bad, right? Now functionally immortal and permanently deranged, Wilson fights as Deadpool, the merc with a mouth who is dead-set on getting his vengeance.
This looks amazing. The cast is spot on, especially Ryan Reynolds who worked his ass off to get this movie made the right way, keeping all of the crazy quirks of the character intact. The humor, the action, and the dialogue all seem to be pulling in unison. Fox may finally have found a property besides X-Men to build an empire upon.
1. The Witch (February)
It is the year 1630 in New England and a devout family of Puritans are eking out a living from the stony soil at the edge of a forbidding forest. When bad omens appear and tragedy begins to befall the family, a suspicious eye is turned towards the young daughter. As all good Christians know, the devil roams the land, hoping to tempt young women into pacts.
First time director Robert Eggers has got quite a gorgeous film going here. The visuals are arresting, and the plot is fantastic. I love horror movies where you don’t know how much of the terror is real, or simply the twisted imagination of scared people. The setting of this piece is also unique and well realized. Last year’s films woke up a desire in me to see really well done horror, and this film looks like it will stake an early claim in 2016 as one of the best horror films of the year.