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The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

The new year promises more conjuring, more purging, and more Star Wars

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Artwork by Cap Blackard

2015 is gone, people. Let’s look forward to the future: new screenings, new stories. To fresh and exciting movies in 2016! Yippie kay-yay movie lovers!

Wait, there’s another Star Wars coming out in November?

It’s all good. May the force(d commodities from Disney’s mouth-wateringly lucrative five-year plan) be with you! There’s a new Captain America! A new X-Men! A new Star Trek! A new Spielberg! A new Scorsese! A new Harry Potter, hold the Potter! Batman will fight Superman. Bustin’ will feel good yet again. Russell Crowe will finally be a nice guy. After finding Nemo, we’ll find Dory. There will be more purging and conjuring. Jane Austen goes full zombie this year. And all those movies we loved and hyped at past fests will see the light of day with wide releases. The point being, there’s always something new, if not a little familiar, in the next theater, and we’re set. So, pack your popcorn, and fill your flasks.

–Blake Goble
Senior Staff Writer

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Mojave

mojave film The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: January 22nd via A24

William Monahan is probably best known for writing the Academy Award-winning screenplay for The Departed, and it’s true that his hand is shakier holding a camera than a pen. Monahan’s directorial debut resulted in the forgettable crime noir London Bridge, but he’s getting another shot at capturing the lean intensity of his best work with the crime thriller Mojave. He’ll be helped by a pair of budding superstars in Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac, who last shared a screen in 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis. Hedlund plays Thomas, a troubled artist who retreats to the desert and encounters a homicidal drifter named Jack. As the film’s sinister antagonist, Isaac has the potential to push Mojave to the heights of Monahan’s best work. –Collin Brennan

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31

rob zombie 31 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016; Release Date: January 23rd via Alchemy

Rob Zombie’s 31 now has an official release date. We’re hoping the prolonged wait is a result of the horror auteur making sure his next project is done his way and his way only as opposed to the usual pitfalls of Development Hell. Just know that it’s about carnival workers trying to escape a gang of murderous clowns and that Zombie has likened it to his strongest movie, The Devil’s Rejects. Whether or not the film lives up to that ambitious comparison remains to be seen, but it will no doubt be visually arresting. Even the Halloween remakes were fun to look at… –Dan Caffrey

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Certain Women

certain women The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016

If their past work together – the devastating Wendy and Lucy (2008) and haunting Meek’s Cutoff (2011) – are any indication, the latest collaboration between Michelle Williams and writer/director Kelly Reichardt should be one of the year’s best domestic dramas. The story, which which follows three women (Williams, Kristen Stewart, and Laura Dern) as they navigate their flawed lives in small town America, is perfectly suited to Reichardt’s unique ability to wring profundity out of the tragedies of daily life, and Williams is even more intriguing to watch than usual under her careful guidance. Certain Women could go a long way to cementing their status as one of the great director/actor pairings of our time. –Sarah Kurchak

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The Intervention

the intervention movie The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016

Longtime cult TV and movie favorite and Brother Justin resurrector Clea Duvall makes her writing and directorial debut with this film about a seemingly benign couple’s retreat that goes awry when one of the pairs involved discovers it’s actually an intervention on their marriage. The score is by Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara fame. The cast — which includes Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, and Ben Schwartz — is almost as cool as its director. But what’s most exciting of all for But I’m a Cheerleader fans is that the movie reunites Duvall with two of her co-stars from that camp cult classic: Melanie Lynskey and Natasha Lyonne. –Sarah Kurchak
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Joshy

joshy movie image The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016

After a failed engagement, Joshy tries to reconnect with the few friends he has left. It’s not the freshest premise, but the film’s pedigree gives us reason to believe that writer and director Jeff Baena’s sophomore feature will be far more than the sum of its logline. The cast — which includes, among many others, Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Aubrey Plaza, and Lauren Graham — is one of the funniest you’ll find on this side of the pond. Although Baena tried to make zombies interesting again with his debut feature, Life After Beth, he should have no problem breathing new life into emotionally stunted bros and their relationships. –Sarah Kurchak

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Manchester by the Sea

manchester by the sea The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016

Matt Damon was originally slated to star in Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, but he was replaced by longtime friend Casey Affleck just a few months before filming began on location in Massachusetts. Damon’s a proven commodity, but we’re more interested in seeing Affleck take on another meaty dramatic role after knocking his last major role — 2013’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints — out of the park. The actor is on a bit of a hot streak, with two other films (The Finest Hours and Triple 9) due out this year. Here, he’ll play Lee Chandler, who returns to his hometown after he’s unexpectedly made the legal guardian of his dead brother’s son. With Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler also lending their talents, this indie flick won’t lack for bona fide star power. –Collin Brennan

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Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall

michael jacksons journey from motown to off the wall e1451489752707 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016

You see Spike Lee’s documentary for Bad’s 25th anniversary in 2012? The movie was fantastic! In-depth! Electric! Totally, like, off the wall! Imagine what he could spin from Off the Wall proper! Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall will be premiering at Sundance, and the doc promises to cover exactly what’s right there in the title. Jackson folks: let out an MJ-style “ooooooh!” right about now. The album’s a knockout (duh), and with Spike directing, the project promises to deliver potent ruminations on Michael’s music. Still not sure about the filming on the wall? To recall the raw power of Off the Wall, remember, Michael Jackson and his classically catchy disco grooves could make even four of the nastiest goons on television look loveable for a minute. –Blake Goble

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Other People

other people The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016

Writer and director Chris Kelly has some impressive comedic credits to his name. Saturday Night Live, Broad City, The Onion … clearly he’s got the chops to write about what it’s like to be a comedy writer in what will be his (seemingly?) autobiographical feature debut. Starring Jesse Plemons and Molly Shannon, Other People follows a struggling writer as he returns to Sacramento to care for his dying mother. Kelly has been a solid comedic force in his time as a writer, and to see that voice carry a feature film is bound to be a treat. Not to mention, the cast lists some of the most exciting voices in comedy today, from Zach Woods and Retta to John Early. –Rebecca Bulnes

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Wiener-Dog

 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016

He never gets credited as such, but Todd Solondz is truly one of America’s most experimental directors. With underrated masterpieces like Happiness and Palindromes, he not only writes bluntly about taboo subjects like pedophilia, evangelicalism, and abortion, but actually makes pains to humanize (gasp!) those at the center of the controversies he guts. Furthermore, he’s been building, then subverting, his own shared universe since he hit the scene with 1995’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, often returning to characters from previous films while only occasionally casting the same actor. He’s essentially creating his own archetypes, a technique that allows him to explore the multiple realities of a single character without being bound to appearance or his own canon. He continues this trend with Weiner-Dog, a film that checks in with Dollhouse’s protagonist Dawn “Wiener-Dog” Wiener as a thirtysomething, even though Palindromes revealed she committed suicide after becoming morbidly obese. Considering the effervescent Greta Gerwig is playing Dawn, it’s safe to say Solondz is exploring an alternate history for the character. Sad as it is, returning to the milieu of his most famous movie is probably the best option for the filmmaker since, in his own words, every one of his movies since then has made “half what the previous one made.” Such is the fate of the truly countercultural. –Randall Colburn

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Yoga Hosers

yoga hosiers The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at Sundance Film Festival 2016

Reading the plot to Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers is like listening to your dad try to talk like a millennial. The second in the director’s True North trilogy of Canada-set horror movies and, as such, the follow-up to his so-so Tusk, Yoga Hosers is about two teenagers in Winnipeg who “love yoga and live on their smartphones” and must do battle with an “ancient evil” using, you guessed it, yoga. I’ll bet one of them describes everything as “lit.” It stars Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp, the daughters of Smith and Johnny Depp, respectively, as well as Depp himself, who’s reprising his Mortdecai-adjacent Guy LaPointe, the clown who very nearly buried Tusk. Expect another tonally muddy affair that pairs flashy gore with “eh” jokes. –Randall Colburn

Hail, Caesar!

hail caesar The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: February 5th via Universal Pictures

Hail, Caesar!? More like, “Hail the Coens!” Everyone’s favorite directing siblings are back with another screwball comedy in the vein of The Hudsucker Proxy, The Ladykillers, and Intolerable Cruelty. Yikes. Okay. Well … look at this cast! There are a number of actors from the Coen filmography returning here, including George Clooney (O, Brother), Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) and Scarlett Johansson (The Man Who Wasn’t There) to name but a few. They’re headlining a wacky tale of old-school Tinseltown that comes complete with a kidnapping plot. Kidnapping? Like Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski? Color me back on board. –Justin Gerber

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Release Date: February 5th via Lionsgate

The biggest surprise of Seth Grahame-Smith’s hybrid novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies isn’t that it delivers what the title promises — Jane Austen’s remarkable text, plus the undead — but that it managed to be so utterly original while remaining faithful to the story it exists inside. It would seem that writer-director Burr Steers’ film adaptation aims to tread the same corpse-strewn path: funny, not campy; serious, not indulgent; and filled with familiar characters suddenly skilled in the arts of death. Add in a cast that includes former Cinderella Lily James, a sizeable percentage of the Lannister clan, and Matt Smith as the absurd Mr. Collins, and you’ve got a recipe for a pitch-perfect comic-horror-period-romance zombie film. –Allison Shoemaker

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Deadpool

Deadpool

Release Date: February 12th via 20th Century Fox

The first in a deluge of Marvel Comics related films that will be released in 2016 and probably until the end of time is Deadpool, based on the foul-mouthed antihero of the same. Ryan Reynolds, who briefly showed up as Deadpool in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, was invited to reprise the role in this standalone origin story, despite the fact that he is perhaps best known for attempting to launch DC Comics’ Green Lantern franchise on his beefy shoulders and failing spectacularly. Still, Hollywood keeps trying to make Ryan Reynolds happen, giving him a second chance to helm a superhero franchise and to play a popular character in a way that Reynolds has described in interviews as more true to the comics and R-rated “nasty” (cue fan rejoicing), so let’s hope that all of this preening and retooling of the theoretically ideal box office star has not been in vain. –Leah Pickett

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Remember

remember film The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: February 12th via A24

The narrative might be more linear than the ones he used to toy with in his art house provocateur days, but Atom Egoyan’s latest thriller does reunite the veteran Canadian filmmaker with some of his favorite themes: memory, loss, retribution, and reconciliation with the past. After the death of his wife, Zev (Christopher Plummer), an Auschwitz survivor with dementia, sneaks out of his care home with longtime friend and fellow survivor (Martin Landau) to hunt down Rudy Kurlander, the German who ordered the deaths of both their families during the Second World War. The only problem, aside from Zev’s deteriorating lucidity, is that there are four potential Rudy Kurlanders living across North America. –Sarah Kurchak

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Zoolander 2

zoolander 2 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: February 12th via Paramount Pictures

Zoolander No. 2 has already been met with a bit of controversy before its release, thanks to general concern over Benedict Cumberbatch’s gender-fluid villain, All. But we can only hope that the long-anticipated sequel to Ben Stiller’s absurdist comic gem is less mean-spirited and more daffy in the way of its predecessor. While we’re worried that the inevitable parade of cameos could send the film the overstuffed way of Anchorman 2, hopefully No. 2 will be a step forward and another quotable delight from Stiller and co-writers Justin Theroux and Nicholas Stoller. America needs its man of 2016. Why not a mer-MAN?  –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Triple 9

triple 9 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: February 26th via Open Road Films

Who doesn’t love a good heist movie, or a good dirty cop movie, or a good movie where Kate Winslet plays a Russian-Israeli mobster that director John Hillcoat called “a really glamorous, nasty piece of work”? Triple 9 — that’s 999, the code for “officer down” — seems poised to be all those movies at once. A cops-and-robbers story where some of the robbers are also the cops, the movie’s biggest draw has got to be its cast of top-tier talent, with Winslet merely as one of the pack. She’s joined by Aaron Paul, Michael K. Williams, Norman Reedus, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, future invisible plane-owner Gal Gadot, and a partridge in a pear tree. A recklessly twisting plot is just the cherry on top. –Allison Shoemaker

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The Witch

thewitch The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: February 26th via A24

Horror is a chronically under-appreciated genre, especially when it comes to the doling out of golden statuettes; It Follows and The Babadook, to name two recent examples, scored near-universal acclaim at the top of their release years only to fade into convenient obscurity by their respective awards seasons. However, the buzz off of The Witch, a 1630 New England-set nightmare that premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, has scorched a path to a wide release date that, more than a year later, has promisingly maintained every ounce of its sizzle. Glowing early reviews and Sundance’s “Best Director” prize for newcomer Robert Eggers have certainly helped to fuel the anticipatory fire; but it’s the gut-curdling trailer, arguably one of the best trailers to come out of 2015, that continues to stoke the flames. –Leah Pickett

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Knight of Cups

knight of cups The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: March 4th via Broad Green Pictures

When it comes to languorous filmmaker Terrence Malick, you can count on one thing: everything is going to look beautiful. His eye is unbeatable — it’s his stories that have caused division among audiences over the past, well, 40 years. For this year’s Knight of Cups, his eye is focused on Christian Bale’s Rick, a writer lost in a meaningless existence but trying to figure things out. (Story of my life!) With a great supporting cast in tow (Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Thomas Lennon … wait …The State’s Thomas Lennon?), let’s hope Malick can recall the glory Days of Heaven and avoid the straight-to-VOD doom of To the Wonder–Justin Gerber

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

whiskey foxtrot tango trailer tina fey watch The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: March 4th via Paramount Pictures

“There’s a real culture of demanding apologies, and I’m opting out of that,” Tina Fey confessed while supporting December’s well-regarded Sisters. That’s one hell of a New Year’s resolution, especially in light of our thankless, exhausting, and all too predictable PC culture of “precious snowflakes,” to crib from Bret Easton Ellis. She’ll certainly be tested with her next venture, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a comedy war film adapted from Kim Barker’s 2014 memoir, The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Fey plays a war correspondent who competes with a rival reporter (Margot Robbie) and stumbles into a wild relationship with another (Martin Freeman) amidst Operation Enduring Freedom. Expect plenty of think-pieces from any number of your faithful SJWs, who will undoubtedly be offended by the war-torn backdrop. Whatever. –Michael Roffman

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Zootopia

Zootopia

Release Date: March 4th via Walt Disney Pictures

Another movie about anthropomorphic animals? Are you kidding me?, you might be thinking. And yes, despite Disney Animation Studio’s largely stellar pedigree (Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen), this very Dreamworks-y move can seem a bit confounding at first. However, the fact that they’re leaning into the “society full of anthropomorphized animals” concept as the crux of their movie gives me a little hope – as does that surprisingly hilarious sloth trailer we all got before The Force Awakens. It may not show up on 2016’s Best Animated Feature list, but I’ve got hope it will be fun. –Clint Worthington

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Valencia

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Release Date: March 11th via Insurge Pictures

The screenplay for Dan Trachtenberg’s Valencia was originally titled The Cellar, and in some ways that name makes more sense. The majority of the film allegedly takes place in an underground cellar, in which a young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) awakens after a car accident. She’s told by her captor that a chemical attack has rendered the world outside uninhabitable, and she must choose whether to trust him or plot her escape. The film also stars John Goodman and John Gallagher Jr., but Trachtenberg is the real attraction here. The young filmmaker’s sci-fi short Portal: No Escape has become the stuff of Internet legend, and we hope Valencia marks the moment when he finally realizes his insane promise. –Collin Brennan
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Everybody Wants Some

everybody wants some The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Premieres at South by Southwest 2016; Release Date: April 15th via Paramount Pictures

Everybody Wants Some, Richard Linklater’s follow-up to his Sundance-darling and Oscar-snubbed Boyhood, is hardly the prestige picture voters expected from him. But really, he couldn’t care less, and you gotta love that. Whereas Alejandro González Iñárritu went H.A.M. on his follow-up to the Oscar-winning Birdman (see: The Revenant), Linklater dialed things down, juicing the time circuits back to the early ’80s for what’s been billed as a spiritual sequel to his ’70s coming-of-age dramedy, Dazed and Confused. Through the eyes and ears of a bunch of no-names and rookie stars, we’re once again patrolling the streets of Texas via a series of nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll rides and shenanigans. Judging from the vivid trailer, the Houston filmmaker undoubtedly found his proverbial plutonium, and it looks like we’re in for another groovy soundtrack, too. Shotgun! –Michael Roffman

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High-Rise

high rise The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: March 16th via Magnet Releasing

Ben Wheatley’s latest was a hit at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and Sarah Kurchak’s review has me all kinds of excited for its official release this year. Based on the novel by J.G. Ballard, High-Rise takes place in the 1970s inside of a, you guessed it, high-rise full of class tensions, romance, and my number-one favorite: violence. We’ve got a cast featuring Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the great Elisabeth Moss and Jeremy Irons. It’s from the director who brought us the disturbing Kill List and the first two Capaldi Doctor Whos. No need to take the elevator; I’m willing to take the stairs. And I won’t apologize for that pull quote! –Justin Gerber

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Midnight Special

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

Release Date: March 18th via Warner Bros. Pictures

Jeff NicholsMidnight Special has been eagerly awaited by most of our staff for some time now, so hearing that it’d been bumped to a spring 2016 release was deflating to say the least. But no matter. What looks to be a throwback to the renegade spirit of early Spielberg (Super 8 gave it a try but was just a little too slavish to the style) is also the latest release for a filmmaker who’s quietly made two of the best and most quintessentially American films of recent years, between the Boy’s Life naturalism of Mud and the furious paranoia of Take Shelter. Now he’s doing a film about aliens. Color us even more excited. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

batman vs superman e1451498090452 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: March 25th via Warner Bros. Pictures

Has there been another superhero film that’s toyed so mercilessly with our expectations? Each new trailer for Batman v Superman results in a spike or a dip on our collective excitement meter. Recognizing that Superman caused a fuck-ton of property damage in the first film? Excited! Jesse Eisenberg’s hyperactive take on Lex Luthor? Not excited. Gal Gadot’s badass cameo as Wonder Woman? Excited! Doomsday looking like one of Jonathan Liebesman’s Ninja Turtles (probably mixed with some Zod DNA)? Not excited. Bottom line: this could either be the all-out, bat(man)-shit gladiator match that Luthor promises in the most recent teaser or a bloodless spectacle that’s big on digital destruction and little else. –Dan Caffrey

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Green Room

green room1 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: April 15th via A24

/Film describes Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room as “the cinematic equivalent of getting your face bashed in.” This should come as no surprise to fans of Saulnier’s last feature, Blue Ruin, a brilliant and exhausting subversion of a traditional revenge movie. Green Room sounds even more badass, as it pits a fledgling punk band against a violent group of neo-Nazis led by none other than Patrick Stewart. After witnessing a murder perpetrated by the gang, punkers Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat barricade themselves in the club’s green room as the baddies do their best to break in and finish off the witnesses. It’s nice to see punks portrayed as the heroes for once, isn’t it? –Randall Colburn

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Miles Ahead

miles ahead The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: April 1st via Sony Pictures Classics

Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, and James Brown are just a few of the prominent musicians who have received the reverential biopic treatment in recent years, but none of them can claim the same far-reaching influence as Miles Davis. Now — almost inevitably, it seems — the Davis biopic has finally arrived. Don Cheadle directs and stars in the film, which is based on a screenplay he co-wrote with Steven Baigelman. That’s a lot of passion coming from an actor with a mostly stellar filmography, so consider us excited to see what Cheadle unearths in his directorial debut. –Collin Brennan

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The Jungle Book

Junglebook

Release Date: April 15th via Walt Disney Pictures

It may be a minor miracle if Jon Favreau’s humid take on the classic Rudyard Kipling tale makes it to screen in a few months. The Disney mega tentpole was already pushed back six months. Who knows why? The teaser looked pricey, hinted at something incomplete, and most worryingly made the film look grim. Book origins be damned, the ’67 Disney won out with its groovy beatnik vibes! We want that. But surely a brand-new Jungle Book is worth the couple of bucks when Idris “Stringer Bell” Elba is Shere Khan, and Big Bad Bill Murray is famed furry friend Baloo the bear. You hear that Favreau is using the “Bear Necessities” song? So, to keep spirits and interest in this project high, remember: Billy Murray is gonna be the one singing possibly the catchiest Disney tune of them all. –Blake Goble

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Captain America: Civil War

Captain-America-Civil-War

Release Date: May 6th via Walt Disney Studios

Will the Captain America films break Disney’s winning streak? From the look of Captain America: Civil War, it doesn’t seem likely. The title alone conjures up a twisty and foreboding excitement that has come to epitomize the modern blockbuster, in which bleakness, “unlikeable” antiheroes, and increasingly violent landscapes of supernatural warfare rule. Behold the central triad: Captain America (Chris Evans) is the white-bread bastion of the American Dream; Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is everyone’s favorite asshole; and the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) is misunderstood. Add a pinch of political corruption into the kitchen-sink stew of repurposed characters (Paul Rudd as Ant-Man! Andrew Garfield, sorry, Tom Holland as Spider-Man!) and an epic superhero showdown is inevitable, the Civil War promotional materials blare. Meanwhile, I’m wondering which side the intrepid Black Widow (Scarlett Johannsson) will take, if any, and also how much longer fans will have to wait until the most interesting Avenger gets her own damn film. –Leah Pickett

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The Nice Guys

the nice guys The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: May 20th via Warner Bros. Pictures

Have you seen the trailer for The Nice Guys? Stop reading this and do yourself a favor by doing so now. Russell Crowe hasn’t looked like he’s had this much fun since … ever? Ryan Gosling playing it up as a loser? A team-up of Crowe and Kim Basinger for the first time since my personal favorite movie of all time (L.A. Confidential)? Why am I asking so many questions? The movie has P.I., tough guys, takes place in the ‘70s, and is co-written/directed by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3). Looks like a whip-smart knockout. –Justin Gerber

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The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist

The-Conjuring-2

Release Date: June 10th via Warner Bros. Pictures

Praise poured over The Conjuring when it was released in 2013, not because it was good, but because the mainstream horror scene is so dire that anything resembling competence feels like the rise of a new New Hollywood. The Conjuring was well-acted and gorgeously directed by James Wan, but it still suffered from Blumhouse Productions’ weird emphasis on creepy kids, severe makeup, and quick cuts, none of which are scary in ways that won’t immediately evaporate. The sequel again follows paranormal investigators (and real-life hucksters) Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) as they investigate the Enfield Poltergeist, a haunting that took place in London from 1977 to 1979. That haunting is considered as much a hoax as the Warrens’ “talents”, but this film was, as the trailer tells us, only “inspired” by true events, so expect plenty of ghosts in creepily vintage clothes and weird makeup. Hey, at least Wan’s back. –Randall Colburn

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X-Men: Apocalypse

x men apocalypse The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: May 27th via 20th Century Fox

I saw X Men: Days of Future Past four times in theaters. Every single time, I waited for the X Men: Apocalypse teaser at the end of the credits. It never got old. I shouted at the screen. X Men: Apocalypse is going to be huge. It is going to be loud, and there will be war. The stakes are higher than ever, and everyone’s new movie crush, Oscar Isaac, is playing the all-powerful titular villain, so what else does one need? When Charles Xavier says, “I’ve never felt power like this before,” you know shit is about to go down. And what will we be left with? One of the most exciting movie experiences of 2016. –Rebecca Bulnes

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Finding Dory

Finding Dory

Release Date: June 17th via Walt Disney Studios

Wanna feel old? Finding Nemo won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture more than a decade ago. Since then, it’s remained in the top tier of Pixar tales, thanks in no small part to the friendship at the center of the story: that of Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres, who was so good that her performance generated awards buzz — far from usual for an animated film.) In Nemo, the forgetful Dory helped Marlin, but in the very welcome sequel, it’s Dory who goes in search of a missing family member. Pixar rarely misses, and with so much of the original talent returning, it seems likely that they’ll just keep swimming. –Allison Shoemaker

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Independence Day: Resurgence

independence day resurgence The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: June 24th via 20th Century Fox

There’s a point at which the current twentysomething has to become aware that, much like their Reagan-era parents before them, our nostalgia is being milked by late-night talk show hosts and movie sequels. While Independence Day: Resurgence may have already killed off Will Smith’s Capt. Steven Hiller in the laziest and most hilarious way possible before the film comes out, it’s irrelevant. Bill Pullman reprising his role as Action Bill Clinton? Cool, whatever. Resurgence has the only thing any American film will need to succeed in the modern marketplace: the Goldblum element. Since 1996, our military has apparently been contracting Jeff Goldblum to build our defenses. What chance could the aliens have? –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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The BFG

The BFG

Release Date: July 1st via Walt Disney Studios

I enjoy living in a world where Steven Spielberg is still alive and making movies. Has he made a great film in the past decade? I’d say no, but he’s been close as recently as last year’s Bridge of Spies. I’m of the sort who believes that if you’re capable of greatness, you can be great again. Here’s to hoping his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book does justice to the material (that Dahl is the Spielberg of children’s literature is a fair comparison). Giants, children, mystery, and adventure. Hope this is a callback to the days of E.T., to the days of wonder. –Justin Gerber

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The Purge 3

the purge 3 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: July 1st via Universal Pictures

The Purge: Anarchy turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of 2014 – a shockingly good sequel to the execrable first Purge from 2013, which muddied its admittedly ridiculous concept in a lame home-invasion flick. Anarchy, however, saw filmmaker James DeMonaco expand the scope of the film’s world into something resembling Escape from New York and The Warriors and was helped immensely by Frank Grillo as a proto-Punisher figure. With Grillo returning for The Purge 3, I’m hoping that the bald-faced class warfare of the second film will go even further this time around. –Clint Worthington

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Ghostbusters

ghostbusters reboot The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: July 15th via Columbia Pictures

“When people accuse [Ghostbusters] of being a gimmick, I go, ‘Why is a movie starring women considered a gimmick and a movie starring men just a normal movie?'” That’s Paul Feig defending his big-budget reboot to Entertainment Weeklyand now here’s me, an awful, white cisgender male, responding: Simply put, Mr. Feig, you’re not just making a “normal movie.” You’re punching the reset button on one of the most iconic comedies of all time. And, if you don’t think deliberately swapping the gender is “a device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business,” the simplest definition of a gimmick, well, then we’re already in Spook Central. Semantics aside, this new lineup — see above: Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, and Kate McKinnon — has all the right talent to bring some EKGs to the franchise, which raises the question: Why couldn’t this just be a sequel? –Michael Roffman

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La La Land

la la land emma stone ryan gosling The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: July 15th via Lionsgate

Stop the presses! Musicals are hot again! Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? It isn’t! It’s so real that Ryan Gosling is in it. From the rhythmically inclined mind that brought us Whiplash, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land stars Gosling as a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress played by Emma Stone. Chazelle has proven himself to be a compelling voice as a writer and will without a doubt resurrect the original musical. The two leads have already demonstrated their undeniable on-screen chemistry in the past, and La La Land is sure to put musical dramedys back on the map. And for that, I will be forever thankful. –Rebecca Bulnes

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Star Trek Beyond

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Release Date: July 22nd via Paramount Pictures

Yes, we’ve all seen that confusing first teaser, where the Enterprise crew runs, jumps, quips, and pulls off sick space-dirtbike stunts. Since that leaked, Trekkies have been doomsaying for days, as if their precious nerd franchise has been taken away from them and given to the big, mean jocks. That being said, I genuinely think people are jumping the gun: We’re away from Earth, we’ll be spending most of our time on a planet, and we may finally get to see the dark consequences of Federation imperialism. With Justin Lin (who’s a solid director) and co-writer Simon Pegg at the helm, I’m not too worried. –Clint Worthington

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Untitled Bourne Identity Sequel

matt damon bourne The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: July 29th via Universal Pictures

Look, Jeremy Renner was fine in 2012’s The Bourne Legacy. Universal did a commendable job saving face when both Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass ejected from the franchise following 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. Director Tony Gilroy, and his brother Dan, carved out an agreeable story that thrived from a sturdy supporting cast in Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, and Oscar Isaac. Four years later, Damon and Greengrass are back, and as you can see above, the recent Martian is looking as muscular and sexy as ever. Woo wee. How do you like them apples? Well, when you pair that produce with the likes of Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Riz Ahmed, and Vincent Cassel, you’re goddamn right I like dem apples. Now, if only this is marginally better than that snoozefest of a thriller that was 2010’s Green Zone. So. God. Damn. Sleepy. –Michael Roffman

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Suicide Squad

suicide squad 2016 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: August 5th via Warner Bros. Pictures

That R rating sounded too good to be true. With Warner betting big (like, $400 million big) on Batman and Superman Put Up Their Dukes, there was no way in hell the studio would allow their late summer gamble about DC-brand crooks trying to go straight to be anything but a Hot Topic variant on standard comic movie tropes a la Guardians of the Galaxy. But we’re still on board. Most definitely. Ignore web mania over The Joker for a minute. Adapting John Ostrander’s cult classic? Who thought that would ever happen? Margot Robie giving fan-fave Harley Quinn her screen debut? Looks wicked. And David Ayer, the writer-director behind knuckle-cracking greats like Training Day, End of Watch, and parts of Sabotage, could be ready for primetime on this. In short: If this film’s #squadgoals are to not suck, then there is a chance. –Blake Goble

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Deepwater Horizon

deepwater horizon The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: September 30th via Lionsgate

The real tragedy of The Day After Tomorrow is that it could have been the first truly environmentally conscious action film. Unfortunately, by mashing so many natural disasters against each other, Roland Emmerich tossed plausibility out the window, thus failing to appeal to the hidden activist in all of us, even as the movie did gangbusters at the box office. Seeing as Deepwater Horizon is based on an actual event, director Peter Berg has a better shot at keeping it real. Sure, he got bone-headed with Battleship, but he also knows how to handle true stories with respect while still delivering the blockbuster goods, as proven by 2013’s Lone Survivor. And hey, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you once again how goddamn perfect (well, almost) Friday Night Lights is as a TV series. Bottom line: If anyone can put a human face on the horrendous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — and remind us of how shitty we’ve treated the planet while still giving us visceral action sequences — it’s Berg. –Dan Caffrey

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Gambit

gambit tatum The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: October 7th via 20th Century Fox

Was there a confirmation that Doug Liman was directing Gambit for Channing Tatum and Fox? It’s just that there was all this talk in November of 2015 about the talented gun for hire “nearing the deal” to direct a film based on the card-brandishing Cajun superhero, but there’s seemingly no official word that Liman’s the man directing for real. Totes real. Keep in mind, Liman was rumored to be circling a sci-fi project for Tom Cruise at Paramount, and he was just filming a thriller project for Universal … and Tom Cruise. Mena. Opening January 2017. Liman is cruising, baby! The point being, Ruper Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) already walked away from the Channing Tatum comic project, and who knows if Liman will stick it out if he has to make Fox’s proposed October release date. Making a big-budget tentpole with probable restrictions inside of 10 months? Sounds like a nightmare. But if Liman, the man behind Swingers and the inventively exciting Edge of Tomorrow gets Gambit in, then aces. Wild. –Blake Goble

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Doctor Strange

dr strange The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: November 4th via Walt Disney Studios

Now that Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man have proven that even off-the-wall Marvel will still work, I’m pretty confident with them throwing Benedict Cumberbatch and magic into the mix with Marvel’s second film this year. All signs point to Doctor Strange being intriguingly weird, and with a supporting cast like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, and Mads Mikkelsen, I can’t find many reasons to skip Steven Strange’s inaugural story. (Did I even need to write anything here? We all saw those Entertainment Weekly photos, right? It’s Marvel. You’ll see it.–Clint Worthington

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts 3

Release Date: November 18th via Warner Bros. Pictures

After a rough 2015 for Warner Bros., in which somebody at some point decided that Pan would be the family franchise of the next decade, for a moviegoing public filled with children who love hip anachronistic covers of “Blitzkrieg Bop”, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sees the studio returning to one of its pet properties and one of the surest things in the world today: Harry Potter. Marking author J.K. Rowling’s screenwriting debut, the Eddie Redmayne-fronted spin-off lets us spend more time in an endlessly fascinating world, with enough departure from the earlier films to promise that Potter won’t go the way of Bilbo Baggins and his perpetual adventures. –Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

rogue one cast

Release Date: December 25th via 20th Century Fox

The Internet won’t shut up praising or damning Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “It’s the best movie since Jesus!” “Another Death Star?!1?” “I’ve never even seen Star Wars.” Having fun yet? Hope so. An annual tradition, this is. Because come December, we’re right back in the galaxy far, far away with Gareth Edwards’ kickoff anthology film, Rogue One. As you’ve probably heard, the entire film revolves around that one line from the original film’s opening crawl: “Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon.” So far we’ve been promised a gritty war film fueled by an eclectic cast that includes Felicity JonesDiego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, and the ever-huggable Mads Mikkelsen. Shots fired: This is the fresh Star Wars story you’re looking for. –Michael Roffman

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Passengers

 The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: December 21st via Columbia Pictures

Sometimes Hollywood can be so transparent, am I right? With Passengers, Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) directs superstars Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence in a space-age love story that lifts off just in time for Christmas. If ever there was a calculated move, good lord… But here’s the thing, the story itself sounds incredibly promising: “A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 60 years early. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger.” Toss in some Lawrence Fishburne and a little Michael Sheen and you’ve got yourself a warm holiday stew. Open the pod bay doors, Hal, I’ve got a bowl and a spoon ready. –Michael Roffman

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My Blind Brother

my blind brother The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: TBA

My Blind Brother stars Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll, and Adam Scott. That sentence alone should make all the self-proclaimed comedy fans out there squeal. I did! I almost puked. The three actors are absolute delights to watch on screen, and we should preemptively thank writer and director Sophie Goodhart for recognizing that. Adapting the story from her 2003 Palme d’Or-nominated short of the same name, the film captures the growing rivalry between two brothers as they fight for the same girl. Scott plays the handsome and, you guessed it, blind brother, who relies heavily on his less attractive brother (Kroll) for his sight. While Slate plays the girl they both fall in love with, because who isn’t in love with her? Exactly. This movie’s already got everything right. –Rebecca Bulnes

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How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Release Date: TBA via A24

Everyone’s got a list of artists whose work will always get them to turn out, no matter the subject matter. How to Talk to Girls at Parties has two of mine: John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Rabbit Hole) and the mighty Neil Gaiman. The writer’s Hugo-nominated short story follows young people — one of whom (Elle Fanning) isn’t exactly an earthling — through a London suburb in the punk-fueled ‘70s. Yeah, yeah, plot, plot. Gaiman wrote a story, Mitchell adapts and directs, and Nicole Kidman wears an insane wig. It could be an instructional film about approaching girls at parties, and I would still give them my money. –Allison Shoemaker

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Silence

silence andrew garfield scorsese The 50 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

Release Date: TBA via Paramount

While promoting The Wolf of Wall Street in 2013, Martin Scorsese said he only had “a couple more” projects left in him before retirement. If that statement holds true, then we already know what those final two films will be. By all reports, the now 73-year-old Scorsese’s long-awaited Sinatra biopic is still in the works, so that’s one. The second is Silence, a seventeenth century drama about Jesuit priests in Japan that is set for a May 2016 theatrical release. The priests are played by Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Ciarán Hinds, leaving little doubt as to whether the actors will be able to keep up with their auteur. If only there was a way to slow the cruel march of time so that one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema, despite having directed 44 films over the course of a long and illustrious career, could make more. –Leah Pickett

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