Everybody Wants Some
Release: April 15
The trailer for Everybody Wants Some presents a generic 80s college party movie that looks like it belongs on the last menu page of a Redbox. But, relatively uninspiring trailer aside, Everybody Wants Some will be given the benefit of a doubt by countless twenty and thirtysomethings because it’s Richard Linklater’s “spiritual sequel” to the glorious Dazed and Confused. The cast and characters are different and the decade has changed, but Linklater looks to be aiming for the same shaggy, ambling party ensemble, rife with epic bong hits and an irresistible soundtrack. If he can hit his mark, Everybody Wants Some will be one of your favorite movies to see in theaters in 2016 and from the comfort of your couch for many years thereafter.
Release: July 15
I don’t usually get all fanboy about 80s nostalgia – Michael Bay’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is just lame crap, not some kind of pillaging of my childhood – but I really, really freaking love Ghostbusters. Paul Feig’s reboot has the potential to be pretty disappointing if for no other reason than Ghostbusters is such a cool concept that it should make for a fun movie, regardless of the classic original. I’m on board with having an all-female phantom-trapping crew, but I gotta admit that as much as I love Kristen Wiig, sometimes Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon can grate on me. Fingers crossed.
(Although I almost raised this to No. 1 after seeing on Wikipedia that Warwick Davis is credited as playing the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man using stop motion.)
Arms and the Dudes
Release: August 19
Guy Lawson wrote an eye-opening Rolling Stone article a few years back titled “The Stoner Arms Dealers: How Two American Kids Became Big-Time Weapons Traders.” It’s a pretty outrageous story, full of humor, drama, and frightening implications, and the big-screen version will star the endearing duo of Jonah Hill and Miles Teller. It’s directed by hit-or-miss comedy veteran Todd Phillips (Old School, the Hangover films), but let’s hope its laughs are mixed with the kind of unease and outrage the material deserves.
Release: August 5
To me, the appeal of Suicide Squad – the upcoming DC superhero film about a team of supervillains that goes on dangerous missions for the government in return for reduced prison sentences – is how freaking weird it looks. The trailer has that kind of dour, self-serious Batman vibe, but it keeps getting punctured by weird shit, like a guy in a panda suit shooting a semi-automatic weapon, a humanized crocodile, and, of course, Jared Leto’s Joker-as-ICP-Juggalo. Let’s hope director David Ayer keeps the film entertaining enough to keep it from disappearing up its own ass. I have a sneaking suspicion Suicide Squad will out-gross both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War to be the most successful comic book movie of the year.
Release: March 18
This is the third year in a row I’ve included Midnight Special on this list, but I swear it’s really coming out in 2016. The sci-fi suspense outing reteams director Jeff Nichols and actor Michael Shannon in a chase movie inspired by the films of John Carpenter. The trailer looks promising and the cast also includes Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, and Joel Edgerton.
Release: February 5
When the Coen brothers strike a nerve, like they did in Fargo and The Big Lebowski and No Country for Old Men, the result is usually “best movie of the year” status. But the Coen brothers have also reached that level of respect and awe where even their perceived missteps – like, say, The Hudsucker Proxy – are considered fascinating for the way in which they fit into the filmmaker’s canon. I get the impression the whimsy of Hail, Caesar! may make it more of the latter than the former (there’s also the out-of-awards-season release date), but at the very least it can be that movie you try and convince everyone is actually crazy underrated and incredible (like Inside Llewyn Davis). Hail, Caesar! is a comedy/drama set in the glory days of Hollywood about a famous leading man who gets kidnapped by a mysterious group named The Future. It stars everyone you love, including Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Channing Tatum, and Ralph Fiennes. This second trailer tells you almost nothing about the film, but is hilarious.
La La Land
Release: July 15
Director/writer Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to the spectacular Whiplash made last year’s list, and my excitement has only grown for the upcoming musical starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and J.K. Simmons.
The Bad Batch
I’m going to sell you on two points:
• IMDB’s film description: “A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals.” WAIT WHAT YES.
• The cast includes Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey. In a cannibal love story coming out in the year 2016.
I realize that the two previous points could also lead you to believe this movie will be awful, but let me assure you that Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night was one of the craziest, coolest horror films of the decade.
Untitled Bourne Sequel
Release: July 29
The original Bourne trilogy is remarkably consistent – each film is an ideal action thriller, combining propulsive storytelling with some of the best action scenes of the decade. Matt Damon refused to come back to the franchise unless director Paul Greengrass returned, which led to the poorly received The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner. Fortunately, Greengrass and Damon are back. And they’ve added Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, and Riz Ahmed! I’m excited to see what kind of household object Bourne uses to bludgeon a fellow assassin with this time around.
The Neon Demon
The past couple years have seen a wonderful resurgence in intelligent, atmospheric horror films, although few will come as highly anticipated as Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon. Refn (Drive) is a master of lush visuals and ominous dread, so expect to be deeply disturbed by the film which IMDB notes is about an aspiring model whose “…youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.” Starring Keanu Reeves, Jena Malone, Elle Fanning, and Christina Hendricks.
Story of Your Life
Story of Your Life, based on a short story by super-legit sci-fi writer Ted Chiang, is set “…after alien crafts land around the world, [when] an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat.” Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker star in a film with welcome echoes to Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It will be directed by Denis Villeneuve, who gave us Sicario, one of 2015’s best.
Release: March 18 (UK)/TBD (USA)
A gigantic ultra-modern high-rise apartment building inexplicably shuts itself off from the outside world and denigrates into an inescapable fortress of mindless debauchery and barbaric violence. That’s the unforgettable plot of celebrated science-fiction author J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise and the upcoming film adaptation is by one of my favorite directors, England’s off-kilter auteur Ben Wheatley. Wheatley’s films are always ominous, frightening, and morbidly funny, and he’s the perfect match for this material. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, and Elisabeth Moss.
Release: February 19
I could try and convince you that The Witch, a horror film about a 17th century Puritan family besieged by forces of unspeakable evil, is one you won’t want to miss. Or, I could just tell you to watch the trailer.
Watch the trailer. Sleek, derivative, overproduced horror films – pack your bags and get the hell out of the way. There is something new and vital happening in this genre.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Release: December 16
J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens was (I thought) really, really damn good. The biggest issue most people had was how safe the movie played its cards, gently remixing elements of the original trilogy rather than blazing its own path (let’s make another Death Star!). But hopefully that restraint, which won fans back after the prequels debacle, will allow for more risk-taking within the franchise, particularly in the Star Wars Anthology series of stand-alone stories. Rogue One, which takes place between episodes III and IV and depicts the Rebel fighters who stole the plans for the Death Star, sounds like it’s essentially a heist film. I’m super excited to see these kinds of fringe stories from the Star Wars universe told on the big screen (rather than an obscure novelization), and I think this one could be great: it’s directed by Gareth Edwards (who helmed the criminally underrated Godzilla) and features a fresh, exciting young cast.
The Nice Guys
Release: May 20
I think it’s safe to say that no 2016 film has a trailer with more laughs and style than The Nice Guys, the new crime film from Shane Black. Black’s most successful venture was directing Iron Man 3, but he’s beloved among genre fans for his profanity-laden, over-the-top scripts for films like Lethal Weapon. However, The Nice Guys looks most reminiscent of Black’s spectacular comedic neo-noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. It stars Ryan Gosling and a rejuvenated Russell Crowe.