Every year there comes a time when we look back at what we are leaving behind and reflect on what we loved or hated, but we also like to look towards what is yet to come and speculate. As easy as it is to look back and say whether you loved or hated a particular film it is a little more difficult to determine whether you will love or hate something before you see it. Who knew Jurassic World wouldn't be a complete failure or that so many would fall in love with notoriously cult based Mad Max after being absent for nearly 3 decades and turn it into a bonafide blockbuster? Even more interesting are the films that seemed to be sure bets that ended up disappointing such as Avengers: Age of Ultron which despite making a butt load of cash became the first film in the MCU to not be universally loved and showed that even the almighty Marvel could stumble a little.
So that's what this is, a list of films due out next year (or this year depending on when you read this) that I am looking forward to the most. While there will certainly be some of these that let me down and others that I have either overlooked or haven't been announced yet that may surprise me, the fact of the matter is that these are the films I see the most potential in for one reason or another and hope that they deliver on that potential. So don't look at this list as feeling negative towards anything not listed, see it more as a wish list for hoping these particular films don't suck ass, which sadly is always a possibility whether we like to admit it or not. Regardless though, with this many unknowns it will be interesting to see how 2016 turns out.
OK, enough of this, lets get to the list...
THE NICE GUYS
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Kim Basinger and Keith David
Release date: May 20, 2016
Shane Black was not a good fit for the Marvel universe, that much we have learned from the disastrous, but thanks to everlasting appeal of star Robert Downey Jr., extremely successful Iron Man 3. Much like how Sam Raimi redeemed himself by going back to his roots with Drag Me to Hell directly after the legendary failure that is Spider-man 3, Shane Black is returning to his roots with The Nice Guys. The writer turned director has a very specific formula that he excels at as evidenced by his script for what is arguably one of the greatest buddy cop films of all time with Lethal Weapon and his tragically overlooked directorial debut Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. Now he seems to be returning to that formula for his next film The Nice Guys which now pairs Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in the pivotal buddy cop roles. The keys to his success has always been his ability to write extremely colorful characters and cast them with actors who have an uncanny chemistry with one another and early marketing for the film seems to indicate The Nice Guys is on track to be yet another classic Shane Black experience.
INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Liam Hemsworth, Vivica A. Fox and Judd Hirsch
Release date: June 24, 2016
Despite Will Smith not returning for this 20 years late sequel to the 1996 mega hit Independence Day, director Roland Emmerich and his producing partner Dean Devlin (both of whom made the original film) seem to have had no problem working around the absence of the star of the first film. The return of Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and even Judd Hirsch should please fans of the original looking for a connection to that first film while new and vastly younger audiences who may have not seen the first film (it's hard to think that a whole generation has emerged since the release of the original Independence Day) will have a new younger cast of actors to identify with. Roland Emmerich is very hit or miss with his films (2012 and Stargate were dumb fun while Godzilla and 10,000 BC were seriously bad) but he has never skimped on spectacle and IDR seems poised to be one of the bigger event pictures of the year. The only real question mark at this time is whether or not anyone cares about an Independence Day sequel.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Mackie, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd...etc.
Release date: May 6, 2016
There is some concern coming from two different camps surrounding the third Captain America film. The main concern is how will stuffing all these characters (reportedly more than Age of Ultron) might overshadow the central character of Cap himself. This may not have been a problem had Age of Ultron been successful at juggling all the characters it had (which it did fine in my opinion) but since many found that film unfocused at best and a total mess at worse it has poisoned the well a little and Cap's huge roster of characters might seem like too much for some. The other concern is that general audiences who don't understand the significance of the Civil War storyline in the Marvel universe seem to be put off by the idea of their favorite heroes fighting each other instead of more traditional villains. While Civil War is under the care of the same two guys responsible for the amazing Winter Soldier it still begs the question of whether or not they will be able to handle the extra load put upon them because if Joss Whedon can crack under the pressure anyone can. The film still looks to deliver everything we have come to expect from Marvel but there is the possibility they have bitten off more than they can chew with this one.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Directed by: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Lee Byung-hun and Peter Sarsgaard
Release date: September 23, 2016
Remakes usually don't rank high on my or anyones list but there are a few caveats that allow this modern update to the classic western to be one to look out for this year. First of all there is the fact that the original 1960 film is not really original at all but a remake itself of the classic Kurosawa samurai epic Seven Samurai. Second is a universally adored cast which is filled with a heavenly mixture of talent from the tempered intensity of star Denzel Washington to the wisecracks of current Hollywood hot stuff Chris Pratt. Third is that this is Antoine Fuqua, a director who stormed on to the scene with the massive hit Training Day (which netted Denzel his first lead actor Oscar) and despite never finding that sort of success again has delivered a stable of well made genre films such as Tears of the Sun and King Arthur. Finally there is the score by James Horner who passed away last year. Although Fuqua knew Horner had already begun writing the film's score he had no idea that the legendary composer had actually completed the entire score in secret as a surprise for the director making this his final film score ever. With all those factors it is still difficult to know how the film will perform but if nothing else it will likely be one of the year's more hotly anticipated films as a result.
Directed by: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Jared Leto and Viola Davis
Release date: August 5, 2016
Warner and DC Comics have a fairly lousy track record when working together. Aside from the success of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, the 1989 Batman and the 1978 Superman, they have failed at delivering anything all that noteworthy (although their animated endeavors are usually quite good). 2016 however may hold redemption for the pair of them with two high profile releases the first of which on this list is Suicide Squad. This is an interesting experiment for not only both of those studios but for comic book films in general as it stands to be the very first ever villain-centric comic book film. Initial trailers look extremely promising but there are still a lot of unknown factors that may determine its success such as an assortment of characters most general audiences aren't familiar with and how the first appearance of the Joker on screen since Heath Ledger's portrayal will be welcomed. All of that will be rendered moot however as long as the film itself is half as fun as those first couple trailers make it out to be.
Directed by: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, TJ Miller and Gina Carano
Release date: February 12, 2016
If you think Suicide Squad is shaking things up in the comic book film world then prepare yourself for a shock to the system with Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds has been looking for redemption by comic book fans ever since his dismal failure in The Green Lantern and it looks as if he may just get what he seeks. Early trailers for the film, plus Reynolds own enthusiasm for the character and the project itself seem to indicate a film that is poised to take audiences by storm when released. By far though the biggest unknown is how a large scale studio comic book film does when slapped with a giant R rating all but eliminating the lucrative teen market. While R rated films are infamous for not doing huge numbers, films such as last year's Mad Max Fury Road and the Matrix trilogy have proven that there is a market for them but Deadpool will be the first comic book film to tread the R rated waters (we won't count that last Punisher film) and it will be interesting to see how general audiences react to it.
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton
Release date: November 4, 2016
If you are in the camp who thinks Marvel needs a shot to the arm then you will want to keep an eye on Doctor Strange. While there has been plenty of mysticism and supernatural elements to Marvel's cinematic universe already, mostly in thanks to Thor, Doctor Strange is set to blow unsuspecting audiences away by introducing the dark arts into the mix. Magic, sorcery, time and inter-dimensional travel are about to change the way we experience every Marvel film from this point forward. None of that is even taking into account just how cool a character Strange is and how he is completely different from any other character we have ever seen in a Marvel film. Add in the fact that they somehow got Benedict Cumberbatch who was born to play this role and a director who isn't afraid to take the MCU in a direction it has never gone before and you have yourself a serious game changer in the works.
Directed by: Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth
Release date: July 15, 2016
I have mixed feelings about this project. On the one hand you have an extremely talented group of people working on it with the likes of Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy along with the king of the female comedy director Paul Feig. On the other there is the legacy of the Ghostbusters franchise which most still associate strictly with the original cast. At this point there is no way we will ever get another Ghostbusters with the original cast so we either go on without ever getting another Ghostbusters film ever or we suck it up and try something new. I am more inclined to suck it up simply because I love the Ghostbusters franchise so much that it would be criminal to let it die off. The whole controversy behind making an all female Ghostbusters is besides the point, what really matters is whether or not they do the franchise justice and don't screw it up. With the people involved here it is likely we will be in for a treat come this summer just so long as people can let go of the fantasy Ghostbusters sequel that will never happen.
STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Forrest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen and Alan Tudyk
Release date: December 16, 2016
Aside from a basic plot outline and the cast that has been announced there is very little information on what will be the first Star Wars movie spin-off ever. Likely due to all the attention going to its big brother The Force Awakens, Disney has kept nearly all info on the film under wraps but that will be changing here in the coming months as all the hype surrounding episode 7 begins to cool down. So with that being the case there is little reason to get all that excited other than the fact that we will have another Star Wars film just a year after the last one and that is sort of insane. After decades of dealing with the George Lucas mandate of releasing a film every three years it is refreshing to know that the next galaxy isn't quite as far away as usual. Plus this is the very first Star Wars that isn't about any of the established characters and is a completely original film, even more so than any of the prequels or even the new trilogy. It's difficult to say how Rogue One will be greeted next Christmas but chances are it will do alright cause you know...people seem to like this Star Wars stuff.
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Cal Gadot, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams and Jeremy Irons
Release date: March 25, 2016
Whether you are a Marvel fan or a DC Comics fan it doesn't really matter because as much money as Civil War and Doctor Strange will bring in, no other film has quite as much to live up to than the mammoth Batman V Superman. Let's check off everything this single film needs to do to succeed shall we? It needs to be better than Man of Steel if Warner hopes to keep making more Superman films. It needs to prove that casting Ben Affleck as the new Batman wasn't the worst decision since casting Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. It needs to be a good Superman and Batman film while also introducing both Wonder Woman and Aquaman into the mix. It needs to create the foundation for the imminent Justice League movie (hence the name Dawn of Justice). It needs to not just make a lot of money but it needs to turn doubters into true believers. It needs to create the same loyal fanbase that has made the Marvel films so successful. If it can do all of that and still be a fun and entertaining movie then perhaps it has a chance at being the film Warner and DC Comics desperately
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Dan Fogol, Samantha Morton and Colin Farrell
Release date: November 18, 2016
The main hurdle the new film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has to clear is the fact that despite all the marketing pointing towards the fact that even though it takes place in the Harry Potter universe and is even written by Potter scribe and creator J.K. Rowling this is NOT a new Harry Potter film. Over promising on something can sometimes be more dangerous than under delivering and in this case it can likely make or break this new film and any hopes Warner has for this to turn into the next big thing since Harry Potter. Whether or not FBAWTFT can achieve that same greatness is anyones guess but there is little doubt how much weight the Potter name carries and since it has been a few years since that film series concluded there are probably a lot of fans salivating for any chance to get fresh material in their favorite wizarding world which makes FBAWTFT poised to do major business regardless of its quality or lasting power. This has the chance to be the biggest film of 2016, all the filmmakers have to do is live up to their own hype machine which has proven to be a monumental task for even well established franchises.
FAILURES AND SUCCESSES FROM LAST YEAR'S LIST
Fantastic Four: FAILURE - What a total and utter mess and disappointment this was.
Chappie: MODEST FAILURE - Entertaining but failed to live up to expectations.
Crimson Peak: MODEST SUCCESS - Beautiful but not what most were expecting to its detriment.
Mad Max: Fury Road: SUCCESS - Films rarely get more successful than this.
Spectre: MODEST FAILURE - Good but not as good as most had expected.
Jurassic World: SUCCESS - Jurassic Park finally got the sequel it deserved.
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2: FAILURE - This series deserved a better final chapter.
Furious 7: SUCCESS/FAILURE - Succeeded at saying goodbye to Paul Walker but failed as a film.
Tomorrowland: FAILURE - Brad Bird's perfect track record ended here with a resounding thud.
Avengers: Age of Ultron: MODEST FAILURE - The biggest disappointment of the year for many.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: SUCCESS - This was probably the only sure thing on this list.