Last year, we compiled a list of our 50 Most Films of 2015 and though many proved disappointed, the top-tier resulted in a barrage of wins. This year, we return to do the same. Consider yourself in store for a massive compilation of films, including many were already featured on last year’s list for release change reasons. For those curious, you will not find too many big franchise tent-pole movies like the redone Ghostbusters because I’ve not liked Paul Feig‘s work in the past or superhero fare a la Captain America: Civil War because we pretty much know what’s in store there. Some smashing, some joking, then everything’s a-ok in the end.

We’re looking for something fresh. Something that’ll surprise us. That’s why you’ll find very few sequels here and even less junk that you’ve seen on some other anticipation lists. But let’s get down to business. This is an absolutely massive article so I’ll stop wasting time and let you get right to it. Here it is: the 50 Most Anticipated Movies of 2016.


On the one hand, any video game adaptation is a risky bet to include in anyone’s list of anticipated flicks. You might as well toss in a Sandler comedy. (*Barfs*) But what makes Assassin’s Creed different from the bundle of throwaway smut that came before it is the adamant involvement of Michael Fassbender. Fassbender’s been involved as a producer and attached as a star for years now and even won respected director Justin Kurzel (Macbeth, The Snowtown Murders) over to the cause. All their hype seems to imply a story really worth telling. Now if I can only get over my dislike of the games…
December 21 Release


Let me say this first, Doctor Strange is only appealing to me because of Scott Derrickson and Benedict Cumberbatch. Neither of the talents seem to fit the Marvel operandi and seeing that Doctor Strange looks to break open the MCU into a whole new world of phantasms and magic, this could be a break from the tired ‘bots beating on each other until the movie’s over’ trope. Come on Cumberbatch, we’re counting on you.
November 4 Release

48. STAR TREK BEYONDla-et-hc-idris-elba-star-trek-beyond-cast-charity-20150714

I’m including this as a courtesy to the first Star Trek movie. And by first, I mean the 2009 version. The one that promised new fans that you didn’t need to be a Star Trek die-hard to join in on the fun. The one followed up by a Star Trek movies that required you to be a die-hard to join in on the fun. Fast and Furious director Justin Lin steps in for J.J. Abrams for Star Trek Beyond and is certain to bring a whole new spin to the space opera. If that first trailer didn’t paint such a wretched picture, we might have ranked this higher but odds aren’t looking too hot on this at the moment.
July 22 Release


Hollywood has plucked two of the nastiest directors from the other side of the pond for this seemingly throwaway horror franchise reboot. With the diabolical Inside (a film that made our 13 Most Disturbing Movies of the Last 13 Years list), Alexandre Bustle and Julien Maury were at the crossroads of the French Extremist movement and spared no grotesquerie. Leatherface re-envisions a young version of the iconic titular killer as he escapes a mental institution and makes across the country with a supple hostage.
No Official Release Date


ArmsDudes The true story of David Packouz (Miles Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who win a $300 million contract from the Pentagon to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan, is brought to life by long-time Hangover director Todd Phillips. Though the sequels to that aforementioned comedy were truly atrocious, Phillips looks to be breaking out of the comedy wheelhouse a little bit in this melange of serious and satirical. Can we expect an Adam McKay/The Big Short-style makeover?
August 19 Release

45. TRIPLE 9


John Hillcoat’s latest promises a thrilling drama dripping with deception. Hillcoat has proved his ability to master mood in past efforts The Proposition, Lawless and The Road and Triple 9 looks to double-down on the violence. Telling the story of corrupt cops who allied with criminals  to off one of their own to incite a massive take-down. Starring power arrives in the form of Casey Affleck, Gal Gadot, Kate Winslet, Norman Reedus, Chiwetel Eiofor, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie and Woody Harrelson.
February 26 Release


The second installment in Kevin Smith’s “True North Trilogy” (started with 2014’s nightmare-inducing Tusk), Yoga Hosers brings secondary characters Colleen and Colleen back into the fold for a second go-round. The focus this time will center on two convenient store attendants/yoga enthusiasts (Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn Smith and Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose Melody Depp) who must battle an ancient evil with a world domination scheme that messes with their epic party plans. Depp returns as the unrecognizable (and totally batty) Guy Lapointe.
Sundance Premiere.


batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-bat-signalIt all starts here. Or something like that. Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman. Lex Luthor. Alfred. General Zod. Lois Lane. Aquaman. Doomsday. Talk about the kitchen sink. If nothing else, Zack Snyder drew a line in the sand with Man of Steel and looks to continue the humorless, bleak nature of that vision in this showdown/lead-up to the Justice League. As my friend and colleague Brian Taibl noted, it’s rare that a movie’s title also reveals its entire synopsis. Touché.
March 25 Release


SaltAndFire_CopyrightLenaHerzogWerner Herzog wrangles Michael Shannon and Gael García Bernal to recount the events of a fictitious ecological disaster in South America. Herzog’s last feature film, Queen of the Desert, was not well-received so let’s hope that the German auteur makes a Bad Lieutenant-sized comeback with Salt and Fire.
No Official Release Date.



In theory, an adaptation of Disney’s fawned-over classic doesn’t sound all that appealing but when footage of Jon Favreau‘s fixer-upper hit the big screens, jaws dropped. The Jungle Book looks immaculate, that much is certain, and the cast is standout (Lupita Wyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken and Idris Elba as Shere Khan) but will the 3D live-animation jungle pic set itself apart from the troubled history of Disney’s modern live-action adaptations? Odds are, yes.


6cbee0d83209408b8182c49e96b85932It’s been a hot minute since Christopher Guest has unleashed a new mockumentary on the masses and since his last, For Your Consideration, proved to be his worst, he’s got something to prove with Mascots. Guest’s latest reunites his usual suspects (Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins, Bob Balaban, Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr. Harry Shrear) while adding new names like Zach Woods to the already-hilarious ensemble. With Mascots, Guest takes on the oh-so-ripe world of professional, you guessed it, mascots. We’re cautiously optimistic but this could just be the real deal.
No Official Release Date.



David Mackenzie made a small but important impression with prison drama Starred Up and Comancheria looks to continue this thread of violence and crime. Starring Chris Pine, Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie’s film works from a script from Taylor Sheridan (hot off the success of Sicario) which tells the story of two brothers who rob a bank in order to save their family farm. Between Pine, Foster and Bridges, we expect nothing short of some magnetic performances, intelligence, personal drama from Mackenzie and crisp writing per Sherian’s piping hot record.
No Official Release Date.


Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair to tell the tale of medic-turned-conscientious-objector Desmond T. Doss. Gibson has seen his name dragged through the mud for the last decade or so and hasn’t directed a movie since 2006’s epic (but thematically flawed) Apocalypto. So long as the notorious Christian can keep his trapped shut through the junkets, he might be looking at a certified comeback with Hacksaw Ridge starring Andrew Garfield. But will Hollywood be willing to welcome him back with loving arms? Hell, stranger things happen everyday.
No Official Release Date.

37. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLEhunt-for-the-wilderpeople-movie

Before he heads off to be a crony for Marvel, Taika Waititi is captain of his own ship with New Zealand bush comedy Hunt for the Wilderpeople. With a cast of unknowns (save for the always-reliable Rhys Darby), Wilderpeople centers on a rebellious Maori teenager and his foster uncle who get lost in the woods and need saving. Assuming its deadpan approach is anywhere near as hilarious as What We Do in the Shadows or Eagle vs. Shark, we’re in store for a NZ comic feast.
Sundance Premiere


Tate Taylor is like cinematic easy listening. While The Help was much more structurally sound than his ambitious but flawed James Brown biopic Get on Up, both showcased a cool confidence and briskly paced storytelling prowess. The Girl on the Train switches tracks for the director in that it involves a developing murder mystery. With the usually terrific Emily Blunt starring as an alcoholic divorcée and a supporting cast that includes Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans, The Girl on the Train could be a pleasant diversion. Light though it may ultimately be.
October 7 Release        


finding-doreyAfter a year with two original features, Pixar finds themselves back doing sequels. And though Cars 2 was for toddlers and Monsters University was forgettably enjoyable at best, we need to remember that Toy Story 2 and 3 rank amongst Pixar’s crowning achievements. That is to say, Pixar can do a sequel well. So long as they’re trying. Finding Dory centers on Ellen DeGeneres’ forgetful blue tang who seeks out her family. It has the added potential of putting Pixar back on financial track after The Good Dinosaur’s paltry earnings.
June 17 Release



Mary Elizabeth Winstead was held hostage in last years criminally under-the-radar Faults and finds herself captive against this year in Valencia. The project helmed by newbie director Dan Trachtenberg has Winstead playing a woman who wakes up from a car accident in the basement of a man (John Goodman) claiming that a chemical attack has left the outside world uninhabitable. The project sounds all kind of icky so count us very much in.



I’m already annoyed at myself that I’m including another superhero movie on this list but seeing that X-Men: Days of Future Past was an uncommonly engaging, intellectually active romp, we’re willing to give Bryan Singer’s next go around the benefit of the doubt. With focus shifted back entirely to the younger cast (now living in the 80s I believe?) X-Men: Apocalypse sees the mutants face off against their greatest threat yet: a deity named Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). Don’t make me regret this entry Singer.
May 27 Release



The main trio of Swiss Army Man is promising enough – Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Paul Dano – but the premise sounds wackadoo in the best way possible. A man stranded on some far-flung island regains hope when a dead body washes up onshore. He quickly befriends the corpse. So basically Castaway meets Alive. We’re so down.
Sundance Premiere



It was only a matter of time before Harry Potter reared its head back into cinemas in one form or another and thank god we have Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and not a top-to-bottom reboot. This spin-off inspired by J.K. Rowling’s book of the same name is penned by the author herself (!!! or ???) and finds longtime Harry Potter director David Yates (he directed from Order of the Phoenix on) back behind the camera. The unstoppable Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander and as is traditional with these Harry Potter films, the back catalog of thespian prowess is strong as iron with Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Ron Perlman and Katherine Waterson providing support.
November 18 Release



Ang Lee has two Oscars for directing under this belt and yet neither of those films he directed went on to win the big kahuna. He is the living embodiment of the Academy exception. His upcoming feature, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, is unlikely to make this a picture perfect trifecta but seeing that the director tells this comedic/dramatic historical account plotting the final hours of an infantryman by employing the first-ever usage of a 120-frame rate kind of blows my mind. Take note that it’s positioned for a prime Awards consideration spot.
November 11 Release



Steven Spielberg returns to the world of magic with his adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book. Melissa Mathieson (Kundun, ET, The Black Station) adapts with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Mark Rylance and Jemaine Clement starring in various capacities. Few can handle the balancing act of whimsy and family-friendly drama like Spielberg so The BFG has a solid chance of being pretty damn good.
July 1 Release



A father who’s raised his kids away from society in the Pacific Northwest is suddenly forced back into society. Mass hysteria ensues.  Viggo Mortensen, Frank Langella, George MacKay, Kathryn Hahn, Steve Zahn and Ann Dowd star in this Sundance feature sure to make waves for actor-turned-director Matt Ross.
Sundance Premiere



Demolition debuted at Toronto last year to polarizing opinions. Some loved it. Others hated it. Jean-Marc Vallée (Wild, Dallas Buyers Club) sentimentalizes with the best of them and Demolition looks to lock into that fully. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper, Demolition charters a successful banker struggling with the sudden demise of his wife. Will Gyllenhaal be returning to the Oscar conversation after sitting out this past year?
April 8 Release



Rebecca Hall stars as Christina Chubbuck, a 1970s reporter who famously killed herself on air. Antonio Campos, who produced Martha Marcy May Marlene before directing the unsettling travelogue Simon Killer, takes the directors seat for Christine with the always special Michael C. Hall providing support. Expect a deliciously grim psychological tailspin.
Sundance Premiere



This is the last superhero movie. I promise. One of many, many, many superheroes movies to grace the screen in 2016, Suicide Squad looks the most promising because it’s less of the same. Jared Leto’s revisionist Joker is certainly one of 2016’s biggest question marks but it’s hardly the thing that makes Suicide Squad as head-scratchingly appealing as it is. That comes in the form of David Ayer who has proven a fierce propensity for quality in past efforts Fury and End of Watch. Further, I’ve always had a thing for Harley Quinn and Australian bombshell Margot Robbie looks to do the part her own brand of justice.
August 5 Release

24. MIDNIGHT SPECIALMichael-Shannon-in-Take-Shelter

Adam Driver, Kristen Dunst and Joel Edgerton star in Jeff Nichols‘ tale of a father who flees with his son after discovering that he has supernatural powers. Nichols has delivered some fantastic efforts of late and his last feature Mud was one of 2012’s great hidden gems. The premise is intriguing and with a sweet little cast and a game director, this might as well be a sure thing.
March 18 Release



Ben Wheatley’s manic sensibilities get another go-round in this dystopian hotel horror starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, Sienna Miller and James Purefoy. The trailers have played more as proof of concept than narrative exposes so we’re likely in store for some big surprises and bigger puddles of blood. With Wheatley releasing two films this year, we’re positively antsy to see if he go can two for two.
There’s a UK release date of March 18 but nothing set in stone stateside.


Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (a.k.a. Key and Peale) are reunited with long-time show director Peter Atencio for their first-ever starring vehicle. Keanu recounts two friends who must retrieve their cat after its stolen by thugs. Their listless plot involves them posing as drug dealers. The two sketch comedians has delivered one mega hit after another, often employing deceptively high production as a comedic tool in and of itself. With a real budget and a whole lot of creative freedom, Keanu could be quite the winning formula.
April 22 Release

21. BOURNE 5

i9uufymwcquoribtwxuwStill without an official title, the fifth iteration of Bourne sees the titular hero return to his own franchise. Though 2012’s The Bourne Legacy was not met with much enthusiasm, the reintroduction of Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass ought to get fans in a tizzy. Details are still limited but Damon is said to be joined by Alicia Vikander (who again looks to have a hell of a year), Tommy Lee Jones, Vincent Cassel, Riz Admed and, sigh, Julia Stiles.
July 29 Release


war-on-everyoneJohn Michael McDonagh delivered a hell of a whopper with Calvary, proving that he was every bit as talented as older brother Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), and his latest, War on Everyone, looks to dial things back into police corruption (The Guard) and high brow, low kick laughs. The comedic sensibilities are properly primed to be as jet black as The Guard and with Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña starring as uber-corrupt New Mexico cops, expect things to get hairy quick.
No Official Release Date.


maxresdefault-12312311Y.A. Bayona already has two aces under his belt with The Impossible and The Orphanage.  The former was an intimate and accomplished familial disaster movie while the other was a Spanish-language psychological  horror film. A Monster Calls looks to delve more into a spiritual realm telling the story of a boy who enlists a “tree monster” when his mom is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Added confidence comes from a cast including Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Toby Kebbell. 
October 14 Release



The creative team behind This is the End, Superbad and Pineapple Express are aided by Thomas the Train and Shrek spin-off directors to tell the (sure to be R-rated) saga of a sausage’s existential journey. The cast is almost comically overloaded with comedic talent (Paul Rudd, James Franco, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Edward Norton, Michael Cera, Danny McBride, Nick Kroll, Craig Robinson) and the meta nature of this sausage vision quest seems all kinds of looney goodness. Bring on the sausage.
August 12 Release



It’s almost not fair that I have to include this again this year since it was on our list of 2015’s Most Anticipated Films before getting pushed back to this year. At least it plays Sundance in a few weeks so it won’t be hiding for long. The sophomore feature from Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) tells of a punk band facing off against cyber-Nazis led by Patrick Stewart. I couldn’t be more excited to see it so let’s get to it already!
April 15 Release



Stoker was an experience for Park Chan-Wook that he doesn’t seem to want to replicate as the Korean director has returned to his home country to tell his next devious tale. The details on The Handmaid, an adaptation of Sarah Water’s novel “Fingersmith”, are limited. We know the story focuses on a more-than-meets the eye handmaid who enlists an heiress, con man and pickpocket to do her devious bidding. At this point, let’s just keep the mystery alive. In Park Chan-Wook we trust.
No Official Release Date.



A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night was one of the great surprises of 2014. A feminist Iranian vampire movie sounds hairy on paper but my god was the execution spot on. Ana Lily Amirpour returns to the director’s chair with The Bad Batch, a dystopian love story set in a cannibalistic Texas. Why yes, that premise DOES sound amazing. Amirpour’s reputation has obviously preceded her as Keanu Reeves, Jim Carret, Jason Momoa, Giovanni Ribisi and Diego Luna have all enlisted to tell her sure-to-be-delicious story.
No Official Release Date.



The second Ben Wheatley film to grace this list, Free Fire sees the horror director buck his genre blanket to try some new digs. Free Fire is described as an Boston crime/drama film that pits two warring gangs against each other in a 1978 territory dispute. 2015 was weak on crime dramas but with Wheatley, McDonagh and Hillcoat now enlisted to the cause, 2016 might see the genre’s redemption.
No Official Release Date.



Derek Cianfrance is a lovely filmmaker, an artist of high repute, and his The Light Between Oceans has been begging to hit cinemas for over a year now. With Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander starring as a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a baby in a rowboat and raise it on their own, Cianfrance’s realist sensibilities are sure to come into play hard. If The Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine set an example for what is to come, expect yourself to leave the theater thoroughly depressed.
No Official Release Date.



Pedro Almodóvar’s last feature, the kinda-comedic date movie I’m So Excited!, was a bit of a jumbled mess but goddamn if I wasn’t obsessed with his previous film The Skin I Live In. With Julieta, the Spanish director tells a dueling story of one woman. In 1975, she is prosperous and happy. In 2015, she verges on the brink of madness. It sounds like Almodóvar doing Almodóvar. Anticipation is very high over here.
March 18 Release



Shane Black’s first non-franchise film since 2005’s lauded Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guy pairs Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe against one another as investigators looking into a porn star’s apparent suicide in 70s LA. If Black’s reputation holds, one should expect a twisty romp thick with black comedy. Now the only question we have is how Christmas is going to come into play. After all, this is Shane Black we’re talking about.
Releases May 20



The premise of The Discovery – a love story unfolds a year after the afterlife is confirmed as legit – would seem precious or plain silly in the hands of a director who hasn’t proved himself in the way that Charlie McDowell has. But after the soaring, smart success of The One I Love, it’s impossible to doubt the nuevo-sci-fi auteur will knock this out of the park. Rooney Mara and Nicolas Hoult star while I sit here oh-so-curious.
No Official Release Date.



Of the few announced Star Wars anthology spin-offs, the idea of exploring the origins of characters like Han Solo and Boba Fett does not seem particularly inspired. The idea behind Rogue One on the other hand does. Following the Rebel crew responsible for stealing the plans for the Death Star, Rogue One puts Gareth Evans (Monsters, Godzilla) behind the camera and includes an epic, diverse cast featuring Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker and the great Ben Mendelsohn.
Releases December 16



Brad Pitt, Will Poulter and Emory Cohen assemble for David Michôd’s War Machine, a satire on America’s war in Afghanistan. Michôd has proved a dramatic master in the past so seeing him switch gears to complete a through-and-through comedy should make for something of great interest. As far as we’re concerned both Animal Kingdom and The Rover prove that he knows exactly what he’s doing so consider us waiting in the wings for Michôd to flex new muscles with War Machine.
No Official Release Date.


A spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused and a natural follow-up to Boyhood, Richard Linklater’s Everyone Wants Some puts the Austin director squarely back in his wheelhouse. Linklater’s sure-to-be-winning dramedy follows a group of college baseballs players figuring out the wild machinations of college. Booze. Babes. Bongs. I mean, what more do I have to say that Linklater to get y’all excited?
April 15 Release



The Coen Bros return to the 1950s (Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Hudsucker Proxy) to recount a batty tale of a Hollywood fixer and a tent-pole star gone missing. The cast is stacked to the point of popping (Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Tilda Swinton, Josh Brolin, Frances McDormand) and the Coens seem to genuinely be having a great time making this full-blown tinsel town farce. February can’t come soon enough.
Releases Feb 5


-4Martin Scorsese returns to his 23-years-in-the-making passion project Silence, about Jesuit priests attempting to bring Christianity to the heathens of Japan. Sure to be a major Oscar player, Silence is expected to wow if for no other reason than the fact that Scorsese has been trying to bring it to life for so long. You might as well mark down Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Ciarán Hinds down for their nominations now.
No Official Release Date.



For the past few years, James Ponsdolt has eeked by somewhat unnoticed by critics and audiences alike. It’s no accident that the director’s last two films have made appearances in my Top Ten Lists, nor does his directorial prowess behind the camera seem to be slowing. The Circle works from Dave Eggers’ novel of the same name and tells of a woman with a upper-echelon new job and a mysterious new man. Starring Emma Watson, The Force Awakens’ John Boyega, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Boyhood’s Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswald and more, The Circle might just have enough big names attached to it to attract the attention Ponsdolt has deserved for years.
No Official Release Date.



Nicolas Winding Refn breaks new ground entering the horror game with Neon Demon. After the massive critical and cult success of Drive and relative inaccessibility of Only God Forgives, the Danish auteur looks to score a big comeback with this feminist-bent horror flick starring Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Christina Hendricks and Keanu Reeves. If done right, Neon Demon could return Refn to his chair of indie-god-incarnate. And just how refreshing would it be to see a feminist horror movie catch on with the mainstream? We can dream…
No Official Release Date.



Whiplash is one of those rare breathes of fresh air that only happens a few times every decade. That Damien Chazelle burst out onto the scene with such ferocity, guiding J.K. Simmons to sweep the awards circuit, shows more than just great promise. It forecasts a long, vibrant career. La La Land then is the ideal follow-up in that it sounds equally ambitious and yet totally different. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (with Simmons returning in a supporting role), La La Land charts a jazz pianist and aspiring actress falling in love. Pre-release screenings will have it opening the night of my birthday. Happy birthday to me.
July 15 Release


director Denis Villeneuve

Director Denis Villeneuve has all but proved himself a modern master delivering one deliberate shocker after another. With the one-two punch of Prisoners and Enemy, the Canadian filmmaker made a name for himself before launching into serious contender territory with Sicario. Story of Your Life will be the director’s fourth English-language feature and will be a hard left turn for Villeneuve. Described as science fiction, Story of Your Life tells of a UFO crash that leads linguistic experts to attempt to communicate with beings not of our world. Do they come in peace? Or are they here to exterminate us all. I’m basically expecting District 9 meets Sicario and fully preparing to sh*t my pants when its release is announced.
No Official Release Date

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