Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My top 15 most anticipated films 0f 2016...

About a week ago, I kicked off 2016 when I went to see Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda 3, which was already a pleasant surprise in the traditional January dumping ground, and hopefully bodes well for the rest of the year that follows. With the nostalgic reinvention of 2015 finally past us, this now gives way to another potentially exciting year in cinema.

Outside of the traditional epic blockbusters around the year, it should be a year that sees some refreshing experimentalism and intriguing prestige pictures, with everything from dazzling fantasies and jazzy musicals, to powerful dramas and not one, but two animated offerings from Disney's animation branch. Just like last year, it ended up becoming such a competitive list that once again, I found myself forming a list of my top fiften most anticipated films rather than a traditional top ten, with ten additional honorable mentions, and that still wasn't covering every new film I was excited about.

As always, forming this list came with a set number of rules. As always, I'm mainly sticking with films that have a guaranteed release date set for this year, but I am going to allow for a bit more speculation regarding some films, even if I'm not entirely sure some will even be released this year. Another new stipulation I've decided to add on is that if the film made the list last year, but didn't get a proper release until this year (such as Gavin O'Connor's Jane Got a Gun), it won't be included on this list. Also, this list is purely in the moment, and is likely not going to be set in stone as I discover more and more smaller films coming out.

And as always, this list is mainly catered to my personal tastes, so if a film you're anticipated isn't on here, I probably haven't heard of it, I am looking forward to it, but not enough to crack the list, or I may not be looking forward to it at all. In other words, Assassin's Creed and Passengers won't be on here.

Now with all of this established, first let's look at what just missed out on the main 15.

 Honorable Mentions include:
25. Suicide Squad

24. The Zookeeper’s Wife

23. Christine

22. Doctor Strange

21. Untitled Terrence Malick Austin Music Scene Project

20. The Story of Your Life

19. Finding Dory

18. The Seagull

17. X-Men: Apocalypse

16. The Discovery

And now on to the rest...

15. The Disaster Artist
Since it's 2003 release, Tommy Wiseau's The Room has become one of the most infamous films in history, gaining cult status for its unintentionally hilarious and inept filmmaking. To that end, a movie based around how this movie came to exist would probably be the more intriguing one. Based on Greg Sestero's (Mark) novel detailing the behind the scenes makings of the film, James Franco directs and stars as Wiseau himself, and with the talent that he's assembled to fill in the many infamous roles, it should be one thoroughly entertaining movie.

14. Sing Street
The latest from Once and Begin Again director John Carney, there's currently not much to go on about the film at this moment. But just its premise alone, about a young Irish boy escaping from his troubling family life by starting a band, makes me quite excited. But more importantly, it gives the promise of more excellent songwriting to come. After the beautiful hits from Carney's last two films, I hope these one will likely be just as great. Hopefully we get something from Glen Hansard.

13. Captain America: Civil War
Another year, another pair of Marvel films to tide us over until the next Avengers crossover. After bringing their second phase to a solid close last year, the company is gearing for more excitement with November's Doctor Strange, but even more so with Civil War. Based on one of the company's most famous storylines, the face off between Chris Evans' Steve Rogers and Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark promises a lot of tension and interesting political commentary, and after The Winter Soldier's great success, I can't wait to see how the Russo Brothers (who are next set to direct Avengers: Infinity War) top themselves. Years ago, who'd have imagined we'd be more excited for an Iron Man vs. Captain America movie than a Batman vs. Superman movie?

12. Kubo and the Two Strings
Despite Laika's success with Coraline and ParaNorman (the latter which was much better than I remembered), I found their last effort The Boxtrolls to be agressively mediocre. Hopefully this new animated feature will be better, and has a great voice cast in the process, but if you've seen the new trailer for the film, then you know exactly *why* this movie made it on my list. Just the trailer alone promises this to be the most beautiful stop motion spectacle I've ever seen. Even if only for the visuals, I hope this movie will be amazing.

11. The Girl on the Train
Emily Blunt has had one fantastic career as of recently, with strong turns in films like Looper, Edge of Tomorrow, and last year's Sicario. However, she's not the only reason I'm anticipating this movie so much. It actually has a lot more to do with the general murder/mystery premise of the film. It'll be a nice change of pace for The Help director Tate Taylor, and I've no doubt Blunt will be just as good here as her previous outings.

10. La La Land
After the critical acclaim of 2014's nail-biting music thriller Whiplash, director Damien Chazelle makes his return to the directorial scene with La La Land. Again, not much is really known about the project other than a simple premise of a musical about a jazz pianist falling in love with an aspiring actress, and of course the actors attached, including Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in their third collaboration. Still I'm really looking forward to how this film plays out.

9. The Light Between Oceans
After my underwhelming response to Derek Cianfrance's previous venture The Place Beyond the Pines (I swear I'll get around to Blue Valentine soon), I'm genuinely excited to see how his next movie will play out. With Michael Fassbender and 2015's performer of the year Alicia Vikander in the leading roles, and a gripping premise set for the film, I'm hoping it'll live up to my expectations.

8. Una
Rooney Mara has been on a roll ever since her 2011 breakout, and is quickly on her way to becoming not only one of the decade's defining actresses, but one of the best actresses currently working. She has a great number of movies opening this year, including The Discovery (which I almost included solely based on its premise), but I instead opted for Una, starring her as a woman who confronts a man (Ben Mendelsohn) who was arrested for sexually abusing her, and has made a new life for himself. Everything about it just sounds like it's guaranteed to deliver on gripping drama, and I've not doubt Mara will be just as stunning here.

7. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
I have nothing but fond feelings for the Harry Potter franchise based on JK Rowling's books, and five years after the bittersweet end of The Deathly Hallows Part 2, I can't wait to get right back into the Wizarding World with this new spin off. Starring Eddie Redmayne as eccentric author Newt Scamander, directed by series icon David Yates, and featuring a solid supporting cast of Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, and Samantha Morton, I'm beyond eager to experience the expansions to Rowling's fantastical universe, and expect this to be a fun, great ride.

6. Silence
A film that has faced a particularly rough road to release, director Martin Scorsese has pushed back the film several times for various other movies, including Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street. Sometime in 2016, we're set to finally see the film, starring Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two priests facing violent persecution while teaching Christianity in Japan and searching for their old mentor, played by Liam Neeson, who I'm thankful is finally stepping away from Taken-lite roles. It all sounds impressive, and I'm so eager to see it.

5. Moana
Disney has been riding high on the success of their Revival era films, and is set to release two anticipated new releases in 2016. The first will be March's Zootopia from Wreck it Ralph director Rich Moore. However, the movie that has *my* interest is November's Moana. Coming three years after Disney's last musical Frozen, Moana is set to take on a Polynesian style story and art style, and is directed by Disney legends John Musker and Ron Clements of Aladdin and The Little Mermaid fame. Factoring in what will likely be an excellent batch of new original songs, co-written by Hamilton mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Disney looks to have another musical classic on its hands.

4. Personal Shooper
Last year saw acclaimed director Olivier Assayas' first foray into English language films with Clouds of Sils Maria, and only one year later, he already has a follow up lined up. Described as a ghost story taking place in the underground fashion world of Paris, it also seems that Assayas has found a new muse in Kristen Stewart. With Stewart finally breaking free of the thankless Twilight roles that made her a household name with several excellent turns, and following up on her career best work in their last collaboration, I'm ecstatic to find out what these two will possibly do next.

3. The BFG
Sticking true to last year's Rules of Cinema, a Steven Spielberg film has made it in near the top of my most anticipated list. After a very low key change of pace with the Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies, Spielberg follows that up with the very fantastical adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG. After years of development and production limbo, and going through several iterations and actors, Spielberg will finally bring the classic book to life through the last of the late Melissa Mathison's screenplays, and features stage actor Mark Rylance, in his second consecutive collaboration with Spielberg, as the titular giant. Add in actors like Rebecca Hall and Bill Hader, Weta Digital contributing to the effects, Spielberg returning to his signature whimsical and sentimental style, and the legend John Williams, and this is geared to be another excellent addition to the director's portfolio.

2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
With Star Wars having been reinvigorated in a big way by the release of The Force Awakens, you can bet that anything and everything Star Wars related will be high up on my list every single time. This will be the first of the various spin-off films that Lucasfilm has planned in the coming years, and should be a nice way to tide viewers over until Rian Johnson's Episode VIII. Despite my hatred of his previous film Godzilla, I think Gareth Edwards will be perfectly suited to the tone and premise of the film, which is all the more impressive for its on screen talent that includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, and Mad Mikkelson (Mads Mikkelson in a Star Wars movie you guys!). To say that I'm excited for it is an understatement, and believe me, I'm just as surprised as you probably are that it didn't come in at number one. In the end, it was only by a hair that it lost out to...

1. The Salesman
As soon as I found out this movie existed, it instantly shot up to the top of my most anticipated list. The reason why was because of its writer and director, Asghar Farhadi. Even with only three films that I've seen to his credit (including About Elly, now one of my favorite movies of all time), he's easily established himself as the best writer/director currently working for me. However, there's still not much about the film that's known, other than that it features About Elly stars Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti, and has thematic ties to the play Death of a Salesman. Who knows exactly what it'll mean, whether it refers to ties of existential and emotional crisis, or if it's something far more experimental than that. Regardless, it should be incredible either way. As far as I'm concerned, Farhadi can do no wrong, and I can only imagine the limitless possibilities for what this movie could be.

And so concludes my rundown of my most anticipated films of the year. I'm sure I'm forgetting or neglecting several movies, and I'm sure I'll discover more along the way, but with the potentially excellent slate we have to look forward to, I'll be happy to see more surprises along the way, and I hope for great things to come. Maybe some of them get pushed back, but I'll still be looking forward to them anyway, and I hope you'll join me along the way...

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