We’re at the end of 2015 and we’ve had some fantastic movies come out this year. But it’s time to look forward. 2016 promises to be another big one at the cinemas, so much so that it can be tough to keep track of them all. So to try and help, I’ve compiled sixteen movies to keep your eye on in 2016. It’s worth noting that I’m basing this off of Australian release dates, the first two movies technically release in some markets (America) at the end of 2015, but not until January for Australia. It’s also only including cinematic releases, so while I’m very curious to see how the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon sequel goes, that’s a Netflix Original Movie and as such won’t be hitting cinemas. This also isn’t definitive, there’s a lot of movies out there and I’ve had to skip over some big ones. But these are the ones to draw the eyes of the pop culture contingent, so they’re the ones to know about so you don’t fall out of the loop. So without further ado…
7th January – The Revenant
The year 2016 starts with the continuation of an epic saga: DiCaprio’s hunt for an Oscar. Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu aka the man behind Birdman, which won the latest Oscar for Best Movie, the early reviews for The Revenant suggest this is going to be an absolutely gorgeous film to see in cinemas. Throw in some fantastic actors like Leo and Tom Hardy, and you’ve got a recepie for one hell of a movie to kick the year off. DiCaprio stars as a frontiersman who is left for dead after a bear attack, who sets out to survive and gain vengeance on those who abandoned him. This won’t be one for the faint of heart, but should be a gripping film for anyone after something a bit heavier in the new year. The sheer combination of director and lead makes this worth watching, but apparently the visuals are breath taking.
14th January – Hateful Eight
Tarrantino returns to the big screen with his typical flair for cinematography, dialogue and ensemble casting. The Hateful Eight nearly didn’t make it to the big screen after the script leaked, but the man behind cinematic classics like Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill decided to see the project through to completion. Set in a cabin during a blizzard, a group of bounty hunters and general no gooders get caught in a web of betrayal and deception. It’s an R rated version of Clue basically. If you’re not a fan of the director this probably won’t be the film to change that, but and as more and more Hollywood Blockbusters start to look the same, Tarrantino continues to stand out with his typical style and feel. Interestingly, we’re seeing a few Western era movies coming forward (Jane’s Got a Gun, Magnificent Seven, Ridiculous Six), so the success of some of these might help to inspire a resurgence for the genre.
11th February – Zoolander 2
It’ll be 15 years since Ben Stiller gave the world a thousand quotable lines in the original Zoolander, but he’s back with the old cast to show the world how important it is to be really really, ridiculously good looking. The first movie did far better on DVD than it did in cinemas, but with the cult fanbase behind it Zoolander 2 should do pretty good numbers. But it’s rare to find a comedy sequel that’s funnier than the first, and after so long it’ll be challenging to rise above expectations. But if they can make this as funny as the first (without just repeating it verbatim ala Hangover 2) then it’ll be hard to leave the cinemas without a smile on your face, or failing that, the classic Blue Steel/El Tigre/Magnum look.
11th February – Deadpool
I’ve talked about the upcoming Deadpool movie not that long ago, but while that was mostly on what it could do for the genre, I’m not going to get to deep in thought here. The latest trailer looked great and if this works, it’ll be the funniest superhero movie yet, and possibly also one of the most graphic. This is an R rated movie that won’t be pulling any punches, and Ryan Reynolds looks to redeem himself of two failings: the Deadpool we saw in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and his DC movie Green Lantern. If this doesn’t work, he’ll be three strikes and likely out, but the Deadpool fanbase seems really optimistic about this, and his social media work on the leadup certainly helps (the marketing for this has been top notch thus far). If anyone’s embracing their comic character, it’s Ryan Reynolds.
24th March – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
If I was only going to be able to see one movie in 2016, it’d be this one. Not because I think it’s going to be the best of the year (I’m cautiously optimistic it’ll be great at best) but simply because I need to see DC’s Trinity on screen before I die. Batman and Superman finally join forces (after plenty of fisticuffs) and they’ll be joined by Wonder Woman’s big screen debut. That alone makes this worth getting excited about, but it’ll be here that we learn the future of DC’s Cinematic Universe. Is it too crowded with characters? Are DC rushing things? Can they compete with Marvel? Can Gal Gadot make a good Wonder Woman? Can Jesse Eisenberg convince us he’s Lex? How good is Bat-fleck? What’s Aquaman and Cyborg’s role in this? So many more questions that need to be answered, and the answers can’t come quickly enough for me.
29th April – Captain America 3: Civil War
It’s mind blowing to think we nearly had this going head to head with Dawn of Justice, until DC decided to release their big movie a month earlier. It’s best for everyone that this didn’t happen, because now both movies can be enjoyed on their own merits. Age of Ultron didn’t give everyone the warm fuzzies like the first Avengers movie, but Captain America 2 was amazing, and Civil War is basically going to be a combination of the two.
My main concern that this movie was going to try and reach too far has been alleviated a bit by the trailer. This isn’t going to follow the comic Civil War too closely it seems, instead choosing to tell a more intimate story surrounding Captain America. This is what it needs to do, and the result could be amazing if pulled off right. But like Dawn of Justice we’ve got a lot of characters here, including the introductions of Black Panther and the MCU Spiderman. Oh boy…
26th May – X-Men: Apocalypse
Can you believe we’re getting four big time superhero movies before June next year? We saw the first trailer for this drop a while ago now, and it certainly looked impressive. Now we have an idea as to the scope of Civil War, this looks to be the story with the highest stakes this year. Apocalypse is looking to wreck stuff up, and it’s up to the X-Men to stop it. We’re getting new versions of old favourites, including Jean Grey of House Stark, which could divide the fanbase (not that these movies ever do that…) but given the quality of both First Class and Days of Future Past, there’s reason to be excited for the next X-Men film.
26th May – Warcraft
Duncan Jones hasn’t done many movies, but the ones he has directed are amazing. Moon and Source Code are both brilliant movies, and here Duncan has the chance to make something truly massive, in both size and scope. Here’s the natural concern over this: name the best movie that was based off of a video game….Mortal Kombat? I actually didn’t mind Prince of Persia, but when these are your top tier examples then there is reason for concern (Wreck-It-Ralph doesn’t count, is just used a couple of characters for cameos). But even those who haven’t sunk in years of their life into the MMO game World of Warcraft have reason to be interested in this. It looks like a (somewhat) political action thriller set in a fantasy medieval world with really impressive looking Orcs. The designs are stylised after the games but it seems accessible to both fans and non-fans. This might prove to be the movie-based-off-a-game to break the mould and prove to Hollywood that it can be done…then I can get my damn Mass Effect movie…
10th June – Now You See Me: The Second Act
The first Now You See Me didn’t set the world on fire when it came out in 2013, but it was a fun ensemble piece that did something a bit different with ‘magic’ after everyone else had come to believe you could only find magic through Hogwarts. Well to up their game they’ve recruited Harry Potter himself for the sequel. Daniel Radcliffe joins most of the entire original crew (Isla Fisher has magically transformed into Lizzy Caplan as the female representative). The tricks will presumably be bigger and better, and it should be interesting to see the repercussions of the first’s finale at play here. The sequel should get a small Harry Potter bump in box office numbers, but as long as it’s as fun as the first this should be worth going to.
16th June – Finding Dory
Finding Nemo was a big success for Pixar and Disney, and is beloved to this day. One of the fan favourite characters was the forgetful Dory, played by Ellen Degeneres, and so for the sequel we her around as she tries to find her parents. Not too much about this has been released to the public, but it’s hard to imagine this won’t at least be a fun little animated romp. The first had a great mix of humour and heart, there’s a couple of other animated franchises putting forth new efforts in 2016 (Kung Fu Panda and Ice Age) but Finding Dory should be the biggest.
15th July – Ghostbusters
There’s no faster way to piss off the internet than to change the race or gender of anything. The classic 80s comedy Ghostbusters is being remade, but instead of Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray we’re getting Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy as part of an all female crew. The original sequel was a bit ‘eh’ but the first is absolutely beloved. There’s an uphill battle for the crew to climb, how accepting the fanbase will be of this is tough to predict, and franchise revival tends to be 50/50 at best. But one thing is for certain, if you don’t want to read hate, avoid any comments section surrounding this movie. More so than the conversion of male to female, the real challenge here will be making the comedy stand out against the original. I wouldn’t want to be trying to best Bill Murray regardless of what gender I was…
5th August – Suicide Squad
The second DC movie of 2016 and one I never thought we’d get under this title: Suicide Squad follows a group of villains forced by the Government to complete highly dangerous missions in order to shave time off their sentences. It’s DC’s evil-er answer to Guardians of the Galaxy, and could sell itself purely off of the hype surrounding Margo Robbie’s Harley Quinn (the first big screen appearance of the character) and the debut of Jared Leto’s Joker. But beyond that we also get Will Smith as Deadshot, who’s rumoured to be involved with the DC cinematic universe for the long haul, and an extra dose of Bat-fleck. I like most fanboys are hyped to see Harley Quinn’s cinematic debut, but don’t sleep on Enchantress (there’s a sex joke to be made here…), the psychotic possessed witch played by Cara Delevingne – who I suspect has a massive role in the plot. Public expectations will likely be determined after we see the quality of Dawn of Justice, but the first trailer looked pretty good.
4th November – Doctor Strange
While Marvel’s ‘A’ movie this year is Civil War, Doctor Strange represents an important part of the MCU puzzle, introducing the audience to the magic and mystical side of things. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular character, Doctor Strange has the potential to be a late surprise. There’s a lot that can be done with the character, who not only has an awesome skillset and look but a great actor in charge now, and we’ve yet to see Marvel really make a mistake introducing new stars into their universe. Guardians didn’t flop, Ant-Man didn’t flop, and all signs point to Doctor Strange continuing the string of successes for the Marvel brand.
18th November – Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them
Brace yourself Muggles, the wizarding world a generation fell in love with is returning to the big screen. Based off an in-universe turned real world book, Fantastic Beasts will be the first non-Harry Harry Potter movie and features the screenwriting debut of the celebrated author JK Rowling. Set in the 1920s when a set of dangerous magical creatures escape into the muggle world, expect this to have much of the same humour that the primary series had. It’s hard to imagine this won’t do massive numbers, the Harry Potter series is still utterly beloved and it’s been a while since the fans have had anything new to set their teeth into.
16th December – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Once everyone begins to settle down over The Force Awakens, we’ll all remember we don’t have to wait until 2017 for the next Star Wars film. This movie will be something of an experiment, we’ve had Star Wars movies before but never outside of the main saga (I’m not counting Clone Wars as a cinematic release). Disney will make their investment money back and then some, but the true test to the franchise’s strength will come from how well Rogue One performs. Naturally we don’t know much about this release, but the chance to explore the galaxy outside of the Skywalker family could make for a fun movie, as a group of Rebel spies set out before the events of ‘A New Hope’ to find the very Death Star plans so many Bothans ended up dying for.
21st December – Assassin’s Creed
Warcraft isn’t the only video game movie coming out this year, and 2016 will finish with one of the more popular recent franchises hitting the big screen. Michael Fassbender is under the hood for this one, the movie looks to mirror the concepts of the games it comes from. A regular joe discovers his ancestor stems back to a secret society of Assassins and accesses those ‘genetic memories’ thanks to new technology. How good this ends up being remains to be seen, but the series has done ok outside of its primary form of entertainment through tie in books. If nothing else, we should get some pretty nice set pieces to enjoy.