Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Movie Guru's Top Fifteen Most Anticipated Movies for the Rest of 2016

Half of 2016 is in the books, and oddly enough, I've already seen plenty of the films that were my most anticipated at the start of the year. Out of the 35 films that made that list, I've seen 20 already, which begs the question- what's left for the second half of 2016? Well, judging by the looks of an impressive schedule, there's plenty left to get excited about. But before I dive into the films I'm looking forward to in the second half of the year, let's recap what I had on my original list back in January and take a look at how things turned out.

Honorable Mentions

Knight of Cups- N/A
Zootopia- A
The Witch- B+
The Jungle Book- B-
Eddie the Eagle- B
Top Secret Untitled Lonely Island Movie (aka Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping)- A-
Triple 9- B+

#23- Green Room- A
#22- The BFG- C+
#20- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice- B
#18- The Legend of Tarzan- C
#17- The Conjuring 2- A
#16- Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising- B
#15- Money Monster- B-
#14- Deadpool- A-
#11- X-Men: Apocalypse- C
#8- Midnight Special- B+
#6- Captain America: Civil War- A
#4- Everybody Wants Some!!- A+
#3- Hail, Caesar!- A
#1- The Nice Guys- A+

Honorable Mentions

*Ben Affleck's Live by Night is currently scheduled to hit theaters in January 2017. There is a good chance that the film plays an Oscar qualifying run. If that is the case, consider it one of my Top 5 Most Anticipated Movies for the rest of the year.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN- Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Byung-hun Lee, and more star in this epic remake of the 1960 classic western, which itself was a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. I'm not the biggest fan of director Antoine Fuqua, but the trailers have been quite promising. If any movie can breath some life into the western genre, it's this one. The Magnificent Seven will also be opening the Toronto International Film Festival on September 8. In theaters SEPTEMBER 23.

RULES DON'T APPLY- Warren Beatty hasn't been in Hollywood for quite some time now, but he's roaring back into action this year with Rules Don't Apply. For a while, the film was billed as a Howard Hughes biopic, but after watching the trailer, that doesn't appear to be the case. It looks more like a romantic comedy between Alden Ehrenreich and Lily Collins, and honestly, that's a very enticing proposition. Mix in a distinctly old Hollywood vibe, and I'm very intrigued by Beatty's return to filmmaking. NOVEMBER 23

BILLY LYNN'S LONG HALFTIME WALK- This one could go either way. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk could be an intense, harrowing look at war, or it could be a sappy, overdone mess. So far, I'm leaning towards the first option. The trailer is phenomenal, and with Ang Lee behind the camera (plus a revolutionary 120 fps format), the sky is the limit for this Oscar favorite. NOVEMBER 11

PETE'S DRAGON- David Lowery's remake of the 1977 classic is getting great reviews thus far, and that doesn't quite come as a surprise to me. The trailers are dazzling, carrying a Spielbergian tone and a glorious visual style that simply looks marvelous. After a mostly dull summer, Pete's Dragon could emerge as one of the surprise hits. AUGUST 12

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN- It's Gone Girl: 2016 edition! At least, that's what the trailers for Tate Taylor's adaptation of the best-selling book have been selling. The Girl on the Train looks like a sexy and terrifying erotic thriller, and with that stellar cast (Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Justin Theroux, and more), I can't wait to see what it has to offer. I was hoping for a premiere at TIFF, but it looks like NYFF might be the destination for this one. OCTOBER 7

Now, here are my 15 most anticipated films for the rest of the year.

15. SULLY- September 9

There was some hope that Clint Eastwood's biopic of heroic pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger would be finished in time for last year's awards season, but alas, the film just wasn't ready. Instead, Sully will be the first big-ticket release of the awards season, with possible festival appearances at Venice or Telluride. Tom Hanks is one of the most reliable actors on the planet, and I have a feeling that he will turn in a great performance as Sullenberger. Eastwood excels with this kind of material, and Sully looks like a thrilling, fascinating ride.

15. BLEED FOR THIS- November 4

Boxing movies are a dime a dozen these days. Last year saw the release of the excellent Creed and the not-so-excellent Southpaw, and later this year, Hands of Stone and Bleed for This will be hitting theaters. Both look good, but I'm much more excited for the latter, which stars Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Ted Levine, and Ciaran Hinds. The trailer was exceptional, the buzz around it has been strong, and it's set for a prime spot on the fall festival circuit (it's playing TIFF, with Venice and Telluride looking like strong possibilities as well). Miles Teller is one of the best young actors today, and if Bleed for This is as good as it looks, Oscar glory could be headed his way.

13. AMERICAN HONEY- September 30

Andrea Arnold's American Honey was one of the biggest films to come out of the Cannes Film Festival this year, receiving almost universally positive reviews. It looks like a stunning road movie, and with an epic runtime that stretches nearly 3 hours, I'm hoping for a fun, insightful ride. The trailer was magnificent, and A24 has had a stellar track record with their films recently. Plus, Shia LaBeouf is always a net positive, right?

12. WAR DOGS- August 19

The August release date is a tad bit concerning, but I gotta say, War Dogs looks like a blast. Staged as a Wolf of Wall Street-style tale of American greed, Todd Phillips' first real foray into more dramatic territory sees Miles Teller and Jonah Hill taking on the big, bad world of arms dealing. Phillips is great at big, broad comedies, and if he can successfully blend that sense of humor with this outlandish material, War Dogs could end up being something really special. Or it could end up like Pain & Gain. That's the worst case scenario.

11. ALLIED- November 23

We don't know a whole lot about Allied. but the talent and basic plot alone sends this one right to the top of my most anticipated list. Robert Zemeckis is in the director's chair, Steven Knight penned the screenplay, and the cast includes Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Lizzy Caplan, Matthew Goode, Jared Harris, and Raffey Cassidy. It's the story of a French-Canadian spy who falls in love with a woman who may or may not be a Nazi spy during the middle of World War II. It sounds both epic and personal, and the basic premise has some surface-level similarities to Casablanca, my favorite film of all time. Hopefully we'll get a trailer soon, because I'm really excited to see what Zemeckis has cooked up this time around.

10. THE BIRTH OF A NATION- October 7

No indie film this year has been as buzzy as Nate Parker's The Birth of a Nation. The film took Sundance by storm, dominated the #OscarsSoWhite conversation, and immediately shot to the top of 2016 Oscar lists. Fox Searchlight scooped it up for a record asking price, staging it as a major release in the heart of awards season. The first trailer was haunting, and it looks like Parker has crafted an unforgettable piece of cinema with the tale of Nat Turner's famed rebellion, something both gorgeous and disturbing. I can't wait to see it for myself.

9. THE ACCOUNTANT- October 14

The Accountant just debuted its second trailer, and it looks like another winner for Ben Affleck and director Gavin O'Connor. The supporting cast is good too, with Anna Kendrick, Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal, John Lithgow, and Jeffrey Tambor in the cast. The film appears to be a fascinating mix of genre thrills and character work, two things that Affleck usually excels at. The premise is definitely interesting and there's a lot of potential for this one to be a really great film.

8. PASSENGERS- December 21

Passengers is being kept solidly under wraps by Sony, but it's definitely set to be one of the biggest films of the holiday season. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt are both huge movie stars in their own right, probably the biggest on the planet right now. So what's gonna happen when they're both in the same movie? I think the Earth might implode. They're teaming up for a sci-fi film from director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), where the plot centers around two passengers who wake up just a few decades too early on their intergalactic journey. It sounds like the kind of cerebral sci-fi that is right up my alley, and I can't wait to get a glimpse at this highly-anticipated flick.

7. DOCTOR STRANGE- November 4

Doctor Strange looks like the coolest and most innovative Marvel film since Guardians of the Galaxy, and that's saying something. The trailers have been breathtaking and mind-blowing, with fantastic visual images and some thrilling action. The Inception style feels like new territory for Marvel, and with Scott Derrickson at the helm, I really like where this film is going. Plus, I absolutely love the cast. Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejifor, and Mads Mikkelsen? Count me in.


I grew up on Harry Potter. I love the books, I love the movies, hell, I just love everything about that universe. Returning to it is a magical proposition. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them isn't a Potter sequel, but it is giving us the return to J.K. Rowling's fantastical universe that we've all been waiting for. Set in the 1920s, Fantastic Beasts looks like a stellar continuation of everything that director David Yates brought to this franchise. The period details look exceptional, and the idea that Warner Bros. is staging this as a trilogy is immensely exciting. The cast (Eddie Redmayne, Katharine Waterston, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, and more) is great, and if I'm being honest, I almost cried during the trailer. That's really all you need to know.

5. SAUSAGE PARTY- August 12

If Sausage Party isn't the funniest movie of the year, I'll be shocked. I've been touting this R-rated animated comedy ever since I first heard about the concept, and with some truly spectacular reviews thus far, it looks like Seth Rogen has delivered. Every bit of marketing has been absolute dynamite, and everybody I know is buzzing about this one. Rogen continues to deliver outlandish, innovative projects, and even though Neighbors 2 was a bit of a disappointment, I'm placing all my chips on the raunchiest movie of the summer.

4. ARRIVAL- November 11

Denis Villeneuve wasn't on the map a few years ago, but the Canadian director has quickly emerged as one of the most revolutionary directors working today. The future Blade Runner director did magnificent work with Prisoners and Sicario, and Arrival has the potential to be his best film yet. It's the story of an expert linguist who has to determine whether or not a group of aliens are coming in peace or declaring war. It's a brilliant concept that sounds like a more thoughtful sci-fi film in the vein of Close Encounters, and with Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Forest Whitaker leading the way, this festival-bound flick has the potential to be something special.

3. SUICIDE SQUAD- August 5

The first trailer for David Ayer's supervillain extravaganza debuted over a year ago, and after an agonizing wait, Suicide Squad is only a week away. And what's left to say? It looks like a lot of fun, it's tracking for an out-of-this-world box office debut, and it has the potential to save DC Films and right the ship for Warner Bros. Every piece of marketing has been on point, the cast seems excited, and most importantly, it feels like the action movie we've been waiting all summer for. Expect first reactions to come pouring in soon.

2. LA LA LAND- December 2

No list of the best films of the decade so far would be complete without Damien Chazelle's Whiplash, a punishing, utterly amazing music drama that rocked the cinematic world in 2014. After taking Hollywood by storm with his debut, Chazelle is back with La La Land, an ode to old Hollywood and classic musicals. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling make for the most appealing on-screen duo of their year, and the idea of an old-fashioned big screen musical spectacle is infinitely exciting. And as the icing on the cake, the trailer was pure brilliance. Sing Street set a high bar for the musical genre this year. Can La La Land match it? I think it just might.


The Nice Guys topped my list at the start of the year, but at the halfway point, Rogue One is leading the charge. Lucasfilm and director Gareth Edwards have been selling this as a different kind of Star Wars movie, and after the familiar brilliance of J.J. Abrams' Force Awakens, Rogue One is exactly what we need right now. All of the trailers and clips have been enticing, the cast is perfect, and Edwards seems to have a clear and inventive vision for the Star Wars universe. All we can do at this point is cross our fingers.

That's it for my most anticipated list! Here's to a great rest of the year!

Image Credits: Open RoadComing Soon, Telegraph, Apple Trailers, Variety, Variety, Guardian, Coming Soon, YouTube, Forbes, YouTube,  YouTube, Slash Film, Star Wars Wikia

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