It's that time of the year. The Golden Globes are over (which, man, the Foreign Press was really feeling The Revenant, huh?) and the Oscars are just one month away—so we better stop thinking about 2015 and focus instead on what's coming up in the next 12 months.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, a few storylines. In case you haven't noticed, superhero movies have been a pretty big deal over the past couple years—and it's only going to get bigger in 2016. Marvel ran the game last year, but DC is taking its shot this year with two enormous releases—Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad. If those two movies brick, this rivalry will be reduced to a sorely mistmatched contest. Because Marvel's not exactly taking 2016 off.
Elsewhere, we've got some killer indies looking to make noise like It Follows and Ex Machina did last year, some big sequels (hint: remember "Magnum?"), and the return of the gods Joel and Ethan Coen, with the very Coen Brothers-looking Hail Caesar!. And oh yeah, there's gonna be another Star Wars movie.
Dig in, and start planning for this coming year. (One final note: These movies are listed by release date.)
in the shadow of women
Release Date: Jan. 15
Starring: Clotilde Courau, Stanislau Merhar, Lena Paugam
Director: Philippe Garrel
This French film co-written and directed by Philippe Garrel strips down the timeworn love triangle trope and presents a black-and-white story of a man stuck between two women he adores. Manon (Clotilde Courau) and Pierre (Stanislas Merhar) are two documentarians who live and work side-by-side. When younger woman Elisabeth (Lena Paugam) enters the picture, Pierre falls into a lustful trace and can’t (as the story so often goes) decide between them. But not all is as it seems.
Just when we think we’re being told the same tired tale of a charismatic man and his extramarital exploits, Manon reveals she too has been keeping a secret. And as Elisabeth involves herself ever more in his world, Pierre begins to lose control. He’s no longer simply playing his two love interests for his own self-serving reasons—he’s ultimately playing himself. —Catie Keck
Release Date: Jan. 22
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Kieran Culkin, Danny DeVito
Director: Todd Solondz
Todd Solondz isn’t an easily accessible director. His films range from the extremely weird (Palindromes) to the extremely disturbing (Happiness). But he has a singular vision, one that was immediately established with his first film, 1995’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, about teen misfit Dawn Weiner (Heather Matarazzo) navigating the perils of puberty in only a way that Solondz could capture.
Dawn Weiner is a character that many (myself included) have latched onto over the years. She’s clearly continued to be an influence on Solondz’s work as well with mentions of her getting sprinkled into his other films. So, it makes sense that 21 years later, Solondz is revisiting her in a spiritual sequel, Weiner-Dog. While details are scarce, the jist of the film, is about a dachshund who brings joy to and changes the lives of many people. Indie darling Greta Gerwig is playing an adult Dawn Weiner flanked by a stacked cast including Julie Delpy and Brie Larson, and it’s a safe bet to assume that Solondz will bring the weirdness when reconnecting us with Dawn Wiener. —Kerensa Cadenas
Swiss army man
Release Date: Jan. 22
Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Director: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Two It Boys, one movie. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe star in this indie drama version of what looks like Castaway, except there's a dead body in place of a volleyball. Early reports claimed that the Harry Potter star would be seen dragging around a corpse for the entirety of Swiss Army Man, but a first look from Sundance shows that Radcliffe is actually the dead one, while Paul Dano will do the heavy lifting (literally). Dano plays Hank, a suicidal man stranded in the wilderness, who finds companionship in a dead corpse he stumbles upon. They journey together as an unlikely traveling duo and Dano, newly appreciative of life, ends up convincing the dead man that life is worth living. Sound weird? Definitely. But too weird to pass up. What's even weirder is that the directorial duo—Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert—is responsible for the "Turn Down for What" music video. So yeah, this sounds like a must-watch in our book. —Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
Release Date: Jan. 25
Starring: Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Brooklyn Decker
Director: So Yong Kim
If you intend to see Lovesong, I encourage you to bring something to wipe your eyes with because this one feels like it’s going to sting. Co-written and directed by So Yong Kim, Lovesong traces the relationship that intensifies between two women, Sarah (Riley Keough) and her best friend Mindy (Jena Malone), over the course of a road trip—and the aftermath of what ensues when they return.
Without spoiling too much, a disturbance in their friendship leaves Sarah and Mindy torn apart. And in the days leading up to Mindy’s wedding some time later, Sarah makes a last-ditch attempt to right the wrongs between the two of them before it's too late. I’m sensing some Carol-level angst here, but it'll be exciting to see what Kim—a Special Jury Prize recipient at Sundance for her film In Between Days—has in store with this one. —Catie Keck
As you are
Release Date: Jan. 25
Starring: Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton, Amandla Stenberg
Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte
As You Are, an official selection of this year’s Sundance Film Festival, is the breakout coming-of-age feature film from actor and director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte. Starring Owen Campbell (Jack), Charlie Heaton (Mark), and Amandla Stenberg (Sarah), the film explores the perspectives of three teens and their involvement with a police investigation during the 1990s. The film uses a nonlinear narrative to examine events leading up to the investigation, which occurs in part as a result of the intimate relationship between Jack and Mark.
As You Are bills itself as awash with fixtures of ‘90s pop culture and “the rebel spirit of Kurt Cobain,” so it's probably safe to assume this film will explore of the complexity of impending adulthood while serving up a healthy dose of nostalgia. —Catie Keck
Release Date: Feb. 5
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, George Clooney
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
There are two kinds of Coen Brothers movies: the dark, violent ones and the light, twisted, caper-filled ones. Hail, Caesar!, about a studio-system era actor (George Clooney) who gets kidnapped, appears to be more of the latter. The Coens have always had a fascination with Old Hollywood, and Hail Caesar! promises to be possibly the most they've ever indulged in that interest. There's gonna be soundstage antics, stunning set pieces, and so many industry inside jokes—think The Artist, but actually not boring.
With a fully stacked cast—Coen standbys like Clooney, Frances McDormand and Scarlett Johansson are joined by welcome faces like Channing Tatum and Josh Brolin—in front of the camera and two of Hollywood's best minds behind, Hail Caesar! might be that rare February movie that actually comes through. —Andrew Gruttadaro
Release Date: Feb. 12
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, T.J. Miller, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Ed Skrein
Director: Tim Miller
For many fans of Marvel’s Merc With a Mouth, the depiction of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was the absolute worst; practically turning one of the most chatty characters in comic history into a mute was a terrible move. But after a huge fan campaign—as well as Ryan Reynolds’ own insistence—we’re finally getting a proper, madcap Deadpool flick, bringing ‘Pool to the silver screen in all of his bloody, “hard R” glory.
Judging from the teasers and trailers, this is going to be one hilarious, ultra-violent ride, with Deadpool dropping all of his pop culture references and naughty zingers at ludicrous speed. All of the insanity from the comics is placed squarely into the film, not only giving comic fans a better representation of Deadpool’s comic book persona, but giving superhero film fans an alternative to the usual adventures. —khal
Release Date: Feb. 12
Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig
Director: Ben Stiller
So maybe now is the time to clarify that "most anticipated" doesn't necessarily mean "best." As in, yes, of course we're excited to see Derek Zoolander, Ben Stiller's career-defining creation, return to the big screen, but no, Zoolander 2 doesn't look very promising.
All the players from Zoolander are back—Owen Wilson's Hansel, Will Ferrell's Mugatu—along with the additions of Penelope Cruz as a sidekick and Kristen Wiig as a Botoxed-up, possibly Mugatu-style villain? That all looks well and good—and it may bring some big laughs—but from the look of the trailers, this sequel's falling into the trap that most comedy blockbuster follow-ups do: it's too bloated and has too much latitude. Then again, no one really gave Zoolander a shot in 2001, so maybe we should just sip our orange mocha frappucinos and wait to see the damn thing. —Andrew Gruttadaro
Release Date: Feb. 19
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Katie Dickie
Director: Robert Eggers
An impressive debut feature from Robert Eggers, The Witch is an eerie horror film set in 17th century New England about a family torn apart by forces beyond their understanding—evil forces which lurk about in the spooky woods surrounding their home. (It shouldn't be a spoiler that some sort of witchiness is involved in a film called The Witch, but we won't give any of the plot away.) Abound with creepy farm animals (like side-eyeing goats) and Salem imagery, the film takes the stuff of traditional urban legends and makes them blood-curdling scary with a cinematic flourish. Easily bored by Puritan pieces? You won't be with this one. It doesn't take long for the terrors to set in, and the film becomes increasingly unsettling. From a promising new filmmaker, The Witch features a rising star to watch (Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays the teen daughter) and is backed by auteur distributor A24, a trusted name in indie. —Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
knight of cups
Release Date: March 4
Starring: Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Teresa Palmer
Director: Terrence Malick
Knight of Cups, the new experimental project from acclaimed writer and director Terrence Malick, follows screenwriter Rick (Christian Bale) as he dives headlong into the world of Hollywood excess with his harem of side-pieces (Cate Blanchett, Freida Pinto, Imogen Poots, Isabel Lucas, Natalie Portman, Teresa Palmer). Rick has just lost one brother to unknown circumstances and the other seems to be flailing, so that in addition to his own aimlessness appears to make for a mess of a man.
The surreal world that Rick navigates gives off some Enter the Void-level anxiety, but Malick delivers as always on that rich, ethereal quality that make his films such a rewarding visual experience (h/t Malick project regulars cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and production designer Jack Fisk). Who’s to say whether Malick will grant his meta-protagonist any actual peace, but tracing his journey looks like it’ll be quite the ride. —Catie Keck
Release Date: March 11
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
If you need further convincing that we’re all going to die alone, you either should (or shouldn’t!) watch The Lobster.
Set in a not-too-distant dystopian future, single people are taken to The Hotel, where if they don’t find a mate in 45 days, they are turned into the animal of their choosing and sent into The Woods. We’re escorted through this by David (an incredible Colin Farrell), a paunchy divorcee, who accompanied by his brother (who had been turned into a dog years earlier) navigates the romantic entanglements of The Hotel along with new friends (John C. Reilly and Ben Whishaw). At first it all seems strange but fairly benign, until after someone gets caught masturbating in The Hotel, and—slight spoiler alert—they get their fingers burned in a toaster. With any dystopian scenario, there’s a small but strong group of rebels. In The Lobster this group resides in the woods, where David’s “love story” truly begins.
From the warped mind of Yorgos Lanthimos, who brought us Dogtooth, The Lobster is a rather bleak meditation on the nature of human relationships bolstered by understated performances. It’ll certainly make you think or render you speechless (like it did the coworker I watched it with). —Kerensa Cadenas
Release Date: March 25
Starring: Margherita Buy, John Turturro, Giulia Lazzarini
Director: Nanni Moretti
Italian director Nanni Moretti's film is partly autobiographical, and it shows in the personally affecting characterization he gives to his protagonist Margherita (played by Margherita Buy), a film director whose personal crises clash with her professional ones. Margherita feels lost due to her dying mother, and she hits creative walls while shooting her film. Then a diva American actor arrives on set (played by John Turturro, whose half-assed Italian is spoken with a funny American twang), causing even more problems for Margherita as she juggles familial and artistic setbacks. If that sounds like an uncomfortable cry-fest, it's not…well, not completely. A lot of laughing tears will be shed between the sad ones, as Turturro delivers a thigh-smackingly hilarious performance in a possible career-best. He sticks out like a sore thumb in this midlife crisis melodrama in the best way. Director Moretti himself plays a role in the film as well, as Margherita's supportive brother. A must watch. —Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
batman v. superman: dawn of justice
Release Date: March 25
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot
Director: Zach Snyder
Outside of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Marvel’s been eating DC's lunch with their massive Cinematic Universe. Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s the beginning of Ben Affleck’s ride as Batman, finds Jesse Eisenberg stepping up as Lex Luthor, and also features Gal Gadot stepping up as Wonder Woman. The tone looks darker than previous Superman films, helping put DC into a more serious frame than Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is normally in. But most importantly, it ultimately looks like DC Comics is fully woke in 2016, and ready to drop content that can properly compete with what Marvel has to offer. —khal
everybody wants some
Release Date: April 15
Starring: Zoey Dutch, Blake Jenner, Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin, Ryan Guzman
Director: Richard Linklater
Marketed as the “spiritual successor” to Richard Linklater’s iconic stoner brocomedy Dazed & Confused, where a group of seniors make it through their final day of high school, Everybody Wants Some seems to take from the same fabric. The movie follows a group of college baseball players, mainly through the eyes of Jake (Blake Jenner), a freshman who is finding his footing with his team, college and girls of course, and like Dazed, we can expect plenty of Male Exploits at parties, hazing scenes, and little-to-no actual class time.
But we can’t rag on Linklater too much—he elevated Dazed to cult status because unlike so many of its knock-offs, he always manages to infuse his bromedies with a surprising amount of sweetness and an even more surprising amount of insight into the emotions of the men whose coming-of-age he’s documenting. Fortunately, it looks like Everybody Wants Some will also fit that bill. —Kerensa Cadenas
Release Date: April 15
Starring: Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Anton Yelchin, Patrick Stewart
Director: Jeremy Saulnier
There's already been a ton of festival buzz surrounding Green Room, but now this much-hyped flick will get a spring release thanks to distribution from A24 Films (likewise: The Witch). Festival praise aside, this insane synopsis should be enough to hook you: The film follows a punk band (with members portrayed by Alia Shawkat and Anton Yelchin) that books another shitty gig at another shitty venue, except their night goes completely awry when they witness a murder and find themselves trapped in the club's green room. They're terrorized by the venue owner (Patrick Stewart) and his gang of violent white supremacists in a fight or die situation and, well, we just know it's gonna get batshit insane from there. After all this film comes from Jeremy Saulnier, the same director who made 2014's indie sleeper Blue Ruin, a take-no-prisoners revenge thriller that sheds as much blood as it damn well wants to. Imogen Poots also stars as a bystander in this hyper-violent punks vs. neo-Nazis horror/thriller. —Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
Captain America: civil War
Release Date: May 6
Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr., Sebastian Stan
Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo
Captain America: Civil War is lucky number 13 in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, and kicks off Phase Three of their enormous, overarching story. What does that mean? Not only has everything from Phases One and Two led up to now, but the next three years of Marvel-related films will unfurl from the beats laid in this film. So to summarize, this could be one of the most important flicks in the Universe.
Built on one of the more spectacular crossover events in Marvel Comics, Civil War finds Captain America and Iron Man in a battle of epic proportions. Their beef? If superheroes should register with the government—i.e. if the government should know the secret identities of these heroes, in a world where they aren’t that welcome. As Cap and Tony Stark fight it out, the rest of the heroes choose sides, leaving room for a number of epic battles and hurt feelings. Expect a bunch of heroes we’ve seen before to make cameos, alongside many who are set to debut in the MCU very, very soon. —khal
the nice Guys
Release Date: May 20
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Matt Bomer
Director: Shane Black
First of all, this film is a goddamn thirst trap. Casting Ryan Gosling, Matt Bomer, Kim Basinger, Russell Crowe, and Margaret Qualley is just an automatic selling point for your eyes. Sure it looks campy as hell (and it’s maybe a low-key meta-take on the Lethal Weapon franchise by writer and director Shane Black), but it looks hilarious.
The Nice Guys stars Gosling as bumbling private investigator Holland March opposite Crowe’s Jackson Healy, a man-for-hire with a penchant for breaking bodies. The two are teamed and tasked with finding Basinger’s missing daughter Amelia (Qualley), whose disappearance has something to do with the mob, because of course. In the film’s three-minute red band trailer, we watch Russell Crowe break Ryan Gosling’s arm, Ryan Gosling hold Russell Crowe at gunpoint while taking a shit and almost literally setting his pants on fire, and both narrowly cheat death in like ten different improbable scenarios. Go see this movie—it’s gonna be a fun one. —Catie Keck
Release Date: May 27
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Olivia Munn, Nicholas Hoult, Alexandra Shipp
Director: Bryan Singer
With X-Men: First Class setting the stage for the reboot of the X-Men Cinematic Universe (is that what they’re calling it these days?), X-Men: Apocalypse feels like a make-or-break film for the series. Hugh Jackman’s time as Wolverine is coming to an end (along with Jennifer Lawrence’s time as Mystique), and Bryan Singer’s back to take the X-Men of the silver screen into the future...by taking things back to the ‘80s.
There’s a lot of promise in this film; early glances at Oscar Isaac’s Apocalypse left a LOT to be desired, but the mayhem he causes in the film more than makes up for the fact that he doesn’t look like a literal end of the world. However, getting to see a bald James McAvoy as Professor X, Olivia Munn breathe life into Psylocke, and the weather-based insanity that is a young, mohawked Alexandra Shipp as Storm should be more than enough to bring longtime X-fans to the theaters for one more round. —khal
Independence day: resurgence
Release Date: June 24
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Joey King, Maika Monroe, Jeff Goldblum
Director: Roland Emmerich
It’s been 20 years since Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman saved these United States of America from the invasion of aliens on Independence Day. Twenty years later, we’re without Will Smith, and the grizzled vets are older...so why not have them face an even larger alien threat to our national security?
The initial pain of not having Will Smith back aside, it looks like his son has grown to become a pilot as well, and has a readymade story coming into this battle: using his father’s fearless spirit to fight off a fleet of aliens more intense than the first. With Independence Day grossing $800 million worldwide, this sequel is no longer “just” a sequel—this will be an event to skip life for, the kind of epic blockbuster that summer is made for. Be there. —khal
Release Date: July 15
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Bill Murray, Chris Hemsworth
Director: Paul Feig
My favorite thing about the Ghostbusters pre-release hype (besides its all-star queens of comedy) is the outrage over a male narrative being be flipped on its head to deliver a predominantly female team of ‘busters—somehow in 2016 we’re still attempting to answer the question of whether women can be funny. As director Paul Feig perfectly put it late last year, “I really cannot believe we’re still having this conversation.”
Throwing Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Sigourney Weaver, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Cecily Strong together on a script will no doubt gift us a bow-topped comedy experience. And who better to direct them than Feig, who brought us Bridesmaids and Spy? It may not be Oscar bait, sure, but what more could we ask of this reboot than great entertainment from some of the industry’s best in comedy? Nothing. —Catie Keck
Release Date: Aug. 5
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis
Director: David Ayer
While Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of the most important films in DC’s Extended Universe, Suicide Squad—a film about a band of villains doing good—has been their most anticipated, thanks mostly to the commotion over Jared Leto transforming himself into the diabolical Joker, and current it-girl Margot Robbie portraying fan favorite Harley Quinn. So, how far can the Joker go in 2016 in a PG-13 film? It’s hard to say—it didn’t stop Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, though. And honestly, the excitement about this ragtag group of bad guys teaming up for the forces of good should be worth the price of admission, even if Will Smith is in it. —khal
Release Date: Nov. 4
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton
Director: Scott Dickerson
Falling in line with Marvel’s usual schedule, Captain America: Civil War is the massive blockbuster that they release in 2015, while Doctor Strange should be the smaller, more offbeat film that’ll help set up smaller, possibly more important plot points in the near future.
With Doctor Strange, the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring vehicle will bring a deeper involvement of magic and mysticism into the mix. It’ll also (quite possibly) add another layer to the upcoming Defenders team that is being built on Netflix, assuming the MCU actually stays true to the comic books on that front. Either way, Doctor Strange could do what Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy did before it: print all kinds of money with characters that you wouldn’t expect to be major figures in the MCU. —khal
fantastic beasts and where to find them
Release Date: Nov. 18
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell
Director: David Yates
Dog, I can’t even pretend to be excited about this. J.K. Rowling’s attention-seeking, minor detail-ass tweets are basically coming to a theater near you. The source material is a literal textbook Harry Potter owned brought to real life to continue the revenue stream further break down the creatures in the HPU (Harry Potter Universe).
Does my skepticism and cynicism matter, though? Not one bit. This is a known entity that’s bound to crush the holiday box office. We all knew The Hobbit spinoffs were trash, a disservice to Lord of the Rings proper, and those flicks still brought in billions. Yes, we’re talking BS. J.K. Rowling will keep thirst tweeting her own entity, and Harry Potter movies will continue without The Boy Who Lived. There’s not a damn thing we can do about it. We’ll probably even end up (hate) watching. —Ian Servantes
Rogue One: a star wars story
Release Date: Dec. 16
Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn
Director: Gareth Edwards
Star Wars has plunged into a new generation with terrific, record-breaking success in The Force Awakens. A new era of heroes is here to stay, but before we rejoin them it’s time to take another step back. Rogue One, the first of Disney’s three planned standalone films, rewinds the story to the days before A New Hope. Luke Skywalker was able to destroy the Death Star because of a band of rebels who stole the schematics of the space station (which revealed a convenient architectural oversight). These underappreciated heroes will finally get their due in a film dedicated entirely to the heist.
Like The Force Awakens did for the new trilogy, Rogue One will serve as a litmus test for the anthology series. But unlike the rest of the franchise, the Gareth Edwards-directed flick is utilizing several well-established actors, including Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen and, to a lesser extent, Felicity Jones and Diego Luna. We’ve watched plot lines without direct involvement from the Jedi and the Sith before, but presumably, this will be the first time we see a whole film without lightsabers. Can Rogue One capture the same spirit and excitement without one of Star Wars’ most defining features? We’ll find out surprisingly soon in December, but the players involved, as well as The Force Awakens, have us optimistic. —Ian Servantes
Release Date: Dec. 21
Starring: Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen
Director: Morten Tyldum
Wow, Passengers is bankable af. Getting Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence onto one marquee is a remarkable feat all on its own, and is bound to drive the internet into hysteria. They could take JLaw falling and talking about pizza and Chris Pratt rapping "Forgot About Dre" separately, but together? CYA.
But this movie, about two "passengers" who wake up in the middle of a 60-year journey to a distant space colony, might have more to offer than just an OTP candidate. It's got The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum at the helm, an interesting script not based on anything (surprisingly rare these days), and hey, JLaw said she got blackout drunk for her sex scene with Pratt, so that'll be fun to watch. —Andrew Gruttadaro
John wick 2
Release Date: TBD
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Bridget Moynahan, Ruby Rose, Common
Director: Chad Stahelski
First-time director Chad Stahelski came out of the gate in 2014 with a singular, ultraviolent, pleasant surprise of an action movie. And now he—and Keanu Reeves' titular protagonist, John Wick—are back for more in 2016. Details on the sequel to John Wick are scant—we don't even have a release date yet—so here's what we can be sure of: Keanu will slay/shoot at least 20 dudes directly in the head, cast additions like Common, Ruby Rose and Laurence Fishburne (Matrix reunion, hay!) will bring some much-welcome pulp to an already juicy project, and the movie itself will be ambitious, unique, and downright entertaining.
Forget the Marvel and DC fare—John Wick 2 is the action movie I'm most excited for in 2016. —Andrew Gruttadaro
Release Date: TBD
Starring: Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver
Director: Martin Scorsese
The legendary director's first movie since 2013 promises to be one of his more intriguing ventures. There are no gangsters, no true crime, there's no cocaine—just a bunch of Jesuits. That's right—Silence tells the story of 17th century missionary priests who travel to Japan, a place where Catholicism is being totally purged and its users are being brutally persecuted. Expect Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver to really dig in for this story, especially Garfield and Driver, who are working with Scorsese for the first time.
This is new territory for Scorsese for sure. But that might actually be a good thing. —Andrew Gruttadaro
the bad batch
Release Date: TBD
Starring: Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Jim Carrey
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Ana Lily Amirpour quickly became an up-and-coming filmmaker on everyone's radar with her stellar feature debut A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night in 2014—a personal favorite from that year—about a lonesome vampire girl who would stalk (and skateboard!) around at night, preying on terrible men. Shot in black and white, the Persian-language feminist vampire spaghetti Western was stunning, oozing, and romantic (that bedroom scene, be still my heart!) and marked the first of its kind. Amirpour's new movie takes on a similar horror/romance feel—it's a cannibal love story this time around—but the Iranian-American director is now working with much bigger names. Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey star alongside Diego Luna, Suki Waterhouse, Giovanni Ribisi, and Jason Momoa. It's supposedly set in a Texas wasteland, so Amirpour may be continuing the Western theme. Regardless, we just know it's gonna be gross and beautiful, and we can't wait for it to come out. —Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
In a valley of violence
Release Date: TBD
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Karen Gillan, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga
Director: Ti West
Yes, there will be violence. After all, this is directed by Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers), a young horror maestro in the making. While it doesn't take on the more traditional horror format of his previous films, Valley probably won't spare much blood, as it is a Western revenge thriller about a man hell-bent on avenging his murdered friend. Set in the 1890s, the film stars Ethan Hawke—presumably the vengeful man in question, who apparently rides around on horseback next to a very cute dog (this dog better not fucking die, Ti!!!)—with John Travolta, underrated Selfie star Karen Gillan, and a cast of familiar horror faces: James Ransone, Larry Fessenden, and young Scream Queen Taissa Farmiga. House of horrors Blumhouse Productions is behind the film, if blood and gore weren't already a guarantee. —Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
Release Date: TBD
Starring: Armie Hammer, Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Director: Tom Ford
Fashion designer and beautiful man Tom Ford stunned audiences with his lush directorial debut, 2009’s A Single Man, based on the Christopher Isherwood novel about an English professor (Colin Firth) who is left aimless after the sudden loss of his boyfriend in 1960s Los Angeles. The film left an indelible mark on film that year and left audiences (it me) clamoring for more of Ford’s film direction.
His follow-up, which should be dropping (prayer circle) in 2016, is another literary adaptation, this time of Austin Wright’s novel Tony & Susan—a twisty-sounding thriller where Susan (Amy Adams) receives a manuscript from her ex-husband, Walker (Armie Hammer), asking her to read it. She gets sucked into the fictional life of Tony Hastings (Jake Gyllenhaal), and as she gets more and more involved in Walker’s novel, the more she has to confront herself.
It’s a curious premise that under Ford’s direction could be stellar; and rounding out the cast with Michael Shannon and Isla Fisher cements hopes that Ford’s second picture will be just as great as his first. —Kerensa Cadenas