The start of a new year is a time to celebrate new things to look forward to – and for cinephiles in 2016, that shouldn’t be too hard.

Eyes are darting towards this year’s sizable slate of massively anticipated releases, from the Coen brothers’ long-awaited take on the heyday of the Hollywood machine, to Richard Linklater’s spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, to Matt Damon’s reunion with Paul Greengrass for another Bourne outing.

A mix of both blockbusters and indies, we’ve put together the ultimate list of movies that we can’t wait to see this year. Based on what we know right now, this is it.


Upcoming Movies 2016: Martin Scorsese - Silence

Director: Martin Scorsese
Release date: Unspecified

Adapted from the 1966 Shusako Endo novel of the same name, Silence concerns a pair of priests who are persecuted after trying to bring Christianity to Japan in the 17th century. Scorsese has assembled a heavyweight cast, with Liam Neeson and Ken Watanabe alongside Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, and a script from Gangs of New York‘s Jay Cocks. Undisputed genius Scorsese refers to his new movie as a “suspenseful film, with elements of a thriller,” so that’s us sold.

Nocturnal Animals

Upcoming Movies 2016: Tom Ford - Nocturnal Animals

Director: Tom Ford
Release date: Unspecified

As directorial debuts go, A Single Man was a fairly impressive one, praised for its keen sense of style. No surprise, then, that Focus Features paid a cool $20 million for the rights to Ford’s intriguing new set-up, an adaptation of Austin Wright’s distressing Tony And Susan. It follows a woman (Amy Adams) who receives a book manuscript from her ex-husband whom she left 20 years earlier, and a man (Gyllenhaal) whose family vacation turns violent.

Doctor Strange

Upcoming Movies 2016: Scott Derrickson - Doctor Strange

Director: Scott Derrickson
Release date: November 4

Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton and Chiwetel Ejiofor join Benedict Cumberbatch, who will play Strange in the Marvel movie centred on the famous comic book mage. Derrickson has revealed that the movie will play heavily on the psychedelic visuals with which artist Steve Ditko infused the Stan Lee comic book during its ’60s heyday. Although Marvel is tight-lipped about the precise nature of the film’s effects, Kevin Feige has said that we should expect the unexpected – or, at least, the very strange.


Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Release date: March 4

Named after the town filled with animals where it all goes down, Zootopia revolves around a bunny rabbit cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), who teams up with unreliable scam artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to track down a missing otter. At this point, Disney deserves praise for producing work that can sit comfortably next to some of Pixar’s efforts – and if the film is as funny as the sloth scene, then this animated feature should be a real delight.

Hail, Caesar!

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Release date: February 5

It’s been a tough time for Coen brothers completists because it’s involved watching Unbroken, Angelina Jolie’s 2014 plea for an Oscar. But Hail, Caesar! looks to be an extremely Coen-y comedy, complete with a period setting, a wacky premise and a cast of stars that they’ve already worked with. It revolves around a fixer, played by Brolin, who must find the kidnapped star of a big new movie, also called Hail, Caesar!


Director: Duncan Jones
Release date: June 10

Like most concerned parents, David Bowie told his son to put down the Sega console and go outside. But that young gamer has grown into the director of the first World of Warcraft movie. In Jones’ adaptation of the multiplayer online role-playing game and pretty fun alternative to real life, fearsome orc warriors fleeing their home to colonize another invade the peaceful realm of Azeroth. If the trailer’s anything to go by, Warcraft is going to lure an audience beyond those who have played the game.

The Nice Guys

Director: Shane Black
Release date: May 20

Black has emerged as one of the wittiest, most unabashedly verbal of Hollywood directors. His Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a blast, and he upped the ante with Iron Man 3, which had more twists and surprises than any Marvel movie should have the right to have. His new venture stars Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe as ’70s private eyes investigating the death of a porn star. It looks funny and dark in an accessible way; think Inherent Vice, but possible to follow.

Everybody Wants Some

Director: Richard Linklater
Release date: April 15

Award-winning director Linklater is calling his latest flick a “spiritual sequel” to his 1993 stoner cult classic, Dazed and Confused. Referencing the Van Halen song “Everybody Wants Some”, the movie follows Jake, played by Glee‘s Blake Jenner, through his first year in college. As the Boyhood director is now tackling the ’80s, we’re especially keen to hear the soundtrack – from Talking Heads, Blondie, Pat Benatar and Devo among others.


Upcoming Movies 2016: Pedro Almodóvar - Julieta

Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Release date: August 26

Having changed the name from Silencio to Julieta to avoid confusion with Scorsese’s upcoming Silence, Almodovar’s new hard-hitting drama charts one woman’s life from 1985 to the present day, focusing on the complexity of guilt and what makes people abandon those they love (really, it could be about someone sitting still for two hours, and we’d still be excited). Almodovar’s career as a director has been inextricably linked with his filmic portrayal of women and Julieta marks his return to this, although there are novelties too – very few of Julieta’s actors are his “chicas Almodovar.”

The Witch

Director: Robert Eggers
Release date: February 19

It’s increasingly difficult in this age of spoilers to stay fresh going into a movie. But, based on the rapturous response to Eggers’ vintage horror movie, we’re trying to find out as little about The Witch as possible to preserve the film’s surprises. You might also want to do the same…


Upcoming Movies 2016: Ghostbusters - Paul Feig

Director: Paul Feig
Release date: July 15

Part of the reason the world balked initially at the idea of another Ghostbusters was that the image of an aging Dan Aykroyd donning the gray jumpsuit one more time was far from an exciting one. An all-female Ghostbusters feels fresh enough to get audiences interested. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are among the funniest people on the planet, and in director Feig, they’ve got a filmmaker who’s equally comfortable with comedy, action and sentiment.

Untitled Matt Damon/Bourne Sequel

Upcoming Movies 2016: Paul Greengrass - Untitled Matt Damon/Bourne Sequel

Director: Paul Greengrass
Release date: July 29

Both Greengrass and Matt Damon are back after the Jeremy Renner side story bombed at the box office. We don’t know why Bourne comes out of the woodwork 12 years later, but considering everything that’s been said so far by Damon and Greengrass, it’s likely that some Edward Snowden-league cyberspying has ratted out the super-agent. Joining Damon are franchise regular Julia Stiles, newbie Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassel… Ballpoint pens at the ready!

Untitled Terrence Malick Project

Upcoming Movies 2016: Untitled Terrence Malick Project

Director: Terrence Malick
Release date: Unspecified

Shot back-to-back with his Christian Bale-led Knight of Cups, Malick’s next movie is a story of sexual obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas (where Malick filmed scenes from concerts back in 2012 featuring Arcade Fire, Iron and Wine, Fleet Foxes and Black Lips). The best bit? Patti Smith reportedly shot a few days on the Malick movie, playing herself. It stars Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman and Cate Blanchett, although Malick can be ruthless in cutting entire characters from his final edit.

Finding Dory

Directors: Andrew Stanton, Angus McLane
Release date: June 17

The original Finding Nemo is one of Pixar’s very best movies and Finding Dory seems like a perfect premise for a return to its underwater world. Plus, original Nemo and WALL-E director Andrew Stanton returns to Pixar to helm this movie after a dalliance in the world of live-action. It’s fashionable to slam Pixar’s increasing turn towards franchises, but we’re still excited for this one.

Free Fire

Upcoming Movies 2016: Ben Wheatley - Free Fire

Director: Ben Wheatley
Release date: Unspecified

The story of this upcoming flick set in ’70s Boston is about the aftermath of a gun deal gone horribly wrong, which sounds to us like a straight-ahead Hollywood crime thriller. Could Wheatley be heading into the Christopher Nolan league? Having just completed his dystopian flick High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston, he’s fast becoming one of the UK’s favorite filmmakers after the excellent three that includes Sightseers, Kill List and A Field In England. The presence of Scorsese attached to Free Fire as co-producer can’t do much harm, either.

Salt and Fire

Upcoming Movies 2016: Werner Herzog - Salt and Fire

Director: Werner Herzog
Release date: Unspecified

Despite Roger Ebert‘s premonition on Werner Herzog‘s demise, the director is going ahead with his romantic thriller set amid a global catastrophe. Salt and Fire tells the story of a researcher who is kidnapped in Bolivia, in order to draw attention to the region’s pollution. With Michael Shannon and Gael Garcia Bernal joining Herzog’s reunion with the subject of volcanoes – 30 eight years after La Soufriere: Waiting for an Inevitable Disaster – the niche German filmmaker’s new documentary is definitely one to look out for.

War Machine

Upcoming Movies 2016: David Michod - War Machine

Director: David Michod
Release date: Unspecified

Beasts of No Nation proved an impressive start to Netflix’s move into original movies and their major flick of 2016 sounds like an equally fantastic success story in the making. War Machine is a satirical comedy from Animal Kingdom director Michod, inspired by the best-selling book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan. It’s produced by Brad Pitt who, for the last decade or so, has been making some of his most significant contributions to film behind the camera.


Director: Tim Miller
Release date: February 12

Reynolds’ first stab at Deadpool, in X-Men Origins: Wolverine was perhaps the worst modern interpretation of any comic-book character, but we’re hopeful that his next chance as Wade Wilson will turn things around. From the trailer, it looks like Miller’s movie actually gets the character and his appeal. And in a world with so many super-serious superhero movies, we could use a dude like Deadpool to stir things up a bit.

The Neon Demon

Upcoming Movies 2016: Nicholas Winding Refn - Neon Demon

Director: Nicholas Winding Refn
Release date: Unspecified

After wowing audiences with Drive, Winding Refn is back to neon LA with his new project. Rather than putting Gosling back in the driving seat, however, the Danish filmmaker is centering his story on what he describes as a “vicious beauty,” telling the story of a model moving to SoCal. The movie’s cast includes Elle Fanning, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Jena Malone and Abbey Lee.

Story of Your Life

Upcoming Movies 2016: Story of Your Life - Denis Villeneuve

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Release date: Unspecified

The next film from Canadian director Villeneuve, whose extraordinarily intense 2015 drama-thriller Sicario left us on the edge of our seats, adapts a short story by award-winning author Ted Chiang. Story Of Your Life is a big departure for the filmmaker, however, whose work includes thrillers Incendies, Prisoners and Enemy. This time around, Amy Adams plays a linguist recruited to uncover whether aliens have come to earth in peace or for war.

Life on the Road

Upcoming Movies 2016: Ricky Gervais - Life on the Road

Director: Ricky Gervais
Release date: August 19

Following in the footsteps of the British TV series, the mockumentary-style feature will continue the story of hopeless David Brent as he attempts to break into the music business with his band Foregone Conclusion, 15 years after being made redundant from Wernham Hogg. The 53-year-old, now a lozenge salesman, has cashed in his pension to pay for a band of expensive young session musicians. Stephen Merchant, who wrote the seminal TV series with Gervais, isn’t involved; here’s hoping the spin-off still delivers.


Director: Oliver Stone
Release date: May 13

Stone’s story of the NSA whistleblower stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Snowden, with the supporting cast including Shailene Woodley, Zachary Quinto, Nicolas Cage (yes!) and Rhys Ifans. It’s set to tell the story of how Snowden got hold of thousands of classified documents and then leaked them to the press. If Stone’s JFK is anything to go by – with its barrage of cinematic cues geared to help viewers feel emotionally about the facts – we should be in for an interesting ride.


Director: Steven Spielberg
Release date: July 1

Steven Spielberg has found himself directing a Disney movie for the first time with a big-screen outing for Dahl’s whizz popping giant. Mark Rylance, who’s earning high praise for his supporting role in this year’s Spielberg film Bridge of Spies, will star as the kindhearted giant. It’s a pity some of the art direction can’t take cues from Quentin Blake’s lovely illustrations, but the bits of CGI shown in the trailer look like the stuff of kids’ nightmares, which is exactly what it should be going for.

The Light Between Oceans

Upcoming Movies 2016: Derek Cianfrance - The Light Between Oceans

Director: Derek Cianfrance
Release date: Unspecified

This follow-up to Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines features an equally formidable cast led by Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz. Based on the novel of the same name by M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a baby washed ashore in a rowboat and raise it as their own. The picture offers an early look at the devastatingly beautiful Australian frontier that serves as the backdrop for the drama. With a talented director like Cianfrance behind the camera, you can bet that this will likely be positioned as an Oscar contender.

La La Land

Upcoming Movies 2016: Damian Chazelle - La La Land

Director: Damian Chazelle
Release date: July 15

Your favorite cinematic couple – who could forget their crazy, stupid chemistry? – are reunited for La La Land, an old fashioned musical written and directed by Oscar nominee Chazelle, the man who helmed Whiplash. Stone plays aspiring actress Mia, who’s lonely and desperate to fit in, who falls in love with Gosling’s cocky yet charismatic jazz pianist Sebastian. The pair will be singing and tap-dancing their hearts out in this movie… Don’t pretend you’re not excited.

Assassin’s Creed

Director: Justin Kurzel
Release date: December 21

In the eternal quest to make the first high quality video game movie, many have high hopes for Assassin’s Creed. The film has attracted the undivided attention of Michael Fassbender for a few years now, who has been attached to star (and is a producer), and he’s stuck with the project through thick and thin. Fans should know this, though: Fassy’s character isn’t Desmond Miles/Altair. He’s a new character named Callum Lynch, who discovers his ancestry in 15th century Spain – a place the games haven’t yet been.

Green Room

Director: Jeremy Saulnier
Release date: April 15

Did somebody say punks versus skinheads? If you were to randomly select a group of individuals at the 2015 Cannes International Film Festival and ask them what the biggest Out of Competition surprise was this year, it’s almost guaranteed that at least half of them would answer Green Room without hesitation. The amount of buzz that this film received on the grounds here was incredible, and the best part is that it was totally deserved. Nothing could have prepared us for the experience of watching this film… Brutal.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Director: Zack Snyder
Release date: March 25

When Warner Bros. revived the Superman franchise in 2013, the reception was decidedly mixed (meaning a mix of “average” and “really, really, really bad” reviews). But the Dawn of Justice trailer already looks promising (and far superior to its predecessor!); a stellar cast and some superb action sequences. Here’s hoping Superman is a bit more exciting than last time, and that it doesn’t produce any out of character moves like making Batman a killer.

The Free State of Jones

Upcoming Movies 2016: Gary Ross - The Free State of Jones

Director: Gary Ross
Release date: May 13

McConaughey’s new oddball intensity and his desire to make interesting choices again after a previous acting career which relied mainly on his six pack and Southern drawl, means he’s now partnering with The Hunger Games‘ Gary Ross to tell the true story of Mississippi farmer Newt Knight, who rebelled against the Confederacy during the Civil War. With McConaughey now doing no wrong in his career right now, Ross with his great feel for period flicks (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and the never-ending controversy about the Confederate flag, this is one 2016 release that should excite pretty easily.

Zoolander 2

Director: Ben Stiller
Release date: February 12

Ben Stiller has answered your ridiculously good-looking prayers and returned to star in and direct this much-anticipated comedy sequel. Written by Justin Theroux, Zoolander 2 also features faux-fashion veterans Will Ferrell, Christine Taylor, Owen Wilson and Billy Zane, as well as rookies Kristen Wiig, Penelope Cruz and Kanye West, among others. This time around, Derek is in-demand as the only one who can shed light on a spat of celebrity deaths linked to his signature look.

Midnight Special

Director: Jeff Nichols
Release date: March 18

Indie filmmaker Nichols first got his name properly noticed with Take Shelter, starring Michael Shannon. Now after 2012’s Mud, he returns with a sci-fi thriller that once again stars Shannon, this time as a father protecting his supernaturally-powerful son, who’s being targeted by a religious cult and the government. Nichols’ dramas have always had an amazing filming location and naturalistic characters. With this one having been snapped up by Warner Bros. and thus complete with a big effects budget, it’ll be interesting to see if the unique feel of his early endeavors can translate here.

Star Trek Beyond

Director: Justin Lin
Release date: July 22

If you’re going to carry on the series without J.J. Abrams, you need a director who knows blending big action scenes with detailed character beats and plenty of heartfelt emotion. With the Fast & Furious franchise, Lin proved he’s a master of exactly that. It’s also massively enticing that Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg helped pen the movie’s screenplay. Let’s hope that this Star Trek goes more boldly than any Star Trek movie has gone before.

Captain America: Civil War

Directors: Joe Russo, Anthony Russo
Release date: May 6

Ushering in “phase three,” Civil War highlights the growing rift between Iron Man and Captain America that finds the Avengers fighting one another. In the words of Marvel boss Feige, “It’s a culmination of everything that has come before in the cinematic universe.” It stars franchise faves Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johanssen and Anthony Mackie, among others. At first glance, there’s little here that’s not to like, though you do wonder why producers singled out Captain America in the movie title.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Director: Bryan Singer
Release date: May 27

The third film in director/producer Singer’s X-Men trilogy (and the 9th X-Men movie overall), the mutants now face their biggest adversary yet: Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac, who is almost unrecognizable underneath all that CGI. There are some newcomers this time around, including new Storm, Jean Grey and Cyclops and the first iterations of such mutants as Psylocke and Jubilee.

Independence Day Resurgence

Director: Roland Emmerich
Release date: June 24

Picking up 20 years later, Resurgence follows humanity’s second round with aliens hell-bent on world domination. After the events of the first flick, Earth has more defenses, using alien tech to prevent another invasion (but somehow, Hollywood’s making the human race once again fight for its survival). Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Vivica Fox reprise their roles from the original film, while Liam Hemsworth and newcomer Jessie Usher round out the new cast.

Suicide Squad

Director: David Ayer
Release date: August 5

When Warner Bros announced 10 new superhero movies based on its rights to the DC Comics back catalogue, it’s fair to say that this one wasn’t among the obvious highlights. But with a massively starry cast, including Jared Leto as the Joker, Will Smith as Deadshot, Joel Kinnaman as Rick Flag, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Fury director David Ayer’s movie has begun to look a far more attractive proposition. Oh, and Batfleck also taking part dramatically ups the ante.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Director: David Yates
Release date: November 18

Fantastic Beasts – set 70 years prior to the arrival of Harry, Ron and Hermione at Hogwarts – stars Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne, where Rowling’s first American-based witch is played by a British actor Katherine Waterston, best known for Inherent Vice and Boardwalk Empire. Excitingly, the film marks Rowling’s debut screenplay and – given the direction from Harry Potter bigwig Yates – it should deliver the story of swashbuckling magizoologist Newt Scamander pretty soundly.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Upcoming Movies 2016: Gareth Edwards - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Director: Gareth Edwards
Release date: December 16

In a statement, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said that the film “takes place before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope and will be a departure from the saga films but have elements that are familiar to the Star Wars universe.” The movie stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Alan Tudyk, Mads Mikkelsen, Jiang Wen and Forrest Whittaker. From the image, we’d say that the gritty, “lived-in” aesthetic of the original trilogy has been pretty well maintained.


Upcoming Movies 2016: Passengers - Morten Tyldum

Director: Morten Tyldum
Release date: December 21

A spacecraft traveling to a distant planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 60 years early. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger. The cast is the same size as Gravity‘s and directed by Tyldum who’s been nominated for an Oscar and a Directors Guild award for his work on The Imitation Game.

The Legend of Tarzan

Director: David Yates
Release date: July 1

Legend takes a different approach to Tarzan than Burroughs’ 1910s writings; the movie finds our protagonist (Alexander Skarsgård) a decade removed from his home in the Congo and fully entrenched as a British gentleman in 1880s Victorian London, with his beloved wife Jane (Margot Robbie) by his side. Yates is a name we know and trust implicitly by now. He became the heavy lifter on the Harry Potter franchise, and he’s also working on Fantastic Beasts.


Director: Ben Wheatley
Release date: April 28

J.G. Ballard’s novel, published 40 years ago, begins with one of the most arresting first sentences in 20th-century literature: “Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.” Let’s see what the hugely talented Wheatley can do with this material – if he can invest it with the strangeness with which he invested a patch of grass in A Field in England, the film will be well worth watching.

  • Author: Sarah Gibson
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