Wesley Emblidge ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
With the end of 2015 upon us, we’ve been taking a look back at some of the best movies we’ve seen this year—but that also means it’s time to look ahead at the year to come. We’ll ignore the approximately two million franchise movies coming out next year—Deadpool (February 12), The Divergent Series: Allegiant (March 18), Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25), The Huntsman: Winter’s War (April 22), Captain America: Civil War (May 6), X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27), Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24), Ghostbusters (July 15), Star Trek Beyond (July 22), Bourne 5 (July 29), Suicide Squad (August 5), Gambit (October 7), Underworld 5 (October 21), Doctor Strange (November 4), Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (November 18), Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16)—and instead look at the movies you might not already have marked on your calendar.
There’s also a number of movies we’re excited for—Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans, Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, David Michôd’s War Machine, James Ponsoldt’s The Circle, and Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch, to name just a few—that’ll probably hit next year but have no official release date as of yet. For this list, we’re just looking at movies we know for sure are coming out next year, and exactly when we’ll get to see them.
10. The Nice Guys (May 20)
With 2013’s Iron Man 3, writer/director Shane Black returned from an eight-year hiatus from movies with one of the few Marvel films that actually feels like something made by a particular filmmaker and not just studio product. Black’s quippy writing populated most action movies of the nineties, like the Lethal Weapon franchise and The Long Kiss Goodnight. In 2005, he made his directorial debut with the indie detective comedy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, starring a (at the time) mildly famous Robert Downey Jr. The film made pennies, and Black was only brought back by Downey’s superstardom. Now he’s back for real with a detective movie set in the seventies, the trailer for which hits all the notes you want a Shane Black movie to hit. Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling take the spotlight here, and their mismatched pairing seems perfect for Black’s sense of humor.
9. Keanu (April 22)
The Comedy Central sketch show Key & Peele always felt like the kind of pop culture presence that would always be around, so when it was announced in September that the show would be ending after five seasons, fans were sad to see the show go. However, the series will live on in a way with Keanu, the first movie from the team behind the show, starring Jordan Peele (also writing) and Keegan-Michael Key, alongside director Peter Atencio (who directed all the sketches on the show). Joining them are the likes of Will Forte and Rob Huebel, and although the plot sounds pretty simple (“Friends hatch a plot to retrieve a stolen cat by posing as drug dealers for a street gang”) you can trust that the movie will be absurd in a way very similar to the Key & Peele.
8. Kubo and the Two Strings (August 19)
Oregon-based stop motion animation company Laika has yet to make a bad movie: with Coraline, ParaNorman, and The Boxtrolls, they’ve had three hits in a row. All we’ve got from Kubo and the Two Strings is a brief teaser, but it’s completely gorgeous and once again looks nothing like the films Laika has made before. Animated movies in 2016 look mostly questionable, with yet another Ice Age movie and the big screen debut of Angry Birds, but Laika is a company that can always be relied on.
7. The BFG (July 1)
It’s hard to imagine just how Steven Spielberg is going to turn Roald Dahl’s famous children’s book into a movie, and that’s exactly what’s exciting about it. Spielberg is one of the best at imagining the unimaginable and taking ideas that shouldn’t necessarily work (the mind boggles as to how anyone could have though E.T. would be as good as it was) and turning them into some of the most captivating fantasy, sci-fi, and adventure movies ever made. Will The BFG live up to the Spielberg standard? That remains to be seen, but the teaser gives off an interesting vibe that seems very different than anything Spielberg has done before.
6. Everybody Wants Some (April 15)
We’ll chalk that pretty awful trailer to poor marketing, and have faith in Richard Linklater, who made some of the best films in 2014 and 2013 with Boyhood and Before Midnight respectively. Everybody Wants Some is billed as a “spiritual sequel” to Linklater’s 1993 classic Dazed and Confused. That charted a last day for high school students in 1976 (right around when Linklater would’ve been there), and his latest goes to college in the eighties. The trailer sells it as something a lot broader and less talky than we’re used to with Linklater, but you’d likely have a hard time cutting a trailer for Dazed and Confused that didn’t make it look just as bad. We’re holding out faith, but this could end up being a slip-up for the filmmaker following the biggest success of his career.
5. La La Land (July 15)
It was so hard for director Damien Chazelle to finance Whiplash that he had to shoot one scene as a short and premiere it at Sundance before he could get anyone to back the full feature, one that would go on to premiere at Sundance the next year and win three Oscars. This time, he had less trouble lining up the money (Whiplash made a tidy $13 million off a budget of just $3.3 million) for a full-on musical pairing up Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone again, alongside his Whiplash Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons. It’s always exciting to see what indie filmmakers can do on a budget, and original movie musicals are always welcome, too.
4. The Witch (February 26)
The big hit of Sundance 2015 isn’t coming to the rest of us until after Sundance 2016, but if everything critics have raved about is true, The Witch will be worth the wait. Production and costume designer Robert Eggers won the directing award at the festival with his directorial debut, which follows a family in 1630s New England fending off “the forces of witchcraft, black magic, and possession.” A24 is releasing the film, and like their 2014 release Under the Skin, it’ll likely be another more experimental/arthouse film that the niche distributor tries to push into the multiplexes.
3. Green Room (April 1)
Like La La Land, Green Room is another step up for a great indie filmmaker—this time Jeremy Saulnier, who mortgaged his house to pay for his movie Blue Ruin, one of the best films of 2014. After premiering at Cannes Green Room is coming also from A24 this Spring, and follows “a young punk rock band find[ing] themselves trapped in a secluded venue after stumbling upon a horrific act of violence.” Patrick Stewart plays the club boss terrorizing band members played by the likes of Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, and Alia Shawkat.
2. Midnight Special (March 18)
And like Saulnier, Jeff Nichols is yet another one of these small filmmakers moving up the budget ladder with his next film. Nichols and his consistent star Michael Shannon started tiny with the intimate drama Shotgun Stories, went big with the excellent Take Shelter, and then brought in Matthew McConaughey for a movie somewhere in the middle with Mud. His next is his first studio film, and it’s one that seems to be heavily evoking the Amblin films of the eighties the way Super 8 did, but with a more modest scale that feels more in line with that aesthetic. Shannon is back, along with Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst.
1. Hail, Caesar! (February 5)
Regardless of what it was about or who was in it, a new movie from the Coen brothers would be guaranteed to make any most anticipated list in any given year. Hail, Caesar tops this list for an abundance of reasons besides that—for starters, just look at that trailer! After the mournful nature of the lovely Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coens are back in their goofier mode a la Burn After Reading, Intolerable Cruelty, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? that we’ve been missing for a while. Going back to fifties Hollywood is always a delight, and just this trailer is packed full of references fans of older movies will love. And then, of course, a completely dynamite cast, with Josh Brolin in the lead, backed by George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton.
What’d we miss? Excited for Pixar to return to the ocean with Finding Dory (June 17)? Looking forward to the guaranteed insanity of Seth Rogen’s R-rated animated Sausage Party (August 12)? Ready for another film from Terrence Malick with Knight of Cups (March 4)? Tell us below!