Hollywood 2016 – Part 1 (January-June)

A list of 20 movies to look forward to during the first six months of 2016.

With the start of this New Year, here’s something slightly different: unlike the past annual lists of movies to watch during the whole year, this list is only half-complete. Deliberately. Over the years, it has become evident that the movies listed for release towards the end of the year don’t usually reflect what actually counts. Many of those listed films do not release, or other more important movies come into the light (especially after Berlin and Cannes!). Therefore, here is a list of 20 movies to look forward to during the first six months of 2016. There will be second list mid-year for movies to look forward to in the second half of the year.

Meanwhile: H1 brings us Coens, Mallick, Linklater, Tarantino, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America, Drama, Western, Horror, Fantasy, Clooney, Bale, DiCaprio, Winslet, comic books, video games, sequels, remakes, and even quite a few originals. Read on, and mark the dates!

Note: Release dates mentioned are for the USA, for the sake of some order. They are also, owing to disturbances in the Force, subject to change.

The Hateful Eight
01 January
The Hateful Eight
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth

Thoughts: A Quentin Tarantino movie is an event in any calendar year. For his 8th film, he assembles a bunch of nefarious characters (including Samuel L. Jackson) in snowy Wyoming for a Western. It promises a showdown that will hopefully pay homage to and yet redefine the genre. Heck, we even get an original score from Ennio Morricone!

The Revenant
08 January
Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson

Thoughts: After being left for dead by Tom Hardy and others, Oscar-hunting Leonardo DiCaprio is a frontiersman in revenge-mode looking to gun them down. This new film from the director of Birdman boasts some stunning visuals. It seems Alejandro González Iñárritu has another riveting tale at hand. Really, Leo should not get his Oscar anytime soon. His persistence keeps giving us exciting films!

Hail, Caesar!
05 February
Hail Caesar
Directed by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson

Thoughts: This Coen Brothers comedy is set in 1950s Hollywood, where Josh Brolin plays a fixer hired by a Studio to keep its stars in line. The trailer is hysterical, suggesting another precious entry in the Coens’ filmography, star-studded cast included!

12 February
Directed by: Tim Miller
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano

Thoughts: In true victory for comic book fans, Deadpool is a movie by fans, for fans (and for everyone else too). This is a rare R-rated superhero movie that is really pushing the envelope of the mainstream genre. Really, check out the marketing of this film! A bad execution could quickly turn this from crude-yet-cool to cheap-and-crass. But here’s hoping that like last year’s Mad Max: Fury Road, this movie is as good as the trailers.

The Witch
26 February
The Witch
Directed by: Robert Eggers
Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie

Thoughts: Already having screened at Sundance and Toronto, this horror film has garnered universal acclaim even before it goes wide release. The movie is set in the 17th century and deals with suspected witchcraft within a family. After 2014’s The Conjuring and 2015’s It Follows, horror movies really seem to be coming into their own, beyond the jump-scares and gore. Yay!

Triple 9
26 February
Triple 9
Directed by: John Hillcoat
Starring: Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck

Thoughts: Although John Hillcoat’s previous two films were far from perfect, they boasted fascinating gritty visuals and good performances. Triple 9 promises both, and the premise sets it up as a tight Cops vs Criminals thriller. The large impressive cast includes a bad-ass Kate Winslet, always-awesome Woody Harrelson, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Casey Affleck among others.

04 March
Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Starring: Idris Elba, Ginnifer Goodwin, Alan Tudyk

Thoughts: Animals living in an urbanized world complete with fashion, technology and professions, yet retaining their animal-world instincts. Reminds me of the Disney classic where Robin Hood was a fox! Like with Wreck-It Ralph, this imagined world looks ripe for exploring if this movie is a success, which I hope it is! (P.s.: Watch the “Sloth” trailer, and then very very slowly… LOL!)

Knight of Cups
04 March
Knight of Cups1
Directed by: Terrence Malick
Starring: Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett

Thoughts: “Wounded souls, moving in high rises, hushed voice-over, kid, by seashore, hands, close-up, faces in smoke, under white sheets. #TerrenceMallickRedux”
Starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman and Antonio Banderas, get ready to be hypnotised once again by auteur Mallick and his continuing exploration of love and loss.

Midnight Special
18 March
Midnight Special
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, Michael Shannon

Thoughts: Jeff Nichols has been steadily garnering respect and fandom after three terrific written-directed films: Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud. In a bit of a departure from his realistic dramas, this movie is about a father and son who go on the run after dad learns that his child possesses special powers. Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst and Adam “Kylo Ren” Driver star.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
25 March
Batman v Superman
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg

Thoughts: Superman and Batman in one movie is a dream-come-true for the child in *any* of us. Throw in an extended cameo by Wonder Woman (Holy Trinity, DC!) + the visual splendour of Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and we have a movie that could just be the greatest superhero movie ever made in the history of the entire universe across the history of time! Uh, or not – all we should expect is huge amounts of spectacle and fun, to accompany the huge tub of popcorn 🙂

The Jungle Book
15 April
Jungle Book
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley

Thoughts: Continuing Disney’s recent formula of remaking its animated classics as live-action movies (Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, and Cinderella), this year we have Mowgli surrounded by celebrity-voiced CGI animals. Jon Favreau (of Iron Man) has shown he can do big-budget special-effect heavy films with enough thrills to have me intrigued. Also, Sher Khan is voiced by… Idris Elba!

Everybody Wants Some
15 April
Everybody Wants Some
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin

Thoughts: This is Richard Linkalter’s spiritual sequel to his classic Dazed and Confused. If you watched that movie (or indeed, any Linklater film) you probably already know if you are sold on this movie or not. Set in the 80s, the movie is about a group of baseball players navigating through college life. As always, it will have lots of talk, the kind we LOVE from Mr. Linklater.

The Huntsman Winter’s War
22 April
Directed by: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Starring: Emily Blunt, Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain

Thoughts: Reasons to watch this movie:
For guys: Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain – all dressed up sexy.
For girls: Chris Hemsworth in long hair.
Shallow, but it works!

Captain America: Civil War
06 May
Captain America Civil War
Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr.

Thoughts: The second superhero face-off for the year, Captain America and friends battle against Iron Man and his friends. Marvel’s track record has proved this will be a fine-tuned fun film, but here’s hoping the Russo brothers can bring to the it the same awesomeness they showed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. (Note of caution: returning directors at Marvel have been quite disappointing)
Also, Spider-Man enters the Marvel Cinematic Universe with this film!

The Free State of Jones
13 May
The Free State of Jones
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell

Thoughts: Gary Ross’s 4th movie in 18 years is a drama set during the Civil War – not the Marvel Civil War (wouldn’t that be fun) but the real historical one. It stars recent award magnet Matthew McConaughey as a poor farmer who leads a group of rebels against the Confederate army. Alright, alright!

The Nice Guys
20 May
The Nice Guys
Directed by: Shane Black
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe

Thoughts: Shane Black, the writer of the Lethal Weapon movies, made a terrific directorial debut with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), but since then has just made one other movie, Iron Man 3. Black is back in his comfort zone for this third outing: two leading men in a buddy-action-comedy.

X-Men: Apocalypse
27 May
XMen Apocalypse
Directed by: Bryan Singer
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender

Thoughts: The third of the “younger” X-Men films, Bryan Singer continues his terrific run as director of one of the best superhero movie franchises. As is the want, stakes are higher when the first and most powerful mutant, Apocalypse, surfaces. Professor X (we’ll finally see how he goes bald!) will need all the help he can get from a new bunch of recruits to bring down the baddie. Quicksilver also returns, so look for more scene-of-the-year level histrionics.

10 June
Directed by: Duncan Jones
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Daniel Wu, Toby Kebbell

Thoughts: Duncan Jones made his debut with the fascinating-but-boring Moon, followed by an excellent modern day scifi Source Code. His third film has taken over three years to make, mainly due to the heavy use of CGI that still does not look convincing in the trailer. Considering the immersive world of the video game and its many non-Human characters, Jones will have to pull off a Peter Jackson level of story-telling to make this film work.

Finding Dory
17 June
Finding Dory
Directed by: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Idris Elba

Thoughts: After the unwarranted failure of John Carter (wonderful film, crappy marketing), Andrew Stanton is back to base at Pixar giving us more from the stunning depths of his perfect film, Finding Nemo. This time the fish are out in search of Dory’s family, bringing us a new adventure with a whole new bunch of fascinating characters. If we exclude the Toy Story series, will this be the first good sequel from Pixar?

Independence Day: Resurgence
24 June
Independence Day Resurgence
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Bill Pullman

Thoughts: Independence Day will always be remembered as one of the definitive blockbusters from the 90s, a movie that redefined “alien invasion” for a new generation, and started a whole genre of large-scale-destruction movies. The sequel is from the same director, brings back Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman, but… no Will Smith. Liam Hemsworth sure as hell cannot fill those shoes. But if Jurassic World is anything to go by, the visual throwbacks should give us enough to cheer for in this film. Further speculation reserved until we have a full trailer!


Other movies that the first half of 2016 also brings us: The Finest Hours, Kung Fu Panda 3, Zoolander No. 2, Now You See Me 2, The Conjuring 2, and many others. Look for Filmphoria’s weekly post “Out This Week” every Thursday!

Wish you a whole year of great movies!

About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.