As Jacob noted the other day, this is the time of year we get to rest comfortably in our bubbles of excitement. We rarely feel any disappointment this early in the year with what’s hitting theaters (unless you were one of the few really pumped about The Forest), so we’ve yet to reach the point of skepticism about our most anticipated films of the year.
After the jump, help me countdown my most anticipated movies of 2016.
Before we go any further, just a fair warning: none of Marvel’s films or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story made the list. I know, I know, some of you will be disappointed we’re not excited about the exact same movies, but know this, I’m very much looking forward to Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War, and the first Star Wars spinoff. I am aware of their existence, as I’m sure you all are. Perhaps a few of these movies listed below aren’t on your radar quite yet, but hopefully now they will be.
John Wick 2 (Release Date TBD)
What’s refreshing about John Wick, unlike plenty of other blood-soaked revenge tales, is that the emotional stakes aren’t an afterthought. When John’s dog, a.k.a. his second chance, dies, you want to see him get his revenge. The motivation that drives the action is clean and simple, just like the expertly crafted, playful set pieces. John Wick never takes itself too seriously, but it’s just serious enough to elevate it above yet another B-action movie. So, would I like to see John Wick kick more ass? Yes, please.
Triple 9 (February 26th)
John Hillcoat‘s The Proposition is an incredible film. Since that 2005 picture, Hillcoat has explored familiar territory: characters accepting, embracing, or recoiling from the violent worlds they inhabit. Triple 9, which is about a group of corrupt cops forced to commit a bank heist, looks right up Hillcoat’s alley. The red-band trailer is rough and mean, and if the film reflects the tone and raw energy we saw in that footage, then this heist film should be another stirring picture from the Australian director.
War on Everyone (Release Date TBD)
While both the very excellent Calvary and The Guard are set in Ireland, writer-director John Michael McDonagh is changing things up with his next film, War on Everyone. The dark comedy is set in New Mexico, following two corrupt cops (played by Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña) who run into some trouble when they pick the wrong criminal to blackmail. Peña is frequently hilarious, but Skarsgård, too, has some real comedic chops; he’s very, very funny in last year’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Knowing McDonagh’s sharp sense of humor, Peña and Skarsgård will share some great comedic moments together.
The Meddler (April 22nd)
Movies that highlight the goodness in people are a bit of a rarity, and writer-director Lorene Scafaria told one of those stories with her directorial debut, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. While that film was divisive, I’m a fan of its unapologetic sweetness, which never rings false, and its heartstring-pulling. Her sophomore effort, The Meddler, was received more warmly at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Susan Sarandon, especially, was praised for her performance in the mother-daughter film — and we don’t see enough movies these days with her in the starring role.
Everybody Wants Some (April 15th)
Following the reflective Boyhood, writer-director Richard Linklater is once again taking a look at the past with his upcoming comedy. Everybody Wants Some is a “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused, and the trailer for the film definitely evoked the classic high school comedy’s tone and spirit. The world of Dazed and Confused is a place I want to revisit, so Linklater’s latest has me more than interested.
Goon 2 (Release Date TBD)
Whenever I see Goon 2 hasn’t made a most-anticipated list for 2016, I’m either left in confusion or disgust. Have people forgotten the funny, clever, and surprisingly sweet 2011 comedy? I hope not, but hopefully they’ll be reminded once we see the Jay Baruchel-directed sequel later this year. All kidding aside, I’m neither disgusted nor confused when people leave Goon 2 off their lists — just deeply, deeply disappointed.
The Lobster (March 11th), The Invitation (March 25th), and Green Room (April 15th)
If all three of these movies came out in 2015, they would’ve made my best of the year list. I was lucky enough to see these films at Fantastic Fest: The Invitation is an emotionally and physically startling thriller, with an unpredictable and quietly propulsive structure; Green Room is a brutal and intense siege film, featuring a killer performance from Imogen Poots; and The Lobster is a gorgeous, painful, and insightful look at relationships and the single life. See all three of these movies. Then see them again.