This is the best part of any year – the part where it’s young enough to have not let us down yet. Right now, 2016 is constructed entirely out of promise. We’re allowed to look on the bright side, to get excited, and to anticipate. The grumbling, the moaning, the nitpicking and the disappointment will come later. There are 12 months worth of movies waiting in the wings and a whole bunch of them look terrific.
So let’s not beat around the bush. These are my most anticipated movies of 2016. Come with me and share my excitement before the year decides to shatter it.
As I assembled this list, I had one rule: every movie must already have a locked-in 2016 release date. For this reason, the list skews toward mainstream movies and major releases – I can’t include all of the index surprises that come out of nowhere because they haven’t come out of nowhere yet.
Before we get to the list proper, let’s run down a few 2016 movies that I have already seen and can highly recommend. I can’t include them on a most anticipated list because I cannot anticipate what I’ve already seen, but these movies need to be on your radar.
This taut, grisly thriller is proof that Blue Ruin was no fluke – writer/director Jeremy Saulnier is the real deal. Set almost entirely in one building, Green Room follows a struggling punk band who takes the wrong gig at an isolated venue, witnesses a murder, and must defend themselves from a small army of neo-Nazis who to eliminate all witnesses. Come for the great Patrick Stewart playing a chilling white supremacist, stay for Saulnier’s masterful tension, which explodes into shocking violence often enough to make you weak in the knees.
Ben Wheatley, the director of Kill List and Sightseers, has added another gem to his filmography. This dreamy, stylized adaptation of J.G. Ballard‘s celebrated novel is going to divide audiences, but those willing to roll with its twisted violence and pitch black satire will find much to celebrate. Tom Hiddleston, as a emotionally damaged doctor who watches his high-rise apartment complex literally erupt into a class war, is a rock-solid anchor, but it’s a ferocious Luke Evans who steals the show.
Dogtooth director Yorgos Lanthimos is back with another profoundly bizarre and bizarrely profound comedy that leaves enough questions unanswered to ignite some serious conversations. Set in a vaguely sci-fi alternate reality where being single is a crime punishable by genetic modification, The Lobster follows a tremendous Colin Farrell as he’s placed in a government program that will give him one final chance to find a new partner. By dealing entirely in metaphor, Lanthimos has crafted one of the great modern movies about love, marriage and relationships… and how all of those are total B.S. until they’re not.
An early frontrunner for the best horror movie of 2016, The Witch is unlike any film you’ve ever seen. Writer/director Robert Eggers tells the story of a puritanical family who are banished from their community, only to find their new home in the middle of the woods under siege by something. Just look at that title. An impeccably designed period piece, a suffocating thriller, and an emotionally brutal drama about the sins of a family coming home to roost, The Witch is captivating, detailed, and powerful stuff. There aren’t many scares to be found here (nothing suddenly leaps out from off-frame), but the oppressive atmosphere and constant sense of dread is more than enough to get under your skin and rattle your bones.