Jacob Hall’s 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2016

most anticipated movies of 2016

5. Midnight Special

What happens when the director of Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud sets out to make a science fiction adventure whose trailer looks like an Amblin movie properly re-imagined for the 21st century? I have no idea, and that’s why Midnight Special is so intriguing. With a deep-bench ensemble that includes Michael Shannon, Adam Driver, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Sam Shepard, this mysterious project has been on our radar for ages, teasing us as it’s undergone a series of release date changes. That could be a bad sign, but I’d rather believe that Midnight Special is unique enough that no one behind the scenes knows what to do with it. Director Jeff Nichols is the kind of guy who doesn’t make dull, easy movies.

Morten Tyldum directing The Imitation Game

4. Passengers

Many people have been attached to Passengers over the years and many people have fallen off the project. But Jon Spaihts‘ celebrated screenplay has stuck around, garnering acclaim as one of the best scripts in recent years to have not gone before cameras. Now, this science fiction romance is actually happening, with with the seemingly unstoppable duo of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence leading the cast. The premise is simple, but thrilling: a single passenger on board a spaceship traveling to distant planet awakens from cry-sleep 60 years early and, fearing a lifetime alone, he wakes up another passenger. One wild card here is director Morten Tyldum, who will hopefully bring that Headhunters energy to the table and not that Imitation Game lethargy.

most anticipated movies of 2016

3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a refreshing blast of the familiar, a remixed version of something we already love with just enough new elements to keep it interesting. By all accounts, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story won’t be like that at all and that is what’s so exciting about it. Directed by Gareth Edwards, the fascinating filmmaker behind Monsters and Godzilla, Rogue One is the first Star Wars spin-off and it won’t feature any Jedi and it won’t star any members of the Skywalker family. This is a war movie set right before the original trilogy, the unseen story of the Rebel soldiers who stole the Death Star plans and kickstarted the original movie. Separated from the main “episodes,” Rogue One seemingly has permission to do something totally unique with this universe. It is beholden to no grand plan. This could be something special.

most anticipated movies of 2016

2. The Conjuring 2

James Wan‘s The Conjuring is a near-perfect horror movie, a perfect combination of roller coaster scares and genuine dread. However, its real strength was its two leads, Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga), two experts in the occult whose professionalism and educated approach to ghost-hunting made them ideal genre heroes. In the Warrens, the horror genre had found two characters who could walk into any generic horror situation and instantly make it fascinating because they knew exactly what was going on and had a game plan for how to stop it. The Conjuring 2 looks like more of the same and, in this case, that is far from a bad thing.

most anticipated movies of 2016

1. Hail, Caesar!

It is impossible to define the career of Joel and Ethan Coen, who follow their own whims and bounce between genres like nobody’d business. Only they would follow up the inspired melancholy of Inside Llewyn Davis with a screwball comedy about a kidnapped actor in 1950s Hollywood and only they could assemble a cast that includes George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, and Dolph Lundgren (!) and only they could then ask those people to make total fools of themselves in the name of comedy. Here’s a good rule of thumb: don’t bet against the Coen brothers.

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