After highlighting 50 films that are most certainly worth seeing this year, it’s time we venture into the unknown. While a multitude of 2016 previews simply regurgitate a list of dated releases, we’ve set out to focus on 100 films we’re genuinely looking forward to, regardless of their marketing budgets. While some might not have a release date — let alone any confirmed festival premiere — most have wrapped production and will likely debut at some point in 2016, so make sure to check back for updates over the next twelve months and beyond.
It should be noted that there are a number of films we’re greatly looking forward to, but whose release we aren’t confident about, including the next features from Claire Denis and Michael Haneke. (Rest assured, however, that we’ll have updates as they come in.)
Lastly, despite not coming out last year, as was planned, Orson Welles‘ unseen final film The Other Side of the Wind might finally debut in 2016, and in that case it should certainly be at the top of this list — but, unfortunately, we don’t have enough details yet. Regardless, be sure to keep the following one-hundred films on your radar (with release dates, where applicable). If you want to see how we did with our picks last year, head on over here.
100. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards; Dec. 16th)
Bringing a sense of vision and directorial control all but absent in the current state of blockbuster filmmaking (save for last summer’s Fury Road), Gareth Edwards‘ Godzilla was an incredibly staged spectacle. With his follow-up we sincerely hope he brings the same level of detail, even if it’s difficult to muster up a great deal of excitement for a relatively narrow-minded prequel story. With a wonderfully varied cast (including Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, and Mads Mikkelsen) we’re curious to see what the Star Wars franchise’s best director (at least until Rian Johnson) can deliver. – Jordan R.
99. Triple 9 (John Hillcoat; Feb. 26th)
The screenplay for Triple 9 ended up on the 2010 Black List and has been on my radar ever since. With John Hillcoat at the helm, the film looks to enhance the grimy, sweat-stained and raw feel he is known for in this cops-and-robbers merry-go-round. Not only does the film seem extremely complex to pull off, juggling eight main characters and their stories, but it has an energy and speed that we haven’t seen from Hillcoat before. It will be interesting to see how Hillcoat’s past films (Lawless, The Road, and The Proposition) influence his style this time around. Regardless, a February release of a Black List film with the likes of Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Aaron Paul, Norman Reedus, Woody Harrelson, Kate Winslet, Clifton Collins, Jr., and more should definitely be on your radar. – Bill G.
98. Passengers (Morten Tyldum; Dec. 21st)
If a late December release of a science-fiction drama starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt isn’t enough to anticipate, how about having Rodrigo Prieto (The Wolf of Wall Street, Brokeback Mountain) behind the camera? This is yet another strong Black List screenplay (from Jon Spaihts) that should be bolstered by the humanity and charm of Pratt, along with Michael Sheen. With director Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game and Headhunters) at the helm, the film is sure to balance high drama with a slick presentation and sly sense of humor. – Bill G.
97. Morgan (Luke Scott)
Backed by Ridley Scott, his son Luke Scott made his feature directorial debut with Morgan last year, hopefully set for a theatrical release soon. Starring Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy (who is fantastic in the Sundance hit The Witch), Paul Giamatti, Toby Jones, and Boyd Holbrook, the Fox project follows a corporate risk-management consultant who is summoned to a remote research lab to determine whether or not to terminate an at-risk artificial being. Hopefully more Ex Machina than Transcendence, it’s written by Seth Owen, who earned a spot on the Black List for the script. – Jordan R.
96. Creepy (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
Even though we were among the few who liked both Real and Journey to the Shore, a modern master of horror returning to the grounds he’s trod so well is very welcome news. Kurosawa’s feature appears to live up to its name, likely a self-aware turn from someone whose trajectory, much like the films themselves, can never be predicted exactly. – Nick N.
95. HHHH (Cédric Jimenez)
While we wouldn’t be surprised if friendlier title arises before it makes its way to theaters, the WWII drama HHHH is worth noting for its cast alone. Led by Jason Clarke, Rosamund Pike, Jack O’Connell, Mia Wasikowska, and Jack Reynor, the film directed by Cedric Jimenez (The Connection) follows the rise and fall of Reinhard Heydrich (Clarke) in Nazi Germany and his assassination thanks to a pair of resistance paratroopers (O’Connell and Reynor). Based on Laurent Binet’s novel, the Gone Girl star plays Heydrich’s wife, who had a major influence on his rise to power, and Wasikowska is a Czech resistance fighter. With the director getting some acclaim for his recent crime drama, hopefully Weinsteins have a hit in their hands. – Jordan R.
94. The Woods (Adam Wingard)
Over the past few years, director Adam Wingard and his long-time writing partner, Simon Barrett, crafted two masterful takes on modern horror conventions, the intruder romp You’re Next and the woefully underrated thriller The Guest. Based on early reports, it seems their next release, The Woods, will continue their fascination with the genre. The limited plot description teases a familiar set-up – a group of campers confronted with an unknown terror – but unfortunately, no additional information has surfaced since the project was announced last February. The film is believed to be completed, so hopefully more details will soon emerge. Until then, we’ll have to be confident that Wingard and Barrett will have a few clever tricks up their sleeves beyond the usual blood and gore. – Amanda W.
93. Una (Benedict Andrews)
Teaming two of our best actors, Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn, Una is described as a provocative love story that unfolds like a thriller about two people forced to revisit a passionate yet illicit relationship they had years ago. Coming from Australian theater director Benedict Andrews, we imagine the drama, also starring Riz Ahmed and Tara Fitzgerald, will find its debut on the fall festival circuit. – Jordan R.
92. American Pastoral (Ewan McGregor)
How does one adapt Philip Roth‘s seminal, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel? We didn’t think it would be Ewan McGregor — making his directorial debut, no less — but we’ll find out this year. Scripted by John Romano (The Lincoln Lawyer), the ’60s-set story follows Seymour “the Swede” Levov, an idealistic American do-gooder whose family is torn apart when his rebellious teenage daughter commits a heinous crime in protest of the Vietnam War. With Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Rupert Evans, David Strathairn, and more in the cast, we can see this going either way, but we’ll certainly be watching. – Jordan R.
91. Assassin’s Creed (Justin Kurzel; Dec. 21st)
Considering their track record in Hollywood, it’s safe to not build up much anticipation for the next videogame adaptation. However, this year will bring one that seems to have perhaps the most promising elements yet. Reteaming after the jaw-droppingly beautiful Macbeth, director Justin Kurzel and stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard recently completed production on Assassin’s Creed. If Kurzel can bring the level of visual scope of his previous features with at least a decent script, this could clear the low-hanging videogame adaptation bar and prove with the right team, there is something to mine from the field. – Jordan R.
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