Here are the rest of the movies that look likely to be interesting to watch/surprising/blockbusters/worth giving a try in 2016. Some are already household names thanks to the power of blanket coverage advertising allied with fanboy extremism, but hopefully there’ll be enough movies where the main characters don’t wear spandex to provide some much-needed balance.
26) Jason Bourne – Having vowed never to make another appearance as Jason Bourne unless Paul Greengrass agreed to direct, Matt Damon makes a welcome return to the franchise after the misfire that was The Bourne Legacy (2012). Whether or not the pair can work the same magic they did before remains to be seen, but with Julia Stiles also returning, and Vincent Cassel and Tommy Lee Jones also in the cast, the signs are looking good for a triumphant fifth entry in the series.
27) The Lost City of Z – In 1925, the English explorer, Percy Fawcett, travelled to the Mato Grosso region in Brazil to begin looking for a lost city that he was convinced existed there in the jungle. James Gray’s recreation of that expedition looks set to be one of the most spectacular experiences of 2016, and could be the movie that finally makes an A-list star of Charlie Hunnam.
28) Silence – Delayed from 2015, Martin Scorsese’s latest sees Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two Jesuit priests in 17th Century Japan trying to spread the gospel of Christianity against continual persecution. Oscar may like this a lot, but it may prove a tough sell at the box office. It’s Scorsese though, and if he’s on form, then this could be astonishing.
29) The Circle – Emma Watson and Tom Hanks star in this adaptation of the novel by Dave Eggers, about a young woman who goes to work for a powerful tech company and becomes involved with a mysterious colleague. Is the company she works for up to no good, and if it is, will she be able to do anything about it? If director and screenwriter James Ponsoldt is on the ball, this could be a terrific cat and mouse game set against a backdrop of unethical corporate machinations.
30) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – The latest from Tim Burton has the potential to be 2016’s number one fantasy adventure, based as it is on Ransom Riggs’ wonderfully eccentric (and cleverly illustrated) novel. The cast includes Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, and Asa Butterfield as the young boy who discovers a world where magic takes some strange and wondrous forms.
31) The BFG – The first co-production between Disney and Dreamworks also sees director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison reunited for the first time since E.T. – The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) – and look how that turned out. With Mark Rylance as the title character, and supported by Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader and Jemaine Clement, what may seem like an odd choice for the director could well prove to be one of his most affecting movies.
32) Suicide Squad – While its Dirty Dozen set up isn’t anything new, it is the first time a group of supervillains has been the focus of a DC or Marvel movie. Whether or not DC’s Extended Universe can be as successful as Marvel’s own efforts remains to be seen but with David Ayer in the director’s chair and a cast that includes Focus (2015) alumni Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot, all eyes will still be on Jared Leto as the Joker.
33) Criminal – Ryan Reynolds is the career felon whose unpredictable and dangerous behaviour still qualifies him to be used in an experiment to replace his own memories and skills with those of a deceased CIA agent. Director Ariel Vroman made the austere but impressive The Iceman (2012) so this has a chance at being a step up from purely ridiculous, but a lot will depend on how seriously it all plays out.
34) The Nice Guys – Shane Black writes and directs this mystery thriller where a private eye in 1970’s Los Angeles (played by Ryan Gosling) investigates the murder of a porn star and uncovers a web of corruption. Russell Crowe and fellow L.A. Confidential star Kim Basinger lend support, and if this sounds a little like Black’s homage to Chinatown (1974), then that’s not such a bad thing given his abilities as a screenwriter.
35) Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk – The latest from Ang Lee is a thought-provoking drama based on the novel by Ben Fountain about a group of soldiers who, after surviving an intense skirmish in Iraq, are sent on a “victory tour” of the US – and then learn they have to go back. Lynn is played by newcomer Joe Alwyn, but he’s ably supported by Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, and Steve Martin as the wonderfully named Norm Oglesby. Expect a sincere if uncomfortable look at the nature of patriotism, and a meditation on personal needs weighed against a greater responsibility.
36) Money Monster – A scathing look at financial organisations and the dubious ways they make money, this features Jack O’Connell as the investor ruined by TV personality George Clooney’s “hot tip”, and is Jodie Foster’s fourth feature as a director. It leads to a hostage situation in a TV studio, and asks the perennial question, just what is a man’s life worth, as O’Connell tasks Clooney with restoring his losses. With Foster calling the shots, and a crackerjack cast that also includes Dominic West and Giancarlo Esposito, this could be 2016’s most intelligently handled thriller.
37) Finding Dory – Perhaps the most eagerly awaited of all the Pixar sequels so far, this sees the ever so slightly forgetful blue tang fish Dory reunited with her family – played by Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy – and discovering just how important family is (as if she didn’t learn that from Finding Nemo – oh hang on, she’s probably forgotten). If Pixar have got this right then this will be the year’s best animated movie, and a future family favourite just like its predecessor.
38) Assassin’s Creed – Director Justin Kurzel, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard reunite after their collaboration on Macbeth (2015) to bring the classic video game to the big screen. Fassbender is a big fan of the original, and perhaps not the first choice for such a heavily stylised action movie, but this might, just might, be the first video game adaptation that doesn’t descend rapidly into nonsense after the opening five minutes.
39) Misconduct – A legal thriller that features Josh Duhamel as the young(-ish) lawyer taking on the ruthless chief executive of a large pharmaceutical company (played by Anthony Hopkins), this tale of corruption and murder could be a surprise hit, and has Al Pacino and Alice Eve in support. Everything depends on the script and how first-time director Shintaro Shimosawa handles both it and the high-powered cast, but even if it’s reminiscent of a John Grisham thriller, it could still be worth seeing.
40) American Pastoral – For his directorial debut, Ewan McGregor hasn’t exactly taken the easy option by transferring Philip Roth’s ambitious novel surrounding the social and political upheavals of the Sixties to the big screen, but it will be very interesting to see how it turns out. Aided by the likes of Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning and David Strathairn, McGregor is aiming very high indeed. Let’s hope he doesn’t need a safety net.
41) My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – The original was a surprise hit back in 2002, and made a star of Nia Vardalos, but whether or not lightning can strike twice remains to be seen. If it does then the exploits of the Portokalos family will be sure to raise smiles galore while also offering a sincere appreciation of the quirks of Greek family life. With the original cast all returning, including John Corbett’s amiable outsider, and Michael Constantine’s grouchy father, this could be unexpectedly successful.
42) Bad Neighbours 2 – Another sequel (originally entitled Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), this sees Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne once again at odds with Zac Efron and his raucous frat buddies. The same team are involved as before, and are joined by Chloë Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez, but it’s touch and go as to whether or not this will match the first movie’s mix of out-there physical humour and homespun values.
43) X-Men: Apocalypse – Oscar Isaac is the big bad villain, but there’s no room for Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen in Bryan Singer’s latest mutant epic, the final part of the trilogy that began with X-Men: First Class (2011). While the plot is being kept under wraps, there’s still enough anticipation surrounding the project that in some respects, it’ll be a box office success whatever happens.
44) Warcraft – Duncan Jones’ adaptation of the ultra-cool video game has been avidly waited for for years. Early footage suggests this will be one of the most visually arresting movies of 2016, while the cast, led by Vikings star Travis Fimmel, all seem chosen for their intensity and commitment. It will all come down to the story (as usual with video games adaptations), but Jones is an intelligent, inspired director, and this could be his best movie yet.
45) Hail, Caesar! – The cast of 2016 – including Channing Tatum, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Dolph Lundgren – assemble to help Joel and Ethan Coen tell the story of a Hollywood fixer in the 1950’s who spends all his time keeping the stars in line, and out of trouble. It promises to be a wonderfully carefree, spirited movie that revels in its time and place, and should be chock-full of the Coens wicked way with dialogue and farcical situations.
46) Moana – Disney have two animated movies on release in 2016 – the other is Zootropolis – but this already has set tongues wagging thanks to how beautiful it looks. Dwayne Johnson heads the voice cast in this tale of a young woman, the daughter of a tribal chief, who uses her navigational skills to find the fabled island that will help her family in their time of need, and which features demigods and creatures taken from “real” mythology.
47) Hacksaw Ridge – A biopic that could well feature prominently come Oscar-time, Mel Gibson’s latest movie as director tells the story of Desmond T. Doss, a World War II army medic who served during the Battle of Okinawa but refused to kill anyone, and who became the first conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. Andrew Garfield is Doss, while Vince Vaughn and Sam Worthington provide solid support, but all eyes will be on Gibson, stepping behind the camera for the first time since Apocalypto (2006).
48) Allegiant – The third movie in the Divergent series takes Tris et al. outside the wall and introduces the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. With the first two movies having established a very specific world and its denizens, it’s now time to explore the bigger picture, and find out just what did happen all those years before. Shailene Woodley heads the cast again, and Robert Schwentke resumes director duties, while fans will be waiting to see if this entry has as much jettisoned from the source novel as the previous instalment did.
49) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The first trailer’s release had DC fans jumping for joy at seeing their favourite heroes battling it out, but it also showed evidence of the kind of city-wide destruction that has become predictable and boring in recent DC (and Marvel) outings, so while its commercial success seems assured, it’s likely it won’t do so well with the critics. But Ben Affleck looks like a good choice for Batman, while Henry Cavill still looks like a stuffed shirt in a lycra bodysuit, a description that should never apply to someone who’s playing Superman.
50) Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur – Guy Ritchie’s take on the Arthurian legend will no doubt involve a lot of editing wizardry, a heavily saturated colour scheme, and fight scenes that reference more modern styles of combat, but however it looks, it should certainly feel fresh and exciting. The plot, like many others, is being kept under wraps, but with minor characters such as Brothel Punter, Low-Rent Villager, Dan Clan Pikey, and Towel Boy 2 making probably fleeting appearances, what can be certain is that there’ll be humour in amongst the carefully choreographed action, as well as David Beckham in his second screen role (hands up those who missed him in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.?)