This list is what I want to watch in 2016. If I didn't include something, it's probably because I don't want to watch it as much as I want to watch these 25.
Let's start with some Honorable Mentions from the Sundance Film Festival, that starts this week in Utah:
The Lure - January 22
Southside With You - January 22
A typical boy meets girl love story - except the boy is President of the United States Barack Obama, and the girl is the First Lady Michelle Obama.
Swiss Army Man - January 22
A man (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island and has basically lost all hope of every returning home - until a dead body washes up the shore. Who plays the dead body? Harry Potter, aka Daniel Radcliffe. I predict this one to be a wacky dark comedy.
25. The Legend of Tarzan - July 1
I'm pretty certain this movie will be a failure at the box office given it's budget and the lack of buzz/need/want/interest for a live-action Tarzan adventure. I'll only watch it for two reasons: the director, David Yates (who directed the last 4 Potter films), and the lead actress, Margot Robbie.
24. Money Monster - May 13
The trailer sadly shows the entire film (I've watched it so you wouldn't have to). The basic premise is that a guy holds a financial advisor TV personality hostage live on air, with the entire world watching. This isn't a first film to tackle Wall Street's greed and the subsequent everyman's suffering. But with George Clooney and Julia Roberts in the lead roles, along with Jodie Foster directing, this will be worth a watch.
P.S. speaking of Wall Street, I highly recommend watching The Big Short (directed by Adam McKay of Anchorman fame) - one of the best films of 2015 starring Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling.
23. The BFG - July 1
Steven Spielberg brings Roald Dahl's classic childrens' story to the big screen.
22. Snowden - May 13
Oliver Stone directs Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this Edward Snowden biopic. The success of this film largely depends on the critics' opinions.
21. The Jungle Book - April 15
A live-action retelling of the beloved classic directed by Jon Favreau. Honestly, this film will either be a box office disappointment, or a huge success. Disney is marketing it as this year's 'Life of Pi', and I really hope it's worthy of that comparison.
20. Independence Day: Resurgence - June 24
An unwanted, unnecessary sequel to the 90's box office smash Independence Day - sans Will Smith. However, the trailer looks AMAZING. Definitely going to watch this one.
In my personal opinion, the book was a little over hyped. Still, with Emily Blunt (Sicario), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation), Luke Evans (The Hobbit films), and Justin Theroux (The Leftovers) in the lead roles, with Tate Taylor (The Help) in the director's chair - I have a feeling this will be one of the 'the movie was better than the book'-like situation.
18. Assassin’s Creed - December 21
Michael Fassbender is a phenomenal actor who has sadly never led a film to box office glory. Also working against him in this one is the video game adaption curse - they just never make money because studios try to make them too accessible to wider audiences and then end up alienating the already-huge core gamer audience. Still, the director of this film is a real visionary (Justin Kurzel, who directed Fassbender in the 2015 film Macbeth), so no matter the box office draw, I'm going to love this movie no matter what.
Full disclosure: I've played every single Assassin's Creed game since it's inception in 2007.
17. Bourne Sequel - July 29
The title of this film is unknown. The plot is also unknown. But here's why this movie will be a guaranteed box office and critical success: Both Bourne (Matt Damon) and director Paul Greengrass (Bourne Supremacy, Bourne Ultimatum) are coming back to the franchise. The only reason that would happen is if the story is worth telling.
16. Doctor Strange - November 4
The first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to take MAGIC seriously, Doctor Strange stars Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, BBC's Sherlock), Madds Mikkelson (Casino Royale, Hannibal), and Tilda Swinton (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Trainwreck).
15. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - December 16
The first film set in the Star Wars universe to not be an official "Episode", this one is set to take place before 1977's A New Hope, and stars a bunch of amazing actors, led by Felicity Jones and Mads Mikkelson.
Given that it's following the success of The Force Awakens exactly a year after its release, and will be followed by Episode 8 in May 2017, the only way this movie fails is if fans get bloated with too much Star Wars, and that is highly unlikely to happen.
14. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them - November 18
JK Rowling returns to the Wizardly world - this time as a screenwriter - to bring us a new trilogy set in 1920's New York City, starring Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, The Danish Girl) in the lead role of Newt Scamander.
Fans will show up just to see if the magic is worth the disbelief.
13. Captain America: Civil War - May 6
This is basically an Avengers sequel, and it's definitely going to be better than Age of Ultron. The Winter Soldier was surprisingly good, so this one has to be even better. Also, Spiderman is finally joining the MCU with a small role in this film.
I love the Marvel movies and tv shows, and will watch as many as they can make. However, I do think that a major Avenger death in this film would finally raise the stakes in this almost-stale franchise. But I just don't see it happening.
My fan-brain imagines an ending where despite fighting each other in Act II and III of this movie, in the end, either Iron Man or the Cap will sacrifice himself to save the other.
After all, something has to start the Infinity War in 2018.
12. Hail, Caesar! - February 19
The Coen Brothers return with unique brand of humor in this film set in 1950's Hollywood starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, and Ralph Fiennes.
So. Many. Sequels. This one follows the amazing Days of Future Past. The trailer looks amazing, with Oscar Issac joining the cast as the titular Apocalypse - the first and strongest mutant to ever exist.
10. The Nice Guys - May 20
Shane Black - who wrote the buddy comedy classic Lethal Weapon series - and wrote-directed Iron Man 3, comes back to his roots with The Nice Guys, starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling.
9. Passengers - December 21
An original Science Fiction film starring two of the hottest stars in the world - Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The basic plot: while on a space mission to some place that doesn't matter, Chris Pratt's character wakes up 60 years too early due to a malfunctioning sleep chamber, and then decides to wake up a female passenger, Jennifer Lawrence. I wonder, could he see what she looked like before he woke her up?
Trivia: This marks the first time (to the best of my knowledge) that the female co-lead is making more money than the male co-lead. Reports say Lawrence's salary is $20 Million for this one, while Pratt is taking away a reasonable $12 Million (hiked up from $8 Mil once he hit it big with 2015's Jurassic World). It makes absolute sense, since JLaw is the bigger star, and deserves to be paid according to the box office draw she is expected to bring.
8. Ghostbusters - July 15
You may not have heard of this one, but believe me, watch the trailer and it will haunt you until you watch the whole thing, and then it will probably haunt you some more. This movie is why I watch movies.
6. Deadpool - February 12
With the best marketing campaign of any film in recent history, this R-rated superhero comedy stars Ryan Reynolds as the merc-with-a-mouth, Deadpool. I really hope it makes enough money to warrant sequels, because this is the role Reynolds was born to play forever.
5. Everybody Wants Some - April 15
My personal favorite screenwriter-director (I can't choose between him and Tarantino since they belong in different genres) Richard Linklater is back with this spiritual sequel to the classic Dazed and Confused. I'm probably going to watch this movie once every six months, just like I watch other Linklater films (the Before Trilogy being his best work to date).
4. Finding Dory - June 17
Finding Nemo is one of my favorite movies of all time. And even though I'm against the idea of making sequels to movies that I hold dear to my heart, I have full, blind faith in the folks at Pixar that I will love this movie.
3. Suicide Squad - August 5
Will Smith. Jared Leto. Margot Robbie - and a bunch of awesome actors play anti-heroes in this comic book adaptation set in the new DC Universe that starts with the #1 film in this list.
2. Zoolander No. 2 - February 12
Zoolander is a cult classic. And while this one may never reach the high bar set by the original, entire cast and creative team behind it will surely try their best to make us laugh. That's all that matters to me as a fan.
1: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice - March 25
Why is this film #1? Perhaps you should read the title again.
It doesn't get any bigger than that.