This is always a tough list to put together. I see over a hundred movies a year and a lot of those films are ones I’ve been anticipating to some degree, while many others are smaller films that randomly arrive on the calendar months after the start of the year. I am aware there are a lot of directors I admire who have films being completed in time for Cannes and other film festivals and are expected to be in theaters sometime this year as well, but I’ve decided to only go with what has been scheduled so far and go month by month. I am curious to hear what others have to say as well, so feel free to add thoughts in the comments.
January – Kung Fu Panda 3 (1/29)
Even with all the awards contenders and Star Wars out, January is unusually strong with sequels, potential franchise fare and more. None of it is more exciting than Kung Fu Panda 3. DreamWorks delivered the surprisingly great Kung Fu Panda back in 2008 and followed it up with a really good sequel. Having settled on a release date fittingly coinciding with Chinese New Year, I am incredibly excited to see the further adventures of Po and how his awesomeness will help him prevail once again.
Others: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Jane Got A Gun
February – Hail, Caesar! (2/05)
The Coen Brothers have a film coming out this year, which means it automatically wins any month it is scheduled for. Hail, Caesar! Looks like a terrific time at the movies. An all-star cast (Clooney, Brolin, Tatum, Fiennes, Swinton, Johansson and more) and that zany sense of humor the Coens have looks to be coming at audiences in full form, with hints from Coen regular Carter Burwell that the film may have more dramatic shifts than some may be expecting. Whatever the case may be, I cannot wait to get a look at whatever is going on in this upcoming farce dealing with 1920s Hollywood.
Others: Deadpool, Eddie The Eagle, Triple 9, The Witch
March – Midnight Special (3/18)
While March offers up a lot of things to be excited for, including the ultimate dark and gritty showdown between Batman and Superman, I am most excited for the upcoming film from Jeff Nichols, Midnight Special. Taking inspiration from John Carpenter’s Starman, among other things, Nichols follows up his brilliant Take Shelter and the very entertaining Mud with a sci-fi adventure that I can only hope is excellent and unique. There is plenty of potential here and a cast that includes Michael Shannon, Joel Ederton, Sam Shepard, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver certainly helps.
Others: Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, The Brothers Grimsby, Knight of Cups, The Lobster, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Zootopia
April – Everybody Wants Some (4/15)
Richard Linklater follows up his indie-epic Boyhood with a film that has been said to be something of a spiritual sequel to both that and Dazed & Confused. Given how consistently amazing Linklater has been as a filmmaker, I’m inclined to see whatever he has made, but these connections only make Everybody Wants Some more enticing. Featuring a cast of young actors who could likely go on to big things, much like the cast of Dazed & Confused, this could be a little comedy that delivers big. And at the very least, it will have a solid soundtrack.
Others: Demolition, Green Room, The Jungle Book, Keanu, Keeping up with the Joneses
May – Captain America: Civil War (5/06)
While I am certainly excited to see the big superhero movies coming out this year, I am pretty certain the only one guaranteed to be at the very least ‘good’ is Captain America: Civil War. Marvel has been incredibly consistent at providing grand entertainment over the years and Cap has certainly proven to be my favorite Avenger of the bunch. The trailer and material they are basing this story off of certainly has a lot of potential and many bonus points are being awarded by me for the inclusion of Black Panther. I can only hope the film is not too overstuffed with plot and characters, but also no I’ll have a big comic book-loving smile on my face while watching the film.
Others: The Free State of Jones, Money Monster, Neighbors 2 The Nice Guys, Snowden, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, X-Men: Apocalypse
June – Finding Dory (6/17)
Given how Finding Nemo is tied with Wall-E and The Incredibles as my favorite Pixar film ever, I am very excited to see what Andrew Stanton has in store for us with his sequel to the film. It may be Pixar taking a step away from a brand new idea, but I love these characters and I will be happy to return to the reef to see what Marlin, Dory and the others will be up to. I am always up for a good laugh and combining that with Pixar’s attempts to reach at the heart will likely lead to another fine feature.
Others: Central Intelligence, Connor4Real, Independence Day: Resurgence
July – The BFG (7/01)
Master storyteller Steven Spielberg is making a Disney fantasy adventure film based on a book my master children’s storyteller Roald Dahl. That is plenty right there. Then, Spielberg got E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison to adapt the story. Whatever happens, I have plenty of faith in The Beard and am always excited to see what he has come up with, whether it leans on the historical or the fantastical. And yes, a film about a big friendly giant most definitely symbolizes fun for me.
Others: Ghostbusters, La La Land, Bourne 5
August – Kubo and the Two Strings (8/19)
While it is tempting to put Suicide Squad up here, as it looks different and interesting, my spider senses are telling me to keep looking forward to whatever Laika has come up with. Having enjoyed Coraline and The Boxtrolls and absolutely loving ParaNorman, this animation studio has earned plenty of trust from me to deliver some gorgeously animated features with wonderfully quirky stories. While this samurai story may have a cast consisting of an awful lot of white actors, there is a lot here to set me up for something that could be real special.
Others: A Man in the Dark, Arms and the Dudes, Suicide Squad
September – The Magnificent Seven (9/23)
I may not have really liked The Equalizer all that much, but I do generally like Antoine Fuqua and certainly enjoy Denzel Washington. Now we have a huge cast joining the two of them for a remake of The Magnificent Seven, which has all the potential to be pretty entertaining. Throwing Washington, along with Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and others into a western will be a sight to see (especially Denzel on a horse, with a cowboy hat) and I want to know what that looks like for sure.
Others: A Cure For Wellness, Deepwater Horizon, Storks, Sully
October – A Monster Calls (10/14)
It seems like October (along with most of these months) has the potential for other big releases not yet announced, but I am happy settling for now with a new film from director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible). Based on a fantasy novel by Patrick Ness, this almost seems like the darker cousin of Spielberg’s The BFG. We’ll see how it turns out, but Liam Neeson providing the voice of a monster and the great cast around him could be something quite grand.
Others: The Accountant, Gambit, The Girl On The Train, Jack Reacher, John Wick 2, Never Go Back
November – The Great Wall (11/23)
The director of Hero and The House of Flying Daggers is making a film about supernatural mysteries surrounding the Great Wall of China and it stars Andy Lau and Matt Damon. This seems like a slam dunk of epic proportions. This already has the potential to be the most visual gorgeous film of the year and I haven’t seen a single frame from it.
Others: Doctor Strange, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Moana, The Founder
December – Rogue One – A Star Wars Story (12/16)
And now December roles in with a new Star Wars film. Of course I’m excited and while there may be plenty of big awards contenders hitting in the same month, this is Star Wars we’re talking and whether it’s some sort of spin-off prequel or another episodic entry, I’ll be right there giddy with anticipation. With all of that in mind, we’re getting a film from Gareth Edwards about how the Rebels managed to steal those Death Star plans. That sounds all kinds of awesome and getting to see a new tone for a cinematic Star Wars film is all sorts of intriguing.
Others: The Neon Demon, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Passengers
So that’s all I have for now. As I said, anything can change and all I can do is express excitement for now. I am very aware that directors including Martin Scorsese, Jim Jarmusch, Park Chan-wook, James Gray, Denis Villeneuve, Asghar Farhadi, Derek Cianfrance, James Ponsoldt and a bunch of other young and older directors I admire have films that could possibly hit this year and I will hopefully get to see and deal with them accordingly. Regardless, there looks to be a lot of good stuff on the way, so let’s see hope for another great year in film!