LaFlow Reviews’ 30 Most Anticipated of 2016


Another year is ahead and below are my 30 most anticipated films of 2016.

The Accountant (October 7)


Director: Gavin O’Connor     Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, John Lithgow

The latest film from the director of Warrior and Jane Got a Gun (which finally comes out at the end of January), sees Ben Affleck as a bookkeeper by day and assassin at night.  Anna Kendrick, a fellow accountant, gets pulled into Affleck’s lifestyle shortly after.  Given its position in the year and Affleck’s continue rise in effective acting roles, this film is poised to be his chance at any awards recognition this year.  With a great supporting cast behind him including John Lithgow and J.K Simmons, as well as the goodwill O’Connor has from Warrior this film could be quite the thriller come October.  It also could put a whole new perspective on the accounting profession, but probably not.

Assassin’s Creed (December 21)


Director: Justin Kurzel     Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Brendan Gleeson

Director Kurzel reunites with Macbeth stars Fassbender and Cotillard for what will be the first test in quite a while for the potential future of live-action video game adaptations.  The fact that the film will take on an entirely new story in the Assassin’s Creed series instead of relying on one of the previous game’s stories should not only be exciting for fans of the series but also make it easily accessible to those not familiar with the franchise.  Also with how strong Macbeth was, there is definitely a lot of hope that Kurzel will deliver again on a bigger scale in a similar atmosphere.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25)


Director: Zach Synder     Starring: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot

After a strong start to their cinematic universe with Man of Steel, DC is going into full gear with the next entry in their franchise Dawn of Justice. Pitting Batman and Superman together while there is the looming threat of Doomsday shows the franchise tackling some of the bigger moments in the DC Universe’s history.  Everything presented so far shows the film has potential to be one of the most memorable when it comes to comic book films if it delivers.  Not only does the acting seem to be on point especially with the numerous new additions to the cast but hopefully it will also set up Justice League quite well.  Either way it should be a nice treat to get so early in the year.

The Circle (TBA)


Director: James Ponsoldt     Starring: Emma Watson, John Boyega, Tom Hanks

John Boyega’s follow up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens sees him in a sci-fi thriller based off the Dave Eggers novel of the same name.  Emma Watson leads the film as Mae Holland, a recent college graduate who is hired to work for the world’s most powerful Internet company, The Circle.  The company brings together a whole new online identity.  Things begin to get even crazier as Holland gets involved with another co-worker and becomes ever more visible in the public eye and the questions surrounding The Circle grow.  This should be director Ponsoldt’s biggest film yet and given the strength of his previous films including The End of the Tour and The Spectacular Now, this film will be a unique challenge to his directorial set.  The cast is also nicely rounded out by Tom Hanks and Karen Gillan.

Deadpool (February 12)


Director: Tim Miller     Starring: Ryan Reynolds, TJ Miller, Morena Baccarin

It’s impressive just to think that Deadpool is actually happening given the background of the character and how the film would have to be different from all the other comic book films before it in order to work.  Thanks to the test footage that leaked a couple years back, audiences will finally see Deadpool represented as he is in the comics and not the light version seen in films so far.  Given what has been read from the early drafts of the script and the look so far in the trailers, this Deadpool movie should be a real treat to the genre.  With its unique comedy blend and a hard “R” rating, hopefully the film delivers on its promise

The Disaster Artist (TBA)


Director: James Franco     Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Josh Hutcherson

The Room is considered by many to be the best worst film ever made.  The film is ridiculous in its plot, score, and overacting that star and director Tommy Wiseau claims that the film is indeed a black comedy even though it was never originally sold as such.  Now James Franco tackles the man himself and the development hell of The Room for which the novel The Disaster Artist covered.  Based on early set pics and development of this film, Franco seems to at least be diving in to the ridiculousness of the events.  The supporting cast is also very strong for a Franco directed production.  Should be a unique film nonetheless.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18)


Director: David Yates     Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Firth

The Harry Potter franchise returns to the big screen in this prequel to the story set in 1920’s America.  Based around the author of one of Potter’s textbooks, Eddie Redmayne leads the film as his magical creatures have been let loose across the town.  With the screenplay written by J.K. Rowling herself it will be very interesting to see the Potter world explored even more and by her herself particularly in America.  If successful, the film will see a sequel in 2018.

Free State of Jones (May 13)


Director: Gary Ross     Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell

Matthew McConaughey returns to the big screen after a year absence in the latest film from The Hunger Games director Gary Ross.  McConaughey plays Newton Knight, a poor farmer who will lead a group of Mississippians against the Confederate Army in the Civil War.  The film should be another chance for audiences to see McConaughey’s growing acting range and with Gugu Mbatha-Raw at his side, this should be one of the stronger acting combinations going into the summer.

The Girl on the Train (October 7)


Director: Tate Taylor     Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans

Emily Blunt takes the lead as Rachel Watson in the film adaptation of the bestseller by Paula Hawkins.  The murder mystery will also be the latest for Rebecca Ferguson who exploded on to the scene with last year’s Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation.  If the film can deliver the dramatics of the novel then it should be able to showcase some of the best of its cast.

The Glass Castle (TBA)


Director: Destin Cretton  Starring: Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson

Though she is getting massive praise now (and rightfully so) for her performance for Room which should very well get her an Oscar nomination, Brie Larson got just as strong praise earlier on in Short Term 12. Director Cretton reunites with Larson for his follow-up film The Glass Castle based off the novel that spent 261 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.  Larson portrays author Jeannette Walls and her childhood in a dysfunctional family living in poverty up through her finding success as an editor and journalist.  Cretton showed with Short Term 12 he can tackle sensitive and extreme subject matter and there is plenty of that here for him and Larson to play with it.  If it can match what the two have done in the past, it’ll be another film where Larson should be in awards consideration.

Hail, Caesar! (February 5)


Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen   Starring: George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson

The Coen brothers return for their first film since Inside Llewyn Davis in the area they are perhaps the best at, comedy.  Set in 1950’s Hollywood, the brothers follow Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) who is creating his next big hit Hail, Caesar! when his lead man (George Clooney) gets kidnapped by a group named The Future.  Now Mannix has to get together $100,000 to set him free.  The plot itself sounds like something that will only work for the Coens and with the brothers’ usual favorites returning as well as some very strong newcomers, the film has the potential to be one of the best from the duo.

It’s Only the End of the World (TBA)


Director: Xavier Dolan     Starring: Léa Seydoux, Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel

Based off the novel of the same name, this film follows the return of a writer to his hometown after 12 years.  After announcing his impending death to his family the afternoon quickly turns into one of resentment, feuds, and other family drama.  Director Dolan, who will only turn 27 this year, has already built quite a name for himself overseas behind the director’s chair.  With some of the biggest international names in his latest endeavor this latest entry in his filmography could be the one that begins to make him a prominent name in the States as well.

Knight of Cups (March 4)


Director: Terrence Malick     Starring: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman

As is typical with Malick films consistently getting pushed back, Knight of Cups is finally coming out this March.  The very divisive director returns with his latest that follws Christian Bale as Rick, a screenwriter trying to make sense of everything around him.  Feeling empty particularly after the death of his brother, Rick falls into the Hollywood lifestyle trying to find his place in the world.  Malick’s last couple of films have been quite more of a miss than a hit but perhaps he can fix those problems and make a strong piece here as he once again has a strong group behind him.  At least it will look pretty.

La La Land (July 15)


Director: Damien Chazelle     Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons

The Whiplash director brings his follow-up which reunites Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling for the third time.  This time around Stone is an aspiring actress and Gosling a jazz pianist.  Both are trying to make it in the crazy town of Los Angeles a city they love.  Soon the two become romantically involved but the city they love and want to succeed in may ultimately tear them apart.  Hopefully this film sees more of the chemistry the two shared in Crazy, Stupid, Love and not the nonsense that was Gangster Squad but given the strength Chazelle has shown so far it seems the former could very well happen.

The Light Between the Oceans (TBA)


Director: Derek Cianfrance     Starring: Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz

Alicia Vikander exploded on to the scene last year getting critical acclaim for multiple films (including a rare two Golden Globe nominations) and will most likely be receiving an Oscar nomination later this week.  She’ll be on the awards hunt again next year with this film being one of her best shots.  The director of Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines sees Michael Fassbender as Tom, a man who has returned home from fighting World War I in Europe to his wife (Vikander) and the two live in an isolated lighthouse for the next few years.  They bring a baby girl into their lives who washed up in a lifeboat.  A couple years later they return to the main town and realize there are other people out there and one half of the couple begins to regret adopting the baby girl.  Director Cianfrance has a very strong resume so far and early word seems to be that he could be going three for three here.  With Blue Valentine being a personal favorite from the past few years, hopefully he can deliver.  At least the cast should do quite well.

Midnight Special (March 18)


Director: Jeff Nichols     Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver

Director Nichols follow up to 2014’s fantastic Mud sees Michael Shannon protecting his son Alton who has special powers from a religious sect and the government.  Him and his wife (Kirsten Dunst) try to get him to a safe hideout while everyone is hot on their tale.  Originally scheduled to be out this past November, Midnight Special remains highly anticipated as it could tackle a new avenue in the sci-fi genre.  Nichols has shown already with his short directorial tenure that he has what it takes to tell a big spectacle like this but have it still be grounded in reality.  Should be another early treat to the year.

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (July 8)


Director: Jake Szymanski     Starring: Anna Kendrick, Zac Efron, Adam DeVine

Brothers Mike and Dave (Devine and Efron) need dates for a wedding so they put an ad online but soon enough the ad goes viral.  Given the star power involved in this film, the film is trying to set itself up to be one of the big ones for the summer for the genre.  This could be the film which could finally give Adam DeVine some success in the movie arena after his rapid fire success on TV.  Either way the potential pairing of these two and the support they have could make this a nice escape come mid-summer.

The Neon Demon (TBA)


Director: Nicolas Winding Refn     Starring: Elle Fanning, Keanu Reeves, Jena Malone

Director Refn returns for his first film since Only God Forgives with Elle Fanning taking lead.  Described by Refn as a “horror film about beauty”, Fanning portrays an aspiring model who moves to LA.  Those around her though see her success and will try anything they can to get what she has.  Giving Refn’s background, this film will not hold back from its bloodiness but it will be interesting to see how he deals with a more female cast in his usual craziness.

The Nice Guys (May 20)


Director: Shane Black     Starring: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Matt Bomer

Gosling and Crowe don’t seem like two actors who would be the first in mind to do a film together but given the plot and the look of The Nice Guys so far, you may not be able to ask for a better grouping.  The two play a group of detectives who uncover a conspiracy in the world of porn in the 1970’s after a fading star commits suicide.  If the film lends itself more to Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and less to the sourness of Iron Man 3, then audiences should get one of the better films of the summer.

The Promise (TBA)

2011 Los Angeles Film Festival - "Drive" Gala Premiere - Red Carpet

Director: Terry George     Starring: Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, Charlotte Le Bon

The Promise follows an American journalist (Bale), a medical student (Isaac), and a woman named Ana (Le Bon)who fall into a love triangle at the end of the Ottoman Empire.  Directed and written by Terry George, whose writing work includes the great In the Name of the Father, this film is already gaining quite a bit of buzz and with Isaac’s name being everywhere now after Star Wars: The Force Awaken‘s huge success the film has a lot going for it.  With Bale’s name and Le Bon’s continued exposure into American cinema (she had a strong performance recently in The Walk), this will be one of the ensembles and films to look out for at year’s end.

Ratchet & Clank (April 29)


Directors: Jericca Cleland, Kevin Munroe     Starring (the voices of): James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Jim Ward

One of the most enjoyable video game franchises finally comes to the big screen and the original voice cast and creators are behind it all.  The film follows the events of the first game in the series (which is being re-done and re-released on the PlayStation 4) following a lombax named Ratchet and his metal companion Clank as they try to prevent the destruction of the Solana Galaxy.  With all the same players helping out in this production the film looks to have the same heart and humor the games provide.  Though its release date is not great (one week before Captain America), it will just be nice to see the famous characters on the big screen.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16)


Director: Gareth Edwards     Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk

The first of many Star Wars spin-offs to come in the next few years, Rogue One is a prequel to the original trilogy which follows a group trying to steal the plans for the Death Star.  With a hinted return at Darth Vader to the series and a whole new set of characters to explore, there is plenty for Star Wars fans to grasp as the series goes down new alleys.  With Felicity Jones leading the pack and Godzilla director Edwards at the helm, this sure to be blockbuster seems to be in safe hands.

Silence (TBA)


Director: Martin Scorsese     Starring: Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield

Though it still does not have a release date (it was hoped to have come out this past year), the latest from Martin Scorsese should easily be out by the end of the year and could be one of his most unique projects yet.  Two Jesuit priests (Driver and Garfield) face persecution as they set out to find their mentor (Neeson) in Japan and spread the word of Christianity.  The film presents itself as a unique one on the stance of religion and it will be interesting to see how Scorsese tackles the subject, an area he hasn’t touched in quite some time.  If it delivers, it will surely be up for plenty of awards attention.

Story of Your Life (TBA)


Director: Denis Villeneuve     Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Amy Adams stars in the latest sci-fi picture from the director of Prisoners and Sicario as a linguist who must determine if a new alien race that has landed on Earth is here with good or bad intentions.  During her time she learns about them she receives flashbacks to give her a true understanding of why they are here.  This look at the typical alien film could bring a new perspective to the genre while also being yet another way for Adams to receive Oscars attention (which she has received plenty of yet has not won).  Director Villeneuve has also received much praise for his work so far that the quality of this film shouldn’t be too much in question

Submergence (TBA)


Director: Wim Wenders     Starring: Alicia Vikander, James McAvoy

Alicia Vikander stars as Danielle Flinders, a woman submerged in the depths of the ocean and James McAvoy portrays James Moore a man held captive by jihadist fighters in Somalia.  Though they are thousands of miles apart in their own isolation, they remember the previous Christmas where they met on a chance encounter and had an enduring relationship.  As mentioned already, Vikander should continue to have a strong 2016 with roles like these but it will be nice to see McAvoy tackle a role such as this again where hints of Atonement can be seen.  Hopefully the two have strong chemistry and the film delivers.

Suicide Squad (August 5)


Director: David Ayer     Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto

DC has a more of a challenge on their plate than Marvel did with Guardians of the Galaxy with the latest exploration into their cinematic universe, Suicide Squad.  The film sees a group of supervillains held by a secret government organization being used as a team to take on dangerous missions.  The star power is definitely there but it will be interesting to see how audiences go for an anti-hero team.  With Jared Leto joining along as an even more sinister Joker than was seen by Heath Ledger, the film will be the biggest test to DC’s expanded universe.

Swiss Army Man (TBA)


Directors: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert     Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Debuting at Sundance this month, Swiss Army Man sees Paul Dano who is trying to return home and on the way befriends a dead body (Radcliffe) that washes up on shore.  The plot is definitely unlike anything usually seen in Hollywood and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.  There is a truly great cast on hand here but the oddity of the plot is the true hook.

Tulip Fever (TBA)


Director: Justin Chadwick     Starring: Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Christoph Waltz

Dane DeHaan portrays a painter named Jan in the 17th-century during the period of Tulip mania when he meets a young woman named Sophia (Vikander).  Sophia’s husband (Waltz) asks Jan to paint his wife but the two soon begin to fall for one another and try to build a future by investing in the risky tulip business.  The main two stars should work well in this film and as long as Waltz doesn’t stick to his now cliched performance style, this latest film for him should hopefully succeed.

The Zookeeper’s Wife (TBA)


Director: Niki Caro     Starring: Jessica Chastain, Daniel Brühl, Iddo Goldberg

Jessica Chastain stars as Antonina Zabinski, who with her husband Jan ran the Warsaw Zoo.  The zoo was responsible for saving hundreds of animals during the Nazi invasion.  With the history of the events, along with the timing, and the fact that Chastain is leading speak well to the film’s chances. The film will most likely be out around the holidays.

Zoolander 2 (February 12)


Director: Ben Stiller     Starring: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell

Nearly 15 years after the original, Stiller and Wilson are back in two of their most famous roles.  This time around the male models must try and defeat an organization killing famous musicians who use Zoolander’s “Blue Steel” look all while Mugatu (Ferrell) has been released from prison and is on the hunt for the duo.  Comedy sequels rarely are better than the predecessor and Zoolander is a personal favorite.  Even if the film can’t match the first, it will be fun to explore these characters again.