2016 Most Anticipated: Winners

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Hooray! We've reached the summit and you know I wasn't going to end the year without finishing this GD list. Thanks for tuning in and have a happy 2016!

5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writer: Chris Weitz
Release Date: December 16
I think we might all end up getting a little tired of Star Wars movies after the end of the planned trilogy, but right now, I'm pumped for anything and everything Star Wars. I mean, if the movies are unique and well-done and have fun, well-developed characters, what's wrong with them doing one every year? I mean, we haven't really tired of Marvel movies and it's been 8 years starting with Iron Man. There is a whole frickin' galaxy's worth of stories to explore. Sure, Disney is kind of playing it safe with doing a story about the secret Rebel Alliance team tasked with stealing the Death Star plans - it's a story alluded to in the first movie. And it sounds like they're using the blueprint for The Force Awakens: get a sci-fi focused director - Gareth Edwards, who recently directed the excellent Godzilla - and surround the film with a solid, diverse cast and tie it to the original movie. The movie has been said to play out more like a heist film than anything else and that gets me excited. The reason pretty much no one has gotten tired of the Marvel movies is they focus on making a good movie first - whether it be a political thriller (Winter Soldier), a heist movie (Ant-Man), a family drama (Thor) - and then fill that in with their characters. If Edwards and crew can focus on telling a good story, just set in the Star Wars universe, they'll be on the right track with these Anthology movies as they're calling them. I mean, this one is guaranteed to make at least a half billion globally, if not more and I'm sure I'll be seeing this one half a dozen times.

4. Everybody Wants Some
Starring: Zoey Deutch, Glen Powell, Tyler Hoechlin
Director: Richard Linklater
Writer: Richard Linklater
Release Date: April 15
Dazed and Confused is by far my favoite movie of all-time. I mean, my top 10 is a bit erratic, but I could never replace my one true love. I watched D&C over and over and over again in middle school and I can pretty much quote the whole movie if someone asked me to. And I'm going to make a bizarre comparison here, but this is Linklater's Force Awakens. Not that this movie is going to make a couple billion dollars, just that he's taking the same formula from D&C and slapping an 80s headband and leg warmers all around it. I mean, if critics aren't going to tear apart The Force Awakens for doing the same, then I think Linklater can get away with it. I mean, from the looks of the trailer, it looks like he's interested in just telling a day in the life of a college freshman baseball player. Shenanigans will be had and enjoyed and overall it looks like the movie isn't going to try and have some powerful message, but just explore a time in America's history. And he's filled it with a lot of unknown actors, much like D&C. I'm sure the soundtrack is going to be kick-ass and there will be some characters I'll love and loathe. It's a Linklater movie, so you know it's going to be solid script-wise. I don't know if he can capture the same magic he had twenty years ago, but damn if I'm not excited to see if he can do it.

3. Midnight Special
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Michael Shannon
Director: Jeff Nichols
Writer: Jeff Nichols
Release Date: March 18
Jeff Nichols has only directed two movies in his short career, but they're both excellent, character-driven stories about loners and fathers and and their children. Midnight Special has been shrouded in a lot of secrecy, but from the rumblings around the web, this looks like it's going to be super duper special. It's a science fiction movie where Michael Shannon plays Roy, a father who's desperate to save his son, who has special, unknown abilities, from a cult and the government who want to capture him. It's been described as a chase film and I'm guessing pretty much from the start of the movie, it's going to be one helluva ride. The cast looks to be great and I think the way Nichols writes and directs he can get the most out of all the actors. This should be a sober but extremely intense thriller. I hope this is as big of a surprise for everyone involved. I can think of another movie that kind of came out of nowhere that was in my top 5 that did gangbuster critically and financially - Rian Johnson's Looper from 2012. It was my favorite movie that year and I think Midnight Special could be, well, special.

2. Captain America: Civil War
Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johnasson
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Release Date: May 6
This could be huge. I mean, it's not going to be Star Wars huge, but it could challenge the original Avengers for the highest opening weekend for a Marvel movie. I think the Russo brothers did a phenomenal job with Winter Soldier and it's by far the best Marvel movie. It's pacing, the thrilling story and a great character arc for Steve Rogers, Winter Soldier just looked good and it has that visceral action and it felt deeply important not only within the Marvel universe, but our surveillance state modern times. I'm getting the same feeling a vibe from the new movie - it just looks slick and despite pretty much all the Avengers popping in to say hello, I think the Russo brothers and the writing team of Markus and McFeely (who've worked on the previous Captain America films) will make sure to keep the focus tight on just continuing Rogers' evolution as Captain America and his relationship with Bucky. I hope the movie keeps most of the rest of the superhero cast as cameos (well, aside from Tony Stark - he's playing the antagonist here). The story revolves around one of the more ridiculous series from the comic books where superheros are fighting against each other for pretty much dumb reasons. I think the movie will handle the material a bit better and I have a feeling the main baddie we'll see in the next Avengers movie (Thanos) might have a hand in the background somewhere, even if we don't necessarily see him. I could probably talk for hours about the movie and where it's all leading and argue about favorite films and characters and this is the main reason why I'm so excited. There's just a wealth of fun here and so far Marvel hasn't made a bad movie and I don't think that will start with Civil War.

1. Assassin's Creed
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cottillard, Brendon Gleeson
Director: Justin Kurzel
Writers: Bill Collage, Adam Cooper, Michael Lesslie
Release Date: December 21
Okay, a little bit of background on why this movie, of all the GD movies coming out next year, this landed as number one. First of all, I had this still in my top 10, but more like 9 or 10. And just two weeks ago I found out my original number one movie, Guy Ritchie's King Arthur movie starring Charlie Hunnum got pushed back from a cozy release date in July. I think Guy Ritchie has been sorely underrated - Man From U.N.C.L.E. was one of my favorite movies this year and his take on Sherlock Holmes is brilliant. But sigh, it got pushed to February, so that doesn't bode well for the movie at all. The more I thought about it, the more I really was getting excited for this video game adaptation. I am a HUGE, GINORMOUS Assassin's Creed fan and the world they've built within the video games. It's historical fiction taken to the extreme with a healthy dose of sci-fi shenanigans mixed in. I think there's a wealth of storytelling opportunities and Michael Fassbender seems to agree - he's not only starring, but helping to produce the movie. Now the film isn't following any particular video game from the series, but embarking on it's own narrative. It's borrowing heavily from the first game and Fassbender will play a modern day dude who finds out he can relive the memories of his ancestors, who just happen to be part of a group of Assassin's who are in a age-old struggle with another group of movers and shakers - the Templars. I don't know how this will turn out - there's a tremendous amount of talent in the cast, but a relative newbie behind the camera with Justin Kurzel. I think this could be the film to finally break the video game movie curse. There hasn't been a successful video game movie that was both a financial and critical success. Resident Evil is by far the biggest example of box office success (and you could even argue that's not true) and it's clearly a fairly derivative horror/action series. So the pressure is insane for this movie in the bigger picture - but if everything comes together - this could be the start of a new film franchise and lay the blueprint for making successful video game movies down the road.

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1


2016 Most Anticipated: Promising

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

We're on to the top 10 finally! Just to recap - there were only 20 sequels/remakes/reboots on my list this year (that includes my 10 runner-ups). So roughly 1/3 of my movies are of that variety. That's not to say there won't be more like that - it's just I'm not particularly excited for Alice Through the Looking Glass or God's Not Dead 2. So of course this list is way biased but I have a dumb blog on the internet and I have decent writing skills that everyone should hear my opinion. I do try put as much original movies as I can in the top 10. I think it's fair to get excited about sequels and sometimes they're great - but usually those movies don't end up in my top 10 list at the end of the year.

10. Hail, Caesar!
Starring: George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Writers: Joel and Ethan Coen
Release Date: February 5
The Coen brothers have been laying low for a while now. Their last movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, from 2013, got a modest release and nice reviews, but it didn't set the awards shows on fire like their previous films have. But it seems like they're getting back to doing a more straight-up comedy here akin to O Brother Where Art Thou? and Burn After Reading. This time, they're tackling old-school Hollywood and I'm super stoked to see what hijinks they can conjure up. I really don't care too much about movies that involve making movies like The Artist - gawd what a pretentious piece of work that was. But I'll give the benefit of the doubt to the Coen brothers. The cast looks stellar - it's nothing but A-list stars and the only thing I'm hesitant about is how many characters can they shove in this movie? But the Coen brothers are adept at large ensembles and frantic, quick, witty dialogue so I'm not too worried. I think this might end up being a lot like Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel - where everyone's got their moment to shine and it moves gloriously. I'm surprised this isn't getting a better release date - February isn't exactly Oscar season, but maybe the studio knows this won't play well with the awards crowd because it is a broad comedy? I don't know, but I do know this should be highly entertaining with all the talent involved.

9. Star Trek Beyond
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung, Robert Orci, John D. Payne, Patrick McKay
Release Date: July 22
Wow, who knew that a Star Trek movie could court such controversy? First, the production has had some drama - Robert Orci, the writer of the previous two Star Treks, was set to direct, but was kicked out of the director's chair for who knows what reason. Simon Pegg and Doug Jung were brought in to re-write the script:
Pegg had been asked to make this new film "more inclusive", stating that the solution was to "make a western or a thriller or a heist movie, then populate that with Star Trek characters so it's more inclusive to an audience that might be a little bit reticent." Orci, Payne and McKay are given official "written by" credit alongside Pegg and Jung, although Pegg clarified that neither he nor Jung had read the existing script before crafting their own for the film.
I'm probably one of the few who really enjoyed Into Darkness and was pretty pumped for the new trailer. A LOT of Star Trek fans were upset over the new trailer - they feel it's going to be Fast and Furious in space and not stay true to the spirit of exploration from the other movies/shows. I understand the complaints, but how can you make a broad science fiction action adventure film that has the same tone and vibe of the original movies or tv shows? It just wouldn't work today and frankly, the movies need to find an audience beyond (pun not intended, but enjoyed!) just the Trekkies. Plus a two-minute trailer focused on generating excitement for the widest possible audience doesn't mean the movie will not live up to the spirit of Star Trek. I think Simon Pegg will make sure that the script is worthy of a Star Trek film and I think the Fast and Furious director Justin Lin will bring a healthy dose of action and fun into the film. I'm super excited about this film because the franchise now doesn't have to live in the shadow of Khan and that legacy. It can be something new and refreshing and I hope they just make a fun adventure movie that doesn't have the 'epic' feeling of a lot of these summer blockbusters. You know, like the whole human race will die if the Star Trek crew doesn't save the day.

8. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg
Director: Zack Snyder
Writers: Christ Terrio, David S. Goyer
Release Date: March 25
Every new trailer they pop out into the internet for this mega-blockbuster, I kind of lose interest a little bit. Don't get me wrong - there's a reason it's number 8 on my list. But I'm getting a little bit worried this might just be one hot mess. I enjoyed Man of Steel a lot and thought Zack Snyder was a good fit for the reboot. I'm pretty much the only one who's enjoyed all of his movies, yes including Sucker Punch. Snyder is back and whether or not this is a direct sequel to Man of Steel is still up for debate. Although there are images from Man of Steel in almost all the trailers that recall that movie, And I think Affleck and Eisenberg were brilliant choices for Batman and Lex Luthor. It's just that the film, from what I gather in the trailers, feels like it's poking you in the ribs, like "HEY! See these two iconic characters? They're in a movie. TOGETHER. And they're FIGHTING EACH OTHER! How cool is that?" Maybe that's just the trailer, but if the movie kind of has that same vibe where the whole it is just building to an epic fight, then I will be disappointed. I think the best part about these kinds of movies - where you're anticipating a showdown or climax - is the buildup and if it's not carefully executed and there aren't enough reasons to enjoy the characters, then it's a failure. I certainly hope Snyder can pull this off because DC comics needs this to work in order for their master plan of a Justice League franchise is kaput. I think if you would've asked me two years ago or longer, this would have been number one by far on my list. But times have changed and Marvel is the king of good superhero movies and I think this is DC's chance to prove themselves.

7. Keanu
Starring: Will Forte, Luis Guzmán, Keegan-Michael Key
Director: Peter Atencio
Writers: Jordan Peele, Alex Rubens
Release Date: April 22
Key and Peele are one of the more clever and funnier comediens out there and after they finished up their Comedy Central show, they decide to make a movie. It sounds pretty amazing:
More specifically, EW says that Keanu tells the story of two "blerds" ("black nerds") who impersonate gangsters in order to infiltrate a drug cartel, which - for reasons unknown - is in possession of their stolen cat, Keanu. So it's probably safe to assume that that's Keanu in the photo above, then, and not some evil kitten who's taken two blerds hostage.
This entire movie was basically the most expensive adorable-kitten video of all time...Overall it’s meant to satirize how pop culture paints masculinity and what it means to be African-American — and how many of us don’t fit into the mold expected of us.
Yes, I'm excited. There doesn't seem to be a lot of comedies coming out next year (granted, this year was full of a lot of fun comedies), so I'm even more excited about what Key & Peele can bring to the big screen.

6. Suicide Squad
Starring: Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Will Smith
Director: David Ayer
Writer: David Ayer
Release Date: August 5
Probably the more promising DC comics movie, Suicide Squad just seems to be taking a bigger risk and making sure creativity wins out over playing it safe. I mean, David Ayer, the writer of Training Day and the director behind some truly gritty films like End of Watch and Fury, is behind the camera and I think his unique vision and gritty demeanor are a perfect fit for the story of a bunch of villains donning the hero mask. And the cast looks fantastic, I think Jared Leto will leave his own mark on the iconic Joker and Margot Robbie looks to be the standout among the whole cast. It just looks sadistic and perfect. I think calling this a superhero movie is disingenuous, this is something altogether unique and hopefully the movie hits the right notes. Judging by the trailer, this movie should be a perfect end to the summer.

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1


2016 Most Anticipated: Change

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

While these next set of movies seem familiar, they're not quite directly related to and earlier movie (well, except for one). These are like cousins or something. I think this is great - I mean, a lot of attention next year is centered on a few big-time sequels, but despite that small handful, there's a lot of risky moves for the studio by taking existing properties and trying something different. It's a welcome change from just writing a direct sequel with all the same characters. And yes, I'm fully aware of my hypocrisy here by ranking the direct sequel as the top movie in this section. I can't help myself, I'm just excited about that one despite all the alarm bells going off that it might be terrible.

15. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell
Director: David Yates
Writer: J.K. Rowling
Release Date: November 18
Okay, I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan, I've obsessed over the books and movies for countless hours. That being said, I have yet to pick up Rowling's side project set in the same universe - Fantastic Beasts. I really don't know too much about the books and if they're any good. But I feel a tinge more excited knowing that it takes place 70 years before the events of Harry Potter and it's in New York. Add the fact you have a fantastic cast - Eddie Redmayne (who one an Oscar last year for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking), the up-and-coming Ezra Miller (the new Flash) and Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs), the underrated Colin Farrell, and frickin' Ron Perlman. The film is being helmed by previous Potter director David Yates and I love what he did with the last four films in Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay and it'll be interesting to see how she handles adapting her book to screen. This is her first real screenplay, so I'm a little wary of how that'll turn out. But there's lots of promise here and I'm excited to delve deep into the wizarding world again!

14. Ghostbusters
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon
Director: Paul Feig
Writers: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig
Release Date: July 15
Hooray for feminism! After being talked about for years and years, alls it took was for a few women to get together and decide they're doing their own damn Ghostbusters movie. Screw Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt (please don't, they're nice guys, but we just don't need you in this movie as well). And this is a straight-on reboot. The story is about a couple of scientists that posit ghosts are real and get laughed out of the scientific community. Then ghosts start to invade Manhattan and the two ladies form the Ghostbusters. This is probably a good decision - they're won't be any baggage from the other two movies that the movie has to address - it can live and die on its own. What's great is that Chris Hemsworth is making an appearance as the receptionist for the team. And although the movie will miss the cameo of  Harold Ramis (RIP), the rest of the original cast will show up. Well, except for Rick Moranis, who is apparently too good for a cameo. That's fine, the movie doesn't need to reflect too long on the past - as long as the story is good and it's just as funny as the original, this should be a slam dunk for the studio. Katie Dippold, who's known for working on Parks & Rec and the Bullock/McCarthy buddy cop movie The Heat, is writing the script. I'm confident this will be a blast.

13. Doctor Strange
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton
Director: Scott Derrickson
Writers: C. Robert Cargill, Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Jon Spaihts
Release Date: November 4
So far, Marvel's riskiest movies have paid off pretty well. Guardians of the Galaxy was the second-highest grossing movie in 2014 and Ant-Man was successful critically and financially - topping Captain America and Thor's worldwide grosses. So while Captain America: Civil War will capture most of the attention, Doctor Strange continues Marvel's experiment with oddball, quirky and fairly unknown superheroes that nonetheless have a devoted fanbase. I was a little wary with the choice of Cumberbatch for the role, but seeing him dressed up above, I feel a little bit more confident he's going to be a good fit. Marvel really hasn't missed a beat, even if Avengers 2 wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Plus the cast looks to be fantastic - Rachel McAdams has always been solid in everything she does and it sounds like she's playing the Natalie Portman role of this origin story. Mads Mikkelsen (better known as TV's Hannibal) will be protraying the villain and I just can't even. AND THEN you have Tilda Swinton playing The Ancient One, the mentor of Strange. This is great because Swinton is like a chameleon in every role she plays. Seriously, did you see her in Snowpiercer? And then see her in Trainwreck. Yes, those two are the same person! I love how they traded in the male character in the comics for a female. So yeah, the more I hear about this movie, the more I'm getting excited for it. This is another huge step/risk for Marvel and if they can pull this movie off, there's no character they can't turn into a hit (can we please just get a Black Widow movie now?). Phase 3 for Marvel is going to be great - we'll see the end of Captain America and Thor, the continuation of Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, new characters with Black Panter and Doctor Strange and Captain Marvel. So while the superhero genre is getting crowded, I think Marvel is doing a great job and mixing things up every year.

12. Warcraft
Starring: Travis Fimmel, Dominic Cooper, Paula Patton
Director: Duncan Jones
Writers: Duncan Jones, Charles Leavitt
Release Date: June 10
Speaking of risks, this is probably the most riskiest movie on the whole list. Universal has had a banner year (Furious 7, Jurassic World, Minions all topped a billion worldwide), but we'll see if that streak continues with Warcraft next year. There's been lots of rumors swirling around that the studio is a little worried about how to market this movie and its summer blockbuster prospects. While the budget isn't insane ($100 million reportedly), it's still going to sink or swim on whether it can cross half a billion worldwide. I've always loved the Warcraft strategy games. World of Warcraft is a universe I never want to step into - it just doesn't appeal to me. But the original games were fun and the stories were actually good. And it looks like the movie is basing itself more on the original strategy games than the mega-successful online World of Warcraft game. Which may or may not appeal to those fans, but I'm guessing is the better move for a more wide-appealing, critical success. While the movie looks pretty much like a LOTR clone, I think this can stand out with an exceptional story and characters. Duncan Jones has proven he's a great filmmaker - Moon and Source Code were great science fiction movies and I trust he can turn this fantasy epic into something special.

11. X-Men: Apocalypse
Starring: James McAvoy, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender
Director: Bryan Singer
Writer: Simon Kinberg
Release Date: May 27
I was super duper excited for X-Men: Days of Future Past, but was left feeling a little disappointed by the whole thing. It was still a fun movie, but First Class still remains the high bar for this franchise. I'm still excited for this movie even if the trailer leaves a little to be desired. I'm not going to lie, I kinda blame Bryan Singer for all of this. Sure, he handled the first two X-Men admirably, but the whole genre has moved beyond those films and I felt like Days of Future Past, which was his lauded return to the franchise as somewhat of a 'safe' and fairly by-the-books superhero movie. I think Singer is talented, but he just doesn't appeal to me and he feels a little granola in a way. Sure, you're going to get a decent film, but will it be memorable? Okay, it sounds like I'm bashing the whole film, but there's a lot to love here. Apocalypse continues the decade evolution of the X-Men and we've hit the 80s now. I kinda wish they'd just go full cheese with colorful suits and crimpy hairdos and leg warmers and SPANDEX. I mean, let's be honest - if the movie just embraced this 80s mentality, it might actually stand out. But the trailer looks like they're all wearing drabby grey clothes. Sigh. Oscar Isaac (who last melted your hearts as Poe Dameron, the love interest for Finn in Star Wars. Seriously, there's a bromance there waiting to happen), well, he's playing the badass Apocalypse who is just this insane mutant who has lived forever and can control other mutants and do some pretty bad ass shit. So yeah, this could be fun if they decide to raise the stakes a little bit and kill off a few, substantial characters. But I'm a little hesitant to get too excited - it still is Bryan Singer here and I feel like the studio is going to play it safe instead of making something truly memorable.

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1


2016 Most Anticipated: OMG

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1

Out of the top 25 movies I've picked this year - only 10 of them are remakes or sequels or part of a series. That's pretty impressive. I know I sound like a broken record every year, but as much as Hollywood is unoriginal, there's always at least a dozen really good, original movies that come out each year. There is one sequel in this section and they all look promising.

20. How to Be Single
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann
Director: Christian Ditter
Writer: Dana Fox, Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein
Release Date: February 12
You know what I'm excited about? A bunch of ladies finally taking over R-rated comedies. I mean, would you rather watch this movie or the one where Robert DeNiro says 'fuck' a lot? I mean, that's the only draw of Dirty Grandpa, right? And if the funny ladies weren't taking over right now, we'd get a lot of sad, misogynistic 'comedies' like that awful turd of a movie. So thank god this movie looks fairly fun and funny. I'm not the biggest Rebel Wilson fan (I don't think she steals every scene she's in), but I'll taker her here as the sidekick to doe-eyed Dakota Johnson. I'm always down for those comedies about friendships and finding out who you are while trading dick (well, in this case, vagina) jokes. Funny ladies Leslie Mann and Alison Brie also show up in this movie and I honestly hope that this movie is more about friendship than a romantic comedy. Even though I'm a sucker for romantic comedies, I'd rather see an honest movie about being single than a forced romance. I mean, the movie title says it all and I'll be plenty unhappy if they deceive me like that. Very unhappy.

19. Conner4Real
Starring: Andy Samberg, Imogen Poots, Sarah Silverman
Director: Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Writers: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone
Release Date: June 3
The second movie by the Lonely Island crew - their first was the underrated Hot Rod - looks to be pretty hilarious. At least, on paper. The plot revolves around a rapper who's latest album bombs and is forced to reunite with his boy band roots. I can only assume that lots of funny hijinks will ensue. I mean, Andy Samberg is tearing it up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the funniest show on TV right now. And his friends from SNL are all responsible for the digital shorts and pretty much any good skit on the show from 5 years ago. Plus the Lonely Island rap group are pretty awesome as well with such hits like I Just Had Sex and YOLO. I have a good feeling there's going to be some great songs with this movie and probably a ton of stupid jokes that I'll giggle to uncontrollably. Sign me up!

18. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Starring: Tina Fey, Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Writer: Robert Carlock
Release Date: March 4
Another comedy, but probably with a little more serious bent, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot tells the true story of Kim Barker, a war correspondent in Afghanistan and Pakistan and her experience being a woman reporter on the frontlines. The movie looks like it's going to have a good balance of laugh out loud jokes with some very serious, holy shit moments. I think seeing the war we fought in Afghanistan through these types of lens is an easy pill to swallow for me. Some of the experiences Barker has had will hopefully translate well on screen and give us a little bit different look at the war and those that report on it. I mean, the trailer kind of pinpoints how seriously fucked up it is over there when Barker is explaining to one of the woman that she went to Afghanistan to escape her boring, insufferable life. I'm excited to see Fey's performance and the directors, who've had a pretty weird directing filmography (The eclectic I Love You, Phillip Morris, Crazy, Stupid, Love and Focus), should bring at least a unique perspective to things. Plus Margot Robbie is in this and I'm telling you guys, it's the year of Robbie. And I'm pretty sure she's going to nail each and every movie,

17. Passengers
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writer: Jon Spaihts
Release Date: December 21
Passengers was one of those black list movies (The black list is a list of unproduced screenplays that are highly regarded) waaay back in 2007. It's lingered in development hell for almost 8 years before the saving grace of our lady Jennifer Lawrence and master Chris Pratt. Hollywood's biggest ambassadors are here to take this script and probably make a billion dollar baby out of it. The story is about a spaceship transporting humans through space and a malfunction causes one of the passengers to wake up from cryogenic sleep. Afraid of being left alone his whole life, he wakes up a female passenger to keep him company. I mean, the concept sounds great. If the execution and the rest of the story is told well, then this might be not only a great science fiction movie, but also an Oscar contender. Morten Tyldum, the Oscar-nominated director from The Imitation Game is directing and I think he'll do a fantastic job creating a space for hopefully some great performances from both leads. John Spaihts looks to have a fantastic year with this screenplay and he's had a hand in Marvel's Doctor Strange movie as well. So I'm excited - I think because the movie is coming out a year from now that this movie isn't higher on my list. As the release date gets closer, I might just get more excited about this one.

16. Untitled Bourne Movie
Starring: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writers: Matt Damon, Paul Greengrass, Christopher Rouse
Release Date: July 29
I probably shouldn't have this movie as high as it is, but A) please don't judge me B) it's another Bourne movie C) this Bourne movie reunites Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass and D) it can't be worse that Bourne Legacy, right? Maybe the movie will take place 10 years later. I love time jumps in movies/shows. That could be the best thing for this series - get away from the trilogy's story and bring in a new threat for Bourne and make him vulnerable. I'm confident that Greengrass and Damon can come up with something - they are writing the script along with Rouse, who's been the editor for all of Greengrass's movies. The only thing is, are people going to be open to another Bourne film? I think Damon has proven he can still draw audiences with a great character/story (The Martian was a near-perfect vessel for Damon this year). And Bourne is still pretty well-known, so we'll see. I'm excited to hear more about the story - which I think this is where the film will sink or swim. If it's more of a re-tread on the trilogy, then I think it's a failure. If they can move past Bourne's legacy (pun intended, folks!) than this could be a great start to another set of movies.

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1


2016 Most Anticipated: Hodgepodge

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Time for the top 25. These are must-sees for me. These next five movie are kind of a mix of every genre - drama, comedy, thriller, action.

25. The Founder
Starring: Michael Keaton, Patrick Wilson, Linda Cardellini
Director: John Lee Hancock
Writer: Robert D. Siegel
Release Date: November 25
Sure to be an Oscar contender, The Founder is about the true story of Ray Kroc, the 'founder' of the modern incarnation of McDonald's. Michael Keaton stars as the lead role who partnered with the McDonald brothers to open up more of their stores and eventually taking over the franchise and starting the whole fast-food chain craze that is only now beginning to see cracks. Hopefully this will be a more critical look at Kroc and it sounds like most of what he did to secure the rights to McDonald's sounds a bit shady. Michael Keaton is continuing his renaissance as the go-to guy for buzz-worthy performances and it'd be nice to see him win the Oscar he was due for Birdman. The rest of the cast sounds fantastic and John Lee Hancock is familiar with true stories, having directed The Blind Side and Saving Mr. Banks. I hope this isn't a feel-good movie like those, but rather a realistic portrayal of how things shook out. I'm interested in this story simply because McDonald's is an American institution and to hear about it's not-so-humble beginnings sounds like a perfect fit for an Oscar-contending drama.

24. Demolition
Starring:  Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Writer: Bryan Sipe
Release Date: April 8
Speaking of renaissances, Jake Gyllenhaal has been on a bit of a streak lately. Ever since he made that mess of a movie, Prince of Persia, he's been on a tear. Source Code, End of Watch, Prisoners, Nightcrawler, Southpaw. And while Demolition has not gotten strong reviews from the critics who've seen it, this one sounds like it should be a good dramedy. I love these bittersweet movies where the lead character finds redemption through tragedy (Reign Over Me, Everything Must Go, Dallas Buyers Club). From the looks of the trailer, this one looks to have the laughs and the tears. It's about finding the right balance - you don't want to go too extreme with the funny or the tears, otherwise it'll feel wrong and sappy or just absurd. John Lee Hancock, the director, who also did Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, two very good movies, is behind this one and I feel like this could be one of those movies that sticks around in your head long after the credits roll. While this probably won't win any awards, the story and the cast seems to be the reason to check this one out.

23. The Jungle Book
Starring: Neel Sethi, Lupita Nyong'o, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Marks
Release Date: April 15
I'm not a huge fan of the original Disney animated movie. It was one of those movies where the pacing felt slow and awkward and I just could never get into a story about talking animals raising a kid. It just felt silly to me, even when I was a kid. But I will give Disney and their marketing team credit, they've got me hooked here. This just looks dark and sinister justenough to reel me in. I am no fan of pretty much any live action Disney movie lately (Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Maleficent, Oz the Great and Powerful) so I should be more weary of this movie than I am. But I don't know, maybe I'm hoping the sum of the movie (the look and feel, plus the cast) exceeds its story. Jon Favreau is still a great director despite making Cowboys & Aliens. He is familiar with kids movies, having directed the underrated Zathura. And the voice cast is fantastic - it's pretty much all A-listers so there's no need to panic there. Bill Murray as Baloo the Bear is brilliant, BTW. But the more I think and write about this movie, there a sinking, settling feeling of mediocrity. If the movie can live up to the fantastic promise of this trailer, then I will be there opening day.

22. Now You See Me: The Second Act
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Dave Franco
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writers: Pete Chiarelli, Ed Solomon
Release Date: June 10
Now You See Me came out of nowhere. What looked like the most douchiest of douche movies when I first saw the trailer, turned out to be a pretty fantastic, fun movie with a neat little twist. To pull that off twice is going to be tough. Luckily, they've brought in fresh blood with Lizzy Caplan and Daniel Radcliffe (who hopefully doesn't make just a cameo). And the trailer looks like the movie is going to be filled with more CGI-enabled magic tricks that obviously aren't realistic, but look hella cool! So yeah, count me in, if it's as fun as the first one and there's not a forced twist at the end where it looks like everyone involved was just trying to re-write the first movie, then yeah, totally there opening weekend. Jon Chu, the director behind a lot of those Step Up sequels (which I rather like, thank you very much) and the much-maligned Jem and the Holograms movie this year, will be helming this thankless job of trying to recreate the same magic as before. As long as he lets the actors continue their charm and the magic tricks take center stage, this should be solid.

21. Deadpool
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano
Director: Tim Miller
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Release Date: February 12
I don't know how I feel about this movie. On one hand, this looks refreshing and fun and completely stupid for a superhero movie. On the other hand, I can't help but think this movie will be full of dumb jokes catered for the 12-year-old boy in the audience and possibly misogynistic? I don't know! Some of the jokes work here, but some of them are pretty lame (that whole don't swallow joke is dumb and kind of offensive). But that's what Deadpool is! I guess it's okay to be offensive when it's funny, but when the jokes are dialed in like that one, I kinda have to pass. Okay - it sounds like I'm bashing this big-time but the reason it's so high on my list is that this is a tremendous risk and completely bonkers that it even got made. I mean, judging from the looks of things, this movie probably won't be making that much money, but it could be something provocative and totally take the superhero genre and flip it on its head. Hopefully the movie has a clever plot and that it's not all bang-bang, look I can talk to the camera! kind of set up. The guys who wrote Zombieland are behind the script, so I have faith. The director, Tim Miller, is a rookie here and his little short/treatment he filmed for the studio is what landed him the job - so they must have liked his vision. But there's lots of potential here!

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1


2016 Most Anticipated: Adapt

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The real plot to Independence Day
We're at the halfway point here, folks. And I usually clarify around this time that the bottom 25 are a bit different from my top 25. I had a really hard time fitting in my top 25. I consider the top 25 to be the movies I'll pay money opening weekend to see. Sure, it might be a $5 matinee, but it still counts as the opening weekend. These next five movies just missed the cut, I mean, I wouldn't be surprised if I saw all these opening weekend, too. It's just that these movies were either adaptations with troubled productions, unwanted sequels or there were too many unknowns to really get me excited to see them immediately. Regardless, I'm still excited, just a bit hesitant to state that I'm handing over my somewhat-well-earned dollars to see them.

30. Ben-Hur
Starring: Jack Huston, Nazanin Boniadi, Haluk Bilginer
Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Writers: Keith R. Clarke, John Ridley
Release Date: August 12
Ben-Hur, when released in 1959, was considered the biggest film ever made - it had the largest budget ($15 million!) and the largest sets ever for a film made at that time. It's actually quite surprising that Hollywood has waited almost 60 years to remake this film. I don't think this one would have made my list if not for the talent involved. First of all, let's at least give this film some credit for hiring ethnic actors, unlike other recent historical pieces like Exodus: Gods and Kings. And while Ben-Hur is most definitely protrayed by a white dude, at least it seems like the supporting cast is full of people that are most definitely not white. And then the director, Timur Bekmambetov, who has been flying under the radar for the past few years seems like an odd choice to direct. He's got a flair for the over-the-top and insane action scenes (Wanted, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) that I'm wondering how toned-down he'll be. Maybe the studio hired him to really use his unique visuals to set this remake up as more than just a remake? I don't know - I'm excited to see a trailer to gauge my proper excitement level. This could end up being really bad, or just bad enough to make it amazing.

29. Inferno
Starring: Tom Hanks, Felicity Jones, Ben Foster
Director: Ron Howard
Writer: David Koepp
Release Date: October 14
It will be 7 years since the last time we saw Robert Langdon grace the big screen, chasing down religious mysteries and conspiracies and cult groups. I'm kind of wondering if people are going to remember anything about these characters. Sure, the book this movie is based on came out in 2013, but I feel like us as a culture have moved on from Dan Brown novels. Maybe I'm wrong - the book has sold 6 million copies worldwide. I mean, I haven't sold 1 book, so I shouldn't be talking shit. The plot seems intriguing enough - After waking up in a hospital room in Florence, Italy, with no memory of what has occurred for the last few days, Robert Langdon suddenly finds himself the target of a manhunt. With the help of Dr. Sienna Brooks and his knowledge of symbology, Langdon will try to escape whilst solving the most intricate riddle he's ever faced. I mean, you have a trio of talented people - Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and David Koepp. The latter of which who's written some iconic screenplays, including Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible and Spider-Man. Sure, he's also written Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and The Lost World, but everyone has their off-days. I guess I'm just excited mostly because these kinds of films - big-budget dramas/thrillers - are few and far between. So there you go, Inferno kinda makes the list on default. We're setting a high bar here.

28. The Huntsman: Winter's War
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt
Director: Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Writers: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Craig Mazin
Release Date: April 22
What immediately popped into my head about The Huntsman is how I hope the team behind the movie took some notes while watching Mad Max: Fury Road. With a very female-centric cast (despite the male-centric title), this could be a fun, feminist movie. Forget about the damsel in distress, I'd rather see some women kick butt and talk about something other than a hunky huntsman. The trailer hasn't completely sold me on the film - I think the visuals are as striking as they were with the first film. In fact, the visual effects guy from the first film is back, this time taking over directing - so he hasn't had much experience. The writers on this movie are interesting - Spiliotopoulos has written a lot of family movies, but did the recent, Dwayne Johnson Hercules movie, which wasn't entirely bad. But Craig Mazin has written mostly half-baked comedies like Hangover 2 & 3 and Identity Thief. So I'm a little weary that this film's plot and character development might not lean towards my hopeful, feminist tone I'd like to see. But maybe this will be a surprise! I like the cast and if it's not as dour as the first and more fun, this could be a fantastic film.

27. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies
Starring: Lena Headey, Lily James, Matt Smith
Director: Burr Steers
Writer: Burr Steers
Release Date: February 5
This film seems like it has been in development forever. Natalie Portman was attached to star, but has dropped out and it's been through 3 or 4 different directors. I think I read the book 5 years ago and while I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd like (I think the author, Seth Gramme-Smith's Lincoln: Vampire Hunter was imminently more enjoyable, as was the film adaptation), I'm still stoked to see this parody of the Victorian masterpiece on screen. Sure, it won't have the big name star like Portman, nor a really in-demand director, but the trailer looks fun. I mean, I had high hopes for Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and it delivered. There's no reason this can't succeed despite all the drama behind the scenes. If you're not familiar with Pride and Prejudice, well, it probably won't matter that much with the movie, just know that instead of vying for a man's attention, Elizabeth Bennett and her crew of sisters are going to be focusing on kicking some zombie ass.

26. Independence Day: Resurgence
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Joey King, Maika Monroe
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Carter Blanchard
Release Date: June 24
Independence Day was such a killer movie when it came out. It hasn't aged very well. But then again, it kinda of has. I guess I have a love/hate relationship with the movie. At times, it's so amazing - the White House blowing up! Bill Pullman's President speech! Will Smith punching aliens! Then again - the whole Randy Quaid drunken character bit was terrible, the hacking the alien computers was just, so, not. For some reason, this trailer really works for me. Chills ran down my spine when Bill Pullman started talking. But they are going super dark here - I don't know if it'll payoff in the new movie. Part of what made Independence Day so great was that it was so god damn cheesy and it kind of felt your were watching a blockbuster movie, rather than trying too hard to be grounded in reality. I feel like we can't go back to those days - you know, the pre-9/11 action days when things were a bit goofy and Schwarzenegger can kick drug dealer's asses as a kindergarten teacher and no one bats an eye at how ridiculous it is. So I'm hoping maybe it will be more light-hearted than what the trailer is selling, because even though this trailer is pushing all the right buttons for me, I'd rather have the original than some half-baked sequel that takes itself too seriously.

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1


2016 Most Anticipated: Animated

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I'm not going to lie, folks. I love a good animated film. Sometimes they're the best and they're just fun to watch. Kids movies will always be one of my favorite go-to rewatches. Of course I say that because I don't have kids and are not forced to watch Cars 3 times in a day, every day. But next year is looking pretty great - there's actually a couple animated/family movies I think will be good, but I couldn't fit them all in.

35. Moana
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Auli'i Cravalho, Alan Tudyk
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Writers: Ron Clements, John Musker, Taika Waititi
Release Date: November 23
Disney's own animation studio has been knocking it out of the park lately ever since they released Bolt way back in 2008. Since then, their 3D studio has produced hits like Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen and Big Hero 6. They're probably outpacing Pixar in terms of quality, original movies. So while pretty much little is known about Moana, I'm guessing it's going to be pretty good and will take the internet/youth by storm with some sort of catchy song or two. But the plot sounds like an adventure film - A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui. I hope it's as colorful both visually and story-wise as the above picture.

34. Zootopia
Starring: Idris Elba, Jason Bateman, Ginnifer Goodwin
Director: Bryon Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush
Writers: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston
Release Date: March 4
If the movie is a good as this clip, I think this is going to be a real treat come March. This clip is the perfect example of mixing in adult-flavored jokes (the DMV is so GD slow!) with kid-centered hijinks (the sloths are so slow and look hilarious when they laugh!). The plot sounds like it'll actually be something we'll want to follow along: In the animal city of Zootopia, a fast-talking fox who's trying to make it big goes on the run when he's framed for a crime he didn't commit. Zootopia's top cop, a self-righteous rabbit, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they're forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends. The directors have directed such hits like Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, so this should be in good hands.

33. Kubo and the Two Strings
Starring: Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey
Director: Travis Knight
Writer: Marc Haimes
Laika Studios has done nothing but great work since they did contract work on Corpse Bride - the stop-motion film from Tim Burton. They've only had 3 other movies since then (it does take a long time to film this type of animation!) and they've all been great - Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. But Kubo and the Two Strings seems like this is poised to break out in a big way next year. I think the blend of martial arts and fantasy will be a big hit. And the film just looks stunning and wholly unique. Plus the voice talent they've got on board is all amazing. This looks fun.

32. The BFG
Starring: Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader
Director: Steven Speilberg
Writer: Melissa Mathison
Release Date: July 1
Roald Dahl is an amazing figure in both history and literature. Not only was he a spy for the British Army, he wrote some amazing children's books - most of which have been turned into movies (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Witches). Steven Speilberg seems like the right choice for this film - there's an air of fantastical and whimsy that he's pretty good at capturing (E.T., Hook come to mind). I'm not a huge fan of the book, but I did enjoy it as a kid and I'm looking forward to seeing what magic Speilberg and his team can cook on screen.

31. Finding Dory
Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Diane Keaton, Dominic West
Director: Andrew Stanton, Angus MacLane
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Victoria Strouse
Release Date: June 17
Leave it to Pixar to turn what seems like a dull story about a lost fish into one the biggest animated movies of all time. Finding Nemo is the third-highest grossing Pixar movie (Inside Out edged it out of second place this year) and it's not surprising that with the studio getting sequelitis, this film would see a return of Dory and Nemo and the rest of the gang. From the plot details, it sounds like Dory finally remembers her family and everyone gets involved in helping her get back to them. Pixar has been kind of hit or miss lately (The Good Dinosaur was truly the worst movie they've done - yes worse than Cars 2 or Monsters University). But they've done good sequels like Toy Story 2 and 3 and errr, okay, so they only have 2 good sequels. So we'll see, I hope they find a good story that makes it worth coming back to visit these characters.

Runner-Ups 1 & 2 | 50-46 | 45-41 | 40-36 | 35-31 | 30-26 | 25-21 | 20-16 | 15-11 | 10-6 | 5-1