2016 Most Anticipated: Talented

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

Just a quick note before we get into the thick of it for this batch of movies. The Legend of Tarzan is now the official title for number 47 on my list. It looks, well, I don't know. There's not much plot, this teaser is really just to get all the 12-year-old boys excited for the movie, really:

But let's get back to the list - there's a kind of odd mix of genres that I think that may end up being fun, if not downright really, really good. I think the amount of talent both in front and behind the camera is why they're on my list.

45. Central Intelligence
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Writers: Ike Barinholtz, David Stassen, Rawson Marshall Thurber
Release Date: June 17
I'm a fan of Kevin Hart. But I also don't like him that much. He's a funny guy, but he's also pretty annoying. I guess I have a love/hate relationship with the dude. His last movie I saw, The Wedding Ringer was one of the most godawful, dumb and insulting movies I've seen in a long time. So I'm a little hesitant to go and see this movie. However, Dwayne Johnson is so effortlessly charming and he's pulling out all the stops it seems in this movie. So against my better judgement, I'm putting it on my list. Plus the writers involved are pretty talented - Barinholtz & Stassen both work on The Mindy Project and Thurber is the writer/director of Dodgeball and the director of the funnier-than-it-should-be We're the Millers. It seems like we're getting as many spy spoof movies as we are getting spy movies nowadays and hopefully this one turns out like Spy from 2015.

44. The Free State of Jones
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross
Release Date: May 13
Based on a true story about a group of Confederate defectors who declared their independence from the Confederacy in Jones county, Mississippi. There is a fascinating and brief Wikipedia entry that covers a lot of details. This is just another step in the McConnaissance, as he plays the leader of the defectors, Newt Knight (what a fantastic name BTW). Along with McCounaughey is the up-and-coming Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Concussion, Beyond the Lights) and Kerri Russell. Written and directed by the veteran Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Hunger Games), this should be a movie hoping for critical accolades. I wouldn't be surprised if this gets pushed back towards the fall for Oscar season. I think how much action it has will kind of determine that. This, to me, sounds a lot more like a drama, but who knows? I'm pretty excited about the possibilities of this movie.

43. The Magnificent Seven
Starring: Chris Pratt, Matt Bomer, Denzel Washington
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: John Lee Hancock, Richard Wenk, Nic Pizzolatto
Release Date: September 23
It seems like Hollywood is really, really pushing for a western revival. 2015 had the Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Slow West and I would consider Sicario a modern take on the western. But we're getting at least 2 next year with this movie and Jane Got a Gun. Why remake The Magnificent Seven? Well, because they got Denzel involved, that's why. Plus you got two of the hottest (both literally and figuratively) actors right now - Chris Pratt and Matt Bomer - on board. In fact, the rest of the cast is a goldmine of talent and up-and-comers. And on top of that, you have Antoine Fuqua directing, who is all about gritty and violent action movies (Equalizer, Training Day). And on top of that, Nic Pizzolatto, the main guy behind True Detective (both the good first season and the terrible second one). So there's tons of talent involved and this should be a good, worthy remake. But sometimes you have all this talent and a good idea and you end up with Cowboys & Aliens. I'd love to see a trailer - this could be an epic modern tale of the seven samurai who band together to save a small village from savage thieves.

42. La La Land
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Release Date: July 15
Damien Chazelle's Whiplash, about a kid and his abusive relationship with his hard-ass music teacher, was my favorite movie last year. And with all that street cred, Chazelle is upping his game with a musical comedy-drama about a jazz pianist (Gosling) who falls in love with an actress (Stone). Now I've never shied away from my disdain for musicals, but I'm willing to make exceptions when A) the story and characters are great, B) the plot/story revolves around music and C) it's unique and fun. Moulin Rouge, Once, Pitch Perfect are all worthy movies even aside from the musical performances. So I'm excited to see what Chazelle, Stone and Gosling can create onscreen. Plus I'm a sucker for romances - and Emma Stone is such a charming actress, I'll see her in anything.

41. The Accountant
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque
Release Date: October 7
Ben Affleck has lost a bit of luster for me, I used to be such a huge fan. Don't get me wrong, I'm still excited to see his Batman/Bruce Wayne take and there's probably not a movie I won't catch him in (okay, maybe that Runner Runner movie where he fed some guys to crocodiles). But damn I'm down for some corporate/political thriller action! Apprarently the movie is about a socially awkward accountant (duh) who moonlights as an assassin. So yeah, totally weird plot, right? But the rest of the cast is solid - Anna Kendrick, John Bernthal, J.K. Simmons, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow. And Gavin O'Connor (Warrior, Jane Got a Gun) is directing - I like Warrior and it'll be interesting to see how Jane Got a Gun turns out. The movie got pushed back from January 2016 to October 2016. Rumor was it his role in the new Batman movie as director pushed things back, but who knows. I'm ready to see Affleck kick some accounting butt.

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

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