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!
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.
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.
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.
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.