2016 was a year full of truly spectacular horrors, both off and on the silver screen. While we were treated to another slate full of prequels, sequels, adaptations and franchise starters, some inescapably bad films got greenlit for huge budgets only to fall short critically and, in some cases, financially. Shockingly, I could say the same for nearly any year and not miss the mark, and I’m also sure I could probably copy/paste this paragraph at the beginning of next year’s list. Fortunately for you, here’s a list of what I think you should watch in the meantime. Now, I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, “This nerd? This whole list is going to be comics book and sci-fi movies.” Well guess what, friend-o! You’re right.
Oh, and this list is in chronological release order, so it’s just a coincidence that a Shyamalan movie is #15 and Star Wars is number #1.
Split – Jan 20
I’m genuinely interested in seeing what this movie is going to be like. If you’re expecting me to say “psyche!” or “here’s the twist, I’m really not excited by this movie at all” I’d ask you what kind of hack to you think I am? Shyamalan may just have gotten his groove back with Split. I’m a big James McAvoy fan and this movie got a lot of positive buzz after it premiered at Fantastic Fest. Unsurprisingly, Split appears to be an atypical psychological horror thriller but being that that’s where M Night made his debut, maybe an opportunity to return to form will provide us with what we hoped everything after Sixth Sense was going to be.
Logan – March 3
Didn’t think you’d get more than three paragraphs into something I’m writing without getting a comic book movie in the mix, did you? Logan is (for the third time) supposed to be the last time that Hugh Jackman is playing Wolverine, and this movie (for the xth time) is supposed to be the definitive version of Wolverine. As eye roll-inducing as that last sentence was, I do see this narrative landscape being fertile ground for an interesting movie. Logan will mirror the “Old Man Logan” storyline from the comics (with fewer Hulks and more Johnny Cash covers) but it introduces wrinkles with a young girl for Wolvie to take care of. And if you think for one second that I don’t know that that girl is X-23, you can stop reading this article right now.
The Belko Experiment – March 17
The first of two James Gunn movies to grace this illustrious list, The Belko Experiment is poised to be the movie most likely to have you asking yourself who comes up with this stuff. Taking place in a corporate office during what seems like a prank turned dark social experiment, this movie will seek to shock you with its portrayal of seemingly normal people’s quick turns to violence while making you reflect on what you would do in the same situation. The trailer does make it seem a bit campy early on so hopefully the pivot to psychological thriller isn’t too much whiplash for the audience. Whether or not this film holds up will most likely be based on the payoff of why someone is holding this experiment. My guess? The Insane Clown Posse.
Life – March 24
In our never ending quest to send attractive people to space, Life is my pick from the humans-in-space-meet-aliens category (sorry, Aliens: Covenant). Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Ryan Reynolds and Rebecca Ferguson, Life pulls a Gravity by seeming like it could be happening right here, right now… Setting itself to be a more realistic and attainable version of the now standard “Earthlings in space encounter what turns out to be hostile life upon first contact,” Life documents a group of astronauts on the International Space Station studying an alien sample from Mars. I’ve been largely unimpressed lately with anything that deems itself a thriller, but the cold nothingness of space is as good a place for my hope in the genre to be rekindled. Plus, I’ll never get tired of thinking to myself, how stupid are these fictional characters? Obviously that alien is going to kill you, you idiots.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. II – May 5th
Following up 2012’s smash hit and Chris Pratt launch vehicle Guardians of the Galaxy was always going to be a herculean task. But luckily for James Gunn (see, told you) he’s got an ace up his sleeve: Baby Groot. The potted plant that launched a thousand memes has already fully anthropomorphized his way into our hearts in the first full trailer. If this movie can match the wit and cast chemistry of the first film, we’ll have another enjoyable, if safe, Marvel film to kick off the summer blockbuster season. Let’s just hope the whole Ego, the Living Planet thing isn’t an absolute flipping disaster.
Wonder Woman – June 2nd
Arguably (not really) the best part of last year’s Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman is getting her long awaited solo film this year, and it looks awesome. Again, showing that the people behind the DCCU are trying to belie the fact that they’re actively copying the MCU mission plan, Wonder Woman will be a period piece. This one however is set around WWI, so it’s totally not the same as Captain America: The First Avenger. If you can suspend disbelief beyond the fact that a woman who can fight right alongside Superman wouldn’t just single-handedly win an entire war, this movie is sure to be as action packed as you’d like with plenty of attractive people to almost help you forget this is a comic book movie.
Spider-Man: Homecoming – July 7th
With a title basically giving a not so subtle middle finger to Sony’s attempt at rebooting the franchise, Spider-Man making his way back under the Marvel Studios umbrella is a great sign for the character. This will be our second run in with this incarnation of the webhead (see: Captain America: Civil War) which will hopefully allow this iteration to forego the origin story that we all know by now. Freed from at least 30-45 minutes of character building, this Spider-Man film seem poised to give us a deeper delve into the balancing act a young Peter Parker has between his high school life and he heroic alte rego. Tom Holland has already shown a command of the Spider-Man charm and with Michael Keaton in tow as yet another flying animal themed vigilante, Spider-Man: Homecoming will totally be the version of Spider-Man we’ve always wanted.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – July 21st
Sadly for my friend Anthony, this didn’t end up being the documentary of the forging of Valyrian Steel I’d hoped it was. However, if you took scenes from almost every sci-fi trailer in the past eight years and smashed them all together, it would look a lot like what Valerian appears to be. Seemingly borrowing from everything that has worked in every sci-fi film ever, and being based on French comic series Valerian and Laureline, Valerian will at the very least be the creme de la creme (see what I did there) of CG porn in a year filled to the brim with it.
Dunkirk – July 21st
However, if you’re only going to pick one movie to see on my birthday (that’s right folks) Dunkirk would have to be my pick. Another non-Batman Christopher Nolan outing, Dunkirk is the story of Operation Dynamo, an evacuation of allied soldiers in the early days of World War II. I know what you’re thinking: I’ve seen every single movie about every single part of the WWII. But I think if you could go back and time to stop yourself from seeing the Monuments Men to make room for Dunkirk, I bet you would. Nolan’s style is perfectly attuned to the bombast and bloody realism necessary to pull off a movies of this scale, so I’m really looking forward to this one.
Dark Tower – July 28th
I don’t know a whole lot about the Dark Tower series beyond the fact that Stephen King wrote it and it’s pretty universally acclaimed. I do however know Idris Elba is in it and I’m automatically game from that! The cast looks pretty solid and the director, Nikolaj Arcel, helmed the original Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movies but like most movies he stars in, I think Dark Tower will depend heavily on the performance Matthew McConaughey turns in. Let us not be so hasty to forget that the same man that so eloquently explained the spacetime continuum with a crushed beer car also made Failure to Launch.
Baby Driver – August 11th
You could have director Edgar Wright helm the next Mucinex commercial and I’d probably put it on this list because I have so much faith in his ability to tell a great story. Baby Driver is a story about a getaway driver played by Ansel Elgort whose life is thrown into chaos when a bank robbery goes wrong. Sure to filled with Wright’s trademark humor, stylistic cuts and pitch perfect use of soundtrack, Baby Driver will be yet another addition into the catalog of one of the most enjoyable and underrated directors of the modern era.
Thor: Ragnarok – Nov 3rd
Thor, by all accounts, is the Avenger with the least interesting films, which is a bummer because I’m actually quite a fan of Thor as a comic book character. The cast, production value and set designs present in both his films have been amazing but the stories haven’t managed to un-hokey the God of Thunder. Ragnarok, however, has a couple of things going for it. One: the director Taika Waititi, who knows how to not make a superhero movie after having a role in Green Lantern, will hopefully breathe new life into the character. Two, Hulk and a Planet Hulk subplot/concurrent storyline. Having the two juggernauts of the avengers team fight and team up was one of my favorite parts of the first Avengers film so I hope that is recaptured here.
Justice League – Nov 17th Trailer
If you thought my Wonder Woman blurb had a little bit of snark to it, get ready because in all honesty, I’m expecting this movie to be another big production of hot garbage, and I know I’m still going to see it at a midnight showing. I’ve seen nearly every DC movie that has come out and I’ve still yet to be convinced that anyone beyond Batman can truly translate to the live action medium. The DC faithful keep saying that the studios are going to get it right with the next one, but having had all the Justice League heroes I give a damn about already teamed up in Batman v Superman, and the fact that this movie’s main antagonist is a dude named Steppenwolf, played by a 63 year old Irishman, doesn’t breed confidence.
Coco and Murder on the Orient Express – Nov 22nd
I had trouble choosing between these two films being that they represent my inner struggle of intent to mature my taste in films and my intent to see every kids movie that looks halfway decent. Barring the fact that Coco might appear to be a Book of Life ripoff, it’s got Pixar attached to it so I’m automatically intrigued. However, Murder on the Orient Express has a pretty stellar cast and I’m a sucker for mystery movies done right, so what’s a person to do? See both, and ignore the fact that this list is now technically 16 flicks long.
Star Wars: Episode VIII – Dec 15th
Come on now.
- Soldado (TBA) – Follow up to 2015’s highly underrated Sicario.
- Okja (Netflix, TBA) – Latest from Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer).
- The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (TBA) – Latest from Steven Spielberg.
- All Eyez on Me (June 16th) – Tupac Shakur biopic.
- Beauty and the Beast (March 17th) – The Jungle Book adaptation worked well, worried this won’t.
God Particle (October 27th) – Wondering why Cloverfield continues to receive anthology films.
- Aliens: Covenant (May 19th) – Prometheus is all I think I have to say.
Most Likely to be an Unmitigated Disaster
Power Rangers (March 24th) –There will be worse movies this year, but with an estimated $120 million dollar budget set to attempt to cash in on the buying power of those of us who grew up with the Power Rangers, this movie would have to be perfect to not suck. And based on everything I’ve seen thus far, if this movie breaks even, I’ll be surprised.