Every movie fan has a “Can’t wait to see that!” title they carry around in their personal Anticipation Files.
In 2015, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was by far the most hyped and hotly anticipated movie of the year (and probably of all time). I was just as excited about “Creed,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Spotlight,” “The Big Short” and “The Revenant,” and none of those titles let me down.
We now hit the Refresh button on “Upcoming Movies” and turn our attention to 2016.
Quick: What’s the year’s most anticipated film? I’d say “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” — but that’s just one of the reboots, remakes, sequels and (that rarity of rarities) original films already generating buzz as we load the 2016 Movie Calendar.
I’m looking forward to dozens upon dozens of films slated for release next year (and dreading more than a few). This is my own 16 for ’16: my most eagerly anticipated movies heading soon to a theater near us.
“Hail, Caesar!” (Feb. 5)
This has all the makings of a classic Coen brothers comedy. Josh Brolin stars Eddie Mannix, a 1950s Hollywood “fixer” —the guy who cleans up messes and keeps scandals out of the tabloids. When a famous leading man Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) is kidnapped, who ya gonna call? Eddie Mannix. Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand and Jonah Hill also star.
“The Girl on the Train” (Oct. 7)
The shorthand for this one is it’s 2016’s “Gone Girl.” Emily Blunt is the young woman who is obsessed with a seemingly perfect couple (Luke Evans and Haley Bennett). Based on the mega-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, “TGOTT” also features Rebecca Ferguson, who was such a standout in “Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation,” and Justin Theroux from HBO’s “The Leftovers.”
“Deadpool” (Feb. 12)
Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool first appeared in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and he returns as the title character in a film said to be more faithful to the Marvel Comics, where Wade Wilson/Deadpool debuted as a villain but eventually evolved into a complex anti-hero.
“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” (March 4)
Can’t wait to see the adaptation of Kim Barker’s sizzling, wickedly funny and intense memoir about her days covering Afghanistan and Pakistan as a reporter for ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune in the 2000s. A 2011 review in the New York Times said “Ms. Barker … depicts herself as a sort of Tina Fey character who unexpectedly finds herself addicted to the adrenaline rush of war.” The movie stars … yep. Tina Fey.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (Feb. 5)
Just when I thought I could go the rest of my life without seeing yet another version of Jane Austen’s much-filmed classic.
“Finding Dory” (June 17)
Some 13 years after “Finding Nemo,” Pixar serves up this sequel, which will take place a few months after the first story. Writer/co-director Andrew Stanton returns, as do the sensational voice stars from “Nemo,” Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres.
“The BFG” (July 1)
He’s a Big Friendly Giant! The talented Bill Hader stars as BFG in this adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved novel. Some guy named Spielberg directs, so you can understand why we have high hopes for this one.
“Captain America: Civil War” (May 6)
Chris Evans, who is not Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool,” “Green Lantern”) but reminds me of Reynolds in looks and acting style, has come to own the role of Captain America. This looks to be the most intriguing and complex adventure yet for the Cap: Amidst growing concerns over collateral damage, i.e., loss of civilian life in superhero battles, the Avengers split into two opposing groups — one led by Captain America, the other led by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).
“Ghostbusters” (July 15)
You may have heard a little about this one. I would have been fine with Hollywood leaving the original “Ghostbusters” alone, but if we’re gonna get a reboot, it doesn’t get more promising than Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids,” “The Heat”) directing; Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones as Ghostbusters, and reported cameos by a number of original cast members, including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Sigourney Weaver.
“Suicide Squad” (Aug. 5)
The DC Comics version of “The Dirty Dozen,” with Jared Leto, Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Viola Davis et al., starring as Death Row convicts secretly commissioned by the government to, you know, save the world.
Martin Scorsese’s oft-delayed project about two Jesuit Catholic priests who travel to Japan in search of their mentor — and find themselves in a world of hurt — is finally scheduled to be released in 2016. Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson star.
“War Machine” (TBA)
From “Troy” to “Inglorious Basterds” to “Fury,” Brad Pitt has joined many a movie battle. This time around he’s playing Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the much-respected commander whose career went up in flames after he criticized Vice President Joe Biden and other Obama administration officials in a Rolling Stone article.
“Sully” (Sept. 9)
Another A-list adaptation of real-life events. Clint Eastwood directs Tom Hanks (who else?) in the story of Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who pulled off an emergency landing in the Hudson River after his plane was struck by a flock of geese.
“LaLa Land” (July 15)
Writer-director Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to “Whiplash” reunites Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (“Gangster Squad,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love”) in a musical comedy about a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (Nov. 18)
Movie version of a textbook owned by one Harry Potter. Fantastic! The story reportedly takes place some 70 years before Harry’s adventures, and will be set in New York.
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (March 25)
Fanboys and fangirls who wailed in protest about the casting of Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight must have missed his work in films such as “The Town” and “Gone Girl.” Affleck’s an underrated actor capable of playing charming, successful and popular (someone like, say, Bruce Wayne), as well as dark, brooding and dangerous (ala the Batman).
Zack Snyder (“Man of Steel”), who knows a thing or two about intense, epic action sequences, directs. Henry Cavill returns as Superman, and the supporting cast includes Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons and Holly Hunter.
This film could be a real force in 2016.