From Assassin’s Creed and Hail Caesar! to X-Men: Apocalypse, this year is shaping up to be a big one for Hollywood and movie fans alike, with an abundance of high-profile projects likely to make 2016 another record-breaking year at the box office.
We’ve covered the lesser-known films hitting theaters this year that we think you should keep on your radar. But what about the movies already making headlines and spawning water-cooler conversation?
Here are the 20 movies — from big-budget blockbusters to lower-profile projects — we think are shaping up to be must-see material this year.
The latest film from the Oscar-winning duo of Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, No Country For Old Men, True Grit) is always a big deal. This time around, it’s the story of a Hollywood “fixer” in the 1920s tasked with recovering a famous actor who’s been kidnapped. It’s also the third film in the Coen’s “Numbskull Trilogy” — a trio of films starring Clooney including the previously released O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty.
Ryan Reynolds’ solo debut as Marvel Comics’ mouthy mercenary has been in the works for more than five years now and, after a rocky start, the film has fast become one of the year’s most intriguing projects. From its “R” rating and its protagonist’s tendency to break the fourth wall, to its raunchy, irreverent approach to the superhero genre, Deadpool is shaping up to be a superhero film like nothing else we’ve seen.
10 Cloverfield Lane
Surprise! J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company somehow managed to keep this project a secret until the first trailer debuted, and now that the sequel is out, people are talking. Abrams has all but confirmed that the story of a small group of people living in a secluded bunker after a mysterious (and possibly non-existent) apocalyptic event is actually a pseudo-sequel to Cloverfield, Matt Reeves’ wildly popular, 2008 found-footage monster movie.
Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
A big-screen brawl between two of the most iconic superheroes of all time pretty much sells itself, but Warner Bros. Pictures’ grim-and-gritty interpretation of the DC Comics universe certainly has its share of critics. Still, there’s no denying the appeal of seeing Batman and Superman on the same screen, and with the movie expected to introduce many of the other stars of WB’s burgeoning superhero movie-verse — including Wonder Woman and Aquaman — there’s a lot riding on this movie’s success.
Captain America: Civil War
The third installment of the Captain America franchise, Civil War is anything but a solo movie for Chris Evans’ solder-turned-superhero title character. Along with pitting the two most prominent superheroes of Marvel’s cinematic universe — Captain America and Iron Man — against each other, the film will also feature the debuts of the new Spider-Man (Tom Holland) and the African superhero, Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).
The Nice Guys
No one does crime thrillers like Shane Black, the writer/director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3. This film features one of his best lineups to date, with Ryan Gosling playing a tough-luck private investigator forced to team up with a brutish enforcer played by Russell Crowe in order to get to the bottom of a girl’s disappearance. As with all of Black’s films, dark comedy and violence ensues.
The conclusion to a trilogy of films that began with 2011’s franchise-rebooting X-Men: First Class, Apocalypse not only serves to introduce one of the mutant superhero team’s greatest comic-book villains, but also establish the next wave of characters for the franchise. The rebooted franchise will finally debut its own versions of classic X-Men teammates Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm, as well as other fan-favorite characters (Nightcrawler!) that were abandoned when the studio hit the “reset” button.
Moon and Source Code director, Duncan Jones, has been sequestered away working on this live-action adaptation of Blizzard’s hit video game series for the last five years and, from what we’ve seen of the film so far, his time seems to have been well spent. The film will explore the roots of the bitter conflict between the humans and orcs on the world of Azeroth, and looks to be as epic as any grand fantasy brought to life on the big screen.
Independence Day: Resurgence
The aliens are back, and with the exception of Will Smith’s character, so is most of the 1996 original film’s cast. Yes, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman will indeed return for another battle with the alien invaders who blew up the White House 20 years ago — but this time around, Earth has the benefit of two decades’ worth of alien technology that will (hopefully) have us better prepared for the assault. Say it with us now: “Welcome to Earth (again)!”
Director and co-writer Paul Feig ensured that his upcoming reboot of the popular paranormal comedy franchise would be the subject of much discussion when he chose to ignore the continuity of the two prior films and replace the original, all-male cast with a quartet of leading ladies. Whether the gender-bending is a gimmick or inspired casting has yet to be determined, but Feig is certainly under a lot of pressure to prove that he had a good reason for rebooting/remaking one of Hollywood’s most beloved comedies.
Next page: 10 more highly anticipated movies releasing in 2016