The PDC Picks Our Most Anticipated 2016 Films

Wave "do svidania" to 2015, folks! It's gone, kaput, fini! Let's look ahead to what's in store for 2016, and of course it promises more superheroes than ever, and yes, even more Star Wars. But there's more than that; we've also got a new Star Trek movie, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, the X-Men have two movies this year, and...what's that? Harry Potter is back? And the Ghostbusters? Whoa! Fortunately, there's more than just blockbusters and sequels out there, like new films from Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, and Terrence Malick.

It's going to be another wild year for film lovers, and the Punch Drunk Critics got together to pick the three movies we absolutely can't wait for. Check it out, and be sure to chime in with your own choices!

John Armstrong

Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen
Release Date: November 4th
If there's one thing we've learned from the second phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it's that the lesser-known properties can be the most fun.  But while Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man both pushed the MCU formula in comedic directions, Doctor Strange appears to be playing up the supernatural and occult.  That should be a nice break from the punch-or-shoot-em-up style we're used to getting in Marvel's core properties like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Avengers.  Benedict Cumberbatch is always fun to watch, and a supporting cast filled out with the likes of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton is a very good omen indeed.

Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Chris Hemsworth
Release Date: July 15th
Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy continue their mission to carve out space in comedies for ladies to shine.  This time it's a gender-flipped reboot of the classic '80s paranormal romp, with Bridesmaids' Kristen Wiig, and SNL regulars Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones joining McCarthy on the team.  It certainly is an audacious play on their part, already causing a tempest in the Twitter teapot over the idea of replacing Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, and Hudson with women.  Will this remake live up to the shadow cast by the original version? or will it find new ground to break and succeed on its own terms?  We'll have to wait until summer to find out.

Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, a cast of thousands
For some moviegoers -- myself among them -- all you need to say is "new Terrence Malick film" and we're sold.  Malick's detached, meditative style is far from everyone's cup of tea, but other directors can't seem to help but crib off of him when they want a quick injection of gravitas.  But Malick is contemplative, not didactic with his messages, and he's among the very few filmmakers who can engage with moral and spiritual questions without turning preachy.  His films wrestle with what it means to be human, but never try to push an easy answer on us, preferring to leave us to consider the questions they raise for ourselves.  What more can any work of art achieve than that?

Roxana Hadadi

Director: Doug Liman
Cast: Channing Tatum, Lea Seydoux
Release Date: October 7th
Poor Taylor Kitsch. A series of flopped would-be blockbusters, the terrible second season of True Detective, and now he's been recast as Gambit by none other than the loved-by-all Channing Tatum. I feel bad for Tim Riggins, but jeez, am I pumped to see Channing take on this character, my most favorite - and perhaps the most difficult to adapt - member of the X-Men. As a '90s kid, I'm partial to the overcoat-wearing, headband-sporting, card-throwing version with a particular Bayou drawl, and Kitsch's more Vegas-style Gambit was definitively not what I expected. Who knows what Channing will bring to the table? It's impossible to deny that he's improved leaps and bounds as an actor in recent years, and it will be interesting to see whether he can successfully add "superhero" to his resume with Gambit. Plus, if Tatum can work a New Orleans accent as well as he did faux French in The Hateful Eight, then please know that I'll be dead from thirst in the theater.

Director: Shane Black
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe
Release Date: May 20th
Ryan Gosling returns! Rejoice! All hail! After taking time off in recent years to have a daughter with Eva Mendes and direct his not-well-received first feature, Lost River, Gosling is popping back up in theaters, first with December's excellent The Big Short and then with next summer's The Nice Guys. This latest film from Shane Black pairs Gosling and Russell Crowe in an unlikely, wonderful duo in the same way that Black linked Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer together in the underrated, excellent Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Watch the red-band trailer for The Nice Guys and you might embarrass yourself with glee because you'll remember that Gosling is hilariously funny, and you'll realize that fat Russell Crowe is just regular Russell Crowe now, and you'll be pleased to learn that R-rated comedies don't always have to be juvenile free-for-alls. They can also be noir-ish, whipsmart films for adults, and that's exactly what makes The Nice Guys look so damn exciting.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Elle Fanning, Christina Hendricks, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee Kershaw, Keanu Reeves, Bella Heathcote
Release Date: 2016
Oh, I'm sorry. You didn't like Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives? Please GET OUT OF MY LIFE. It's exactly the nightmarish fever dream feel of "Only God Forgives" that has me excited for The Neon Demon, the latest from Refn about a coven of Los Angeles witches preying on the youthful and hopeful. Refn has always flirted with horror, but The Neon Demon -- picked up for distribution by Amazon, which will be an interesting experiment -- sees him going all out, and a Suspiria-like film from Refn is all I've ever wanted. Plus, a cast that includes Elle Fanning, Keanu Reeves, and Christina Hendricks? GIVE IT TO ME NOW.

John Nolan
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Director: Gareth Edwards
Cast: Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Ben Mendelsohn, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen
Release Date: December 16th
A decidedly bad name, Disneyfied if you will, but a name that’s going to be causing giddy fanboys like myself to squeal for the next year. Rouge One is to be the first Star Wars Anthology film that will lead into others including a Han Solo spin-off. I suppose anticipation is to be expected seeing as The Force Awakens is about to take its place as the top box office draw of all time. It’s much more than the flavor of the month though, it’s a turning point in the Star Wars cinematic universe, the fate of which will decide the future for all non-Skywalker films from a galaxy far, far, away. The story of the rebels who stole the death star plans that were carried by R2 way back in Episode IV: A New Hope, Rouge One will define whether audiences are willing to plunk down $10 a year for Star Wars films and more importantly whether or not films outside of the core characters can have mass appeal.

Captain America: Civil War
Directors: The Russo Brothers
Cast: Chris Evans, Sebastian Stan, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, pretty much everybody from The Avengers
Release Date: May 6th
Speaking of films that are defining the future of franchises the third Captain America film, which will see Cap and Tony finally duking it out, will undoubtedly have long lasting repercussions in the most dominant of cinematic universes. Not only will we see the Avengers completely fall apart but we are also stuffing more heroes into an already crowded roster, which has never worked out well in the past. That being said Marvel continually defies convention and logic with their successes so I’m extremely hopeful that new additions like Spider-man and Black Panther, will be dealt with properly. Besides, who didn’t get a little steamy watching that scene of Steve and Bucky fighting Iron Man in the trailer? Is there any way this movie is less then great?

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Director: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Jeremy Irons, Laurence Fishburne
Release Date: March 25th
I’m surprised by how many people are downing this film already…then again I was surprised that people didn’t like Man of Steel. I will admit that Doomsday looks less than perfect but everything else about this movie is hitting every note perfectly. Ben Affleck, contrary to previous popular belief, is on track to become yet another iconic Batman (I mean c’mon, the guy’s chin was MADE for comic book movies!) Henry Cavil is visually perfect as the Man of Steel, and even Gal Gadot, who I thought could never be a convincing Wonder Woman giving her slight frame, is nailing it if the trailers are to be believed. If nothing else, this will be the top popcorn film of the summer.

Looking back at my list I’m realizing just how dominated by “Cinematic Universes” the modern film market has become. You know what? I’m ok with that!

Mae Abdulbaki

X-Men: Apocalypse
Director: Bryan Singer
Cast: Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar Isaac, Nicholas Hoult, Rose Byrne, Tye Sheridan, Sophie Turner, Evan Peters
Release Date: May 27th
Of all the superhero movies out there (there are so many now that I can barely keep them straight most of the time), the X-Men films have always had my heart. Except for the third film in the franchise, the films have been strong, with lots of characters, good story lines, and a great ensemble cast. And now we're getting the Apocalypse story being told onscreen! It's one of the biggest story lines, with one of the biggest characters in X-Men history! The four horseman are in it! Xavier will finally go bald! There'll be younger versions of Jean Grey, Scott Summers, and Storm! Oscar Isaac is Apocalypse! It's too exciting for words and I can't wait to see how it all plays out. Plus, Nightcrawler is coming back (the younger version of him, but I'm not complaining).

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
I was one of those people who thought Man of Steel was just meh, but I can't help but be intrigued by the second film to feature Henry Cavill as Superman. First off, it's Henry Cavill (hello!), and secondly, I've always enjoyed the Batman/Superman dynamic. They're just so opposite of each other in a lot of ways and it'll be interesting to see how it all goes down. I'm staying (mostly) spoiler free, and if they'd stop putting out trailers of the film, it'd be greatly appreciated. Now I don't think Zack Snyder is the best director ever; he's certainly not a strong storyteller in comparison to his ability to put together great action sequences, and there might be too many Justice League members being shoved into a movie that isn't the Justice League, but I'd be lying to say that I am not anticipating this film. If it turns out to be disappointing, then it'll be my own damn fault for hoping it's better than the last film.

Travis Hopson
Because my list would be nothing but X-Men, Marvel, DC, or Star Wars movies I'm going to make a point to not include any of them. There are too many promising flicks coming up to be completely occupied by superheroes. Limiting this to just three was CRAZY difficult.

Triple Nine
Director: John Hillcoat
Cast: Casey Affleck, Kate Winslet, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Norman Reedus, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Gal Gadot, Aaron Paul
Release Date: February 26th
I've had a serious jones for this Triple Nine since they first started putting the cast together, and believe it or not it was even more starry back then. First of all, it's a cop movie, which I love; but it's a cop movie directed by John Hillcoat, director of such manly flicks as The Proposition, Lawless, and The Road. But then you look at the cast which includes Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Norman Reedus, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Aaron Paul, Clifton Collins Jr., Gal Gadot, Michael K. Williams, and Teresa Palmer. Check muthafuckin' please!!

The Bad Batch
Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
Cast: Jason Momoa, Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves, Suki Waterhouse, Diego Luna, Giovanni Ribisi
Release Date: 2016
The coolest vampire of the last ten years was unquestionably Ana Lily Amirpour's A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. It was the kind of stylish, confident debut that sets an incredibly high bar for what comes next. So what does Amirpour choose to do? Explore romance in another fucked-up community, this time a Texas love story involving cannibals. And obviously her talents have attracted the attention of big Hollywood as uber-producer Megan Ellison is backing this effort which features the starriest cast Amirpour has ever worked with. This one's going to be weird and fun and I simply can't wait.

The Birth of a Nation
Director: Nate Parker
Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Colman Domingo, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union
Release Date: 2016
I've often said that Nate Parker is this generation's Denzel Washington....if only Denzel would get out of the way! That's not likely to happen any time soon, and Parker has found a way to forge his own path, anyway. Part of that includes making a move behind the camera (just as Denzel did with The Great Debaters, Parker's breakout film) with the slavery drama, The Birth of a Nation. The film tells the true story of Nat Turner, the charismatic slave who led a violent slave rebellion in 1831 that led to dozens of white people being killed. It's touchy, complicated material that could stoke racial fires that still burn today, but there's every reason to think Parker will handle it with the care such a story deserves. Fortunately, this one's playing at Sundance so I should (::fingers crossed::) be able to find out very soon.