20 Must-See Movies for 2016

Featured Geek Culture Movies


Last year had some truly great films, but it’s a new year, and the 2016 release calendar is shaping up to be just as good as (if not better than) 2015. Each and every month, from now until December, has something worth checking out. The year ahead includes a number of high-profile comedies and the usual flock of superhero films and sequels mixed alongside more unique, original films from a world-class roster of directors.

Here’s a look, month-by-month, at twenty movies worth checking out, as well as more than thirty more worth keeping on your radar…


Zoolander No. 2 (2/12) – When Zoolander came out in 2001, it struck just the right balance of hilarity and strangeness–a measure that Stiller and Company excel at. It may have taken 15 years to get here, but there’s no chance I’ll miss the return of Blue Steel. (Directed by Ben Stiller; Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penélope Cruz, Kristen Wiig, Fred Armisen)

The Witch (2/19) – When I first heard rumblings of Robert Eggers’ The Witch when it premiered last year at Sundance, it was hailed as one of the most striking, terrifying, period horror films in recent memory. The Witch may very well be the horror film of 2016. (Directed by Robert Eggers; Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie)

Other February films to keep on your radar: Hail, Caesar! (out now), Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next (2/12), Deadpool (2/12), Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent (2/17), and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (2/26)


The Boy and the Beast (3/4) – The short synopsis of Mamoru Hosoda’s new animated film, The Boy and the Beast, is that Kyuta, a young orphan living on the streets of Shibuya, stumbles into a fantastic world of beasts. From what I heard after the film screened at last year’s Fantastic Fest, at its heart, this a story of fathers and sons and a tremendous feat in anime comparable to the works of Miyazaki himself. Funimation is bringing the film to US theaters in March. (Directed by Mamoru Hosoda)

Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday (3/18) – 2016 is bringing us the first new Pee-Wee adventure in decades when Netflix premieres the Judd Apatow produced Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday on March 18th. The first teaser trailer for the film showcases the literal Rube Goldberg machine of whimsical silliness that is Pee-Wee Herman. (Directed by John Lee; Cast: Paul Reubens)

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (3/25) – Every clip and trailer I’ve seen thus far has me running for the exits. But, at the end of the day, it’s Batman v. Superman, and that’s a pretty big deal. I hope I’m wrong and this turns out great. We’ll see… (Directed by Zack Snyder; Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot)

Other March films to keep on your radar: John Goodman in 10 Cloverfield Lane (3/11), Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special (3/18), and Mark Osborne’s The Little Price (3/18)


Keanu (4/29) – Two words make this one of the most promising comedies of 2016: Key and Peele. Ever since the duo’s Comedy Central show ended last September, I’ve wondered when we’ll see anything comparable to the unique blend of racially aware, pop-culture fueled humor Key and Peele excelled at. The answer is April, when the cat-kidnapping Keanu, no-doubt a sendup of Keanu Reeves’ John Wick, hits theaters harder than a Hingle McCringleberry touchdown. (Directed by Peter Atencio; Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele)

(Warning: Red Band Trailer – NSFW)

Other April films to keep on your radar: Patrick Stewart in Jeremy Saulnier’s Green Room (4/1) and Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some (4/15)


Captain America: Civil War (5/6) – Where the merits of Batman v. Superman are up in the air at this point, Civil War has a lot going for it. The Captain America movies have consistently been the best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Civil War was one of Marvel’s best comic book events in decades. While the film may not be as epic or far-reaching as the comic series, the Russo Brothers’ involvement promises a smart, exciting time at the movies. (Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo; Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie)

High Rise (5/13) – In 1975, J.G. Ballard wrote High Rise, a dystopian novel about class. In 2016, that book has become a film starring Tom Hiddleston as an occupant of said high rise. Ben Wheatley’s multi-level thriller looks somewhere between Kubrick and Gilliam. That is a balance worth paying to see. (Directed by Ben Wheatley; Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller)

The Nice Guys (5/20) – Shane Black is one of the best screenwriters working today. I liken him to an edgier Billy Wilder. Nobody writes a snappy buddy film like Black (see Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), and The Nice Guys promises his return to the genre. (Directed by Shane Black; Cast: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling)

Other May films to keep on your radar: Oliver Stone’s Snowden (5/13) and X-Men: Apocalypse (5/27)


Finding Dory (6/17) – Everyone has their favorite Pixar movie. My kids love Finding Nemo. So do I. What’s not to love? So, a chance to submerge back down into that world, with Nemo, Marlin, Dory and Director Andrew Stanton sounds like a good time to me. I just hope Finding Dory follows Pixar’s Toy Story sequel path in quality, not the Monsters University one. (Directed by Andrew Stanton; Cast: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy)

Other June films to keep on your radar: Duncan Jones’ Warcraft (6/10) and Independence Day: Resurgence (6/24)


The BFG (7/1) – All you really need to know is that Steven Spielberg has directed a live-action adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved book The BFG for Disney. Nobody directs children like Spielberg, and E.T. screenwriter Melissa Mathison penned the screenplay. This will be magic. (Directed by Steven Spielberg; Cast: Rebecca Hall, Mark Rylance, Bill Hader)

Ghostbusters (7/15) – A new Ghostbusters film with a new, hilarious, all-female team. Not much is known about the story (why haven’t we seen a trailer?), but in the hands of Paul Feig, the best comedy director working today, this new take on the beloved franchise sounds fresh and perfect for this exact moment in time. July can’t come soon enough. (Directed by Paul Feig; Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth)


Jason Bourne (7/29) – Four years after Jeremy Renner took the lead in The Bourne Legacy, Matt Damon returns to the Bourne franchise alongside Director Paul Greengrass. Thank goodness. The Bourne series isn’t Bond, and Damon is the only one I want to see in this series. Same goes for Greengrass, who excels more than any other Director working today at creating thrilling, visceral action on-screen. (Directed by Paul Greengrass; Cast: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones)

Other July films to keep on your radar: Damien Chazelle’s La La Land (7/15) and Star Trek Beyond (7/22)


Suicide Squad (8/8) – Where Batman v. Superman looks meh, Suicide Squad looks fresh, exciting and tonally perfect. Each of the trailers released thus far have been showstoppers, and Will Smith’s Deadshot and Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn steal every scene. Villains are always more interesting than the heroes, especially in the DC Universe. I’m still on the fence about Leto’s Joker, though. (Directed by David Ayer; Cast: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney)

Other August/September films to keep on your radar: Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon (8/12), Tom Hanks in Clint Eastwood’s Sully (9/9), and Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke star in The Magnificent Seven remake (9/23)


Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (10/21) – Like Jason Bourne, Jack Reacher is a character I only want to see played by one actor. For Reacher, that actor is Tom Cruise, and this October he’s returning to the mystery/crime/action series once more. If you haven’t yet seen Jack Reacher, do. It’s a great film in the same vein of the Jack Ryan series. (Directed by Edward Zwick; Cast: Tom Cruise, Cobie Smulders)


Other October films to keep on your radar: Tate Taylor’s The Girl on the Train (10/7) and Ron Howard’s Inferno (10/14)


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (11/18) – In the first spinoff of the Harry Potter film series, Eddie Redmayne takes on the role of magizoologist Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. J.K. Rowling wrote the book for Beasts back in 2001 based on a fictitious textbook of the same name used by Potter and others while at Hogwarts. Rowling makes her screenwriting debut with the film. (Directed by David Yates; Cast: Eddie Redmayne)

Other November films to keep on your radar: Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange (11/4), Disney’s Moana (11/23), and Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc in The Founder (11/25)


Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12/16) – Disney promises a new Star Wars movie every year, with odd years being trilogy entries and one-off stories in between. The first of these stories is Rogue One, a Zero Dark Thirty-style military thriller about the team responsible for stealing the Death Star plans prior to A New Hope. I’m excited for these deeper filmic explorations of the Star Wars Universe. (Directed by Gareth Edwards; Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk)


Other December films to keep on your radar: Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt in Passengers (12/21) and Michael Fassbender in Assassins Creed (12/23)


Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (TBD) – In the early ’80s, three friends and lovers of film set out to create an ambitious shot-for-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Raiders! documents their seven-year journey to make one of the most legendary fan films in history. Drafthouse Films will likely release the documentary on-demand this summer. (Directed by Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen)

The Circle (TBD) Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel, The Circle, is one of the best books I’ve read this decade. A striking take on our social media-driven world, the book is set within the campus of a Google-like company making fast strides in eroding privacy. The film has a stellar cast led by Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and John Boyega, and more than any other film releasing this year is the one I’m most anticipating. (Directed by James Ponsoldt; Cast: Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Patton Oswalt, and Bill Paxton)


John Wick 2 (TBD) – If you’ve seen John Wick, you know precisely why this film is on my list. When it comes to great action films released this decade, I can count them on one hand. Like Gareth Evans’ 2011 film The Raid: Redemption, John Wick celebrated the visceral side of the action genre. I’m so ready for Keanu to take us back there later this year. (Directed by Chad Stahelski; Cast: Keanu Reeves, Common, Bridget Moynahan, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo, Ruby Rose, Laurence Fishburne)


Other TBD films to keep on your radar: Stephen Gaghan’s Gold (TBD), Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal (TBD), Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves in the post-apocalyptic cannibal film The Bad Batch (TBD), Christopher Guest’s straight-to-Netflix mockumentary Mascots (TBD), Denis Villeneuve’s Story of Your Life (TBD), John Cameron Mitchell’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s How to Talk to Girls at Parties (TBD), Werner Herzog’s Salt and Fire (TBD), and The Disaster Artist (TBD), detailing the making of the cult film The Room.

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3 thoughts on “20 Must-See Movies for 2016

  1. Being a fan of Jack Reacher novels, I just couldn’t get into Tom Cruise playing Reacher. It was like watching David attempting to portray Goliath. There are so many references of Jack Reacher’s sheer enormity causing other characters to react that having Tom Cruise try to pull of a Jack Reacher version of Mini Me just doesn’t cut it.

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