I've toyed with the idea of doing a "most anticipated" list for years, but I've always stopped myself, knowing the sad fact that at least one of them was bound to end up a massive disappointment. I didn't want to over-hype myself. But... sometimes the hype can be fun, so what the hell.
Dir. Lee Unkrich
Release Date: November 22
FINALLY Pixar will have another non-sequel coming out after the brilliant Inside Out, though it's unfortunately surrounded by sequels on all sides (Cars 3, Toy Story 4, and The Incredibles 2). Coco is sure to be a beautiful tribute to Mexico's Day of the Dead tradition, following a young boy who develops a secret passion for music in a family that's banned it - kind of sounds to me like a Mariachi-themed Footloose. With Toy Story 3's Lee Unkrich acting as director, sounds like it will be a fun, emotional ride.
9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Dir. James Gunn
Release Date: May 5
The original Guardians of the Galaxy was my #1 movie of 2014, so it may surprise some of you that its sequel is this low on my 'most anticipated' list. While I'm super-hyped to see our favorite interstellar assholes back in action, the first trailer was honestly a little underwhelming (and I found Baby Groot kind of annoying; he sounded like one of the chipmunks). But despite its so-so trailer, I have faith in James Gunn, and I am so looking forward to just what in the hell Kurt Russell will be doing in this movie!
Dir. James Mangold
Release Date: March 3
Logan is supposedly the final movie in which Hugh Jackman will be playing the fan-favorite X-Man, Wolverine, and it looks like it's shaping up to be an amazing swan song for one of cinema's most iconic action heroes. Loosely adapted from the 8-issue Old Man Logan storyline in the comics, Logan looks more like a gritty independent film than a big-budget superhero flick. It really seems like Jackman and James Mangold are making this one count; Hugh took a pay cut to give Mangold the creative freedom for an R-rating, suggesting to me that this will be the no-holds-barred Wolverine movie that fans have wanted for years.
Dir. Alex Garland
Release Date: TBA
Ex-Machina was one of my favorite movies of 2015, so whatever Alex Garland has up his sleeve next I'm totally game for. Annihilation is based on a book I plan not to read before watching this movie so as to avoid spoilers, but this mysterious sci-fi story apparently involves a team of scientists venturing into a disaster zone known as Area X. Starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson, and Gina Rodriguez - how could you not be looking forward to this!?
6. Blade Runner 2049
Dir. Denis Villeneuve
Release Date: October 6
When it was first announced that a sequel to Blade Runner was in the works, I groaned. It seemed like the ultimate "Hollywood's run out of ideas" statement. But it's interesting how once a certain director is attached to a project how differently you can feel about it. Denis Villeneuve is the director working today. His string of films recently, from Prisoners to Arrival, all released within a year of each other, is incredible, and his involvement assures me that Blade Runner 2049, even if it sucks, will at least attempt something as beautiful and philosophical as its predecessor. Plus, it's got the Goz.
5. A Cure for Wellness
Dir. Gore Verbinski
Release Date: February 17
While Gore Verbinski's filmography is pretty hit-or-miss, he's directed some of my personal favorite movies (Mouse Hunt, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rango) and he returns to the well of horror after his fantastic 2002 remake of The Ring with A Cure for Wellness. Based on the trailer, this looks like it's going to be a crazy, twisted nightmare of disturbing proportions... I can't wait!
Dir. Bong Joon-ho
Release Date: TBA
Just look at that image of Jake Gyllenhaal and tell me that your interest isn't the slightest bit piqued by this movie. From Snowpiercer director Bong Joon-ho, all I know about Okja is that it's about a young girl trying to save an animal from a multi-national company. It also stars Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito, The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun, Paul Dano, Lilly Collins, and Tilda Swinton, whose work with Bong in Snowpiercer resulted in one of my favorite characters of 2014. I can't wait for this sure-to-be-bonkers movie!
3. Baby Driver
Dir. Edgar Wright
Release Date: August 11
Edgar Wright is one of those directors that sight-unseen, his next project will be one of my most anticipated of that given year. After his disappointing departure from Marvel's Ant-Man, Baby Driver is Wright's latest flick due later next summer, about a getaway driver (Fault in Our Stars' Ansel Elgort) who gets in trouble with a bunch of gangsters. It also stars John Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Kevin Spacey. Just take my money!
2. Star Wars: Episode VIII
Dir. Rian Johnson
Release Date: December 15
After my last two reviews for The Force Awakens and Rogue One, I couldn't help but feel many of my blog readers may have not been happy with my verdicts. While I wasn't a huge fan of either film, I'm still holding out [a new] hope that Episode VIII will be the one to bring me on board with all you lightsaber-wielding mouth breathers. My excitement stems from two factors: Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill. Johnson has proved his sci-fi chops with Looper (one of my favs of 2012), and, like Edgar Wright, is one of those directors I'd blindly follow whatever direction he sent me in. Also, one of the key players missing from J.J.'s nostalgia-fest was Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. Since Star Wars, Hamill's had an awesome career doing voice-acting for many kooky characters, including The Joker, and I can't wait to see what kind of character his "old Luke" is like (I hope he's acts like Yoda when we first met him in Empire).
1. Alien: Covenant
Dir. Ridley Scott
Release Date: May 19
While it's easy to nitpick Prometheus (and boy did the Internet have a field day with that one), I thought it was one of the better sci-fi flicks of recent memory. Alien: Covenant is Ridley Scott's sequel, bringing back Michael Fassbender as the android (best actor working today?) and featuring a new all-star cast including Katherine Waterson, Billy Crudup, and Demian Bechir. It also looks like Scott's bringing back the classic xenomorph alien that fans missed from Prometheus, as well as a host of new creepy critters that are sure to raise hell for the unfortunate humans. There's nothing about this movie so far that appears like a red flag; I'm hoping it's a spine-tingling, action-packed good time! Only time will tell...
- - - - - - - - - - - -
As is evidenced from this blog, I'm very much a fan of science fiction with heavy, adult themes, so those pretty much dominate the list. Let me know in the comments what you're looking forward to next year!