Superheroes. Reboots. Bible epics. Star Wars. Mascots.
2016 is shaping up to be an interesting year at the movies. Sure, there’s no shortage of comic book adaptations (Batman v Superman!), spinoffs (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!) and old-school reboots (Independence Day!), but there are also a handful of really interesting new stories headed to the big-screen this year.
With directors like Paul Feig, Christopher Guest and the Coen brothers all slated for releases this year, 2016 looks like a promising year in Hollywood.
Here’s a look at 16 movies we can’t wait to see in 2016.
Hail, Caesar! (Feb. 5)
The Coen brothers have brought together an all-star cast (George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Tilda Swinton) for their stylish noir comedy about the golden age of Hollywood.
Race (Feb. 19)
The true story of Olympian Jesse Owens—the man who took on Nazis Germany’s best athletes—is one of sport’s most inspiring stories, not just because it’s about winning, but because it’s about courage.
Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Shūsaku Endō’s classic novel about Christian persecution will likely be as controversial as the book. In his film, Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson play two missionary priests to 1639 Japan, who must face unimaginable violence while bringing the Gospel to local communities. The story’s ambiguous messages and graphic imagery make it a jarring look at faith, sacrifice and the voice of God.
Risen (Feb. 19)
Joseph Fiennes stars in this New Testament-era detective story about a non-believing Roman official investigating the Resurrection of Jesus by retracing His final days.
The Young Messiah (March 11)
Based on Anne Rice’s best-selling novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, the film examines a time in Christ’s life not typically seen on screen: His childhood.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25)
In this obscure indie film, two little read-comic books come together in a subtle, dialogue-heavy character study that plays out like a slow-burning portrait of good and evil in the modern world. It also features a sweet, glowing-eyed armored Batsuit!
Christopher Guest is getting his band of improv’ing geniuses (featured in comedies like Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman and A Mighty Wind) back together for another mocumentary, this time exploring the world of mascots. The film debuts later this year on Netflix.
Free State of Jones (May 13)
Matthew McConaughey stars in this historical epic that tells the story of a real-life farmer who helped lead his own rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War.
X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)
In what appears to be the series’ most overtly religious movie, the new X-Men film takes cues from the book of Revelation, focusing on one of the comic’s most notorious villains: Apocalypse.
Doctor Strange (Nov. 24)
Filmmaker Scott Derrickson’s adaptation of the Doctor Strange comic book has an interesting combination of elements: a starring role from Benedict Cumberbatch, one of Marvel’s creepiest characters and Derrickson’s penchant for bringing elements of Christianity into his films.
Snowden (May 15)
As if the true story of NSA contractor Edward Snowden wasn’t controversial enough—his leak of classified documents exposed a massive domestic spying program—the movie Snowden, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is being directed by political controversy auteur Oliver Stone.
Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24)
The aliens are back, and they do not appear to be very happy. Even though Will Smith is no longer around to save humanity, thankfully, Jeff Goldblum is still up for one last mission.
Ghostbusters (July 15)
We’ll soon see if director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy) can continue his hot streak. The upcoming reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise features one of the funniest ensemble casts of any film this year: Along with stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, the sci-fi comedy will also feature appearances by Cecily Strong, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and a bunch of other big names.
Based on the original novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, the epic adventure set in the first century tells the story of a Jewish slave who becomes a charioteer while seeking revenge on behalf of his family. But, an actual encounter with Jesus changes the story from one of vengeance, to one of forgiveness in one of literature’s great plot-twists. Obviously, it’s not the first time the book has been adapted for the big-screen: At the time, the 1927 version was one of the most acclaimed films ever made.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Nov. 18)
Five years after the cinematic conclusion of the Harry Potter franchise, J.K. Rowling is bringing back the wizarding world for a new spinoff series. Fantastic Beasts—based on a 2001 novel from the Harry Potter universe—is the first in what is planned as a new trilogy starring Eddie Redmayne as the quirky wizard Newt Scamander.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Dec. 16)
The first in a series of Star Wars “anthology” films—which are in addition to the new Star Wars trilogy—Rogue One takes place before the events of the original film, as a group of rebels try to steal the Death Star. But, let’s be honest here, the plot doesn’t matter. The only thing you need to know is that a new Star Wars movie is coming out, and everyone on the planet is going to pay money to see it.
Jesse Carey is a mainstay on the weekly RELEVANT Podcast and member of RELEVANT's executive board. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two kids.