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The 20 most anticipated films of 2016

From David Brent to Derek Zoolander, 2016 is delivering up all your favourites

By Nick Dent
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We may be in a golden age of television, but the big screen still manages to deliver every year (even if it's mostly delivering reboots). From David Brent to Batman, Red Dog to Derek Zoolander, 2016 is delivering up all your favourites.

1. Alice Through the Looking Glass

Film Family
Opens May 26

Mia Wasikowska is back in the role that made her a star, in Disney’s eye-popping return to the worlds of Lewis Carroll. Tim Burton is not directing, but that’s not necessarily a minus: we’re not big fans of his work these last 15 years, and this is one sequel that could surpass the lame-ass original.

2. Anomalisa

5 out of 5 stars
Film Animation
Opens February 4

We’re assuming the title is a portmanteau referring to a woman called Lisa (voiced by Jennifer Jason Leigh) who’s a bit of an anomaly. Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) directs a stop-motion animated film about a depressed author (voiced by David Thewlis) who meets the eponymous Lisa on a business trip to Cincinnati.
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3. Backtrack

Film Thriller
Opens TBA

The Babadook may have opened a door. This Aussie supernatural thriller goes down Sixth Sense territory with a psychologist (Adrien Brody) who suddenly realises all the patients he has been seeing are ghosts – and uncovers a chilling secret that he must put right.

4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Film
Opens March 24

Together at last: Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) and Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) face off in Zack Snyder’s film that tries to do for the DC universe what The Avengers has done for Marvel. Spoiler (not): Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) also appears – check out the hilarious one-liner in the trailer below – along with other DC comic book heroes.
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5. Brooklyn

5 out of 5 stars
Film Drama
Opens February 11

Child acting sensation Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) is all grown up now and winning awards for this adaptation of Colm Toibin novel about an Irishwoman who immigrates to New York City in the early 1950s to start a new life. A romantic drama that captures a time and place with acuity, it’s received rave reviews.

6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Film
Opens November 17

There’s life in the old wizarding world yet as the Harry Potter universe gets its first spin-off film with a screenplay by JK Rowling. Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander, a UK wizard who arrives in the US for a magical conference in the early 20th century.
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7. Finding Dory

Film Animation
Opens June 16

Things move at a glacial pace in the world of animation but even we are surprised it took 13 years for a sequel to 2003’s near-billion-dollar earner Finding Nemo to come along. Still, the whole team is back: Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres voicing Marlin and Dory, and Andrew Stanton directing. The plot concerns the forgetful Dory being reunited with her family. Expect that stony heart of yours to be tugged anew.

8. Free State of Jones

Film Drama
Opens May 12

Newton Knight, a Confederacy deserter who attempted to establish a free state during the American Civil War, is the subject of this drama from writer-director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, The Hunger Games). Matthew McConaughey stars as Knight and rising Brit star Gugu Mbatha-Raw is his (African-American) lover – little wonder he switched sides.
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9. Ghostbusters

Film Comedy
Opens July 14

The distaff reboot of the 1983 comedy-horror favourite stars Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Kate McKinnon in the roles made famous by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. Paul Feig (Bridesmaids) directs and co-wrote the script with Katie Dippold (The Heat). Time Out would not be especially excited about another classic film being remade were it not for the super-cool gender flipping – and watch out for cameos from the surviving cast of the original.

10. Hail, Caesar!

4 out of 5 stars
Film Comedy
Opens February 25

The Coen Brothers return to a Hollywood setting with the madcap story of a studio fixer (James Brolin) trying to retrieve the kidnapped star (George Clooney) of a swords and sandals epic being made in the 1950s. A bigger-than-Ben Hur cast also includes Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Scarlet Johansson and Channing Tatum.
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11. Independence Day: Resurgence

Film
Opens June 23

The belated sequel brings back Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner and Vivica Fox once again under the direction of German schlockmeister Roland Emmerich. The aliens have been licking their wounds and 20 years later they’re back to finish what they started. Not along for the ride: Will Smith. The tongue-in-cheek humour of the original is nowhere to be seen either in the teaser trailer. But in the pro-column the special effects should be a lot less cheesy.

12. Jason Bourne

Film Thriller
Opens July 28

Matt Damon returns to his signature role, as does director Paul Greengrass. Everywhere-girl Alicia Vikander joins the cast as does that veteran deliverer of bemused disapproval, Tommy Lee Jones.
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13. The Lady in the Van

4 out of 5 stars
Film Drama
Opens March 3

Acting treasure Dame Maggie Smith proves her star power at age 81, starring in an adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play, based on the true story of the homeless woman who lived in her van in Bennett’s driveway for 15 years. In this era of mass human displacement, its story is bound to resonate, as it did with Time Out’s reviewer.

14. Life on the Road

Film Comedy
Opens August 25

At last: Ricky Gervais’s The Office character David Brent gets his own movie. Life on the Road has Brent followed by a documentary crew (natch) as he fronts his band Foregone Conclusion on a self-funded tour of Britain. Get ready to cringe and cringe again as we learn more about Brent’s private life than we ever wanted to.
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Promo still from the movie Red Dog

15. Red Dog: True Blue

Opens December 26

Time Out wasn’t sold on the original 2011 Red Dog movie but who are we to argue with public opinion? Kriv Stenders returns to direct a sort-of prequel about a boy sent to a cattle station in the Pilbara who has an adventure involving a canine companion. Cast includes Bryan Brown, John Jarratt, Jason Isaacs and Levi Miller (Pan).

16. Star Wars: Rogue One

Film Sci-Fi
Opens December 15

Not Episode VIII, but the first in a series of standalone stories set in the Star Wars universe,Rogue One is set prior to the events in Episode IV and concerns the efforts of the spies who stole the plans to the original Death Star. Like The Force Awakens, this film stars a feisty UK actress – Felicity Jones – and it’s helmed by talented Brit Gareth Edwards (Godzilla).
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Spotlight
Photograph: Open Road Films/Sony Pictures

17. Spotlight

5 out of 5 stars
Film Drama
Opens January 28

The favourite to take out the Oscar for Best Picture of 2015 is a journalistic procedural about Boston Globe reporters who exposed the rampant paedophilia and shameful cover-ups by the Catholic Church. Tom McCarthy (The Visitor) wrote and directed a gripping film featuring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber.

18. Star Trek Beyond

Film Sci-Fi
Opens July 21

Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the gang return in a threequel not directed by JJ Abrams and which will hopefully not see Kirk acting like an arrogant dick and putting the whole crew in danger (sorry, personal gripe there). Mind you, with Star Wars movies a thing again it’ll be interesting to see if there’s still as much fondness for space, the final frontier.
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19. Suicide Squad

Film
Opens August 4

It’s the evil Avengers. Supervillains join forces for a secret mission in a film set in the DC Comics universe: Jared Leto as the Joker; Jai Courtney as an Australian assassin called Boomerang (eek); and Will Smith as marksman Deadshot. Rising Aussie star Margot Robbie also features prominently as does model Cara Delevingne, and acclaimed actor Viola Davis crosses over to the mainstream as their tough government handler.

20. Zoolander 2

4 out of 5 stars
Film Comedy
Opens February 11

It’s not a crime to be really, really, really good looking, but Ben Stiller making us wait 15 years certainly counts as a misdemeanour. Here, Ben Stiller’s titular male model and friend Hansel (Owen Wilson) are recruited to help solve the murders of the world’s most beautiful celebrities. Call it schadenfreude, but the death of Justin Bieber in the trailer really tickled us. 
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