It’s been a strong year at the movies, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens shattering box office records and acting as the proverbial cherry on the box office cake of 2016. But it’s time to put 2015 behind you and look forward to 2016.
The 2016 movie slate will be heavily dominated with superhero movies such as Batman V Superman, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse, etc. With all these highly anticipated blockbusters releasing, there is a good number of movies flying in under the radar that are sure to surprise.
Here are Screen Rant’s 15 Under-the-Radar Movies You Shouldn’t Miss in 2016
15. Dirty Grandpa (January 22)
Zac Efron and Robert De Niro are an intriguing pairing in this R-Rated comedy about a soon-to-be married guy taking his pervy grandfather on a spring break trip to Florida. This film looks like a blend of Bad Grandpa and Spring Breakers. Efron really surprised audiences with his comedic chops in Neighbors, and De Niro has seemingly been doing comedies exclusively over the past few years, so these aren’t the craziest casting choices.
In many parts of the country, January is one of the coldest months of the year, which tends to keep people staying inside instead of going out, but Dirty Grandpa has the elements of a surprise hit, and we’ll find out in a month if people will brave the cold to go out and see it.
14. How To Be Single (February 12)
Four women and two guys learning how to be single in NYC. This sounds a lot like the female version of That Awkward Moment, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann, and Dakota Johnson are the main stars here, and three out of the four (minus Johnson) are proven comedic commodities. This film hopes to be a better version of That Awkward Moment, which was a solid movie on its own right. The film releases around Valentine’s Day and title How To Be Single could detract couples from seeing it (do you want to fill your mind on the ways of single life while on a date?), but it could perhaps lure some single folks who have nothing better to do on the most romantic day of the year.
13. Triple 9 (February 26)
Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, and Gal Gadot are just a few of the names in the cast of this star-studded crime drama. The plot centers on some corrupt cops and criminals planning the murder of a police officer and a heist. Triple 9 could get lost in the shuffle in February, as various Oscar contenders from December get wide releases and vie for the spotlight.
The movie poster has four Deadpool lookalikes with shotguns and, ironically, Deadpool releases two weeks earlier. Maybe it’s a creative marketing ploy to confuse it with Deadpool? Either way, the trailer for this movie looks exciting and has the makings of a really good heist film.
12. Knight of Cups (March 4)
Knight of Cups, the seventh film from reclusive filmmaker Terrence Malick (Tree of Life) centers around a Los Angeles screenwriter (Christian Bale) and the bizarre events occurring in his life. The film is stacked with Academy Award winners such as Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Cate Blanchett, and surrounded by some promising talents such as Jason Clarke, Teresa Palmer, and Imogen Poots.
11. Collide (April 1)
Felicity Jones and Nicholas Hoult star in this action thriller about an American backpacker (Hoult) racing against time to save his dying girlfriend while also on the run from an evil drug lord (Anthony Hopkins). This sounds like a fun thriller that boasts a strong cast of veteran and young talent.
Hoult has a chance to prove himself in a leading role, and to get known for more than playing a furry blue X-Men. The release date is a bit risky, though, considering Batman V Superman releases a week earlier. April 1st will be a Fools Day, but it might not be foolish to check out Collide.
10. Criminal (April 15)
An action thriller about an ex-con who has been implanted with the memories of a dead CIA agent. Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Alice Eve, Gary Oldman, and Kevin Costner star, and you only wonder if Ryan Reynolds will once again change minds and identities just as he did in Self/less.
April appears to be a strong month of thrillers that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Will the probable success of Deadpool and Batman V Superman carry over any added excitement to see Reynolds and Gadot in Criminal, or will this film be passed by? The plot and names attached suggest that Criminal might be the ideal movie to head into the summer with.
9. The Nice Guys (May 20)
It’s nice to see Ryan Gosling teaming up with Russell Crowe for this crime mystery thriller directed by Shane Black (Iron Man 3). Based on the trailer, the film looks like it’s as much of a comedy as it is a mystery. The story is about a private eye (Gosling) that investigates the alleged suicide of a porn star, while uncovering a chain of conspiracies along the way.
The film is set in the 1970’s Los Angeles, so expect to see flamboyant outfits, Cadillacs, and the lavish mansions of drug lords. Add the porn-stache that Gosling is rockin’ and this film is giving off serious American Hustle vibes.
8. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (May 20)
Sequels get a bad rap, usually rightfully so, but Neighbors 2 is not getting the hype that it deserves. The original cast is back and this time around, as Teddy (Zac Efron) and Pete (Dave Franco) unite with Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) to battle a sorority that moves into the neighborhood.
The concept is similar to the first, but with a sorority instead of a fraternity (hence, the title). The first one wasn’t talked about leading up to the release, but it became a hit with the critics and viewers. Neighbors 2 is slotted for an early summer release, and it could very well end up being the best comedy of the summer.
7. The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist (June 10)
The Conjuring is one of the best horror flicks of recent years, and James Wan returns here to direct the sequel. In addition, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprise their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren. It’s both refreshing and surprising that the main cast and crew are back for the sequel, and that they didn’t turn this into a cheap direct-to-DVD release like many sequels.
This time around the plot takes place in Enfield, England between 1977-79, where the Warrens go to investigate paranormal activity at a council house. Given the promise of the premise and the quality of the first film, let’s hope this one doesn’t disappoint.
6. The Secret Life of Pets (July 8)
Disney’s Zootopia and Pixar’s Finding Dory are the animated films that are garnering the most attention heading into 2016. Lost in the shuffle is Universal’s The Secret Life of Pets. The story takes place in a Manhattan apartment where a Max the dog’s life is transformed when his owner gets a mutt named Duke.
Animal characters are always a good sell in animation. Comedy heavyweights Kevin Hart, Louis C.K., and Ellie Kemper lend their voices for the film, and having Hart, the most popular comedian alive right now, attached to any project is sure to bring in some extra attention and viewers. This looks like a movie that will not only appeal to kids, but adults and pet lovers also. The Secret Life of Pets may not be an underrated secret by the end of the year.
5. Mechanic: Resurrection (August 26)
The 2011, The Mechanic was a surprisingly good action crime thriller starring Jason Statham. It took five years for the sequel, but fans will be pleased to know Statham is back as Arthur Bishop. It’s a bit of a surprise to see Statham back for the sequel, seeing as he’s passed on the Transporter franchise to another actor.
This time around he’s joined by Jessica Alba and Tommy Lee Jones. Ben Foster played a large role in the first film, but he won’t be back for Resurrection. Director Simon West isn’t returning for the sequel either and, instead, German director Dennis Gansel takes over the directorial chair.
4. Gambit (October 7)
How did a superhero movie make the list of underrated films? Well, because there are a handful of other superhero films being released that have overshadowed this one. How many people are even aware that Gambit is scheduled for a 2016 release? It doesn’t help that X-Men: Apocalypse is taking all the spotlight from the solo debut of Gambit on-screen.
Other than Thor: The Dark Wold, there haven’t been many superhero films released in the late Fall, so it could be that people will get excited as we learn more about the movie. The plot hasn’t been revealed yet, but what should make this a must-see film is that The Bourne Identity‘s Doug Liman is directing this film, and Channing Tatum is playing Gambit. The film also gives Tatum the chance to link himself to a superhero franchise and possibly become a major player in the X-Men universe, as Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence, and Michael Fassbender make their exit.
3. The Accountant (October 7)
The IMDb synopsis for this movie describes it as “A forensic accountant un-cooks the books for illicit clients.” One sentence doesn’t make a movie, but this thriller stars Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, and J.K. Simmons, with Affleck playing the titular accountant that the film is centered around. This has us thinking of movies such as The Firm, Boiler Room, and Wolf of Wall Street, so it has a chance to be a surprise hit, especially with Gavin O’Connor, who directed the acclaimed film Warrior in 2011.
All the talk around Affleck is centered on Batman V Superman right now, but this movie is flying under the radar and could become a Gone Girl-level hit. There isn’t much detail on the film yet, as it’s still several months away from its release, but this is one of those movies to keep an eye on.
2. Passengers (Dec 21)
Passengers is a sci-fi adventure directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) and starring two of Hollywood’s hottest stars, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. The premise centers on a spacecraft traveling to a distant colony carrying human passengers in sleeping chambers, but a malfunction wakes up a passenger (Pratt) 60 years too early. Fearing that he will live out the rest of his life in loneliness, he decided to wake up a female passenger (Lawrence).
1. The Light Between Oceans (Unannounced Release Date)
Michael Fassbender will have a busy 2016 with X-Men: Apocalypse, Assassins Creed, and an unnamed Terrence Malick movie to name a few. One of his movies that isn’t getting much notice right now is The Light Between Oceans, where he plays a lighthouse keeper who, along with his wife, discovers a baby adrift off the coast of Western Australia.
Rising star Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) joins Fassbender in this drama based on an acclaimed novel of the same name. With two action films that will gain a lot more publicity, this might be the kind of movie that Fassbender does his best work in.
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