11 Films With Black Stars To Look Forward To In 2016

Black star power!
Marvel Entertainment, Omaze, Getty, New Line Cinema

As Hollywood continues to grapple with how to effectively achieve diversity across the board, there's a lot to be excited about in 2016. Some of our favorite black actors are going to be featured in big name titles in the new year.

We’ve rounded up 11 films with black stars that we’re anticipating will make a major impact at the box office in 2016.

"Ghostbusters," Leslie Jones
Columbia Pictures
Who you gonna call when it’s time to reboot Ghostbusters? How about an all-female cast! The revamped 1980s film will star Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and SNL’s Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, and feature cameos from original cast members Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, and Dan Aykroyd. Ghostbusters hits theaters July 15.
"Independence Day: Resurgence," Vivica A. Foxx
Twentieth Century Fox
While Will Smith’s character Capt. Steven Hiller will be absent from the Sci-Fi thriller’s sequel, Smith’s onscreen love interest Vivica A. Foxx will make her return as Jasmine. Judging from the film’s trailer, independence will once again prevail when Roland Emmerich’s sequel hits theaters on June 24.
"Kidnap," Halle Berry
Vera Anderson via Getty Images
As Relativity Media continues to sort out its post-bankruptcy issues, the expected release of Halle Berry’s thriller “Kidnap” has been left in question. However, despite the independent film company’s July 30 bankruptcy filing, Berry stated during a September Twitter chat promoting her CBS TV series, “Extant” that the film will hit theaters in early 2016.
"Ride Along 2," Ice Cube and Kevin Hart
2014 was a great year for Ice Cube and Kevin Hart as “Ride Along” topped the Box Office for three consecutive weeks. On January 15 the duo will attempt to repeat their success as they reprise their roles for the film’s sequel, which finds their Ben Barber and James Payton vying to track down a drug lord.
"Barbershop: The Next Cut," Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Nicki Minaj, Regina Hall and Common
Eleven years following its previous sequel, the barbers of “Barbershop” returns for its third installment, “Barbershop: The Next Cut.” In addition to Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, and Eve returning to the film, Nicki Minaj, Regina Hall and Common are among the new faces joining the all-star cast on April 15.
"Captain America: Civil War," Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, and Chadwick Boseman
Anthony Mackie and Don Cheadle’s characters (as The Falcon and War Machine) in “Captain American: Civil War” (May 6) will have some onscreen competition with the addition of Chadwick Boseman’s role as “Black Panther.” During a December 2015 interview with Inquisitr, Mackie expressed his excitement over Boseman’s role in Marvel’s film. ”I was very happy when I heard he got cast as Black Panther, because I knew he'd do the work to bring that character to life,” he said. “It's not so much about two black actors being in a movie at the same time. It's more so about the right black actor getting that role to do the work to make it timeless, and Chadwick is that guy."
"Star Trek Beyond," Idris Elba
While some fans really just want to see Idris Elba play the role of James Bond, the British actor will grace the big screen on July 22 in “Star Trek Beyond.” Though details surrounding Elba’s role have remained elusive, the actor said during a September 2015 interview with MTV News that he plays a “groundbreaking” villain. “I think ’Star Trek’ has prided themselves as being quite classic when it comes to villains, like ’he’s a guy who wants to end the world,’ there’s no doubt about that,” Elba said. “But in this version of the film, there’s a slightly different twist to that. It’s quite an interesting journey, which I think is groundbreaking for the franchise. But, it still keeps with the ’classic bad guy is a classic bad guy’ tone.”
"X-Men: Apocalypse," Alexandra Shipp
20th Century Fox/Marvel Entertainment
After portraying Aaliyah in VH1’s 2014 original biopic, “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” and the network’s “Drumline” sequel, Alexandra Shipp will make her debut as Storm in “X Men: Apocalypse” on May 27. While Halle Berry has previously played the role in the popular franchise, "X-Men" writer Simon Kinberg shared his thoughts in 2014 on recasting for Storm, Phoenix, and Cyclops. "It'd be very hard to do, because Halle, Famke, and Jimmy and others have done such wonderful jobs of bringing those characters to life," Kinberg during an interview with Yahoo. "But I also would have said before 'First Class' that there would be no actors who can stand alongside Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart."
"Suicide Squad," Will Smith, Viola Davis, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Will Smith's absence from the "Independence Day" sequel makes us even more excited for his role as Deadshot in “Suicide Squad.” In addition to Smith, the Warner Bros. flick -- which is an adaptation of the DC Comics supervillain story -- stars Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Viola Davis and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. “Suicide Squad” hits theaters August 5.
"Central Intelligence," Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Kevin Hart
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson will take another crack at comedy when he teams up with Kevin Hart in “Central Intelligence.” The movie, which hits theaters June 17, follows Johnson’s character Bob -- a former bullied nerd-turned CIA agent -- who recruits his former high school classmate-turned accountant Calvin (Hart) to assist him in an secret government mission.

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Sony Pictures Classics
No matter how sunny life is, it is never without frequent blips of sadness. Likewise, the most tactful comedies are singed with melancholy. Enter "Grandma," an amusing and wistful meditation on family and nostalgia. Lily Tomlin stars as a crusty, weed-smoking poet who helps her teenage granddaughter round up the funds for an abortion. Despite the progressiveness peppered throughout the film, "Grandma" is not a political screed. It's an examination of the history that has passed through a lifetime and the history that has yet to come.
"Beasts of No Nation"
This searing portrait of West African warfare is a tough watch, largely because we see it unfold from the perspective of a child soldier. But that's what makes "Beasts of No Nation" powerful. Through bouts of violence emerge glimmers of hope, making the ecstasy worth the agony. "Beasts" took several gambles, too: It's Netflix's first original feature, and it puts first-time 15-year-old actor Abraham Attah at the film's vulnerable center. Both paid off, as did Idris Elba's commanding performance as a warlord whose strengths are swagger and ego. What writer/director/cinematographer Cary Fukunaga accomplishes in his brutal movie is, actually, anything but. You may leave "Beasts" feeling wrecked, but its intensity gives way to the utmost optimism.
"Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck"
Music documentaries and biopics tend to feel rote, juxtaposing chanting crowds with childhood demons to symbolize the Power of Song, man. The title subject of "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck" has well-documented demons, but director Brett Morgen uses his unprecedented access to the Nirvana frontman's archives to collate a narrative that feels as definitive as we could hope for. Incorporating animation, hand-written lyrics, diary entries and stunning home footage that informs Cobain's legacy without mythologizing him, "Montage of Heck" is an artful dissection of a modern icon.
Roadside Attractions
When Spike Lee hollers, you listen. "Chi-Raq" demands your attention with an urgency that curdles amid the bloodletting gun violence splattered across any given day's headlines. Lee understands how current his film is, casting a modern-day Lysistrata in which women across Chicago's South Side deny their boyfriends sex until gang shootings end. With a red-hot lead performance from Teyonah Parris, "Chi-Raq" tackles race, gender and class with sizzling, messy audacity.
"The End of the Tour"
Several of 2015's great independent films were just long conversations between a few characters. None was as soulful as "The End of the Tour," which chronicles the final days of David Foster Wallace's 1996 Infinite Jest book tour through the eyes of the Rolling Stone journalist profiling him. Jason Segel is a revelation as Wallace, all droopy gait and sheepish intellect. Jesse Eisenberg matches him note for note while Wallace and his doting but headstrong counterpart debate the value of art and fame in their quest to find common ground. Their interactions range from affectionate to fiery, examining the influence each of us has on the others around us. James Ponsoldt's film doesn't need to comment on every query it raises -- instead, it is content to postulate just as passionately as its characters. The upbeat, even romantic conclusion brings everything full-circle.
"James White"
Film Arcade
Plenty of movies focus on restless 20-somethings exploring their restlessness, but many lack import. Not "James White," in which first-time director Josh Mond keeps his camera trained closely on Christopher Abbott, as if we are peering into his mind. The angsty New Yorker he plays shares a care schedule for his fragile, cancer-stricken mother (an exceptional Cynthia Nixon) while navigating unemployment and aimlessness. As a love letter between a parent and her child, as well as a dissection of highs and steep lows, "James White" is compelling, unconventional and beautiful.
"The Diary of a Teenage Girl"
Sony Pictures Classics
"The Diary of a Teenage Girl" didn't find the theatrical life it deserved, which is a shame because the Sundance dramedy is refreshing and wise. In 1970s San Francisco, the title girl (Bel Powley) blossoms sexually and emotionally while the counterculture's afterglow weaves through everything in her path. "Diary" is based on Phoebe Gloeckner's graphic novel of the same name, and it shows: The movie bursts into clever, spontaneous illustrations, as narrated by the aspiring 15-year-old cartoonist at its center. Rarely is teenage sexuality depicted with such an honest and brazen edge, and Kristen Wiig, playing the protagonist's detached mother, gives her best performance to date.
"45 Years"
Artificial Eye
One of the best moviegoing experiences is when a story stays with you for days, replaying in your head and adopting new layers of significance. "45 Years" is that movie. At first glance, it's almost painstakingly simple in execution. A married couple (Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay) are preparing to celebrate their 45th anniversary when one receives notice that his ex's remains have been found years after her death. The information sends both for a tailspin as they realize that the marriage they've known for so long has, to a subjective degree, been tainted by this lost romance. "Weekend" director Andrew Haigh's film is relentlessly quiet, and all the better for it. We get little backstory about the couple, wisely leaving the audience to make interpretations and fill in gaps. Everyone who sees "45 Years" will come away with a different take on it, and on whether we ever truly know another person.
"Clouds of Sils Maria"
IFC Films
Anyone still dubious of Kristen Stewart's talent should see "Clouds of Sills Maria" pronto. It's a two-hander in which Stewart plays the astute assistant to a self-absorbed French movie star (Juliette Binoche) returning to the role that won her fame years ago. Much of Olivier Assayas' plush film is just the two characters deliberating about fame and growing older, making "Clouds" an elegant meditation on the way our lives intersect. Come for the Swiss Alps scenery, stay for a contemplative yarn that will percolate for quite some time.
Open Road Films
For proof that pageantry isn't a prerequisite for stellar movies, look at "Spotlight." Its portrayal of the Boston Globe team that investigated allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is at once intricate and effortless. You won't find opulent performances or lavish aesthetics here; instead, Tom McCarthy directed and co-wrote an audit of moral corrosion that doesn't preach or proselytize. He also succeeded in getting a massive cast to feel like they'd lived in each of these roles for a lifetime, despite little backstory and few flourishes.
"The Martian"
20th Century Fox
The problem with "Interstellar" was the science, and the problem with "Gravity" was the fiction. "The Martian" carries neither of those burdens. Ridley Scott's take on Andy Weir's popular debut novel is tightly paced, sharply written and wildly thrilling. Matt Damon, playing a skilled botanist stranded on Mars after his crew flees a dust storm, is sensational, but his winning performance is not without assists from an ensemble that includes Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Mackenzie Davis and Michael Peña. Disco, potatoes and space probes have never been this fun or stirring.
"Ex Machina"
Alex Garland's directorial debut is the work of a burgeoning master. "Ex Machina" creeps up on you like a sunset, fading to dark so elegantly that you've hardly had time to process its significance. It stars a trio of actors who've appeared in multiple buzzy films this year: Domhnall Gleeson plays a programmer who wins a week-long stay at the home of a reclusive artificial-intelligence genius (Oscar Isaac) who's created a humanoid (Alicia Vikander) who may be too smart for her own good. The sleek thriller chugs along with an ominous hum, resulting in a killer third act that is both startling and profound. Also, Oscar Isaac disco-dances.
Magnolia Pictures
No money to make your movie? No problem, said Sean Baker, who shot "Tangerine" on iPhones for a paltry $100,000. It sounds like a Sundance stunt, but the result is a firestorm. The kinetic comedy traces two transgender sex workers as they traverse Los Angeles on foot, seeking charm but often encountering sleaze and sorrow. With two confident first-time actresses at the core, "Tangerine" dares every queer depiction that follows it to be half as smart, open-minded and daring.
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
Walt Disney Studios
Year-end lists are fun to compile because films seen months ago have the chance to marinate. No such advantage for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," however, which screened for press this week. Critics who waited to publish their rankings until after seeing it may look back in future years and regret its placement (or lack thereof). But for now, "The Force Awakens" remains an accomplishment. J.J. Abrams channels George Lucas' original trilogy while building a mythology that moves the franchise forward. Buoyed by a capable cast and a nostalgic script that hits many funny beats and services fans who've awaited the return of Han, Leia and Luke, "The Force Awakens" comes pretty damn close to being everything we need from a new "Star Wars" movie.
Adapting any novel told from the perspective of a 5-year-old is a gamble, especially when half of the story takes place in a small garden shed. But Emma Donoghue makes it look like a picnic, and director Lenny Abrahamson gives this tale of a mother and her young son such poignancy. Kidnapped and held captive for several years, the pair's limited world opens up as the film progresses, and so does the audience's relationship to its own surroundings. Carried by stunning performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, "Room" is that rare movie that makes you appreciate all the beauty we take for granted.
"The Big Short"
It's the economy, stupid! But the way "The Big Short" presents it is anything but. In fact, who knew a nationwide financial crisis could be this fun? In the hands of Adam McKay, the story of the oddball insiders who predicted the 2008 housing-market collapse is a sleek, rollicking documentary disguised as a financial dramedy. Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Melissa Leo headline an all-star cast that has the huge burden of making esoteric material relatable. With a sharp script and nimble pace, "The Big Short" rises to the occasion, charting greed with damning intrigue. Plus, where else can you see Selena Gomez pop up to explain economic metaphors?
"Inside Out"
Walt Disney Studios
Pixar has spent two decades revising the world we inhabit, positing that life is more eclectic and imaginative than any of us assume. None of the studio's films has been as eye-opening as "Inside Out," which anthropomorphizes the five emotions that govern our 11-year-old protagonist. Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust and Fear shepherd her through her family's cross-country move, resulting in a profound parable that reminds us of what we should have known all along: There is no happiness without occasional despair. Thanks for taking us to the moon, "Inside Out."
Fox Searchlight
What happens when the place you call home no longer provides the life you need? Nick Hornby poses that question in his best script yet, adapted from Colm Tóibín's celebrated 2009 novel. Presented with understated beauty, "Brooklyn" is a tale of searching -- for identity, for companionship, for comfort -- after abandoning every familiarity you've known. Saoirse Ronan is the crux of that journey, playing an Irish emigrant who leaves her homeland behind for better professional prospects in New York. With grace, director John Crowley isolates "Brooklyn" from the surfeit of male-centric films about growing up. It's a triumph.
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
Warner Bros.
In rebooting his sparse 1979 dystopian classic, George Miller revved new life into the "Mad Max" franchise, proving noise doesn't have to negate substance. Beneath the hyper-saturated hues of the movie's punk-rock badlands is a feminist paean propelled by Charlize Theron's battle-scarred Imperator Furiosa, one of the year's best characters not to receive top billing. Miller used practical effects instead of computer-generated wizardry to craft a thriller that's at once chaotic and clearheaded, proving that razing cities with a few keystrokes isn't necessary for an action flick to comment on our world's ecological and moral condition.
The Weinstein Company
From its misty opening shots to a wordless finale brimming with hope, "Carol" is radiant. Todd Haynes walked us through the cloistered alleys of the 1950s' sexual politics in "Far From Heaven," but here he trades glossy melodrama for grainy restraint. Working with a breathless Phyllis Nagy script based on Patricia Highsmith's 1952 novel The Price of Salt, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are a class and generation apart, yet the vitality each character gives the other is immediate. Rarely is a love story committed to film without a trace of Hollywood schmaltz, but "Carol" strips its two leads -- and their supporting comrades, including the excellent Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson -- of the overwrought romanticism that's all but immutable on the big screen. "Carol" is perfect.
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