Friday, 15 January 2016
Happy New Year everyone and welcome back to The Ephemeric. This week's tragic passing of music legend David Bowie has delayed the roll-out of our 2016 Hot List, but now we are pleased to resume regular service. Over the next few weeks we will be rolling out The Hot List, the essential guide to your year ahead. This week we begin with a look at the most exciting new movies set to hit the big screen in 2016 from February onwards, after the cutoff point for this year's Oscars.
2015 will go down as one of the more diverse years in cinema, with hugely successful releases ranging from small-scale intellectual sci-fi to historical dramas, journalism thrillers, frontier adventures in the wild, and biographical films. As a result we have a particularly open field as far as the various awards go. As it stands there really are a good dozen or so films up for the major prizes, and The Ephemeric is pleased to be able to say that a solid nine or ten picks from last year's Hot List have found themselves in the mix, and a further two which only missed out by being delayed into 2016.
Let's be honest, 2016 has been shit so far. David Bowie is dead, Alan Rickman is dead, both were killed by Aaron Ramsey, it's cold out, and I'm fairly confident the stock market is about to collapse. Nevertheless, let's do this. Looking ahead, 2016 cinema has much on the horizon about which to be excited, hot new directors, long anticipated sequels, several adaptations of excellent novels. We really feel that this year's list has a little something for everyone.
So behold, the key films to keep an eye on in the coming year (trailers linked in the title where available), starting with number 15:
15. Billy Lynn's Long Half Time Walk
Hollywood loves a good book adaptation, and Billy Lynn's Long Half Time Walk provides strong material. The real story though is that this is the latest film from Oscar winning director Ang Lee, whose last film The Life of Pi was a huge and award winning success.
Making this even more exciting is a script penned by the phenomenally talented Oscar winning Simon Beaufoy. With a release set for November of this year, Billy Lynn must surely have its sights set on Oscar gold right?
Two oddities give me pause. First there's the cast, a mixed bag which includes the unknown Jow Alwyn, Steve Martin, Chris Tucker, and Vin Diesel. Second is the production by TriStar Pictures, a studio which hasn't really had a whole lot of critical success in recent years. In the 2010s only Looper stands out as a really good film from their back catalogue.
Still you never know, USA network didn't have any good TV shows until they came up with Mr. Robot, and certainly there have been plenty of films in recent years who managed to rehabilitate maligned actors, including Tucker himself in The Silver Linings Playbook. We'll keep an eye on this one, there's a lot of buzz.
Release Date: November 11, 2016
14. The Zookeeper's Wife
Another entry, another book adaptation. This one is a corker though. The Zookeeper's Wife is based on the award winning novel of the same name, based on the true story of Polish zookeeper Jan Zabinski, who during World War II saved the lives of 300 Jews from the Nazis.
The film version stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, and the underrated Daniel Bruhl. New Zealand director Niki Caro may not be a household name over here, but she has a fair few accolades to her name, including a couple of Oscar nominations.
No release date yet, but we would expect it sometime in the Fall based on the current gossip. Watch this one closely, especially if you are fans of the book, it is a great story after all and with able talent behind it.
Release Date: TBA 2016
13. Independence Day: Resurgence
Mixing things up a bit, here's the often rumoured, now actually happening sequel to the 1990s' mega blockbuster, Independence Day: Resurgence. Can it possibly not suck? Was it at all necessary? These are all valid questions, but either way it's done, let's all try and keep an open mind.
For what it's worth, the premise is interesting. Aliens return twenty years after the original invasion, during that time humanity has reverse engineered their technology, leading to a much more even fight than last time, with guaranteed laser and space battles. Fans of the X-COM videogame series will feel right at home with the concept.
Director Ronald Emmerich returns, as does previous film's stars Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman. The big hold out? No Will Smith, money issues apparently. It's a shame they couldn't reunite the whole team, but Smith will be replaced by Liam Hemsworth, and Maika Monroe rounds out the cast.
ID5 launches in June this year. Could be fun. Might suck.
Release Date: June 24, 2016
12. Nocturnal Animals
People were skeptical when successful fashion designer Tom Ford decided to move into film production. Yet his debut, and so far only film, A Single Man, was a hit. Follow up film Nocturnal Animals will prove whether this was just a flash in the pan, or whether his writer/director talents are the real deal.
Based, like so many others on this list, on a successful novel, Nocturnal Animals stars the always underrated Jake Gyllenhaal, and Academy favourite Amy Adams. An extremely strong supporting cast includes Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kim Basinger, Isla Fisher and Armie Hammer.
Release date is currently unknown, but there's a lot of buzz about this one in 2016. Still, the latest news is that principal photography only started this past October, so there's every chance that this one will slip into 2017.
Release Date: TBA 2016
11. The Light Between Oceans
This one almost made our 2015 list before deciding it unlikely to see release last year. Turns out we were right, and now it is set for a late 2016 release, just in time for the awards season.
The Light Between Oceans is a film that has had a lot of buzz about it for a few years now. Based on the book of the same name, Michael Fassbender and the so-hot-right-now Alicia Vikander star as a lighthouse keeper and his wife off the coast of Australia who find a baby washed up on their shore one day in a lifeboat. Rachel Weisz finishes up the main cast.
There's no doubt that this is a watershed film for writer/director Derek Cianfrance, who's received high critical praise in the past for Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines, and yet has still flown mostly under the radar. This release is his big opportunity to move his career to the next level. We're very curious to see how it goes.
Release Date: Late 2016
Here's an interesting prospect, albeit one that we don't really know what to do with. Passengers is a romantic science fiction film about two stranded colonists. What makes this film stand out is the talent involved.
The insanely likable duo of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence star, with Michael Sheen lending his voice talent. Elsewhere they've enlisted Rodrigo Pietro for cinematography, whose past credits include a long list of excellent movies from The Wolf of Wall Street, to Argo and Biutiful. Most exciting of all is the signing on of director Morten Tyldum, who directed The Imitation Game as his first major Hollywood film. We're very excited to see what he can do next.
Columbia Pictures are clearly quite confident about this one, they've booked in a release date just before Christmas in late December. Other than that though, not much is known at this stage. Slightly worrying is production company Village Roadshow Productions who have as many flops as successes in their CV, but still we await this one with interest.
Release Date: December 21, 2016
9. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Somewhere along the line it became very cool to hate on JJ Abrams' first original film project, Cloverfield, so much so that people have forgotten how initially strongly received it was by critics and fans alike. Cloverfield was something completely different, with a groundbreaking marketing campaign and the best yet use of the "found footage" trope.
So when JJ Abram's mysterious new project was revealed to be a sequel, titled 10 Cloverfield Lane, we were understandably excited. Even more so having seen the very intriguing looking trailer.
So what we know is that the film stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Goodman, who appear to be the last survivors of some catastrophe that has taken place. And oddly enough this isn't actually being directed by JJ Abrams, merely produced. Dan Trachtenberg is taking on directorial duties. Other than that, it's a complete mystery, which is just the way we like our JJ Abrams movies.
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Next up with have something that could be a bit special. Lion is based on the book based on the true story of a young child separated from his mother in India, a good thousand miles away from home, and is later reunited fifteen years later.
It's good solid movie-fare, and it stars the competent trio of Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, and Dev Patel. Slightly more interestingly, Lion is scripted by Luke Davies, a man mostly known for his limited career in indie films, and directed by Garth Davis, who so far has a fairly highly acclaimed career in television, but nothin in feature films.
An interesting prospect then, and the Weinstein Company certainly seem to think so too, having purchased distribution rights and partnered with the producers of awards smash The King's Speech. Weinstein usually picks a winner, lets see if they'll do it again. No release date set as of yet, but Lion is widely expected to release late in 2016.
Release Date: TBA 2016
7. La La Land
Pop quiz: Your first major film as both writer and director has caught fire, nominated for five Oscars, winning three of them, and arguably the best film of its year. What do you do next?
For Damien Chazelle the choice, after the unexpected success of Whiplash, was to fulfill a lifelong ambition and produce a big, bombastic, classic Hollywood style musical. Welcome to La La Land.
La La Land stars Ryan Gosling and the up-and-coming talent of Emma Stone, with JK Simmons and John Legend in support. It's an old fashioned Hollywood fable of a jazz pianist falling in love with an ambitious young actress, and then shit happens which can only really be explained through the medium of song.
This one will hit the big screen in July. Should be a bit of good fun.
Release Date: July 15, 2016
Here's an interesting one for theatre fans. Genius is the debut film of Michael Grandage, former artistic director of London's iconic Donmar Warehouse theatre. Genius portrays the biographical history of a legendary early 20th Century literary editor, Max Perkins.
Grandage has certainly broken out the old rolodex from his time at the Donmar, as the cast of Genius includes the hugely impressive lineup of Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Dominic West, Laura Linney, and Guy Pearce.
A release date of summer 2016 is a slightly unusual one for a film like this, but as fans of Grandage's work we are pretty excited to see what he can do in this new medium, and particularly with such a talented array of actors. Definitely one to watch.
Release Date: July 29, 2016
5. Hail, Caesar!
The release of a new film by the Coen Brothers is always a cause for celebration. Over the years they have produced some of the finest cinema around. They Have fifteen Oscar nominations between them and four wins.
Their newest, Hail, Caesar! is a classic farce set against golden age Hollywood in the 1950s. The cast includes a lineup of Coen Brothers favourites and newcomers alike, including George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and Channing Tatum. It's a formidable cast of talent, and the addition of legendary cinematographer and longtime Coen Brothers collaborator Roger Deakins only sweetens the deal.
It's a film that has absolutely everything right on paper, so why isn't it higher up the list? Scoff if you will, but the early February release date seems a bit of a red flag. The Coen Brothers haven't released a film so early in the year for decades, one has to ask why they've been given such a bad release date this year... perhaps the studio isn't happy with the product? We shall see; worst case scenario this film will be on a par with Burn After Reading, best case we'll have another classic on the level of Fargo. Either way it'll be worth seeing, we're excited for this one.
Release Date: February 5, 2016
4. Star Trek Beyond
And now for something completely different. To call Star Trek Beyond's placement on this list a guilty pleasure might be a bit harsh, after all the last two films in the series Star Trek and Star Trek: Into Darkness were critically acclaimed, and in the case of the former really quite excellent (not to mention Oscar winning). But the truth is we have some trepidation about this latest one.
The good news is that the main cast, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg and Zoe Saldana return, and they have brought with them the excellent Idris Elba. The bad news is... well just about everything else.
Director of the past two films, JJ Abrams, is out due to commitments with a different film you may have heard of which also begins with "Star", he stays on as producer. Originally screenwriter Roberto Orci was set to replace him, which was mildly controversial seeing as he has never directed anything before, and the fact that his scripts were probably the weakest point of the past two films, Into Darkness especially. So Orci promptly got the boot, which left us with barely a year until release and not even a script let alone a film. Cue Simon Pegg to come along and throw together a script at the last minute, and incoming director Justin Lin of, err... Fast and Furious fame.
So to recap: the entire movie was rushed together in a year, and we have the director of the Fast and Furious series. This film is going to be terrible probably. But if Pegg somehow manages to pull this off, he will no doubt be hailed as a hero to Trekkies everywhere.
Release Date: July 22, 2016
Now we're getting to some of the heavyweights. Sully is the inevitable film portrayal of hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger who famously crash-landed an airplane into the Hudson river and got everyone out alive.
Clint Eastwood directs, Tom Hanks stars as Sully. Do we really need to say more? You'll be hearing about this one a lot come the next awards season. But since you insist, the supporting cast includes Aaron Eckhart, Entourage's Jerry Ferrara, and Laura Linney. Long time Eastwood collaborator Tom Stern is on board for cinematography.
I suppose the question is how do they make a movie out of this, when the event itself was probably not all that interesting in real time, and probably shorter than the running time of a film? Well it's based off his autobiography, so presumably looks a great deal at the life that made him the man he was leading up to that day.
Sully releases this September.
Release Date: September 9, 2016
2. The Founder
This is a rather tasty prospect, and one of the more nailed on awards contenders for next year. The Founder tells the story of Ray Kroc and his acquisition of McDonalds.
An old fashioned business drama, with Michael Keaton as Kroc, and a supporting cast which includes Laura Dern, Nick Offerman, and Patrick Wilson. The director, John Lee Hancock previously did Saving Mr. Banks and The Blind Side, so he has previous in the biographical genre, and a track record of producing very good films. Script by Robert D. Siegel, who wrote The Wrestler and The Onion Movie. Cinematography by the Oscar nominated John Schwartzman who worked on Saving Mr. Banks and Seabiscuit.
A lot of talent invovled then, and produced by the Weinstein Company, who as we already may have mentioned, usually have pretty serious clout when it comes to awards season. The Founder releases in November.
Release Date: November 25, 2016
And finally, Silence. Eagle-eyed readers may recognise this one from last year's Hot List. Ultimately it ended up slipping to 2016, and winding up back here for another year.
There is not one detail about Silence which doesn't suggest that it's going to be a very big deal. An adaptation of the acclaimed 1966 Japanese novel of the same name, a historical drama dealing with religious persecution in 17th Century Japan, screenplay by two time Academy Award nominee Jay Cocks, and directed by one of the greatest of all time, Martin Scorsese.
Originally the film had been mooted for one Daniel Day Lewis and Benicio del Toro when it first surfaced in 2009, but following a recent script rewrite the cast now includes two highly regarded young up and comers in Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, as well as veteran Liam Neeson.
It all sounds great so far, so it's just as well that the film is lined up for a late 2016 release, right around when the awards season really gets going. Put this one on your list, it's going to be big.
Release Date: Late 2016
So there you have it folks: 2016 in movies. Tune in next week for the essential new television shows on the air in 2016!