Coming to a theater near you
2015 came and went in a hurry. It was a quality year that ended with a handful of very strong titles and nicely set up 2016 with great expectations. Now that the new year is upon us, it’s time to look ahead to some early quarter releases that are sure to set the temperature for what 2016 has in store. Now before anyone accuses me of being neglectful or gets offended that a major title was left off, let me first disclose – this is not that kind of list. I am fully aware that in 2016 we’re scheduled to get, among others: Batman v Superman, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, Star Trek Beyond, an Assassins Creed film, a fifth Bourne film, a Zoolander sequel, an Independence Day sequel, a Star Wars spin-off film, and Captain America: Civil War. As per the norm, some of these movies will expectedly dazzle, while others will surely disappoint. Rather than highlight the obvious, what I’ve decided to do instead is pick five films from promising or well-established filmmakers that may get lost in the shuffle that is the 2016 gauntlet of releases. Like I said…this is not that kind of list.
1. Hail, Caesar! – dir. Joel & Ethan Coen
Why not start the year off with an outing from two of the most well-regarded directors working today? The Coen Brothers are back behind the camera with their latest original screenplay (their last being 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis). This time they’ve brought on board a murder’s row of actors ranging from Coen Brothers regulars like Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton, to fresh faces like Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and Ralph Fiennes. From the looks of it, Hail, Caesar! is cut from the same madcap cloth as another Coen Brothers comedy, Burn After Reading. Take a look at the trailer and judge for yourself. I personally can’t wait.
U.S. Release date: February 5th
2. The Lobster – dir. Yorgos Lanthimos
Here’s a Greek filmmaker that’s been on my radar for some time. Coming off of two of the most unique experiences I’ve had in recent memory (2009’s Dogtooth and 2011’s Alps), his follow up third feature has been long awaited. A master of surrealist drama, Yorgos Lanthimos has now entered the black comedy realm with The Lobster and he’s recruited a stellar cast to usher in his English language film debut. Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, and Léa Seydoux feature. The logline alone is enough to tease my palate: single people are taken to a remote hotel where they are given 45 days to fall in love. If they fail, they are turned into an animal of their choice and released into the wild. Enough said, take my money.
U.S. Release date: May 13th
3. Midnight Special – dir. Jeff Nichols
No one is building an impressive a résumé as Arkansas director Jeff Nichols. With his first three films (Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter, and Mud), Nichols has quietly cemented himself as an expert of the American Southern Gothic. His collaborations with filmcache favorite Michael Shannon are particularly fruitful, and Midnight Special looks poised to continue that winning streak. Described by Nichols as a “sci-fi chase film,” this is easily his most ambitious project to date. But knowing his skills as director, I have no doubts that venturing out of his comfort zone will yield positive results yet again.
U.S. Release date: March 18th
4. Green Room – dir. Jeremy Saulnier
I’ve raved about Jeremy Saulnier’s sophmore film Blue Ruin before, so imagine my excitement to hear that his third feature, Green Room, starring Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, and Imogen Poots is scheduled to be released early this year. Continuing his love for color-based titles, Saulnier is setting up to become a name that warrants serious attention with this murder-crime-heavy metal-thriller. Mix in an original screenplay by Saulnier and distribution by A24 Films and that’s enough to have me itching for this film to be released.
U.S. Release date: April 15th
5. Demolition – dir. Jean-Marc Vallée
What role can’t Jake Gyllenhaal play at this point? He’s done it all. From psychological thrillers, to science-fiction disasters, to war films, to mysteries, to romantic comedies, to action fantasy, to neo-noir crime thrillers, to sports dramas, and everything in between. The man is the acting embodiment of versatility. He truly is at his best when he’s given the room to dive into a character and use their headspace as a starting point for performance. Teaming with Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild), the pairing is a heavenly match. Demolition tells the story of a successful banker who recently lost his wife in a car crash and attempts to rebuild his life. Vallée has a knack for handling intimate and deeply personal stories, and I expect another fantastic contribution from two artists at the top of their craft.
U.S. Release date: April 8th