Saturday, February 6, 2016

2016 Films I'm Anticipating, Part I

I like writing these posts every year a little bit later than everyone else to get a better sense of what the film landscape looks like.  It's hard sometimes to get a bead on what's going to make it to screens by the end of the year and what isn't.  This year, audiences look to be in for some very good things, though it may be a rocky year for the movie business as we settle into the post- "The Force Awakens" period.

As always, I split this feature up into two posts, one for the mainstream would-be blockbusters that everybody hears about, and one for the artsier fare that may break through to the mainstream eventually, but only the cinephiles will be anticipating.  The big films go first, which is ironically the leaner list this time out.  We're being promised a lot of fireworks with superhero showdowns and franchise favorites, but most of the big titles I really want to see aren't going to be due in theaters until very late in the year.  Films are ordered below by release date.

"Money Monster" - Now here's a scenario that I bet many people have secretly wanted to see.  An investor who lost all his money based on a bad tip from a Jim Cramer-esque TV show, breaks into the financial guru's studio and takes the program hostage.  George Clooney will play the Cramer figure, with Julia Roberts as his producer, and Jack O'Connell as the desperate investor.  Jodie Foster is directing.  I have no idea if this is going to be any good, but it's something different and it sure sounds like a good time.

"The BFG" - Though not one of my favorite Roald Dahl books, I have a great fondness for the silly story of The Big Friendly Giant, who along with a brave young girl named Sophie, saves the children of the world from some nasty giants.  Steven Spielberg is directing, "Bridge of Spies" actor Mark Rylance is playing the title role, and Disney is picking up the tab.  We haven't had a proper children's fantasy film from Spielberg in a long while, and I am very excited at the prospect of seeing him have some fun in this universe.

"Doctor Strange" - Who could say no to that cast?  Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead, with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, and Michael Stuhlbarg supporting?  It's impossible.  But it's Marvel and it's Disney, and they make impossible things happen every day.  So of all the superhero movies coming out next year, this is the only one I really have any enthusiasm for.  Sure, Scott Derrickson's not who I would have gotten to direct this, but hey, they let's Carlyle co-write this sucker!  I'm in!

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" - The whole "Harry Potter" gang is back because Warner Brothers needs more money.  But that aside, I find the idea of Eddie Redmayne playing a bumbling wizard in this universe tremendously appealing.  And the promises of visiting the American wizarding world and exploring a different point in time do intrigue.  This is the kind of spinoff I wish we could see more often, one that is built around familiar concepts rather than familiar plots or characters - though I expect more than a few cameos to pop up here.

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" - And speaking of  impossible casts that happen to include Mads Mikkelsen, I will never forgive Gareth Edwards if he screws this up and wastes the talents of Mads, Felicity Jones, Riz Ahmed, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, and Alan Tudyk.  I'm hoping this one can fulfill its promise to put the war in "Star Wars," and be an entirely different beast than any of the previous "Star Wars" films.  Maybe it'll be a prequel in this franchise that's finally worth watching.

"Assassin's Creed" - I haven't seen Justin Kurzel's adaptation of "Macbeth" with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard yet, but I'm itching to, because it might offer some clues as to what "Assassin's Creed" is going to look like. This is still the best hope of a good movie based on a video game property that we've got for the foreseeable future.  I'm not too familiar with the source material, but I know it's got some real potential.  I'm hoping that the late December date doesn't mean that Fox is trying to bury this - we'll just have to wait and see.

"Passengers" - I really do enjoy Jennifer Lawrence in just about everything she's in, and I'm glad to see her being paired up with Chris Pratt for next year's big space thriller.  I don't know much about this one except who's involved, and I think I'd like to keep it that way for as long as possible.  I do know that the Jon Spaihts script made the Black List, and director Morten Tyldum has a lot to prove coming off last year's Oscar nom.  Let's just say that I have a good feeling about this, and I'm going to enjoy the mystery for as long as it lasts.

"The Light Between Oceans" - Finally, this one has no release date yet, but we've known it's been coming from DreamWorks for a while now.  Derek Cianfrance is taking on his biggest film yet, an emotionally fraught drama about a foundling child, starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz.  I expect some devastating melodrama, picturesque cinematography, and for DreamWorks to stuff this into the middle of the Oscar race next year.  Bring it on.

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