Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016 Films I'm Anticipating, Part II

Continuing from yesterday, below are my most anticipated films of 2016, in the indie/foreign/not getting a big marketing campaign category.  Picks are listed below alphabetically, since most of these don't have release dates yet.  I admit this is a weird list with a lot of omissions, including the latest Scorsese, Linklater, and Malick films.  I'm also leaving off films that I previously wrote about but ended up delayed, like "The Ferryman."

"Certain Women" - Kelly Reichardt returns, with a story of three women from a small town in Montana, played by Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and of course Michelle Williams.  This one was previously known as "Livingston," for those of you keeping track.  I've had my ups and downs with Reichardt, but when her films work for me there's nothing better.  This one just premiered a few days ago at Sundance, and I expect to see it making the usual rounds at the indie theaters later in the year.

"Hail Caeser!" - I greet every new Coens brothers comedy with great enthusiasm, because nobody makes them like the Coens do.  This time we have a farcical mystery set in the Hollywood Golden age, with a tonne of great actors: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum are all aboard.  The trailers have been great, with Clooney as his hammy, imbecilic best.

"A United Kingdom" - I adored Amma Asante's second feature, the period melodrama "Belle."  She's following it up with another romance, about Prince Seretse Khama and his wife, Ruth Williams Khama, the interracial couple who caused a storm of controversy when they married, and would become Botswana's first Prime Minister and First Lady in the 1960s.  David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike are set to star.  I expect something indulgent and sentimental, and to have an absolute blast watching it.

"High Rise" - I do love a good dystopian thriller, and this one has a great cast, a brutal director, and is based on highly recommended source material.  Tom Hiddleston plays a man who moves into an exclusive high rise community, created to separate the upper echelons of society from the deteriorating world outside.  Of course, everything goes to hell.  Reviews have warned that this one isn't going to be mainstream-friendly, which is what I already expected since director Ben Wheatley is involved.

"Personal Shopper" - Olivier Assayas's latest, which will probably be making appearance at Cannes in a few months.  Now, I usually don't get along with Olivier Assayas' work, and have only liked one of his films without reservations.  I had plenty of issues with "Clouds of Sils Maria," for instance, but I thought Kristen Stewart's role in it was fantastic.  The two will be teaming up again for "Personal Shopper," described as a ghost story set in the fashion world.  I'm very curious how this one will come out.

"Raiders!" - The story has been circulating for ages that in the 1980s, a group of enterprising kids got together and tried to recreate "Raiders of the Lost Ark" shot for shot by themselves.  I've always been sort of curious about the finished product, "Raiders: The Adaptation," but of course there are endless copyright issues preventing any sort of real release.  So I'm glad that the documentary about the making of the fan-film, "Raiders!" will be coming our way soon to let me get a glimpse of the fun.

"Birth of a Nation" - Here's another one that recently premiered at Sundance to considerable acclaim.  Director and star Nate Parker embarked on a seven-year battle to get his film about Nat Turner's 19th century slave revolt financed and made.  Guaranteed to be part of next year's awards conversation after recent events, and already provoking a variety of heated responses due to its unpopular subject matter, this is certainly going to be a major contender for the most timely film of 2016.

"The Circle" - .  Based on Dave Eggers' dystopian novel, "The Circle" will follow a young woman played by Emma Watson as she explores the inner workings of a sinister technology company that threatens society as we know it.  Tom Hanks and a slew of good actors are also in the cast.  Indie darling James Ponsoldt, best known for his wonderful character pieces like "The End of the Tour," will be tackling a genre project for the first time.   I can't wait to see what he does with this one.

"The Red Turtle" - It turns out that Studio Ghibli's work on feature films isn't quite finished yet.  They made a surprise announcement a few months ago that they would co-produce the feature film debut of celebrated European animator MichaĆ«l Dudok de Wit. "The Red Turtle" will feature a man stranded on a desert island and no dialogue.  I don't expect to see this one pop up in the U.S. for quite some time, but I'm so glad that the project exists and I'm excited for all the possibilities that it represents.

"The Story of Your Life" - Denis Villeneuve is on a roll, having delivered a string of strong, bleak dramas over the past few years.  Next year he's doing a science-fiction film starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.  The only thing here that makes me pause is screenwriter Eric Heisserer, who has done nothing but horror and action schlock.  But with Villeneuve involved, even if this does turn out to be schlock, at least it will be entertaining schlock.  We know Villeneuve can do a lot with very little.

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