50 films to look forward to in 2016 – part 2

New films from the Coen brothers, Andrea Arnold, Paul Verhoeven, plus loads more coming your way over the next 12 months.

Little White Lies

It’s that time of year again where we start marking our diary with key release dates for the months ahead. After you’ve made of note of the following 25 upcoming releases, but sure to check out the first part of our bumper 2016 preview.

26. Hail, Caesar!

Eta 26 February

Joel and Ethan Coen alternate between surreally bleak and surreally hilarious feature film presentations. After the icy sorrow of Inside Llewyn Davies, they are back with more razzmatazz than ever before. Hail, Caesar is a movie about 1950s movies until it becomes a movie about the kidnap of a movie star named Baird (pronounced ’Bad’) Whitlock. The trailer is pure joy untrammelled, boasting deadpan deliveries by delectable A-list talents at the top of their games. We’re talking Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton and Josh Brolin. If the trailer hasn’t poached the best material then Hail, Caesar! is going to be all the fun of the fair. Sophie Monks Kaufman

27. Room

Eta 16 January

Room is another film which at one point looked like something of a minnow in the awards season pool and has been growing in stature as the days go by. Lenny Abrahamson taps into a more commercial vein of filmmaking after his weird musical road movie, Frank, with this stellar adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel in which a young woman (Brie Larson) is imprisoned in a shed as a sex slave while having to bring up her young son in a way which doesn’t prevent him from enjoying and understanding life beyond the doors. The film’s great strength is that it isn’t a genre thriller – it is a film which proposes that revenge is not the first and only thing on the mind of a long-term captive. David Jenkins

28. The Revenant

Eta 15 January

We’ve already seen The Revenant and, well, without wanting to raise your hopes too high, it’s fucking spectacular. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s epic revenge western sees Leonardo DiCaprio get down and dirty as scorned fur trapper Hugh Glass, who’s forced to embark on a gruelling trek through the savage heart of the American frontier circa 1823. Bear fights, shallow burials and scalpings are just some of the activities on offer in what is quite simply one of the most impressive cinematic endurance tests you could ever hope to experience. Adam Woodward

29. A Bigger Splash

Eta 12 February

While watching rich people on their holidays might be most people’s idea of Hell on wheels, the neat twist with Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash is that they’re singing, dancing, fighting and fucking all the damn time. Into the pot goes Matthias Schoenaerts, Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson and Ralph Fiennes as they potter around a deluxe villa on the Italian island of Pantelleria, throwing meaningful glances at one another, the odd catty barb, each trying to divulge the hidden motivation of the other. It’s loosely inspired by the ’60s French hit La Piscine by Jacques Deray, only this one has Swinton as a coke-hoovering rock idol who’s in a period of convalescence. And Fiennes dances like a man freak to the Stones. DJ

30. A Quiet Passion

Eta unknown

Emily Dickinson is the poet who wrote the shiversome line, ‘I would not stop for death so he kindly stopped for me.’ Terence Davies’ forthcoming biopic about her life is making us so excited we can hardly breathe. The English maestro’s lyrical style of filmmaking is destined to bring something transcendent out of Dickinson’s life and work. Stir in the fact that he prepared by reading six biographies and described A Quiet Passion in an interview with LWLies as, “my most autobiographical [film]. I really did feel that symbiotic towards Emily Dickinson.” This has the potential to be one of the best films of 2016. SMK

31. Personal Shopper

Eta unknown

Eyebrows were understandably raised in 2013 when French director Olivier Assayas announced that he had cast Kristen Stewart in his next project. The resulting film, Clouds of Sils Maria – for which Stewart won the César award for Best Supporting Actress – turned out to be one of 2014’s best, so it’s with giddy excitement that we await the pair’s next collaboration. At the time of writing not much has been revealed about Personal Shopper, but we do know it’s a Paris-set English-language ghost story that takes place in the fashion world. The film is currently listed as being in post-production, so expect to see it at a major festival in the New Year. AW

32. The Assassin

Eta 22 January

Though released early next year, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s The Assassin will likely go down as one of the best films of 2015, as it has been putting in a serious shift on the festival circuit. This is the director’s first film since 2007’s wonderful Paris-set The Flight of the Red Balloon, and the sure-handed gorgeousness of the first two minutes alone shows that he took his good sweet time over this one. The film tells the tale of a female assassin (Shu Qi) who’s given a task which she feels morally unable to fulfil. YetHsiao-Hsien doesn’t just offer viewers a simple human drama, instead enfolding this battle of nerves into the immaculately rendered court life of 9th century China. DJ

33. Silence

Eta unknown

When we spoke to Adam Driver back in March for our While We’re Young issue, he was taking a break from shooting Martin Scorsese’s Japanese historical drama, Silence. Since then production has wrapped, but aside from an early publicity still of Liam Neeson as a dirt-smudged Jesuit Portuguese priest, exact details about the plot has remained fittingly hush-hush. The film has been in gestation since 2009, and for reasons too complicated and dull to go into here, Scorsese ended up putting it on the backburner in favour of Shutter Island, Hugo and The Wolf of Wall Street successively. It’s fair to say, then, that this is a real passion project of Marty’s, which makes it a very exciting prospect indeed. AW

34. Midnight Special

Eta 15 April

Jeff Nichols is our kinda guy. His movies (Shotgun Stories, Mud, Take Shelter) toy with conventional genres, but usually add an invigorating existential twist to the mix. Plus, he enjoys casting Michael Shannon, and has done in his latest, a so-called sci-fi movie called Midnight Special, which we understand has little in common with the Credence Clearwater Revival song of the same name. Per an early trailer, the film looks to be about a young sage with some kind of strange superpower who needs to be taken across the southern states of America for some oblique goal or ritual. This is going to be one of those movies where the less we know, the more exciting it’ll be. DJ

35. The BFG

Eta 22 July

‘From the imagination of Roald Dahl’ are the words that kickstart the trailer for Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of one of the author’s best-loved children’s stories. Dahl’s imagination was spectacular and didn’t shy away from dark and twisted corners (just read his adult stories). The BFG is about a little girl called Sophie who is kidnapped by a big friendly giant and taken away to the land of the giants. The tone of the trailer is magical, conjuring the awe of a child’s eye-view of a fantastic universe powered by an ever-epic John Williams score. Although we only see his shadow and then a massive hand, Mark Rylance is a swell casting choice for The BFG while newcomer Ruby Barnhill embodies a short-haired version of Quentin Blake’s illustrations of the miniature heroine. SMK

36. La La Land

Eta 15 July

Damien Chazelle announced himself as a major new talent with his Oscar-scooping 2014 debut feature, Whiplash, and next year the writer/director will be hoping to repeat the trick with La La Land. This Los Angeles-set romantic musical concerns a whirlwind love affair between a jazz pianist and an aspiring actress and reunites Crazy, Stupid, Love. stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Seeing as how we’re suckers for a good rom-com, this sounds just the ticket. AW

37. Finding Dory

Eta 29 July

Having scored one of their biggest ever successes with the neuro-science themed comedy, Inside Out, you suspect that the Pixar crew are kicking themselves that their forthcoming slate is stacked high with sequels. Aside from further Toy Story and The Incredibles antics, the most intriguing – let’s call them what they are – franchise extension is Finding Dory, a ‘what if?’ adjunct to 2003’s marine-based retooling of The Searchers, Finding Nemo. The new focus is on Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), the lovable but mentally defective fish who generates the desire to reconnect with her long-estranged family. Other voice cast include Willem Dafoe, Diane Keaton, and reunited The Wire alumni Idris Elba and Dominic West. DJ

38. Janis: Little Girl Blue

Eta 5 February

Sixties singer Janis Joplin made sounds like a soul sawn by sand-paper. The guttural voice that sung famous lines, ‘freedom’s just another word for nothing less to lose’ and ‘take another little piece of my heart now, baby!’ is detached – just another cultural meme hanging in the ether. Amy Berg’s emotionally and culturally astute documentary reattaches the voice to a woman with touching and detailed results. The portrait of Janis that emerges is gentle, ambitious and idealistically desirous of meaningful communication. Her death from heroin at 27 is tragic but the values that she lived by are too true to die. SMK

39. Untitled Next Bourne Chapter

Eta 29 July

Let’s set aside that underwhelming 2012 Jeremy Renner vehicle and rejoice in the news that Matt Damon is back where he belongs – in a Bourne movie directed by Paul Greengrass. This sequel will see Damon spying it up for a fourth time as the eponymous CIA stooge, with Vincent Cassel playing a rival assassin and Alicia Vikander – who reportedly turned down a role in Assassin’s Creed for this – also making an appearance as an as-yet unnamed character. AW

40. Ghostbusters

Eta 15 July

We don’t know if you guys have heard but Paul Feig is directing a female-dominated reboot of Ivan Reitman’s beloved Ghostbusters. Haters gonna hate but ghost exterminators gotta exterminate. Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are on main ghosbusting detail while Sigourney Weaver, Chris Hemsworth and Elizabeth Perkins lurk promisingly in the support cast. Dan Aykroyd who was part of the original line-up has a writing and acting credit so expect wink-nudge references. Little is known about the plot but – to set aside sacred historical baggage – this is the team that brought us Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy. Quality comedic goods are in the offing. SMK

41. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Eta 18 November

The time to discover how far the popularity of author JK Rowling extends as she teams as screenwriter with director David Yates (helmer of the last few Harry Potter movies) to offer a spin-off saga which explores the eccentric world of magic some 70 years before the antics of the famous boy wizard takes place. Johnny Oscars himself, Eddie Redmayne, is playing Newton “Newt” Scamander, a famed a famed Magizoologist and author of the tome on which this film is based. Currently slotted in for a November release, this looks like it’ll be the pre-Yuletide family pick to beat. DJ

42. American Honey

Eta unknown

Not famous friend of the internet, Shia LaBeouf, has made a film with one of the UK’s best directors, Andrea Arnold. It’s called American Honey and follows newcomer Sasha Lane as Star, a teenage girl who falls in with a bunch of misfits while on a journey of self-discovery across America’s Midwest. It also stars Shia LaBeouf in a lead role, which means it could go either way. That said, with Arnold’s track record (Wuthering Heights, Fish Tank, Red Road), this is definitely one to keep a close eye on. AW

43. Nasty Baby

Eta 8 April

Chilean-American director, writer and actor Sebastián Silva delivers an entertaining contemporary romcom about a gay couple trying for a baby with help from Kristen Wiig. Silva and his on-screen beau, Tunde Adebimpe drum up dynamic chemistry while nestled in the colourful heart of boho New York. Drama seems to come from everyday struggles, including Silva’s plan to act as a baby in an art installation. Then suddenly drama comes from somewhere else and the genre of the film switches. Expectation and attachments to characters are subverted and serious social questions fly. If that’s not enough, both Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development) and Silva’s real, adorable cat are in the support cast. SMK

44. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Eta 12 February

The magic of the movies is that anything goes. One way to use this freedom is to take a classic Jane Austen novel and mix in zombies. Nothing puts the harsh judgements of the Victorian upper classes into perspective like an army of the undead. American writer, director and one-time actor Burr Steers has Igby Goes Down on his credits which means layered comic tension is within his reach. The cast is a thoroughly British affair with Lily James as Lizzie Bennett, Sam Riley as Mr Darcy, Sally Phillips as Mrs Bennett and Charles Dance as Mr Bennett. Matt Smith, Douglas Booth and Lena Headey are also mucking in on anti-zombie duty. SMK

45. Free Fire

Eta unknown

Ben Wheatley has been a very busy boy of late. While his High-Rise is set for release on 18 March, his next film, Free Fire, is already in post-production. The terrific Brie Larson stars alongside Armie Hammer and Cillian Murphy in this late-’70s set Boston crime-drama about rival gangs duking it out in an abandoned warehouse. If it’s starting to sound like Wheatley’s most conventional film to date, we’re fully expecting it to be anything but. AW

46. Alice Through the Looking Glass

Eta 27 May

Wiping the horrific memory of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland from the slate for just one moment, an inkling of hope is offered by the fact that James Bobin – the guy behind the recent Muppets revival – is taking care of business. Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp return for Alice/Mad Hatter detail respectively, and Helena Bonham-Carter will go all giant headed once more as the Queen of Hearts. Per Lewis Carroll’s novel, the action takes place six months after the original film and comprises of Alice’s adventures when she passes through a magic mirror. Slated for an May 27 release date, this seems tee’d up for a world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. DJ

47. Star Wars: Rogue One

Eta 16 December

Just as the dust of mass hysteria will have settled following the release of The Force Awakens, it’s time to get hyped once more as the first Star Wars spin-off movie drops exactly one year (minus a day) down the line. The good news is that it’s being directed by Brit Gareth Edwards, who gave us one of the great blockbusters in recent times with Godzilla. Of what’s been dropped down the publicity chute thus far, we can see that this new tale looks at the lives of an ethnically diverse cadre of fighter pilots who are set the task of nabbing plans for the Death Star, a plot which almost recalls a monologue in Clerks. The stellar cast includes Mads Mikkelsen, Donnie Yen, Felicity Jones and Ben Mendelsohn. DJ

48. The Nice Guys

Eta 3 June

Iron Man 3 director Shane Black has recruited notorious hard man Russell Crowe and serious heartthrob Ryan Gosling for his knockabout buddy comedy, which follows a hapless private eye (Gosling) and a no-nonsense enforcer (Crowe) as they attempt to crack a missing persons case in ’70s Los Angeles. The funky period clobber has already sold us, but if The Nice Guys turns out to be anything like as outrageous as the red band trailer that dropped earlier this month, it could be one of 2016’s surprise packages. AW

49. Assassin’s Creed

Eta 26 December

Having successfully tackled The Scottish Play with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard by his side, Justin Kurzel leaps from the Bard to Playstation as his next feature will be a screen adaptation of the insanely popular computer game, Assassin’s Creed. When we interviewed Kurzel about Macbeth when it played in Cannes, he told us that he was excited about the prospect of scaling up in such a way, and that before production of the film he played and completed the game. So that’s a good start. Even though gaming movies have gained a justifiably poor reputation (thanks Pixels!), this really could be the that rises to the peak of that cultural garbage heap. And one of our favourite actors, Ariane Labed, is involved. Count us in. DJ

50. Elle

Eta unknown

Paul Verhoeven is a director with such well-honed instincts for trashy entertainment that we can’t help but maintain a level of curiosity about his films. Sure, the hourglass has lost a lot of sand since his glory days in the late ’80s and ’90s (RoboCop, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Starship Troopers) but you never know! Elle is based on the novel ‘Oh…’ by Phillippe Dijan and stars Isabelle Huppert as a career woman called Michelle who is attacked in her own home. Verhoeven has described the film as a rape mystery and told Variety, “I had a strong feeling with this one that I was doing something that I’d never done before, which applied when I made RoboCop.” SMK

Catch up with part 1 of our 2016 preview and let us know which upcoming releases you’re most excited to see @LWLies

Published 16 Dec 2015

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50 films to look forward to in 2016 – part 1

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