25 films to look forward to in 2016

Check out this selection of upcoming cinematic treasures we’re excited to see over the next six months.


Catherine Karellis, Charlie Theobald

19 August (US) / 30 September (UK)

It is fortuitous timing – just as Barack and Michelle Obama approach their final days in the White House, a film arrives that recounts their beginnings. The directorial debut of one Richard Tanne follows Michelle Robinson and Barack Obama on their first date in Chicago during the summer of 1989. The film premiered at Sundance and the leads Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers have been praised for their sensitive portrayals which surpass mere impersonations. As a madcap American presidential election looms and the Obama administration winds down, Southside With You may be touching rom-com, but it’s got an undeniable political edge. Charlie Theobald

2. La La Land

16 December (US)

Director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land is something of a departure from the blood, sweat and tears of his last project, Whiplash. A dreamlike ode to Hollywood’s golden age and the city of Los Angeles, the film follows a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and a struggling actress (Emma Stone) as they meet cute and come together. Bringing an original musical to the screen without an established theatrical reputation to draw in the crowds is no mean feat – but with Chazelle at the helm, the expectations for this one are sky high. Catherine Karellis

3. A Monster Calls

21 October (US)

Director JA Bayona brings to life Patrick Ness’ haunting 2011 novel about Conor O’Malley, a 12-year-old boy struggling to come to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. One night, Conor is unexpectedly visited by an ancient tree monster, brilliantly voiced by Liam Neeson (his raspy vocals are a highlight of the first trailer). Bayona’s previous credits include 2007’s The Orphanage and 2012’s The Impossible, so the expectation is a film that is visually spectacular and emotionally annihilating. CK

4. Certain Women

14 October (US)

Avid readers of this magazine might know that we have something of a soft spot for director Kelly Reichardt, what with her having made some of the greatest films of the 21st century (Old Joy, Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy & Lucy). This new one is based on a volume of beautiful, melancholic short stories by the author Maile Meloy, and sees the director gathering up a slew of female powerhouse actors in the form of Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern and Michelle Williams. It received a rapturous response from its Sundance premiere, so to say that we cannot wait for this one is an understatement and a half. David Jenkins

5. Julieta

26 August (UK) / 21 December (US)

Pedro Almodóvar’s twentieth feature film spans 30 years in the life of a woman named Julieta in an homage to three short stories by acclaimed Canadian writer Alice Munro. Signalling a return to his trademark female-centric drama – he hasn’t made one since 2006’s Volver – Julieta is a compelling and intricate portrait of a woman on the verge. After all, Almodóvar rarely disappoints when he’s doing what he does best. CK

6. Silence

Eta unknown

There’s no denying that a new Scorsese movie is always an event, and reports suggest that it should be with us by the end of 2016. Based on the 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo, the film follows the harrowing experiences of two Jesuit priests (Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield) who travel to Japan amidst rumours that their mentor (Liam Neeson) has renounced his faith. Silence is somewhat of a passion project for Scorsese – he’s been trying to get it off the ground for 20 years. Now that it’s nearly with us, here’s hoping it’s worth the wait.  CK

7. Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

19 August (US), 28 October (UK)

Werner Herzog has made films about life on death row, ancient cave paintings and mental illness. But has the lovable German ever tackled anything as dark and enigmatic as the internet? Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World attempts to do just this—it explores the expansive, endearing, and devastating story of the Internet age. Herzog visits the birthplace of the World Wide Web, speaks with a scientist who creates football-playing robots, and investigates tech addiction, including the story of one South Korean couple whose baby starved while they played video games. CT

8. Christine

14 October (US)

It makes sense that director Antonio Campos was drawn to the infamous story of Christine Chubbuck for his new project, as he’s known for his meticulous, close-quarters character studies. Chubbuck was a Sarasota news anchor who committed suicide during a live broadcast in 1974. This film dramatises the weeks leading up to her death, exploring not only her mental state, but also the fraught dynamics of a 1970s newsroom and the rise of ‘if it bleeds, it leads’ reporting. With the underrated Rebecca Hall in the title role, this is definitely one to look out for. CK

9. American Honey

30 September (US) / 14 October (UK)

This is only Andrea Arnold’s fourth film and yet it’s already been met with widespread acclaim, with Arnold’s taking home her third (!) Prix de Jury at Cannes. A teenager (newcomer Sasha Lane) runs away from her dead-end Oklahoma town to join a travelling magazine crew led by the ever-polarising Shia Labeouf. Judging from the trailer, what follows is an exhilarating, self-destructive trip across the Midwest as the crew sell magazine subscriptions to fund their alcohol, drugs and stays in motels. It promises to be sun-soaked, reckless yet vulnerable – a more sincere Spring Breakers. CK

10. Masterminds

30 September (US)

The long overdue crime comedy will finally hit screens this fall now that Relativity Studios has risen from the ashes of bankruptcy. Masterminds is based on the 1997 Loomis Fargo Robbery in North Carolina, in which a night guard for an armoured truck company made away with millions. The film stars Zack Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon and was directed by Jared Hess, whose credits include Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre. The first trailer offers up furiously-paced slapstick madness. CT

11. The Birth of a Nation

7 October (US)

This upcoming biopic earned the longest standing ovation at Sundance earlier this year and set a festival record when Fox Searchlight acquired it for $17.5 million. A passion project for Nate Parker, who directs, produces and stars, Birth of a Nation charts the life of Nat Turner, a preacher who eventually led a slave rebellion at a Virginia plantation in 1831. It is a film that’s bound to tie into crucial ongoing conversations about racial injustice in America. In fact, the latest poster for the film features Parker as Turner with tears in his eyes and an American flag noose around his neck. It might be one of the most powerful – and timely – movie posters in recent years. CK

12. True Crimes

Eta unknown

Greek New Wave director Alexandros Avranas makes his English language debut with True Crimes following 2013’s ‘mountingly nasty’ yet critically acclaimed Miss Violence. Based on a 2008 New Yorker article by David Grann, the film tells the eerie story of a police officer who finds some disconcerting links to his current case in a novel. Spoiler alert for those who haven’t read Grann’s article: it only gets more bizarre (as a generous assessment, “batshit crazy” might be more accurate) from there on. A solemn and impressively bearded Jim Carrey takes on the role of the troubled detective in charge of the case. CK

13. The Magnificent Seven

23 September (US/UK)

The dusty town of Rose Creek is under the thumb of an evil industrialist and the townspeople have called on a motley crew of seven to free them — there’s the Bounty Hunter (Denzel Washington), the Gambler (Chris Pratt), the Outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), the Sharpshooter (Ethan Hawke), the Assassin (Lee Byung-hun), the Warrior (Martin Sesmeier) and the Tracker (Vincent D’Onofrio). It’s an impressively heavy-hitting cast, notable also for its racial diversity. But we’ll have to wait and see if The Magnificent Seven challenges the generic stereotypes of the wily Mexican, savage Native, and docile widow with as much bravado and rib-tickling one liners as the first trailer promises. Director Antoine Fuqua’s Western is a “re-imagining” of the 1960’s classic of the same name, itself an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s legendary Seven Samurai. CT

14. Loving

4 November (US)

Jeff Nichols’ latest follows hot on the heels of last April’s Midnight Special. It is the true story of Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving, an interracial couple sentenced to prison for getting married in 1958. Jeter and Loving sued the state of Virginia and took their case to the Supreme Court where, in 1967, laws prohibiting interracial marriage were deemed unconstitutional. From its stirring first trailer, Loving looks like a humble, gorgeously photographed telling of a major moment for the civil rights movement. The film premiered at Cannes where it was nominated for the Palme D’Or. CT

15. Tallulah

Eta 29 July (Netflix)

The directorial debut of Sian Heder, a staff writer on Orange is the New Black, tells the story of Tallulah, or Lu, played by Ellen Page, who impulsively kidnaps a 1 year old from her irresponsible mother. Lu turns up at the doorstep of her boyfriend’s mom, the brilliant Allison Janney, and pretends the child is her own. From there, an unlikely friendship forms. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Heder revealed she was inspired by an experience she had as a hotel babysitter. “It was the most absurd kind of abuse I had ever seen.” Heder said, “I left the hotel, got in my car and cried the whole way home, and I thought, I should have taken that kid.” Tallulah premiered at Sundance and was snatched up by Netflix where it will be premiering exclusively at the end of July. CT

16. Kubo and the Two Strings

19 August (US) / 9 September (UK)

Kubo is the latest from Laika Studios, best known for stop-motion gems Coraline and Paranorman. It marks the directorial debut of Laika CEO/president Travis Knight and tells the story of a young boy who must ward off vengeful spirits and fight gods and monsters while on a journey to find his late father’s magical samurai suit. Matthew McConaughey and Charlize Theron lend their voices to Kubo’s companions Beetle and Monkey. Above all, the animation is absolutely stunning. It’s an adventure film on an epic scale, but the attention to rustling leaves and rippling fabric gives Kubo’s world a pulse. CT

17. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

16 December (US/UK)

The critical and commercial success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens marked an unprecedented renewal of interest in a beloved galaxy far, far away. Not one year later, a new space epic looms on the horizon. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story follows a band of Rebel fighters on a mission to steal the Empire’s plans for the Death Star. The spin-off is directed by Gareth Edwards, whose previous credits include Godzilla and indie alien flick Monsters, and stars Felicity Jones as rebellious resistance fighter Jyn Erso. Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, and martial arts legend Donnie Yen join the cast. The teaser trailer is all laser guns and exploding Storm Troopers while Jones is immediately likeable as the lead, confident and quietly intense. CT

18. The Bad Batch

Eta unknown

Ana Lily Armipour’s stylish monochrome debut, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, amassed something of a cult following before it had even found wide release. Now, hype is building for the writer-director’s next feature. Jason Momoa will play Miami Man, one half of a love-story set in dystopian Texas among a community of cannibals. Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves, Suki Waterhouse, and Diego Luna have also joined the cast. In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Armipour described the film as “Road Warrior meets Pretty and Pink with a dope soundtrack.” The director announced picture lock over Twitter in January of 2016, but The Bad Batch has yet to get a release date. CT

19. How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Eta unknown

Basing a film on a short story by Neil Gaiman can only ever be a good thing. It features your usual coming-of-age suspects: angsty teenage boys, punks, and attractive foreign exchange students who turn out to be aliens with sinister intentions. Set in 1970s Croydon, Enn gets more than he bargained for when he crashes a party hosted by local punk Queen Boadicea. Elle Fanning stars as an enigmatic alien, and she also joins in the fun. The film also features Nicole Kidman in a spiky white wig. She previously worked with director John Cameron Mitchell on 2010’s Rabbit Hole. CK

20. Mascots

Eta late 2016 (Netflix)

In 2016, the best mascot in the world will be crowned. The latest Netflix Original and Christopher Guest helmed mockumentary will follow a group of men and women as they compete for the prestigious Gold Fluffy award at the 8th World Mascot Association Championships. Guest’s frequent collaborators Parkey Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Bob Balaban, and John Michael Higgins will all be present. Jane Lynch will reportedly play Gabby Monkhouse, a former moose mascot whose legs were left different lengths after a series of splits. It’s been some time since Guest released anything, but Mascots looks to be a furry-ous and hysterical return. CT

21. Sully

9 September (US) / 2 December (UK)

In 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 collided with a flock of geese, lost both engines and made an emergency landing on the Hudson River. 155 passengers evacuated onto the wings and waited for rescue while the aircraft slowly sank into the freezing water. Pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was deemed a national hero, but Clint Eastwood’s latest tells the ‘untold story’ of the investigation into Flight 1549 that scrutinized Sully’s personal and professional life. There’s already Oscar buzz for solemn and silver-haired Tom Hanks in the title role, while Aaron Eckhart plays co-pilot Jeff Skiles. Sully was adapted from the pilot’s own autobiography, ‘Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters.’ CT

22. The Lovers & the Despot

23 September (US and UK)

In 1978, beloved South Korean actress Choi Eun-hee and her director husband, Shin Sang-ok disappeared without a trace. This documentary thriller tells the story of their kidnapping, ordered by dictator (and aspiring film producer apparently) Kim Jong-il to revitalise the North Korean film industry. Centred around the testimony of Choi Eun-hee herself and recordings of Kim Jong-il that she and Sang-ok secretly taped at the time, this looks to be a gripping account of what must be one of the strangest true-crime stories on record. CK

23. Neruda

16 December (US)

Director Pablo Larraín has rather cryptically described his latest offering as an ‘anti biopic’. Spanning a year and a half in 1940s Chile, Neruda is a cat-and-mouse tale revolving around an unrelenting investigator’s pursuit of poet Pablo Neruda, in hiding on account of his Communist associations. Larraín has firmly established himself as one Chile’s most compelling filmmakers in recent years. In his hands, this is sure to be an unconventional and intriguing take on this chapter of Neruda’s life. CK

24. I, Daniel Blake

21 October (US)

Ken Loach has always called things as he sees them, and his latest project, I, Daniel Blake is no different. His unflinching portrait of the welfare state won the director his second Palme d’Or and reportedly reduced audience members to tears when it screened at Cannes. It follows Newcastle carpenter Daniel Blake (Dave John) and the bureaucratic nightmare he faces when he applies for government benefits after a severe heart attack. The film also explores his impromptu friendship with a struggling single mother (Hayley Squires) and her two children. With millions of people being failed daily by the red tape tripping them up at every juncture, it’s worth noting the words of Loach himself as he accepted his award: “We must say that another world is possible, and necessary.” CK

25. Desierto

14 October (US)

Jonas Cuarón’s directorial debut follows a group of immigrants, led by Gael García Bernal, who find themselves hunted by a gun-toting vigilante as they cross the US Mexico border. From the looks of the first trailer, it’s a tense and brutal thriller, a game of cat and mouse set in an expansive desert terrain. Desierto was co-produced by Alfonso Cuarón, who last collaborated with his son on space epic Gravity. CT

Which films are you most excited to see in 2016? Let us know @LWLies

Published 25 Jul 2016

Tags: Adam Driver Clint Eastwood Damien Chazelle Denzel Washington Emma Stone Felicity Jones Gael García Bernal JA Bayona Jeff Nichols Jeffrey Dean Morgan Joel Edgerton Kristen Wiig Marion Cotillard Martin Scorsese Nate Parker Pablo Larraín Pedro Almodóvar Richard Tanne Ryan Gosling Sigourney Weaver Star Wars Tom Hanks Werner Herzog Xavier Dolan

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