So it’s that time of year again and with the summer being as disappointing as it was the least we could hope for is a terrific fall movie season, and dare I say it’s actually shaping up to be just that? There is a great variety of movies awaiting us of differing shapes and sizes, with no clear favourites for any major awards (I mean let’s face it, as soon as we heard the words “Leo DiCaprio” and “Alejandro Inarritu” with “is making a movie with” in between, we all knew where it was heading).
So as I did last year I’m compiling a quick list of my most eagerly anticipated movies for the rest of the year. I’m only taking into account movies that have a confirmed release date so sadly features I’m still excited for but are so far unconfirmed for their release include Scorsese’s long awaited passion project ‘Silence’ and James Franco’s ‘The Masterpiece’.
First though I have a few honourable mentions to make. A team up of Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks shows promise with ‘Sully’, Ben Affleck looks to challenge himself in ‘The Accountant’, Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut ‘American Pastoral’ has grabbed my attention, ‘Deep Water Horizon’ appears to be an action film of ambitious proportions, ‘The Founder’ gives Michael Keaton more time in the spotlight and anything that does that deserves praise, Mel Gibson makes another directorial outing with ‘Hacksaw Ridge’, Disney Animation looks set to continue their hot streak with ‘Moana’ and of course Jeff Nichols is making a new film and that’s all the reason I need to see ‘Loving’.
10: Rogue One
Let’s just get this one out of the way now as a nice way to bookend the rundown. Though ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ are other heavy franchise hitters to look forward to, as 2015 proved it’s difficult to find anything better in this category than ‘Star Wars’. Gareth Edwards addition to the intergalactic saga promises to be a darker and grittier instalment than what we have become sued to and every trailer has pointed towards that so far. Despite some concerns over reshoots the future still looks bright, and either way considering ‘Rogue One’ is technically a prequel I think it will automatically be the best of that category regardless.
9: The Girl with All the Gifts
Admittedly I tried not to let any early reviews or positive buzz influence my decisions, but with the overwhelmingly positive reviews swarming in for the post-apocalyptic drama it is difficult not to be excited by it. Especially when you also take into account its interesting premise, fantastic trailers and the very notion that with ‘The Walking Dead’ and its five hundred spin offs reaching new levels of monotony that a zombie film can be fresh, inventive and interesting it seems to be a tantalizing offer.
8: Nocturnal Animals
A film that until a few days ago wasn’t on my radar at all but Tom Ford’s first feature film since his brilliant debut ‘A Single Man’ in 2009 could be a welcome return for the director. Little is known about the film right now (which in itself is an interesting feature in this day and age) but with an immensely talented cast in the form of Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon this could be something special.
7: Manchester By the Sea
If you focussed only on the press going out of this years Sundance Film Festival you would be forgiven for thinking the only thing worth mentioning was Nate Parker’s ‘Birth of a Nation’ however many critics actually pointed to ‘Manchester By the Sea’ as the finest film to emerge from the festival. Those who have seen it have already placed their bets on Casey Affleck’s performance to secure an Oscar nomination and with a heartfelt trailer to accompany it, Kenneth Lonergan’s latest film is one to watch out for.
6: The Handmaiden
As the remaining entries of this year’s Cannes Film Festival slowly find their way into cinemas across the world the most interesting one that I’ve yet to see is ‘The Handmaiden’ by Park Chan Woo. The director of ‘Oldboy’ is known and admired for his dark sense of humour, meticulous framing and brutal subject matter so with this psychological thriller he offers yet another chance to be riveted, provoked and disturbed. Sounds fun.
5: Salt and Fire
When Werner Herzog decides to direct another film it’s not something I would need a lot of convincing to see. But with Michael Shannon (the more I think about it the more I realise just how busy a year this must have been for him) in a leading role hopefully we’ll be treated to a film that is guaranteed the usual stunning visuals that Herzog has come to perfect by this point in his career, and also a touch of humanity as well.
4: Billy Lyn’s Long Halftime Walk
By now I’m convinced Ang Lee is just ticking off a bucket list of film genres that was set long ago by some sadistic studio head. We’ve seen him do Austen adaptations (‘Sense and Sensibility’), martial arts masterpieces (‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’), cowboy romances (‘Brokeback Mountain’), survival stories (‘Life of Pi’) and now we see him tackle war with ‘Billy Lyn’s Long Halftime Walk’. The narrative is set to skip between a soldier’s return home with his life on the front line, promising to contrast the realities of war with the public’s perception of it. Given that Lee is twice the recipient of the Oscar for Best Director, combined here with the Oscar winning writer of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ we should have high hopes for this one.
Oliver Stone is back doing what he does best, conspiracies. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a truly great film from Stone but this would appear to be a perfect match of director and subject matter, as well as Stone’s understanding of cinema’s unique power which will hopefully distinguish this dramatic portrayal of the story from the outstanding documentary on the same subject, ‘CITIZENFOUR’. J.G Levitt looks more than capable in the title role so from this point on all we can do is put some tape over our webcams and wait.
Last year Denis Villeneuve topped this list with ‘Sicario’ and this year he’s a very close second. The main reason is the fact that ‘Arrival’ looks to be a little out of his usual comfort zone but my confidence in his directorial skills has reached a point where it hardly matters. Villeneuve’s directorial prowess never fails to elevate the source material he is working with, which on its own is a at high standard already and his meticulous command of his own style continues to amaze me, so any chance to see it again is one I am most definitely looking forward to.
1: La La Land
How do you follow a film like ‘Whiplash’? It’s a question I’ve been asking for nearly two years now since Damien Chazelle burst onto the scene with his mesmerizing drama and where many promising directors fall into the trap of repeating themselves for too long, Chazelle has gone back up fron with all guns blazing for the ambitious looking, yet intimately staged musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Ever shot looks perfectly composed, every frame is stunningly lit and the atmosphere is bleeding through the details. Granted there is still little to go on but every solitary image of this film just makes me more intrigued and with this being Chazelle’s immediate choice as to what he next feature would be after ‘Whiplash’ clearly he himself has immense faith in it. Given that he directed a modern masterpiece for the time being I think it’s safe to trust his judgement. I can’t wait.