The film line-up of 2015 was great, and 2016 will have a hard time following that up. Looking at the line-up there are many American historical tales and superhero films to watch out for, but amongst them are some other films that could be well worth the watch. The year will be filled with as many reboots, sequels and remakes as it will original films, but if the trailers are anything to be going by we are definitely justified in getting excited at the cinema trips we’ll be planning for 2016.
The Hateful Eight – 1st Jan
Love him or hate him, everyone must agree that Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) has a unique style in his films. His eighth film, The Hateful Eight, features a group of eight strangers meeting in a lodge in a blizzard and becoming entwined in the lives of one another. With stars such as Kurt Russell, Channing Tatum and Samuel L. Jackson, and the recent news that Tarantino plans to retire soon, it’ll be interesting to see if this film plans to wrap up his legacy.
The Revenant – 8th Jan
The Revenant has already started playing at festivals and to critics, to high praise. It’s based on a true story, set in the 1820s as frontiersman Hugh Glass has a close call with death and sets out to enact revenge. Directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) and starring Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio in his newest struggle to win an Oscar, the reviews alone should be enough recommendation to watch this grizzly epic.
Hail, Caesar! – 5th Feb
The Coen brothers (No Country For Old Men) have a very rock solid filmography under their belts, and so their newest release promises to be entertaining. Eddie Mannix, a studio manager in 1950s Hollywood, must attempt to control and support his stars in this comedy drama. His ‘stars’ include the likes of George Clooney, Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johansson, but with a huge smattering of other celebrities in smaller roles expect many ‘I recognise them!’ moments. The Coen brothers are adept at comedy so this promises to be an entertaining film.
Zoolander 2 – 12th Feb
The original Zoolander has become a comedy classic, and so a sequel 15 years later seemed an interesting choice of film project for returning stars Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Owen Wilson. Directed by the former, this film about two old-school fashion stars trying to keep afloat in the business should be as reliably silly yet memorable as the original.
Eddie the Eagle – 26th Feb
Sports biopics tend to only appeal to people with interest in the sport, but Eddie the Eagle promises to have broader appeal. It follows the story of Eddie Edwards, the first British representative of ski jumping in the Olympics, in his journey to become such for the 1988 Winter Olympics- incidentally the same Olympics featured in the similar film Cool Runnings. Starring Taron Egerton, hot off the success of Kingsmen: The Secret Service and other stars such as Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken and Norwich Film Festival Patron Tim McInnerny it promises to be a heart-warming underdog story of classic British resilience.
Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice – 25th March
Pitting the two most well-known superheroes of all time against each other, many superhero fans are excited to see the general mayhem that could come about from these two fighting. However the film itself promises an extra layer of depth than just destruction and explosions, looking at power dynamics in systems involving heroes, and the empowerment or disempowerment of individuals as a result. With Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman and Zack Snyder (300) directing, this blockbuster would be hard pressed to disappoint viewers.
Ratchet & Clank – 29th April
Films based on video games tend to be disasters, but this film based on the popular games series promises to reject all our previously assumed ideas associated with that kind of source material. Featuring the titular characters saving a galaxy from an evil chairman, this kid’s film seems to have built its world and story from the group up in order to escape overly close ties with the games. Whether it succeeds or fails, it’ll be interesting to see nonetheless.
Captain America: Civil War – 6th May
In this list I tried to keep the number of Marvel/DC superhero films to a minimum, as they could easily fill it. However this newest release into the Marvel franchise seems to radically alter the slowly stagnating way these films are playing out- instead of fighting some new forgettable bad guy, the Avengers are now being reduced to infighting for political ideals. With returning stars such as Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans being joined by other Marvel stars Paul Rudd, Emily VanCamp and actors that haven’t appeared in these films previously such as Martin Freeman, this cocktail of Marvel heroes could help revitalise the genre.
Snowden – 13th May
You can probably guess from the title what this film is about. Centred on Edward Snowden and his infamous actions in June 2013 of leaking thousands of NSA documents to the press, this political thriller will undoubtedly stir up the right-wing or left-wing press depending on how it depicts the events. Directed by Oliver Stone (Born on the Fourth of July), it promises to provide an insightful critique of modern America and the surveillance state Snowden uncovered. Beware if too eager to view it, however- the NSA knows.
The Free State of Jones – 13th May
Another historical American story turned into a film- The Free State of Jones is set in the American Civil War. Following Newton Knight, a Confederate deserter who starts a rebellion and creates one of the first American mixed-race communities, it draws on copious amounts of research into the events to try and remain as accurate as possible to the true events. Directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) and starring Matthew McConaughey, this film promises to illustrate another chapter of American history and accurately depict actions at the time.
Finding Dory – 17th June
Finding Nemo is one of those classic kid’s films that everyone has seen one too many times, and Finding Dory hopes to replicate that. Following Nemo’s side-character Dory as she re-unites with her family, we’ll see the return of many old characters as well as some new voices, such as from Idris Elba or Dominic West. Although the primary audience for Nemo is now too old to be the target audience for Dory, hopefully this tale will be heart-warming anyway.
Independence Day Resurgence – 24th June
This year seems to have many sequels to classic films made around 10-20 years ago- this is the third on this list alone. Set 20 years after the classic blockbuster Independence Day, the world has learnt from its victory in the original and has improved. But when aliens strike again, returning stars Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman will need to work with new stars Liam Hemsworth and others to save the world again. Helmed by legendary director Roland Emmerich (just about every disaster film ever) and playing on the same themes of humanity and unity, Independence Day Resurgence seems to be a great follow-up to the film that defined the modern blockbuster. It’s just a shame that Will Smith is absent.
Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur – 22nd July
King Arthur’s story is quite a well-known fable at this point, and films based on the many tales of his exploits range in quality. This could be another throwaway film, however between director Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and actors Jude Law and Charlie Hunnam, this classic tale could be in good hands to provide an enjoyable adventure epic. Watch out for a certain football superstar playing a role too.
Suicide Squad – 5th August
DC Comics’ second big film this year, Suicide Squad features lots of well-known and lesser-known comic-book villains working for the government to carry out secret missions. Featuring the likes of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Will Smith as Deadshot and Jared Leto in a polarising depiction of The Joker, this premise is a great excuse for feature-length rollercoaster ride of fun.
Masterminds – 30th September
With so many dark films filling up this list, no excuse is needed for a comedy once in a while. Masterminds is a heist comedy lead by comedy legends Zack Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson as Galifianakis, an armoured car driver, is tricked to steal money and must clear his name. With such a star-studded cast of funny yet intelligent actors, this may be the film to brighten up your viewing habits.
Deepwater Horizon – 30th September
Most people know of the ‘BP oil spill’, but lots don’t know the name of the oil rig, or the people involved in the calamity. The name was Deepwater Horizon, and this is the story of the workers of the offshore drilling rig on the lead-up to the disaster. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich, this could be a fair-handed review of the actions of the individuals they play and how it affected the tragedy. Let’s hope it is.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 18th November
No-one ever thought the Harry Potter franchise would end once the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was out. After a stage play and several tie-in books, J.K. Rowling is around for wave two with this film based on the identically titled tie-in novel which was itself named after a book in the Harry Potter world. Set in a magical Washington D.C. in 1926, the plot seems like a series of 24 but with magic where Eddie Redmayne as Newt Salamander must evade the law after accidentally releasing many magical creatures into the city, threatening relations with muggles. Regardless of quality, this film will be interesting as the creative team must have a hard time following on from Harry Potter’s success.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 16th December
While The Force Awakens is getting critical acclaim in theatres everywhere, many people might not realise that this is in fact part of a larger collective of Star Wars films being created. As well as Episodes VIII and IX, sequels to The Force Awakens, there are backstory films for Han Solo, Boba Fett and other tales in production. This is the first of those ‘other’ tales. Set between the original trilogy and the prequels, it follows a group of rebel fighters trying to steal the plans for the Death Star. With smaller stars such as Felicity Jones and Diego Luna, this seems like a smaller-scale Star Wars in general which, contrasting to the bombastic usual films, could provide a refreshing viewing experience.
Assassin’s Creed – 21st December
The third big-budget video-game-based film this year (Warcraft – 10th June not included on list), and arguably based on the most popular, Assassin’s Creed is based on the series of video games which depict the struggles between two ancient orders- the Assassins and the evil Templars. This film plans to expand on the pre-existing world with a new story, starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard to play the main characters. This film has been in production a while, and many fans are hopeful of its value, but only time will tell if it is a historical epic or just another video-game flop.
Passengers – 21st December
Ending the year in contrast to the franchised films preceding it on this list, Passengers is a science fiction romance starring a cryogenically frozen Chris Pratt, travelling with many others to a distant colony, who awakes early. Not wanting to spend his whole life alone, he wakes up Jennifer Lawrence. While the exact plot or direction of this tale is unknown, the departure from space operas or action playgrounds in a science fiction film could lead to a genuinely interesting or emotional film.
By Tom Bedford