Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hollywood 2016 – Part 2 (July-December)

After a lukewarm first half to 2016, the second half beckons, and with it brings promises of a whole lot more movies. Apart from the last few of the summer movies and now the winter movies, we will also get a lot of Award movies towards the end of the year. The best of the lot may not be on our radar yet, so keep an eye out for them. Meanwhile, here is a list of 20 movies we do know about that we look forward to.

Note: Release dates mentioned are for the USA, for the sake of some order. They are also, owing to unpredictable referendums, subject to change.

01 July
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Mark Rylance, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement
Premise: A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kind-hearted soul who is considered an outcast by the other giants because, unlike them, he refuses to eat children.
Thoughts: Steven Spielberg directing a children’s film tends to be an excitable affair. But something about the mix of photo-real CGI and live-action seems off in his new movie. Yet, counting the gigantic talent behind and in front of the scenes, there’s bound to be some delight in this film.

Star Trek Beyond
22 July
Directed by: Justin Lin
Starring: Chris Pine, Idris Elba, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana
Premise: The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.
Thoughts: Justin Lin made the better of the Fast & Furious movies (3, 4, 5, 6), turning around a dying trilogy into a multi-billion-dollar franchise. Lin taking over from J. J. Abrams on the Star Trek franchise bodes well for the scifi series. While the main cast returns (including the recently deceased Anton Yelchin), the series also gets another great villain actor after Eric Bana and Benedict Cumberbatch: Idris Elba!

Jason Bourne
29 July
Jason Bourne
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Alicia Vikander, Julia Stiles, Tommy Lee Jones
Premise: Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), now remembering who he truly is, tries to uncover hidden truths about his past.
Thoughts: With some time and distance on the the Bourne movies, they now seem more and more like the James Bond movies.. Similar plots, standard elements, louder and more elaborate each time. Paul Greengrass & Matt Damon have managed to retain the quality in the 2nd and 3rd parts, but the trailer of the 4th looks more of the same. Even so, this is a duo we should trust. And who doesn’t want more Bourne car (and foot) chases?

Suicide Squad
05 August
Directed by: David Ayer
Starring: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Cara Delevingne
Premise: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency.
Thoughts: Finally, a DC movie that looks like fun! For the last five DC films, it seems Warner Bros had forgotten that these are based on comics. The marketing of Suicide Squad has been ace, and there’s a new joker in the pack! A suitably unhinged Clown Price of Crime, a cameo from Batman, crazed out anti-heroes and a good director behind it all sets this up as possibly the summer movie of the year.

The Founder
05 August
The Founder
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Michael Keaton, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, Nick Offerman
Premise: The story of McDonald's founder, Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton).
Thoughts: It seems like the Midas-touch of acting has moved on from Matthew McConaughey and Jake Gyllenhaal to Michael Keaton, the kind of roll he has been on. Best to pick any movie he’s starring in – even this one, where he stars as the founder of McDonald’s. Keaton has a good cast around him, and boring director notwithstanding, the trailer looks fantastic. I’m lovin’ it.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
30 September
Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Asa Butterfield
Premise: When Jacob (Asa Butterfield) discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.
Thoughts: It’s been almost a decade since we’ve had a genuine Tim Burton movie – his own movies since Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street look like wannabe-fakes. This new one though, looks the real deal – quite possibly due to the thankful absence of cinema-cyanide Johnny Depp.

The Girl on the Train
07 October
The Girl On The Train
Directed by: Tate Taylor
Starring: Emily Blunt, Luke Evans, Rebecca Ferguson
Premise: Rachel (Emily Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.
Thoughts: Based on a best-selling psychological thriller, the movie gives a Gone Girl vibe (sans David Fincher). Another movie with a good supporting cast, the brunt of the on-screen responsibility will be on Emily Blunt’s performance. She is a good enough actress to pull of the demanding lead role – Siccarrio proved as much. But the real test of the movie will be its tight editing-direction.

The Accountant
14 October
The Accountant
Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Starring: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons, Jon Bernthal
Premise: A forensic accountant (Ben Affleck) un-cooks the books for illicit clients.
Thoughts: What. A. Trailer! Ben Affleck looks sufficiently recluse-genius-dangerous. The trailer and premise give little away. It all just seems deliciously wicked!

Doctor Strange
04 November
Dr Strange
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Premise: After his career is destroyed, a brilliant but arrogant and conceited surgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) gets a new lease on life when a sorcerer (Tilda Swinton) takes him under her wing and trains him to defend the world against evil.
Thoughts: A marvel superhero movie from the director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose, starring almost every actor you still want to see in a superhero movie. We can be sure of a great production, and the trailer suggests mind-bending visuals. At this point, we may as well stop ever doubting any upcoming Marvel film.

04 November
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Ruth Negga, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton
Premise: Richard (Joel Edgerton) and Mildred Loving (Ruth Negga), an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married.
Thoughts: This is just the fifth movie by director Jeff Nichols. But he has a unique voice and an ability to extract phenomenal performances, especially from Michael Shannon who plays a supporting role in this interracial drama. Ruth Negga has been more and more impressive with each new performance. Don’t be surprised if this movie earns her many nominations come awards season.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
11 November
Billy Lynns Long Halftime Walk
Directed by: Ang Lee
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Garrett Hedlund, Steve Martin
Premise: 19-year-old Billy Lynn is brought home for a victory tour after a harrowing Iraq battle. Through flashbacks the film shows what really happened to his squad - contrasting the realities of war with America's perceptions.
Thoughts: Ang Lee is pushing film-making boundaries again (after his great use of 3D in Life of Pi) by making this movie in 120fps. His filmography suggests this is more than just a gimmick, especially since the movie is *not* a CGI-laden fantasy. The trailer suggests the movie will be told in vignettes from titular Billy Lynn’s time as a soldier in the US Army. Let’s hope the movie gets a wide release in the high-frame-rate format the director prefers it to be watched in.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
18 November

Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, Ron Perlman
Premise: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school.
Thoughts: David Yates made the last four Harry Potter movies progressively better each time, Deathly Hallows II being the best of the entire franchise. Now, with a story & screenplay by J K Rowling, he gets to return to the same world, albeit set a hundred years earlier and in the US. The new trailer suggests he hasn’t lost a beat. Also, Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell make a formidable opposing duo!

25 November
Directed by: Ron Clements & John Musker
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Alan Tudyk
Premise: A young woman uses her navigational talents to set sail for a fabled island. Joining her on the adventure is her hero, the legendary demi-god Maui (Dwayne Johnson).
Thoughts: The director-duo behind Disney’s Aladdin (who’ve also since made the highly underrated Treasure Planet among other Disney movies), bring us a new Disney fantasy-adventure. Expectedly, it looks gorgeous. Dwayne The Rock Johnson voicing the demigod Maui may be the most obvious piece of voice-casting since Samuel L Jackson voiced Frozone. In the hands of the directors who brought us Robin Williams’ Genie, Maui has the potential to similarly become a timeless character.

25 November
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Starring: Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard, Matthew Goode, Lizzy Caplan
Premise: 1942. Max (Brad Pitt), a French-Canadian spy, falls in love and marries French agent Marianne (Marion Cotillard), after a mission in Casablanca. Max is notified that Marianne is likely a Nazi spy and begins to investigate her.
Thoughts: Recently written off as a has-been after indulging in a few-too-many motion-capture animated movies, Robert Zemeckis bounced back hitting new heights with The Walk. His follow-up is a live-action again, with two actors you’ll be hard-pressed to find fault in. A juicy enough premise, World War II period setting and the gorgeous on-screen couple, look for another great mix of excellent commercial cinema + awards potential.

Nocturnal Animals
09 December
Nocturnal Animals
Directed by: Tom Ford
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Isla Fisher, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Laura Linney
Premise: An art gallery owner (Amy Adams) is haunted by her ex-husband's (Armie Hammer) novel, a violent thriller she interprets as a veiled threat and a symbolic revenge tale.
Thoughts: Directed by Tom Ford (yes, the fashion designer) who proved to be a promising director with A Single Man, his sophomore effort is produced by the astute George Clooney and Grant Heslov. It stars… Amy Adams and Isla Fisher together! Now only if it also had Javier Bardem and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. No fear, we instead have Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
16 December
Rogue One A Star Wars Story
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk
Premise: Rebels set out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star.
Thoughts: If this movie is anything like director Gareth Edwards’ last film Godzilla, we may see the Death Star only in bits and parts until the last 20 minutes. Japes aside, Felicity Jones looks fierce as a rebel tasked with stealing the Death Star plans. The trailer promises ATATs, and enough nostalgia to whet our enhanced appetite for the Star Wars universe since last year’s The Force Awakens. Confirmation – Darth Vader is in the movie!

23 December
Directed by: Morten Tyldum
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt
Premise: A spacecraft traveling to a distant colony planet and transporting thousands of people has a malfunction in its sleep chambers. As a result, two passengers (Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt) are awakened 60 years early.
Thoughts: The subject of much speculation since the Sony leaks, this movie has a high-concept scifi premise that is a perfect vehicle for its two charismatic leads. If you have to watch only two actors stuck in a spaceship for the entirety of a movie, we’re good to have J.Law and the newest Chris.

Assassin's Creed
23 December
Assassins Creed
Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson
Premise: When Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) explores the memories of his ancestor Aguilar and gains the skills of a Master Assassin, he discovers he is a descendant of the secret Assassins society.
Thoughts: Finally, a video-game adaptation since the first Tomb Raider that looks great! Fassbender as a Master Assassin is brilliant casting. He’s also got a great cast around him. Best of all, the director‘s previous film Macbeth proved he’s got an eye for the cinematic. Break the video-game adaptation jinx, gentlemen!

To Be Announced

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Premise: Taking place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist (Amy Adams) is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat.
Thoughts: For all those who can’t get enough of David Fincher, we have Denis Villeneuve (Enemy, Prisoners, Siccario). As sharp, precise and dark as the former, Villeneuve is a master in his own right and is easily one of the most exciting directors working today. Regardless of cast, premise, genre – just pick any movie that has his name on the credit list. This psycho-sci-fi has Amy Adams as an expert linguist hired to talk to aliens. Wow.

To Be Announced
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield
Premise: In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield & Adam Driver) face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor (Liam Neeson) and propagate Christianity.
Thoughts: A Japan based movie with no Ken Watanabe! Martin Scorsese has been planning this movie for over two decades with different actors, finally beginning production last year. The movie just may release this year, and considering the names involved, we don’t want to miss being ready for it!

Other movies that the second half of 2016 also brings us: Morgan, Captain Fantastic, Ghostbusters, La La Land, War Dogs, Sully, The Magnificent Seven, Collateral Beauty and many others.
As with every year, the movies that will define the year may not even be on our radar yet. So be on lookout for the movies that generate a buzz.
Enjoy yourself at the movies!

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