Wow, 2016 has flown by. But what’s even more surprising is the evident lack of memorable films at this point in the year. Sure, we’ve already been given a few Oscar-hopefuls (Everybody Wants Some, Love & Friendship, Hell or High Water), three animated standouts (Zootopia, Finding Dory, Kubo and the Two Strings), one decent summer blockbuster (Captain America: Cival War), and a more than decent swan song by one of the all-time art-film greats, Andrzej Zulawski (Cosmos), who died earlier this year. But what else? I can count the number of films I’ve enjoyed on my fingers. And from the looks of it, the next four months might not change much either, but we’ll probably be too busy watching the upcoming election shit-show anyway, right? On another note, we should have had a new Scorsese film (Silence) coming our way at least, but the word is the studios think it’s currently a bad box-office move to release a three hour film about priests facing violence (pussies). Can anything top the explosive power of Hell or High Water? Here are fourteen other films that I believe could help not make 2016 the year of suck.
Sully (Sept. 9th)
It’s a hell of a thing seeing an icon like 86-year old Clint Eastwood still swinging it in the directors chair, which almost alone is what gets me excited for his American Sniper follow-up, which stars Tom Hanks as famed airline-pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who became a hero after landing a plane on the Huson River carrying 155 crew and passengers. Filmed mostly with Imax cameras, expect a historic-event being tuned up to Christopher Nolan proportions.
American Honey (Sept. 30th)
In case you haven’t been paying a lick of attention, studio A24 has been on a roll, producing the likes of Under the Skin, Room, and this year’s The Witch and Green Room. Which means, in my opinion, when they are releasing a road-movie about a teenage-girl (a star-is-born performance by Sasha Lane) who parties her way across the mid-west, you simply just be there for it.
Voyage of Time (Oct. 7th)
Audiences have been hating on director Terrence Malick’s last couple of films (To The Wonder, Knight of Cups). Personally, I think he just doesnt spend enough social-time with others to be able to create the kinds of characters he’s been trying to. Which is why at least with Voyage of Time, he’s simply making a film about the beginning and end of the universe, with narration provided by relative-unkown actor Brad Pitt. Expect the Malick-usual spectacular visuals, and your theater having a slight pot-smell while watching.
Birth of a Nation (Oct. 7th)
Controversy has been clouding Nate Parker and his upcoming film about the Nate Turner-led slave uprising in the South. Please, think for yourselves, and don’t let that stop you from seeing what could be the most important film of the year.
Moonlight (Oct. 21st)
A24 has another fireball in their hands with this three-part narrative about a African-American male navigating life, self, and sexuality in Miami’s inner-city. Ready to witness a film unlike any other?
Hacksaw Ridge (Nov. 4th)
It’s been over ten years since his fantastically-bruising Apocalypto, but controversial actor-director Mel Gibson returns with this true-story about the first American Soldier (an Oscar-ready Andrew Garfield) to win the Medal of Honor without ever carrying a weapon, which was based solely on his faith. Expect Gibson to deliver the usual mix of spiritual subtext and graphic action sequences. If it will stand with the likes of his past directional-efforts has yet to be seen.
Loving (Nov. 4th)
I’ve been raving about writer/director Jeff Nicols, who has been on a career-roll with the cerebal-heights of Take Shelter, Mud, and this year’s Midnight Special. With Loving, which focuses on the relationship of an interracial couple (Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton) who face prison in 1958 Virginia for getting married in a time when mixed-races could not, Nicols seems to be cementing his place as one of the best and exciting directors of his generation. God-speed.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Nov. 11)
Another war-film. Based on the trailer, I would say I’m so-so on Life of Pie’s Ang Lee’s latet cinematic venture, which tells the contrasting story of 19 year-old soldier Billy Lynn, who after surviving a bloody-battle in Iraq, is brought home for a halftime victory tour with his fellow squad. While filming at a mind-melting 120 frames per-second, Lee shows the gory flashbacks of Billy and what really happened. But my fear is that it will use this solely to get audiences emotions riled up, where as the acting (led by Joey Alwyn, Kristen Stewart Garrett Hedlund, and Vin Diesel) and script come more secondary. Luckily, what with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Brokeback Mountain, Ang Lee is a visiual poet I would follow anywhere. So should you.
Manchester by the Sea (Nov. 18th)
Word now is that writer/director Kenneth Lonergan’s third film is front-runner for this year’s best picture Oscar, which also stars presumed Best Actor winner Casey Affleck, playing a janitor in sea-side Massachusetts who is forced to take care of his nephew after the boy’s father dies. Michelle Williams also stars, and is said to be better than ever, which is definitely saying something.
Rules Don’t Apply (Nov. 23rd)
Hollywood legend Warren Betty returns to the big-screen after 15 years with a film that he wrote, produced, directed, and stars in as other Hollywood legend Howard Hughes. Need I say more?
La La Land (Dec. 2nd)
High on my list for this season’s must-sees, writer/director Damien Chazelle follows-up his award-winning Whiplash with the musical love-letter to the city of Los Angeles, starring Ryan Gosling as jazz pianist and Emma Stone as a struggling actor. Little is known about what these characters actually go through in the film’s story (or if there is even one at all), but there’s no denying that gorgeous Los Angeles scenery.
Nocturnal Animals (Dec. 9th)
It would be nice to have at least one decent suspense film of Hitchcokian-proportions this season(The Girl On the Train, yeah right). Luckily writer/director Tom Ford (A Single Man) is here to bring it in high-class, with this mystery about an art gallery owner (Amy Adams) who reads a graphic revenge-novel written by her ex-husband that she believes has something to do with a real life couple, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Isla Fisher.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Dec. 16th)
And here comes chapter two (or chapter one?) in Disney’s line of never-ending Star Wars film, this one being the first stand-alone film with a new story and characters, this time featuring a group of Rebels (led by Felicity Jones) who attempt to steal plans for the Death Star. It is said to basically be a prequeal before A New Hope. So be it…I’m there.
Gold (Dec. 25th)
No film this fall season holds my anticipation more than writer/director Stephen Gaghan’s first directorial effort since his colossal Syriana, where he boldly exposed the dark side of Big Oil. Now, Gaghan takes on another resource (ahem…the title) where greed is more than definitely a theme involved. Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey stars along-side Edgar Ramirez as a mis-matched pair that venture into the Indonesian jungle in search of the widely-desired resource. Sounds like gold to me.