With the release of Oscar nominations just a few weeks ago, the 2015 movie season has come to a close. The ceremony isn’t for another month, but in the interim, the 2016 movie season is just beginning. As the season gets under way, film critic Reed Canaan selects some of her most anticipated movies of the coming year.
“Hail, Caesar!” (February)
I saw this preview in theaters recently, and the whole audience was abuzz as soon as it ended. The Coen brothers are back, and the trailer seems to promise a quirky comedy that combines the collective charm of Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Jonah Hill. A movie about a movie studio, “Hail, Caesar!” promises plenty of opportunities to use the dynamite cast to critique the idiocy of Hollywood while delivering some much-needed laughs.
“The Witch” (February)
“The Witch” was a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival, earning director Robert Eggers an award for his craft. The trailer alone is effectively disturbing, building tension slowly in the style of “The Babadook” or “Goodnight Mommy.” “The Witch” is set in 17th Century New England, but looks to be more than just another tired re-telling of the Salem Witch Trials. The film doesn’t flaunt many big-name actors, but that might be part of what makes the horror so effective.
“Everybody Wants Some” (April)
I’m a sucker for an eighties movie, so anything vaguely resembling “The Breakfast Club” or “Pretty in Pink” is worth the watch for me. “Everybody Wants Some,” the latest from director Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”), seems to be an attempt at this brand of retro coming-of-age story. Done poorly, it could end up like “Wet Hot American Summer.” Done well, it might just bring back some of the heart for which “St. Elmo’s Fire” and the like were known.
“The Jungle Book” (April)
Disney’s remake of one of their classic films will be a grand departure from the 1967 animation. In a style similar to that of “Life of Pi,” Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli, will be the only human on screen, surrounded by CGI animals. The scale of this project is huge, and it seems that director Jon Favreau is taking full advantage of the talents of the voice actors as well as the technology. Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong’o and Christopher Walken star as the animals that inhabit Mowgli’s world in this 2016 update of Kipling’s classic novel.
“The Nice Guys” (May)
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star as a private eye and a hired enforcer in this crime film in the style of “The Big Lebowski.” Set in 1970s Los Angeles, the pair investigates two seemingly unrelated crimes. The setting and premise also echo “Inherent Vice,” but hopefully Shane Black, who both directed and wrote the screenplay, has created a film that rivals earlier successes like “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.”
“Finding Dory” (June)
Everyone’s favorite forgetful fish is back. For “Finding Dory,” Ellen DeGeneres returns as the voice of the delightful blue tang Dory, but the highly anticipated sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo” also boasts a handful of new voices. When “Finding Dory” hits theaters this June, Ty Burrell and Idris Elba will lend their talents to a tale about Dory’s attempts to locate her lost family in Monterey, California.
Paul Feig’s “Ghostbusters” has the potential to be even funnier than the original. Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon all star in this reboot for the franchise. Each of these four women has a slightly different brand of humor, which the screenplay will hopefully utilize. Bill Murray can stick to making Netflix Christmas specials, because a new team of Ghostbusters has arrived.
“Suicide Squad” (August)
The constant barrage of superhero movies has never particularly enthralled me, but Suicide Squad seems just different enough to be appealing. With Jared Leto as the Joker, the focus of the film is on the villains instead of the heroes (for once). Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Viola Davis also star in what will hopefully be a darker, street-smart, and witty complement to “Captain America: Civil War,” “Doctor Strange,” and “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.” The same chase scenes and explosions aren’t going anywhere, but “Suicide Squad” and looks to add a level of intrigue.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (November)
Especially after Alan Rickman’s untimely death, Harry Potter fans are eager to retreat into the Harry Potter universe. J.K. Rowling herself will be the guide, as this will be her first screenplay credit. The cast is led by the enchanting Eddie Redmayne, and will be particularly exciting for American viewers, as the film takes place in New York City. The anticipation for this is huge.
“Kubo and the Two Strings” (August)
The studio that brought you “Coraline,” “ParaNorman,” and “The Boxtrolls” is releasing yet another 3D stop-motion animation film. This one features the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara and Ralph Fiennes in a fantasy story about Kubo, a Japanese boy who must go on a quest after a confrontation with a spirit. If the studio’s past success is any indication of the film’s quality, it should be one of 2016’s best.
Contact Reed Canaan at rcanaan ‘at’ stanford.edu.