This year so far has seen loads of great films to come out of Hollywood that include the continuing superhero action epics like Deadpool and Captain America: Civil War (not forgetting Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, of course.) There has been more Disney live-action remakes like The Jungle Book and there has been animated awesomeness like Kubo and the Two Strings and Finding Dory and dramas like The Girl on the Train and War Dogs. Also, not forgetting excellence from overseas including South Korean film The Wailing.
2016 isn't over yet though. We still have just under three months before bidding this year farewell and in that time, we still have plenty more to come to our big screens. Here are my most anticipated films as 2016 comes to a close.
1. Nocturnal Animals
Nocturnal Animals is based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright and stars Amy Adams (who I feel can do no wrong) and Jake Gyllenhaal. After his role as Louis Bloom in 2014s Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal seems to have perhaps found his "thing" in creepy sociopaths. Here, he plays the ex-husband of Amy Adams's character, writing a revenge novel that she interprets as a veiled threat.
That's definitely an intriguing premise, but what initially attracted me to the film was its amazing cast. In addition to Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, the film also stars Michael Shannon (Man of Steel, Boardwalk Empire), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Isla Fisher (The Great Gatsby, Now You See Me), Jena Malone (The Hunger Games series) and Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex). Holy crap, what a cast! How many awards are shared between all of them? A whole lot!
The film saw its hugely successful premiere at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize.
Nocturnal Animals is set for release on November 18th.
Allied is romance action-drama starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard as a married couple who meet on a mission in North Africa in 1942. Reportedly inspired by a true story, Cotillard's character, Marianne Beausejour, is believed to be a spy and her husband, Max Vatan (Pitt) is set on the task of finding out the truth, and if need be — taking her life.
The film has high stakes and looks to be a lot of edge-of-your-seat drama. Allied looks like it has everything that I especially enjoy in a film: action, suits, suave, a period setting and Marion Cotillard.
The films also stars Jared Harris and Lizzy Caplan (both of whom I am also a big fan of). Not to mention that it's written by Steven Knight, who writes the brilliant British crime drama Peaky Blinders and directed by film legend Robert Zemeckis, whose credits include the Back to the Future trilogy.
Allied is set for release on November 23rd.
Coming out just in time for award-season, Fences has Oscars written all over it. Based on the play of the same name with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprising their roles from its 2010 revival, Fences "explores the evolving African-American experience and examines race relations, among other themes."
The revival of the theatrical production was nominated for 10 Tony Awards, winning three. The film is also directed by Washington in his third venture behind the camera. Washington has never directed a bad film and by starring a multi-award-winning actor (himself), this looks to be no exception.
Of course we can't possibly forget about Viola Davis, who is multi-award nominated and fantastic in everything she does, whether a soft spoken and kind-hearted maid in 1960s Mississippi in The Help or a ruthless and cold-blooded government official in Suicide Squad. Judging just by the delivery of her lines at the end of the trailer, Fences may finally be the film to give Davis the Oscar that she has long deserved:
Fences will be released on Christmas day.
4. Assassin's Creed
Video game movies don't have a good rack record; they really don't. I am hopeful, however, that Assassin's Creed can change that. Here's why I'm optimistic: Assassin's Creed stars Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the lead roles with direction by Justin Kurzel and cinematography by Adam Arkapaw. This is the same team that worked on 2015's Macbeth, which was excellent. The visual style and overall feel of Macbeth is evident in Assassin's Creed. The cast also includes Jeremy Irons and Michael K. Williams.
Assassin's Creed also seems to be staying very faithful to the video game series (perhaps a little exaggerated for the purpose of cinema), and as Ubisoft is having direct involvement with its production, we can be assured that they won't let their franchise be crapped on. If the three short films by Ubisoft back in 2009 to promote Assassin's Creed II are anything to go by (plus everybody else involved), I'd say we're in pretty safe hands (I hope).
Assassin's Creed is seeing release on December 21st.
5. Underworld: Blood Wars
OK, so this is coming out in January, but it's on only the 6th so gimme a break. Besides, it was originally intended to be out later this month!
While the Underworld films have been critically unsuccessful, they have been successful at the box office and have gained a strong cult following. I love the Underworld films (though Awakening far less than the first three).
The Underworld series is pretty nostalgic at this point. The series is very much a product of its time — the darkness, long coats, shiny leather and highly-stylized action and visuals is a thing of the late '90s/early 2000s that we don't see all that much anymore. Maybe that's why I enjoy them so much. Well, that and Kate Beckinsale as the steely-eyed death dealer with her duel pistols shooting lycans in slick and stylish fashion. Who wouldn't enjoy that?
Hopefully Blood Wars will be a successful return to the series and be better than its fourth entry, which didn't do much for the series going forward, though did introduce an interesting dynamic to the films and characters that will be carried over to Blood Wars. (I'll say this again, where the heck is Michael?)
Underworld: Blood Wars is scheduled for release on January 6th.
How could I not include a Disney film? Though, Disney don't have to do anything to make me go and watch their movies, what has me particularly excited about Moana is that 1) It's not a live-action remake and 2) It looks absolutely stunning.
Moana is set on the island of Polynesia as our titular character sets out on a journey to a mystical island full of secrets accompanied by Disney's version of the great hero of Maori mythology, demi-god, Maui.
Disney went mostly authentic with its voice cast, partially made up of newcomer, 15-year-old Auli'i Cravalho, Temuera Morrison (Star Wars prequel trilogy), Nicole Scherzinger, Alan Tudyk and of course, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. (Who better to play a demi-god than Hercules himself?)
As I previously mentioned, Moana looks stunning. The film seems to have a heavy emphasis on water (Maui is a sea God). Disney films are always full of bright colors, but Moana is taking it to a whole other level. Though, latter stages of the film seem to be a lot darker, too. The film seems to have a larger scale than we're used to from Disney's animated pieces and also seems to be venturing into action fantasy, with the trailer showing moments of high stakes as Maui battles mystical creatures.
Moana is out November 23rd.
7. Somebody / Nanimono (何者)
Of course there's a Japanese film on my list! I don't actually know very much about this film. The trailer doesn't give much away, but I do know that what I've seen, I like. I have never seen a film from Japan (or of Eastern Asia) that I didn't like. Sure, I like some far better than others, but I've never felt like I wasted my time, and hopefully this doesn't change that.
Somebody is based on the book of the same name and follows five university students as they look for jobs, encouraging each other while posting their thoughts and fears on Twitter. Behind it all, however, there is a lot more going on. The film seems like it will follow each character individually and also together as a group.
This may sound pretty boring to some people but I really enjoy these sorts of films — films that follow multiple characters that share a common connection, films that depict real-life situations that we all face. It's more relatable, and it's easier to become emotionally invested. Films like that make you feel something beyond mere entertainment.
Somebody will see its Japanese release on October 15th with no word of a wider release yet, but hopefully we'll get to see it sooner rather than later!
I'm separating this one from the list because it had its premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and has yet to see a wider release. Another Japanese film:
The Whispering Star (ひそひそ星)
The Whispering Star was created by one of my favorite filmmakers, Sion Sono. Sono is always trying new things and no two of his films are ever the same. From the satire comedy/psychological thriller of Love Exposure to the battle rap musical of Tokyo Tribe, Sono is one of the most unique working filmmakers in the industry today.
This film is based on a script that Sono wrote 25 years ago and follows a humanoid robot sometime far into the future named Yoko, played by frequent collaborator, and Sono's wife, Megumi Kagurazaka. Yoko delivers packages to distant galaxies and often has time on her hands and becomes curious as to what is in them. She discoverers non-essential items and knick-knacks that only humans could appreciate. She becomes intrigued and starts to learn about humans through interaction and such, learning to appreciate sights and sounds.
This sounds like a very abstract and artistic film, much more so than any of the director's other works. Sion Sono stated that the film will "give you a greater understanding of what it means to be human." The film is shot in black and white (except for one scene, from what I've read) and is stylized in its visuals and cinematography. The film's visual style also seems to be a throwback to early sci-fi flicks such as the pioneering Metropolis (1927). It looks like it'll be one of those films that you either get or you don't, much like Hou Hsiao-Hsien's The Assassin from last year.
Needless to say, I'm highly intrigued and I sincerely hope that The Whispering Star gets a wider release.
With still plenty more to come in 2016, what are you most looking forward to? Let us know!