Books, Film & TV Saturday, January 9th Words by: Darrell James

The 50 films to see in 2016: part one

Books, Film & TV Saturday, January 9th

The 50 films to see in 2016: part one

2015 was a big year for the film industry - box office records being broken left, right and centre, critically adored comebacks (all eyes on you, Michael Keaton), sad losses, exciting discoveries and Adam Sandler fighting a giant, alien, barrel throwing, pixelated monkey.

This year’s delights bring us Leo DiCaprio going mano-a-mano with a bear, Tilda Swinton in full Ziggy Stardust mode, stolen Death Star plans and George Clooney putting his eyebrows through their paces once more for the Coens.

In no particular order, here is Part One of Herefordshire Live's 50 films to look out for in 2016.

The Revenant - 15 January

Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy star in director Alejandro González Inárritu’s visually arresting tale of a frontiersman named Hugh Glass who, while on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s, embarks on a desperate quest for survival after being brutally mauled by a bear. This promises to be one of the most gruelling yet enthralling features cinemagoers will be able to experience this year. A grimy, bearded Leo going head to head with Hardy channelling his inner Tom Berenger? I, for one, cannot wait.


Spotlight - 29 January

The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. Starring Mark Ruffalo and the recently resurged but always brilliant Michael Keaton, expect this to make big waves and bring plenty of accolades for director Tom McCarthy come awards season.

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Janis: Little Girl Blue – 5 February

Musician Cat Power narrates this documentary on Janis Joplin's evolution into a star based from letters Joplin wrote over the years to her friends, family, and collaborators, before her untimely death and subsequent admission into the most tragically talented of groups… the 27 club.

Deadpool – 10 February

A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary (Ryan Reynolds) is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, leading him to adopt the alter ego Deadpool. Marvel's wise-cracking, foul-mouthed, fourth-wall-breaking 'superhero' comes crashing into the world of the X-Men. There will be blood. And swears. Lots of swears.

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A Bigger Splash – 12 February

Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson and Matthias Schoenaerts star in the dark portrayal of a famous rock star, the Bowie-like Marianne Lane (Swinton) and a filmmaker (Schoenarts), whose vacation is disrupted by the unexpected visit of an old friend (Fiennes) and his daughter (Johnson). What initially seems like a romantic joie de vivre between old friends and new acquaintances set in an exotic locale soon descends into much murkier water, as the tension rises between the two male leads, complicacted by Johnson’s flirtatious Penelope and an emotionally fragile (probably thanks to excessive drug use, you know what these rock stars are like) Marianne. Expect this one to make a big splash (see what I did) at the indie awards.

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The Survivalist – 12 February

Writer/director Stephen Fingleton's harrowing, futuristic thriller. In a time of starvation, a survivalist lives off a small plot of land hidden deep in forest. When two women seeking food and shelter discover his farm, he finds his existence threatened.

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Hail, Caesar! – 4 March

Genius siblings Joel and Ethan Coen add to their kaleidoscopic repertoire with this film within a film, set in Hollywood’s Golden Age. We follow the tale of Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the world’s biggest movie star. After his kidnap at the hands of a sinister society, known as the Future, Hollywood fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is called upon to gather a team of star performers to get him back. With a supporting cast including Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Jonah Hill and Ralph Fiennes, this looks highly likely to continue the Coens' brilliance.


Anomalisa – 11 March

A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary. Another tale of humanities fear of connection from the brilliantly warped mind of Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich) and captured in beautifully rendered stop-animation, courtesy of animator Duke Johnson.

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Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice – 25 March

Following Metropolis' giant alien death match, the world wrestles with what kind of hero it really needs. Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne enters the fray, determined to dish his own form of justice to the Last Son of Krypton. With Batman and Superman fighting each other, a new threat rises. Director Zack Snyder follows up his divisive 2013 hit Man of Steel with this precursor to DC’s own superhero super-team up, the Justice League.

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Eddie the Eagle – 1 April

This underdog story tells the tale of Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards, a man born with a passion for careering down slopes of solid ice at breakneck speeds. Under the watchful eye of Bronson Peary, his skiing coach and seemingly the only man to believe in him, Eddie finally manages to compete at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, entering as Great Britain’s first ever ski jumper to do so. Featuring Hugh Jackman as Peary and Taron Egerton, impressive in the title role, this film will epitomise its lead character… a little silly but full of heart.

The Jungle Book – 15 April

An orphan boy is raised in the jungle with the help of a pack of wolves, a bear, and a black panther. Underrated director John Favreau brings together an exciting cast (Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Elba, Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Walken), while delivering a goosebump inducing trailer. This is definitely one to keep an eye out for.

The Nice Guys – 20 May 

Writer/director Shane Black brings his usual wit and style to a satirical tale of a private eye investigating the apparent suicide of a porn star in 1970s Los Angeles while uncovering a conspiracy. Russell Crowe puts a comedic spin on his Bud White character, while Ryan Gosling plays against type as the cowardly Holland March. Expect moustaches, big collars and Christmas songs.

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Free State of Jones – 27 May

Having rid himself of the shackles of his sordid, shirtless rom-com past, Matthew McConaughey continues to deliver powerhouse performance after powerhouse performance. This biography of a poor farmer from Mississippi who leads a group of rebels against the Confederate army, as a civil war divides the nation, looks likely to continue that trend.

Warcraft – 3 June

Films based on games for some reason haven't really worked - yet. 2016 is the year that threatens to break that mould, with not one but two potential hits. Duncan Jones (formerly Zowie, helmer of the atmospheric Moon) directs an epic fantasy adventure capturing the battle for Azeroth between human nations and Orcish hordes. The trailer has so far managed to appease fanboys.


Independence Day: Resurgence – 24 June

Roland Emmerich brings his alien nasties crashing back to earth following their 1994 defeat at the hands of a jetfighting POTUS and cigar-chomping duo Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum. Unfortunately Big Willy from Philly won’t be making a return after his character, Captain Steven Hiller, was killed off between movies. The good news is Goldblum’s codebreaking computer hacker David Levinson will be back, which is always a positive. As for the giant headed, exo-skeleton wearing ET’s… to paraphrase the tragic, crop-dusting hero of the original, “hello boys, they’re baaaaack”.

La La Land – 15 July

A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles. Starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone (teaming up for their third romantic film encounter), and the excellent J.K. Simmons, director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) swaps sweat splashed membranes for tobacco stained ivory.

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Ghostbusters - 15 July

Boo, hiss… boo again. How could they even think about remaking this classic 1984 comedy masterpiece? Well, think about it they did. Then they went ahead and did it. This, however, is a remake with a slight difference. The original line up of Venkman, Ray, Egon and Winston has been replaced with an all-female cast and what a cast it is. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig lead the gang with Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones rounding out the quartet. Who you gonna call? You know who… 


The BFG – 22 July

Thirty-three years after Roald Dahl’s original story of a 24ft-tall, non-human devouring giant and young orphan Sophie becoming the best of buds encapsulated the minds of adults and children alike, so a combination of Steven Spielberg and cutting edge CGI look to do the same. If this reboot has half of the heart the original book and 1989 animated adaptation had, perfectly casting David Jason as the voice of the big friendly fella, then expect human beans young and old to be whizzpopping around the aisles with delight.

Untitled Jason Bourne film – 28 July

“I’m not making another Jason Bourne film” said Paul Greengrass. “I’m not making another Jason Bourne film without Paul Greengrass” said Matt Damon. Director Greengrass and actor Damon return to the world of Jason Bourne - not much is known plot-wise, but hopefully it will include Bourne fighting a knife wielding trained assassin armed only with a biro again… because that was cool.

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Suicide Squad - 5 August

A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency. David Ayer (End of Watch) brings to life villains of the DC universe. With Jared Leto and Margot Robbie pulling what appear to be iconic turns as the twisted Bonnie and Clyde on crack-style Joker and Harley Quinn, this looks to be one of the surprise packages in a saturated comic book blockbuster season.

The Magnificent Seven – 23 September

Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves. Director Antoine Fuqua, his current muse Denzel Washington and man of the moment Chris Pratt collaborate for this remake of the 1960 classic. With a solid, if not remarkable director, and a talented cast (I can't wait to see Pratt and Washington share the screen), this has definite potential to drag itself away from the remake mire.

A Monster Calls – 21 October

Back in 2007 director J.A Bayona delivered a modern day masterpiece in The Orphanage, a haunting and yet heartfelt tale of lost childhoods, reminiscent of the 1980 George C. Scott classic, The Changeling. Now Bayona returns to the adolescent world with the story of a boy who seeks the help of a giant tree monster (voiced by a growling Liam Neeson), to help him cope with his mum’s terminal illness. From a screenplay featured in 2013’s Blacklist, if the trailer is anything to go by, this one will be a beaut. 

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – 18 November

Author J.K Rowling steps back into the magical world of wizards and muggles with this tale set 70 years prior to young Harry finding Hogwarts. Centred around the adventures of Newt Scamander, a writer in New York’s secret society of magic-doers, it stars Eddie Redmayne in the titular role, with a supporting cast including soon-to-be Justice Leaguer Ezra Miller and Colin Farrell. On a huge plus note, also featuring is Ron Perlman as Gnarlack, a Goblin gangster running a magical speak easy in 1920’s Harlem. Worth the admission fee alone.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 16 December

Star Wars is back, in a big way. Fresh from breaking every box record going Stateside, the now Disney owned franchise will be releasing one film every 12 months. This year’s soon to be box office behemoth will step back in time and follow a group of rebels setting out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Starring Felicity Jones in the lead role, featuring a diversely talented supporting cast (Mads Mikklesen! Ben Mendelsohn! Donnie Yen!) and overseen by up and coming Englishman Gareth Edwards (director of the African Queen meets War of the Worlds 2010 alien invasion film Monsters), rumours suggest a certain heavy breathing, dark side enforcing villain will also make an appearance.

assassin s creed photos show michael fassbender playing dual roleAssassins Creed – 30 December

The second video game adaptation to whet the appetite in 2016. Justin Kurtzel, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, director and stars of last year’s hauntingly visceral Macbeth, reteam for this centuries spanning tale of Callum Lynch (Fassbender), hunted by modern day Knights Templar, and his ancient ancestor Aguilar (also Fassbender), a Master Assassin and member of the Secret Assassins Society.

Part two of Herefordshire Live's 50 films to see in 2016 coming soon...

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