So 2016 (or 1378, 1465 or year of the Fire monkey in the Burmese, Armenian and Chinese Numbers of Heaven calendars respectfully) is finally here. Is it just me or did this one sneak up on us? Here I was enjoying my space movie about all that space and then all of a sudden it’s a brand new year. The hourglass is about to get turned over once again, so while we all cling to its sides in a vain attempt to stay temporally relevant let’s have a sly gander at what these fresh new grains of cinematic sand look like. I’m not entirely sure where that analogy was going, but it’s here now. Kind of like the New Year, wouldn’t you say?
Joy – Jan 1st
Let’s just get this out of the way, despite awards being hurled at the cast and crew who brought us Silver Linings Playbook and despite this being the first film of 2016 that I recommend y’all go see, I really dislike Joy director David O. Russel. The problem I find is that Russell gathers his chums Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, makes a film about white people problems and awards collectives lose their minds over it. That would be fine once, but every time David O. Russell? Really? Bloody really? Anyway, in Joy Lawrence plays… well… Joy: a member of a powerful Italian-American business family who rises through the ranks to become it’s matriarch through manipulation, dirty deals and a brand new kind of mop.
The Danish Girl – Jan 1st
If I didn’t know any better I’d say Eddie Redmayne’s been trying to expunge all memory of his role in Jupiter Ascending from the public consciousness, the way he’s been acting of late. The Theory of Everything, Thomas & Friends: Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure (that’s the more recent Thomas The Tank Engine film to you and me), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and now The Danish Girl; a period drama about transgender issues and turn-of-the-century artists, AKA the perfect biopic storm. The Danish Girl chiefly focuses on the life and works of Lili Elbe (Redmayne) and her relationship with Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander), and whilst it does adjust certain aspects of their story I believe it may be for the best, given how tragic Gerda and Lili’s lives became. If you don’t believe me, you know where Wikipedia is.
The Hateful Eight – Jan 8th
The 8th film by Quentin Tarantino, his 6th collaboration with Samuel L. Jackson, his 2nd western, his first time working with Ennio Moricone, there’s a lot of numbers flying around The Hateful Eight, isn’t there? I know a lot of people have their doubts about Tarantino but The Hateful Eight looks to be a tight, tense combination of Reservoir Dogs, Django Unchained, and The Thing. In the middle of a Wyoming snowstorm John “The Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russel and his moustache) and his captive quarry, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), take shelter in a cabin that just so happens to be occupied with shifty dangerous types including Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), Sheriff Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Joe “The Cowpuncher” Gage (Michael Madsen), Bob “The Mexican” (Demian Bichir) and General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern). I realise I didn’t have to write all their names out, but they’re just too damn fun not to reprint.
The Revenant – Jan 15th
I don’t know about you, but every time I see something from The Revenant the tiny film snob that lives in my head applauds with a slightly snooty face; pleased yet not wanting to show it too much. Yes by all reports the shoot in the Canadian wilderness was a living hell, not to mention the gore and violence in the film caused audiences to walk out on its previews, but if cinema can’t be polarizing then it’s not doing its job well enough, am I right? In Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s follow-up to awards darling Birdman, we see Leonardo DiCaprio lose a fight to bear and get abandoned in the woods by Tom Hardy. This puts a stress on their relationship, causing Leo to go on a revenge mission that’d make the Count of Monte Cristo blush, wince and ultimately leave the room in disgust. You go, Leo, you Oscar-chasing, actor-man.
Creed – Jan 15th
If the communiques from the Colonies are to be believed, Creed could just be the Rocky sequel to out-Rocky Rocky. It sounds like sacrilege but when you have the actor-director pairing behind Fruitvale Station (Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler, respectively) it’s not quite so scandalous, now, is it? Creed sees Apollo’s wayward son Adonis (Jordan) taken under the wing of boxing legend and former Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa (a melting Sylvester Stallone) to become a better man and to reconnect with what meant so much to his family. This is mainly achieved by learning how to beat a man unconscious to the adulation of thousands of spectators, but also through training montages. Every good sports film needs one.
Room – Jan 15th
One of the big contenders for the tiny gold man competition, Room could be the sleepiest sleeper hit to ever sleep its way into our good graces. Some kind of cinematic Rip Van Winkle. Rip Van Filmkle? I’m getting distracted. Anyway, Room, based on the book by Emma Donoghue (who also screenplays this adaptation), is the story of a boy and his mother escaping the room they’ve been kept in for the past 5 years, a place that the boy believes to be the whole world. So once he escapes and meets the world at large, well, it’s in measures terrifying and heart-warming. Brie Larson and her on-screen offspring Jacob Tremblay have plenty of buzz about their performances, which I guess this piece is only furthering, but now’s your chance to see it and prove me wrong.
The Big Short – Jan 22nd
So when looking up those all-important details about The Big Short I noticed that sitting in the director’s chair was one Adam McKay. Where have I heard that before, I thought. Then it hit me like a flannel made of wet cake: he’s the director of Anchorman, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights and The Other Guys. Only instead of his usual Ferrell-infused comedy, The Big Short is a trio of tales surrounding the credit and housing disasters of the mid-2000s starring, amongst Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Christian Bale in his human form. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see the images myself, so I’d suggest seeing it quick before he decides to change again. Go!
Spotlight – Jan 29th
Of all the awards-baiting bits of cinema on offer this month, I think Spotlight is going to be the one to beat. I don’t just mean because of its cast (Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev ‘Ray Donovan’ Schreiber, Stanley Tucci, John Slattery, COME ON PEOPLE!), or that it’s directed by Tom McCarthy (who co-wrote Pixar’s Up and was Scott Templeton in the fifth season of The Wire), but for something greater. According to the reactions from most of the American screenings I’ve read, Spotlight makes journalism seem important again. Following the lengths went to by the Boston Globe to reveal how the local Catholic Archdiocese covered up years of systematic child abuse and molestation, Spotlight is an unflinching look into the heart of what it means to find the truth.
Youth – Jan 29th
Paolo Sorrentino, when not looking like an Italian Cosmo Kramer, does dabble in this realm of movies we find ourselves constantly talking about. His past revels included 2013’s The Great Beauty and 2011’s This Must Be the Place, the latter infamous for having Sean Penn dressed up as a pseudo-Robert Smith from The Cure. This time around, though, his cinema gun-sights are aimed squarely at Michael Caine, who plays retired orchestra conductor Fred Ballinger. Ballinger, like so many grizzled retirees before him, is called in for one last big job that could set him up for life: an invitation form the Queen to perform for Prince Phillip. It may not go the way of Unforgiven, Heat, The Killer, Sexy Beast, The Wild Bunch, or any other of those classic “One Last Job” movies, but with Sorrentino at the helm, who’s to say? Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Harvey Keitel also star.