Top 10 Most Anticipated Non-Comic Book Movies of 2016
It has been over 3 damned years since I have contributed to my favorite waste of time. As I all to often say in work emails, I apologize for the delay. What was I passionate enough about to bring me out of my subconsciously self imposed retirement? The fact that almost every “most anticipated films of 2016” is chock full of superhero movies. I am not gonna claim that I am holier than thou and don’t enjoy a good Marvel movie, because I will watch Howard the Duck any day of the week. A solid comic book movie is a great form of escapism and I don’t fault anyone for indulging in them from time to time. That said, there are a ton of other films gracing screens this year that also deserve your attention. Here are 10 of them (forgive me grammar, I be rusty):
10. Ghostbusters – Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy)
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon
I grew up loving pretty much everything Ghostbusters. The first movie, the second movie, the “Real” Ghostbusters, the “Fake” Ghostbusters, the “Extreme” Ghostbusters, the cereal and the beverage, I consumed it all. So needless to say, when it was announced that there was gonna be a new Ghostbusters’ movie and it wasn’t coming from the vodka soaked mind of Dan Aykroyd, I was pretty excited. Its a bonus that its a 90 minute long feminist Saturday Night Live sketch.
9. Wiener-Dog – Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness)
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Danny DeVito and Ellen Burstyn
Had this movie been made 10 years ago it would have been at the top of the list. The long awaited sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse starring Great Gerwig?!?!?! Unfortunately, Solondz’s last attempt at a recasting of one of his beloved classics (Life During Wartime) was good on its own, but did not live up to its source material. However, even his misses, like Dark Horse, are still filled with enough of his neurotic comedic pacing that it is worthy of getting excited about any film he puts out. Plus the idea of Burstyn and DeVito playing off each other is one that is too good to pass up.
8. Silence – Martin Scorsese
Starring: Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver
You had me at Scorsese minus DiCaprio. Liam Neeson gets to remind us that he was once a serious actor, and not just someone that punches terrorist and wolves, as he plays a priest who gets his ass handed to him when he tries to spread Christianity in 17 century Japan. Scorsese also gets to try and cleanse himself from the excess of The Wolf of Wall Street in what is apparently a passion project for him (though at this point is anything he does not a passion project). As a bonus, viewers get to watch pretty boys Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver also get the feudal treatment (I know that feudal Japan ended at the end of the 16th century, but hey, shut up).
7. A Monster Calls – JA Bayona (the Orphanage, the Impossible)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones
TWO LIAM NEESON MOVIES IN A ROW?!?! I know, I’m scared too. Bayona has already directed two classics in his short career and the only thing keeping this movie from being higher up on this list is the fact that is kind of seems like a poor man’s BFG (and there is already a rich man’s version of that coming out this year). The trailer honestly is kind of unintentionally hilarious with Neeson growling and mouth breathing his way through the narration, but The Impossible and The Orphanage both made me get all weepy so I’m still excited.
6. Certain Women – Kelly Reichardt (Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy & Lucy)
Starring: Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Jared Harris
No, this isn’t a remake of the 1937 Bettie Davis movie, That Certain Woman. Based on two short story collections by Maile Meloy (Both Ways Is the Only Way and Half in Love), this film is about 3 women (Dern, Williams and Kristen Stewart) whose lives intersect in small-town America. Originally titled Livingston, this reunites Reichardt with her Meek’s Cutoff and Wendy & Lucy star, Williams. Both of those are two of the best films of the past ten years so the addition of one of the most underrated actresses alive (Dern) can only up the quality of the collaboration.
5. Wilson – Craig Johnson (the Skeleton Twins)
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern and Judy Greer
Do two Laura Dern movies in a row cancel out the two Liam Neeson ones? This is Johnson’s follow up to 2014’s surprisingly touching, The Skeleton Twins. And while I was a big fan of that movie, this is high on my list because its an adaptation of a Daniel Clowes (Ghost World) graphic novel. Originally Alexander Payne was slated to direct and it was supposed to film in Oakland (a fact that I know at least one person who is going to be pretty bummed out to hear is no longer the case). Instead we get Johnson and Minneapolis, a worthy second place prize.
4. The Circle – James Ponsoldt (End of the Tour, Smashed)
Starring: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega and Patton Oswalt
I recently finished the David Eggers novel this is based on. I can’t say I read it because I technically listened to it and apparently saying you read something that you listened to is as bad as saying you went running when you were actually on an elliptical (neither of which I agree with). The book is about a 20-something-year-old that gets a dream job at a Google like company whose goal is to create a world of complete transparency. As someone that works in Silicon Valley I enjoyed the “what if” scenario, one that is not too far off from the present day. If a director like Steven Soderbergh were at the helm I would be worried that this would become a suspenseful thriller and I think there are a few too many of those in the world already. With Smashed and End of the Tour, Ponsoldt has proven that he can create compelling, no frills, character driven films and I hope we get more of the same with his latest outing.
3. The Discovery – Charlie McDowell (The One I Love)
Starring: Rooney Mara and Nicholas Hoult
This is the second film by Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen’s (apparently they were a thing in the 80s) son, Charlie McDowell. Starring the director’s real life girlfriend, Mara, this is set one year after definitive scientific proof of the afterlife is discovered. Not much more is known about the plot and I don’t really need to know more. The One I Love was one of my favorite films of 2014 because it was one of the most subtle sci fi movies I’ve ever seen. I trust that with a concept like this, McDowell will have no problem recreating that same feel.
2. Midnight Special/Loving – Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter)
Starring: Michael Shannon, Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst and Joel Edgerton/Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga and Michael Shannon
One of my favorite working directors has not one, but two films coming out this year. The first is Midnight Special, about a gifted 8 year old boy and his father (Shannon) who must get to a secret location before religious extremists or government officials get there hands on them. The director described the film as a “sci fi chase film” in the tradition of John Carpenter’s Starman. Sign me up. The second film, Loving, is the true story of Mildred and Richard Loving, an interracial couple that was sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958. Under the wrong guidance such subject matter could come off heavy handed and saccharine, but I trust this story will be told properly by Nichols.
1. Hail, Caesar! – Coen Brothers
Starring: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum
Its a new Coen Brothers movie, what else do you need to know?
My Top Ten Films of 2015 (so far):
4. Love & Mercy
5. Diary of a Teenage Girl
9. End of the Tour
10. The Hateful Eight