You’re poring through our 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2016 list. You repeat that process several times over, perusing ever more closely each time. But each time you grow a little more aghast. Finally you realize: It Isn’t Bloody There. Spitting coffee all over your computer screen in rage, you scream, to the alarm (and incomprehension) of your office-mates, “Where the HELL is Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Cemetery of Splendour’?”
Every year we have an odd kind of limbo problem in that there are films we get to see in 2015 at festivals that do not have releases till 2016. It means we can’t technically call them “Anticipated,” because we’ve already seen them, and they’re somewhat known quantities. That said, some of them are so amazing we want to make sure you hear about them, and some of them are so dire we want to warn you away from them.
And so this list was born — not to gloat (ok fine, to gloat a tiny bit), but to curate a selection of such titles, point you in the direction of their original reviews and let you know when you’re going to be able to level the playing field and check them out. Read on and enjoy — from the point of view of those of us lucky enough to see films early, 2016 was already a great year, even before 2015 was finished.
Director: Luca Guadagnino (“I Am Love”)
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson
Synopsis: A rock star and her boyfriend welcome an old friend and his teenage daughter to their holiday home for a week of sex, betrayal and murder.
Verdict: A remake of Jacques Deray’s “La Piscine,” Guadagnino’s reunion with his “I Am Love” star Swinton for a stylish sunshine noir is “less refined and a lot messier” than some Euro-thrillers, per our review from Venice last year, but “that also makes it livelier and more eccentric.” With great performances from all four leads, particularly a revelatory Ralph Fiennes with “a kind of manic energy that indicates his voracious appetite for life and sex and food,” it’s a sort of cinematic equivalent of a sleazy beach read — “not deep, not refined, in fact it’s kind of trashy.” Which we mean entirely as a compliment.
Our Review: Jess’s B grade verdict from Venice.
Release Date: May 13th
Director: Robert Budreau (“That Beautiful Somewhere”)
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Carmen Ejogo, Callum Keith Rennie, Stephen McHattie, Janet Laine-Green
Synopsis: The legendary jazz trumpeter Chet Baker, deep in the depths of heroin addiction, attempts to mount a comeback by playing himself in a movie.
Verdict: 2016 brings not just one but two biopics of jazz trumpeters that have already screened on the festival circuit, and our favorite, by a nose, was the Canadian-made “Born To Be Blue,” starring Ethan Hawke as Chet Baker. Sam Fragoso’s review at TIFF acknowledged that the film “falls into some of the trappings of biopics,” but for the most part, “does right by its central subject.” Hawke, in his best turn in a while, “manages to breathe new life into the incomparable trumpeter,” and goes so far as to “prompt you to reevaluate the career of its subject.” Could this turn out to be this year’s “Love And Mercy?”
Our Review: Sam gave it a B at TIFF
Release Date: March 25th
“Cemetery Of Splendour”
Director: Apitchatpong Weerasethakul (“Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”)
Cast: Banlop Lomnoi, Jenjira Pongpas
Synopsis: Uhhh… a sleeping sickness epidemic affects a group of soldiers in Thailand. Sort of.
What You Need To Know: Five years on from his astonishing “Uncle Boonmee” winning the Palme D’Or, Apichatpong Weerasethakul returned to Cannes last summer for “Cemetery Of Splendour,” and the results were just as great. “Weerasethakul is utterly unique among filmmakers, the kind of director who makes films so singular it’s impossible to think of how you would even go about mimicking his style,” Jess wrote from the Croisette, and the resulting, almost indescribable film has a mood that’s “perhaps the purest expression of cinema as it was meant to be seen.” Proving to be “even quieter and more subtly strange” than its predecessor, it left us feeling as possessed as some of the film’s characters.
Our Review: A great big A grade from Jess in Cannes.
Release Date: Strand Releasing will roll it out across the U.S. from March 4th.
Director: Pablo Trapero (“Carancho,” “White Elephant”)
Cast: Guillermo Francella, Peter Lanzani, Lili Popovich, Gastón Cocchiarale, Giselle Motta
Synopsis: The true story of the Puccios, a middle-class family who set up a kidnapping ring in Argentina in the 1980s.
What You Need To Know: Pablo Trapero’s been seen for some time as one of the most important up-and-coming Argentinean directors, but “The Clan,” and his Silver Lion win for Best Director at Venice last year, looks to expose him to a much wider audience. A Scorsese-influenced family crime saga, Jess found it to be “a superior film to ‘Black Mass’” in its examination of organized crime, using the story of the Puccios to open up an examination of “the wider society of the time and the political corruption and ruthlessness that lingered like a hangover” after the fall of the military dictatorship in the country. Though Trapero’s seriousness means the film isn’t quite as fleet-footed as it might like to be, it’s an absorbing and tense picture, anchored by a “fabulously icy performance” from “The Secret In Their Eyes” star Francella.
Our Review: Jess gave it a B in Venice last year.
Release Date: Rolls out, courtesy of Fox, from January 29th.
Director: Pablo Larraín (“Tony Manero,” “No”)
Cast: Roberto Farías, Antonia Zegers, Alfredo Castro, Alejandro Goic, Alejandro Sieveking
Synopsis: Four Catholic priests live in a seclusion in a beach town together, having disgraced themselves, but their life is upturned by the arrival of a fifth priest who is known to someone in the community.
What You Need To Know: His brilliant Oscar-nominated “No” has clearly made Pablo Larraín fiercely in demand, as “The Club,” which premiered at Berlin last year, is the first of three of his movies to open this year (biopic “Neruda” and English-language debut “Jackie” were on our Most Anticipated list). And it’s another win for the Chilean helmer, as Jess reported at the time: “a gripping thriller, an incendiary social critique and a mordant moral fable” that might be the director’s “finest hour to date.” Shot against an almost permanent dying of the light, it’s a furious, purgatorial movie with “a thin vein of the very blackest comic sensibility running through it” and brilliantly drawn characters who linger long after the credits roll. Seek it out as soon as it arrives near you.
Our Review: Jess’ A grade take from Berlin.
Release Date: Music Box Films have dated it for February 5th.
Directors: Noah Baumbach & Jake Paltrow
Cast: Brian De Palma
Synopsis: Documentary about the work of the great director Brian De Palma, helmer of “Carrie,” “Scarface,” “The Untouchables” and more.
What You Need To Know: There’s plenty of filmmaking documentaries every year, but few get much in the way of eyeballs outside festivals — even something like last year’s “Hitchcock/Truffaut” got only a very small release. But “De Palma” has more chance than most at breaking out, given that it’s co-directed by Noah Baumbach and focuses on the oft-commercial, always fascinating Brian. And that Jess called it “the fastest, funniest and most exhilarating hour and forty-seven minutes of this year’s Venice” at the festival last year. A whistlestop tour of De Palma’s filmography, it’s formally unadventurous but full of “pure gold,” “a hit of garrulous cinephile cocaine so pure you want to do a Tony Montana, fall face-first into it and inhale it all in one go.”
Our Review: A glowing B+ from Jess in Venice.
Release Date: A24 will release it this spring.
Director: Ciro Guerra
Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Brionne Davis, Luigi Sciamanna, Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolivar
Synopsis: An Amazonian shaman travels with a German and an American scientists in search of a rare, sacred plant.
What You Need To Know: Jess’s discovery of Cannes last year, and it’s clear that she wasn’t the only one: The film was a surprise inclusion on the Academy’s shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film, and could well end up among the final five nominees next week. A “fantastical, quasi-mythical, soul-crushing yet often very funny story” told in stunning black and white, it’s a “wildly original” work from a relative newcomer that comes across as “somewhere between a rebel yell and a lullaby.” A fierce, angry post-colonial tale of the atrocities done to the Amazonian tribes, it has an “authenticity and immediacy that it’s hard to remember many other period films achieving,” but also a playfulness, with the film shifting into horror and hallucination by its end. Essential.
Our Review: A from Jess in Cannes.
Release Date: February 17th
Director: Lucille Hadžihalilović (“Innocence”)
Cast: Max Brebant, Roxane Duran, Julie-Marie Parmentier
Synopsis: 10-year-old Nicolas lives on an island populated only by young boys and women.
What You Need To Know: Even compared to her partner, Gaspar Noé, who makes a movie every five years or more, Lucille Hadžihalilović is less than prolific: 11 years passed between her first feature, the beguiling “Innocence” starring a young Marion Cotillard, and “Evolution.” Fortunately, as Nik discovered at TIFF, the wait was worthwhile. “Cloaked in a mystifying atmosphere and possessed by a transfixing, amorphous mood,” the film is a “nightmarish lullaby that nestles itself into the unsuspecting viewer like some alien organism, engendered to haunt one’s mind with a phantasmagorical presence.” It’s a film for fans of Dreyer, Cronenberg and “Under The Skin,” and though not for everyone, if you fit into any of those categories, you should be queueing now.
Our Review: Nik’s A- verdict from TIFF.
Release Date: Alchemy haven’t set a firm date yet, but look for it this spring.
Director: Jeremy Saulnier (“Blue Ruin”)
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Mark Webber, Patrick Stewart
Synopsis: After they witness a murder in a a remote bar, a punk band must fight a group of murderous skinheads to survive.
What You Need To Know: “Blue Ruin” was one of the most striking and ingenious genre movies of the decade so far, so hopes were high when follow-up “Green Room” premiered at Cannes last year. According to Oli, those hopes were met: the movie, a smart spin on the “Assault On Precinct 13”-style siege thriller, has “a surprising level of texture to a film so lean,” with a script that “doesn’t rush the set up, taking its time to carefully lay out the pieces.” Once they’re laid out, though, there’s plenty of carnage, with a couple of the goriest moments we can remember in a recent movie. With a very fine ensemble cast, including Stewart smartly underplaying his head villain, Saulnier’s turned out an “exciting, splattery, funny genre movie that never once feels disposable.”
Our Review: Oli gave it an A- at Cannes.
Release Date: April 1st
Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Teresa Palmer, Brian Dennehy
Synopsis: A comedy screenwriter in L.A. buries himself in Hollywood excess to hide the emptiness of his life.
What You Need To Know: At this point, as he steps further and further away from narrative, you either know if you’ll like a new film from Terrence Malick or not. “Knight Of Cups,” his cameo-packed Hollywood tale, finds the director “more abstruse than ever, and more involved with existential questions which are beautiful, vital, universal, and also completely unanswerable,” according to Jess’s review from Berlin last year. “Designed to be a deck of cards from which everyone makes their own hand,” it’s even more inscrutable than “To The Wonder,” and possibly even more beautiful, with Emmanuel Lubezki “making his presence felt in every frame,” and Malick, in his contrast of poetry and shallow excess, occasionally feels like he’s “doing something new.” Unlikely to convert the non-fans, then, but Malickians should be in heaven.
Our Review: B from Jess in Berlin.
Release Date: March 4th
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Krisha Fairchild
Synopsis: During a fraught Thanksgiving, the unstable Krisha visits her sister and her extended family and slowly falls apart, before revealing family secrets best left buried.
Verdict: A very low-budget indie, expanded from Shults’ short of the same name, somehow “Krisha” kept quietly rolling all the way from its SXSW premiere, where it won the Grand Jury Prize and eventually even turned up on a few Best of 2015 lists — deservedly so. It’s a remarkable feature debut from Shults — whose previous experience was in the camera department for Terrence Malick and Jeff Nichols — and features a riveting performance from the spellbinding Fairchild. Our SXSW reviewer fell for it hard, particularly impressed with how Shults’ images and experimental use of music and soundtrack “[intertwine] the intimate and formal with a stunning ease.”
Our Review: Charlie’s strong A- from SXSW
Release Date: March 18th
Director: Joachim Trier (“Reprise,” “Oslo, August 31st”)
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, Amy Ryan
Synopsis: A father and two sons come to terms with their memories of their wife/mother, a famous war photographer, whose death inspires different feelings and memories in each.
Verdict: Cannes gave a collective Gallic shrug to Trier’s minute examination of family dynamics, but our Oli Lyttelton, an avowed fan of the Norwegian helmer and his co-writer (“Blind” director Eskil Vogt) loved the film, calling it “another beguiling and fascinating picture from the filmmaker.” It’s so intimate and contained as to feel minor at first, he suggests, but soon broadens into a novelistic approach that tries to understand the woundedness of the ones left behind. There is a certain lack of resolution that left many feeling unsatisfied, especially as regards the “why” of the mother’s death, but with Huppert’s beautiful performance deliberately kept fragmentary, it’s a truthful conclusion to draw: Life is seldom as neat as we want and “depression doesn’t have a ‘why,’ sometimes it just is.”
Our Review: Oli’s awed A- from Cannes
Release Date: The Orchard have U.S. rights, but no date has been announced just yet.
Director: Rebecca Miller (“The Ballad of Jack and Rose,” “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”)
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph
Synopsis: A woman’s plan to have a child by herself is scuppered when she falls for a married man, and he leaves his family for her.
Verdict: The problem with big festivals like TIFF is that there will always be certain films that get less attention than they merit, and Kevin, our man on the ground there, would certainly say that Rebecca Miller‘s “witty, observational and hilarious” film got a raw deal last year. Giving Greta Gerwig a terrific central role that is subtly differentiated from her Baumbach characters but still very much hers, reportedly, “all around, the screenplay affords the actors the chance to play flawed and funny, and the cast seizes the opportunity to turn genre tropes on its head.”
Our Review: Kevin’s delighted B+ from TIFF
Release Date: May 20th (perfect summer counter programming)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth,” “Alps”)
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman, Léa Seydoux
Synopsis: In a world where you must couple up or risk being turned into an animal, a man tries to play by the rules but eventually escapes, only to discover that the society of fellow rebels is just as stifling.
Verdict: All you really need to know about “The Lobster” is that our two Cannes reporters saw it, and it ended up atop both their year-end lists — no. 2 for Jess, no. 1 for Oli. So yes, it’s that good. Which is not to say its reception was undivided — there were those for whom the film’s bifurcated structure was an issue. To us, though the two halves work together brilliantly, and almost give us two fully imagined Lanthimos universes, linked but discrete, for the price of one, plus Farrell’s best-ever work. It’s more ambitious than anything Lanthimos has done, yet it retains all of the highly idiosyncratic — oh let’s just call him genius — Greek director’s sweet/sad absurdity, mordant humor and philosophical provocation.
Our Review: Oli’s no-holds-barred A from Cannes
Release Date: March 11th
“Schneider vs. Bax”
Director: Alex van Warmerdam
Cast: Alex van Warmerdam, Tom Dewispelaere, Maria Kraakman, Gene Bervoets
Synopsis: On his birthday, a hitman, Schneider, reluctantly agrees to take on the seemingly easy job of killing a neighboring novelist, Bax. But Bax has been ordered to kill Schneider at the same time, and is also having a very bad day.
Verdict: We got on board the Van Warmerdam train in a big way with “Borgman,” which was just the kind of cocktail of dark, weird, funny and sick that tickles us. According to our reviewer, “Schneider vs. Bax” does not quite have that film’s impact or coherence, but instead Van Warmerdam delivers an even more playful series of events of escalating absurdity, and finds time to include arguments about muesli on the way. It may not be deep or particularly lasting, but it’s “deliciously complicated” and a hell of a lot of fun.
Our Review: Nik’s amused B grade review from TIFF
Release Date: No U.S. distributor at the moment.
Director: Andrew Cividino
Cast: Jackson Martin, Reece Moffet, Nick Serino
Synopsis: A young teenager on a regular vacation to his parent’s summer house strikes up a friendship with a boy of his own age and his cousin, but the currents of jealousy and competitiveness between the three point toward tragedy.
Verdict: Startlingly assured for a first film, and inarguably authentic in its location and vernacular (Canadian helmer Cividino shot the film in the area he himself used to visit for family vacations), “Sleeping Giant” sets itself aside from the majority of coming-of-age stories with the specificity of its setting, the terrifically (often unlikably) naturalistic juvenile performances, and the subtle way the threads of darkness are woven into the sunny days of an endless summer. It’s a striking debut for the Canadian director, which we dubbed “the Anti-‘Stand by Me‘,” beautifully shot to capitalize on the Lake Superior landscape but always with an intelligent eye for a frame that tells a story beyond mere beauty.
Our Review: A deeply impressed B+ from Jess in Cannes
Release Date: None yet for the U.S., though spring has been mooted for its Canadian release, so we’ll keep an eye out.
Director: Terence Davies (“Distant Voices, Still Lives,” “The Long Day Closes,” “The Deep Blue Sea”)
Cast: Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan
Synopsis: The coming of age of a farmer’s daughter in rural Scotland in the early 1900s.
Verdict: Davies’ beautiful, languid but richly rewarding films regularly cleave opinion between those who find them contemplative and hypnotic, and those who find them dull. We’re of the stance that any filmmaker who makes such ravishing pictures, and who invests them with such layers of often very personal feeling, is little short of a treasure, and that was certainly how our reviewer felt about “Sunset Song.” Praising the film for its grace and nimbleness, we asserted that Davies “transforms his camera into an artist’s paintbrush, a poet’s pen, and a singer’s voice,” and stated that while the stalwart Mullan was as understatedly committed as ever, Deyn was little short of a “glowing revelation.”
Our Review: Nik’s luminous A- review from TIFF
Release Date: April 22nd
“Tale of Tales”
Director: Matteo Garrone (“Gomorrah,” “Reality”)
Cast: Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Shirley Henderson, John C. Reilly, Toby Jones, Stacy Martin, Alba Rohrwacher
Synopsis: Three interweaving fairytale-style stories of magic, madness and obsession based loosely on the celebrated Italian folk tales by Giambattista Basile.
Verdict: Screening early in Cannes, it felt like Matteo Garrone‘s visually luscious, enjoyable English-language debut was, unfairly, quickly forgotten about. But while our reviewer dubbed it “a grand folly” (in the best possible sense), on its own merits it has a great deal going for it — a sustained sense of the grotesque and the beautiful, an oddly compelling fairytale reality, and some great baroque performances, especially from Jones and Henderson. It’s so ornate and intricate in its storytelling, though, that it’s hard to get a real sense of the story’s meaning or moral. Ultimately, it’s more about spectacle than narrative, but the spectacle alone is worth it.
Our Review: Jess’ B grade review from Cannes
Release Date: In theaters and On Demand April 22nd
Director: Tobias Lindholm (“R,” “A Hijacking”)
Cast: Pilou Asbaek, Tuva Novotny, Soren Malling
Synopsis: A Danish army officer on duty in Afghanistan makes a split-seond decision with the life of one of his squadron hanging in the balance. But it has unforeseen and unintended tragic consequences and he sees himself facing a military court back home.
Verdict: Tobias Lindholm, director of the brilliant “A Hijacking” and co-writer of Thomas Vinterberg‘s “The Hunt” and the forthcoming “The Commune,” still does not get as much attention stateside as he deserves. “A War,” his third directorial feature, bears all his trademarks — piercing intelligence, lean unfussy storytelling, high tension and a starring role for the “faultlessly committed” Asbaek, who was recently cast in “Game of Thrones.” The film’s a chilling and incisive look at the toll that military leadership takes on the individuals who lead, and Lindholm takes that unsexy premise and makes it first thrilling and then compellingly provocative (it is a film of two halves), all informed by righteous compassion.
Our Review: Jess’ B+/A- review from Venice
Release Date: April 8th
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Dickie, Ralph Ineson, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson
Synopsis: In grimy 1630s New England, a family already rendered outcasts by their extreme piety are torn apart by black magic, possession and paranoia after a tragedy occurs for which…something in the woods is responsible.
Verdict: Remarkably atmospheric and singularly chilling, Robert Eggers‘ unearthly horror film came out of nowhere at Sundance 2015 and wowed everyone, winning first-timer Eggers the Directing award. Rodrigo was fully on board, calling out the film’s “exquisite holy terror” in his review from Park City. Sometimes the festival atmosphere can serve to magnify or hype up a film that doesn’t really deserve it, but those who’ve caught up to it since, even the few not quite as blown away, all agree it’s an assured and completely original film (boasting some exquisitely researched detail and dialogue), that’s easily worth about 10 studio horrors.
Our Review: Rod’s A grade rave from Sundance
Release Date: Feb 19th
10 Notable Films We’re Mixed On
But of course, not every 2016 title we saw early was a classic. Here are some of the notable higher profile forthcoming releases we’ve seen and can only endorse coolly, or not at all:
Another example of Jake Gyllenhaal being much better than his material, most of the blame for “Demolition”‘s blandness has to fall on director Jean-Marc Vallée‘s shoulders. Overburdened with quirk, and “crassly manipulative,” the story of a man’s journey through grief following the death of his wife, to healing via a series of complaint letters to a vending machine company (and to Naomi Watts‘ customer service rep) landed with a bit of a thud, and a resounding D from Kevin at TIFF.
Release Date: April 8th
Probably the most precious and certainly the bright-whitest film you’ll see all year, Drake Doremus‘ insufferably breathy and up-itself sci-fi romance is, as our reviewer wrote at the time, “a film that might just make you hate love.” Squandering two actors we really like, Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, by indulging in gratuitous shallow-focus moony-eyed gazing and never creating a universe whose rules we understand or even care about, mainly it’s just really dull. Jess gave it a C- in Venice, because she was feeling kind.
Release Date: None yet, but A24 did pick it up with DirectTV (which means it will hit their first before going to select theaters, if at all).
There’s dissent in the ranks over Ben Wheatley‘s J.G. Ballard adaptation. Kevin, who gave the film a C out of TIFF was unmoved, finding that its “indifference to the fate of the characters creates a barrier that makes it difficult for the audience to share in the mayhem.” Oli, however, counted the Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons-starrer as one of his favorites of the year, relating to it as a Londoner and calling it a “blunt instrument” that nonetheless makes “a hell of an impact.” Looks like we each have to judge this one for ourselves.
Release Date: Magnet Releasing have the U.S. rights, but no date is set yet. It opens in the U.K. on March 16th.
Safe to say you won’t see a more ambitious movie than Brady Corbet‘s Venice winner. But for Jess, who reviewed his grandiose directorial debut at a C+ out of Venice, that adds up to a film whose noisy reach exceeds its cacophonous grasp (Scott Walker‘s score is one of the most interesting aspects, but it’s blasted so loud at times that it hurts). Starring Bérénice Bejo, Liam Cunningham and Stacy Martin, with a small role for Robert Pattinson, it’s very self-serious and rather hard work, but you can’t say Corbet hasn’t got balls.
Release Date: No word yet
Our hopes were very high going into Don Cheadle‘s directorial debut, his biopic of jazz legend Miles Davis, in which he also stars. But Rodrigo, who gave the film a C+/B- at its NYFF premiere, came away disappointed, finding the film “well-intentioned, but ultimately uneven, as it cannot redefine the structures it so desperately wants to break down.” He has kind words, however for Cheadle behind the camera, calling it “a promising directorial debut” when it could have been “a self-congratulatory vanity project.”
Release Date: April 1st
Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke is something of an arthouse darling and his Cannes title was one of his most ambitious films to date — as Oli, who gave the film a C+ in Cannes called it, “a decades-spanning message melodrama beginning in 1999 and ending in 2025.” However it was not wholly successful, especially in its final third in which Jia’s discomfort directing English-language performance shows, and leads to one turn Oli dubbed “not just the worst performance in the movie or at the festival, it’s one of the worst in years.”
Release Date: Kino Lorber open it on February 12th.
“Less like a movie and more like a middling TV pilot” is how Oli, who gave the film a C grade in Cannes, described Fernando León de Aranoa‘s English-language debut, the unlikely-sounding “Bosnian aid worker comedy,” “A Perfect Day.” But though the film is likely to “inspire a shrug,” he does note that it’s good to see lead Benicio Del Toro, who stars alongside Tim Robbins, Olga Kurylenko and Melanie Thierry, have fun with getting to play “funny, charming and a little romantic.” Which may be enough for Del Toro fans.
Release Date: Jan 15th
That “Queen of the Desert,” less a bad film than a very bland and starchy one, feels like such a crushing disappointment, is a mark of how much we were expecting something with a little more magic and madness to it from idiosyncratic, extraordinary German director Werner Herzog. But his film about Gertrude Bell, starring the great Nicole Kidman alongside James Franco, Robert Pattinson and more, is a stodgily by-the-numbers historical biopic/star vehicle, according to Jess who gave it a halfhearted C In Berlin.
Release Date: There’s talk of a March date but nothing firm. Atlas Distribution have it for the States.
Almost before the doors of the Debussy theater in Cannes reopened after its first press screening, Gus van Sant‘s bafflingly awful, narratively inert, screamingly obvious suicide-and-redemption picture immediately became a punchline among critics. Oli was part of that chorus, giving the film a rare F, and noting that while the McConaughey vehicle did try to unite all Van Sant’s diverse impulses, it ended up boasting “the thrills of ‘Gerry‘ with the subtlety of ‘Finding Forrester‘ and the originality of the ‘Psycho‘ redo.” Ouch.
Release Date: Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions have the rights, but haven’t made a peep since Cannes — not surprising, given the reviews.
We’ve has some above-average music biopics recently (“Straight Outta Compton,” “Love And Mercy“) but sadly, this promising-sounding effort from Marc Abraham, starring Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, is a “thick morass of ‘troubled genius’ biopic clichés.” So says Noel in his C grade review from TIFF, though he does call out the photography from veteran Dante Spinotti, who apparently shoots Hiddleston’s profile like he “were trying to engrave him onto a nickel.” Elizabeth Olsen also gets due praise, but it can’t save the film from ordinariness.
Release Date: March 25th
Keeping this list down to 20 was surprisingly difficult, and there are bunch of others we could have included. Most pressingly, we’d definitely encourage you to check out two Romanian films, Corneliu Porumboiu‘s Cannes-awarded “The Treasure,” and Radu Jude‘s Berlin Best Director-winning “Aferim!“ — both of which our reviewer Jess loved so much they made it into her 2015 top 20, and the former of which opens this very week in New York.
And you should also keep your eyes peeled for the following titles: Lorene Scarafia‘s “The Meddler” with Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne; Michel Gondry‘s best in years “Microbe et Gasoil“; lovely animation “The Little Prince“; Celia Rowson-Hall‘s experimental “Ma“; affectionate documentary portrait “Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words“; Athina Rachel Tsangari‘s “Attenberg” follow-up, the deliciously odd “Chevalier“; Amos Gitai‘s absorbing investigation into the assassination of the Israeli premier “Rabin: The Last Day“; Hong Sang-soo‘s widely beloved “Right Now, Wrong Then.”
Then there’s excellent Australian Ibsen adaptation “The Daughter“; Venice Gold Lion winner “From Afar“; the wacky Danish “Men and Chicken” starring Mads Mikkelsen in a rare comic role; Icelandic Un Certain Regard winner “Rams“; Nanni Moretti‘s moving “Mia Madre“; Hirokazu Kore-eda‘s affecting “Our Little Sister“; the chilling, mysterious “Bridgend“; and a great turn from Alba Rohrwacher in Laura Bispuri’s fascinating “Sworn Virgin.” Among many others, those are the ones we can wholeheartedly recommend you search out.
Have we gotten you excited for any of these titles? Dying to prove us wrong on “Sea of Trees”? Let us know which film is most floating your boat in the comments.