10. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS
“Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max's life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel named Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happy-owned pets and their owners.”
I’m a total sucker for movies centered around dogs, especially if there’s a pug. This film actually looks enjoyable and I even caught Ross chuckle a bit during the trailer. It’s made by the people who created DESPICABLE ME/MINIONS. I can’t say I’ve seen anything in that franchise, but with voice acting by Steve Coogan and Louis C.K. there’s a big chance for potential. Sometimes you have to watch silly movies.
9. KNIGHTS OF CUP/VOYAGE OF TIME/UNTITLED
“A screenwriter living in LA tries to make sense of the strange events occurring around him.”
“An examination of the birth and death of the known universe.”
“Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.”Terence Malick was really cooking after THE TREE OF LIFE; he had several films in pre-production immediately following the release. He quietly put out TO THE WONDER which was received with lukewarm reviews. I personally felt like it was a lengthy, big production fragrance add starring Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko. It certainly lacked the substance that comes with all of Malick’s previous films. However, I am incredibly hopeful for his upcoming releases which are (so far) slated for 2016. It seems like VOYAGE OF TIME is an extension of the first half of THE TREE OF LIFE. You either loved or hated the whole chapter on the big bang theory in THE TREE OF LIFE. I felt like it created a beautiful precedent for his most personal film yet. I’m excited to see how he applies his stunning visual expression to the universe. Ryan Gosling (Hey Girl) stated that there was no script used while filming the untitled project. It was also filmed back to back with KNIGHTS OF CUP here in Austin. It will be interesting to see how our famed music scene is portrayed. Basically, I’m excited to see anything from Terence Malick. At this point, he’s on a roll compared to when he was releasing only one film every decade.
8. THE WITCH
“A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.”
I’ll be honest; I’ve been thoroughly disappointed with current horror films. Even much lauded films like GOODNIGHT MOMMY and IT FOLLOWS fell very short for me. I feel like there’s no creativity or fervor put into recent horror films which really breaks my heart since this is my absolute favorite film genre. I’ve always been fascinated by the whole witch hysteria and this is certainly a refreshing topic to tackle. Writer/director Robert Eggers has worked on several short films, but this appears to be his first feature film. THE WITCH did well at Sundance and has received positive reviews from notable sources. It's actually rated R which is a big relief. Nothing pisses me off more than a horror film that's rated PG/PG-13. Could this mean redemption for American horror? Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
7. THE NICE GUYS
“A private eye investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles and uncovers a conspiracy.”
Director Shane Black has had great success with screenwriting, but he’s probably most know for directing IRON MAN 3 which I enjoyed most out of the trilogy. He also wrote my favorite adolescent film, MONSTER SQUAD. The film has a pretty diverse cast staring Hey Girl, Russell Crowe, and Kim Basinger. From watching the trailer, I get a PTA - INHERENT VICE (which I loved) vibe from it. It also seems like Russell Crowe is revising his beloved character from LA CONFIDENTIAL (also starring Kim Basinger). This film looks fun, witty, and entertaining. Let’s hope it is.
6. HAIL, CEASAR!
“A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.”The Coen brothers never disappoint. Even their less favorable films like BURN AFTER READING and A SERIOUS MAN are still amusing and well made. They have singlehandedly perfected the fumbled crime plot. The cast of HAIL CEASAR consists of frequent Coen players like Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Josh Brolin, and Frances McDormand. As long as the Coens continue to put out smart, whimsical scripts, I will continue to eat it up.
5. NEON DEMON
“When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.”Nicolas Winding Refn is one of my favorite newer film directors. He makes such striking films that rely heavily on mood and atmosphere. He also chooses strong actors who can make his scripts come alive. Refn’s last film, ONLY GOD FORGIVES was one of my favorite films of 2013. It was incredibly startling with gorgeous colors and very little dialogue. This was definitely one of Hey Girl’s finest roles yet. I get a feeling that NEON DEMON is a throwback to classic 1980s Brian De Palma. I would love to see the 1980s steamy thriller genre come back.
4. SALT AND FIRE
“A scientist blames the head of a large company to cause an ecological disaster in South America. But when a volcano begins to present eruption signs, they must unite to avoid a disaster, despite their ideological differences.”There are so many things I love about this film and it’s not even out yet. I love ALL of Werner Herzog’s films and documentaries. I especially love Gael Garcia Bernal and Michael Shannon. Herzog is no stranger to environmental catastrophes and anomalies. Just look what he did with LESSONS OF DARKNESS. I love that Herzog always plays by his own rules. His films are direct and to the point with striking visuals. It will be interesting to see how he applies his uncommon style to a volcano disaster film.
3. THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS
“A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat.”Derek Cianfrance is an incredibly talented director who really captures the vulnerability of his characters. His last film THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES was my favorite film of 2012. Before that he made BLUE VALENTINE which was an eloquent examination of a romantic relationship from start to finish. His films are sensitive and emotional. The film is based on a novel by M.L. Stedman. I’m really interested to see the chemistry between Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander who subsequently became a couple during filming. I’m also interested to see how he utilizes the gorgeous backdrop of New Zealand. I look forward to many more films from Cianfrance.
2. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL
“A father and son go on the run after the dad learns his child possesses special powers.”Jeff Nichols makes gritty, impassioned films mostly set in the South. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL will be his first foray into the sci-fi realm. As with many Jeff Nichols films, Michael Shannon will star. This relationship is shaping up to be the new Scorsese/DiCaprio duo and I really like it. Michael Shannon is certainly one of the most underrated actors around and Jeff Nichols’ film are always well received. Nichols is going to do big things and I think MIDNIGHT SPECIAL will bring him the attention he deserves.
1. EVERYBODY WANTS SOME
“A group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.”Initially, this film was touted as a sequel to DAZED AND CONFUSED. It follows the same timeline, but not the same characters for obvious reasons. (Batfleck may have been a little too busy to reprise his O’Bannion role.) As someone who grew up in the 80s, I have such an affinity for anything set in that time period. Just ask Ross how much I laughed out loud in the theater during HOT TUB TIME MACHINE. Nobody does nostalgia like Linklater. He’s perfected and applied the concept to nearly all his films. I love that he cast all unknown actors and I can’t wait to see what the soundtrack is like. Linklater utilizes music like Cameron Crowe, and it really brings the scenes together. It’s also exciting to see how Austin in the 1980s will be portrayed. Linklater always goes back and forth between making serious dramas to fun comedies and he’s relatively successful with both genres. DAZED AND CONFUSED is such an iconic and cult film for my generation. I think it definitely ushered in that whole 70s revival we saw in the 1990s. Perhaps EVERYBODY WANTS SOME will do the same for this generation. Either way, I can’t wait to see it.
Please note all synopsizes are courtesy of IMDb.com.
There it is friends, my most anticipated films for 2016. I hope everyone is having a great start to the New Year and I look forward to hearing what else is out there to watch. What are you looking forward to seeing in 2016?