The cinematic Christmas holiday has been little more than a lull this year. As the excitement continues over Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the new cinema year approaches in double quick time. And any seasoned movie-goer knows what that means. A mad scramble by all the potential award contenders to be screened before the deadline.
So there’s usually a lot more films to see during January and February, as well as more good ones. Except that 2016 may turn out to buck the trend. Some of the films being mentioned in the same sentences as the words “Oscar” and “BAFTA” have already been released. Both Steve Jobs and Carol were in cinemas in November, Inside Out in July and Mad Max: Fury Road as long ago as May. Not that it means there won’t be much worth seeing over the next couple of months, but it may not be quite such a squeeze as usual.
The date to put in your diary is Friday, 15 January. A triple whammy of big films is released that day. Getting the most attention is Inarritu’s The Revenant, with Leonard Di Caprio as an explorer on the American frontier who is left for dead by his hunting team but survives to trek across the wilderness in search of the man who betrayed him. It’s Di Caprio who’s getting all the attention for his performance in the film which, by all accounts, is brutal and uncompromising. Will this be Leo’s year at the Academy Awards? The buzz at the moment is that it could well be.
The 15th also sees the release of Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, with Brie Larson as a devoted mother bringing up her five year old son in the windowless room of the title. After creating something of a stir at the London Film Festival, the film has gone on to gather an armful of nominations, including Golden Globes, Spirit Awards and Screen Actors Guild, as well as a few wins. And the trophies have gone mainly to Larson and her young co-star, Jacob Tremblay.
Director Ryan Coogler’s Creed is released alongside these two and is a heavyweight in its own right, following rising boxing star Adonis Johnson (Michael B Jordan), son of Apollo Creed who died as a result of his bout with a certain Rocky Balboa, who also plays a key role in the film. And, of course, he’s played by Sylvester Stallone.
The end of January sees the arrival of Spotlight, based on the true story of the team of journalists from The Boston Globe who uncovered the child abuse scandal in the city’s Roman Catholic Church. With an ensemble cast including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Stanley Tucci and Liev Schreiber, this is already seen as an early front runner for the Best Picture accolades and has gathered a number of wins along the way.
Trumbo, Bryan Cranston’s first big movie lead in a movie since the end of TV’s Breaking Bad, arrives in cinema at the start of February. His performance as the blacklisted screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo, in this highly entertaining piece of Hollywood history, has already earned him a clutch of nominations and there are likely to be more.
Later On ……..
The Oscars may be presented at the end of February, but the schedules for March and April still hold some tasty morsels at the cinema.
Another true journalism story opens at the start of March with Truth. Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford play Mary Mapes and legendary TV news anchor, Dan Rather, in the story of how they lost their careers following their investigation into the military record of then-President, George W Bush. The film’s companion piece on the same day is the latest from the Coen Brothers, Hail Caesar! With an A list cast that includes George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Josh Brolin and Channing Tatum, this is another Hollywood-set period piece, but the trailers point very much towards comedy this time.
The film getting all the attention in the spring, however, will be Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, which is released at the end of the month. New Batman, Ben Affleck, goes up against established Superman Henry Cavill under the direction of Zack Snyder. The trailers are telling us to expect something even darker that Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
And, after an extraordinary 2015, Disney has no plans to take the foot off the pedal next year. With a couple of titles lined up for the early months, the one creating the most interest is Jon Favreau’s live action version of The Jungle Book, set for release on 15 April. Judging from the trailers and stills released by The Mouse House, this promises to be a very different interpretation from the 1960’s musical version and it boasts some distinguished voices, including Ben Kingsley, Bill Murray and Idris Elba.
I’ll be reviewing all of these – and more – here on The Coops Review and on my podcast, Talking Pictures. And, while it’s far too early to say how 2016 will compare to the last 12 months, it looks like getting off to a strong start – and keeping it up into the spring. But only time will tell ………