Welcome to another round of the Seattle Cinema Survey, host to me tossing a variety of questions at local critics, writers and the like.
After last week’s – rather intense – poll of the best films the 21st Century has offered, a calmer, casual inquiry; What are you most excited to see in 2016?
With new films by the Dardennes and Olivier Assayas getting the maaaaaaybe 2016 release dates, my eyes look to Mr. Almodovar, who for my money is one of the best directors of the past thirty years. His Julieta is about women, their loves and relationships to their daughters; so the usual mine of which he’s produced a bevy of gold.
Drew Powell of Queen Anne News/Drew’s Movie Blog
This is a tough question because there are a lot of movies coming out that I don’t know much about (and I like to keep it that way) and therefore I’m not “excited to see.” Denis Villenuve’s Arrival, Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and the new Blair Witch come to mind but I guess at this point I’ll go with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I was skeptical at first; the idea of a spinoff Star Wars set between Episode 3 and Episode 4 sounded uninteresting to me. Spoiler alert: we know that the rebellion crushes the empire and Darth Vader dies. But after seeing those two theatrical trailers and that star studded cast I’m firmly on board. This could be a truly great standalone Star Wars film. Fingers crossed.
Tim Hall of The People’s Critic @peoplescrtic
My indie pick is Moonlight. I love what A24 puts out. The film I’m most excited to see is Doctor Strange. At this point Marvel Studios is playing with house money. They turned B level characters into billion dollar franchises. They even made Guardians of the Galaxy a hit. The next big test is Doctor Strange. I’d Marvel can show his story and mythology on screen the right way, the sky is the limit for what they can do.
I also love how diverse the cast is.
Michael Ward of Should I See It @ShouldISeeIt
It will be interesting to see if Gavin O’Connor can return to form with The Accountant. Though saddled with a cumbersome title, Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk boasts a curious cast, a timely story, and the potential, on paper, to be one of the year’s best.
Then, toss in the only film from 2016 to make the recent 100 greatest movies of all time list from the BBC Critics poll, German import Toni Erdmann, the Amy Adams sci-fi epic Arrival, Tom Ford’s follow up to A Single Man, the suspense/thriller Nocturnal Animals with Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. Plus, we have our first actual cinematic Star Wars spinoff arriving just before Christmas, with Rogue One, which is a bit of a wild card for the fall.
And what to make of Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation, which looked to be an Oscar frontrunner until Parker’s past rape case from his college days seems to have derailed plans for an Oscar push, but nonetheless leaves a compelling film on the way.
Really, two projects bubble to the surface as films I am most intrigued to see this fall.
Damien Chazelle’s musical follow-up to his 3-time Oscar winning Whiplash, is the Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone-led musical La La Land, which has won over virtually every single person who has seen it thus far. With the precision that Chazelle showed us with his incredible Whiplash, his take on the “movie musical” could be dynamic and memorable.
And then, I can’t seem to ignore A24’s Moonlight. A story that feels bold, brave, and audacious. Not only does it shine a spotlight on growing up as an African-American male in America across three generations, the film also looks at what it means to be black and gay, a subject largely ignored by the motion picture industry.
So Moonlight and La La Land with a dozen or so others right behind it.
Brian Taibl of Brian the Movie Guy @MovieGuyBrian
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the easy answer here…
So, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
If you need a bloated answer in the arena of ‘why’, then I don’t (with all due respect) care to know you…
Matt Oakes of Silver Screen Riot @SSRdotcom
Looking down the barrel of the gun, we have a cannibal horror romp from groundbreaking director Ana Lily Amirpour with The Bad Batch, Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to Whiplash in the Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone-starring La La Land, Denis Villeneuve’s foray into heady sci-fi with Arrival, Telluride Film Fest breakout smash Moonlight which marks distributor A24’s first film they’ve built from the floor, Martin Scorsese’s sweeping religious epic (currently weighing in at 3 hours, 15 minutes) Silence and, of course, the first ever Star Wars Anthology film in Rogue One all staring us smack in the rest. I’m looking forward to all for completely different reasons. Were I forced to choose one, I would probably make the wrong decision so call it a big ol’ tie.
Brent McKnight of Cinema Blend/The Last Thing I See @BrentMMcKnight
Despite some giant misses over the summer, I’m still pumped to see a ton of movies in 2016. My list includes big blockbuster-y things like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (even with the unwieldy title) and Doctor Strange, both of which look like they could bring a welcome new wrinkle to their respective cinematic universes. Then we have award bait-y things like Hacksaw Ridge and La La Land—I’m fairly certain that was made just for me.
I’m starting to lose count of the movies debuting on the fall festival circuit that I don’t know when we’ll actually get to see. Nacho Vigalondo’s giant monster flick Colossal premieres soon, the Mo Brothers’ Headshot is on the way, and Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire is making the rounds. Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch just debuted at Venice—an artsy, indie, post-apocalyptic joint, I’m also fairly certain this movie was also made with me in mind. Kim Ji-woon’s Age of Shadows opens in South Korea this month, but who knows when the rest of the world will get a crack at it?
So many of my most anticipated titles probably won’t get to us until 2017, so the one I’m most excited about that I know definitely opens before the end of the year, is Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden.
One of my favorite filmmakers, anything the Oldboy director does immediately jumps to the top of my must see list. It doesn’t hurt that The Handmaiden looks tense and ominous and strange and sexy and absolutely gorgeous in every regard. A period piece about a con artist who places a maid to spy on a wealthy heiress isn’t Park’s usual territory, but it can’t get here soon enough.
Erik Samdahl of Film Jabber @Filmjabber
I’m certainly looking forward to Birth of a Nation, controversies aside. The Accountant looks intriguing. The Girl on the Train should be good pulp. Hacksaw Ridge has my attention because Mel Gibson. Fantastic Beasts has some big shoes to fill, but who can resist more Harry Potter? Office Christmas Party looks like a lot of fun.
But, I’m going to have go with my heart and say Boo! A Madea Halloween is my most anticipated movie of 2016. Halloween + Tyler Perry is a combo made in heaven–or hell–and it surely will be among the year’s top films.
But seriously, come on. All those movies I listed above (minus one) could be great, but there’s only one that stands among the rest in terms of pure excitement factor. And that movie is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The trailers have been fantastic, and the standalone plot may mean we’ll get a less generic Star Wars adventure this time out.