While a dark cloud looms over this year’s poor summer movies, studios and directors typically reserve their more grandiose projects–awards bait–for the fall. And this year looks packed as much as any other. Don’t worry, though, the Fresh Toast staff is here to highlight the movies you’ll want to see in 2016.
Snowden, Sept. 9
Whereas the intimate, surreal portraiture of NSA leaker Edward Snowden featured in Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour focused almost exclusively in their Hong Kong hotel room, Oliver Stone’s Snowden looks to take the long view. The question trying to be answered is simple: What created a guy like Snowden? A worthwhile question, though it will be hard to top Citizenfour, with its alienating and alarming vibes. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s accent in the trailer, sounding like a navel orange sticks in his throat, isn’t helping matters.
Blair Witch, Sept. 16
The Blair Witch Project’s original trick was simple: Found footage. It heightened the proceedings. Though you might’ve suspected some chicanery on the side, you were never sure. Director Adam Wingard, direct sequel to the original Blair Witch Project. But skepticism abounds if the mythology of the Blair Witch is really driving audience’s curiosity. Adam Wingard is at the helm, though, so there’s hope. His arthouse horror cult hit You’re Next was a bloody treat, and forever ruined running out of the house for me.
The Magnificent Seven, Sept. 23
To recap: This will be a remake of 1960’s American Western The Magnificent Seven, an adaptation of Akira Kurosowa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai, which was influenced by American Westerns. Good, you’re caught up. What else do you need to know? For starters, this film has about every “cool guy” working actor in Hollywood: Denzel, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, among others. Oh, and True Detective creator Nic Pizzolato helped write it. Also also, Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua directed. So basically: Every masculine puzzle piece you could ever want.
American Honey, Sept. 30
What stage of Shia LaBeouf narrative are we in now? Whatever the media labels him, it always seems like they’re playing the role of catchup. The Outcast Shia, Bad Boy Shia, Rapper Shia, J.D. Salinger Shia, Maybe-He-Has-A-Drinking-Problem Shia. I guess we’re in Redemptive Shia stage, though that still feels behind. Regardless, American Honey looks great and Variety’s recent Shia LaBeouf profile only jazzed me further, revealing Shia was never given a script (his lines were given to him day of) and he got 12 tattoos (!) with the cast during filming. His knees now feature matching portraits of Missy Elliott. Shia explained, he isn’t a huge fan but “‘But you’re in a tattoo parlor, and’ — he shrugs — ‘peer pressure.’ Whatever Shia mode we’re in, cherish him.
The Birth of a Nation, Oct. 7
Controversy surrounds this film, some good, some bad. When it premiered at Sundance, it received standing ovations and shook up the festival crowds, resulting in Fox Searchlight’s $17.5 million purchasing of the film. With all the hype, it seemed worth the price (though NYTimes film critic Manohla Dragis slightly tempered those expectations in her review). But rape allegations involving the film’s director and actor, Nate Parker, resurfaced, including news that his accuser had committed suicide in 2012. The problematic nature of such a revelation is clear and considering the film’s bold, confrontational tone, controversy will continue to surround its release.
The Girl on The Train, Oct. 7
When released in novel form, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on A Train was near-instantaneously dubbed the next Gone Girl. So consider this a shocker: The Girl on The Train has been marketed as the next Gone Girl, but in movie form. Starring Emily Blunt, the adaptation will be on everyone’s radar come fall.
Moonlight, Oct. 21
Holy buzz. This movie couldn’t have more buzz. And watching the trailer gives us every reason to believe because, damn, this movie looks incredible. Following the turbulent life of an African-American man who survives his rough upbringing, he finds love in unexpected places, places that he struggles to accept. I don’t want to say anymore, because this looks like a film only possible to discuss after watching.
Loving, Nov. 4
Loving marks a bit of a turn for Jeff Nichols: His previous films all include either a surreal or heightened reality to them. But Loving appears straightforward though no less dramatic: An interracial couple who marry get sentenced to prison in Virginia 1958.
Doctor Strange, Nov. 4
Marvel is in its bit character phase of its approximately 47-phase plan to take over the movie industry. Doctor Strange, while an interesting character in his own right, might require a bit of convincing to get national audiences to pay attention. But the trailers haven’t entirely disappointed: They look like a trippier (if that’s possible), but not as good Inception. With Benedict Cumberbatch, Rachel McAdams, QUEEN Tilda Swinton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, among others, maybe it will defy expectations.
Arrival, Nov. 11
Each year now, we receive a major space-alien epic of some kind: Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian. Sci-fi, it seems, is cool again. Canadian director Dennis Villeneuve has earned worthy critical buzz through picture like 2013’s psychological thriller Prisoners and 2015’s supremely underrated Sicario. But this has received much more attention than his previous efforts and rightly so: Amy Adams stars as the world’s best linguist set to interpret alien communications. I wonder what Neil deGrasse Tyson will say about this one.
Manchester by the Sea, Nov. 19
If its reasoned expectations you want, then, well, why are you on the Internet? Anyways, you won’t be getting them with this film. The buzz surrounding Manchester by the Sea focuses squarely on star Casey Affleck, who’s said to have given a “tour de force” level performance in the film. Though his best roles have come in supporting efforts, I guess Young Affleck is a star: He was pretty good in this year’s Triple 9 at least. Expect plenty of Boston-sized accents and Boston-sized tears with this one.
La La Land, Dec. 2
Few movies earn my personal anticipation like this one: I’ve been following its development since it was announced Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone will star in director Damien Chazelle’s follow-up. Whiplash is both a rapturous cacophony and one of my favorite films of the 21st century. I’ve avoided trailers I’m so excited. My Fresh Toast colleagues tell me the above trailer is indeed a La La Land trailer, but it could be a frog swallowing a jackrabbit and I wouldn’t know. Hopefully, for your sake, it’s not.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Dec. 16
It’s Star Wars. As the further gamification of the franchise happens, we’ll be seeing films like Rogue One in between proper Star Wars installments. Considering the vast reaches of the Star Wars universe, the potential is there. Though the internet reacted in mass hysteria following the announcement that Disney had ordered reshoots for the movie, it seems like all is (mostly) good with the film.
The Founder, Dec. 16
Is it too early to call it the Keatonaissance? I’m calling it the Keatonaissance. Here’s the range of Keaton’s NBA Jam he’s-heating-up recent history: unhinged manic in Birdman, measured foundational piece in Spotlight, and wackadoo sideshow in Need for Speed (whatever, I’m counting it). This movie almost certainly feels like a heat check for Keaton: playing Ray Kroc, McDonald’s founder, during the inception of the golden arches. What kind of processed meat will he find on that bone? Who knows! But who isn’t willing to go there with Keaton at this point.
Assassin’s Creed, Dec. 21
Have video game-based movies ever worked? Well, Mortal Kombat was an essential rewatch and cultural touchstone in my youth so I’d say yes. But I guess it was also kind of a flop? I don’t know. Regardless, 20th Century Fox is betting a lot on Assassin’s Creed, like near $200 million a lot. And while the video game trend over the past decade was to move its storytelling into more cinematic avenues, whether that can still translate to the screen remains unknown.
Passengers, Dec. 21
(Teaser trailer yet to be released by Sony)
Little is known about this movie: It was heralded as the best unproduced screenplay floating around Hollywood for years. It involves Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Morten Tyldum of Imitation Game fame directed. Two passengers on a distant space travel mission awaken 60 years early, due to a malfunction it the ship’s sleeping chambers. It’s got the right pieces, so be sure to keep an eye on it.