Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Must-See Films of 2016

I’ve become much more persnickety of late in choosing my must-see movies. Whether due to the too high price of a movie ticket, my middle-aged cynicism and lack of patience with the same old regurgitated stories, or the fact that thanks to On Demand I can wait out the big movie companies like a pro, the number of “must-see” films (by which I mean I have to watch them as soon as they’re released) is miniscule compared to the days of yore when I was at my local movie theater every weekend.

Nowadays, it takes some true originality, great acting, and quality filmmaking to get me into a movie theater seat. A bit of nostalgia sometimes helps too. In 2015, the extent of my in-theater screenings was The Martian and Creed. Both of which I loved for widely different reasons. It’s a proven fact that fewer Americans are going to the movies. Granted, the fact that home-entertainment options are improving all the time is undoubtedly having an impact, with Netflix, video games and mobile apps readily available to everyone with a smartphone, but I do believe the caliber of movies is also partially to blame. In a clip I saw online of a 1979 Merv Griffin interview with Francis Ford Coppola, Coppola explained that movies have to have “quality and integrity because they have such a tremendous influence on the world and on people.” I don’t think that belief is held by most filmmakers today.

So while 2016 will have its fair share of sequels, including Ride Along 2 (January 15), Kung Fu Panda 3 (January 29), Zoolander 2 (February 12), My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (March 25), and The Purge 3 (July 1); there’ll be plenty of action blockbusters like Captain America: Civil War (May 6), X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27), Ghostbusters (July 15), and Suicide Squad (August 5); and even some animated hits like Finding Dory (June 17) or Ice Age: Collision Course (July 22) - the few films which I can’t wait to see had in fact previously captured my heart as books. The four films on my early must-see list for 2016 are as follows:

Me Before You (Release Date: March 4, 2016)
I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes back in 2014. As I stated then in my book review post, Moyes’ beautiful tale of love offered a “complex story on what it really means to love someone selflessly and unconditionally.” As with the book, the film focuses on a small-town girl, played by Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, who meets Will, played by Sam Caflin, a rich and successful young man who is struggling to come to terms with his handicap after an accident. While I’m usually the first to say that the movie is never as great as the book, I’m holding out hope that like the film version of The Fault in Our Stars, Me Before You will manage to once again prove me wrong.

A Monster Calls (Release Date: October 14, 2016)
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is actually a children’s book, which I read and loved, but for which I never wrote a review. Set in England, it focuses on Conor, a 13-year old boy who struggles to cope with the fact that his mother has terminal cancer (though it's never directly mentioned in the book) and he’s being bullied at school. Each night Conor is visited by a monster who tells stories intended to highlight certain truths to the young child.

While the full movie trailer hasn’t been released, I did find this very short teaser. The film will feature Liam Neeson as the monster, as well as the director of The Orphanage and, more importantly, one of the producers of Pan’s Labyrinth, so hopefully it will be as visually stunning as that unforgettable film. The book was emotionally gripping, let’s hope the movie is too. I’m sure I’ll need a hanky or two for this one.

The Light Between Oceans (Release Date: Unknown)
OMG, I absolutely loved this heartbreaking, hauntingly beautiful and bittersweet book. As I said in my book review post, “This book is this close to perfect. I guess the best way for me to describe it is to say it was as breathtakingly beautiful as the most delicate and perfect of roses, yet like a rose, it had quite a few thorns.”

The tale focuses on a lighthouse keeper, Tom Sherbourne, and his wife Isabel living off the coast of Western Australia, who keep a baby girl who washes up in a lifeboat. The movie will feature Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as Tom and Isabel, and the talented Rachel Weisz as Hannah. If the early buzz from some online articles is to be believed then the film is "one of the most powerful and emotional dramas" due to be released this year. I better start stocking up on Kleenex.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Release Date: December 25, 2016)
I thoroughly enjoyed this fantasy filled adventure tale. I read it and blogged about it back in 2011 and knew even then that it was headed to the big screen. In the story, 16-year old Jacob Portman uses clues from his grandfather to reach a mysterious island with an abandoned orphanage, where he helps and protects a group of peculiar children from horrible creatures who are out to destroy them. The movie will feature a star-filled cast, including Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, Asa Butterfield as Jacob, Ella Purnell, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Terence Stamp, Kim Dickens, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson.

If you’re interested in a comprehensive list of all movies due for release in 2016, check out's 2016 Schedule.

Catch you at the movies.