The 2016 Film Release Calendar: Films Without Release Dates (A-L)

Every January, I preview all the films that are scheduled to come out for that year. I go through the existing release calendar, month by month, and guess how much or how little I’m going to like each of the films.

The major benefit is that it allows me, come the end of the year, to see which movies ended up surprising me for better or for worse, or which ones I had wildly disproportionate expectations for. It also gives me a chance to know what’s coming out and what to look forward to.

I also take all the films that are filming or in post and theoretically able to come out that year and preview those too, along with all the films from the previous year(s) that have yet to come out that I’ve been tracking. In all, I end up previewing more films than pretty much anyone else, I’ve been told.

Today we’re going over those films that do not yet have release dates.

478

Schwarzenegger plays a man whose wife and child die in a plane crash. The tragedy was caused by an air traffic controller’s screw-up. The air traffic controller is vilified for his mistake and placed into protective custody. Schwarzenegger’s character cannot let it go, and is determined to seek vengeance.

Director did that movie Blitz with Jason Statham, which I haven’t seen. Oh, and Nightingale for HBO. The writer wrote Enemy.

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars along with an entire cast you’ve never heard of.

Ehh… not quite feeling that.

Revenge thriller — I’d like it better if he was the vilified air traffic controller who has to keep his shit together after a tragic mistake.

I’m gonna go against my immediate instinct and say 3 stars. Maybe the dramatic Schwarzenegger can get this just over the 3 threshold, like Maggie, which was otherwise boring.

All I See Is You

A blind woman’s relationship with her husband changes when she regains her sight and discovers disturbing details about themselves.

Marc Forster is directing. It’s hard to get a read on him. Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland were very good. Haven’t seen Stay or The Kite Runner. Stranger Than Fiction was good. Quantum is a Bond movie, so that’s its own thing. Machine Gun Preacher I haven’t seen, and World War Z was… also a unique situation.

Blake Lively and Jason Clarke star.

I heard horror stories about World War Z and Pitt getting Forster thrown out of the edit while they went in for reshoots and completely overhauling the whole thing. That, coupled with three years between jobs for him and this seeming like a lower budget thriller is not the most promising sign.

But, it’s Forster, and based on his track record, I have to say 3 stars. How can this not be at least watchable?

Alone in Berlin

Berlin, 1940. Working class couple Otto and Anna Quangel receive the news that their only son has lost his life in the battlefield and decide to resist the Nazi regime in their very own way. Soon the Gestapo is hunting “the threat.”

I like the premise.

The director made two movies I’ve never heard of.

Emma Thompson, Brendan Gleeson and Daniel Bruhl star.

I want to go higher, but based on the lack of a track record I can point to and the potential for failure… 3 stars.

American Honey

A teenage girl with nothing to lose joins a traveling magazine sales crew, and gets caught up in a whirlwind of hard partying, law bending and young love as she criss-crosses the Midwest with a band of misfits.

This is by the director of Fish Tank, which people really liked. Shia LaBeouf stars with Riley Keogh.

Let’s call it 3 stars. Not sure what I’m getting out of this.

American Pastoral

Set in postwar America, a man watches his seemingly perfect life fall apart as his daughter’s new political affiliation threatens to destroy their family.

Based on the Philip Roth novel. Ewan McGregory stars and directs. Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning also star. He’s actually got a nice cast. Uzo Aduba, Rupert Evans, Molly Parker, David Strathairn, Peter Riegert.

McGregor’s never directed before, and movies like this have a high tendency of not turning out that great. So I’m sticking with 3 stars and hoping the film can stand out.

Amnesia

Ibiza, the early nineties, Jo is a twenty-five-year-old music composer. He has come over from Berlin and wants to be part of the nascent electronic music revolution, ideally by getting a job first as a DJ in the new nightclub on the island, Amnesia. Martha has been living alone in her house facing the sea for forty years. One night Jo knocks on her door. Her solitude intrigues him. They become friends even as the mysteries around her accumulate: that cello in the corner she refuses to play, the German language she refuses to speak… As Jo draws her into his world of techno music, Martha puts everything she had previously lived by into question.

This is a Barbet Schroeder movie, making it part of my Directors List, which means I have to see it. I accidentally watched some generic thriller called Amnesiac last year, thinking it was this movie.

2.5 stars.

It doesn’t sound very good. But I’m going to see it.

Animal Crackers

A family must use a magical box of Animal Crackers to save a rundown circus from being taken over by their evil uncle Horatio P. Huntington.

Well, one of the directors did Mulan. So there’s that.

Sylvester Stallone, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Ian McKellen, Danny DeVito, Patrick Warburton, Tara Strong, Wallace Shawn, Raven-Symone, Harvey Fierstein, Gilbert Gottfried — they have a cast. But not a U.S. distributor.

2.5 stars.

Arrivals

An American hypochondriac who is working as a baggage handler at the Cape Town airport is forced to confront his fears when a British teenager with a terminal illness enlists him to help her carry out her eccentric bucket list.

Directors done nothing I’ve seen, but from the looks of it, none of it is promising.

Asa Butterfield, Nina Dobrev and Maisie Williams star. And it hasn’t shot yet. So no guarantee it even comes out or gets made.

But the premise is okay. So… 3 stars.

The Bad Batch

A dystopian love story in a Texas wasteland and set in a community of cannibals.

This is the follow up film by the director of A Girl Walked Home Alone at Night.

And it’s about cannibals.

Oh, and it stars Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves.

Along with Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Momoa and Diego Luna.

Based on her previous film, and the fact that its about cannibals — 3.5 stars. I’m excited for this.

Band of Robbers

Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are grown men, still searching for the hidden treasure that has eluded them since childhood.

This came out last week, but I didn’t track it for January, so I’m putting it here because I will see it over the next week or two.

Adam + Aaron Need wrote and directed. Adam stars with Kyle Gallner. Hannibal Buress, Melissa Benoist and Stephen Lang are also in it.

I wasn’t interested the first time I heard about it, but now I think it could be okay.

3 stars.

Bastille Day

A young artist and former CIA agent embark on an anti-terrorist mission in France.

Stars Idris Elba, the male lead of Cinderella, Charlotte Le Bon, Kelly Reilly, and directed by the guy who did The Woman in Black.

Like the cast. Sounds generic.

2.5 stars.

Before I Fall

A high school student finds herself caught living what could be her last day on Earth over and over, until she gets things right.

So high school Groundhog Day?

Director made Nobody Walks, which I heard of but never saw.

Starring Zoey Deutch, and other twenty-somethings I’ve never heard of. Jennifer Beal is in it too.

2.5 stars.

Can’t get on board with a premise I’ve seen before in a classic movie. It has to prove itself.

Being Charlie

Charlie is a troublesome 18-year-old who breaks out of a youth drug treatment clinic, but when he returns home to Los Angeles, he’s given an intervention by his parents and forced to go to an adult rehab. There, he meets a beautiful but troubled girl, Eva, and is forced to battle with drugs, elusive love and divided parents.

This is a Rob Reiner movie that went to Toronto but hasn’t been released yet. He’s on the Directors List, so I’m going to see it regardless.

It sounds like it could be okay. I know he hasn’t been that solid in the past… oh, twenty years, but I did like Flipped. And The Bucket List was okay.

He’s a capable director, and I think I can get 3 stars out of this.

Billionaire Boys Club

A group of wealthy boys in Los Angeles during the early 1980s establish a get rich quick scam that turns deadly.

One of the writers is named Captain Mauzner. I just needed to point that out.

He also wrote Factory Girl. Which was… not great.

Director made Wonderland back in the day. Also made Straight A’s. Which I saw! Even though no one else did.

Taron Egerton, Emma Roberts, Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Carrie Fisher’s daughter, Bokeem Woodbine, Judd Nelson, Jeremy Irvine,

Birth of the Dragon

Young, up-and-coming martial artist, Bruce Lee, challenges legendary kung fu master Wong Jack Man to a no-holds-barred fight in Northern California.

Normally I’d skip this, because it sounds like one of those movies that would never be good or come out, but George Nolfi is directing. He’s only directed one movie before, and it was The Adjustment Bureau, which I loved. He also wrote Ocean’s Twelve and Bourne Ultimatum. So on that alone, I’ll see this.

3 stars.

No idea of the quality, but he’s earned my seeing this.

The Birth of a Nation

Nat Turner, a former slave in America, leads a liberation movement in 1831 to free African-Americans in Virginia that results in a violent retaliation from whites.

No, this is not based on the D.W. Griffith movie.

Nate Parker writes, directs, stars and produces. Which is usually a very bad sign. But I appreciate that he fought to get this made. (Tough sadly this is giving me flashes of Chris Rocks’ Haitian slave uprising movie in Top Five.)

I hope this is great.

Can’t guess higher than 3 stars because Parker is an unproven entity to me.

The Bleeder

A drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner.

The real Chuck Wepner looks exactly like Gene Hackman. But that can’t happen. So I guess Liev Schreiber is okay. And Naomi Watts is in it too. And Ron Perlman, Elisabeth Moss, Jim Gaffigan — solid cast.

The director made Monsieur Lazhar, which was a Foreign Language nominee, and The Good Lie, which was fine.

Okay. I like boxing movies.

3.5 stars.

Hard to think a boxing movie won’t go below 3 at worst.

The Book of Henry

No idea what this is about. Colin Trevorrow is directing, his first movie post-Jurassic World. I like that he’s going back to indie, like Safety Not Guaranteed.

The writer is an author, who created a show called V.

Stars Jacob Tremblay, Naomi Watts, Lee Pace, Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris and Bobby Moynihan.

No idea what to make of this, but Trevorrow has proven he can make a solid movie, so 3.5 stars.

Born to Be Blue

Jazz legend Chet Baker searches for love and redemption when he is approached to star in a movie about his own troubled life in order to mount a comeback in the late 1960s.

The director has made nothing I’ve heard of before. Ethan Hawke stars. I like him, but he can get a tad pretentious sometimes.

But it’s a jazz movie. Those are usually good. So I’ll say 3 stars.

Brain on Fire

A look at a young woman’s rapid descent into insanity.

Based on an actual memoir. The director made two movies I’ve never heard of.

Stars Chloe Moretz, Carrie-Anne Moss, Richard Armitage, Tyler Perry, Jenny Slate and Thomas Mann,

Cast is really solid.

But Chloe Moretz has made a lot of indies in the past five years. Only one of them went above 3 stars for me. So it’s hard for me to assume anything other than 3 stars, even though this has all the elements to go higher. It’s safer for me to say 3 though.

Brimstone

From the moment the new reverend climbs the pulpit, Liz knows she and her family are in great danger.

It’s a western. That’s cool.

The director has only made foreign films before this.

Stars Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Kit Harrington and Carice van Houten.

The original cast was Mia Wasikowska and Robert Pattinson, and they both left at the same time. Which isn’t promising.

3 stars. If this is a western, it’ll have to be really boring to not get 3 stars out of me.

The Brits Are Coming

In an effort to avoid paying off a massive gambling debt to a notorious mobster in England, a couple flees to Los Angeles and hatch a jewel theft plot.

Flip the countries and this is a Sarah Jessica Parker/Katharine Heigl type movie. You know it is.

This stars Alice Eve, Sofia Vergara, Tim Roth, Uma Thurman, Maggie Q, Parker Posey, Crispin Glover and Stephen Fry.

Better than I thought. Still…

2.5 stars. That plot is just so “generic bad comedy” sounding.

Burn Your Maps

A family in emotional turmoil is taken by surprise in this quirky adventure where an eccentric 8-year-old American boy, Wes, has an existential epiphany – He believes that he is in fact a Mongolian goat herder.

Oh-kay.

Though the director made Around the Bend, which I liked, and 3,2,1… Frankie Go Boom, which I really liked.

It stars Jacob Tremblay, Vera Farmiga, Marton Csokas and Virginia Madsen.

Tough call. I like his previous movies, but do I go higher than 3? I think not.

3 stars.

Carrie Pilby

A person of high intelligence struggles to make sense of the world as it relates to morality, relationships, sex and leaving her apartment.

Stars Bel Powley, who has really come on as someone I want to see in things after the year she had.

3 stars. Sounds like an indie, but I’m interested to see Bel Powley.

Certain Women

The lives of three women intersect in small-town America, where each is imperfectly blazing a trail.

Kelly Reichardt. Which is really all I need to hear.

3 stars.

Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff and Night Moves — all 3 stars. Liked them all, but all 3 stars.

This one has Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, Laura Dern and Jared Harris. Here’s hoping for more than 3, but I’m gonna stick with the track record.

CHiPs

The adventures of two California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers as they make their rounds on the freeways of Los Angeles.

Dax Shepard wrote, directs and stars. His other movie was okay.

I’m sure this will be fine.

He stars with Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, Michael Pena, Vincent D’Onofrio, Rosa Salazar, Maya Rudolph, Ben Falcone and Jane Kaczmarek.

3 stars.

Hard for me to have raised expectations for this.

Christine

The story of 1970s TV reporter Christine Chubbuck.

Director is Antonio Campos, who did Simon Killer, which a lot of people seemed to like. Rebecca Hall stars. Sundance movie.

Hard to tell. Let’s stick with 3 stars and see if we can get more.

The Circle

A woman lands a job at a powerful tech company called the Circle, where she becomes involved with a mysterious man.

James Ponsoldt writes and directs. Based on a Dave Eggers novel.

Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Bill Paxton, Patton Oswalt and Ellar Coltrane star.

Between Smashed, Spectacular Now and End of the Tour, what reason do I have to think this will be anything less than 3.5 stars? Shit, two out of those three were four for me. So I could even make the case for that. It’s a thriller though, so I won’t go overboard. He hasn’t done this genre yet. Hope it’s great though.

The Coldest City

An undercover MI6 agent is sent to Berlin during the Cold War to investigate the murder of a fellow agent and recover a missing list of double agents.

Director was one of the John Wick team. The writer did both 300 movies.

Stars Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones and the chick with the knives from Kingsma.

3.5 stars. Has to be. Cold War, John Wick guy, that cast. John Goodman. Excited as shit for this.

Collateral Beauty

A tragic event sends a New York ad man on a downward spiral.

So this was originally going to be directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, who did Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and star Rooney Mara and Hugh Jackman. Now it’s being directed by David Frankel, who did Marley & Me, and stars Rachel McAdams and Will Smith. To me, that says everything that needs to be said.

Frankel made Devil Wears Prada, The Big Year and Hope Springs, which are all fine. Mostly the point I’m making that instead of a bold, interesting movie, we’re getting a bland, formulaic, “safe” movie.

Oh, also, the writer has also done Here Comes the Boom, Rock of Ages, Just Go With It, The Dilemma and The Switch. For those keeping score, those are three Unforgivable movies.

He has also written Wall Street 2, 21 and Things We Lost in the Fire. So we’re gonna be fair and balanced. It’s not all bad.

Also in this are Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, Michael Pena and Naomie Harris.

I’ll give the cast the benefit of the doubt and say 3.5 stars. But 3 stars seems really likely.

Oh, and it hasn’t shot yet, so there’s no guarantee this even comes out this year.

Colossal

A woman discovers that severe catastrophic events are somehow connected to the mental breakdown from which she’s suffering.

That’s a ague synopsis. A woman goes through a breakup and realizes her mental state is somehow connected to a Godzilla creature terrorizing Japan.

The director made a bunch of indie/sci fi thrillers, so nothing I can point to for this to be anything more than a good premise.

Anne Hathaway, Dan Stevens, Jason Sudeikis and Tim Blake Nelson star.

3 stars. Premise is good, but no guarantee the movie is actually good.

Comancheria

A divorced dad and his ex-con brother resort to a desperate scheme in order to save their family’s farm in West Texas.

The director made Starred Up. +

The writer wrote Sicario. ++

It stars Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster.

3.5 stars. I don’t think we need anything more than that, do we?

Complete Unknown

As a man contemplates moving to a new state with his wife for her graduate program, an old flame – a woman who often changes identities – reenters his life at a birthday dinner party.

The director did Maria Full of Grace, which was solid.

It stars Michael Shannon, Rachel Weisz, Danny Glover and Kathy Bates.

Interesting premise. I want to see how this movie plays, especially if it’s a drama and not a thriller.

It’s a Sundance movie, so my expectations are not too high.

3 stars.

Crash Pad

A hopeless romantic who thinks he’s found true love with an older woman, only to learn that she’s married and that his fling is merely an instrument of revenge against her neglectful husband.

The director is Alexander Payne’s editor.

It stars Domhnall Gleeson, Nina Dobrev, Christina Applegate and Tim Blake Nelson.

3 stars. Could be higher, but I need to see that it has the Alexander Payne type of humor and not… you know… American comedy humor.

Cruise

Set in the 1980s, a young Italian-American from the “wrong side of the tracks” falls for a Jewish girl from Long Island.

The synopsis sounded like a crappy indie. And the only person I’ve heard of in the cast is Emily Ratajkowski. So nothing overly promising.

But the writer and director is Robert D. Siegel. He wrote The Wrestler, and he directed Big Fan, which was great. He also wrote The Founder, the McDonalds movie, that’s coming out this year. On those alone, how can you not give this a shot?

3 stars.

Dad’s Army

The Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon deal with a visiting female journalist and a German spy as World War II draws to its conclusion.

Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy, Toby Jones, Tom Courtenay… Honestly, I don’t even have to hear any more. 3 stars. I’d be shocked if this was anything but.

The Death and Life of John F. Donovan

An American movie star finds his correspondence with an 11-year-old actor exposed, prompting assumptions that begin to destroy his life and career.

Xavier Dolan’s followup to Mommy. Hasn’t shot yet, though.

Jessica Chastain, Bella Thorne, Kit Harrington, Taylor Kitsch, Michael Gambon, Kathy Bates and Adele, of all people.

3 stars. No idea what to make of this, but I don’t think it’ll even come out, if they manage to shoot it.

Denial

A professor sets up a legal battle against an outspoken Holocaust denier.

Mick Jackson directs, which is how I found it. He’s part of my Directors List. He hasn’t made a theatrical movie in 13 years. Rachel Weisz, Timothy Spall and Tom Wilkinson star.

3 stars.

Detour

A young law student who, while grieving for his dying mother, struggles to decide whether he should kill his unfaithful step-father.

Writer-director who made what looks like VOD horror type movies. Stars Emory Cohen, Bel Powley and Tye Sheridan. So actors who broke out over the past year or two.

Sure.

2.5 stars.

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Henry is an introverted architect. After the death of his wife in a car accident, he sets out to help Millie, a homeless teen, to build a raft to sail across the Atlantic.

This went through a few casts over the years.

Director is a TV director doing his first feature. Also was second AD on a lot of stuff. So he knows what he’s doing. The writer did Natural Selection, which was good.

Stars Maisie Williams, Jessica Biel, Jason Sudeikis, Mary Steenburgen, Paul Reiser and Orlando Jones. Man, what happened to Orlando Jones?

I hope this is really good. The premise is solid. So fuck it, 3.5 stars.

Diablo

A young civil war veteran is forced on a desperate journey to save his kidnapped wife.

WESTERN.

This came out on VOD two weeks ago so I’m tracking it here.

Scott Eastwood, Walton Goggins, Camilla Belle, Danny Glover and Adam Beach star.

It’s VOD, but it’s a western, so I’ll see it, and I’ll be fine with it.

3 stars.

The Disaster Artist

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

James Franco stars and directs. Also in this are Alison Brie, Bryan Cranston, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Josh Hutcherson, Seth Rogen, Sharon Stone, Kate Upton, Judd Apatow, Zach Braff, Ari Graynor, Hannibal Buress, Jacki Weaver.

Shit ton of people.

It was written by Neustadter and Weber, which is very promising.

So fuck it. 3.5 stars. I hope Franco doesn’t let me down.

The Do-Over

Two down-on-their-luck guys decide to fake their own deaths and start over with new identities, only to find the people they’re pretending to be are in even deeper trouble.

Starring Adam Sandler.

2 stars.

I think we all know where this is headed.

Dog Eat Dog

Carved from a lifetime of experience that runs the gamut from incarceration to liberation, Dog Eat Dog is the story of three men who are all out of prison and now have the task of adapting themselves to civilian life. The California three strikes law looms over them, but what the hell, they’re going to do it, and they’re going to do it their way. Troy, an aloof mastermind, seeks an uncomplicated, clean life but cannot get away from his hatred for the system. Diesel is on the mob’s payroll and his interest in his suburban home and his nagging wife is waning. The loose cannon of the trio, Mad Dog, is possessed by true demons within, which lead him from one situation to the next. One more hit, one more jackpot, and they’ll all be satisfied. Troy constructs the perfect crime and they pull it off, but in the aftermath, they keep finding the law surrounding them wherever they go.

You may have overdid it on the synopsis.

Also “aloof mastermind.” If that’s not Keanu Reeves, then I don’t know what is.

Paul Schrader directs this, based on a novel by Edward Bunker.

Mad Dog is being played Willem Dafoe.

Oh, and Troy is being played by… wait for it… Nicolas Cage.

3 stars.

In.

Elvis & Nixon

The untold true story behind the meeting between the King of Rock ‘n Roll and President Nixon, resulting in this revealing, yet humorous moment immortalized in the most requested photograph in the National Archives.

Did you see the trailer for this? It looks amazing.

Michael Shannon as Elvis and Kevin Spacey as Nixon.

Tell me you’re not in on that alone.

Liza Johnson directs. Hateship Loveship was decent.

3.5 stars. On nothing else. Shit, I hope I get 4 out of this.

Emperor

Action epic about a young girl who seeks revenge on the holy roman Emperor Charles V for the death of her father. It happens in a world of wealth, debauchery, violent retaliations, sex, manipulation and treason… it’s the 16th century revisited.

Lee Tamahori directs. The man who brought us Die Another Day, Next, The Devil’s Double, and xXx: State of the Union.

Adrien Brody is the Emperor.

3 stars.

This will probably be like Last Knights. Fine enough, but low budget and who cares, really, in the end.

The First Girl I Loved

Seventeen-year-old Anne just fell in love with Sasha, the most popular girl at her LA public high school. But when Anne tells her best friend Clifton – who has always harbored a secret crush – he does his best to get in the way.

Sundance movie. They’re only starting to screen these, so I don’t know what I’m getting here. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl didn’t sound like much this time last year. Or this could be a typical high school indie movie. No way of knowing this early.

3 stars.

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

Cambodian author and human rights activist Loung Ung recounts the horrors she suffered under the rule of the deadly Khmer Rouge.

Angelina Jolie’s next movie. She’s been prolific. Her third movie in three years. So far nothing outstanding, and this looks to be back to the vaguely political stuff her first movie was about.

I have to say 3 stars until she proves she can make a really good movie. Unbroken should have been better than it was (though I liked it) and By the Sea was… well, yeah.

The Force

A couple is confronted by the fear that settling down and getting married means their carefree days as city-dwelling young adults coming to an abrupt and depressing end. Both are tempted by the allure of another life before ultimately realizing why they fell in love in the first place.

This sounds like a Sundance movie.

Stars Olivia Thirlby, Ben Feldman, Analeigh Tipton, Lesley Ann Warren, Adam Goldberg and Peter Bogdanovich. New York indie movie.

3 stars. This sounds like one of those movies that is a weird mix of drama, comedy and romance, but not quite anything in particular.

The Foreigner

The IRA took his family. The police looked the other way. Now he must get revenge.

Generic action movie.

Martin Campbell is directing, so it’s part of my Directors List.

Pierce Brosnan, Jackie Chan star. Along with an actress named Charlie Murphy. Which is confusing as shit for me.

It’s either gonna be 2.5 or 3. Let’s be optimistic.

3 stars.

Freak Show

Follows the story of teenager Billy Bloom who, despite attending an ultra conservative high school makes the decision to run for homecoming queen.

Transgender movie.

Abigail Breslin, AnnaSophia Robb, Bette Midler, Laverne Cox.

Guessing this will not be great and be dumped on VOD.

2.5 stars.

Free Fire

Set in Boston in 1978, a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two gangs turns into a shootout and a game of survival.

Ben Wheatley wrote and directed. A Field in England was good. High-Rise looks good. That’s coming out soon.

Stars Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Jack Reynor, Sam Riley, Sharlto Copley, Noah Taylor.

3.5 stars. Has a lot of elements that make me think it’ll be good.

Gifted

A man tries to raise the brilliant young daughter of his dead sister, but battles his mother over custody.

The writer hasn’t written anything since the 90s, which is exactly what this plot sounds like.

Marc Webb directs. He did (500) Days of Summer and the two recent Spider-Man movies.

Stars Chris Evans, Jenny Slate, Octavia Spencer.

I feel like I should guess 3.5 stars in the hopes that this is good. It’s gonna come down to the writing. I can’t think it’s not at least 3 with Webb directing, so let’s hope for the best case.

Going Under

An L.A. detective seeks out the ruthless gang that stole his dog.

Written by the Cullen brothers, who wrote Cop Out, and it’s also starring Bruce Willis. So this sounds exactly like a redo of Cop Out.

Also in it are Jason Momoa, Famke Janssen, John Goodman, Adam Goldberg and Kal Penn.

Bruce Willis and John Goodman, and a not-serious take on this kind of movie — I can’t not go 3 stars.

Gold

An unlikely pair venture to the Indonesian jungle in search of gold.

Stephen Gaghan wrote and directs. He wrote Traffic and wrote and directed Syriana. Not a bad starting point for a career. Hasn’t directed since Syriana.

It stars Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirz, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rachael Taylor, Corel Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Bruce Greenwood and Stacy Keach.

Based on Gaghan’s track record, this is at least 3.5 stars. But fuck it, I’m going 4 stars.

Good Kids

Four high school students look to redefine themselves after graduation.

Same writer-director, hasn’t done anything before. Reads like a first-time kind of movie.

Stars Zoey Deutch, Demian Bichir, Ashley Judd, Julia Garner, Nicholas Braun.

I can’t go anywhere other than 3 stars here. I also feel like I’ve seen this movie around for a while. There’s a chance this is one of those that’s stuck on a shelf and will never come out. Though maybe I’m wrong. We’ll see.

Goon: Last of the Enforcers

Can’t believe this got a sequel.

The first one was solid.

3 stars. Don’t even need to look at anything. 3.5 would be nice, but there’s no way this drops below 3.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

12-year-old wisecracking Gilly Hopkins finds herself shuffled from foster home to foster home until she meets Maime Trotter.

Kids movie. Stephen Herek directs. He did Mr. Hollands Opus, Bill and Ted and The Mighty Ducks back in the day. So he’s got that on his resume. Nothing great since.

Stars Julia Styiles, Kathy Bates, Glenn Glose, Octavia Spencer, and the girl from The Book Thief.

2.5 stars.

I only have this here because there’s a chance he’ll end up on the Directors List fairly soon.

The Great Wall

A mystery centered around the construction of the Great Wall of China.

Oh this movie! Zhang Yimou directs, so technically its part of the Directors List.

They dropped over $100 million into this movie and it’s supposed to be a giant mess that will never make its money back.

I’m sure it’ll be fine, but still.

Matt Damon and Willem Dafoe are in this. Probably not a whole lot, but they’re in it.

3 stars. No way of knowing what I’m getting with this.

Hacksaw Ridge

WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Mel Gibson directs again!

And based on that alone — 4 stars.

Braveheart, great. Passion of the Christ, great. Apocalypto, Great. No reason to think this won’t be at the very least, very good.

Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn and Teresa Palmer star.

Say what you will about Mel and his off-screen stuff — the man has a great track record on the screen. He has really good taste.

The Headhunter’s Calling

A headhunter whose life revolves around closing deals in a a survival-of-the-fittest boiler room, battles his top rival for control of their job placement company — his dream of owning the company clashing with the needs of his family.

Starring Gerard Butler, whose forays into drama do not end well.

First time director, who has produced a bunch of forgettable indie movies.

It also has Alison Brie, Gretchen Mol, Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina in it.

I wanted to say 2.5 stars, but with that cast, there has to be something worthwhile here. So 3 stars.

The writer wrote The Accountant and The Judge. He sure does like professions, doesn’t he?

HHHH

1942: The Third Reich is at its peak. The Czech resistance in London decides to plan the most ambitious military operation of WWII: Anthropoid. Two young recruits in their late twenties, Jozef Gabcik and Jan Kubis, are sent to Prague to assassinate the most ruthless Nazi leader – Reich-protector Reinhard Heydrich, Head of the SS, the Gestapo, and the architect of the “Final Solution”.

The Final Solution is what you have during the German Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

The movie stars Jack Reynor, Jack O’Connell, Rosamund Pike, Mia Wasikowska and Jason Calrke. Which, christ, that’s solid.

The director made The Connection, which was a hot indie movie last year that never really came out. Which reminds me that I wanted to see it. (Which — 3.5 stars on that. I’ll see that too. But I don’t want to go back and write up a full entry. The number is all that matters.)

Anyway, based on that and the cast — 3.5 stars. Have to imagine this will be solid based on all the people who wanted to be in it.

Hot Summer Nights

A boy comes of age during a summer he spends in Cape Cod.

I read this script. It’s really good. It’s a 4 star script. The writer is also directing it. Which doesn’t mean anything except that he’ll be true to his story. Though a 4 star script being turned into an independent feature means it’ll only end up being a 3.5 star movie. I’d like to get 4, but there’s always a drop off.

Maika Monroe is starring as the female lead. And she has good taste (It Follows, The Guest), if those of you who have no idea what this is need something other than my word that the script is very good.

The idea is — a kid is there on Cape Cod, and he befriends this older, more rebellious kid. You know, he’s the nice, straight-A student and the other guy is the skipping school, drinking beer in his car with the top down, fuck everyone kind of kid. And you think they’re not gonna be friends, but they actually do end up being friends. And the kid comes out of his shell around this other kid. And he also has the hots for the kid’s sister, who is strictly off limits. Like, even look at her and I will stab you off limits. And then our kid gets into drug dealing with the other guy, selling pot, and he’s also starting a relationship with the sister quietly — and of course the whole thing spirals crazily out of control…. it’s really good. At the very least, this writer’s got a future.

Oh, and by the way — the male lead is the kid from Brooklyn, Emory Cohen. And Thomas Jane is in it too. I’m guessing as the drug dealer.

I’m thinking if this comes out, it’ll be one of the hidden gems of the year. Very excited for this.

This is one of those movies that I simultaneously want you to know about and remember, because I’m calling right now that it’s gonna be good, but at the same time I want you to forget about it so I can pull this out of my hat and be like “Oh, y’all don’t know about this movie.” But I have a lot of those at any given time. Trust me on this one. This is gonna be a good movie.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

An alien touring the galaxy breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants of the most dangerous place in the universe: the London suburb of Croydon.

It’s based on a Neil Gaiman short story and is being directed by the guy who did Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus and Rabbit Hole.

I’m in. How could I not be?

I don’t even care about the cast. 3.5 stars on what I know so far alone. 3 is the basement on this one. I’ll take a half-star wrong if that’s the case.

Hunt for the Wilderpeeple

A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush.

This is by the director of What We Do in the Shadows, which was funny.

It’s playing at Sundance now.

3.5 stars.

Should go three, but fuck it, I’m on a roll.

I Am Wrath

A man is out for justice after a group of corrupt police officers are unable to catch his wife’s killer.

It’s another John Travolta genre movie!

He loves these. And they’re almost always 3 stars.

What’s interesting about this one is that it’s being directed by Chuck Russell, who did Nightmare on Elm Street 3, The Blob, The Mask, Eraser and The Scorpion King. And now he has like four movies in pre-production, after not directing anything in thirteen years. Crazy.

Imperium

An FBI agent goes under cover to disrupt a local terrorist group’s effort to make a dirty bomb. Based on a true story.

Uh, okay. Sounds easy. Local terrorist group, dirty bomb. I mean, shit, that doesn’t get much bigger than Good Will Hunting but with bombs instead of therapists. Though I guess the real question is whether or not we’re gonna like them apples.

First time director. A lot of these. I guess it’s easier to trust first time directors now with these genre VOD type movies.

Daniel Radcliffe stars with Toni Collette. And some other vaguely familiar faces.

No idea what I’m getting here, but I’m feeling 2.5 stars.

Indignation

In 1951, Marcus (Lerman), a working-class Jewish student from New Jersey, attends a small Ohio college, where he struggles with anti-Semitism, sexual repression, and the ongoing Korean War. Based on Philip Roth’s 2008 novel “Indignation”.

This is at Sundance. James Schamus wrote and directed. It’s his first feature. He’s produced a bunch. You’ve seen his name on all of Ang Lee’s stuff.

This is the second Philip Roth adaptation on the list.

Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon star.

This feels like a 3 star guess. There’s really nothing here that jumps out at me to make me think anything higher.

In Dubious Battle

An activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s.

James Franco directs. I’ve made the mistake of tracking one of these before.

I don’t like dealing with these Franco movies because they never come out and no one sees them and they all sound pretentious as shit.

Put it this way — since 2011… so in five years now, do you know how many films James Franco has directed? 14. 14 movies. You know how many of those you’ve seen? I’m guessing zero.

The Broken Tower, Sal, Interior Leather Bar, As I Lay Dying, Bukowski, Child of God, The Sound and the Fury, I Think You’re Totally Wrong, Tenn, Zeroville, The Disaster Artist, this, Black Dog Red Dog and The Long Home.

I tracked Zeroville and The Disaster Artist, and I’m wondering if even want to bother with this.

This one at least has a cast. Robert Duvall, Selena Gomez, Bryan Cranston, Analeigh Tipton, Josh Hutcherson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ashley Greene, Nat Wolff, Ed Harris, Zach Braff. So there’s that.

3 stars. It’s Steinbeck. How badly can he fuck it up?

The Intervention

A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage.

Sundance movie. Written and directed by Clea DuVall.

Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, Natasha Lyonne, Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter, Ben Schwartz and Vincent Piazza star. Solid.

3 stars. It’s an indie, so I can’t assume too high. But I want to see this more than I did a second ago, so that’s promising.

It’s Only the End of the World

Louis,, a terminally ill writer, returns home after a long absence to tell his family that he is dying.

Directed by the guy who did Mommy. Marion Cotillard, Lea Seydoux, Vincent Cassel, Gaspard Ulliel and Nathalie Baye star.

Solid cast.

I might regret this, but 3.5 stars. Marion Cotillard has good taste.

John Wick 2

I mean, yeah.

3.5 stars, sight unseen. It’s filming, so it counts. Don’t even care who is or isn’t in this, I’m in. It’s John Wick. I can hope it’s almost as good as the first one and be happy.

Joshy

Josh treats what would have been his bachelor party as an opportunity to reconnect with his friends.

This is by the guy who did Life After Beth and co-wrote I Heart Huckabees.

Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Lauren Graham, Aubrey Plaza, Joe Swanberg — I get the point.

3 stars. These rarely rise above 3 stars, and if they do, they don’t go much higher. Rooting for it, though.

Julieta

Julieta’s life in 2015 finds her on the verge of madness; 30 years earlier, we see a more prosperous time in her life.

It’s Pedro Almodovar’s next movie. He’s on my Directors List, so this becomes something I track. It benefits me all around to do this.

He can be hit or miss for me, so I’ll say 3 stars. I haven’t seen a whole lot of his movies, but based on the few I have seen, I don’t have a set opinion on his stuff, and likely need to rewatch the ones I have seen. So we’ll go standard and see what we get.

Keeping Up with the Joneses

A suburban couple becomes embroiled in an international espionage plot when they discover that their seemingly perfect new neighbors are government spies.

Greg Mottola directs. Between Superbad, Paul and Adventureland… that doesn’t help me at all. One 3, one 3/3.5, one 4.

The writer writes bland movies.

Stars Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot, Isla Fisher, Zach Galifianakis.

And rereading that synopsis, I think I know what I’m getting.

Remember that Ashton Kutcher/Katharine Heigl movie? It’s starting to sound a lot like that.

3 stars.

Katie Says Goodbye

A kindhearted seventeen-year-old in the American Southwest turns to prostitution to fulfill her dream of a new life in San Francisco.

First time writer and director. The man’s resume is clean.

It also stars Olivia Cooke from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. So I’m in on that alone.

3.5 stars. Maybe I’m overdoing it, but the synopsis intrigues me.

Kickboxer: Vengeance

A kick boxer is out to avenge his brother.

I wanted to skip this and ignore it completely, but the fact that Jean-Claude Van Damme is in this makes me intrigued to no end. Dave Bautista and Gina Carano star.

3 stars. Mostly I’m just interested. No expectations for it to be good at all. It’s more of an intellectual thing for me.

Lamb

When a man meets a young girl in a parking lot he attempts to help her avoid a bleak destiny by initiating her into the beauty of the outside world. The journey shakes them in ways neither expects.

This got released two weeks ago. Am previewing it here before I watch it.

It sounds weird, but it’s been getting good reviews. A man becomes friends with an eleven year old girl (or maybe she’s younger). But it’s non sexual. I have no idea what this is gonna be, but I’ll trust the positive reviews.

3 stars.

The Last Face

A director of an international aid agency in Africa meets a relief aid doctor amidst a political/social revolution, and together face tough choices surrounding humanitarianism and life through civil unrest.

Sean Penn directs. Into the Wild was great. The Pledge was great. I haven’t seen his first two movies.

Based on his last two, I wanna go 4 stars, but the political overtones of this make me drop that to 3.5 stars. I’m thinking this goes either 3 or 3.5. I’ll give Penn the benefit of the doubt as a director.

Plus he has Charlize Theron, Javier Bardem, Adele Exarchopoulos, Jean Reno and Jared Harris in it.

Late Bloomer

The story of an adult male who, after the successful removal of a benign tumor resting against his pituitary gland, experiences all the changes and effects of puberty over a three-week period.

Before you assume shitty comedy and Unforgivable — Kevin Pollak directed this. J.K. Simmons is the top listed cast member. I can hope he’s the main character, but I doubt he is.

3 stars.

I’ll give Kevin Pollak the benefit of the doubt here. Plus it’s based on a book. It’s not some shittily manufactured Adam Sandler movie.

The Layover

Two friends decide to go on a road trip together.

That might be the vaguest, most generic logline I’ve ever seen. … and?

William H. Macy directs. So based on that alone, 3 stars. His last movie was 2.5, but this one is a road trip and not music/suicide related. So I’m thinking it’ll get to 3.

LBJ

The story of U.S. President Lyndon Baines Johnson from his young days in West Texas to the White House.

I’ve seen the writer before. Rob Reiner is directing. Woody Harrelson is LBJ, Jennifer Jason Leigh is Lady Bird, Jeffrey Donovan is JFK, and also in it are Bill Pullman, C. Thomas Howell and Richard Jenkins.

This might be a return to form for Reiner.

3.5 stars.

Leavey

Marine corporal Megan Leavy was a K-9 operator in Iraq. She and her K-9 were involved in an explosion. It is their story of grit and determination and the love between handler and a Military Working Dog.

Starring Kate Mara, Edie Falco, Tom Felton, Common, Bradley Whitford, Will Patton.

Why does this movie have a real cast when it sounds like the kind of movie that would be put out by those overly religious companies?

It’s being directed by the Blackfish director. The writer did Music of the Heart and Conviction. Which… how much more of a blueprint does one need?

3 stars.

This movie has generic, overly sappy, complete non-Oscar bait written all over it.

Little Men

About a new pair of best friends whose bond is tested by their parents’ battle over a dress shop lease.

Directed by the guy who did Love Is Strange. So based on that, New York indie, 3 stars.

Lolo

Violette, a 40-year old workaholic with a career in the fashion industry falls for a provincial computer geek, Jean-Rene, while on a spa retreat with her best friend.

Julie Delpy wrote and directed. So 3 stars. I like her stuff, but a lot of it can teeter toward the pretentious.

The Lost City of Z

In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned.

James Gray is directing? Interesting choice.

Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Robert Pattinson.

I mean… 3.5 stars. Kinda hoping for four. Sounds awesome.

Louder Than Bombs

The fractious family of a father and his two sons confront their different feelings and memories of their deceased wife and mother, a famed war photographer.

Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Ryan, David Strathairn, Gabriel Byrne. That’s a solid cast.

Uhh… 3 stars? No idea.

Love & Friendship

Set in the 1790s, Love and Friendship centers on beautiful widow Lady Susan Vernon, who has come to the estate of her in-laws to wait out colorful rumors about her dalliances circulating through polite society. Whilst there, she decides to secure a husband for herself and her rather reluctant debutante daughter, Frederica.

This is Whit Stillman, reuniting the cast of The Last Days of Disco. Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. It’s a movie I haven’t seen, nor have I seen anything else he’s done. So I have no earthly idea what to make of this.

Let’s go 3 stars and wait and see, I guess.

Lovesong

The relationship between two friends deepens during an impromptu road trip.

Sundance movie. Stars Jena Malone and Riley Keough.

3.5 stars.

Sounds like it could be sneaky good.

Loving

Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols. That’s all I needed.

4 stars.

Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll.

Nichols hasn’t made a movie less than 3.5 stars for me yet. (Admittedly I haven’t yet seen his first film.) No reason to think this won’t be very good.

Loving Vincent

This is an animated movie about Vincent Van Gogh. The key being that every single frame of this movie is a painting.

I am so in you wouldn’t believe.

4 stars.

The Lure

This literally made it onto the list yesterday

It’s at Sundance, and all I heard was that it’s a foreign musical about mermaids who start a band.

Not even gonna overthink it — I’m in.

Don’t need anything else, just let’s see what this is.

3.5 stars.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow we finish going over the films without release dates.

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6 responses

  1. This post is genuinely super helpful and insightful. It’s just like having a conversation with a friend, discussing the ups and downs of each film coming. Thank for writing it!
    Personally i’d like these posts a little smaller but thats a minor personal issue

    January 24, 2016 at 2:51 pm

  2. lbruce09

    Reblogged this on OUT OF ME HEAD.

    January 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm

  3. I saw Lamb. (I was one of three people in the theater. The other two walked out.) It’s got a few indie pitfalls, namely some iffy writing and a blah supporting cast, but the two leads (and she is 11) and their dynamic are really fucking engaging. Knowing you, I think you’ll go 3 stars, maybe 3.5 if you really respond to the central dynamic. But I dug it.

    January 24, 2016 at 3:13 pm

  4. Man, Jacob Tremblay is in a dozen movies this year. Everybody saw his work in Room and went like ‘Quick! Put him in movies before he hits puberty!’

    January 24, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    • Wait until tomorrow. Emory Cohen actually is in about half a dozen movies this year.

      January 24, 2016 at 10:17 pm

  5. Pingback: 2016 Rising, Actus Secundus: Most Anticipated Films | If you want the gravy...

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