The 2016 Film Release Calendar: Films Without Release Dates (M-Z)
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.
Manchester by the Sea
An uncle is forced to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.
Kenneth Lonergan film. You Can Count on Me was solid and Margaret was really good.
Stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Gretchen Mol, Kyle Chandler, Tate Donovan, Kara Hayward.
Don’t wanna get my hopes too high for this.
Amazon just closed a deal for this yesterday, so this will come out this year. This won’t be another Margaret scenario.
An untraceable group of elite bank robbers is chased by a suicidal FBI Agent who uncovers a deeper purpose behind the robbery-homicides.
Bruce Willis paycheck movie.
Hope it can be 3, but my expectations are not raised.
A look into the world of competitive mascots.
Christopher Guestmovie. ’nuff said.
3.5 stars. I’m in.
Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, Bob Balaban, John Michael Higgins, Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr., Harry Shearer — the usual suspects.
An ambitious lobbyist faces off against the powerful gun lobby in an attempt to pass gun control legislation.
Stars Jessica Chastain. Directed by John Madden.
Also stars Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark Strong, Alison Pill.
Might we have another Chastain nomination here? They haven’t shot it yet, so no guarantee it even comes out this year.
When an ambitious young lawyer takes on a big case against a powerful and ruthless executive of a large pharmaceutical company, he soon finds himself involved in a case of blackmail and corruption.
Sounds like a 90s thriller, doesn’t it?
Stars Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Malin Akerman, Josh Duhamel, Alice Eve, Julia Stiles.
This IS a 90s thriller!
3 stars. How can this not be a straight 3 star movie?
After failing to locate the legendary Stanley Kubrick, an unstable CIA agent must instead team up with a seedy rock band manager to develop the biggest con of all time-staging the moon landing.
Saw a trailer for this and was able to get it, so I’ll see this really soon.
Seems fun, but not great overall
Morgan is about a corporate risk-management consultant who has to decide and determine whether or not to terminate an artificial being’s life that was made in a laboratory environment.
Stars Kate Mara, Paul Giamatti, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Chris Sullivan, Rose Leslie.
Sounds like Splice.
3 stars. Hope this isn’t generic.
Morris from America
The romantic and coming-of-age misadventures of a 13-year-old American living in Germany.
Sundance movie. Call it 3 stars.
Interwoven stories of what it is to be a mom seen through the lens of photographer Rigby Gray.
Not the Garry Marshall movie.
First time feature directors. Stars Christina Ricci, Mira Sorvino, Courtney Cox, Sharon Stone, Selma Blair, Susan Sarandon.
Seems like a B movie version of the Garry Marshall movie.
“Mr. Church” tells the story of a unique friendship that develops when a little girl and her dying mother retain the services of a talented cook – Henry Joseph Church. What begins as a six month arrangement instead spans fifteen years, and creates a family bond that lasts forever.
It’s Driving Miss Daisy meets The Butler.
Directed by the Driving Miss Daisy director.
Stars Eddie Murphy, Britt Robertson, Lucy Fry, Natascha McElhone, Xavier Samuel.
Do I go 3, thinking it’s failed Oscar bait, or 3.5, because it could be good?
I’m thinking 3 stars.
Eddie Murphy doesn’t usually do drama, but he also doesn’t usually pick good things, if the past decade is any indication. Let’s let this surprise. I’d rather not be let down with this.
A beautiful road movie, and a chance to talk about love for Mexico through the eyes of an American.
It’s about a guy who goes on a road trip with a pig. Starring Danny Glover.
Directed by Diego Luna.
It’s Danny Glover and a pig. (Or as women call it — Lethal Weapon. Zing!) I’ll see this.
The Neon Demon
When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s new movie. His first since Only God Forgives.
I liked Only God Forgives, because it was basically him saying “fuck you” to the people who liked Drive too much. (Either that or he bought in too much into the bullshit. Or both.)
Stars Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves.
3.5 stars. Sure. I’m usually willing to give the half point for style over substance.
A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth of dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”
Directors did Catfish. It’s a thriller. No idea if this will be shitty or not, but the premise is vaguely intriguing.
Stars Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Juliette Lewis.
Based on Austin Wright’s book ‘Tony and Susan’.
Tom Ford’s new movie. Follow up to A Single Man.
Stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Armie Hammer, Michael Shannon, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Isla Fisher.
Cast is solid. A Single Man was good. Let’s say he grows.
A teenager takes on his own investigation of a murder in Washington D.C.
Okay, okay. I can go with this.
The director did Hitchcock, and wrote Henry’s Crime and The Terminal. The other writer wrote Locke. That’s solid.
Stars Chloe Moretz, Ansel Elgort, Catherine Keener, David Strathairn.
Gonna say 3 stars, but I want to go 3.5. I’m worried it’s gonna be more about high school. You know, voiceover, that kind of shit. I don’t want to get my hopes up for nothing, despite the writers making this seem like an easy 3.5 stars.
You know what? Fuck it. 3.5 stars.
One More Time
A New York City crooner plots his comeback.
Starring Christopher Walken.
So, so in.
Also has Amber Heard, Kelli Garner, Hamish Linklater and Oliver Platt in it.
3.5 stars. Maybe it’ll be 3. But Walken!
This is his Danny Collins.
The Other Half
A bipolar woman and a grief-stricken man struggle to forge a simple life.
Stars Tatiana Maslany and Tom Cullen.
A struggling comedy writer, fresh off a breakup and in the midst of the worst year of his life, returns to Sacramento to care for his dying mother.
Sundance movie about a comedy writer. These are usually standard indies.
At least it’s not a New York author. Those are the worst.
Set in the present in Paterson, New Jersey, this is a tale about a bus driver and poet.
Jim Jarmusch movie. Stars Adam Driver and, I guess, Kara Hayward. Bit of an age difference there.
It’s Jarmusch, so 3.5 stars.
Revolves around a ghost story that takes place in the fashion underworld of Paris.
I hope it’s more of a drama/fantasy than a thriller.
Directed by Oliver Assayas, who did Clouds of Sils Maria, which was fine.
Stars Kristen Stewart.
Maybe it’s Suspiria. (Which is supposed to actually shoot this year!) That would be kinda cool.
Follows the journey of sisters who are believed to possess the supernatural ability to connect with ghosts. They cross paths with a visionary French producer while performing in Paris.
Stars Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Melody Depp.
No idea what to make of this.
Please Stand By
A young autistic woman runs away from her caregiver in an attempt to submit her manuscript to a writing competition.
This is by the director of The Sessions.
Stars Alice Eve, Dakota Fanning and Toni Collette.
All we know is that it’s a comedy starring Michael Shannon.
I found something that says it’s about a “man who gets swept up in a sighting of Bigfoot.”
So it’s not about the alternate It’s a Wonderful Life reality. That would also have been interesting.
Michael Shannon has good taste, so 3.5 stars. I want to see him in a comedy.
A crime boss tries to make off with loot that belongs to another thief.
Another Bruce Willis paycheck movie!
The guy wrote Heist. Which was fair.
2.5 stars. Let’s not get expectations up. I usually am okay with these, but I don’t always like them. They’re just easy to watch.
Set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire, The Promise follows a love triangle between Michael, a brilliant medical student, the beautiful and sophisticated Ana, and Chris – a renowned American journalist based in Paris.
Terry George movie. Stars Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac. And Charlotte Le Bon, Shohreh Aghdashloo, James Cromwell and Jean Reno.
Done. And it’s a period piece.
Queen of Katwe
A young girl from Uganda trains to become a world chess champion.
Lupita Nyong’o stars with David Oyelowo. Mira Nair directs.
Chess movies are usually good.
The Revised Fundamentals of Caring
A man suffering an incredible amount of loss enrolls in a class about care-giving that changes his perspective on life.
The writer-director produced Letterman for the longest time.
Stars Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez, Jennifer Ehle.
I like Rudd, but Gomez doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, based on her track record. Plus it’s a Sundance movie — let’s stick with 3.
A workaholic father who attempts to visit his daughter during a layover in LA, only to discover that she’s disappeared, is forced to team up with her awkward ex-boyfriend to find her over the course of one transformative night.
Sounds like a Sundance movie. Stars J.K. Simmons, Analeigh Tipton, Kristen Schaal, Emile Hirsch, Taran Killam, Hunter Parrish, Shannon Woodward.
Not sure what tone this is gonna take. So let’s call it 3 stars and see what we get.
Salt and Fire
A scientist blames the head of a large company to cause an ecological disaster in South America. But when a volcano begins to present eruption signs, they must unite to avoid a disaster, despite their ideological differences.
Set during the occupation of Iraq, a squad of U.S. soldiers try to protect a small village.
Stars Henry Cavill, Nicholas Hoult, Logan Marshall-Green.
3 stars. I like war movies, but I’m not a fan of Iraq war movies. So we’ll split the difference.
The Seagull centers on the romantic and artistic clashes between fading actress Irina Arkadina; fresh-faced ingénue Nina Zarechnaya; famous writer Boris Trigorin, Irina’s lover; and failing playwright Konstantin Treplyov, Irina’s son who is in love with Nina. All four come up against one another while visiting a country estate owned by Irina’s brother.
The director did A Home at the End of the World and Flicka.
Stars Saoirse Ronan, Corey Stoll, Elisabeth Moss, Annette Bening, Brian Dennehy.
Gotta trust the cast.
A newly released prison gangster is forced by the leaders of his gang to orchestrate a major crime with a brutal rival gang on the streets of Southern California.
Directed by the guy who did Felon and Snitch. Stars Emory Cohen, Jon Bernthal, Lake Bell, Jeffrey Donovan, Benjamin Bratt and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
3 stars. Based on Snitch, this feels like an easy 3.
A boy growing up in Dublin during the 1980s escapes his strained family life by starting a band and moving to London.
John Carney wrote and directed. He likes music, doesn’t he?
Once was great, I liked Begin Again even though it was trying to redo the same thing.
This seems like more of the same. The only question is whether or not I’m tired of that same thing.
3.5 stars. I’ll say not yet. But we’ll see.
A cop with a connection to the criminal underworld scours a nightclub in search of his kidnapped son. Based on the 2011 French film “Nuit Blanche.”
stars Jamie Foxx, Dermot Mulroney and Michelle Monaghan.
It’s a thriller with solid actors. How can it be that bad?
A young street magician is left to take care of his little sister after his mother’s passing and turns to drug dealing in the Los Angeles party scene to keep a roof over their heads. When he gets into trouble with his supplier, his sister is kidnapped and he is forced to rely on both his sleight of hand and brilliant mind to save her.
This sounds awesome.
Sundance movie. So I should temper expectations. But fuck it.
Southside with You
Chronicles the summer 1989 afternoon when the future President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, wooed his future First Lady on an epic first date across Chicago’s South Side.
The director is 30.
I’m sure it’s gonna be all right, but the director is 30.
A radio journalist and his technician get in over their heads when they hatch a scheme to fake their own kidnapping during a rebel uprising in South America and hide out in New York instead.
Written and directed by Ricky Gervais. He stars in it too.
Also stars Vera Farmiga, America Ferrera, Kelly Macdonald, Eric Bana, Kevin Pollak and Benjamin Bratt.
3.5 stars. I trust Ricky.
Carter, a troubled veteran, gets a chance at redemption by protecting a 12 year-old girl from an assassin after she witnesses a murder. Holding a shotgun with a single shell, he engages in physical and psychological warfare in a desperate fight for the girl’s life.
Thomas Jane is the veteran and Laurence Fishburne is the assassin.
Sounds like my kind of B movie.
Story of Your Life
Taking place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat.
Denis Villeneuve. End of story.
Stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Forest Whitaker.
4 stars. How can I not assume 4 stars with Villeneuve?
A victim of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 helps the police track down the killers while struggling to recover from devastating trauma.
David Gordon Green directs. Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany star.
It hasn’t shot yet, but the same thing happened last year with a David Gordon Green film that hadn’t shot yet (Our Brand Is Crisis). So I won’t make that mistake twice.
Super Troopers 2
They’re finally making this. Is it too late? Probably not.
3.5 stars. I’m in. I hope it doesn’t suck.
Bring it in. Bring it on right meow.
Swiss Army Man
A man in the wilderness befriends an unlikely counterpart.
Sundance movie. I think I heard middling reviews.
Directed by the guys who made the “Turn Down for What” music video.
Stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe.
Seems weird. Not sure if that means I’ll love it or appreciate it. So we’ll say 3 stars.
A story told from the point of view of the collection of strangers grouped together at a wedding’s “singles table.”
Written by the Duplass brothers. Directed by the guy who did Rocket Science.
Stars Anna Kendrick, Lisa Kudrow, Stephen Merchant, Craig Robinson, Rony Revolori and June Squibb.
No reason to think less than 3 stars. Do I want to go 3.5? A little bit. But I think I’ll stick with 3.
Desperate to be rid of her toddler, a dissatisfied housewife hires a stranger to babysit and ends up getting much more than she bargained for.
Sundance film. First time director. She wrote episodes of Orange Is the New Black.
3 stars. Not sure what I’m getting here.
Their Finest Hour and a Half
A British film crew attempts to boost morale during World War II by making a propaganda film after the Blitzkrieg.
Directed by Lone Scherfig. I liked An Education, but didn’t like her two films after that. So maybe An Education was more about Nick Hornby.
Stars Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy and Jack Huston.
3 stars. Why not? The subject matter makes me think it’ll be okay.
Trespass Against Us
A man looks to find a way to escape the criminal ways of his outlaw family.
Starring Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson.
Fassbender has shown impeccable taste. No reason to think otherwise.
A murder investigation of a slain business man turns to clues found in an author’s book about an eerily similar crime. Based on 2008 New Yorker article by David Grann.
Starring Jim Carrey, whose forays into thriller territory (The Number 23) have not been positive.
The writer has previously written The Last King of Scotland, Brideshead Revisited, How I Live Now and A Little Chaos. This does not seem to fit those previous films.
3 stars. This doesn’t seem to be about a twist, and Carrey is playing the person investigating. So I’ll bite. Maybe it won’t be 2.5.
The True Memoirs of an International Assassin
After a publisher changes a writer’s debut novel about a deadly assassin from fiction to nonfiction, the author finds himself thrust into the world of his lead character, and must take on the role of his character for his own survival.
Starring Kevin James.
Written by the guy who wrote the Grumpy Cat Christmas movie and directed by the guy who did Kick-Ass 2.
Anyone think this is gonna be okay?
I won’t go Unforgivable, but expectations are not high.
A pair of cops investigating a drug invasion stumble upon a mysterious bank vault.
Starring Nicolas Cage.
Oh, and Jerry Lewis is in it. Which is pretty cool.
Two Lovers and a Bear
Set in a small town near the North Pole where roads lead to nowhere, the story follows Roman and Lucy, two burning souls who come together to make a leap for life and inner peace.
Stars Tatiana Maslany and Dane DeHaan. The director made War Witch, which was nominated for Foreign Language Film.
Una, based on David Harrower’s play Blackbird, follows a young woman’s journey to reclaim her past. Fifteen years earlier, Una ran away with an older man, Ray, a crime for which he was arrested and imprisoned. When she comes across a photo of him in a trade magazine, Una tracks him down and turns up at his workplace. Her abrupt arrival threatens to destroy Ray’s new life and derail her stability. Unspoken secrets and buried memories surface as Una and Ray sift through the wreckage of the past. Their confrontation raises unanswered questions and unresolved longings. It will shake them both to the core. Una gazes into the heart of a devastating form of love and asks if redemption is possible.
Stars Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn. That’s pretty much all I need.
A CIA interrogator is lured into a ruse that puts London at risk of a biological attack.
Michael Apted directs. Orlando Bloom, Noomi Rapace, Michael Douglas, Toni Collette.
Sure. Sounds fair.
Untitled Woody Allen Project
We never get a plot for Woody’s films, but I imagine it’s more of the same.
We know it’s a period film, and we know Bruce Willis got fired from it.
It stars Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Corey Stoll, Parker Posey, Anna Camp, Paul Schneider and Judy Davis.
Let’s call it 3 stars. He seems to be one on, one off. I’m sure it’ll be fine.
USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage
The harrowing true story of the crew of the USS Indianapolis, who were stranded in the Philippine Sea for five days after delivering the atomic weapons that would eventually end WWII. As they awaited rescue, they endured extreme thirst, hunger, and relentless shark attacks.
This is the monologue from Jaws as a feature. They’ve been trying to make this for over a decade.
Now, Mario Van Peebles is directing (okay), and Nicolas Cage is starring.
With Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane.
No idea what I’m getting, but it’s Cage. 3 stars. Blanket Cage rating.
Vier gegen die Bank
Wolfgang Petersen made this as a TV movie 40 years ago. Now he’s remaking it as a feature. This is here because it’s part of my Directors List. It’s filming now, so odds are I won’t see this until next year (if it actually gets released anywhere), but I might as well start tracking it now.
What I’m gathering is that it’s one of those crime comedies about people robbing a bank.
Even though awaited, no-one is really ready when the mountain pass of Åkneset above the scenic narrow Norwegian fjord Geiranger falls out and creates a 85 meter high violent tsunami. A geologist is one of those caught in the middle of it.
This was submitted for Foreign Language Film, but didn’t get anywhere. I saw the trailer and immediately said “I have to see this.” I have it, so I’ll see it pretty soon. And I’m very excited for it.
A satire of America’s war with Afghanistan with a focus on the people running the campaign.
David Michod directs. Loved Animal Kingdom and quite liked The Rover.
Brad Pitt stars, which is really all I need to know. Go back over Pitt’s filmography the past decade. Only two movies (not animated) that were less than 3.5 for me. One was The Counselor, which I understand why he did and wasn’t all that bad, and the other is By the Sea, which… what was he gonna do, not star in his wife’s movie?
So I’m going 3.5 stars here. Probably could go 4.
Chronicles the life of a dog as it travels around the country, spreading comfort and joy.
Todd Solondz is making a movie about a dog. Wonder how that’s gonna go.
I haven’t seen any of his other movies. But this has a cast and is about a dog, so I’m interested.
Summer, New York City. A college girl falls hard for a guy she just met. After a night of partying goes wrong, she goes to wild extremes to get him back.
Sundance movie. Written and directed by a woman, which is exciting.
It’s about a girl who sleeps with a drug dealer, sees him arrested, then starts selling all his drugs in order to bail him out. I’m very excited to see this.
The middle-aged, divorced Wilson, who lives in Oakland, California, finds himself lonely, smug and obsessed with his past.
Written by Daniel Clowes, directed by the guy who did The Skeleton Twins.
Stars Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer and Cheryl Hines.
3 stars. Because of Woody. Otherwise I’d have gone 2.5.
Involve a group of college students on a camping trip who discover they are not alone.
Adam Wingard’s next film. It looks like a horror movie, but after his last two films, I’m in for whatever he wants to make.
The Yellow Birds
Two young soldiers, Bartle (21) and Murph (18) navigate the terrors of the Iraq war under the command of the older, troubled Sergeant Sterling. All the while, Bartle is tortured by a promise he made to Murph’s mother before their deployment.
Jennifer Aniston is playing Murph’s mother. She’s reached the age of mother roles. Tye Sheridan is Murph and Alden Ehrenreich is Bartle. Also in it are Jack Huston, Toni Collette and Jason Patric.
Let’s call it 3 stars. War movie. Could be all right.
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Tomorrow we go over the holdovers from last year.