Hail, Caesar! (2/5)
Director: Joel and Ethan Cohen
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Scarlett Johansson
Synopsis: When one of the world’s biggest stars goes missing, a Hollywood fixer (Brolin) is called in to save a movie studio from ruin.
Why You Should Care: The release of Hail, Caesar! marks not only the Coen brothers’ first feature in three years, but also the famous duo’s return to comedy. Fans of The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona will be treated to a more optimistic and upbeat plotline that pays tribute to movies, the people who make them, and the crazy industry that brings life to the silver screen. Also, who wouldn’t want to see George Clooney in a leather skirt?
The Witch (2/18)
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie
Synopsis: In the 17th century, when an excommunicated Puritan family relocates to the outskirts of New England and their infant son disappears, they begin to turn on one another and succumb to their own fears and anxieties.
Why You Should Care: Winner of the Best Director prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Robert Eggers debuts with a chilling feature that lays the fictional foundation for the Salem Witch Trials that would follow years later. While the film’s exhaustive research and painstaking execution are worthy of the overwhelming praise, the two child leads are what is most impressive. Through such scene-stealing performances, The Witch achieves a fresh take on the historical horror-thriller genre.
Knight of Cups (3/4)
Director: Terrence Malick
Cast: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Natalie Portman, Antonio Banderas
Synopsis: Haunted by the strange events occurring around him, a successful screenwriter (Bale) struggles to find his place in the world.
Why You Should Care: One of three Terrence Malick productions to be released this year, Knight of Cups is a star-studded affair. The assemblage of accomplished actors like Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, and Natalie Portman is sure to provide a vivid and lively portrayal of Hollywood and its toxic effects on industry members. Although the Los-Angeles urban setting is new to the director, this film is reminiscent of Malick’s past work, as it is painstakingly aware of the visual aesthetics and other cinematic features. To the Malick-fanatics: judging from the trailer, it looks like you’ll once again be treated to an experience that is emotionally and spiritually draining.
The Lobster (3/11)
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Lea Seydox, Ben Whishaw
Synopsis: In a dystopian future, single people are given 45 days to find a partner before they are turned into an animal.
Why You Should Care: With his deeply unsettling Dogtooth in 2008 and his follow-up, Alps, in 2011, director Yorgos Lanthimos painted a distinctly strange and quietly chilling picture of human nature and sparked a resurgence of interest in contemporary Greek filmmaking. Just gaining recognition in English-speaking world, Lanthimos pushes even the most mundane situations to psychological extremes with glacial intensity and stylistic confidence; whether his deadpan humor carries over in the performances of an English-speaking cast remains to be seen.
Midnight Special (3/18)
Director: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Adam Driver, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon
Synopsis: After learning his eight-year-old son possesses special powers, a father must get him to a secret location while being hunted by religious extremists and government officials.
Why You Should Care: With only three feature films, director Jeff Nichols has already established his voice as an independent filmmaker. Nichols made a big splash in independent cinema with his films Take Shelter(2011) and Mud (2013), which were praised for their dramatic subtlety and realism. Drawing inspiration from science fiction films during the 1980s, he describes Midnight Special as a “sci-fi chase film” in the line of John Carpenter’s Starman, but his penchant for unconventional dramas and characteristic realism will likely deliver something much more intense than a nostalgic homage to adventure films. Providing a refreshing alternative to the CGI spectacles that are released every year, Midnight Special will show whether Nichols can uphold the standards set by his previous films, since his unique track record give viewers much to look forward to.
Everybody Wants Some! (4/19)
Director: Richard Linklater
Cast: Blake Jenner, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell and Zoey Deutch.
Synopsis: A group of college baseball players navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.
Why you should care: Described as a “spiritual sequel” to both his breakout hit Dazed and Confused and the Oscar-winning Boyhood, Everybody Wants Some! offers an intimate look at college-life in the 1980s. While Dazed offered a look at high-school seniors in the 1970s, this film will paint a vivid picture of the 80’s, rife with parties, booze, and a lot of music reminiscent of Queen, Tom Petty, and Van Halen. Linklater’s staple dialogue and relatable characters are sure to drive this film, which is one of the year’s most anticipated.
Love & Friendship (5/13)
Director: Whit Stillman
Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel
Synopsis: While rumors about her private life circulate through society, Lady Susan Vernon (Beckinsale) escapes to her in-laws’ estate and attempts to secure a husband for not only herself, but also for her daughter.
Why You Should Care: Although based on Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan, Love & Friendship is hardly a romantic comedy dressed in ruffled gowns. Director Whit Stillman’s adaptation is instead a visually stunning and beautifully scored experience spiked with the cynicism and bitterness of love and friendships. Lacking the wide-eyed idealism that is so prevalent in romance films today, this feature will be a breath of fresh air.
La La Land (7/15)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J. K. Simmons
Synopsis: A jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) fall in love but face difficulties as they become more successful.
Why you should care: Director Damien Chazelle follows up his electric and Oscar-winning debut Whiplash with another semi-autobiographical look at the musical industry. Set in the 1950s, La La Land reteams both Chazelle with J.K. Simmons, and Ryan Gosling with Emma Stone. After the magical results of Chazelle using his background as a jazz drummer to shape the script of Whiplash, it is hard not to feel giddy over Chazelle tackling a musical, albeit in a seemingly more romantic manner. With big-name talent both in front of and behind the scenes, as well as a mid-July release date, La La Land is poised to be both a commercial and critical favorite.