Cheers and salutations to The Playlist‘s Jessica Kiang and Oliver Lyttleton for having posted the most comprehensive list of 2016 films that I’ve seen anywhere. I’ve been updating my own 2016 rundown (the most recent re-edit appeared on 12.30) so I’ve isolated 31 of Kiang and Lyttleton’s titles that I’ve previously ignored. Several are intriguing; about half seem minor-ish or less than fully wowser but let’s not pre-judge. I’ve listed them in order of highest HE interest. All synopses written by Kiang/Lyttleton. A reposting of most recent 2016 summary follows:
The Salesman (d: Asghar Farhadi) Cast: Sahahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti. Synopsis: Two actors perform in Arthur Miller‘s Death Of A Salesman.
The Discovery (d: Charlie McDowell) Cast: Rooney Mara, Nicholas Hoult. Synopsis: A love story set a year after the existence of the afterlife has been scientifically proven.
American Pastoral (d: Ewan MacGregor). Cast: Ewan MacGregor, Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Connelly, Uzo Aduba, Rupert Evans, Molly Parker, David Strathairn. Synopsis: Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Philip Roth, this is the story of Seymour “The Swede” Lvov, a successful businessman, former high-school sports star and scion of a Jewish upper-middle New Jersey family, whose life gradually disintegrates in the politically turbulent 1960s.
Loving (d: Jeff Nichols) Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Michael Shannon, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll. Synopsis: The true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958, and then exiled from the state for the crime of getting married, and their nine-year fight to be able to return home as a family.
Salt And Fire (d: Werner Herzog) Cast: Michael Shannon, Gael García Bernal, Werner Herzog, Veronica Ferres. Synopsis: Two men on opposite sides of a clash over an ecological issue in South America must put aside their differences and work together to avoid disaster when a nearby volcano presents eruption signals.
Julieta (d: Pedro Almodóvar). Cast: Emma Suárez, Adriana Ugarte, Inma Cuesta, Rossy de Palma, Nathalie Poza. Synopsis: The life of the titular woman, told between two time periods, 2015 and 1985.
Jackie (d: Pablo Larraín) Cast: Natalie Portman, Greta Gerwig, Peter Sarsgaard, John Hurt, Max Casella. Synopsis: The story of Jackie Kennedy in the first days following the assassination of JFK.
Certain Women (d: Kelly Reichardt) Cast: Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams, Lily Gladstone, Jared Harris. Synopsis: The story of the intersecting lives of three women in present-day Montana.
The Neon Demon (d: Nicolas Winding Refn) Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcoate, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks. Synopsis: An up-and-coming model in Los Angeles becomes prey for a gang of beauty-obsessed peers who wish to drain her of her vitality and beauty.
20th Century Women (d: Mike Mills) Cast: Elle Fanning, Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Alia Shawkat. Synopsis: A story of three generations of very different women living in 1970’s Santa Barbara.
True Crimes (d: Alexandros Avranas). Cast: Jim Carrey, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marton Csokas. Synopsis: A police detective solving a murder finds eerie similarities between his case and a book by a novelist and intellectual.
Personal Shopper (d: Olivier Assayas) Cast: Kristen Stewart, Nora von Waldstätten, Lars Eidinger. Synopsis: Details are thin, but it’s apparently a ghost story that unfolds in the fashion underworld of Paris.
Manchester By The Sea (d: Kenneth Lonergan). Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol, Kara Hayward, Tate Donovan. Synopsis: A man must take care of his teenaged nephew after the boy’s father dies.
Paterson (d: Jim Jarmusch) Cast: Adam Driver, Kara Hayward. Synopsis: Set in modern-day Paterson, New Jersey, this is the story of a bus driver and a poet.
Wiener-Dog (d: Todd Solondz). Cast: Greta Gerwig, Zosia Mamet, Kieran Culkin, Julie Delpy, Danny DeVito, Ellen Burstyn, Tracy Letts.
The Circle (d: James Ponsoldt) Cast: Emma Watson, John Boyega, Tom Hanks, Patton Oswalt, Karen Gillen. Synopsis: A young woman lands a job at a mysterious Google-style tech giant.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiars (d: Tim Burton), Cast: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Samuel L. Jackson. Synopsis: A boy follows clues his late grandfather left him to a mysterious orphanage that spans space and time, full of children with special powers. (20th Century Fox, fall/holiday).
A United Kingdom (d: Amma Asante) Cast: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike. Synopsis: The story of Botswanan Prince Seretse Khama, and his white, British wife Ruth Williams, whose interracial marriage in the 1940s proved controversial, but eventually saw Seretse elected the country’s first president.
Trespass Against Us (d: Adam Smith) Cast: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Rory Kinnear, Sean Harris, Killian Scott. Synopsis: Three generations of the rowdy Irish Cutler family come into conflict when the law catches up to them.
Neruda (d: Pablo Larrain) Cast: Gael García Bernal, Luis Gnecco, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers. Synopsis: In 1940s Chile a dogged inspector is tasked with hunting down Nobel-winning poet Pablo Neruda, who is in hiding due to his communist affiliations.
War on Everyone (d: John Michael McDonagh) Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Tessa Thompson, Michael Peña, Theo James, Stephanie Sigman. Synopsis: Two extremely corrupt New Mexico cops bite off more than they can chew when they try to blackmail a high-level criminal.
Arms and the Dudes (d: Todd Phillips). Cast: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller. Synopsis: Two American arms dealers secure a $300-million-dollar contract to arm U.S. allies in Afghanistan, soon finding themselves in dangerous geo-political waters.
Christine (d: Antonio Campos) Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall. Synopsis: The true story of Christine Chubbuck, a Florida news reporter who committed suicide live on air in 1974.
The Promise (d: Terry George) Cast: Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, James Cromwell, Jean Reno. Synopsis: A love triangle between an American journalist, a French woman and a medical student set against the backdrop of the last days of the Ottoman Empire and the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
Gold (d: Stephen Gaghan) Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell. Synopsis: Two down-on-their-luck men head out to find gold in the jungles of Borneo.
Comancheria (d: David Mackenzie) Cast: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Katy Mixon, Melanie Papella. Synopsis: Two brothers plan a bank robbery to save their family farm, and are pursued by a Texas Ranger.
Love And Friendship (d: Whit Stillman) Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Morfydd Clark, Stephen Fry, Xavier Samuel. Synopsis: In 1790s England, Lady Susan Vernon tries to find husbands for herself and her daughter, as rumors fly about her personal life.
Una (d: Benedict Andrews) Cast: Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn, Tara Fitzgerald, Riz Ahmed. Synopsis: A young woman tracks down and confronts the man who sexually abused her when she was twelve, who went to prison for the offense and has been living under an assumed name ever since.
American Honey (d: Andrea Arnold) Cast: Arielle Holmes, Shia LaBeouf, Riley Keough, Will Patton, McCaul Lombardi. Synopsis: A teenage girl joins a traveling magazine sales crew and crosses the midwest with them.
The Unknown Girl (d: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) Cast: Adèle Haenel, Olivier Bonnaud, Louka Minella, Jérémie Renier. Synopsis: A young doctor sets out to discover the identity of a patient who died after she refused her treatment.
It’s Only The End Of The World (d: Xavier Dolan) Cast: Marion Cotillard, Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux, Gaspard Ulliel, Nathalie Baye. Synopsis: A writer returns to his estranged family with a powerful secret.
Genre Unto Themselves: Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Hail Caesar! (dry knucklehead period comedy) (1)
Beware of Highly Budgeted Asian Action Fantasy “Blockbuster”: Zhang Yimou‘s The Great Wall (1).
Very Interesting, Slight Hedging of Bets (random order): John Hancock‘s The Founder (biopic of McDonald’s kingpin Ray Kroc; Jodie Foster‘s Money Monster (political thriller); Woody Allen‘s 1930s period film (Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively); Damien Chazelle‘s La La Land; Robert Eggers‘ The Witch; David Michod‘s War Machine; Richard Linklater‘s Everybody Wants Some. (7)
This Year’s Animated Pixar Wonder-Package for the Whole Family: Andrew Stanton‘s Finding Dory. (1)
Highly Refined Horror: Juan Antonio Bayona‘s A Monster Calls. (1)
Probably Solid/Decent/Interesting/Approvable, etc.: John Cameron Mitchell‘s How To Talk To Girls at Parties, Ron Howard‘s Inferno; Niki Caro‘s The Zookeeper’s Wife; Gary Ross‘s Free State of Jones; Justin Kurzel‘s Assassin’s Creed; Ben Wheatley‘s Free Fire; Tate Taylor‘s The Girl On The Train. (7)
Spare Me: Derek Cianfrance‘s The Light Between Oceans. (1)
Genres Have Their Rules: Paul Greengrass‘s untitled fifth Jason Bourne film w/ Matt Damon (political action thriller); Zack Snyder‘s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice; Shane Black‘s The Nice Guys (darkly humorous mystery thriller); Peter Berg‘s Deepwater Horizon (real-life disaster action-thriller); Antoine Fuqua‘s The Magnificent Seven (western remake); Gavin O’Connor‘s The Accountant;(action thriller); Stephen Hopkins‘ Race (inspirational period sports drama about Jesse Owens); Ed Zwick‘s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (thriller); Matthew Vaughn‘s I Am Pilgrim (murder thriller); Michael Grandage‘s Genius (biopic about esteemed book editor Maxwell Perkins). (10)
Will Probably Take Another Two or Three Years…Right?: Alexander Payne‘s Downsizing (1)
A Little Worried But Maybe: Robert Zemeckis‘ World War II-era romantic spy drama w/ Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard; Oliver Stone‘s Snowden; Warren Beatty‘s still-untitled Howard Hughes film; Terrence Malick‘s Weightless; Ariel Vroman‘s Criminal; James Gray‘s The Lost City of Z; The Secret Scripture w/ Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave, Eric Bana; Greg McLean‘s The Belko Experiment. (8)
Who Knows?: Alex Garland‘s Annhiliation. (1)