2016 Hollywood Trends

Cafe Society

2016 has been a remarkable year in current affairs, and a sad one for the untimely deaths of so many beloved celebrities. But let us turn our attention to something more comforting – film. As the year draws to a close, it’s time to review the 2016 Hollywood trends. Rather than a countdown of the best films, this article looks at the key trends in mainstream cinema of the year. It has been a year that harks back to Golden Age-Hollywood, whilst superheroes met head to head. Disney have dominated once again, whilst the Summer was lacklustre blockbuster season…

2016 Hollywood Trends: Superheroes Assemble

Captain America: Civil War

Although big superheroes appearing together in the same film is not a new phenomenon (2012’s Avengers Assemble and even 2014’s The LEGO Movie attest to this), in 2016 it became a noticeable trend. whilst February’s Deadpool only featured lesser-known X-Men with the title character, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice brought together three of DC’s biggest heroes in one film (paving the way for 2017’s Justice League). Released in  April, Captain America: Civil War functioned like ‘Avengers 3’ with the inclusion of Iron Man, Ant-Man and other secondary Avengers. Pivotally, the film boasted the addition of Spider-Man (who had previously appeared only in Sony films). In August, the hotly-anticipated Suicide Squad hit the big screen. The film featured many of Batman’s nemeses together, including the Joker, and Harley Quinn in her first live-action film appearance.

2016 Hollywood Trends: Golden-Age Revival

La La Land

2016 has been the year for Golden-Age Hollywood nostalgia. The Coen Brother’s comedy Hail, Caesar! focussed on the day in the life of a studio fixer in 1950s Hollywood. As well as all the backstage activity Mannix has to keep under wraps, the film features some great musical sequences harking back to classic Hollywood features. Albeit, with tongue firmly in cheek. Woody Allen’s Café Society focuses on the assistant to a Hollywood producer working in the 1930s. With the action taking place between Hollywood and New York, the film offers wonderful costumes and a salubrious soundtrack. Although it is set in contemporary Los Angeles, La La Land (opening at UK cinemas on 12th January 2017) is brimming with Golden Age nostalgia. The opening sequence, and indeed others later in the musical, are reminiscent of the best technicolor musicals of the 1950s. Continuing this trend, Warren Beatty’s 1950s Hollywood-set Rules Don’t Apply arrives on UK screens in March 2017.

2016 Hollywood Trends: Disney Dominance

FINDING DORY

Disney sitting on top of worldwide box office grosses is not a surprise considering the properties the company owns (Marvel, Pixar, LucasFilm). In 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was crowned box office champ, pulling in almost $400 million more than nearest competitor Jurassic World. Nevertheless, this year Disney have completely dominated worldwide box office grosses, with four films (Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, Zootropolis, and The Jungle Book) each grossing more than any other studio’s production. And this is while Rogue One: A Star Wars Story currently rides high at the box office across the world.

2016 Hollywood Trends: Starring Michael Shannon

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS - Michael Shannon

It may not be immediately obvious when looking back at 2016 films, but Michael Shannon has appeared in a plethora of films this year. The actor has no fewer than ten credits for 2016. These range from leading roles in films such as Midnight Special and Frank & Lola, to a supporting role in Loving (released in UK cinemas on 3rd February 2017), and even in a brief flashback in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Shannon delivered a scene-stealing performance in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, released in November. Expect to see more of Shannon next year, with Wener Herzog’s Salt and Fire, among others.

2016 Hollywood Trends: Lacklustre Summer Blockbusters

THE LEGEND OF TARZANThere were plenty of Summer blockbusters in 2016 (as has been the case for years), but this year’s tentpoles seemed to lack something. July’s The Legend of Tarzan may have delivered somewhat decent worldwide box office grosses, but reviews were less than sparkling. Ghostbustersdomestic gross did not get near its reported production budget, and Independence Day: Resurgence received poor reviews. Meanwhile, Star Trek Beyond, Jason Bourne, and Suicide Squad failed to make the impacted expected at the box office. At the tale-end of the Summer, sword and sandals epic Ben-Hur flopped at the box office. If 2016 is anything to go by, 2017’s Summer blockbusters will need to beat family animation and Spring superhero films to take the crown.

LFF 2016 Highlights Part 2

The BFI London Film Festival has come to a close after another year of some striking and wonderful films. Some brilliant films have already screened in the first week. Here is part 2 of the LFF 2016 highlights…

LFF 2016 Unmissable

Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a sumptuous and tense film. The director keeps viewers captivated throughout. Ford’s wonderful directorial debut A Single Man would have many keen to know what he would do next in the cinematic sphere. Despite the recess, this sophomore picture does not disappoint. READ MORE

Brimstone

Martin Koolhoven’s film is unrelenting and unforgiving. Brimstone can be difficult to watch, but it enthrals nevertheless. Brutish and bruising, Brimstone is a thriller that does not know when to quit. But make no mistake, this is a good thing. READ MORE

Lion

Lion

Garth Davis’ Lion is a genuinely emotional drama with great performances from its cast. Lion is an affirming story which does not shy away from some harsh realities. A fantastic watch. READ MORE

LFF 2016 Best of the Rest

Elle

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle absorbs, entertains, and intrigues. After a lengthy break, Verhoeven reminds viewers exactly why he is a great filmmaker. Based on the novel by Philippe Dijan, Elle is a curious and rewarding feature. READ MORE

Free Fire

After the disappointing High-Rise, Ben Wheatley impresses with Free Fire. The film is contagiously fun. Writer-director Ben Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump have created a very entertaining film with Free Fire. READ MORE

Prevenge

Prevenge

Alice Lowe’s black comedy Prevenge is a fun watch. A quirky premise is transformed into an entertaining film. Writer, director, and star Alice Lowe has created an off-the-wall dark comedy with Prevenge. The premise is original and amusing, and the film itself follows suit. READ MORE

Lake Bodom (Bodom)

Lake Bodom (Bodom) is a very entertaining horror-thriller. The film defies expectations, in a tantalising way. Director and co-writer Taneli Mustonen has created an interesting horror thriller with Lake Bodom. READ MORE

The BFI London Film Festival ran from 5th-16th October 2016.

Film Review: Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is a sumptuous and tense film. The director keeps viewers captivated throughout.

Gallerist Susan Morrow receives a package from her ex-husband out of the blue. It contains the manuscript to a novel he has written, which has been dedicated to Susan…

Ford’s wonderful directorial debut A Single Man would have many keen to know what he would do next in the cinematic sphere. Despite the recess, this sophomore picture does not disappoint. Nocturnal Animals offers both style and substance. It is pensive and intriguing.

Based on Austin Wright’s novel ‘Tony and Susan’, Nocturnal Animals features a story within a story. Writer-director Tom Ford reels in viewers with both tangents, keeping them guessing as to a number of facets. The exterior narrative of Susan reading the manuscript works well because there are several elements which are left uncovered. Ford deliberately keeps the nature of Susan and Edward’s relationship under wraps until later in the film. This functions to give to offer a sense of mystery. It also is unclear where this narrative will go, and how it will conclude. The final sequence is subtle, but appropriate.

The interior ‘novel’ narrative has more fire to it. There is a tension which becomes unbearable at a point. Once a critical event has occured, there is still a sense of foreboding. This is joined by a bleakness that is contemplative. As the two stories dovetail, some viewers may hope for a deeply satisfying conclusion. Ford draws back from this, instead delivering a subtler ending. In this way, Nocturnal Animals is more realistic. Ford conveys to viewers that they can’t always get what they want. It is a stronger film for not choosing an expected conclusion.

As expected, the visual style of the film is richly indulgent. Ford shoots his characters and locations beautifully. The score is also great. Amy Adams offers a great performance as Susan, whilst Jake Gyllenhaal is powerful in his role. Michael Shannon injects a surprising amount of humour.

Nocturnal Animals is a pleasing second feature from Tom Ford. Viewers tempted in by the visuals will appreciate the engaging narrative.

Nocturnal Animals is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.

Previews: Live By Night Trailer, Doctor Strange, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the Live By Night trailer, Doctor Strange poster, and more…

Live By Night Trailer

Here is the new Live By Night trailer. The film is directed and scripted by, and stars Ben Affleck, based on Dennis Lehane’s novel. Set during the 1920s, Live By Night concentrates on gangster Joe Coughlin and the murky world of prohibition Boston. Also starring Elle Fanning, Bendan Gleeson and Zoe Saldana, Live By Night is set for release on 13th January 2016.

Doctor Strange Poster

Doctor Strange Poster

This new poster for Doctor Strange looks wonderful. Benedict Strange stars as the title character in the latest Marvel movie.Cumberbatch plays an injured surgeon who who meets a mentor on his journey to recovery. Also starring Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Rachel McAdams, Doctor Strange hits UK screens on 25th October 2016.

Hidden Figures Featurette

Here is a featurette on the upcoming Hidden Figures. Producer Pharrell Williams talks about why he had to get on board with the film, which is about the black female scientists behind NASA’s space race. The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe. Hidden Figures is scheduled for release in 2017.

Collateral Beauty Trailer

Here is the trailer for Collateral Beauty, an ensemble drama. The film is about an advertising executive who experiences a tragedy, and the colleagues who attempt to help him. With a cast that includes Will Smith, Kate Winslet, and Keira Knightley, Collateral Beauty is out in cinemas on Boxing Day, 26th December 2016.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Clip

This clip from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children reveals a little more about the film’s antagonist. Director Tim Burton’s latest film is based on the best-selling novel. Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, and Samuel L. Jackson, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children hits UK screens on 30th September 2016.

Nocturnal Animals Poster

Nocturnal Animals Poster

These Nocturnal Animals posters certainly are striking. Tom Ford writes and directs the film, based on Austin Wright’s Tony and Susan. The film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michael Shannon. After Ford’s magnificent A Single Man,  hopes are high for this feature. Nocturnal Animals will screen at the BFI London Film Festival in October, and will be released in UK cinemas on 4th November 2016.

Amanda Knox Trailer

Here is a trailer for Netflix’s upcoming documentary Amanda Knox. The film focus on the prime suspect in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. Knox has been convicted and acquitted of the crime twice, and this documentary explores events around the case. Amanda Knox will launch globally on Netflix on 30th September 2016.

BFI London Film Festival 2016 Launch

Today saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2016. This year’s programme is bursting with cinematic delights. There are more galas than in previous years, and screen talk participants include Werner Herzog and Paul Verhoeven. Here are some of the films to look out for at London Film Festival 2016.

Headline Galas

The Birth of a Nation

The London Film Festival 2016’s opening gala A United Kingdom had already been announced, the Scorsese-produced, Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire looks like a lot of fun. Elsewhere, plenty of hotly anticipated films including La La Land, Arrival and The Birth of a Nation. Writer-director Nate Parker also stars in the story of an enslaved preacher who led a revolt in 1830s Virginia. Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is also a headline gala. An adaptation of Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan, the film stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Shannon. Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe stars David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.

Strand Galas and Special Presentations

The Handmaiden

This year sees additional galas, which will take place on a purpose built venue on the Strand. They include The Handmaiden, from director Chan-wook Park. The film looks as sumptuous as Park’s previous film Stoker. Miles Teller stars in Bleed For This, based on the true story of boxer Vinny Paziena. Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is the Sonic Gala. The hip hop musical features Teyonah Parris, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson. Andrea Arnold’s American Honey and Ava DuVernay’s The 13th are among the special presentations this year.

Official Competition

My Life As A Courgette

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle is amongst the Official Competition at London Film Festival 2016. Staring Isabelle Huppert, the film is an adaptation of a Philippe Dijan novel. Terence Davies’ A Quiet Presentation is a biopic of Emily Dickinson staring Cynthia Nixon. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, about a young man struggling with his sexuality in 1980s Miami, looks like a great watch. In the First Feature Competition, Porto sees one of Anton Yelchin’s final performances, whilst animation My Life As A Courgette looks like a lot of fun. David Lynch: The Art Life is among the contenders for the Documentary Competition, as well as The Graduation. The latter is a documentary about a prestigious film school in Paris. Chasing Asylum, about the Australian government’s immigration policies, seems very topical.

Strands

The Salesman

The Love strand features Lovesong, director So Yong Kim’s film about a lonely young mother. It stars Jena Malone and Riley Keough. Highlights in the Debate category include Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. A Separation‘s Farhadi has already won awards at Cannes. Mindhorn features in the Laugh strand. The film stars Julian Barratt as a washed-up 1980s TV detective. Dare features Christine, starring Rebecca Hall as the notorious television journalist. Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog looks to be a highlight of the Thrill section, with Nicholas Cage starring alongside Willem Dafoe. Another David Lynch connection (Cage and Dafoe starred in Lynch’s Wild at Heart), Blue Velvet Revisited, features in the Cult strand.

I Am Not A Serial Killer

Cult also features I Am Not A Serial Killer, based on the young adult novel. The Innocents looks to be a highlight of the Journey strand. Anne Fontaine’s film is about a young doctor working for the French Red Cross in 1945. London Town, a coming of age film set in 1979 London, features in the Sonic strand. The Family strand includes Rock Dog, an animation featuring the voices of J.K. Simmons and Luke Wilson. Finally, Experimenta includes Have You Seen My Movie?; a must-see for cinema fans.

The full London Film Festival 2016 programme can be viewed here. The BFI London Film Festival runs from 5th-16th October 2016.

10 Things To Be Grateful For In 2010

As with most years, 2010 has offered us the good, the bad and the ugly. The following is a highly subjective list of some of the best things to come out of cinema this year. Feel free to add your own entries in the comments below.

1. The Return Of Michael Keaton

Following appearances in such cinematic classics as First Daughter, Michael Keaton spent a number of years in the land successful wide releases forgot. That changed in 2010, with a memorable role voicing Ken in the hugely successful Toy Story 3, and scene-stealing as Captain Gene Mauch in The Other Guys. Although the latter was not exactly the film of the year, Keaton raised the bar with a fantastic comic performance reminiscent of his glory days. This served as a timely reminder of his charisma and aptitude for comedy in Night Shift and Beetlejuice among others. Welcome back, Mr Keaton!

2. Warner Bros Greenlit Inception

Despite its box office success, Inception is a film that has divided critics and audiences. Love it or hate it, we should all be grateful that the studio greenlit the big-budget production in the first place. Based on an original screenplay, Inception was a refuge from the barrage of sequels, remakes, spin-offs and adaptations. Inception was a blockbuster that was engaging yet accessible. For the film, Warner Bros expended the kind of marketing strategy usually reserved for pre-sold entities. Given the healthy box office returns, the gamble certainly paid off. Hopefully Inception‘s success will give more studios the confidence to follow suit.

3. Disney Released A Traditionally Animated Feature

The Princess and the Frog (released in February 2010 in the UK) marked the first hand-drawn animation film from Disney since 2004. The past five years have seen no shortage in animated films; however these have tended to be of the computer generated variety. While features such as Up look fantastic, there is something quintessentially Disney about The Princess and the Frog. The beautiful animation harks back to the golden age of the early and mid-nineties, when each year would see a now classic Disney animated feature. Only time will tell whether The Princess and the Frog will be appraised in the same way as films such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. In the meantime, the film indicates at least some variety in Disney’s output.

4. Referencing The 1980s Is Still In Vogue

Certainly not a new trend for 2010, for a number of years now cinema has been harking back to the eighties. Be it long overdue sequels to 1980s hits (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull), remakes or even choice of soundtrack, referencing that most magical of decades has been a fixture in Hollywood in recent years. 2010, however, may have pulled of a coup d’état with the gloriously nostalgic Hot Tub Time Machine. With an amazing soundtrack and a plethora of references to 1980s films, fashion and popular culture, Steve Pink’s film was the ultimate homage to the much-loved decade.

5. David Fincher Signed On To Direct A Film About Facebook

A film about the creation of social networking site Facebook sounded just about the most unappealing premise of the year. Interest was peaked when David Fincher was announced as director of the project in 2009, but many, like myself, remained unconvinced. All that changed when the film was released in October 2010. The Social Network was one of the most absorbing films of the year, brilliantly executed and visually handsome. A very welcome surprise.

6. Woody Allen Dusted Off A Script From The ’70s

Released in June 2010 in the UK, Whatever Works saw a return to form for prolific director Woody Allen. Based on his original script from the 1970s, Whatever Works featured all the hallmarks of a classic Allen feature; witty dialogue, well-written characters and the New York setting. The film served as a reminder of why Woody Allen is such a lauded filmmaker, and is reminiscent of some of his best-loved pictures of the 1970s and 1980s. Here’s hoping Allen has a few more scripts gathering dust in his attic.

7. Colin Firth Stepped Up His Game

A bastion of period drama and romantic comedies, in 2010 Colin Firth revealed his flair for more serious dramatic roles with two magnificent performances. Firth conveyed the aching tragedy of George in Tom Ford’s A Single Man (released in February 2010 in the UK), and was thoroughly convincing as George VI in The King’s Speech (screened at the London Film Festival in October 2010). Having won awards for A Single Man and already receiving nominations for The King’s Speech, these triumphs are almost enough for us to forget Mamma Mia. Almost.

8. Danny Boyle Produced One Of The Most Wince-Inducing Scenes In Film History

Collective squirming ensued in screenings throughout the world when Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours was released (screened at the London Film Festival in October 2010). Most viewers would have known what to expect, but the film excels in building tension right up until this point. The event itself was visceral enough to apparently induce vomiting and fainting amongst audience members. This may just have been good marketing, but what remains is one of the most memorable scenes of 2010.

9. The Bounty Hunter Was Released In March

Though it has faced some stiff competition, The Bounty Hunter was the worst film released this year. For an action comedy, The Bounty Hunter was painfully unfunny. Like a childhood trauma, time dulls the pain, although you never entirely forget.

10. Joe Dante Directed A ‘Family Horror’

The Hole (released September 2010 in the UK) may not be the greatest film of the year, but it was certainly one of the scariest. For a film with child protagonists and aimed at a family audience, the film was surprisingly frightening. The Hole played on the most primal of fears, which resulted in a film that was far more effective than many of the adult horrors released this year. Although The Hole has been rather overlooked in terms of critical acclaim, it is a must-see for horror aficionados.

Film Review: A Single Man

Ford’s directorial debut is an aural and visual feast. Centering on a day in the life of George, a college professor bereaved from the loss of his long-term partner, this is a film about the minor, seemingly inconsequential moments in life rather than the obviously momentous events.

Set in the early 1960s, A Single Man exposes attitudes to homosexuality at the time, although Ford’s focus is on a character in despair; his sexuality is almost incidental. The story is carefully crafted; the effect that the other characters have on the protagonist is palpable.

Firth is exceptional as George, his sincere performance makes him a worthy Oscar contender. Moore is both believable and immensely watchable as Charley, the old English friend with more than just a soft spot for George. Hoult is engaging as the keen student, his youthful enthusiasm works well as an antidote to Firth’s melancholy.

Cinematography, art direction and editing are all first class. Some of the flashback sequences in particular are beautifully shot, giving real feeling to scenes with little dialogue. The saturation of colour in incidences when George is “brought back” is a nice touch, much of the emotion in the film can be garnered from the visual cues.

A Single Man has been considered by some as being a product of style over substance. Whilst the film is visually stunning, there is also a heartfelt story to be told. Anyone who has ever felt the searing pang of grief or depression will be able to identify with George’s mantra: “Just get through the goddamn day”.