We can agree that it’s harder than ever to make a good movie in America these days, and not just because the North Koreans are exposing what industry executives really think of their stars, their salaries, or their personal hygiene.
Funding, fickle audiences, a trending toward the CG-driven Boffo Blockbusters with explosions, rampaging dinosaurs or exploding cars has made it harder than ever to make a little picture into a big one. But some creative people keep trying and, hopefully, if enough of us turn out to watch their films this year they’ll be able to make more movies that make us think and not leave us deafened and reaching for the earplugs.
We’ve gotten wind of a few such films ready to debut this year and, if luck prevails, one or two of them may actually land one of those precious Golden Men when the time comes to recognize stellar filmmaking. This list is entirely free of any bias to the filmmakers, studio, or to Kim Jong-un, no matter what he threatened to do to our system if we didn’t mention him.
You may see us leaning away from those warmed up pot boilers featuring warmed up former governors or cute but sardonic Teddy Bears with a taste for pole dancers and you should read nothing into that. We know that there are some perfectly respectable people who love these movies. As always, take our list as mere preview of promising upcoming films, and feel free to add to the list with suggestions of your own:
- Taylor Schilling and Adam Scott play husband and wife, newly transplanted to the hedonistic wild lands of Los Angeles in a promising romp from Patrick Brice. An innocent house visit with two quirky Los Angelinos, Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche, turns into an evening of boundary exploration and level of strangeness for which the town is known. Rated R.
- A Danny Boyle effort with Aaron Sorkin behind the pen and Michael Fassbender as
Apple’s blue-jeaned ringmaster, Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, Apple’s fomer marketing guru, and former marketing chief of Macintosh. Seth Rogen steps in as Steve Wozniak with Jeff Daniels from Sorkin’s “The Newsroom” playing Apple CEO John Sculley. Based on Walter Isaacson’s biography of the same name, Steve Jobs takes place backstage at three iconic product launches and ends with the unveiling of the iMac, leaving viewers with some insight into a brilliant if imperfect man.
Bridge of Spies
- A Steven Spielberg tale of a Brooklyn lawyer – played here by Tom Hanks – who is at
the center of a Cold War effort to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot. The writing was done by the Coen brothers together with Matt Charman. Spielberg pushes Hanks off the LCVP at Omaha Beach and into a story played out against a backdrop of actual Cold War events, Hanks bringing his everyman personae to the role. events, by true events that captures the essence of a man who risked everything and vividly brings his personal journey to life. Also look for Mark Rylance, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda and Billy Magnussen.
- Based on Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt,” Carol is the story of two women from widely different backgrounds who meet and form a bond in New York during the 1950s. One, Rooney Mara, works in a department store and longs for a better life, the other a wife (Cate Blanchett) trapped in a loveless marriage and desperate to break free, but fearful of losing her daughter in the process. Pretty much a two-woman drama with Mara and Blanchett bringing their characters to life. Rated R.
- Asif Kapadia’s documentary about ill-fated singer Amy Winehouse is one of several of late, all largely aimed at the subject of inspiration, genius, and the price of fame. Like Montage of Heck, which aired on HBO earlier this year, Kapadia’s Amy is a constant torture – with audiences not consumed by the inevitability of her failure just wanting to reach out and pull her back from the brink. Along with Montage and Bill Pohlad’s look at the life and private struggle of Beach Boy Brian Wilson – Love & Money – Amy rounds out an impressive yet bitingly sad field of documentaries centering on musicianship, creativity, addiction and self destruction. After it’s all said and done, it is interesting to see a great singer brought back to life – if only for an instant. Rated R.