As we countdown to the Oscars, the movie business marches on with a bunch of new trailers released in the past few days. In between the serious fare of the awards season and the big-budget movies of the summer, there’s time for entertaining films of different genres.
Race, releases Feb 2016: The inspiring story of legendary American athlete Jesse Owens’ achievements at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
I think of this movie as a close cousin to 42, the 2013 film which tells the story of Jackie Robinson’s entry into Major League Baseball. Both feature relative unknowns playing iconic sportsmen who had to fight the color barrier on their way to fame. Race is directed by Stephen Hopkins who started his career in the horror, scifi and action genres. In 2004 however, he directed the delightful TV movie The Life and Death of Peter Sellers; so he certainly has the chops for delivering an entertaining biopic. The trailer is a bit too melodramatic for me. I wonder if I am being swayed by recent real-life stories like Spotlight and Steve Jobs in which subtle music, unobtrusive camera work and underplayed dialogue heighten the sense of verisimilitude. Having said that, I guess it’s the done thing for sporting films to feature histrionics. Strong supporting cast includes Jeremy Irons, William Hurt and Carice van Houten.
Money Monster, releases May 2016: A Wall Street-set hostage thriller from Jodie Foster, featuring two of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Two of Hollywood’s most glamorous exports, Julia Roberts and George Clooney work together for the first time. This tense-looking thriller is the 4th directorial effort from award-winning actress Jodie Foster. With so much star power in front of and behind the camera, one can be sure of a high quality production. Foster has been hit-and-miss as a director, but you can be sure that Roberts and Clooney, along with intense young actor Jack O’Connell will dial up the on-screen fireworks. Finding the right time to release it may be the bigger challenge. Originally scheduled for April, it now finds itself being sandwiched between big budget comic films in May. Not the best time to reach older audiences, who will be its primary target. Also, the strange name may confuse audiences.
The Wave, worldwide release across 2016: A disaster movie made in Norway.
Disaster movies are a genre mostly restricted to Hollywood studios, which have the budgets for the visual effects and the distribution muscle to recover the investment. How cool then to see this coming out of the Nordics, better known for crime thrillers and intense personal dramas. Directed by the wonderfully named Roar Uthaug, this film comes to international markets after riding a wave (ha ha!) of success in its home country Norway and being its official nominee to the Oscars in the Foreign Film category. Worth watching because Uthaug has now been tapped to direct the remake of Tomb Raider.
Triple 9, releases Feb 2016: A heist movie starring Kate Winslet as a Russian mafia moll and an ensemble of powerhouse actors.
If you’re looking forward to seeing Gal Gadot make her debut as Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman in March and you can’t quite remember her from the Fast and Furious films, then you can catch her in this crime thriller next month. This is a surprisingly star-heavy cast for a genre film – Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Anthony Mackie play cops while Kate Winslet chews up the scenery as the mafia baddie who blackmails a bunch of corrupt cops to pull off a robbery. I have enjoyed Australian music video director John Hillcoat’s previous gritty efforts – The Road and Lawless. I think I will like this one too, but it’s with a small distributor so I don’t expect it to be big at the box office.