Alberto Orive (’16) and Gabe Perez (’16) recommend a list of must-see movies this winter.
Star Wars Ep. VII (15 December 2015)
Starring: Boasting a diverse cast in both race and age, newcomers John Boyega and Daisy Ridley join Oscar Isaac (Drive, Inside Llewyn Davis), Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings), and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) along with franchise veterans Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill.
Behind the Scenes: Experienced sci-fi director, J.J. Abrams, was chosen to lead the charge on these new additions to the franchise. As a fan of the series, he has promised to try and use as many practical effects and set designs as possible. Coupled with that, he worked on the script with Lawrence Kasdan, writer of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
Why you should see this: Aside from being the return of one of the most influential franchises of all time and everything mentioned above, this is another revisiting of a nostalgic franchise that actually feels like a lot of care and effort has gone into it.
The Revenant (15 January 2016)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street, Inception) and Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises) come together in what could be the greatest acting duo of the year.
Behind the Scenes: Alejandro G. Iñarritu returns after last year’s awards-darling, Birdman, with this gritty Western drama based on true events. Be wary though, this film has been met with countless production issues, including going so over schedule that they had to move production from Canada to southern Argentina because of the snow.
Why you should see this: If the grouping of Hardy, DiCaprio, and Iñárritu isn’t enough, this film was shot using only natural light. Aside from being an extremely bold decision production-wise, it sets itself up to be the best-looking movie of the year.
The Hateful Eight (8 January 2016)
Starring: Long-time Tarantino collaborators like Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown) and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill) join Channing Tatum (Magic Mike) and company.
Behind the Scenes: Quentin Tarantino returns as writer-director on his second Western after 2012’s Django: Unchained.
Why you should see this: Aside from what appears to be a film full of Tarantino’s trademark witty dialogue and high-octane style, this might be one of the last times we get to witness it, considering he has stated several times that he is thinking of retiring after his tenth film. This is his eighth.
The Peanuts Movie (21 December 2015)
Starring: A cast of actual child actors doing the voicework. This is a rare occurrence in the world of voice acting.
Behind the Scenes: Produced by Paul Feig, the director of both Bridesmaids and one of our choices for 2015 best summer movies–Spy–and animated by Blue Sky Studios of Ice Age and Rio, this film has the makings of a charming tribute to the original series.
Why you should see this: In a time where countless reboots and sequels are made to take advantage of nostalgia, this movie appears to be a genuine revisiting of the classic cartoon. With an animation style that has the refinement that today’s technology offers while staying true to the original’s style, it seems like a perfect choice for the whole family.
The Danish Girl (1 January 2016)
Starring: Eddie Redmayne is back after winning the Oscar for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything in a even more transformative role, alongside up-and-comer Alicia Vikander (Ex-Machina).
Behind the Scenes: Les Misérables and The King’s Speech director, Tom Hooper, is at the helm.
Why you should see this: Narrating the story of the first person to undergo sex-change surgery, this film is a great step forward for the transgender community and equal representation in film.
Joy (1 January 2016)
Starring: The cast of Silver Linings Playbook (Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper) are reunited in David O’Russell’s biopic of Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop, exploring her rise to power within the family.
Behind the Scenes: David O’Russell (American Hustle, The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook) has directed all three of the film’s stars to Oscar nominations in the past, and may very well do so again with the story help of writer, Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids).
Why you should see this: Recently, Jennifer Lawrence has brought attention to the issue of gender inequality in Hollywood, receiving widespread support from others in the industry. The success of more female-led films may bring about the change that Hollywood urgently needs. Moreover, David O’Russell has received Oscar nominations for his last three films, proving himself to be more than capable of writing and directing a film. With its talented, experienced cast and strong direction, this film shows great promise both to entertain and impress.