Get ready for a feast of film in 2016

Eddie Redmayne is set to dazzle in The Danish Girl.
Eddie Redmayne is set to dazzle in The Danish Girl.
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Will 2016 be a classic year for cinema? Film Critic Tony Earnshaw looks forward to what’s coming up over the next twelve months.

If you’re emerging bleary-eyed from a festive frenzy of all things Star Wars related then take heart, for the early weeks of the New Year offer some of the best movies of 2016.

As usual, it’s Oscar fodder. And first off the grid is Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl (January 1). The true story of Einar Wegener, who went through sex reassignment surgery in the 1920s to become Lili Elbe, it features another astonishing turn from 33-year-old Redmayne who is partnered (in a performance of equal depth and sensitivity) by Alicia Vikander. Redmayne is already being tagged as an Oscar nominee alongside Johnny Depp (a front-runner for his gangster in Black Mass), Michael Fassbender for his portrait of Steve Jobs and Mark Ruffalo for his crusading reporter in Spotlight.

Then there is Joy (January 1) from David O Russell, another Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper/Robert De Niro combo with Lawrence as the matriarch of a powerful business family.

An Oscar contender of a different type is Quentin Tarantino’s ensemble revisionist western The Hateful Eight (January 8), in which a rag-tag band of familiar faces – Kurt Russell, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern – seek shelter from a blizzard

Russell is the grizzled bounty hunter taking his prisoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to stand trial but who finds himself holed up in a stagecoach halt. With typical Tarantino relish the film is packed with twists, turns and tremendous dialogue. And it is soaked in blood.

January also witnesses the return of Rocky Balboa in Creed (January 15), with Sylvester Stallone serving as coach to his dead friend’s son; The Revenant (also January 15), in which Leonard DiCaprio and Tom Hardy are partnered in a desperate tale of betrayal and revenge – expect multiple Oscarr nominations with DiCaprio a cert; and Room (January 15), a claustrophobic tale of a young woman – Brie Larson – snatched and incarcerated by a paedophile who keeps her locked away for years.

Christian Bale gives another intense performance in The Big Short (January 22), a true-life tale of the financial crisis of the 2000s. His co-stars are Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Steve Carell. Miss this one – described by many observers as the film of the year –at your peril. Spotlight (January 29) chronicles the campaign by journalists at the Boston Globe to uncover the scandal of Catholic priests preying on children during the 1970s and 1980s. Directed by Tom McCarthy and starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schrieber, it’s a hard-hitting Press procedural that follows in the wake of classics such as All the President’s Men. Already picking up five-star reviews, it’s likely to attract multiple Oscar nominations. The 33 (January 29) is the 2010 story of the Chilean miners trapped by a collapsed mine 2,300 feet underground. History tells us that they were rescued but, like Apollo 13 and Titanic, the drama is in the retelling and the range of emotions on display. The film stars Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche and Lou Diamond Phillips.

Michael Caine gets better with age. The 82-year-old veteran partners Harvey Keitel in Youth, playing an aged composer at a health retreat contemplating the wreckage of his life. Caine is superb as a man wrestling with guilt. (Out January 29).

Look out for the reboot of Dad’s Army (February 5), a star-packed tribute to the timeless TV show that was largely shot in Yorkshire. Bone Tomahawk (February 19) is a blend of western and horror story with Kurt Russell as a sheriff taking on troglodyte warriors. And Grimsby (February 24) stars Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong as brothers separated by birth and circumstance. One is a football hooligan; the other is a secret agent. Cue much slapstick and bad language. Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise is released on March 18. An adaptation of JG Ballard’s novel it stars Tom Hiddleston and Sienna Miller with Bradford’s own Enzo Cilenti propping up the cast. Wheatley’s take on Ballard’s nightmarish look at anarchy has been variously described as “genius” and “dross”.

Blockbuster releases include Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (also March 18), with Ben Affleck as the caped crusader and Henry Cavill as the man of steel; Alice Through the Looking Glass, James Bobin’s follow-up to Tim Burton’s 2010 reimagining of Lewis Carroll; Ghostbusters (July 15), with Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon taking over from Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Ernie Hudson and the late Harold Ramis; and The BFG (July 22), with Steven Spielberg taking on Roald Dahl. Mark Rylance is the giant from a script by the late Melissa (E.T.) Mathison.

Affleck/Batman can also be found in Suicide Squad (August 5), arguably the biggest film of the summer, in which Viola Davis recruits the worst of society’s villains to carry out super secret government missions. The cast includes Will Smith, Margot Robbie and Jared Leto.

And then Benedict Cumberbatch is Doctor Strange (October 28). The year ends with the Star Wars spin-off Rogue One (December 16). Sequels are scattered throughout the year. They include Zoolander 2 (February 12); Kung Fu Panda 3 (March 11); My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (March 25); Bad Neighbours 2 (May 6); X-Men: Apocalypse (May 19); Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (June 3); Now You See Me 2 (June 10); The Conjuring 2 (June 17); Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24); Ice Age: Collision Course (July 15); The Purge 3 (July 15); Star Trek Beyond (July 22); Finding Dory (July 29); Untitled Next Bourne Chapter (July 29); Jack Reacher 2 (October 21); Ouija 2 (October 21).

See you at the movies.