With the bucket loads of new television series we’re exposed to each year, why not take a break and get involved with a fantastic film? It requires significantly less commitment. Here are some of 2016’s most anticipated films, presented with a little twist: we’ve paired films with something in common up against each other.
Birth of a Nation vs Free State of Jones
Birth of a Nation: With critics grouping Birth of a Nation in with heavy hitters like Schindler’s List and 12 Years a Slave, the first feature film from director Nate Parker is undoubtedly going to leave its mark on cinema. After competing in the Sundance Film Festival, the film was bought by Fox Searchlight Pictures for a record-breaking $17.5 million, according to Variety.com. If its title sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Parker told Timeline News that “the 1915 original relied heavily on racist propaganda to evoke fear and desperation … I’ve reclaimed this title and repurposed it”. Parker also stars as the lead role in his film, as Nat Turner, a slave leading a liberation movement in 1831 to free African- Americans in Virginia.
Free State of Jones: Directed by Gary Jones of Seabiscuit and The Hunger Games, Free State of Jones is set during the American Civil War, detailing the story of defiant Southern farmer Newt Knight, played by Matthew McConaughey. In rebelling against the Confederacy, Knight and a band of other farmers and slaves launch an uprising that eventually results in Jones County, Mississippi becoming the Free State of Jones. Knight has remained a controversial figure in the history books.
Set in the 70s
Elvis & Nixon vs The Nice Guys
Elvis & Nixon: It’s one of the most requested photographs in the United States’ National Archives – the image of Elvis Presley and President Nixon meeting in the Oval Office in December of 1970. The film, starring Kevin Spacey as Nixon and Michael Shannon as the King of Rock’n’Roll at the peak of their influence, depicts the untold but true story behind their meeting. Striking as a comedy, it follows Presley’s request to become sworn in as an undercover agent in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Until now, this strange story has never been fully explored on screen.
The Nice Guys: Set in 1970s Los Angeles, crime-action-comedy The Nice Guys tracks down-on-his-luck Holland March (Ryan Gosling), a private eye, and hired enforcer Jackson Healy (Russel Crowe) as they work together to crack the case of a missing girl and the death of a porn star, which at first seem unrelated. Naturally, they uncover a conspiracy with its roots in big power positions. Also starring Kim Basinger, Angourie Rice and Margaret Qualley.
Wall Street dramas
Equity vs Money Monster
Equity: A female-driven Wall Street film, Equity stars Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn in the lead role of Naomi Bishop, a threatened senior investment banker who must untangle a web of corruption. A financial thriller, the film is the directorial debut of Meera Menon, and so far critiques have been positive, labelling it unlovely and proficient. Equity joins a modern onslaught of movies and television shows capitalising on the steel and drama that is Wall Street, but takes on the added weight of accurately depicting the experiences of female bankers in what is still a male-dominated arena.
Money Monster: Also a thriller, Money Monster features George Clooney as Lee Gates, a Wall Street newsman who offers advice on his hit show, and Julia Roberts as his producer, Patty Fenn. When once of Gates’ tips turns out badly, he is taken hostage on screen by a maddened investor (Jack O’Connell), and Fenn is left to figure out how to deal with their captor and the waterfall of financial lies. The film is the work of Jodie Foster, who has in recent years dabbled in television directing via Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them vs The BFG
Fantastic Beasts: It’s not exactly a spin-off, nor is it quite an adaptation. But Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the result of Harry Potter author J.K Rowling and Warner Bros.’ expanded creative partnership, and it is inspired by the book of the same name. That book, however, is essentially a list of creatures studied by students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The storyline isn’t entirely known, but with a new trailer having just been released at the time of writing, we do know it follows wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who in 1926 travels from London to New York carrying a magical briefcases of mysterious and mischievous creatures which escape. Also starring Colin Farrell, Ron Perlman and Jon Voight, if there is one film to enjoy with your children or grandchildren this year, it’s Fantastic Beasts.
The BFG: Arguably one of the late Roald Dahl’s most popular classic titles, The BFG (or Big Friendly Giant) follows 10-year-old Sophie as she is whisked away in the palm of the BFG (Mark Rylance) for the unexpected adventure of a lifetime. At first frightened, Sophie realises that the giant is both gentle and sweet. In time, her presence unfortunately draws the attention of Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater and other cruel, hungry giants. Sophie and the BFG decide to convince Queen Victoria to help them remove all the bad giants for good. Originally published in 1982 as an illustrated children’s book, the adaptation is another divine way to exercise the imaginations of both young and old for a couple of hours.
With critics grouping Birth of a Nation in with heavy hitters like Schindler’s List and 12 Years a Slave, the first feature film from director Nate Parker is undoubtedly going to leave its mark on cinema.