The movies coming to the silver screen in 2016
There's no need to suffer FOMO in 2016. Instead break out the popcorn and read our round-up of the films, directors and stars everyone will be talking about
Of all the places you might expect to find Eddy and Patsy in 2016, number one - apart from 'in the Harvey Nicks Champagne bar' or 'in The Priory' - would be at the centre of a Twitter storm.
And so it has come to pass. The long-awaited resurrection of everyone's favourite fashion cadavers is imminent, and already the duo are stoking up controversy. But it's not for taking drugs in public or crimes against taste that they are in hot water for this time. In fact, to be accurate, it's not even the characters themselves, but their creators.
The as-yet-unreleased film Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie has recently been accused of racism. Why? Because Scottish comedy actress Janette Tough from The Krankies has been cast as a male Japanese fashion designer, who goes by the name of Huki Muki. Some commentators have questioned why an Asian actor wouldn't have done, and there's been a mini-outcry on social media.
The furore is certainly a sign of the times. It's hard to imagine that Saunders (who writes the scripts) would have run into this problem in the less PC '90s, when the show first aired.
But how the Champagne-swilling duo will otherwise adapt to life in 2016 remains to be seen. Hardcore Ab Fab fans are unlikely to be deterred in the slightest by the kerfuffle. Indeed, the film's release (last week confirmed by Saunders to be July 1, 2016) will, for many, be the cinema event of the year. Only 27 weeks to go, and counting.
Here's what we know so far: Eddy and Patsy have been forced to flee London in disgrace after a major incident at an "uber-fashionable" London party. They wash up, penniless, in (where else?) the French Riviera. But the best bit of news to leak from the set? The revelation that Kate Moss (herself, dare we say, something of a proud Patsy Stone in the making) will perform a cameo in the movie.
It won't be the only female-fronted, comedic reboot to make big noise next July. When it was announced last August that the new Ghostbusters movie would be a girl-focused take on the classic - replacing the all-male monster-squashing SWAT team of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon - the backlash was fierce and powerful.
"Some people said some really not nice things about the fact that there were women," said Wiig in an interview shortly afterwards. "It didn't make me mad, it just really bummed me out."
Still, if anyone has the chops and the comedy track record to pull it off, it's Wiig - especially with Bridesmaids co-star McCarthy by her side, and that movie's director, Paul Feig, helming it. Even Bill Murray has gone one step further than merely giving it his blessing - he's accepted a role in the new film. Release is scheduled for July 15.
If, this month, we can be convinced to drag ourselves off the sofa and down to the local cinema, there will be, as usual, rich pickings on offer throughout January - when Oscar season begins to heat up. The early New Year cinema schedules are increasingly becoming a heavyweight slug-out between a handful of garlanded directors, and this year is no exception. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who last year brought us Birdman, is the man behind The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and released on January 15. DiCaprio, more than once described as "the best actor never to win an Oscar", may well be hoping that the collaboration with Inarritu - currently Hollywood's 'golden boy' - might improve his luck. He's already been named as a contender in the Best Actor race.
David O. Russell, he of Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, returns this week with Joy, another project fronted by the actress who seems to have become his muse, Jennifer Lawrence.
The latest Quentin Tarantino effort, The Hateful Eight (released January 8), went through various pre-release and even pre-production hurdles before making it on-screen - most notably when an early draft of the script was leaked online, reportedly by an actor, leading Tarantino to call off the whole thing in a fit of pique at the betrayal.
With time, he was persuaded back onto the project. And just as well - according to the early critical response. The Guardian has called it a "swaggering, off-message and old-fashioned three-hour masterpiece." Tarantino's ambition and talent appear to be growing in comfortable proportion to his clear self-regard, and he's widely tipped for glory at the Academy Awards. The man himself has admitted that he's hoping for his first-ever Best Director nomination.
There is one outside contender worth watching, however. The Big Short has already been a rather unexpected critical and commercial hit in the US, and hits screens here on January 22. It stars Steve Carell (tipped for a Best Actor nod for his performance), who has leapfrogged from light entertainment into the big leagues by virtue of last year's sports drama Foxcatcher. He's back at the centre of this acidic comedy set in the financial services around the time of the 2008 crash, with a strong supporting cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale and Brad Pitt. It's already bagged four Golden Globe nominations - not bad going for director Adam McKay, who previously brought us the hugely popular but critically overlooked cult classic Anchorman and Talladega Nights.
Later this year is the time for the big studios' big-budget box office smashes. Among the most hotly anticipated is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, another magic-and-mystery adventure, based on the book of the same name by JK Rowling and the first film to be adapted for the screen by the lady herself.
It will be directed by David Yates, who steered the last four Harry Potter movies to completion. Captain America: Civil War is the big-ticket number from Marvel Studios. And the ultimate popcorn showdown is scheduled to start on March 25, with the release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, starring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams.
And what about closer to home? It's shaping up to be a promising year for the Irish in awards season this year, largely thanks to the Lenny Abrahamson-directed Room, a co-production from Element Pictures and based on the book by Emma Donoghue, and adapted by the author. Room scooped the coveted People's Choice award at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year, and has scorched through the early nomination rounds in LA - picking up nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (for Brie Larson) and Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes, as well as Best Actor and Actress at the SAG awards. Room was always destined to be an ambitious and tricky adaptation - the book tells the story of a young mother who was abducted, Fritzl-style, and imprisoned in a basement, along with her young son, who was born there. Most of the action is set within the confines of their closed, four-walled prison - but the gamble clearly seems to have paid off.
This will hopefully be the year that we'll see the arrival of another Irish project that promises high-quality drama and international recognition. The Secret Scripture is based on the book of the same name by Sebastian Barry, directed by Jim Sheridan and featuring an all-star cast - including girl-of-the-moment Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave and Eric Bana, as well as the cream of current Irish male talent, Jack Reynor and Aidan Turner.
It follows the story of a young woman who resides in Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital and her own autobiographical account of her life during the upheavals of the '20s and '30s. Shooting was completed in March this year, though there has been no sign of a release date yet. Watch this space.
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