Wednesday 21 August 2019

Cinema: 2017 is the year of the comeback

Superstars making surprise returns and a host of huge budget revivals look set to make next year one to remember

Natalie Portman in Jackie
Natalie Portman in Jackie
Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge
Baywatch - the new stars
The original cast reprise their roles in T2 Trainspotting

Julia Molony

Next year is shaping up to be the year of the chest-beating, ageing alpha male - the year when moobs and bad toupees will dominate the public domain.

There is a fine set on its way to the White House, for a start.

And Hollywood looks to be taking up the theme.

There will be plenty to be seen on red carpets as we head into awards season.

The original cast reprise their roles in T2 Trainspotting
The original cast reprise their roles in T2 Trainspotting

Just ask Mel Gibson - arguably a torch-bearer of the movement.

If you thought that being caught out in a bit of casual racism and misogyny would be enough to permanently end a Hollywood career, you thought wrong.

His new project has already been nominated for a Golden Globe, and has won the support of some of the most crucial arts media.

Vanity Fair called the Gibson-directed World War II epic Hackshaw Ridge "gruelling and glorious".

The film stars Andrew Garfield as a medic and conscientious objector who is awarded the Medal of Honor for acts of bravery during the Battle of Okinowa.

Neck-and-neck with Gibson for the title of the comeback king of 2017 is Hugh Grant. In latter years Grant has been best known for eternally recycling his posh-cad bachelor shtick for a run of low-rent rom-coms.

Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge
Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge

Creatively dissatisfied, Grant has been grumbling about falling out of love with his trade for years now.

But then, out of the blue he was offered the role of a lifetime, playing a supporting role to Meryl Streep's lead in the eponymous Florence Foster Jenkins, the biographical story of a tone-deaf but wealthy New York socialite with a dream to be a world class soprano.

Grant plays her manager and partner, the Shakespearean actor St Clair Bayfield.

The film is directed by Stephen Frears (Philomena, The Queen) and could, according to some industry observers, win the 56-year-old actor his first Academy Award nomination.

Remakes, reduxes and revivals of all kinds will feature strongly among next year's cinema releases.

Among the iconic movies being updated for modern audiences and due for release in 2017 are Wonder Woman, starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who will be donning her armoured bodice to play the eponymous hero, with Chris Pine featuring as her love interest.

Baywatch - the new stars
Baywatch - the new stars

Ridley Scott is giving his Alien franchise the semi-colon sequel treatment, with new offering Alien: Covenant. Scott is clearly heavily into nostalgia at the moment - he is also co-producing a remake of his cult dystopian drama Bladerunner, titled Bladerunner 2049, which is due for release in late autumn of next year.

Ryan Gosling, Jared Leto and Robin Wright will star, and the original lead Harrison Ford will also take a role, a mere 35 years since the first film.

Danny Boyle, Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle have reunited for a new version of Trainspotting, titled T2 Trainspotting which will revive the hit film's original characters and is due for release in the spring.

Next year, there will be also be a new It, a new Jumanji, a new King Kong (called Kong: Skull Island) and a new Spiderman.

Perhaps most thrillingly of all, the cult 90s silicon-and-sandcastles TV drama Baywatch will get the big screen treatment, updated for a contemporary audience and (with tongue firmly in cheek) by Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon.

The most iconic moobs of all time - owned by David Hasselhoff, will not, sadly, be gracing the silver screen.

In the lifeguarding drama an all new cast will be donning their beachwear and running in slo-mo; - Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson as Mitch, Kelly Rohrback as CJ, and support from Zac Efron and Priyanka Chopra.

After the spiritual bankruptcy of Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese will be turning to more transcendent, mystical themes in his 2017 offering Silence, due for release next month.

Starring Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver, the film is based on the 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo, is set in the seventeenth century, and centres on two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan where they face persecution.

The critics love the auteur and erstwhile Scorsese collaborator Kenneth Lonergan.

The films he has written and directed, including You Can Count on Me and Margaret, received rapturous responses and his latest offering Manchester by the Sea - a nuanced family drama starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams - is expected to feature heavily during awards season, having already been nominated for five Golden Globes.

Will 2017 be the year that Natalie Portman wins her second Academy Award? The pundits certainly seem to think so.

She's generating huge Oscar buzz for her portrayal of bereaved First Lady Jackie O.

Directed by Pablo Larrain, and titled simply Jackie, the film zooms in on JFK's widow's last days in the White House, following her husband's assassination.

A nomination at least is in the bag, though she's likely to be competing against Irish actress Ruth Negga.

2017 is warming up to be the year Negga, already a respected star here and in the UK, takes Hollywood.

Her performance in the inter-racial romance Loving was described by one critic at Cannes this year as "Place-your-Oscar-bets tremendous".

And as for best picture?

For those who would rather retreat for a while from life's harsh realities as we enter the new year, Hollywood also has, thankfully, just the thing.

And not a moment too soon.

La La Land is a musical comedy starring Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress.

It is, according to Variety, an "elating ramble of a movie, ardent and full of feeling".

Could be just the lift we're looking for. And who better than Gosling and Stone, (all singing, all dancing no less) to help salve our battered psyches as we face into a daunting future.

And for one not to miss set closer to home, look out for Not Dark Yet.

Irish filmmaker Simon Fitzmaurice is a father of five and suffers from motor neurone disease.

This documentary, for which he employs eye-gaze technology to tell his story has been selected for the Sundance Film festival next year.

'It's warming up to be the year Ruth Negga, already a star here, takes Hollywood'

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