Nov 282015
 

Carol

Summer is coming to Australia and there are two very good reasons to head to your local cinema. 1) Air conditioning; and 2) the riches of summer movies. One of the downside to being a film fan here is we often have long waits for films which première in the US between their summer’s end and Christmas. So-called “awards films” which must play before the end of the year in the US (to qualify for Oscar consideration) are spread over several months here. So, the upside of the waiting is a summer (and beyond) littered with anticipated titles. Our picks for 16 films to see this Australian Summer are listed after the jump.

Please note: these release dates were correct at the time this article was published. We cannot guarantee they will not change.

December

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The End of the Tour – Cinema Nova only, Dec 3

An excerpt from my 4.5 star review – “brilliantly takes a snapshot of the existential-anxieties of the mid 90’s while still remaining poignant and relevant to the present, documenting a myth-busting of a giant of contemporary literature, and a breakdown of the pedestal trappings we often associate with celebrities and geniuses.”

James Ponsoldt’s wonderful cinematic eulogy to David Foster Wallace, author of ‘Infinite Jest’, features perfect performances from Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segal. In a film of often-crippling personal emotion, we see our ambitions, our anxiety of failure, and the potential for disillusioned loneliness at the core of success, rise to the surface in Wallace and Lipsky, the latter of whom spends five days interviewing the celebrated author for Rolling Stone magazine. It made me tremendously sad, but can’t recommend it highly enough. [Andy]

 

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In the Heart of the Sea – Dec 3

In 1820, crewmen (including Chris Hemsworth and Cillian Murphy) aboard the New England vessel Essex face a harrowing battle for survival when they are attacked by a whale of mammoth size and strength, crippling their ship and leaving them adrift in the ocean. Pushed to their limits the survivors are forced to resort to the unthinkable to stay alive. This incredible tale inspired author Herman Melville to write “Moby-Dick” and the cinematic treatment is in the hands of veteran filmmaker Ron Howard. Another nifty fact – it is shot by Anthony Dod Mantle, a wizard with the camera. [Andy]

 

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The Good Dinosaur – Dec 26

It wouldn’t be the Holiday Season without at least one or two fun animated films. This year we’re getting The Peanuts Movie and another Alvin and the Chipmunks film, but my pick of the bunch is obviously the new Disney Pixar co-creation, The Good Dinosaur. The premise of the film asks the question, ‘What if the cataclysmic asteroid that forever changed life on Earth actually missed the planet completely and giant dinosaurs never became extinct?’. The film follows runt Arlo (Raymond Ochoa), who gets separated from his family and is helped out by a young caveboy, and some good dinosaurs. This film is getting positive, but not rave reviews in the US. It has a simple, family friendly feel about it, and it should play well over the Christmas break. I’m rarely not charmed by Pixar outings, so I’ll be catching it upon release with all the kids. [Sam]

 

joy

Joy – Dec 26 

A David O’Russell film starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro – sound familiar? Joy is the writer-director’s latest project with his favourite actors, along with a large supporting cast which includes Virginia Madsen, Isabella Rossellini, and Édgar Ramírez. The film is set across 4 generations and focuses on Joy (Lawrence), a woman who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. There’s bound to be drama and heartbreak aplenty. I have to be honest, I am not exactly looking forward to this film. I didn’t like American Hustle and have lost a little love for Lawrence, who I found flat in the Mockingjay Part 2. Hopefully this is more of a Silver Linings Playbook film, for both Lawrence and O’Russell. [Sam]

 

Also out in December: The Night Before, Phoenix, Truth, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip, The Belier Family, Daddy’s Home, Youth, Suffragette

 
January

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The Revenant – Jan 7

I have to say that my interest in this film is 75% Emmanual Lubezki, the academy award-winning cinematographer who also shot films such as Birdman, Knight of Cups, Tree of Life, and Gravity.  5 seconds into the trailer, I knew that the film was shot by him. I adore his fluid style, and his ability to mix different mediums of film and digital. The film centers on 1820s frontiersman, Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio), who sets out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling. DiCaprio has said it a recent interview that this was his most difficult role yet. While it be one to get him the Oscar? We’ll see. With Iñárritu at the helm and a cast which includes Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson, this is surely worth your time. [Sam]

 

sisters

Sisters – Jan 7 

In Sisters, Kate (Tina Fey) and Maura (Amy Poehler) throw one last house party at their family home before their parents put it on the market.  It’s Fey and Poehler, I don’t need any other reasons. Below is a pictorial representation of my enthusiasm. [Sam]

sisters-film

 

Carol

Carol – Jan 14

One of the most buzzed-about films of 2015 so far, the latest from celebrated filmmaker Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Velvet Goldmine) was met with unanimous praise at the Cannes Film Festival (and Rooney Mara was awarded Best Actress for her performance) and has an incredibly beautiful trailer. An adaptation of the beloved Patricia Highsmith novel, the story tells of Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) who spots the beautiful, elegant Carol (Cate Blanchett) perusing the doll displays in a 1950s Manhattan department store. Though the two women develop a fast bond, their love comes with complicated consequences. Just recently nominated for six Independent Spirit Awards. [Andy]

 

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The Hateful Eight – Jan 21

Tarantino films are always anticipated on An Online Universe, and this time audiences will get the chance to experience his new bloodbath in glorious 70mm. The film will première for a one week exclusive season in 70mm at selected cinemas (we understand that there are only two remaining in Australia). The film is set some years after the Civil War in Wyoming and revolves around eight strangers who seek refuge in a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass during a blizzard. It features a loaded cast of Tarantino veterans, including Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Tim Roth and Michael Madsen, and as he is teaming up with regular DP Robert Richardson and veteran composer Ennio Morricone, we know it is going to be spectacular. [Andy]

 

spotlight

Spotlight – Jan 28

In 2001, editor Marty Baron (Liev Shreiber) of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters including Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo) and Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) interview victims and make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. Touted as one of the frontrunners for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, reactions to Tom McCarthy’s direction and the ensemble cast have been very positive, with the film’s depiction of the inner-workings of a newspaper and the maintenance of integrity under the high pressure of confronting the lurid case, widely praised. [Andy] 

 

room

Room – Jan 28

Brie Larson has been acting since she was 9 years old, but it was in 2013’s The Spectacular Now that I fist started paying attention. Shortly after she did Short Term 12, which absolutely floored me, and I was convinced that she was something special. If the reactions to Room thus far are anything to go by, her performance and the film itself are both something quite incredible. In Room she plays a woman who has been kept captive, and who escapes with her five-year old son who has never been out of the room before. The film is from the perspective of the boy (played by Jacob Tremblay), who has also been getting raves for his performance. Room is sure to be an emotional, but rewarding watch. The film is adapted to the screen by the book’s author, Emma Donoghue, and directed by Lenny Abrahamson, whose most recent film was the quirky Frank. [Sam]

 

Also out in January: Point Break, Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie, The 5th Wave, The Big Short, Goosebumps, Dirty Grandpa, 13 Hours, The Danish Girl, Rock the Kasbah

 
February

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Anomalisa – Feb 4

Reviews for this film – a stop motion animation written and directed by the genius that is Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) – have been insanely positive. This is what fans of introspective, and philosophically intimate cinema have been waiting for. The plot – a man (voiced by David Thewlis), crippled by the mundanity of his life, experiences something out of the ordinary. While it appears to be a lock for a nomination for the Best Animated Film Oscar, will it break out into other categories, as it has at the Independent Spirit Awards? [Andy]

 

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Brooklyn – Feb 11

This beautiful and understated romantic drama is pretty close to perfection, and utterly impeccable when the story is in Brooklyn. It tells a universally relatable immigrant story, or the courage it takes to build a life independently in a big city or strange land. It juxtaposes the youthful embrace of a challenge, with the unadventurous comforts of home. Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen are amazing; their chemistry delightful, but Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent are also very charming. Costumes, period design, musical score – all divine. [Andy]

 

deadpool

Deadpool – Feb 11 

Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds as a former Special Forces operative turned mercenary who is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and adopts the alter ego Deadpool. I am suffering from superhero fatigue, aren’t we all? It takes something a little different to make a film of this genre stand out. Deadpool is supposedly the “adult” superhero film. The red-band trailer shows swearing, lurid jokes, and a general feeling of naughtiness that feels a little more risqué than the usual M-rated outing. I have a lot of love for the often underrated Reynolds and I am quietly optimistic for this film. [Sam]

 

45_Years

45 Years – Feb 18 

Fair warning – this film may break your heart. I caught this at the British Film Festival and found it really quite beautiful.  It’s a quiet, subtle film about a couple (played by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay) who are preparing to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. He receives a letter that brings back something from the past, and it causes both parties to reevaluate their past and their future. This is a film about the small things – it’s the looks, the body language, and the words that are almost formed but remain unsaid. The performances from Rampling and Courtenay are quite something, powerful without being overtly dramatic. [Sam] 

 

sherpa

Sherpa – Feb 25

Sherpa played at the Sydney Film Festival in June, and had I known I would have to wait until February 2016 to see it, I would have caught it at the festival. But, I didn’t and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. Sherpa is a documentary from Australian filmmaker Jennifer Peedom. Peedom intended to make a film about an altercation which occurred on Everest in 2013, but instead, captured Everest’s greatest tragedy, when a huge block of ice crashed down onto the climbing route killing 16 Sherpas. The film examines the relationship between sherpas and their cashed-up climbers, and importance of family and traditions to those who call the mountains home. This film has been spoken about as a potential Oscar nominee – wouldn’t that be great? [Sam]

 

hail caesar

Hail, Caesar! – Feb 25

The latest from the Coen Bros’, who never make a bad film, looks like another fun, hyperactive screwball comedy – the trailer suggests a tone similar to Burn After Reading. Hail Caesar! follows Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a “fixer” working in the Hollywood Film Industry during the 1950s, as he tries to uncover what happened to a key cast member (George Clooney) who vanishes during filming. Here are five other reasons why we’re excited for this one: Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. [Andy]

 

Also out in February: The 33, The Choice, Steve Jobs, The Finest Hours, Risen, How to be Single, Zoolander 2, Concussion, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Ben-Hur, Dad’s Army, Gods of Egypt, Son of Saul, Triple Nine, Trumbo

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