The arrival of Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting in late January should start the year off with a jolt. Renton, Begbie, Spud and Sick Boy are all back, and it will be intriguing to see how the now middle-aged skaggies are coping in a world of reality TV, zero-hour contracts and social media. In a year in which sequels again loom very large, James Foley (director of After Dark, My Sweet and several of the best episodes of House Of Cards) has the challenge of trying to bring some wit and imagination to Fifty Shades Darker (out in February). It can surely hardly be worse than Fifty Shades Of Grey.
If you like post-modern irony with your superhero films, The Lego Batman Movie (also out in February) should provide plenty of chuckles. The big “real” action movie of the summer is likely to be Wonder Woman — although expectations for this have been severely downgraded after the awful Batman v Superman (in which Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman featured).
King Kong is back, yet again, in Kong: Skull Island, starring Tom Hiddleston (it remains to be seen whether Godzilla will put in an appearance too, or whether we’ll have to wait for later in the franchise to see the two monsters together).
Disney is rebooting Beauty and The Beast yet again, this time in live-action form, with Emma Watson as Belle and Dan Stevens as the Beast. Fast & Furious 8 (out in April) will break new ground as the first mindless Hollywood blockbuster to have been shot in Cuba. Likely to be equally empty-headed is Seth Gordon’s big-screen spin-off of beach bodyguard TV series Baywatch, which comes complete with Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff in the supporting cast. This will be out in May and is likely to further undermine the attempts of its star, Zac Efron, to be taken seriously as an actor.
Ridley Scott is back with another Alien film, Alien: Covenant, a sequel to Prometheus (Michael Fassbender again gets to play the well-spoken robot while Katherine Waterston is on board, no doubt vying to be the new Ripley). Meanwhile, Denis Villeneuve, director of sci-fi hit Arrival, will be unveiling a sequel to one of Scott’s most famous films. Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling, while Harrison Ford is back, too, as Rick Deckard. Let’s hope the new film is more than just a replicant of the original. Sports movie fans will be waiting to see if Shia LaBeouf can manage to be as brattish on screen as John McEnroe was in real life in the Swedish drama, Borg/McEnroe, from director Janus Metz Pedersen. There’s never really been a decent tennis movie so this one may be breaking new ground. Another Swedish director to look out for is Lisa Langseth, who has made her first English language film, Euphoria, a dark drama about two estranged sisters starring her friend and regular collaborator, Alicia Vikander, alongside Eva Green and Charlotte Rampling.
Amid the big summer films (Spider Man: Homecoming, War for the Planet of the Apes, etc), one title sticks out — Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. There were poignant stories from on set in the Netherlands of teenage girls waiting forlornly in the wind and rain for a glimpse of One Direction’s Harry Styles (who appears alongside Tom Hardy). Making a British World War II film marks quite a change of direction for Nolan after his Dark Knight trilogy and Interstellar. It will be fascinating to see Nolan using IMAX and blockbuster tactics to tell the kind of story that you half expect John Mills and Kenneth More to star in.
Yorgos Lanthimos’s Lobster was one of the oddest and mort original films of 2015. The Greek-born but British-based director has a new film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, that promises to be every bit as offbeat. Appa-rently inspired by a Euripides tragedy, it’s about the strange relationship between a brilliant surgeon and a troubled teenager.
Paddington 2 will be out late in the year. Having dealt with Kidman’s dominatrix in the first film, the lovable little marmalade-eating bear from Peru has a new antagonist trying to steal his scenes — Hugh Grant, typecast yet again as a vain and smarmy narcissist. Some of this year’s releases have a distinctly old-fashioned look. There’s yet another Agatha Christie adaptation – an all-star version of Murder On The Orient Express. It stars Kenneth Branagh (who also directs) as Poirot aboard a train whose passengers include Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Daisy Ridley.
As if dusting down Agatha Christie yet again wasn’t enough, there’s also a new Daphne Du Maurier adaptation. Roger Michell has directed this latest stab at My Cousin Rachel, starring Rachel Weisz as Rachel (the role played by Olivia de Havilland in an early film version) and Sam Claflin as her young cousin who is attracted by her but isn’t at all sure if she is to be trusted.