Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Oscar Predictions

Tonight's the night. After another lengthy and eventful cinematic year, 2015's finest talents will be crowned at this evening's 88th annual Academy Awards ceremony. Therefore, in honor of Hollywood's most significant affair, here's a look at my predictions on how the night will unfold:

Smaller Categories

Best Animated Film: Inside Out

Best Documentary: Amy

Best Foreign Film: Son of Saul

Best Score: Ennio Morricone - The Hateful Eight

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner - The Big Short

In one of the mist wide-open Best Picture races in recent memory, Adam McKay's housing crisis dramedy, The Big Short, could be in for a surprisingly big evening. But even if it fails to take home the night's most coveted honor, The Big Short shouldn't go home empty handed thanks to a hard-fought win in the Adapted Screenplay race.

Best Original Screenplay

Winner - Spotlight

Another film battling in the three-headed monster for Best Picture is Tom McCarthy's hard-hitting investigative drama, Spotlight. The longtime frontrunner for the top honor has faded lately - as most frontrunners tend to do this time of year - but, either way, Spotlight has the Original Screenplay competition in the bag.

Best Supporting Actress

Winner - Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

The Supporting Actress race has been a messy affair all awards season long. With many people completely uncertain of where borderline lead performances from Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara (Carol) would go, Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs) reaped the early benefits. But now that Vikander is officially in the mix, I see the Academy leaning in her direction to reward the actress for an exceptional year of performances (even if Oscar regular, Kate Winslet, gives the finer turn).

Best Supporting Actor

Winner - Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Sometimes it's just easier living in denial, and that was me until this very morning. I wanted to believe in my heart of hearts that the Academy would do the right thing by honoring this year's most deserving supporting performance from Bridge of Spies' Mark Rylance. He absolutely commands the audience's attention and he's the brightest spot of Spielberg's film. However, Sylvester Stallone is milking his legendary underdog character for one more go-around and his pandering to the voters on a well-executed circuit run of interviews will most likely pan out. But you better believe I'll have my fingers crossed.

Best Actress

Winner - Brie Larson (Room)

In what was once a widely debated race, Brie Larson has slowly emerged as a sure-fire selection and it doesn't go without merit. If you haven't seen Room, then shame on you. One of the year's most gripping and powerful films deserves even more acclaim, perhaps something like a Best Picture statue. But is Best Actress is all the Academy is willing to give, then Larson and the entire cast and crew of Room will have to take it. 

Best Actor

Winner - Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

After nearly an entire life in the industry, Leonardo DiCaprio will finally earn his first Oscar win this evening. Fans of the megastar can finally rejoice that their man's legacy has been cemented with other Oscar-winning greats. But most importantly, this is Leo's night and I hope it's as wonderful as he's always imagined it would be. This is one speech I'm eager to see.

Best Director

Winner - Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant)

If it takes 65 years for an event to happen again, needless to say it's a historical achievement. And since the Oscars are only entering their 88th year in existence, back to back Best Director wins for Alejandro G. Inarritu (last year for Birdman as well) cannot be overstated. His work is brilliant and even though he faces staunch competition in the form of unrecognized lifelong auteur, George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), and other potential Best Picture winner helmers, Tom McCarthy and Adam McKay, Inarritu is the most deserving filmmaker of the year.

Best Picture

Winner - Spotlight

In a bit of a shocker, I'm going to go against the grain with my Best Picture prediction. It's never the "sexy" pick rolling with the front-running film since October, especially considering The Revenant's late surge in the race. However, if history tells us anything it's that a large portion of the older voting members have a dislike for overly-violent content. And if there's a defining adjective that best describes The Revenant, it's violent. In fact, with all things considered, Inarritu's exceptional work wouldn't even be my second choice. I'm of the belief that if Spotlight doesn't end of the big winner this evening, it could very well be The Big Short, another entry with a head of steam in its favor. But no matter what direction tonight's awards show chooses, it should be one hell of a ride.

Friday, February 26, 2016

LAST CHANCE: Free Oscar Contest!

With the Oscar ceremony finally arriving this Sunday February 28th, this is your last chance to enter our free contest by following the directions below (all it requires is an email address with NO SPAM ever!):

Step 2: In the "Join Password" box type - oscargold

Step 3: Fill out the form including a username, password and email address

Then, once you're signed up, pick a winner in each Oscar category (once again, you have until February 28th to make/change your selections). The winner of the contest will receive a $50 gift card to a movie theater chain of their choice (Regal, AMC or Landmark Theaters). Invite as many friends as you'd like!

Note: Entry will close at 8am EST Saturday February 27th and the winner must have a mailing address in the 48 continental states.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Light Between Oceans and The Preppie Connection Trailers

Director Derek Cianfrance emerged onto the scene with his highly regarded 2010 relationship drama, Blue Valentine. Two short years later he pushed hard to ultimately release his ambitious three-part and multi-generational film, The Place Beyond the Pines. Since then, we haven't seen or heard from Cianfrance ... until now. Lined up for a September release, a trailer has dropped for the filmmaker's newly adapted effort, The Light Between Oceans. Michael Fassbender stars as an Australian lighthouse keeper who, along with his wife (Alicia Vikander), discovers an infant floating in wreckage. And after years of raising the child as their own, the couple eventually learns of the child's true identity. The cast is top notch so there's certainly reasons worth getting excited for The Light Between Oceans.

Another intriguing new trailer to drop recently comes from a brief festival circuit entry, The Preppie Connection. Director Joseph Castelo's based on a true story film stars Thomas Mann (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) as a prep school student who became an international drug trafficker in the 1980s in order to win the affection of a female classmate. Headed for a limited release this March, a solid trailer has me on the lookout for The Preppie Connection.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Rapid Reviews: The Witch and The Lady in the Van

Robert Eggers' The Witch has been on my radar ever since its vocalized debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015 resulted in an award-winning run on the festival circuit. When in comes to the genesis of my affinity for film watching, the horror genre has always been the heart of my bloodlines. And with the fresh indie horror title, The Witch, finally receiving a theatrical run, Eggers breeds new life into the creatively barren genre.

William (Ralph Ineson) is the patriarch of a deeply devout Puritan family in 1630s New England who breaks away from their local community following a dispute in beliefs. The husband, his wife and five children settle on a pristine location at the edge of a large wilderness where they begin a new life dedicated to god. But after their infant child goes missing and their harvest yields destroyed crops, the family starts to believe that they are cursed by darker evil.

The Witch cleverly utilizes a creepy 1600s setting to enhance the fear and uncertainty splashes all throughout the feature. Tension builds slowly but effectively as the family spiral deeper and deeper into madness. A wonderful collection of unknowns put worth spectacular performances that help carry this period piece along the way to an explosive finale. In conjunction with stellar direction and a strong cast, Mark Korven's eerie score is a brilliant complementary force that sets the mood perfectly throughout the film. The Witch stumbles over some issues with pacing at its onset and the dialogue takes some getting accustomed to, but even an over-the-top final scene becomes forgivable thanks to a well crafted story that's executed remarkably well by its first-time director.

Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

By now we're all familiar with the indisputable acting talents of two-time Academy Award winner, Maggie Smith. And in the twilight of her performing career she tackles a kooky true story in Alan Bennett's stage-play turned feature film, The Lady in the Van. Yet, despite her widely acclaimed performance that landed her both a Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination, Bennett's adapted story lacks the necessary depth to pull of the transition.

Miss Sheppard (Smith) has built a sketchy reputation as a homeless woman living out of her van. Traveling around from town to town and making residence on any street corner that will allow her, Miss Sheppard lasts just long enough to always outstay her welcome. That is, until writer Alan Bennett befriends the puzzling old woman and eventually offers up his personal driveway to her where the unlikely duo form an unusual bond over the course of 15 years.

The Lady in the Van offers a healthy dose of the ceremonial British wit, thanks in large part to Maggie Smith's knack for humor. However, the film fails to dig beneath the surface of her character as the story migrates back and forth between Miss Sheppard's bizarre life story and Bennett's personal struggles with his sexual orientation and lack of connection with his own mother. In a very self aware style that becomes immediately obvious, The Lady in the Van merely glosses over its most fascinating and primary character in order to paint a clearer, and admittedly less interesting, picture of the story's author. Consequently, the product as a whole suffers and leaves the film as nothing more than a pedestrian cinematic effort.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Midnight Special (NEW) and The Purge: Election Year Trailers

Following a pair of overlooked and impressive features, namely Take Shelter and Mud, budding American filmmaker, Jeff Nichols, returns in March with his latest effort, Midnight Special. Nichols has already illustrated a unique ability to blend a supernatural element with intense drama and he plans to take his game a step further with an intriguing sci-fi angle. Michael Shannon (99 Homes) stars as a father who if forced to go on the run once he discovers his son (St. Vincent's Jaeden Lieberher) has special powers. This second trailer for Midnight Special reveals a whole lot more and, needless to say, it's definitely increased my interest level.

Horror franchise, The Purge, continues to press on with a third installment set to hit theaters later this summer. The Purge: Election Year marks the return of Frank Grillo who stars as the head of security for a Senator (Elizabeth Mitchell) who is leading in the race for president and vowing to put an end to the holiday. Clearly, the powers that be take umbrage with her plans and plot to kill the Senator during the upcoming annual purge. After the franchise's second feature far surpassed the original, this third go-around will be an integral part of its future success. The Purge: Election Year arrives on July 1st and you can catch its debut trailer below.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Rapid Reviews: Deadpool and The Benefactor

On its way to a record-breaking President's Day weekend, Tim Miller's Deadpool is the latest craze from the Marvel Comic universe. While I'm here to confirm that the film is definitely a strong watch for a multitude of reasons, I can't say that I'm on board with the massive, over-the-top outpouring of affection handed to Ryan Reynold's decade-long passion project. Currently rated as #44 on IMDB's all-time movie list (which is unfathomable to comprehend), please temper those expectations and simply enjoy the ride.

Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is a self-absorbed mercenary who finally experiences the powerful, life-altering ability of true love when he meets Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). But as their emotional bond grows throughout the passing months, Wade eventually discovers that he's suffering from widespread late-stage cancer. Desperate to overcome the fatal illness and, more importantly, refusing to grow weak and feeble in the eyes of Vanessa, Wade disappears and accepts a nefarious offer to transform his dying body into a mutated form with super-human abilities.

Deadpool is a self-aware and relentlessly sarcastic superhero flick unlike anything audiences have ever experienced. The film's desperation for laughs becomes almost as detrimental as it beneficial. But comedy is the most notable aspect of Deadpool, its non-chronological and well structured story is delivered extremely well. This consuming 100 minute high-octane ride offers magnificent fight sequences, spectacular visuals and something the other film's from the Marvel universe always seem to lack, a developed and enticing villainous foe. Deadpool isn't the finest superhero film to ever captivate audiences, but it's one that's certainly worth a viewing, or two.

Stars: 3 stars out of 4

Grade: B

One of my targeted films during this past October's annual Philadelphia Film Festival was director Andrew Renzi's debut, The Benefactor. Not only was the movie set and filmed locally in the City of Brotherly Love, but The Benefactor also boasts an intriguing level of acting talent which includes Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning and Theo James.

Franny (Gere) is a wealthy philanthropist who unexpectedly loses his best friends in a tragic accident. Years later the deceased couple's daughter (Fanning) returns to Philadelphia with her new beau (James) and Franny graciously welcomes them back with lavish gifts and an overstepping friendship. And as the older man continues to sandwich himself in their lives in hopes of recapturing the past, Franny's darkest demons begin to surface and paint a broader picture of his troubled life.

The Benefactor is an aimless feature that continues to lose touch with the audience following each and every wandering step it takes. To the film's credit, though, leading star Richard Gere delivers a memorable and charismatic performance as a wealthy but frail individual who spirals further into an eye-opening world of addiction. There are some gripping and harsh moments sprinkled wonderfully throughout The Benefactor but, unfortunately, they become lost in the wider scope of the film.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2016 Oscar Talk - Part I

We're less than three weeks out from the 88th annual Academy Awards ceremony and now seems like a perfect time to put the major categories under a microscope. But before I discuss the current state of the notable races, here's a reminder about our FREE OSCAR POOL with a chance to win a $50 movie gift card. Now, here's a look at how the Oscars are shaping up:

Best Picture

After a powerful SAG Best Ensemble win, Tom McCarthy's frontrunner, Spotlight, is doing an admirable job of fending off the fast-rising housing crisis drama, The Big Short. Spotlight has held onto its frontrunner status since October and, during this stretch run for the voters, Academy members generally are looking for another film to latch onto. Arguments can be made for the cinematic conquest, The Revenant, but its violent and visceral content may be too big of a turnoff to the voting body. Therefore, Spotlight currently holds a slight and dwindling lead over The Big Short.

Dark Horses: Mad Max: Fury Road earned 8 nominations in all and The Martian followed close behind with 7. Both films are clearly adored by the Academy and can't be fully counted out just yet.

Best Actor

In what's become the most solidified competition of Oscar night, Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) has become an absolute shoo-in for the win. It's been a long time coming but DiCaprio better start preparing his speech for what's guaranteed to be a milestone evening.

Dark Horse: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) is the only other name worth mentioning but even his chances seen like a lost cause.

Best Actress

After her humbling SAG win, things are shaping up nicely for the marginal Best Actress frontrunner, Brie Larson (Room). Despite all of Larson's recent accolades, her lead doesn't feel quite safe thanks to the lofty support for her biggest rival, Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn). Both women are extremely deserving in a year that's truly propelled the state of female acting talent. 

Dark Horse: If you're forcing me to pick a potential spoiler in this category, I know for a fact that, despite her recent controversial remarks, the many elder voting members have a lot of respect for the career work of Charlotte Rampling (45 Years).

Best Director

The Best Director competition is a bit more intriguing. On one hand it seems unjust for the Academy to deny Alejandro G. Inarritu's phenomenal work in The Revenant simply because he took home the director statue for last year's Best Picture winner, Birdman. Yet, the deserving filmmaker's biggest rival comes in the form of a lifelong auteur, George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), who revived a classic franchise to unbelievable heights. Miller could be rewarded for a career of fine work, but I still think it's too outrageous to overlook Inarritu's unmatched direction.

Dark Horse: With the recent head of steam surrounding Adam McKay's The Big Short, it's a distinct possibility that a late surge in the Best Picture race could be coupled with a directorial statue as well.

Best Supporting Actor

For a long while I've felt like the only person on the planet who hasn't fawned over the boxing hit, Creed. And although i was very fond of Sylvester Stallone's emotional turn, I was shocked to see him outlast a long list of worthy supporting performances. With the outpouring of love for the film and a fantastic rebound story to go along with a potential win, Stallone will be tough to knock down. However, Mark Rylance absolutely commanded every second of screen time he was given in Bridge of Spies, and he's far and ahead the most deserving nominee. It's an uphill battle but I have faith that the Academy will get it right just like they did in 2013 when they shocked viewers worldwide by awarding Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained).

Dark Horse: You shouldn't discount Tom Hardy's chances at winning either. The highly regarded performer co-starred in the Oscar's two most-nominated films, The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road. Tack on a strong dual-role showing in Legend, and Hardy could be rewarded for a fantastic year all-around.

Best Supporting Actress

Their studios pushed hard as Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) and Rooney Mara (Carol) both landed in the Supporting Actress race, despite their large roles and massive amounts of screen time. While many view Mara as the likely choice, I'm leaning slightly in favor of Vikander after her statement-making SAG win. Carol's omission from the Best Picture competition puts the two actresses on an even playing field and I was more impressed by Vikander's work. This is the tightest race by far, so don't be surprised by either one of these ladies getting their name called.

Dark Horse: Kate Winslet's role in Steve Jobs wasn't as prominent as either women above, yet her performance was utterly brilliant and as deserving. Hopefully she gets rewarded for her impactful work.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016 Free Oscar Pool

We're officially 3 weeks away from Oscar Sunday and this year's awards ceremony is shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable events in recent memory. Greg Rouleau (Reel True) and I are hosting our annual Oscar contest once again and it's completely FREE TO JOIN!

If you're interested in entering for a chance to win a $50 gift card to a movie theater chain (your choice of Regal, AMC and Landmark theaters), then just follow the simple instructions below. Best of luck to everyone!

Step 2: In the "Join Password" box type - oscargold

Step 3: Fill out the form including a username, password and email address

There is no spam, ever, and feel free to invite as many of your friends as you'd like. Come celebrate your Oscar Sunday with us!

Note: The winner must have a mailing address in the 48 continental states.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Miles Ahead and Get a Job Trailers

It was just last summer when Don Cheadle's directorial debut and festival darling, Miles Ahead, had a small amount of buzz as an Oscar contender. However, the indie biopic never reached theaters and it was swept under the rug until it re-emerged at the Sundance Film Festival last month. Cheadle also stars in a lead role as famed trumpeter, Miles Davis, who works to recover some missing tapes from a recording session. Miles Ahead has landed a small theatrical release in April, but Oscar hopes have all but faded. Check out its debut trailer below.

Two performers I usually seek out, Miles Teller and Anna Kendrick, will be teaming up in the upcoming romantic comedy, Get a Job. The pair star as a recently graduated couple who are forced to take the step from college to the "real world", only to discover that life is much more difficult than they anticipated. Teller and Kendrick have the ability to carry a rom-com but it's going to come down to Dylan Kidd's direction and the quality of the script. Get a Job arrives in theaters on March 25th.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hail, Caesar!

Film: Hail, Caesar!

Starring: Josh Brolin (Sicario), George Clooney (Gravity) and Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures)

Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen (True Grit)

U.S. Release: February 5th, 2016 (Rated PG-13)

Genre: Comedy

Runtime: 106 minutes

The dynamic sibling duo of Joel and Ethan Coen have already left a tremendous imprint on the film industry. As gifted writers and prolific visionaries who are all too familiar with Oscar acclaim, any entry of theirs is graciously accepted by critics and viewing audiences alike. Oddly, though, Joel and Ethan's latest cinematic work, Hail, Caesar!, lands as an early year release competing in theaters against numerous elite Oscar contenders, something the brothers haven't experienced since they debuted The Ladykillers in March of 2004. But despite their multiple pieces of Academy Award-winning hardware, Hail, Caesar! reveals itself as a comedy-heavy film that's far from the brothers' finest achievements.

Set throughout 1950s Hollywood, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) is a movie executive for Capital Pictures who's known for cleaning up a mess or two (or three). If a director encounters a problem or the acting talent becomes entangled in a poor decision, Eddie arrives to reset the world back to normal. But when the studio's most prominent release of the year is compromised because its leading star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is kidnapped and held for ransom, Mannix begins to question his love for the job while he works to fix this potentially final problem.

Although it suffers from a few devastating flaws, Hail, Caesar! serves as another fine comedic endeavor for the Coen brothers. The laughs are endless and the film's tone is almost absurdly jocular enough to overshadow its blatant disregard for a cohesive storyline. This self-mocking examination of Hollywood and filmmaking in general possesses a certain spark and bravado that eases the viewer to the final credits. Hail, Caesar! engages with a natural wit and humor that's effortlessly provided by a star-studded cast which includes Brolin, Clooney, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Ralph Fiennes and newcomer, Alden Ehrenreich. Be warned, though, the film is completely devoid of any dramatic elements whatsoever, making Hail, Caesar! a limited effort from a duo with unlimited potential.

Through no fault of its own, Hail, Caesar! will unfairly be measured beside a long list of exceptional titles previously released by the Coen brothers. And in no way, shape or form can this new entry stack up against hits such as Fargo, No Country for Old Men and The Big Lebowski. Structurally, the Coen's offer a jumbled story that struggles to develop characters and deliver a meaningful message. The film is riddled with random scenes and highlighted moments that work well on their own but fail to amount to a greater whole.

If you're dying for the next great Coen brothers epic, you'll have to keep waiting. Hail, Caesar! is a reasonable comedy that gets by on mild humor and admirably committed performances. Yet, the film falls well shy of the duo's reputable heights which will surely disappoint many. Rushing out to theaters to catch it on the big screen may be a bit rash, but there are still a few reasons worth enjoying Hail, Caesar!.

Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Ultimate 2016 Movie Preview - Part II

Last week, with the assistance of guest writer, Greg Rouleau (Reel True), we discussed the upcoming year's most enticing family/animated films, major blockbusters and upcoming releases (Part I). Today we close out our 2016 movie preview with a look at the year's most anticipated horror films, comedies, dramas and award season hopefuls. Here's what you can expect from the upcoming cinematic year:


The Witch (February 19th)  With successful indie horror films such as The Babadook and It Follows dominating the genre lately, it's no surprise that one of the most buzzed-about scary movies of the year is Robert Eggers' festival darling, The Witch. Set in 1630s New England, a family's recent string or bad luck is blamed on witchcraft and black magic. Early reviews have been overly positive, so horror fans should definitely be on the look-out later this month.

Rings (April 1st)  One of this millennium's finest horror offerings was 2002's The Ring. Although its eventual sequel left plenty to be desired, the evil entity Samara returns for more vengeance. While odds are slim that this latest entry will deliver the same haunting tone as the original, Rings is an intriguing sequel that I will certainly take a chance on.

The Conjuring 2 (June 10th) James Wan captivated audiences with the first installment of his series and he's back to direct the second go-around as well. In the sequel Lorraine and Ed Warren (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) venture to London to help a single mother combat malicious evil spirits. Wan handed off his Insidious franchise in order to devote his full attention to this follow-up film, which easily makes The Conjuring 2 one of 2016's biggest must-see horror titles.

Other Horror Releases: Rob Zombie's ultra violent 31 debuted last month at the Sundance Film Festival, leaving everyone hoping for a 2016 general release. Next, this July The Purge 3 looks to build upon the franchises much improved second installment. And finally, the partitioned horror flick, Holidays, is aiming for a 2016 release. The film features an array of directors who each helm their own horror segment based on different national holidays. You can count me in!


The Nice Guys (May 20) – Shane Black’s directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is one of the finest films of the 2000s, and after helming the latest Iron Man movie, he returns to the comedy genre with The Nice Guys.  Starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, they play a duo investigating the suicide of a 1970s porn star in Los Angeles.  With Black’s trademark humor, style and action evident in the trailer this one could be a sleeper hit of the year.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (May 20) – 2014’s Neighbors was a surprisingly decent comedy, perhaps not quite warranting a sequel, but alas this May we’re getting part two.  Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne and Zac Efron are returning, but this time they’re teaming up to combat the shenanigans of the new sorority house they’re at war with.  Chloe Grace Moretz and Selena Gomez also star as a couple of sorority sisters.

Ghostbusters (Jul 15) – We’ll get our second dose of Melissa McCarthy (The Boss arrives in April) in the summer as her and Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and the superlative Kate McKinnon debut the latest effort in the Ghostbusters franchise.  With the all female cast, directed by Bridesmaids’ Paul Feig, it’ll be interesting to see how this version translates on screen.  Much of the original cast is set to reprise their roles in, at the very least, small cameos.

More in Comedy: The Boss, Table 19, Get a Job, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, How to Be Single, Central Intelligence, Keeping Up with the Joneses, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Arms and the Dudes.

Dramas/Thrillers/Award Hopefuls

Free State of Jones (May 13) – In May we’ll get to see the latest from director Gary Ross (Hunger Games, Seabiscuit) in this period drama where Matthew McConaughey stars as a farmer from Mississippi who leads a group of rebels against the Confederate army.

La La Land (Jul 15) – Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) debuts his sophomore effort this summer, entitled La La Land.  Ryan Gosling plays a jazz pianist that falls in love with an aspiring actress in Los Angeles, played by Emma Stone.  JK Simmons, who Chazelle directed to a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, also has a role in the film.

Sully (Sep 9) – Clint Eastwood will follow up his hugely successful American Sniper with another modern day biopic, this time with Tom Hanks as pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who successfully landed a US Airways plane on the Hudson River in 2009.

The Girl on the Train (Oct 7) The Girl on the Train, directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), is adapted from the best-selling novel about Rachel Watson (Emily Blunt) and her thrilling adventures as she travels past her ex-husbands house on the train every day.  Word is the story is very similar to another recent thriller adapted from a popular novel, Gone Girl.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Nov 11) – Ang Lee’s follow up to his Oscar winning Life of Pi is adapted from a novel by another Oscar winner, screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire, Simon Beaufoy.  This story is about a group of soldiers in Iraq who return home triumphantly, hailed as the “Bravo Squad”, and embark on a victory tour including a halftime showcase at a Dallas Cowboys game.  But during this tour the group learns they must return to duty in Iraq and we see the ensuing results.

The Founder (Nov 25) – The Oscar push for Michael Keaton continues this year – with prime Oscar fodder, a starring role in a biopic – as he portrays McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc.  John Lee Hancock (Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directs, and Nick Offerman and Laura Dern are in supporting roles.

Passengers (Dec 21) – A big-budget, sci-fi blockbuster with awards aspirations seems to be commonplace every year now.  In 2016, Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) brings us Passengers.  The story is about a spaceship traveling to a distant world where all of the passengers are under a deep sleep.  But when one malfunctions and a man is awoken, he makes the decision to wake up another passenger rather than spend the next 60 years alone.  Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, arguably the biggest box-office duo possible, are in the lead roles.

Gold (TBA) – It’s been over ten years since Stephen Gaghan’s had a major release, but he returns with a promising project lined up for later this year.  Gold tells the story of a duo (Matthew McConaughey and Bryce Dallas Howard) and their adventures to find gold in an Indonesian jungle.

Story of Your Life (TBA) – Before embarking on the Blade Runner sequel, Denis Villenueve will give us his fourth movie in three years with Story of Your Life.  Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner will star in a story about aliens making their presence known around the world, and they must determine if their intentions are benevolent or malicious.

Silence (TBA) – Martin Scorsese’s latest effort is about two priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who travel to Japan to find their mentor (Liam Neeson) and face religious persecution during their journey.

More in Drama: Birth of a Nation, Lost City of Z, Untitled Robert Zemeckis World War II Movie, Snowden, Deepwater Horizon, All I See is You, The Great Wall, The Light Between Oceans, The Promise, War Machine, Queen of Katwe, A Monster Calls, Inferno, Magnificent Seven, Nocturnal Animals and The Accountant.