Film and TV

Ten Don’t-Miss Movies of 2016

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7. Hail Caesar! (Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen)
Joel and Ethan Coen are poised to follow their bleak but tender Inside Llewyn Davis with what appears to be a more buoyant comedy: Hail Caesar!, a period farce about the kidnapping of a ’50s movie star headlined by virtually every major name in Los Angeles. Critic and Coen authority Adam Nayman insists that it will prove to be a covert Hollywood blacklist picture, and the theory sounds plausible: It’s the right era, the right milieu, the right material — and you can only imagine how scathingly the Coens will do McCarthyism.

8. Operation Avalanche (Directed by Matt Johnson)
Matt Johnson is something of a mad genius. His debut feature, Slamdance festival hit The Dirties, staged a high-school shooting as a comedy and yet somehow wound up more serious — morally serious — than many of the somber takes on the subject that came before it. What’s next promises to be even more audacious: Operation Avalanche, a “period mockumentary” presented as having been captured on the set of the supposedly faked moon landings in the ’60s, shot on expired 16mm film on Kubrick’s sound stage from 2001. That’s a special kind of lunacy.

9. Midnight Special (Directed by Jeff Nichols)
Take Shelter and Mud confirmed Jeff Nichols as a director of enviable gifts. He brought them to bear once again on Midnight Special, his first studio effort, made for $18 million and due out this spring. The so-called sci-fi chase film stars Michael Shannon — here teaming with Nichols for the fourth time — as the father of a son pursued for reasons unknown by parties unfamiliar. Nichols has said to expect a thriller in the fashion of early John Carpenter, which is encouragement enough.

10. Green Room (Directed by Jeremy Saulnier)
This close-quarters thriller was received enthusiastically by audiences at both Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival this year, and, like Saulnier’s excellent Blue Ruin before it, Green Room is set to round off its festival-circuit run with a few early-winter stops before arriving in theaters at maximum hype levels. Patrick Stewart leads the cast as a nefarious neo-Nazi pitted against a heroic punk band. 
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Calum Marsh is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group and its film partner, the Village Voice. VMG publications include LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Phoenix New Times, Miami New Times, Houston Press and Dallas Observer.