We’re starting to move away from the UK’s awards season now; the BAFTAs have been handed out, with the movie where an adult woman beats up a group of kids and gets away with it winning big, and the Oscars build for March 5th (come and watch it with The Edge at The Stags! *plugplugplug*) is well under way. Where our January and February are filled with awards hitters and a few unfortunate duds, we now see cinema begin to filter its way into March and the precursor to the summer movie season. This is where things begin to diversify, for this March we have stop-motion animated films, crude comedies and visually stunning blockbusters… lets have a look at the top picks…
Game Night, dir. by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein
Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Billy Magnussen, Sharon Horgan, Lamorne Morris, Kylie Bunbury, Jesse Plemmons, Michael C. Hall.
Release Date: March 2nd.
I don’t know about you, but I feel like we’ve been a little hard done by in the comedy genre over the last few years. Seemingly gone are the days when the beloved 21 Jump Street, The Hangover and Bridesmaids come out, make tidy profits, burst audience’s sides and score sterling reviews. Yes, there are always a few exceptions, 2017’s Girl’s Trip definitely struck a chord with many, but largely comedies are reduced to the crude jokes with no payoffs or punchlines, relying the capabilities of their leads, here’s looking at you, Get Hard. But this where Game Night comes in, with the likeable and experienced Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams in the lead roles, and the duo of John Francis Daley (that’s Sam Weir to you Freaks and Geeks fans) and Jonathan Goldstein serving as directors, Game Night has already made waves across the pond. The film tells a simple story, A group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves trying to solve a murder mystery, and seems rather grounded in its dark, crime comedy, packed with wit and intelligence. Don’t take my word for it, the critics love it! RogerEbert.com, The Wrap, IGN and Village Voice all scored it highly, praising not only the performances and script, but also the storytelling, structure and pacing. So Game Night not only seems like a great comedy film, but a great film overall.
A Wrinkle in Time, dir. by Ava DuVernay
Starring: Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Peña, Storm Reid, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine, Levi Miller.
Release date: March 23rd.
After the barnstorming success of February’s Black Panther, Disney is not slowing down and continues to champion, promote and represent diversity in mainstream film, with A Wrinkle in Time being their next positive step forward. Based on the novel of the same name, the film tells a sci-fi/fantasy adventure story that promises to be a wholly unique experience this year. In director Ava DuVernay, undoubtedly one of the most talented figures in film right now, A Wrinkle in Time is already a historical film, as DuVernay becomes the first woman of colour director to receive a budget of over $100 million. This step not only solidifies DuVernay’s place as one of the most trusted and respected filmmakers in the world, but also that the film industry itself is progressing towards fairer representation and opportunities for people of colour in film. Not only is this for directors, but A Wrinkle in Time‘s predominantly female, POC cast is also an encouraging sign as Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and newcomer Storm Reid receive notable billing for the blockbuster project. I’m not meaning to encourage you to see this film just for diversity’s sake, I’m telling you to see it to support progression and diversification in mainstream, blockbuster filmmaking, and also to see what will likely be a damn good film. Reese Witherspoon, Michael Peña, Zach Galifianakis and Chris Pine bolster a strong ensemble, the trailers promise us a visual spectacle and in DuVernay’s hands, we know we’re in for a great experience.
Isle of Dogs, dir. by Wes Anderson
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban, Koyu Rankin, F. Murray Abraham, Greta Gerwig, Frances McDormand, Courtney B. Vance, Fisher Stevens, Mari Natsuki, Harvey Keitel, Liev Schreiber, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Ken Watanabe, Yoko Ono.
Release date: March 30th.
Oh Wes Anderson, you quirky, joyful, special director you. If you look up “Wes Anderson” in a film dictionary, it’ll say “see also: delightful”, such is the irresistible style of one of the top auteurs in the industry. And this March, he’s back with Isle of Dogs, his latest stop-motion animated film following the rousing success of Fantastic Mr. Fox and his recent films Moonrise Kingdom and the multi-Oscar nominee The Grand Budapest Hotel. As is Anderson’s MO, the film has a quirky and simple premise, it is about an island of (talking) dogs near Japan, where one boy heads to find his dog. As per usual, Anderson has garnered a bonkers ensemble of talent, from those he’s worked with before like Murray, Norton and Goldblum, to first time collaborators like Bryan Cranston, this is a voice cast bursting with talent and charm, just like your typical Wes Anderson film. The director’s distinctive style, including his symmetrical imagery and cinematography, wit, mesmeric colour palette and narrative quirks, looks set to continue on in Isle of Dogs. And for those who have had the chance to see it at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, they’ve raved about it, already Isle of Dogs is success for Anderson. But come on, did you really expect anything else?
EDITOR’S PICK: Ready Player One, dir. by Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, T. J. Miller, Simon Pegg, Mark Rylance.
Release date: March 28th.
Ernest Cline’s novel, the Ready Player One in question, has been a sleeper hit, releasing to strong reviews but gradually building momentum year upon year until it became one of the hottest unfilmed projects on the planet. But finally Ready Player One is coming to the big screen, with a screenplay from Cline himself and with perhaps the greatest living director behind the camera – Steven Spielberg. But lets be honest, Spielberg hasn’t really had a blockbuster truly hit for him in a while; The BFG, The Adventures of Tintin and the much maligned Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have all let the auteur down, whilst War of the Worlds remains an underrated flick, A.I. remains as divisive as ever, and Minority Report seems to wallow in an odd purgatory of Spielberg’s filmography of the last 30 years. Truly, you’d have to go back to 1993 and Jurassic Park to arguably find Spielberg’s last bonafide, beloved hit. For a man that practically moulded the blockbuster himself, Spielberg needs this one to hit as much as we all want it to come together for him. But the parts are all there; Ready Player One is a conceptual playpen in which the director can run wild, the sometimes messy and nostalgia-heavy ideas of the book can and should make way in his hands for a more streamlined approach, but with a gripping and entertaining story at the heart of the source material, Ready Player One should make for an enthralling movie. The cast is strong and all seem well placed for their roles, particularly the sensational Olivia Cooke and Mark Rylance, Spielberg has always been an effective actor’s director, so expect strong performances throughout. Even if Ready Player One stumbles, it should still remain wildly entertaining, and it’s just a joy to see a director like Spielberg return to the big leagues that he helped established all those years ago.