After a quiet week for movie news last week, there’s plenty to talk about this time around, with some major sequel announcements and some big changes over at the Academy.
The Oscars organisation has welcomed a whole load of new members and, meanwhile, the latest James Bond movie has been criticised for its tone. Elsewhere, there’s a trailer for a glossy movie that will surely be an awards favourite and cinema mourns the sad passing of two idiosyncratic directorial talents.
Here’s your weekly round-up of all the movie news that matters.
Academy adds diverse new members
In the wake of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy this year, it was inevitable that the Academy’s ‘Class of 2016’ was going to have to feature a commitment to diversity at its heart. This week, the organisation behind the Oscars announced its new members and it’s clear diversity was a key concern. The new class is 46% female and 41% of the new members are people of colour.
There are plenty of big names in the class, including actors Alicia Vikander, Emma Watson, Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston and directors Ryan Coogler (Creed) and Lenny Abrahamson (Room). Star Wars leading man John Boyega was also amongst the newcomers.
It’s great to see the Academy taking a positive step forward in terms of diversity and hopefully this will be reflected in some more unconventional and interesting choices next time the Oscars come around.
Pacific Rim and Wreck-it Ralph sequels due 2018
In the wake of John Boyega’s casting a few weeks ago, there’s yet more concrete news about the long-awaited sequel to Guillermo del Toro‘s monsters versus robots smackdown Pacific Rim. According to Entertainment Weekly, the sequel will be released into cinemas on February 23, 2018.
Meanwhile, 2018 will also see the big screen return of Wreck-it Ralph. The original movie, set inside the complex ecosystem of a video game arcade, made almost $500m for Disney, so it’s no surprise to see them returning to that universe for a sequel. The studio has announced that Ralph will return to cinemas on March 9, 2018.
Both of these films were incredibly entertaining movies set in vast universes that can really be explored by a sequel. These were self-contained stories, but they hinted at a large world beyond those stories and there is therefore ample scope for both of these to make the spring period of 2018 a really good one for movies.
Tom Hanks takes to the skies for Sully
It’s a tale stranger than any fiction. On January 15, 2009, a pilot was able to successfully land US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, saving the lives of 155 passengers and crew. Now, Tom Hanks will play pilot Chesley B Sullenberger in the dramatisation Sully: Miracle on the Hudson, helmed by Clint Eastwood. This week saw the release of the film’s first teaser trailer.
The film teases a rather melodramatic, but entertaining take on the incredible story. Hanks always excels as the everyman hero and his likeable persona will be what drives the film to almost inevitable success. Sully is set for a December 2016 release, suggesting that Hanks should probably start getting his suit fitted for the Oscars pretty soon.
Spectre violence attracts most complaints
Since Daniel Craig took over the role of James Bond, the spy franchise has certainly had a grittier, more violent edge to it. That came to its zenith in Spectre, which featured eye gouging, prolonged torture and graphic depiction of suicide. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the film has topped the BBFC’s list of the most complained about films of 2015. The classification board received 40 complaints about its 12A certificate given the violence on show. David Austin, BBFC chief executive, said that he thought the film was “solidly in the category and not borderline”.
There’s no doubt that Spectre was a tough film at the 12A certificate, but it’s equally clear that 12A films are becoming more violent as audience tastes change and filmmakers are able to convey moments of violence in more implicit ways.
Peter Jackson is making a secret movie
He took a brief hiatus after completing the gargantuan task of desperately trying to make the Hobbit trilogy interesting, but Peter Jackson is now back behind the camera. Steven Spielberg, speaking to the New Zealand Herald, revealed that Jackson would be working on a “secret” project before collaborating with The Beard on the next Tintin movie.
This is intriguing news to say the least, given that Jackson’s movies tend to be enormous projects that garner a tonne of media and industry attention. Needless to say, we will all be waiting to see what Jackson is working on. It’s bound to be something exciting. As long as it isn’t another Tolkien movie…
Barkhad Abdi joins Blade Runner sequel
Details about the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, directed by Sicario‘s Denis Villeneuve, have been drip-feeding for a long time. The latest tidbit, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly is that Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling will be joined by Barkhad Abdi, most recently seen in drone warfare thriller Eye in the Sky.
Abdi is a dependable actor, who has been rightly very picky about his roles since breaking out with an Oscar-nominated turn in Captain Phillips. His involvement in the Blade Runner sequel is yet another detail suggesting that this could be a very interesting movie.
Wicker Man director Robin Hardy dies aged 86
There was sad news this week, with the news that Robin Hardy, director of horror classic The Wicker Man, passed away at the age of 86. He also made The Fantasist and The Wicker Tree, with the latter acting as a companion piece to his iconic 1973 debut. A third film in the loose trilogy, entitled The Wrath of the Gods, had been planned, but now seems unlikely to be made.
The Wicker Man is one of the great British horror movies and it showcases a director with a unique sense of style and a real commitment to the darkly bizarre. It’s a truly singular piece of work, which perhaps explains why Hardy made such rare appearances behind the camera after his remarkable debut. His loss is a truly sad one to the world of cinema.
There was another sad loss to the movies this week, with Michael Cimino, director of The Deer Hunter, passing away aged 77. Cimino covered himself in glory with his Vietnam-set Oscar winner, but then bombed with wallet-busting western Heaven’s Gate, which is credited with putting an end to director-driven studio movies. He will certainly be remembered as one of cinema’s most ambitious practitioners.
Has the Academy solved its diversity problem? Was Spectre too violent? What do you think Peter Jackson is up to? Let me know in the comments section and come back next Sunday for another news round-up.