While this year’s slate of films is indeed packed with franchise pics, sequels and remakes, Hollywood is still on the hunt for original ideas, with a number of 2016’s most compelling films inspired by true life stories. Here’s seven to put on your wishlist now.
In order of release date.
THE FINEST HOURS
For those who love a ripping tale at sea, this new film from Disney is lifted from an astonishing event in 1952 when two tanker ships split in two during a ferocious storm off the coast of Massachusetts, leaving their crew members with just hours to live before the ships went down. The rescue of those mariners is the subject of this rocky sea adventure, which stars Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Casey Affleck and Eric Bana. In cinemas March 3.
Meryl Streep and Stephen Frears have teamed up to tell the “official biopic” but French director Xavier Giannoli and actress Catherine Frot snag the story first with this sharp satire, inspired by the life of American soprano Florence Foster Jenkins. Our titular heroine is a shameless opera singer with a surplus of money, whose whole life is devoted to music and lavish public performances. The only problem is she’s terribly out of tune, and no one in her hypocritical social circle dares to tell her. It’s blackly funny, but also deeply humane. Don’t wait for the Hollywood version, see this first. In cinemas April 21.
THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY
Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel takes on the role of Srinivasa Ramanujan, the early-20th century Indian mathematician whose groundbreaking theories revolutionised the field, and who had to overcome racism and prejudice to get his voice heard. If a film involving mathematical equations already has you sweatin’ it, note this biopic’s been praised for rendering Ramanujan’s hugely complex theories understandable even to beginners – a feat in itself. In cinemas May 5.
FREE STATE OF JONES (pictured above)
The last time he tackled a real life figure, it earned him an Oscar and now Matthew McConaughey is taking on the role of Newt Knight, a defiant Southern farmer who banded together with farmers and slaves to lead an extraordinary rebellion against the Confederacy. This one’s being directed by Gary Ross who helmed the first Hunger Games films and given the controversial and compelling figure at its helm, we have high hopes for it. In cinemas May 12.
ARMS AND THE DUDES
Todd Phillips first film since The Hangover III is being pegged as the story of “two stoners who become mega arms dealers”. Those two stoners are being played by Jonah Hill and Miles Teller who exploit a legal loophole to get rich via military contracts but the duo get in over their head when they land a $300 million deal to arm the Afghan Military. Sounds too crazy to be true and Phillips’ wicked sense of humour seems like a perfect match for this one. In cinemas August 18.
Having played a sea captain in Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks now takes on a pilot in a story that sounds a little like Robert Zemeckis’ Flight, only this one’s a true story. Captain Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger was deemed a national hero when the American “miracle” pilot glided his disabled plane into the Hudson River in 2009, saving the lives of 155 on board. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film not only recounts Sully’s heroic efforts but also the dramatic aftermath during which an investigation threatened to destroy his reputation. In cinemas September 8.
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN ON EARTH
Who else to headline this musical about legendary showman P.T. Barnum than Hugh Jackman? The Australian star will play the showman with a penchant for hoaxing a gullible public as he creates the three-ring circus that made him famous. Anne Hathaway will essay opera singer Jenny Lind, who Barnum was infatuated with. In cinemas December 26.