Without a doubt, 2015 was a massive year for the Australian film industry. Critically and commercially, our local output hit new heights. Records were set, and records were quickly broken. Jocelyn Moorhouse’s runaway success, The Dressmaker, closed out the year perfectly, proving that there’s an audience for female-driven movies; George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road raked in a cool $375 million worldwide, making it the ninth most successful local film ever; and more low key successes like Last Cab To Darwin, Holding The Man and Alex & Eve combined with family offerings such as Oddball, The Blinky Bill Movie, and Paper Planes to form the highest box office share for Australian cinema since 2001.
With 2015 now behind us, it’s time to take a look at what lies in store for the next year in Australian cinema. And while the last twelve months may have set a high watermark, 2016 looks to be just as exciting, with a diverse range of unique local offerings set for release. You will note that a number of films have been omitted. The simple reason is that they have been released in one way or another, mainly through film festivals in 2015; films like Downriver, Backtrack, The Daughter, and Looking for Grace. Here are ten films that we are looking forward to seeing in cinemas in 2016.
Based on a true story (and memoir A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley) and starring Nicole Kidman, David Wenham, Dev Patel, and Rooney Mara, Lion might just be the hit of the new year. 25 years after being lost on the streets of Calcutta and subsequently adopted by an Australian family, a young man sets out to find his birth family…via Google Maps. Internationally renowned for his work on commercials, director, Garth Davis, counts the Cannes Golden Lion to his name, along with TV credits including Love My Way, and most recently, the co-directing gig on the acclaimed Top Of The Lake with Jane Campion. Released in late 2016.
The Cronulla riots recently “celebrated” their ten-year anniversary, and there is no better time to unleash Down Under, a blackly comedic take on this embarrassing time in our country’s history, as a group of young men careen on a collision course. Featuring some of this country’s most talented young performers in Lincoln Younnes, Alexander England, Rahel Romahn, Josh McConville and Damon Herriman (not so young, but very talented), Down Under is bound to ruffle feathers – just the way that its director, Abe Forsythe, intended. Released mid 2016.
GODS OF EGYPT
Cult director, Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City), is back with the big budget fantasy, Gods Of Egypt. With a cast including Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush, and Brenton Thwaites, it tells the story of a mortal man’s battle to defeat Set, the Egyptian god of darkness. The film’s director has had to apologise for his Anglo-looking casting, and has set out on a mission to change perceptions of this early press, so we are yet to find out if this is going to be I, Frankenstein or Mad Max: Fury Road. Let’s hope the latter. Released in February 2016.
RED DOG: TRUE BLUE
The sequel to one of the most successful Australian films ever, and sure to be one of the biggest films this year, Red Dog: True Blue is the story of Red Dog’s discovery on the road to Dampier, and his subsequent ascension to local legend. With a doco in the works about the real Red Dog, be prepared for Red Dog fever come Boxing Day. Released Boxing Day 2016.
From director, Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae), and screenwriter, Shaun Grant (Snowtown), comes the story of a rebellious Aboriginal boy and his friend Charlie, who after bearing witness to a terrible crime, must navigate the dense forests and unsuspecting denizens of Corrigan to solve a dark mystery. Released in late 2016.
In the distant future, a time of interplanetary globalisation, it’s up to Daniel Macpherson and Kellan Lutz to solve an impending global crisis while confronting the monsters that live deep within all men. Shane Abbess’s sci-fi thriller – his follow-up to last year’s Infini, and a continuation of genre filmmaking in this country – also stars Isabel Lucas and Rachel Griffiths as inhabitants of the brave new world. Watch out for young Teagan Croft as Macpherson’s daughter to be a breakout here. Released in the second half of 2016.
Another comedy to look forward to in 2016 is the directorial debut of Doug Anthony Allstar and comedy writing coach, Tim Ferguson (co-directing with Marc Gracie), with Spin Out. Featuring a host of familiar names such as Melissa Bergland, Lincoln Lewis, Tessa James, and Xavier Samuel, Spin Out is the story of that most idiosyncratically Australian of inventions, the outback Australian Bachelors & Spinsters Ball. The film also signals Sony Pictures’ return to backing Australian product; always a good thing! Released in September 2016.
Australia’s favourite chronically angry but technically astute bastard son, Mel Gibson, is back behind the lens with this WW2 tale about the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded The Congressional Medal Of Honour. The film features a brilliant cast including Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughn, plus locals, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Richard Roxburgh, Matt Nable and Teresa Palmer, making it one to watch out for in 2016. Released in late 2016.
A man’s life repeats itself in the same manner in exactly the same way ending every day at 2.22pm. Directed by Paul Currie (making a return to the director’s chair after 2004’s mixed One Perfect Day), this psychological nightmare starring Teresa Palmer and Sam Reid should garner attention based on its fascinating premise alone. Released in late 2016.
This one isn’t going to trample the box office, but since when was that a reason to see a film? Oh, hang on…. Broke is about an old working class man stumbling upon his favourite ex-rugby league star destitute and struggling through a gambling addiction. He takes him in, setting him on a journey of self-discovery that will have lasting consequences for all involved. This moving drama – starring Max Cullen as the Good Samaritan, Steve Le Marquand as the fallen hero, and Claire van der Boom as the love interest – is bound to be a hit among both sports fans and devotees of dramatic character studies. Broke is already doing the regional festival rounds and will hit major cities in early 2016.