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The Films of 2006 - Preview

2006 promises to be a good year at the cinema with several new movies that are worth getting excited about.

There’s the franchises, of course, such as Pirates of the Carribean 2, Mission Impossible 3 and X-Men 3, as well as the return of 007 in Casino Royale, and a number of stand-alone movies that look good bets.

George Clooney looks set for another strong year with political thrillers Syriana and Goodnight, And Good Luck, while Denzel Washington re-teams with Spike Lee in heist thriller, Inside Man.

Here, we take a look at the films that are making us most excited in 2006…

Walk The Line poster

Walk The Line
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon
Plot: The story of Johnny Cash, from his early days as a struggling singer to his legendary concert at Folsom Prison. The film also functions as a love story between Cash and fellow country singer
Reason for seeing it: The performance of Phoenix in the title role is already generating a fair amount of Oscar buzz – and rightly so. Phoenix has nailed Cash (much like Jamie Foxx did with Ray), while he also performs his own songs in the film.
Release date: February 3
Read our review l Buy it


Lady Vegeance

Lady Vengeance
Director: Park Chan-Wook
Starring: Lee Yeong-ae
Plot: A High School student played by Lee Yeong-ae goes to jail to save her teacher only to discover that she has, in fact, been betrayed. She re-emerges some 13 years later determined to exact some retribution.
Reason for seeing it: Given the critical adulation surrounding Oldboy, it’s safe to say that Chan-Wook’s latest – which marks the third in his revenge trilogy – is going to be pretty hot but violent stuff. The film has already performed very well on the festival circuit (including Cannes and London).
Release date: February 10
Read our review l Buy it


David Strathairn in Goodnight, and Good Luck

Goodnight, and Good Luck
Director: George Clooney
Starring: David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jnr
Plot: The media confrontation between newscaster, Edward R Murrow and Senator Joe McCarthy that took place in 1950s America. Murrow was accused of being a Communist following his infamous broadcast against the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Reason for seeing it: George Clooney’s second film as director has already won awards on the festival circuit and was one of the highlights of last year’s London Film Festival. What’s more, the film – which is shot in black and white – provides a timely reminder of the merits of journalistic integrity at a politically sensitive time.
Release date: February 17
Read our review
l Buy it


Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote

Capote
Director: Bennett Miller
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener
Plot: Truman Capote, the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, reads an article on a back page of the New York Times telling of the murders of four members of a well-known farm family – the Clutters – in Holcomb, Kansas. Something about it catches his imagination.
Reason for seeing it: The first of two films about Truman Capote is set to feature an Oscar-calibre performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman. If nothing else, it should finally deliver a film worthy of the great actor’s talents. But Keener, in support, is also said to be splendid. Expect it to feature prominently because of the acting – although the story looks interesting too.
Release date: February 24
Read our review


George Clooney in Syriana

Syriana
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Christopher Plummer, Chris Cooper
Plot: A fictional examination of US oil companies, their dealings in the Middle East and terrorism.
Reason for seeing it: Stephen Gaghan wrote the screenplay for Traffic and here turns his hand to directing. The complex plot takes some following but it is a bold attempt to expose some uncomfortable home truths about the Middle East situation that boasts Oscar calibre performances from both a chubby George Clooney and a quietly affecting Matt Damon.
Release date: March 3

Read our review


Guy Pierce in The Proposition

The Proposition
Director: John Hillcoat
Starring: Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Guy Pierce, John Hurt
Plot: A notoroious outlaw is offered a pardon for his killings so long as he kills his own brother.
Reason for seeing it: This Australian Western was one of the unexpected hits of last year’s London Film Festivals and is an excellent entry into the genre. It’s very violent but a riveting character study of desperate men attempting to survive in a desperate landscape. Huston, Pierce and Hurt are all on top form but it’s Winstone who proves the film’s biggest revelation in a performance that begs to be seen. Empire is already hailing it as a truly great Western.
Release date: March 10

Read our review


Hostel

Hostel
Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson
Plot: Two US backpackers are persuaded by a fellow traveller to travel to a remote Eastern European hostel which offers plenty of illicit sex. They get more than they bargained for, however, when they find that the hostel in question offers torture and murder for cash.
Reason for seeing it: Eli Roth was responsible for the indie horror hit Cabin Fever which so impressed Quentin Tarantino that the two became friends. That friendship has subsequently given rise to Hostel, rumoured to be one of the sickest horror flicks of all-time with lashings of gore. Even more impressive is the fact that Roth and Quentin have even managed to secure the services of Japanese horror maestro Takashi Miike for a cameo.
Release date: April 21
Read the preview l Hostel tops US box office l Read our review


The Inside Man

The Inside Man
Director: Spike Lee
Starring: Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Chiwetel Ojiofor, Willem Dafoe
Plot: Washington’s no-nonsense cop pits his wits against Owen’s clever bank robber in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with unexpected twists. Foster crops up as a power broker with a hidden agenda.
Reason for seeing it: Washington reunites with Spike Lee in what looks to be a first-rate potboiler. The cast is reason enough for getting excited, especially since Washington gets to face off against Foster, but the trailer suggests high tension, great acting and another great script from Lee. An outside bet for one of the sleeper hits of the year.
Release date: March 24
Watch the trailer l Read our review


Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible III

Mission Impossible 3
Director: JJ Abrams
Starring: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Laurence Fishburne
Plot: Mission Impossible agent Ethan Hunt returns for an all-new adventure. As per usual, plot details remain a closely guarded secret although the trailer suggests some form of revenge mission for Hunt, following threats made at the top of the teaser by Mr Hoffman.
Reason for seeing it: The first two Mission Impossible films have delivered plenty of thrilling set pieces, as well as pretty decent plots. Cruise is very picky with his directors and the teaser trailer for this third outing suggests there is plenty to keep the franchise fresh and exciting. What’s more, JJ Abrams is the man responsible for current TV phenomenon, Lost.
Release date: May 5

Watch clips l Read our review l Tom Cruise interview l JJ Abrams interview


The Da Vinci Code

The Da Vinci Code
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Sir Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Jean Reno
Plot: A religious academic chases through Europe to identify the true place of Mary Magdalene in Christianity, as well as solve a grisly murder.
Reason for seeing it: The novel, by Dan Brown, is one of the biggest best-sellers of recent times and has already created plenty of controversy for the religious revelations it claims to uncover. A blockbuster movie should only set tongues wagging even further. With Hanks in the lead role and a very strong support cast, expect The Da Vinci Code to be among the year’s biggest box office performers. You’ll be foolish to miss out on the debate that is sure to follow…
Release date: May 19
Group calls for adult rating l Read our review l Court case thrown out


X-Men 3 poster

X-Men 3
Director: Brett Ratner
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Sir Ian McKellen, Famke Janssen, Patrick Stewart
Plot: The latest chapter in the X-Men motion picture franchise promises to reveal more secrets and introduce a host of new characters. The events follow the death of Janssen’s Jean Grey and her subsequent return with new and more dangerous powers.
Reason for seeing it: The franchise may have lost Bryan Singer as director but Brett Ratner looks to have done a decent job of maintaining the momentum from the look of the teaser trailer. What’s more, he’s kept the cast intact (even Halle Berry is back), while newcomers such as Kelsey Grammar, as Beast, promise to add something a little fresh.
Release date: May 26
Watch the trailer l Read our review l Hugh Jackman interview


Poseidon

Poseidon
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Starring: Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Emmy Rossum, Richard Dreyfuss, Andre Braugher
Plot: A remake of the classic 1970s disaster movie of the same name, in which a luxury ocean liner is capsized by a tidal wave and the survivors must find a way out.
Reason for seeing it: Having already made a splash with sea-based movies Das Boot and The Perfect Storm, Petersen looks perfectly placed to revisit the thrills and spills of The Poseidon Adventure. Whether the time is right for a remake of such a disaster classic remains to be seen but a showy trailer boasts plenty of big name stars, an impressive tidal wave and plenty of explosive action. It could be one of the year’s guiltiest pleasures.
Release date: June 1
Read our review l Watch the trailer


Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Carribean 2
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Bill Nighy
Plot: Captain Jack Sparrow has a debt to settle with old nemesis, Davy Jones, the half-man, half-sea creature who captains The Flying Dutchman. Will and Elizabeth are trying to be married, meanwhile, only to find themselves in the middle of another of Jack’s madcap adventures.
Reason for seeing it: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, of course. Having romped away with the original, Depp is back and looking better than ever (if the teaser trailer is anything to go by). The sequels also offer more swashbuckling action, more of Keira in a corset and more of that great interplay between Depp and Bloom. The presence of Nighy as the villain should also ensure that value for money is guaranteed.
Release date: July 6
Read our preview l Watch the trailer l View our gallery


Superman Returns

Superman Returns
Director: Bryan Singer
Starring: Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, Kevin Spacey
Plot: Superman returns to Earth to find Lex Luthor in a position of power and Lois Lane (his ex-girlfriend) living with a new man and a child. To make matters worse, Luthor has got his hands on some Kryptonite…
Reason for seeing it: Do we really need to spell it out? At a rumoured cost of $250 million, this could well become the most expensive film of all-time. It’s directed by Bryan Singer, who bailed out on his X-Men franchise to do so, and already looks spectacular from its teaser trailer alone. Warner Bros is hoping that Singer will give the Superman franchise a similar shot in the arm to Batman, while movie fans should be salivating at the prospect of seeing the director reunited with Spacey (the two having previously worked together on Se7en).
Release date: July 14

Read our preview l View our picture gallery


Cars

Cars
Director: John Lasseter
Starring: Voices of Owen Wilson, Paul L Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Richard Petty, Cheech Marin
Plot: Pixar’s latest finds a wide assortment of cars as characters who get their kicks on Route 66.
Reason for seeing it: You don’t really have to sell a Pixar movie – you automatically know it will be good. Although initially scheduled for a November release in 2005, Pixar towed the release date of their latest animated gem back to the Summer of 2006 when typically big things are expected. Teaser trailers suggest that the company has lost none of its ability to get inventive and have fun.
Release date: July 28
Read our preview


Miami Vice

Miami Vice
Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx, Gong Li
Plot: Ricardo Tubbs is introduced to Sonny Crockett while working undercover transporting drug loads into South Florida to identify a group responsible for three murders. Together they unite to bring down a cartel but romantic complications ensue.
Reason for seeing it: Michael Mann remains one of the very best directors working in Hollywood today, following films such as Heat, Collateral and The Insider. His decision to revisit 80s TV classic Miami Vice – the show he helped to create – is sure to raise the excitement of any fan of the series. The teaser trailer, set to a Linkin Park/Jay Z soundtrack, looks excellent as well – although the jury does remain out on Farrell’s ability to carry a blockbuster. Foxx, though, looks like a terrific Tubbs.
Release date: August 4
Read our preview l View our gallery


Lady in the Water

Lady In The Water
Director: M Night Shyamalan
Starring: Paul Giamatti, Bryce Dallas Howard
Plot: A lonely apartment building superintendent with a mysterious past discovers a narf – a creature from a children’s story – in the swimming pool of the complex.
Reason for seeing it: M Night Shyamalan has proved himself to be the master of keeping things close to his chest so very little is known about his latest project. The teaser trailer suggests a tale in the style of Splash but the cast certainly hints at something a little more weighty. It is written and directed by Shyamalan after all and it’s nice to see Giamatti finally landing a leading man role in a blockbuster movie. We’re expecting it to make quite a splash once it lands at the box office.
Release date: August 18
Read our preview


Sin City

Sin City 2
Director: Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson
Plot: More of the same sleazy sex and violence from the inhabitants of Basin City.
Reason for seeing it: Sin City, the original, was one of the most visually stylish films of recent years. We have every reason to expect that the follow-up will build on the success of that film, while allowing characters like Rourke’s Marv to grow in stature and coolness. What’s more, the co-directors are creating new material to weave around A Dame To Kill For, the graphic novel about a sleazy photographer whose past comes back to haunt him.
Release date: August 18


Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Director: Andrew Dominik
Starring: Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell
Plot: Bob Ford teams up with notorious outlaw Jesse James and hatches a plan to jealously take down the fastest gun in the West.
Reason for seeing it: Andrew Dominik was responsible for the Australian hit Chopper, which gave us the first glimpse of Eric Bana. The film is being released in the US in The Fall, renowned as being Oscar season, and is said to be a character-driven Western, rather than a bloody shoot ‘em up in the Sam Peckinpah mould. It could also provide Pitt with another film to match his talent as an actor.
Release date: September 8


Southland Tales

Southland Tales
Director: Richard Kelly
Starring: The Rock, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott
Plot: An ensemble piece set in a futuristic LA that features a number of plot strands, including the strange relationship that develops between an amnesiac action star (The Rock) and an adult movie actress (Gellar).
Reason for seeing it: This one could be good, or it could be bad. Certainly, it’ll be weird. Kelly’s last film was the mind-bending Donnie Darko, so expect a strange and wonderful follow-up. Certainly, The Rock was raving about it when in London to promote Doom. And it should be interesting to see Gellar as a porn star and The Rock continuing to expand his range.
Release date: September 15
Read our preview


Nicole Kidman in The Interpreter

The Visiting
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig
Plot: A virus suddenly begins to make people act strangely in this creepy new thriller.
Reason for seeing it: The cast is intriguing and the film marks the Hollywood debut of director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, who is previously best-known for the excellent Hitler movie, The Downfall. Aside from that, we haven’t much to go on – although advance buzz suggests this could be a surprisingly smart and effectively creepy slice of sci-fi (and it’s refreshing not to be a remake of something else despite having been inspired by Invasion of the Body Snatchers).
Release date: September 22


Flags of our Fathers

Flags of our Fathers
Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Paul Walker, Ryan Phillippe, Barry Pepper
Plot: Based on the best-selling book by James Bradley with Ron Powers, Flags of Our Fathers chronicles the battle of Iwo Jima and the fates of the flag raisers and some of their brothers in Easy Company.
Reason for seeing it: Clint Eastwood has become a director of tremendous worth following back to back hits Mystic River and Million Dollar Baby. His portrayal of the events of the WWII battle of Iwo Jima are said to be sensitively portrayed and should provide a showcase for some surprising performances from its young cast (especially Paul Walker). Eastwood was so taken with the story he has apparently decided to film a second movie based on the Japanese experience.
Release date: October 13
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Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale

Casino Royale
Director: Martin Campbell
Starring: Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench
Plot: The 21st installment in the James Bond series of films goes back to Ian Fleming’s very first novel for inspiration. It looks set to centre around Monte Carlo.
Reason for seeing it: The arrival of a new Bond film is always good reason alone to be excited but this promises a new take on the franchise which is grittier and more realistic than the latter Pierce Brosnan outings. Director Campbell is a 007 veteran of Goldeneye, while Craig should prove early critics wrong by turning in a tough but charismatic super-spy. The real reason to be excited, however, is the presence of Million Dollar Baby/Crash scribe, Paul Haggis, on script-writing duties. This could leave us shaken and stirred.
Release date: November 17
Daniel Craig is new 007 l Bond composer backs Craig


Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed

The Departed
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
Plot: A remake of the Japanese thriller, Infernal Affairs, in which
Reason for seeing it: If the cast isn’t reason enough to be dead excited, then consider the director. And if that’s still not enough, then consider that Infernal Affairs is generally considered to be one of the best foreign language thrillers of recent years, offering edge-of-the-seat excitement.
Release date: December tbc


Hugh Jackman in The Fountain

The Fountain
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz
Plot: A time-travelling romance set over three periods – 1535 with its Mayan temples and Spanish conquistadors, the present day and the year 2500.
Reason for seeing it: Aronofsky dazzled audiences with his bold yet daring Requiem For A Dream but has taken some time to deliver his follow-up. Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett were to have headlined but when Pitt pulled out when Blanchett became pregnant. It leaves us with Jackman (who could do with a franchise hit of his own) and the ever-reliable Weisz. At the very least, it should be interesting, as well as visually stunning.
Release date: December (tbc)