Six movies we can’t wait to see at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival

Including a new American sci-fi that’s been compared to early Steven Spielberg

The Berlin Film Festival (February 11-21) kicks off today with the premiere of ‘Hail, Caesar!’, the new film from the Coen brothers. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The sixty-sixth Berlinale will showcase hundreds of new films from all over the world. Here we pick six that we’re especially looking forward to over the next few days.

1
Jeff Nichols’s ‘Midnight Special’
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Jeff Nichols’s ‘Midnight Special’

There’s a strong buzz around this sci-fi movie from American indie director Jeff Nichols, with comparisons to Steven Spielberg being whispered. Nichols reunites with his ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘Mud’ star Michael Shannon, who plays a father on the run with his young son, whose mysterious powers mean that the police, government and even religious extremists are on his tail. An interesting shift of gear for Nichols, then…

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2
Mia Hansen-Løve’s ‘Things to Come’
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Mia Hansen-Løve’s ‘Things to Come’

We’ve loved every film so far by the French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve, who’s still only 35 and whose last film, ‘Eden’, was a loose telling of her own brother’s time as a well-known Paris DJ and producer. This is her fifth feature, and no doubt it again plays close to home. Isabelle Huppert plays a philosophy teacher in Paris, newly separated and looking to reinvent her life.

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3
Terence Davies’s ‘A Quiet Passion’
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Terence Davies’s ‘A Quiet Passion’

Who spiked this British filmmaker’s drink? Hot on the heels of last year’s ‘Sunset Song’ comes another film from the writer-director of ‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’. This imagines the life of the nineteenth-century American poet Emily Dickinson (Cynthia Nixon). Davies is a sensitive, poetic filmmaker and the idea of him dealing with artistic inspiration is intriguing.

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4
Michael Grandage’s ‘Genius’
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Michael Grandage’s ‘Genius’

This is the first feature from Michael Grandage, the acclaimed theatre director and former boss of London’s Donmar Warehouse. He’s worked with Nicole Kidman on stage several times, and she’s one of an eye-grabbing cast. The film is set in 1920s New York and is the story of literary editor Max Perkins (Colin Firth) and his struggle to bring the work of Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law) to publication. Guy Pearce plays F Scott Fitzgerald and Dominic West plays Ernest Hemingway.

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5
André Téchiné’s ‘Being 17’
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André Téchiné’s ‘Being 17’

This new French film about two very different rural French teenagers living under the same roof is directed by French veteran Andre Techiné, which is interesting enough. But doubly interesting is that the script is co‐written by Céline Sciamma, the writer‐director of ‘Water Lilies’, ‘Tomboy’ and ‘Girlhood’, all of them sensitive, intriguing films about being a teenager.

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6
John Michael McDonagh’s ‘War on Everyone’
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John Michael McDonagh’s ‘War on Everyone’

The British-Irish writer-director of ‘The Guard’ and ‘Calvary’ is back with this New Mexico-set tale of two cops (Michael Peña and Alexander Skarsgård) who sound wilder than any criminals (the film’s synopsis talks of blackmail, drinking, cocaine and more). John Michael McDonagh is a master of gallows humour and knowing movie references, and this looks like more of the same – which is more than fine with us.

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