Anya Taylor-Joy has only starred in four feature films, all of which opened within the past year, and already she’s become one of the most exciting young actors in the industry. She brought a haunting innocence to Robert Eggers’ stunning debut The Witch, she wreaked havoc in last fall’s Morgan, played Barack Obama’s college girlfriend in Barry, and now she stars opposite James McAvoy (or more like nine James McAvoys) in the latest M. Night Shyamalan mind-bending thriller.
The Visit was a welcome, wonderfully kooky return to smaller, simpler genre-bending fare for M. Night Shyamalan, who’s back this year with yet another effective thriller: Split, in which James McAvoy gives a remarkable performance (or 23) as a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder. One of those identities kidnaps three young women, including one (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) whose ability to empathize with McAvoy puts her in a rather unique position.
There’s a scene in Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women that will be remembered as the film’s funniest, a moment that perfectly captures the essence of its trio of titular female characters. With a tinge of annoyance, Annette Bening’s Dorothea calls out her tenant Abbie, a red-haired punk, for dozing off on the table during a dinner party. “I’m menstruating,” Abbie grumpily retorts. Much to Dorothea’s embarrassment, Abbie then prompts the men at the table to confidently utter the word “menstruation.” Capping off the scene, Elle Fanning’s rebellious 16-year-old Julie breaks into an awkward story about losing her virginity. Three women across three generations, all with varying barometers of what it means to be a woman, and what it means to harness femininity.
In Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women, Greta Gerwig is a red-haired punk who listens to the Talking Heads, takes photographs of her belongings as a sort of pre-Instagram self-portrait series, and is recovering from cervical cancer. In every way, Gerwig’s Abbie defies the stereotypes of female characters we often see in indie movies. She’s not the manic pixie dream girl nor the cool girl who falls for the older single guy, two clichés the character could have easily fallen into. Instead Gerwig gives a career-best performance as a woman full of contradictions.
Michael Shannon might be the busiest actor of our time. In 2016 alone he starred in 10 films, including his Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice corpse cameo and two unreleased films from the Tribeca Film Festival. Shannon continued his collaboration with Jeff Nichols with Midnight Special and Loving, he played Elvis Presley opposite Kevin Spacey’s President Nixon, he played a hilarious Texas sheriff in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, and reunited with Werner Herzog for Salt and Fire. And after all that, he even found time to put together the best red carpet outfit of all time.
Mads Mikkelsen has always been good at playing bad. He’s turned human organs into dinner party delicacies, whipped a naked Daniel Craig with a giant rope, and tortured by Rihanna for his infidelities. Now the Danish actor can add one more evil deed to his acting resume: creator of the Death Star.
Alan Tudyk is no stranger to playing non-human characters. From Sonny in 2004’s I, Robot to a scene-stealing rooster in Moana, he’s made a long career out of voice work. But if you think Tudyk’s droid in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is just another voiceover gig in a major studio movie, think again.
It’s almost too perfect that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is about a bunch of rebels trying to steal information from the Empire. Interviewing one of the film’s stars feels like an act of espionage.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw first caught the film world’s attention with her lead role in Amma Asante’s Belle, and now she’s quickly becoming one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood. You might recognize her most from her recent stint in Black Mirror‘s delightful romance episode “San Junipero,” but soon you’ll see her in Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time, Bad Robot’s God Particle (which she didn’t know what a Cloverfield movie), and hear her voice in Disney’s new Beauty and the Beast. But before those hit theaters, Mbatha-Raw co-stars in Miss Sloane as a stalwart gun control lobbyist.
Imagine landing your first role in an Oscar-winning director’s film. Now imagine that film is being shot with a technology that’s never before been attempted. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, the latest visual experiment from Ang Lee, stars newcomer Joe Alywn, a 25-year-old who left his London drama school early to make a boundary-pushing film.