Are you struggling to find something new to watch with a 19th century bent? Of course you are because Downton Abbey is over! There is a dearth of films, mini-series, and television shows that fall under this category I have not already covered. I started this every-other-month-post in response to keeping abreast with news of The Gilded Age, a future Julian Fellowes project. If you are out of the loop, the Gilded Age is supposed to be “Downton Abbey’s American prequel.” It has gone through many incarnations. The latest news says 1) There will be a Downton Abbey TV-movie 2) The Gilded Age may or may not be a mini-series. Regardless, The Gilded Age has taken a back seat to Doctor Thorne. Mr. Fellowes, honestly man! We wait with baited breath and you are slowly sucking the air out of the room! Do not tease us so! It has been well over a year since the announcement of The Gilded Age. I shall continue to follow the rumor mill regarding the show.
So while The Gilded Age toys with our desire for an American costume drama, there are some stand-ins that can be watched. It was tough discovering eight new productions coming out this year that I have not already touched on in previous posts. I found most 19th century related films languish, in what the Industry affectionately refers to as Development Hell. There are two dozen films in this pile I am aware of! Lord knows how many more are in there. Some sound amazing! If only the stars would align and people would commit to the project. I won’t divulge these titles, but I do check on them every few months in hopes of something new share with you all.
Below are eight shows and movies that are coming out in 2016. Two are slated to come out this year, but have stagnated with no specific release date. I am still including them because I have hopes there will be a limited release, at the very least.
War and Peace
As the Russian conflict with Napoleon reaches its peak, five aristocratic families face the possibility of their lives being changed forever. This Mini-Series features Lily James (of Downton Abbey and Cinderella fame, she also stars in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that is coming out next month. See last movie news post here for more information.), along with Paul Dano (first seen in The Girl Next Door, but made a name in Love and Mercy and had a good part in 12 Years a Slave.), and Aisling Loftus (the adorable Agnes in the Mr. Selfridge show, as well as playing opposite of co-star Lily James in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies!–Small world). This romantic drama has very high ratings. I just ordered it for my library!
Brimstone/Mystery, thriller, Western
From the moment the new reverend climbs the pulpit, Liz knows she and her family are in great danger. The Brimstone thriller features Guy Pearce (from the mind-bending movie that deserves to be watched twice back to back, Memento and LA Confidential), Dakota Fanning (the little girl from I Am Sam all grown up, she currently has 56 credits to her name!), and Kit Harrington (Jon Snow lives! It’s a Game of Thrones thing . . .). It is not entirely certain when this mysterious Western will debut, but as for now it is slated for this year.
A female drifter becomes the target of outlaws and zombies while searching for her missing sister in a small western town. This is one of those movies that actually has a release date attached to it; June 30th, but in reality, nobody knows what’s up. Some are labeling this a short film-which I purposely try to leave out of my lists as they are so difficult to access. This Western-y Steampunk film showcases actors and actresses that are not yet house-hold names, such as Angie Papanikolas, Mark Webb, Brandon Grundy, and Dave Bresnahan.
A post-apocalyptic western, where science fiction and the supernatural, co-exist as one. In this world, humanity is not portrayed for what it could be, but rather, for what it is. This steampunk mini-series has a release date of November 6th. Originally a short film that became expanded (due to interest? money? monetary interest?). Headlined by another group of unknowns Shawn C. Hansen, Heather Silvio, and Jason Markiewitz. This is a nice blend of drama, fantasy, and horror. Steampunk can be a difficult niche to fill and make a living off of. I hope this one does well. I know Hansen has other roles lined up after this one, so we haven’t seen the last of him just yet. Unless the zombies get him . . .
The Secret of My Family
Documentary series exploring social history via the family trees of ordinary families, tracing the family forward through history to their modern descendants. It is not often I feature documentary films on 19th Century Modern. In part because many are not rated nor have the marketing hype as a blockbuster and more difficult to acquire than some indie films. This is more of a “Who Do You Think You Are?” for the common man. I think my mother would love such an opportunity (hence, the inclusion onto this list) .No celebrities here, but your family history will be aired along with any of its dirty laundry. It is very broad and not specific to 19th century ancestors, naturally. First episode came out back in March.
A Storm in the Stars
The love affair between poet Percy Shelley and 18 years old Mary Wollstonecraft, which resulted in Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein. First Dakota Fanning, now her younger (but taller sister) Elle is in the spotlight as Mary! The first time I saw Elle was in Super 8, but she had many smaller roles previously and has shot straight to fame, more or less from day one. Maisie Williams (another Game of Thrones favorite) joins the cast a long with Douglas Booth. I first became aware of him in Pillars of the Earth (with Eddie Redmane) and he will also be playing in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies! (Seriously, are these people typecast or something?) As far as I can tell the 2016 debut is only for theaters in the UK.
*grumble grumble* I think America would like to see this Bio too, you know?
The Flying Horse
A biopic of pioneer photographer Eadweard Muybridge, following the courtship and love affair between Muybridge’s wife, Flora, and Harry Larkyns. Gary Oldman wrote, produced, and starred in The Flying Horse. The tempted Flora is portrayed by Amanda Seyfried. Award-winning actor Ralph Fiennes depicts Muybridge and the home-wrecking rake is played by none other than Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict Cumberbatch, people!!! What else do you even need to know about this film?! I cannot find a specific release date for The Flying Horse, that’s the most upsetting part! In addition, there are no pictures available for viewing. This is so evil. To make viewers wait like this . . .