Summer is quickly becoming a distant memory and fall is well underway. The highlights of the previous season, including Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, and Don’t Breathe are giving way with the changing of the leaves just as readily as the many, many, warm weather disappointments.
Thus, as we gladly place Independence Day: Resurgence, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad, and so much else unpleasantness in the rearview, we turn toward the fall delights, including summer-like tentpoles, sophisticated adult fare, and, of course, Oscar bait. So let’s take a look at some of the key fall releases to keep on your radar…
Sully – September 9
Everyone knows the story about Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and the “Miracle on the Hudson.” But not so many remember the high drama that came immediately afterward in the early weeks of 2009. At least, that is the angle Warner Bros. and Clint Eastwood are betting on with Sully, a new biographical film about the celebrated airline captain who successfully landed the U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River during a chilly January morning.
Allowing Tom Hanks to complete the circuit of ‘09 American hero biopics after starring in Captain Phillips, Sully focuses not just on the “miracle,” but on the media feeding frenzy that followed. While Sullenberger astonishingly was able to land his plane and save all 115 passengers’ lives onboard, plus those of his crew, there was immediate second-guessing about whether he should have tried to land at all or if his plane was really imperiled by a flock of geese. And hey, Eastwood’s last biopic American Sniper surely courted fans, box office, awards, and controversy.
The Disappointments Room – September 9
Imagine for a second that you are hearing strange noises in your house. Further, add to the fact that said noises seem to be coming from a creepy locked room hidden away in your attic that you just discovered. And finally, consider that you then find a key to said creepy attic’s proverbial torture chamber. Do you open it? That’s the conundrum facing Kate Beckinsale in this new chiller.
Blair Witch – September 16
In 1999, three 20-somethings pretended they were film students lost in the Maryland woods of 1994. Now in 2016, actors and filmmakers will continue the tradition of walking around in circles while being chased by piles of spooky rocks!
On a more serious note, The Blair Witch Project was the pop culture phenomenon that introduced found footage to the mainstream and first proved that audiences are gullible about whatever they read on the internet (times have changed little). And now Adam Wingard, the promising genre master behind cult favorites like You’re Next (2011) and The Guest (2014) is attempting to reinvent the sensation of that original horror in this sequel/reboot that follows a different group who heedlessly enters the Blair Witch’s domain. I hope they brought plenty of memory for their cameras…
Snowden – September 16
Oliver Stone has a penchant for recording recent American history (at least how he imagines it to be recorded) with films like JFK, Nixon, and W. Now, he gets to tackle a subject matter with potentially more political controversy than all of the above. In Snowden, Stone turns his lens toward Edward Snowden, a computer professional and government contractor who leaked classified information to The Guardian in 2013 that proved the National Security Agency, with the cooperation of telecommunications companies, was spying on Americans’ emails, text messages, phone calls, and other online accounts.
Some have celebrated Snowden as a patriotic hero while others, including the Obama administration, labeled him a traitor. It is easy to guess where Stone falls along the divide. But with Joseph Gordon-Levitt set to star as the former CIA employee who now resides in Russia under asylum, the question remains about Stone’s approach to the material.
Operation Avalanche – September 16
What if we didn’t land on the moon? No seriously, wouldn’t it make for a wild comedy if the conspiracy theorists were right?! That is the direction of Operation Avalanche, a new “found footage” film set in 1969 where CIA agents attempting to expose a mole within NASA accidentally learn that the Apollo 11 mission is a fake masterminded by Stanley Kubrick. The movie premiered at Sundance to acclaim and sounds like a cheeky exercise in make-believe (because obviously, we did land on the moon!).
The Good Neighbor – September 16
In what sounds like a clever inversion of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, two teenagers break into an old recluse’s home. The old-timer, played by a steely James Caan, acts oblivious when they rig his home to seem like it’s haunted. In fact, self-starting lights and slamming doors/windows matter not at all. But there are sounds coming from his basement that the boys cannot explain… is he haunted by something dead? Or, worse, something alive?!
Storks – September 23
Younger children are often told that their baby siblings come from storks. But if that were true, how would the operation even work?! This is the amusing premise to be explored by writer and co-director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, Neighbors) in this Warner Bros. animated film. And with an all-star cast, it hopes to be a reprieve for audiences who might be familiar with Stoller’s other work!
Beauty and the Beast – September 23
Before you see the live-action version of the Walt Disney Animation Studios classic in 2017, perhaps you’d like to try a live-action version of La Belle Et La Bete (or Beauty and the Beast) that attempts to have some visual originality of its own?
Directed by Christopher Gans, who is no stranger to helming French fairy tales and folklore as seen in 2001’s Brotherhood of the Wolf, this authentically française version of what happens when a beauty and a beastly prince meet at least offers the potential of something fresh being done with a classic. It also features international stars in the roles of the titular lovers with Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color, Spectre) as the Beauty and Vincent Cassel (Black Swan, Jason Bourne) as the beast.
The Magnificent Seven – September 23
Yes, it’s the third time this story has been told on the big screen, following 1954’s Japanese original The Seven Samurai and 1960’s The Magnificent Seven, but with a cast like this, who is going to argue about another go-round? Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and Peter Sarsgaard lead this one, with Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer) behind the camera and a script co-written by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto. The story is a classic one — seven bounty hunters are hired by a widow to protect her town from a vicious industrialist — and while Westerns can be hit and miss at the box office these days, Fuqua’s modern sensibility might work for younger audiences who have no idea there were two previous versions of this tale. Did we mention the cast?
Deepwater Horizon – September 30
What happened on an offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico during the spring of 2010 is a tragedy that still permeates in the culture and politics of today. It is also ripe for dramatic storytelling, which Peter Berg is attempting to mine (tastefully, of course) with his Lone Survivor star, Mark Wahlberg. In the film version of the incident, Wahlberg plays Mike Williams, an all-American hero who, along with the rest of the 11 workers on the rig, died in the ensuing explosion. The trip toward that boom though will be where the waterworks are truly intended to start melting.
The picture also stars Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, and John Malkovich.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children September 30
Honestly, Tim Burton really does have an infinite amount of chances to catch lightning again after his magical run in the 1980s and ‘90s (also, the last decade’s Big Fish and Sweeney Todd remain likewise underrated gems!). And judging from all the press materials thus far released for Miss Peregrine, the odds are looking especially strong for the off-kilter auteur to regain some of his kooky prestige.
In the new film, he adapts Ransom Rigg’s debut young adult novel with potentially fascinating results. The invaluable Eva Green stars as the eponymous Miss Peregrine, who watchfully guards her wards, orphaned children with extraordinary abilities. Of course, she and the kids are supposed to be long dead when a boy named Jake (Asa Butterfield) ventures on their haunted island, but not all is as it seems. These children would be right at home at Charles Xavier’s school, and they might have to be just as ferocious since malevolent forces are conspiring to kill them all.
The Birth of a Nation – October 7
For all of the controversy surrounding the filmmakers, the idea of stripping away the meaning of Birth of a Nation from D.W. Griffith’s important, but insidious, 1915 film is a potent one. And by all accounts from audiences at Sundance, Nate Parker’s liberal adaptation of the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831 is quite the powerful spectacle. Turner, who preached the word of God until he claimed to be interpreting the literal word of God, inspired African-American slaves in Southampton County of Virginia to rise up, resulting in the deaths of at least 55 white people.
A controversial figure for the tactics he employed during the bloody rebellion, his life and abrupt death is more than worthy of cinematic adaptation. Audiences can decide for themselves if they wish to see this one given its noted troubles off-screen.
The Girl on the Train – October 7
Based on Paula Hawkins’ best selling 2015 novel — which everyone seemed to be reading at one point or another — this thriller focuses on Rachel (Emily Blunt) an alcoholic divorcee who takes the train every morning past her old house, where her ex-husband still lives with his new wife and baby, and fantasizes about the young couple who live a few doors down. But when Rachel sees something unexpected and shocking one morning, it threatens to throw all their lives into chaos. Directed by Tate Taylor (The Help), The Girl on the Train has already been compared to Gone Girl in its exploration of the darkness lurking underneath seemingly perfect marriages and its lurid, twisty plot.
The Accountant – October 14
Ben Affleck takes time off from wearing the cowl and cape to star in this thriller about an aloof mathematical genius who crunches the numbers for criminal organizations. And J.K. Simmons is the Treasury agent who’s hot to bring him down. The solid cast also includes Anna Kendrick, Jeffrey Tambor, John Lithgow, and Jon Bernthal, the latter of which means there’s sure to be some bloodshed involved as well. The director is Gavin O’Connor, who helmed the underrated Warrior (2011) and this year’s troubled Jane Got a Gun. The trailer makes the case for this as an adult-oriented thriller, but can O’Connor and Affleck make it compelling enough to keep it from seeming generic? We’ll discover if there’s a mathematical formula for that.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – October 21
2012’s Jack Reacher was one hell of a thriller: tense, grim, and relentless, yet with sharp touches of humor here and there. It was a terrific surprise, even if fans of Lee Child’s novels initially grumbled about Tom Cruise looking nothing like the character in the books. Four years later, Jack is back thanks to international box office that made up for the movie’s so-so U.S. run. Edward Zwick (Pawn Sacrifice) has taken over behind the camera for Christopher McQuarrie in a story where Jack returns to his old military unit to face a 16-year-old murder charge. If Zwick can bring the same ingredients to this one that the first movie contained, we’ll be happy to go back.
Keeping Up with the Joneses – October 21
So, a bored suburban couple (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) discover that their sexy neighbors (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) are actually international spies. Hijinks ensue. I don’t think much more needs to be said about this one…
The Handmaiden – October 21
Based on a novel by Sarah Waters, this is an erotic psychological thriller from the South Korean filmmaking madman Park Chan-Wook. The story follows a con artist who hires a thief to become the maid to a eccentric heiress as part of a plot to obtain her fortune — but things get complicated when maid and heiress fall in love with each other. Director Park’s resume speaks for itself (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Thirst, Stoker) and we expect nothing less that some immaculately shot, oddly structured and thematically ambiguous hot lesbian action, with the occasional bout of shocking violence and some bizarre twists. And we just may get them all.
In a Valley of Violence – October 21
Ti West has spent years exploring the beloved cult horror movies of yesteryear with films like The House of the Devil (2009) and The Sacrament (2013). But In a Valley of Violence, West ventures into a new frontier by offering his own take on the Spaghetti Western subgenre. Mostly now the province of Quentin Tarantino Westerns (and pseudo-Westerns), West’s version is more traditional in its tropes with an almost no-name drifter (Ethan Hawke) who comes to a town without morality and brings his own brand of justice to it.
In actuality, there is a tender story about a man and his dog, as Hawke’s Paul is more interested in protecting his pet than innocent Mary Anne (Taissa Farmiga) from corruption like John Travolta’s iron-fisted Marshal. But sooner or later, guns have to be drawn in a story like this. Karen Gillan also has a memorable supporting role in this one.
Inferno – October 28
The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, the two previous films centered around novelist Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon, have never been praised as great movies even as they raked in all kinds of coin at the box office. That’s the one riddle Hollywood is always trying to decipher, so it stands to reason that Sony would want to bring back Tom Hanks for a third go-round as an action movie’s closest approximation of a symbology professor. Director Ron Howard is back as well, and what can we say except that Da Vinci Code was a bore, Angels was somewhat better, and that we hope the pair can make a better than average thriller the third time around?
Rings – October 28
Never let it be said that a good monster can stay in the grave for long. So it is with Samara, the perpetually dampened ghost girl of The Ring franchise. In this semi-sequel and reboot, a young woman (Matilda Lutz) will make a likely inadvisable choice to sacrifice herself for her boyfriend. It turns out that on their college campus, there is a club for those who play with fate by watching a streaming video that leads to your swift death seven days later. When they realize this ain’t no game, she watches the video in his stead and discovers a hidden video within the video.
Now, Samara has a whole new curse to bequeath on this couple and anyone else with a screen nearby. In other words, it sounds like the world is screwed when this movie comes out.
Bleed for This – November 4
There have been plenty of boxing movies in recent years (and really since cinema began), but few of them feature a comeback from quite such a dangerous place as Vinny Paz’s predicament. A lightweight boxer who was on top of the world in the 1980s, Paz infamously suffered a spinal injury from a car crash that almost paralyzed him. Choosing to risk further spinal damage, Paz wore a severe neck brace while he trained to get back in the ring again, as opposed to undergoing an operation that would’ve made that impossible.
The film stars Miles Teller as Paz and looks like it has its eye on the prize, both in the ring and out of it.
Doctor Strange – November 4
Marvel Studios at long last introduces the Sorcerer Supreme to the big screen. Scott Derrickson (Sinister) directs Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, an arrogant surgeon whose life is upended when his hands are damaged in an accident. Seeking salvation, he stumbles into the realm of the supernatural and finds a new purpose as a master of the mystical arts. Yes, it’s an old-fashioned origin story, not unlike that of Iron Man in some ways, but this corner of the Marvel Universe promises surreal, psychedelic sights that we haven’t seen before. The movie also boasts one of the best Marvel casts ever with Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Mads Mikkelsen. Hopefully, they’ll all make this one magical.
Hacksaw Ridge – November 4
Andrew Garfield continues his post-Amazing Spider-Man career as real-life Army medic Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who refused to carry a weapon but somehow managed to save the lives of over 75 Americans at Okinawa during World War II. The real story here, however, is that Mel Gibson is returning to the director’s chair for the first time since 2006’s Apocalypto. It is his most high-profile attempt at a Hollywood comeback yet after his well-documented personal scandals. Gibson can be a hell of a director, and the story is right in his wheelhouse. So, the question is whether the movie can overcome the media circus and any lingering public disapproval for the filmmaker.
Trolls – November 4
An animated movie about the good luck dolls of the same name by Thomas Dam. Yep…
Arrival – November 11
Hollywood is never short on first contact or alien invasion yarns, but there is something exceedingly foreboding and mysterious about Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Arrival. The director of Prisoners and Sicario aims to envision a slightly more plausible image of communication when hard logic is merged with personal crisis in this intimate story about the fate of the whole world.
Thus enters Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist who is tasked by the U.S. government alongside mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to make contact on behalf of America. They are just one of the many groups of humanity who are syncing up around the world with the aliens, but it will be through the basic understandings of linguistics and math—and her own life’s story—that Louise will attempt to figure out why the aliens are here before it might be too late.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk – November 11
Ang Lee continues to be one of the most unpredictable filmmakers out there, and four years after the visually dazzling Life of Pi he returns with another unique cinematic experiment. Based on the novel of the same name, Billy Lynn tells the story of the title character (Joe Alwyn), whose Bravo Squad military unit is being secretly sent back to Iraq – after being brought home and paraded as heroes to bolster support for the war. The internalized novel may be difficult enough to adapt, but Lee has taken the extra step of shooting it at 120 frames per second – more than twice the rate at which Peter Jackson recorded The Hobbit films. Will the artistic gamble backfire or make this one of the most immersive film experiences ever created? It may be a long walk home for Lee if it’s the former.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – November 18
About as sure a bet as a movie studio could hope for, Fantastic Beasts is an original story set in the Harry Potter universe and scripted by Potter creator J.K. Rowling (loosely based on her book). David Yates, director of the last four Potter pictures, is behind the camera for this one as well, so fans can expect a lot of continuity in terms of the look and tone of the film. Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl) stars as Newt Scamander, whose trip to America for a Magical Congress goes awry when the creatures traveling with him escape. Potter fans should eat this up; if mainstream audiences find this one as well, we’re looking at a whole new franchise.
Manchester By the Sea – November 18
Coming with plenty of heat out of the Sundance Film Festival is Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By the Sea, a character drama that has every intention to pack a massive punch. After Casey Affleck’s Lee Chandler learns that his brother (Kyle Chandler) has died, he is forced to take guardianship over his teenage nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). Additionally, little more than a janitor, he is similarly requested to move back to his hometown on the North Shore of Massachusetts where he’ll deal with his estranged wife (Michelle Williams) and a community that he tried to lead behind.
Definitely an actor’s piece, the performances here have been fueling Oscar talk since January.
The Edge of Seventeen – November 18
In the film, written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig, Hailee Steinfeld returns to the screen as Nadine, an awkward high schooler who is long-suffering from the fact that her older brother (Blake Jenner) is the the all-star stud of the school… even before he starts dating her best friend. Putting all her hope on another boy who might just give her a reprieve from misery, Nadine likely will have a long road to go still before she makes sense out of this life. The film also stars Kyra Sedgwick and Woody Harrelson.
Moana – November 23
The latest Walt Disney Animation Studios film is a fantasy set in ancient times and stars Auli’I Cravalho as the title character; she’s a young girl who decides to navigate the South Pacific to find a legendary island. She is also joined on her quest by the demi-god Moana, voiced – no doubt in godlike fashion – by Dwayne Johnson. Disney has achieved great success outside of Pixar with its last few animated films, including Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph, and this intentionally looks to be as much a throwback to the Renaissance musicals as Frozen was before it. After all, The Little Mermaid’s Ron Clements and John Musker are directing, and Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda is co-writing the songs.
Allied – November 23
Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard team up with director Robert Zemeckis (Flight, The Walk) in this romantic thriller about two spies who meet and fall in love while on a mission to assassinate a high-ranking German official during World War II. Audiences don’t always go for period pieces or old-fashioned adult romances, so it seems as if the filmmakers and studio are betting a lot on the star power of Pitt and Cotillard. Zemeckis was on-point with Flight, but lost his balance on The Walk; hopefully he regains his form with this Casablanca styled throwback. The film also features Jared Harris, Lizzy Caplan, and Matthew Goode in what is sure to be a fair amount of gunplay for a romance.
Bad Santa 2 (November 23)
The original Bad Santa is a classic cult film. While it actually did pretty good business for a raunchy, R-rated comedy back in 2003, its stature has only grown with the passing years. A sequel has been in the works since at least 2009, and now it’s here with Billy Bob Thornton (Willie), Tony Cox (Marcus) and Brett Kelly (Thurman) all reprising their roles (they’re also joined by Kathy Bates and Christina Hendricks). What’s it about? Who cares? If Thornton, Cox, and Kelly can recapture the depraved lunatic magic they had the first time out, this should be an early Christmas present for fans.
Rules Don’t Apply – November 23
It has been 15 years since Warren Beatty’s acted in a movie and almost two decades since he directed Bullworth. But Rules Don’t Apply has brought him out of semi-retirement, and it’s a passion project where he attempts to follow in the footsteps of Martin Scorsese by continuing the tale of Howard Hughes in the late 1940s. Well, that’s certainly ambitious…
Granted, Rules Don’t Apply is more strictly a comedy-fantasy where Beatty plays Hughes in his late 40s, still ruling over his fiefdom at RKO following the “success” of the Hercules. It is there that he will act as the benefactor to a romance between Tinseltown youngsters Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich) and Marla Mabrey (Lily Collins). We’ll see if sparks, like the Spruce Goose, really can fly.
Lion – November 25
Based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, Lion follows the journey of a 25-year-old man on a quest to find his family after being lost for two decades. Saroo was just five when he was lost on a train leaving Calcutta, and ever since he has been unable to get home, not least of all because he is unsure of where it might be. Yet, in this Garth Davis film, Dev Patel portrays him on the fateful trip back to India. The movie also stars Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman.
La La Land – December 2
The old-fashioned Hollywood musical is a rare beast these days, glimpsed only occasionally. So leave it to writer-director Damien Chazelle to do his best to restore its glory with this follow-up to 2014’s devastating Whiplash. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the stars singing and dancing their way through their newfound romance in the film, which also has a lot to say about art and creativity, and being true to oneself. Whiplash was this writer’s favorite film of the year in 2014, so I cannot wait to see how Chazelle makes the jump from music school to a Fred & Ginger inspired musical.
Miss Sloane – December 9
Wading into a topic like gun control for a holiday wide release takes a certain amount of grit, which Miss Sloane will appear to have plenty of when it opens on Dec. 9. A new film starring Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill, and John Lithgow, the movie focuses on lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane, who is known for her ruthlessness and unparalleled desire to win at all costs. This makes her choice to risk her career on the fight for gun control measures all the more curious.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – December 16
This small indie offering has been below the radar until now, but… okay, who are we kidding? Admittedly, the first of the highly touted Star Wars standalone movies poses a (ridiculously) small risk because it travels back in time to pre-Episode IV days, just one year after the franchise returned with the forward-facing The Force Awakens. So will audiences follow along? Of course they will. Even without any Skywalkers being present, the trailers look amazing, the cast is fantastic, and even with reports of extensive reshoots, we trust this will come together and make for a unique experience in that galaxy far, far away.
The Founder – December 16
Biopics typically focus on men whose legacy is something beloved or even worshipped. They’re often a genre of cinematic hagiography to the everlasting. Well that’s not the case for The Founder, a new dark comedy/drama about a man whose legacy was built on the cornerstone of disposability.
In the upcoming John Lee Hancock film, Michael Keaton is Ray Kroc, the man that gave the world the Big Mac, the McNugget, and all of the other joys from McDonald’s. Through several dubious business practices, Kroc expanded a hamburger store owned by the McDonald brothers into a national (and eventually global) brand by buying the brothers out and then refusing to pay royalties. He also would go head-to-head with Walt Disney in 1955 over putting a McDonald’s in Disneyland for its grand opening.
All in all, it’s a juicy proposition for a movie—certainly more so than frequenting one of Kroc’s franchised establishments.
Fences – December 16
In its long overdue realization on the big screen, Denzel Washington will both direct and star in Fences, an adaptation of August Wilson’s play of the same name. Wilson, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie, won the Tony and Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for this vision of a ‘50s baseball player who was resigned in his youth to the segregated Negro League. Now older and a garbage man in Pittsburgh, Washington’s Troy Maxson must come to term with the events in his life. The movie also stars Viola Davis.
Assassin’s Creed – December 21
So nobody learned anything from Warcraft, huh? To be fair, both that film and this new video game-based epic were probably in production around the same time, but it’s hard to figure whether Assassin’s Creed will succeed at the U.S. box office in a way that Warcraft didn’t. The cast, led by Michael Fassbender, is great, and the director (Justin Kurzel) helmed last year’s startling adaptation of Macbeth. But the all-original story may rankle some hardcore fans of the game while the time-jumping plot involving Templar Knights might throw off the rest of the public. This is one of the bigger question marks of the season, for sure.
Passengers – December 21
The script for this film by Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange) has been floating around Hollywood for a decade with various actors and directors attached to it – no one could quite get it going despite almost universal acclaim for the story itself. Now, it finally arrives with the combined star power of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt as two people who wake up under mysterious circumstances aboard a starship halfway through its 120-year voyage. We’re always excited about the possibility of intelligent and big budgeted science fiction coming to the screen, so Passengers (directed by Morten Tyldum of The Imitation Game) is a trip we can’t wait to take.
The Space Between Us – December 21
We have already seen the proverbial fault in our stars, so perhaps it is time to learn about the fault in our Mars? Pardon the pun, for here is quite the earnest romance of the first teenager who was born to a Mars colony and never stepped foot on Earth… until now.
The Space Between Us is an original young adult film about Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield), a boy who was born to a Mars colonist and so knows little of Earth when he is allowed to the alien planet at the age of 16. There, he will meet his favorite digital pin pal, Tulsa (Britt Robertson), and both will have to go on the run as government officials played by Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino are convinced that Earth’s gravity will kill Gardner’s heart without medical supervision.
Patriots Day – December 21
Another biopic about recent real-life tragedy from Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg, Patriots Day recounts the grim events of the Boston Marathon bombing from 2013. Wahlberg will star as Police Sgt. Tommy Saunders, a composite character, but he will bounce off acting legends John Goodman as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and J.K. Simmons as Watertown Police Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese as the manhunt for the brothers responsible for the massacre commences.
Sing – December 21
It’s a singing competition with animated animals. Need I go on?
A Monster Calls – December 23
This dark fantasy – based on the novel by Patrick Ness – was moved from its original October release date to late December, possibly for awards consideration. The director is J.A. Bayona, who exploded out of the gate with one of the 21st century’s finest ghost stories, The Orphanage, before next making the powerful if flawed The Impossible. A Monster Calls focuses on a young boy who deals with the grief of his mother’s terminal illness and bullying at school by getting visits from a “monster” (voiced by Liam Neeson) who helps him with his struggles. The combination of heavy emotional themes and supernatural visitations sounds like something Bayona can knock out of the park.
Silence – TBA
As the passion project that has eluded Martin Scorsese for years, Silence will finally be broken when this must see arrives some time in 2016. Adapted from Shūsaku Endō’s landmark novel, Silence imagines a grim reality for Christians in Japan during the 17thcentury.
Indeed, this was the era of the Shimabara Rebellion where persecuted Catholic Christians, who had been converted via missionary work, and Ronin Samurai rose up in defiance of the Tokugawa shogunate’s latest taxations—and were violently defeated in a massacre that resulted in Christianity becoming illegal.
In this context, Silence follows two young Portuguese priests (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who arrive in Japan just prior to the uprising. There, they find their mentor and stalwart leader, Father Cristóvao Ferreira (Liam Neeson) on the eve of a changed world. Their journey has only just begun.