Well folks, the summer movie season may be over, but Hollywood isn't letting up on the massive amount of movies hitting theaters. To be honest, the summer was largely underwhelming, something which I actually figured might happen when doing my summer preview. That said, the fall line-up of films seems way better, so check out our list of most-anticipated fall movies. As you'll see, there's a lot to get excited about. For the video version, just CLICK ABOVE!
I actually caught Kenneth Lonergan's family drama at Sundance, and boy, oh boy, was I blown away by it. After SING STREET it was my favorite film of the festival, and I fully expect star Casey Affleck to wind-up Oscar-nominated for his part as a tragic former family man who comes home to take care of his nephew after the boy's father dies.
A CG animated Disney movie? Would anyone go see something like that? Umm, yeah, I guess MOANA is as sure a hit as anything on this list. None other than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stars as a demi-god in the South Pacific helping a young girl find her way home. From the directors of ALADDIN!
I'm of the mind that a BAD SANTA sequel should have happened years ago (if at all) and I'm full of trepidation towards what seems like a belated cash-grab. I'm especially worried about Mark Waters (MEAN GIRLS, FREAKY FRIDAY) stepping in for Terry Zwigoff. Is there anyway this doesn't wind up being a disaster?
Ben Younger's been fairly low-profile since his cult-classic BOILER ROOM, but this Vinny Paz biopic should get people talking. Miles Teller stars as Paz, who didn't let breaking his neck end his amazing career in the ring. Aaron Eckhart stars as his manager.
THE BIRTH OF A NATION has recently been at the center of a media firestorm around director-star's Nate Parker's rape charge from his college days - which has cast a dark shadow over a film people expected to be a surefire Oscar contender following its Sundance premiere (My review HERE). Regardless of Parker's actions, the film itself is quite good, if not the absolutely masterpiece some have said it is. One thing's for sure - it's going to be controversial.
Tom Ford may be better known as a fashion designer (he designs all of Daniel Craig's duds in the 007 movies) but a few years ago he also made a gorgeous debut with A SINGLE MAN. He's back with the ambitious, eighties-set thriller, which unfolds (I believe) as a kind of film within a film. With a cast like Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon, one can reasonably expect this to at least be good.
Hey, wait a sec, wasn't this also on my most-anticipated list for the summer? Indeed it was, until The Weinstein Company opted to push it to December, in the thick of awards season. I guess they're hoping to capitalize on Michael Keaton's amazing streak of nominations (it's awesome he's back on the A-list) although if the movie is so great, why isn't it playing any of the fall festivals???
The second of two Mark Wahlberg/Peter Berg fact based dramas. More modest than the megabudget, IMAX DEEPWATER HORIZON, this is a fact-based account of the Boston Marathon bombing. The supporting cast includes John Goodman, J.K Simmons, Michelle Monaghan and Kevin Bacon.
Tim Burton is back in full-on fantasy mode, with this big-budget adaptation of the popular Ramsom Riggs novel getting a hefty budget and a starry cast which includes the luscious Eva Green as the titular character. Now, the trailers make this look like standard kids fare, but the MPAA just gave this a PG-13, which suggests a slightly more risqué family flick, which sounds like a better fit to Burton's askew sensibility. Oddly, Danny Elfman is not doing the score.
Based on the best-seller by Paula Hawkins, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is obviously primed to be this year's GONE GIRL. It definitely has the sexy cast down-pat, with Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Edgar Ramirez and Luke Evans all brooding their way through the effective trailer. The one question mark is that this erotic murder-mystery is helmed by Tate Taylor, better known as the director of THE HELP - which seems like a bizarre match to the material.
This one has prestige written all over it. Robert Zemeckis directs this big-budget WW2 thriller, starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cottilard as two assassins who fall in love on a mission. While it sounds a bit like MR & MRS SMITH: THE WAR YEARS, I have no doubt Zemeckis is capable of an exciting, polished war thriller, and it'll be nice to see Pitt back in a mainstream piece of entertainment.
Up to Comic-Con, no one knew that THE GUEST's Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett were working on a relaunch of the BLAIR WITCH franchise, much less had already completed the film - which our own JimmyO says is totally amazing. Smartly timed to coincide on those initial Comic Con screenings (and its place at TIFF's Midnight Madness) BLAIR WITCH just might prove to be a major relaunch of what everyone thought was a dead franchise.
Fresh-off the success of THE IMPOSSIBLE, director J.A Bayona returns to TIFF with this fantasy epic, abut a young boy who comes to terns with his mother's terminal illness through his friendship with a magical tree demon voiced by Liam Neeson. Sound ridiculous? Maybe - but Bayona's the real deal so I have no doubt this will be an exceptional piece of work.
The first of Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg's two big fall 2016 fact-based dramas, with DEEPWATER HORIZON being a large-scale, IMAX account of the disastrous BP oil spill. Wahlberg, John Malkovich and the one and only Kurt Russell co-star as men working in the titular rig. With a heft price tag, this is a gamble but the material is right-up Berg's territory and Wahlberg tends to do really well in this types of movies.
PASSENGERS is a script that's kicked-around Hollywood for years, with some of the biggest names in-town attached to it at one time or another. It's finally getting an A-list film being made out of it, with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence starring as passengers on a 120 year spaceship voyage who are accidentally awoken from hibernation and doomed to spend the rest of their lives together. THE IMITATION GAME's Morten Tyldum directs what many see as the first real test of Pratt/Lawrence's box-office mettle outside of a franchise.
Ben Affleck teams with WARRIOR's Gavin O'Connor in this gritty action-thriller which sees our new Batman play a forensic accountant tasked with uncooking the books for the most dangerous people on the planet. When things inevitably go wrong, he has to rely on his exceptional deadly skill-sets in order to survive. Anna Kendrick, Jon Bernthal, and Affleck's JUSTICE LEAGUE co-star J.K Simmons join him in what should be a nifty, smart early-fall adult thriller, although the absence of a spot at TIFF is - unnerving.
Ang Lee's follow-up to LIFE OF PI seems like a low-key drama for the director, with newcomer Joe Alwyn starring as the titular character, a shell-shocked Iraq War veteran home for a PR stunt with his squad. Co-starring Vin Diesel, Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker and Steve Martin, what makes BILLY LYNN really interesting is that while it's a small film, Lee opted to shoot it in 3D and at 120 fps, the highest frame rate ever used for a feature film. Pretty intriguing.
This is Warner Bros., big stab at continuing their multi-billion dollar Harry Potter franchise, with Fantastic Beasts being based on "material" by J.K Rowling. Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne stars as the wizard hero, Newt Scamander, opposite INHERENT VICE's Katherine Waterson and a menacing Colin Farrell. Regular Harry Potter director David Yates directs. If somehow this movie doesn't perform, it'll be a disaster for WB, as there are massively high hopes pinned to this one.
Denis Villeneuve is insanely prolific given how carefully assembled his movies are. Sandwiched between last year's breakout hit, SICARIO and next year's high-profile BLADE RUNNER sequel, he's back at TIFF with his "first contact" drama, ARRIVAL, formerly known as "Story of Your Life." Co-starring Jeremy Renner, not much is known about this year, with the carefully cut teaser and trailer only revealing the bare-bones of the plot, being that Adams plays a scientist who makes first contact with an alien race. Whether they're friendly or not remains to be seen...
What's this, a remake of a remake? The original 1960 version of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN was itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI, so it's tough to get too up-in-arms about Hollywood mounting a remake (it wouldn't be the first time - remember the mid-nineties TV show with Michael Biehn?). With Antoine Fuqua at the helm, and his go-to-badass Denzel Washington taking over for Yul Brynner as the leader of the seven, this remake seems ripe for heavy box-office and a lot of happy fans. Also, you have to figure it's pretty decent with Sony screening it at TIFF. It'll also test Chris Pratt's leading-man mettle, as it takes a real movie star to be able to go toe-to-toe with Denzel - the man casts a long shadow.
While the first JACK REACHER was only a modest hit, it did well enough for Paramount to greenlight a sequel. With director Chris McQuarrie off prepping another MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, Tom Cruise enlisted his LAST SAMURAI director Ed Zwick to take over, and the trailer promises another bone-crunching, low-tech good time. While the first movie was too long, it had some really dynamic action scenes, and this one seems to embrace the same grounded approach. It'll also be cool seeing Cobie Smulders in an action-heavy role as opposed to her ongoing part as the often sidelined Maria Hill in the Marvel movies.
Could 2016 be the year Hollywood finally forgives Mel Gibson? It's actually looking pretty good for Mad Mel, with BLOOD FATHER having playing to mostly good reviews. HACKSAW RIDGE is his first time back behind the cameras since APOCALYPTO, and the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector/medal of honor winner in WW2 seems like something that's right up his alley. The trailer is terrific and it also looks like star Andrew Garfield gives a tour-de-force performance.
Our own Paul Shirey actually visited the set of this one and came back ranting and raving about how cool it looks and how he's sure director Justin Kurzel and star Michael Fassbender (you know - the guy all your girlfriends want to sleep with) are cooking up something really special. I have a theory though - despite the X-Mas release date I fully expect Fox to move it back a few weeks due to the crowded movie schedule, so don't be surprised if this also ends up on our "most anticipated movies of 2017" list too.
While I've generated some fanboy wrath here for my oft-repeated sentiment that the Marvel movies are becoming a little formulaic at this point, it can't be denied the films themselves almost always work. No one should expect DOCTOR STRANGE to be any different. At it's best, it'll be one of the rare solo Marvel movies to really have a unique identity of its own (next to something like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Worst-case scenario though, there's no chance this won't at least be good, and I have high hopes for Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as the titular hero.
The fact that ROGUE ONE is coming-out so hot on the heels of THE FORCE AWAKENS will, naturally, make this seem like less of an event by comparison. What's odd is how many stories have tried to spin ROGUE ONE as some kind of impending disaster, even though the trailers have been terrific, the cast is great and the premise - that Felicity Jones's "rebel scum" has to steal the plans for the original Death Star - is highly intriguing. To me, Lucasfilm is the new Marvel, in that each movie is too big to fail, so one can reasonably assume that if there are any issues at all, they'll be fixed by the time the movie opens and the end result should be a huge crowd-pleaser and money-maker. Plus, Donnie Yen in a STAR WARS movie??? Hell yeah!