Friday, September 2, 2016

10 Most Anticipated Films - September and October 2016

Summer is coming to a close and thus we are entering a certain time of the year, that of cooler temperatures, playoff baseball and the opening kickoff of a new NFL season.

Oh, and Oscar season of course.

Starting every year in September until the calendar flips a rush of films all competing for award recognition get released. Some are just as great as well all hope. Some are even better. Others fall victim to unrealistic expectations and never have a shot at Oscar glory. Some are just bad.

There are 10 films specifically coming out over the next two months that I have my eye on, kind of like that incredibly vivid picture above that appears in one of the films listed. Listed in chronological order rather than ranked by level of anticipation, here are those movies:

The Light Between Oceans - September 2nd

I go into this one with a strange and conflicted vibe because not every factor in advance is clicking. What I am excited about: it's directed by Derek Cianfrance, the man who was behind the camera for two incredible films previously, Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. It's starring two amazing actors, Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, and they actually fell in love in reality while filming so I would hope their chemistry on screen will pop. The photography during the trailer is gorgeous. What concerns me: my wife read the novel of the same name that the film is based on, released in 2012 from author M.L. Stedman, and she seriously disliked it. I trust her judgment when it comes to a good story.

I am holding out hope that the talent involved in translating the book to the screen will make it soar. 

Sully - September 9th

Another film listed, and another I have a bit of doubt clouding my own expectations. When you see Tom Hanks pop up in a biographical award season release, it's hard to not assume a level of quality. Director Clint Eastwood is extremely hit or miss, which depending on how you look at that, it either means be worried this is a miss OR perhaps this will be one of his hits. The man directed my favorite western of all time, so I will always have some hope when a new film of his is due out, and Sully looks like a fascinatingly complex character study about a man who saved so many lives and yet has his choices questioned, both by the public as well as internally by himself. 

Blair Witch - September 16th

Everyone knows the original, the massive mega hit The Blair Witch Project, filmed on a next to nothing budget only to bring in roughly $250 million worldwide. I love that damn film, and it's completely forgettable and poorly conceived sequel meant that the original would stand alone...or perhaps not. In case you missed the awesome story behind this new film, which is a sequel, not a reboot, director Adam Wingard (the man behind the extremely fun You're Next and The Guest) had been promoting his upcoming film titled The Woods only to surprise an audience at Comic Con with the fact that it had been a secret Blair Witch sequel all along. The best part? Word is it's just as great as I would hope. I can't wait to go see this one in just a couple of weeks.

Snowden - September 16th

It's extremely fair to say that Oliver Stone is pretty hit or miss over the course of his career, but when he hits, my goodness it's something special. His new film Snowden, based on the story of Edward Snowden, the NSA employee that leaked thousands of classified government documents and fled the country to avoid facing criminal charges, could be a hit. It could also be a total miss too, but isn't that half the fun of it? Seeing a film and deciding for yourself whether it works. With an impressive cast lead by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the title role, I am ready to give this one a chance and hope for the best. 

American Honey - September 30th

I know very little about American Honey beyond it being directed by Andrea Arnold and the fact that it received some extremely positive buzz after it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. I would like to keep it that way. Haven't watched a trailer, only know a small portion of the cast and have no idea what the story entails. Just sit me down and let me figure it all out as I go along. Some might have trouble understanding how I can be so eager to see a film I know so little about, and it's simple: find critics you trust and read their general, vague thoughts after seeing the film. I like what little I have seen from them on American Honey.

The Girl on the Train - October 7th

I read and loved the novel this film is based on, and ever since I have been eagerly awaiting this adaptation. I hope they get it right. Stylistically the book was easily comparable to Gone Girl, but I refuse to enter into this one with such lofty expectations. Directed by Tate Taylor, whose most famous work prior to this was the Oscar nominated The Help from 2011, I am still skeptical of him being chosen for material with this sort of tone, but I am obviously still hoping for the best. If they do it right, this is going to be one fun film to watch unfold. Starring Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Allison Janney, Haley Bennett, Luke Evans and Justin Theroux, The Girl on the Train is just one piece of a very interesting weekend.

The Birth of a Nation - October 7th

When The Birth of a Nation premiered at Sundance early this year, it obviously dominated the festival and was considered a shoe-in for Oscar glory a year later. Given an awards push release date, writer/director Nate Parker has created something that is apparently powerful and incredibly timely considering the controversy of our last Academy Awards and their complete disregard for potential minority nominees. The Birth of a Nation was exactly the film we needed...until it wasn't. Recently it has come to light that Parker not only was accused of rape when he was in college, it is widely believed he was guilty of the crime and got off only on a technicality. To make matters worse, the victim would later go on to end her life. Absolutely tragic first, and terrible optics for the upcoming film second.

Personally, I have always been one to say that I feel I should judge the art, not the person who creates it, and it feels hypocritical of me to write off this film when I have embraced plenty of others made by terrible men in the past. I will admit paying for a ticket feels wrong though, because giving the film a chance is one thing but supporting the man financially is something else. We'll see how I go about handling that, but regardless I look forward to seeing The Birth of a Nation finally, all these months after those who got a chance to see it couldn't stop heaping praise towards the picture. 

Voyage of Time - October 7th

It's a documentary about the birth and eventual death of our universe by Terrence Malick, the man who created my favorite film of all time The Tree of Life. Oh, and it was specifically designed to play on IMAX screens. Enough said.

The 13th - October 7th

Noticing a trend with October 7th? Here's the thing too: the odds of me actually going to a theater that weekend and seeing anything are slim to none. The Cubs will be playing their first three playoff games over the weekend and my daughter's birthday will be celebrated as well, two things that are more important to me than cinema. So of course the biggest film weekend of the year takes place over a few days with very little time to watch anything, but one that I will absolutely be seeing is the new documentary by director Ava DuVernay (Selma) called The 13th. It chronicles the history of racial inequality in the United States and the reason I am so confident that I will see it? It was picked up by Netflix and will be streaming that day. 

The Handmaiden - October 21st

A simple rule I follow: if Park Chan-wook directs it, I will watch it. Easy, right? Why do I have that rule? Because I still remember the first time I watched his masterpiece Oldboy and felt like I was glued to my seat in the end. Even his first English language feature Stoker, while flawed on a narrative level, is absolutely sublime in terms of technical achievements. Word on the street is his new effort titled The Handmaiden is another stunner, so yeah, I'm in.

Special shout-out to A Monster Calls, which was to be included in this list but just the other day it was announced that it's release date has been changed to December 23rd. Had I ranked this list, it would have been number one, hence the desire to write quickly about it here. I recently read the novel that the film is based on, and it is the first time I have ever cried while reading. Like, openly had multiple tears falling from my eyes and had to leave the room to collect myself. A beautiful and heartbreaking story and I expect it to translate well onto the screen, hopefully resulting in a powerful cinematic experience. Trust me, it will be on my November - December list, which is sure to be crowded with a whole lot of greatness.


  1. Nice list. This came out last week I think, but one you should see is Hell or High Water. Fantastic movie, and one of the best written this year. Also, the acting is all subtle and amazing to watch.

    1. Ahhh I need to see that one Cody, been hearing a ton of great stuff about it. I have been having a hard time finding a couple hours to go out and see something recently, so I have been sticking to VOD and Netflix. I will be writing a review for The Sea of Trees at some point soon...oh boy that was...interesting.