Now that the dust from the summer blockbuster season has settled, Hollywood is ready to open the floodgates to a steady stream of films that range from the inspiring (Queen of Katwe) to the controversial (The Birth of a Nation) to the highly-anticipated (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) to the “Wait a minute, didn’t this movie already come out?” (Masterminds). But most of all, tis the season for awards bait — and this year has an impressive slate of films vying for trophies. From now until the end of the year, the titles hitting theaters will prove that contrary to popular belief, 2016 is quite a good year for film.
Fall officially begins on September 22 (that would be today), so the big banner film officially kicking off the season of change will be THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (9/23), Antoine Fuqua’s all-star remake of the classic Western starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt (read our TIFF review here). From there, the ball gets rolling with autumnal fare including two films based on true stories. There’s Peter Berg’s DEEPWATER HORIZON (9/30) starring Mark Wahlberg which chronicles the explosion of the titular offshore drilling rig in 2010, making it the worst oil spill in 2010.
For something a little less messy and more inspirational, opt for the Disney’s yearly sports-driven drama, QUEEN OF KATWE (9/30). Directed by Mira Nair, newcomer Madina Nalwanga stars opposite the radiant Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo as the real-life Phiona Mutesi, a Ugandan girl found captivating success when she was introduced to the game of chess.
Tim Burton also comes back into the fold with an adaptation of Ransom Rigg’s novel MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (9/30) starring Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, and Asa Butterfield in a more twisted and fantastical version of X-Men.
Filling the void that Gone Girl left behind is the mystery-thriller THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (10/7) based on the best-selling novel by Erin Cressida Wilson and starring Emily Blunt.
It’s been seven years since Tom Hanks was on the big screen as Robert Langdon in Angels & Demons and now seems a better time than any to return to his cryptic adventures in the Ron Howard-directed INFERNO (10/28) alongside new leading lady Felicity Jones.
October marks the release of two award season hopefuls including Nate Parker’s Sundance favorite-turned-controversial pic THE BIRTH OF A NATION (10/7), which follows the story of Nat Turner and the historic slave rebellion he led in 1931. Also crawling to the top of the Oscar ballot is Barry Jenkins’ MOONLIGHT (10/21), a visionary drama that follows the journey of a gay black man via three specific periods of his life. Currently on its festival run, the film has been met with critical acclaim and an outstanding ovation (read our TIFF review here).
Cutting through all the drama of women on trains, code-cracking theological experts in Europe, and emotionally heavy films about slavery is the Tom Cruise-starrer JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (10/21) — something for those who prefer something cinematically light, popcorn-friendly and has Cruise firing guns and beating up bad guys.
Other October releases: MIDDLE SCHOOL – THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE (10/7), MASCOTS (10/13), DESIERTO (10/14), THE HANDMAIDEN (10/14), OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (10/21), A MONSTER CALLS (10/21), KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (10/21), IN THE VALLEY OF VIOLENCE (10/21), RINGS (10/28)
The month of turkeys and cornucopias puts us right smack dab in the middle of fall with a generous balance of big-budget, effects-laden blockbusters as well as buzzworthy pics landing on the award seasons radar. Among the latter are Jeff Nichols’ poignant film LOVING (11/14) with stirring performances from Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton as the real life interracial couple Mildred and Richard Loving, who were sent to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married (read our TIFF review here). Other movies that are promised to be contenders for trophies are Tom Ford’s stunningly tragic.
Other movies that promise to be strong contenders for cinematic trophies are Tom Ford’s stunningly tragic NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (11/18) (read our review here) with Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal as well as the tearjerking adopted-son-trying-to-find-long-lost-family drama LION (11/25) starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman (read our review here)
In addition to Nocturnal Animals, Academy Award-winning actress Amy Adams will make a second appearance this month in the riveting alien invasion sci-fi drama ARRIVAL (11/11) (read our review here) while Robert Zemeckis’ action drama ALLIED (11/23) starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard.
Other festival favorites making their way to the theaters this month include Mel Gibson’s critically acclaimed war pic HACKSAW RIDGE (11/4) with Andrew Garfield as well as Kenneth Lonergan’s family drama MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (11/18) starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams.
Just because November is in the thick of awards season with emotionally stirring films and hardcore acting, doesn’t mean that there can’t be some big event films to compliment your consumption of turkey, cranberry sauce from a can, and a bevvy of complex carbohydrates. This month marks the release of the highly-anticipated trippy, magical superhero pic DOCTOR STRANGE (11/4) starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which is the second film in Marvel’s phase 3. Walt Disney Animation Studios will also release MOANA (11/23), their 56th animated feature that follows the titular Moana (newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) as she goes on a fabled journey with legendary demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson).
And for everyone who has been hankering for more Harry Potter action, hanker no more as the J.K. Rowling spin-off FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (11/18) starring Eddie Redmayne will finally hit theaters. Get your wands ready, because it’ll be a wild ride.
Other November releases: BLEED FOR THIS (11/4), TROLLS (11/4), ALMOST CHRISTMAS (11/11), BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (11/11), ELLE (11/11), SHUT IN (11/11), THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (11/18), MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (11/18), BAD SANTA 2 (11/23), RULES DONT APPLY (11/23)
The end of 2016 is looking to end with a bang as studios scramble to release their Oscar bait as well as holiday-friend fare. At the top of the list for the month of December is the critically-acclaimed and crowd-pleasing LA LA LAND (12/2). The Damien Chazelle-directed musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone has been charming film festivals and is seems to be the awards season favorite.
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis star in the film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning August Wilson play FENCES (12/25). Davis and Washington, who is also the director, both starred in the revival of the play which earned them both Tony Awards. Considering the talented names attached and the prestige of the source material, Fences has already caught the attention of the Academy.
The Michael Keaton-starrer THE FOUNDER (12/6), a biopic that follows the story of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, has been under the radar in terms of buzz, but it’s not to be discounted. The same could be said for GOLD (12/25) from Syriana director Stephen Gaghan which stars Matthew McConaughey and Bryce Dallas Howard. The film sees a made-under McConaughey as a down-on-his-luck guy who heads into the Indonesian jungle in search of gold. On the flipside of things, there’s Morten Tyldum’s sci-fi romance PASSENGERS (12/21) with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, which will likely get awards attention and be a box office hit with its marquee names.
Cinephiles will revel in Pedro Almodovar’s latest JULIETA (12/21) while the ensemble pic OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (12/9) with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman will alleviate the need for inappropriate laughs for the holiday season. Michael Fassbender will attempt to be the popular hooded video game action hero in ASSASSIN’S CREED (12/21), while Lucasfilm will aim to dominate the box office just like they did last year with Star Wars: The Force Awakens with their standalone sci-fi epic ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (12/16).
Other December Releases: THE SALESMAN (12/9), MISS SLOANE (12/9), A KIND OF MURDER (12/16), NERUDA (12/16), THE SPACE BETWEEN US (12/16), 20TH CENTURY WOMEN (12/21), PATRIOTS DAY (12/21), SING (12/21), WHY HIM? (12/25), PATERSON (12/28)
That’s quite a robust list for the fall season. Between trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving dinner and all that holiday shopping, make sure you plan accordingly because the year’s end is firing on all cylinders when it comes to cinematic fare.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer