Now that September is upon us (insert “Wake Me Up” reference), it’s time for the Fall movie preview. After the huge meh and let down that was Summer 2016, here’s hoping the Fall offers some better quality films. This isn’t a list of every movie coming out, rather my 15 most anticipated of the year. The films are listed in order of release so what’s first is coming soon and last won’t be until near Christmas.
Oliver Stone returns to stir the pot with this biopic about the whistle blower Edward Snowden. One of the few movies on this list that has early critical buzz already, mainly for Joseph Gordon Levitt’s performance as the title character. The film follows his early years in the NSA before blowing the whistle that would ultimately lead to the US government branding him a traitor.
The Magnificent Seven
Oh I really hope this is good. Actually, it doesn’t have to be good, just has to be a fun time at the movies, something this summer was sorely lacking. Denzel Washington teams up again with his Training Day director to bring us the remake of The Magnificent Seven, which in turn was a remake of Seven Samurai. Now I’m not looking for cinematic gold (although that would be wonderful) but as long as it proves to be a good time at the movies then sure why not? The cast looks great, it includes Denzel in the lead along with Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawk, Vincent D’Onofrio and Byung-hun lee as members of the Seven, who come together to defend a small time in the old west against a villain (Peter Sarsgaard) and his gang.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Particular Children
Tim Burton is back, and he’s left out Johnny Depp. Insert sigh of relief here. Peregrine seems like it could be the next franchise film for kids and young adults, combining elements from the Potter franchise along with X-Men, as the film centers around a school for gifted youngsters with “particular” abnormalities. Far from my most anticipated, may be the lowest on this list, but the star power of Eva Green is always a huge win, plus I am eager to see what Burton has to offer us this time.
The Girl on the Train
A suspense thriller starring Emily Blunt, Girl is actually one of the most interesting films on this list and certainly ranks as one of my most anticipated. Blunt stars as Rachel Watson, a divorcee who commutes daily to work via commuter train, taking note of all the things that pass her by on the daily. On one such day though, she witnesses something in those few seconds that uncoil into a huge suspenseful mystery. Couple the few seconds window she has to witness the event along with her alcoholism and Rachel isn’t exactly the most credible witness, adding another layer to the plot. Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans and Edgar Ramirez also star.
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Two reason why you should be interested in this sequel to Jack Reacher and those are Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie reuniting yet again after the fantastic surprise that was Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. This time, the film sees Jack, formerly of the US army Military Police get accused of a murder that happened 16 years ago. In such, he navigates the web of conspiracy while kicking all the ass in splendid Tom Cruise fashion. Directed by Last Samurai’s Edward Zwick.
Hey man, I liked Da Vinci Code and liked Angels and Demons more. So here’s hoping Inferno, part three in Ron Howard’s on screen trilogy is the best one. Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor in symbols and religious interpretations. This time, he is in Florence, with no memory after receiving a gunshot wound to the head and finds himself embedded in a fast paced plot of mystery and history, this time being faced with a riddle that has something to do with Dante.
The most unusual Marvel film to date (and that says something when Ant-Man is a thing), Strange looks to be the mind breaking film of the year, taking perhaps a bit too obvious inspirations from Inception and giving us a trippy feast for the eyes. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Dr. Stephen Strange, a neurologist who embarks on a quest for spiritual healing after an accident shattered his career. Directed by Scott Derrickson, the guy behind Sinister 1 & 2, the film looks like a huge gamble. I myself wasn’t too sold on it with the first teaser but my curiosity grew when trailer 1 came out. Here’s hoping Marvel delivers another unexpected treat a la Guardians.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
At first, I thought this was going to be a cheeseball filled, CBS/Hallmark kind of film. And who knows, it may be. But I immediately got intrigued when I noticed Ang Lee is directing this one. Colour me intrigued. Life of Pi, his last effort, won Best Picture at the Oscars after all and deserved it. The film follows Billy Lynn, a US soldier being honoured at the Superbowl Halftime Show for his valour and victory in Iraq. As he makes his walk, the film shows us flashbacks of what it was actually like for Billy overseas juxtaposed to the celebration he receives at the game. Billy Lynn is played by newcomer Joe Alwyn and also features Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin and Vin Diesel (yes, that Vin Diesel) in supporting roles.
Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them
One of my least anticipated on this least if only for my fear of it existing solely to make a huge profit and resulting in having a mediocre story….kind of like the latest book (sorry). FBAWTFT is about Professor Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he travels to 1930s America for a meeting only for his magical briefcase of beasts to become unleashed, causing the American wizarding world to pursuit Newt while he attempts to recover the creatures before harm, or a muggle (called no-maj in America….ew) finds them. Apart from the unique setting, I’ve still yet to be 100% sold on this but I’m hoping that David Yates, of Potter 5-8 will deliver the goods.
Manchester by the Sea
Another film that is getting great early critical reception, Manchester by the Sea stars Casey Affleck dealing with the sudden responsibility of being the guardian to his late brother’s son. This looks like it’ll be one of those powerhouse acting films and the early critical buzz is raving, it currently sits at a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. I am very eager to see what the buzz is like and the trailer certainly has my interest.
One of my most anticipated films of this year, Moana is this year’s big Disney animated feature. Featuring new music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Moana is the tale of a south pacific islander who decides to search for a fabled island along with the demi-god Maui. The animation here looks gorgeous, just look at it. The ocean looks so vibrant and magical. The film looks to be doing a great job already at respecting and illustrating Oceania culture and mythology. Moana, our lead, is played by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho and is joined on her quest by Dwayne Johnson as Maui.
Now what do we have here? A romantic thriller set during WWII film directed by Robert Zemeckis (The Walk, Back to the Future) written by Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders, Locke) and starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard? Colour me very intrigued. Allied takes place in Casablance and sees Max Vatan, an American spy/assassin working for the Brits falling in love with French spy Marianne Beausejour as they both plot to kill a German politician in the area. High hopes. No trailer or poster yet though.
Lion is the tale of Saroo, an Indian national who was adopted as a child and raise in Australia after being abruptly separated from his family. When in his late twenties and using the power of the internet, he discovers the whereabouts of his birth parents and sets off on a journey to find them. True story by the way, based on Saroo’s memo Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) stars in this one and just about anything Dev does has my interest. He’s a great young talent, along with his co star Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). If you’re lucky, you can catch Lion early at TIFF in September before its November release date.
La La Land
Following up on his success with Whiplash, Damien Chazelle returns with this ode to Hollywood starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Keeping the plot vague, all we really know is that Gosling plays a jazz pianist who falls in love with a waitress who is an aspiring actress. We’ve heard this one before right? Yes, and the movie seems to know this, playing off the age of story. Gosling and Stone do their own singing in this one, which is as much a musical as it is a drama judging by the trailers. The visuals however are hypnotic, creating a dreamscape illusion of Tinsel Town, full of magic, music, love, success, failure, loss, and regret and if La La has the same on screen energy Whiplash had, then this should be an early Oscar contender.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
And the most anticipated of the year comes to no surprise to anyone, yup, it’s this year’s Star Wars movie! An interesting gamble for LucasFilm, Rogue One is actually a war film that takes place just prior to A New Hope and is not the highly anticipated sequel to The Force Awakens. The trailers have done a great job setting up the scale and the gravity of the situation. I won’t reveal the plot here, as the trailers have yet to explicitly say what it is so if you have no idea what Rogue One is about I’ll keep it vague. The film boats a fantastic diverse cast, including Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed and Alan Tudyk. Plus the return of Darth Vader to the bring screen. I am both very excited and a bit nervous about these spin offs, as they seem to be designed to allow various filmmakers come in and experiment with sub genres, but also worried about film fatigue, as LucasFilm and Disney hope to deliver a Star Wars film annually now. But for now, I am hoping lightning strikes twice and we get (what looks to be) a great film yet again with an identity all it’s own, embracing the fact that the word “wars” is in the title of the franchise. Director Gareth Edwards and his crew, who have worked on the likes of Zero Dark Thirty and Black Hawk Down, seem to want to create a much more intense and unique experience, very much with a boots on the ground approach set against the behemoth size of the Empire. In this regard, the gorgeous cinematography has already succeeded.