FALL/WINTER MOVIE PREVIEW
by Jeremy Goeckner, Editor-In-Chief
It’s that time of year again! We’ve officially moved past the blockbuster landscape of the Summer movie season and now move into the time of year where we get the serious contenders for the top prizes in the movie industry. But unlike in years past, this Fall/Winter movie scene is being crashed by Comic Book and Sci-Fi franchise movies that will once again prove to be the biggest money-makers of the year. I think that’s only a good thing overall for the movie industry that we make all parts of the year accessible for amazing comic book and action/adventure fare. Maybe the lines will continue to blur a little more each year and we’ll start seeing those comic book movies get some awards consideration! But until that day, here is a preview of the movies we at The Front Row are massively looking forward to this season.
You want to talk about keeping a secret! Rising horror director Adam Wynyard (You’re Next) was already getting amazing hype for his film The Woods as it made the festival circuit stops. But it wasn’t until ComicCon that they revealed the 2-year secret that is was really the true sequel to The Blair Witch Project. So, give those guys the Mafia No-Squeeling Merit Badge. As for the movie, the buzz has been great and the trailers promise a terrifying experience. One thing is for sure, we are so amped to go back into the Black Hills Woods!
This is arguably Marvel’s biggest swing yet bringing the Sorcerer Supreme to the big screen and all the trippy, cosmic awesomeness that comes with him. Still, it’ll be interesting to see if they can play in the realm of magic and spiritualism without alienating the general movie-goer. But with a seasoned director like Scott Derrickson, the MCU’s track record and one of the most impressive casts they’ve ever assemble for a stand-alone film, the promise of the great trailers looks like it will be delivered upon in spades. Plus… Marvel dude.
This one is based purely off the amazing trailer because before that it wasn’t anywhere near our radar… and we live in this stuff! Director Denis Villeneuve has been on the upswing for a while because of his amazing work with Prisoners and last year’s Sicario. So take those sensibilities, add them to a cast led by Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker and throw everyone into a first-contact alien story. I mean, it sounds like it might be for the niche sci-fi crowd but the trailer gives us the sense that there is way more going on than the typical summer fare and that we might be seeing this title in some Oscar categories come next year.
The buzz coming out of TIFF for this film said following the screening of Mel Gibson’s first directorial effort in nearly a decade there was a 10-minute standing ovation. Obviously there is a lot of controversy still surrounding Gibson’s personal life but his talents as a director are undeniable and if the film is as good as the buzz is indicating, we could be looking at the comeback of the year and a ton of Oscar noms come February; for both Gibson and star Andrew Garfield alike.
When Natalie Portman is right and committed there are few actresses in Hollywood that match her talent. This is a film that many weren’t expecting to hit this awards cycle but the distribution deal was struck earlier this week so now we’re set for the prime awards season early December release. Portman plays Jackie Kennedy in the days following the assassination of her husband and the early buzz is just phenomenal. We might have another contender for Best Actress and given the subject matter, maybe even Best Picture as well.
Birth of a Nation
You want a roller coaster ride? Then just take a look at the one this movie and its star/writer/producer/director have been on. The film was the highest paid rights war in the history of Cannes. It seemed the Oscars were just lining up for this true story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion on the cusp of the Civil War. Then the Nate Parker rape controversy happened. I won’t recap the whole thing here but I do encourage you to research it yourself. What we’re left with is a film that still has stellar reviews and this will be an amazing litmus test for whether or not a seemingly great film can withstand a pretty heinous controversy.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
I mean… duh! Not much to say here. Darth Vader. In-between movie of the original and prequel trilogy. Awesome cast. Great trailers. And…. there was one more thing….. oh yeah! Star Wars.
The Magnificent Seven
You know as far as remakes go, this is one I was looking forward to right when Denzel Washington’s name came up. The early buzz is getting everyone excited and when you look at the stacked cast it’s not hard to see why. While director Antoine Fuqua hasn’t had a GREAT movie in a while, this one looks like it could really break the streak. We haven’t had a truly great Western since the Cohen Brothers’ True Grit, and even though this is the 3rd version of this particular story on film (Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai), this might be the next in line.
This movie is by far the most enigmatic of the entire bunch. We know next to nothing about it even though it’s only 3 months from release and yet we can’t stop being drawn to its crazy premise and bankable stars. Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence play space travelers that are mistakenly awakened from a long space journey 12 years early and must survive and stand the long wait until they arrive at their destination. Those two with that premise sounds good and its in a prime Oscar release date, but the release of the first trailer this late in the game is slightly alarming (along with the news of extensive reshoots). We all shall see.
The trailer for this fraternity caution tale was simply awesome. Take away the skepticism that comes with casting a Jonas brother in a serious drama, what we’re left with is a subject that has been woefully under-played by every media medium not named Law & Order SVU. It appears that we are going to get a very hard-hitting look at what goes on in some fraternities in this country and how the camaraderie mindset can lead to an entire wave of broken lives in its wake. And hey, maybe those Jonas brothers can act. This film should give us a very good indication.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Tim Burton has been on a down-swing of late and is in desperate need of a hit as soon as possible. It very well might be this Victorian-era X-Men story about a group of special-powered kids and the matriarch (Eva Green) that houses and protects them. Of course there is a diabolical villain (Samuel L Jackson) that wants to take it all down, but the story has a lot of potential to be a great morality tale in terms of how we all interact with those that are different than us. Conversely, the trailers and effects work look incredible and if the movie can deliver on the promise of some of those striking visuals then Tim Burton might have dug himself out of the box office dog house and back into the upper echelon where he belongs.
The Girl on the Train
This film is garnering a lot of comparison’s to 2014’s Gone Girl and it’s pretty easy to see why. They both offer enigmatic females as their lead characters and director Tate Taylor’s visual palette seems to be channeling those of David Fincher. The story seems simple enough: a woman (Emily Blunt) sees the assault of young woman (Haley Bennett) while riding the train home from work and becomes entangled in a web of deceit that might threaten to tear her entire world apart. It already looks like there could be some early Best Actress buzz for Emily Blunt and the film’s stellar cast promises a mystery-thriller that might be on par with Gone Girl. One thing is for sure, this movie is sure to be one of the can’t-miss options on the winter.
Ben Affleck, put quite plainly, has just been on a role lately. Even those who hated Batman v Superman had to admit he was great as Bruce Wayne. Now he’s setting his sights on the action-drama film that finds him playing an autistic man that is brilliant with both numbers and advanced weaponry as he caters book-keeping services to the most dangerous criminals in the world. When his number is up, he must protect himself and his family from these dangerous people or risk losing it all. This one is going to live and die on the back of Affleck’s performance, even if it does also boast J.K. Simmons, Anna Kendrick, John Lithgow, Jeffrey Tambour and Jon Berenthal.
Many people have given up on the Robert Langdon franchise from the Dan Brown novels. And while The Da Vinci Code was amazingly dull from it’s paperback inspiration, I thought Angels & Demons was a severe uptick in quality and made me open to spending a few more adventures with Tom Hanks’ puzzle-solving professor. Now Robert Langdon has been stricken with some kind of memory loss and must remember who he is and how to stop a dastardly plot that will make him choose between killing half the world’s population now or killing all it in 50 years. Might sound a little corn-ball but when you’ve got Tom Hanks in front of and Ron Howard behind the camera it deserves a shot. Right?….
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
Harry Potter has been a pop-culture monster since the first book was released in 1997. And since then, it has spawned theme parks, toy lines and most importantly one of the most successful film franchises of all time. Now we are venturing away from the boy-wizard in the film franchise and traveling a full 80 years before he was even born as we follow the adventures of Newt Scamander (Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne) as he attempts to catch a suitcase full of magical creatures before the Muggle world finds out. Co-starring Colin Farrell, Guy Pearce, Dan Fogler & Jon Voight, if this film delivers on the promise of the trailers we might have an entirely new section of the Harry Potter universe to continue the box office domination of its predecessors.
Manchester By The Sea
This is purely for the Oscar considerations and what its success could mean for the future of the Awards. Even though Beasts of No Nation made a ton of noise for awards consideration for Netflix last year it ultimately ended up dry. But with Manchester By The Sea, many are predicting that Netflix will officially crack the Oscar race and change the game while its at it. This tale of an estranged uncle who must care for his recently deceased brother’s son has been raking up the rave reviews at all the film festivals and many are handicapping Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams as the early performances-to-beat at this year’s ceremony.
Disney has really been on a role when it comes to its digital animation studio. And no, that doesn’t mean Pixar. From Wreck-It-Ralph to Frozen to this year’s Zootopia they’ve just literally been crushing it. So enter in their latest film that is taking us to a culture and part of the world rarely ever visited by film in the Samoan Pacific Islander mythology. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and newcomer Auli’i Carvalho as the titular character, the trailers have promised not only an amazingly heart-touching coming-of-age story but also an entirely magical and whimsical tale as well. And it certainly doesn’t hurt having Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony-Award winner (Hamilton, In The Heights) Lin-Manuel Miranda as part of your songwriting team. In a year that has been amazing in terms of quality for animated films, we’re all hoping that it finished strong as well.
La La Land
I ranked Whiplash as my #2 movie of 2014 in large part because of the two lead performances from Miles Teller and eventual Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons. But the unsung hero was director/writer Damien Chazelle who crafted an intense and wonderfully philosophic look at the joy and agony of trying to create truly great art. Now Chazelle has set his sights on the musical genre with this 1940s art-deco dreamworld staring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and I couldn’t be more excited. The trailers have been hauntingly beautiful and the early buzz from the festivals say this is going to be one of the biggest and most serious Oscar contenders this year. Given what Chazelle did his first time out, it’s not too hard to imagine that being just the case come February.
Video game movies have had so many opportunities to get it right and just-start the genre. But for one reason or another they’ve never been able to catch. Enter the latest attempt in Assassin’s Creed. So why is this film going to be different? Well for starters, it certainly helps to have an actor as acclaimed as Michael Fassbender at the front. But even more, the story of these video games is uniquely situated to tell a fantastic action-mystery-thriller and will no-doubt lead to many stunning visual stunts. Of course it could continue the long string of video game movie flops; but if it delivers like it could, an entire new genre of film could open up and the possibilities could be endless.
A Monster Calls
This movie's trailer hit like a freight train a few months ago and the fervor for this fantasy-drama has only grown every day since. The cast is fantastic stars Lewis MacDougall as a boy dealing with a crippling illness to his mother (Felicity Jones) and bullying at school among other things. This prompts him to seek the help of a tree monster (Liam Neeson) to deal with life. Is the monster real? Is it all in his head? Is it a little of both? Those questions will all be answered when it opens on January 6. And the presence of director J.A. Bayona (The Impossible) makes this as legitimate as it can get!