Monday, August 31, 2015

10 most anticipated movies (no, Star Wars is not one)

Michael Fassbender stars in Macbeth, one of Last Cinema Standing's 10 most anticipated movies of the fall.

We did it last year. We’ll do it this year. If we do it next year, that will make it a tradition. Last Cinema Standing’s 10 most anticipated movies of the fall actually falls in line with another annual tradition: the end of summer blockbuster season. It’s that time of year when Hollywood studios put away their superhero spandex and bust out their prestige pictures. That’s right – it’s Oscar-chasing time, which is just fine by me.

Before we get to the 10, a couple notes: First, merry Christmas to me as my two most anticipated movies both come out Dec. 25, so if you do not hear from me on Christmas Day, it is because I am at the movies. Second, if it seems these selections skew toward name recognition, they do. I love a good story, but what gets me excited about going to the theater is the idea of talented directors, actors, and craftspeople taking on interesting projects.

Last year, my most anticipated films provided an interesting dichotomy. That list included three films that wound up on my end-of-the-year top 10 list, including my No. 1 film of the year, Leviathan. However, it also included Interstellar and Unbroken, which I would call two of the worst films of last year. Hopefully, this year’s list will trend toward the former.

Finally, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (and may need a nap again after saying that whole title) will not appear below. The new Star Wars film will probably top many of your lists and may be the most anticipated movie since The Phantom Menace in 1999. My anticipation level hovers somewhere between curiosity and dread. If it floats your boat, more power to you, but it does nothing for me. Here are 10 movies that do:

10. The Walk, directed by Robert Zemeckis
Release date: Oct. 9

Zemeckis is a great stylist, but he has a tendency to use visual flair for its own sake. However, when he has a compelling story to tie his more whimsical flights of technical fancy to, few can compare (see: the plane crash in Flight). If you have seen the Academy Award-winning documentary this film shares its story with, Man on Wire, you know what to expect. The true story of a tightrope walker (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) attempting to walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center should be a perfect vehicle for Zemeckis’ particular gifts.

9. Trumbo, directed by Jay Roach
Release date: Nov. 6

As a film fan, I am also a nerd when it comes to old Hollywood. The history of film often reflects the history of America, and this is doubly true in one of this country’s darkest chapters – the era of McCarthyism and communist witch hunts. Trumbo is the story of writer Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston), who as a result of government pressure, was blacklisted by Hollywood for socialist leanings and fought back the best way he knew how: by writing. This is one of the most interesting and troubling periods in our shared cultural experience, and I cannot wait to see it brought to life on screen.

8. Steve Jobs, directed by Danny Boyle
Release date: Oct. 9

Counting Steve Jobs, Oscar-winning director Boyle has made just 11 feature films. None is less than interesting, and several (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) are unimpeachably brilliant. Add to that Michael Fassbender – whom I consider the most exciting actor working today – and my favorite actress, Kate Winslet, and I will be there on day 1. I cannot say I am terribly intrigued by a biopic of the late Apple founder, but with Boyle, this cast, which also includes Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, and Michael Stuhlbarg, and an Aaron Sorkin screenplay, I think we have every right to expect something extraordinary.

7. Suffragette, directed by Sarah Gavron
Release date: Oct. 23

Led by a cast including Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, and Helena Bonham Carter, Suffragette details the rise of the feminist movement and the push for women to gain the right to vote in the U.S. I will admit to being unfamiliar with Gavron’s previous work, though screenwriter Abi Morgan co-wrote one of my favorite films of the last few years, Steve McQueen’s excellent Shame, which also starred the fearless Mulligan. The story is timely and relevant, and it will be exciting to see one of the most important struggles of American democracy dramatized.

6. Crimson Peak, directed by Guillermo Del Toro
Release date: Oct. 16

Del Toro has a weird place in the Hollywood machine. He is the director of movies such as Blade II, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim, as well as a number of B-level horror films He also wrote the three Hobbit movies. There is nothing necessarily wrong with any of this work, uneven as some of it may be, but right in the middle of it all sits Pan’s Labyrinth, an absolute gem of a film. Crimson Peak, starring Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska, looks like a return to the gothic fairytale horror of that masterpiece, and if so, we are in for one hell of a ride.

5. The Lobster, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Release date: To be determined

Greek writer-director Lanthimos is incapable of making a boring film, and there is nothing about the romantic sci-fi comedy The Lobster that suggests it will be his first. It is, however, his first feature in the English language, and it stars an enticing, eclectic international cast, including Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, and John C. Reilly. About a futuristic society in which those who do not mate are turned into animals, Lanthimos does not appear to be dialing back the weirdness to appease the larger audience The Lobster seems likely to attract. For that, we should all be thankful.

4. Bridge of Spies, directed by Steven Spielberg
Release date: Oct. 16

Could anything feel more classic than a Spielberg-Tom Hanks war movie? Any Spielberg film is reason to be excited, and this one seems right up his alley, following an American lawyer (Hanks) who helps the CIA rescue an American pilot in the Soviet Union. The script is co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as by Matt Charman, and while the Coens have not had much luck handing over their writing to other directors (Unbroken; Gambit), this is Spielberg. For good, old-fashioned moviemaking, there simply is no one better.

3. Macbeth, directed by Justin Kurzel
Release date: December

Remember how I said Fassbender is the most exciting actor working in Hollywood today? Well, as neat as it will be to see his imitation of Steve Jobs, the idea of him playing one of William Shakespeare’s greatest creations is enough to make me shake in my seat. On top of that, Marion Cotillard is Lady Macbeth. If you cannot get excited about seeing two of the best actors of their generation play two of the best characters ever written, there is something wrong with you. Kurzel is a relatively untested director, but if he can balance the epic canvas of the story with the intimate drama of the characters, this has the chance to be something special.

2. The Hateful Eight, directed by Quentin Tarantino
Release date: Dec. 25

Yeah, I grew up in the ’90s, and yeah, Taratino is one of the main reasons I love film. Django Unchained was neither the best nor my favorite of his films (I humbly submit Inglourious Basterds and Reservoir Dogs for those respective titles), but any new film from Tarantino is more exciting and more interesting than almost any new film by almost any other director (see one spot below on this list for the exception to this rule).

The Hateful Eight finds Tarantino back in the Western mode he explored with Django Unchained, and for this one, he brings along a similarly star-studded cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, Bruce Dern, Zoë Bell, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and many more. If you love movies, this is the kind of movie that is made for you.

1. The Revenant, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu
Release date: Dec. 25

Fresh off winning three Oscars as the director, producer, and co-writer of last year’s Birdman, Iñárritu returns with something wholly different. If you check out last year’s list of Last Cinema Standing’s most anticipated films, you will find Birdman in the No. 1 spot. That is not a coincidence. No director chooses more thrilling or intriguing stories to tell than Iñárritu.

He also brings along a crew of unrivaled skill: cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (back-to-back Oscars for Birdman and Gravity); editor Stephen Mirrione (Oscar winner for Traffic, nominee for Iñárritu’s Babel); production designer Jack Fisk (Oscar nominated for There Will Be Blood); and costume designer Jacqueline West (twice Oscar nominated for Quills and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). What I am saying is the movie has one hell of a pedigree.

That alone would be enough – and frankly is enough – to land at the top of this list, but there is more. The film stars my favorite actor, Leonardo Dicaprio, in what looks like the most physically demanding role of his life. There is a lot of talk about Dicaprio possibly finally winning an Academy Award for this part. That would be great, but in the grand scheme of things, it does not matter. What matters is that Dicaprio is nearly certain to turn in the performance of his career. All of these factors combined, I cannot imagine another film more deserving of the title “most anticipated.”

1 comment:

Arion said...

So many amazing new films! I can't wait to see The Revenant, Macbeth and The Walk.By the way, I just read your post about While We're Young and it was great. You seem to be a bit of an expert in Noah Baumbach. Anyway, I also wrote about the film in my blog (wich I encourage you to visit):

I hope you enjoy my review, and please feel free to leave me a comment over there or add yourself as a follower (or both), and I promise I'll reciprocate.