2016 is flying by and here we are, with just three months left. Sometimes, after the huge summer films have come and gone, it feels like there’s nothing left to look forward to. But never fear! Here’s a list of the ten films, both big and small, hitting theaters from October through December – in order of release – that I feel have the most potential!
(Okay, let me houseclean, first. This is not an exhaustive list! Other films look like they could be good! Other films will make a ton of money! And other films will pop up with little to no fanfare as always happens during Oscar season! These are the ten movies that we know about that seem most likely to me to be good, successful, and crowd pleasing. It’s not a guarantee! I thought Suicide Squad was going to be all three of those things, too, but it was only 1.5 of them! Don’t come back complaining to me if you see one and don’t enjoy it! Especially after everyone ignored me (thereby giving my theory more credence) and refused to see Kubo and the Two Strings. Okay, are we ready, now? Let’s look into the future! All the way into the fourth quarter of 2016!)
1. The Girl on the Train
October 7 – Based on the popular novel of the same name, The Girl on the Train tells the story of a girl (Emily Blunt) who witnesses a crime from the window of a train. From there, she becomes more involved in the issue than she expected and the mystery begins to unravel around her. I haven’t read the book, but Emily Blunt has a habit of picking excellent projects and she’s one of my favorite stars in Hollywood. This seems like an excellent, sophisticated adult thriller to kick off the fall. (Official Trailer)
October 28 – This is the third film adaptation from Dan Brown’s series of books featuring fan-favorite character Robert Langdon. The first two, you may know, were The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Ron Howard is back in the director’s chair and Tom Hanks returns as Langdon, this time joined by the fantastic Felicity Jones (we’ll see her again, later) as Sienna Brooks. Casting doesn’t get better than Hanks and Jones (I maintain that she deserved an Oscar for The Theory of Everything). And, unlike the initial film on this list, I have read this book and the story is thrilling, intelligent, shocking, and frighteningly relevant. I’m going out of town on the weekend this comes out but I’m going to find a way to see it without waiting until the next weekend, believe me. (Official Trailer)
3. Doctor Strange
November 4 – This is one reason I don’t want to wait until the following weekend to see Inferno. I’ll be otherwise occupied with this one! Marvel Studios is back with a brand new character (not counting the name drop in Captain America: Winter Soldier) for movie audiences and they’ve brought along the longtime fan pick of Benedict Cumberbatch as the eponymous Doctor Strange! This is going to be completely different from anything else we’ve seen in a comic book movie and, while I’m hoping the otherworldly dimensions aren’t limited to the Inception-esque folding cityscapes we’ve seen in the marketing, it’s hard not to be excited to see what Marvel has in store for us, this time around. Though some of Marvel Studios’s films have been lesser than others, they’ve never truly let us down and I don’t expect they will here, either. (Official Trailer)
4. Hacksaw Ridge
November 4 – Some people won’t be happy about this one. Mel Gibson continues his attempted comeback after his very public meltdown and, doggone it, Hacksaw Ridge (which Gibson directed) looks really fantastic. I, like most everyone, was disappointed in Gibson’s words and behavior, years ago. I personally believe in second chances and, after seeing the trailer for Ridge, I’m even more inclined to give him one. Andrew Garfield plays pacifist World War II medic Desmond T. Doss who refuses to pick up a gun in Okinawa and uses his skills to save lives, not take them. Upon seeing the trailer for this, it was the first time I’ve ever been actively excited about a war movie. And then I saw that Gibson was directing it, which admittedly was a bit of a punch to the gut. But, sorry, folks. I’m seeing it. My $7.50 will be split among hundreds of other deserving people, anyway. (Official Trailer)
November 11 – Based on Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life”, Amy Adams stars (alongside Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker) as a linguist hired by the military to work as a translator between America and a recently arrived alien species in an effort to ascertain their true intentions. This looks like a massively different angle on the alien invasion tale and Adams always brings the goods. I could be misreading the trailer, but I get the feeling we’re in for something mature, thoughtful, and poignant, three days after Election Day. (Official Trailer)
6. The Edge of Seventeen
November 18 – Hailee Steinfeld has been doing pretty well for herself on the pop music scene, as of late, but I’m glad she’s still pursuing her acting career, as well. After initially making a huge splash in the Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit at the age of thirteen (she got an Academy Award nomination out of it), Steinfeld is now dealing with the growing pains of high school in The Edge of Seventeen and luckily (or maybe not?), she has Woody Harrelson as teacher Mr. Bruner to help guide her along. Seventeen is a coming of age tale by a fresh voice on the scene in the form of writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig. The trailer is full of more wit, humor, charm, and heart than many entire movies and the film looks likely to be a huge winner when it hits theaters near Thanksgiving. (Official Trailer)
November 23 – It’s becoming pretty clear that November is going to at least be a big month, if not a great one. But I’m still betting on it being great, and Disney’s Moana is a big reason why. Disney’s animation department is experiencing a creative renaissance under John Lasseter and there’s no reason to expect the streak to end, now. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson lays down the People’s Voiceover as demi-god Maui, who joins the titular Moana (voiced by newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) on her journey to reach a legendary island. All the sailing reminds me of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker and if the film is as enjoyable as that game was (and I feel confident that it will be), then Disney will once again walk away with much of our holiday money. (Official Trailer)
8. La La Land
December 16 – Come on. Who can resist the pair of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling? Oh, some of you think you can? Well, La La Land is also written and directed by Damian Chazelle – the man who brought us Whiplash. That’s all I need. And, like Whiplash, this one centers around music, but as a full-on musical, this time. The trailer, itself, is simultaneously fun, whimsical, light, emotional, and chock full of talent. I really don’t know how this one can go wrong, but I’ll be there on opening weekend to see for sure! (Official Trailer)
9. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
December 16 – Duh. While we wait for Episode VIII to continue Rey’s story in 2017, we get Rogue One to hold us over. Starring the very busy Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Rogue One tells the story of the Rebellion’s attempt to steal the Empire’s plans for the Death Star during the timeframe of the original beloved trilogy. Directed by Gareth Edwards, Disney seems to have a firm grasp on what audiences want from Star Wars, so I expect to be blown away, yet again – especially with Jones taking the lead. I look forward to seeing what new insights we gain into the larger mythology and how modern special effects allow for new ideas to be incorporated into this era of the universe. (Official Trailer)
December 21 – There are no two hotter stars in Hollywood at the moment than Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence. Put them in a movie, mix in a unique premise of “love in space”, add in a healthy dose of action and suspense, and you have a giant hit in the making. After being put into cryosleep along with thousands of others for a distant journey to colonize a new planet, Pratt and Lawrence’s Jim and Aurora are accidentally awakened 90 years before everyone else on the ship. And then . . . well, we’ll see. But it looks like a blast with two stars who can virtually do no wrong under director Morten Tyldum, who brought us one of the more important films in recent memory, The Imitation Game. This one looks like a gift to any who celebrate the holiday season, and those who don’t, as well. (Official Trailer)
And there are my picks for the 10 most promising films for the final three months of 2016! We’ll see how it plays out and how other films like The Birth of a Nation and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them fare, as well at what surprising Oscar contenders pop up. I hope you’ll join me in checking them out!
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