“Dunkirk” still leads the Oscar-worthy pack of films from the summer, but it will soon have plenty of competition as the fall movie season starts to inundate us with quality product. A-list directors like Steven Spielberg, Darren Aronofsky, Todd Haynes and Woody Allen will all have new films vying for critical acclaim and box office glory (not necessarily in that order!). What follows is a select guide of the films I’m most looking forward to seeing over the next few months:
“Call Me By Your Name”: This indie is getting lots of attention for its young star, Timothee Chalamet, in a coming-of-age film based on the 2007 novel by Andre Aciman. The always-reliable Armie Hammer stars as Chalamet’s older fixation.
“Downsizing”: I haven’t disliked a movie directed by Alexander Payne (“Sideways”, “Election”, “Nebraska”) yet, so I have high hopes for his latest dramedy/sci-fi offering about scientists who shrink humans in order to curb overpopulation. Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig star.
“The Greatest Showman”: The creative team behind last year’s critical hit “La La Land” offers a new musical about P.T. Barnum starring Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron. Sounds like it belongs on Broadway, but time will tell if audiences are ready for another screen musical.
“Mother!”: Darren Aronofsky’s secretive thriller stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in an apocalyptic domestic drama set almost entirely in an old house. Early audience reaction has been mixed to outraged, but some reviews were raves including Screen Daily calling it “A devouring and restless experience: a creative surge that’s like the lancing of a boil.” Hmmmm.
“Murder on the Orient Express”: An all-star cast will highlight Kenneth Branagh’s remake of the 1974 film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery about murder most foul on a luxury train. Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz and Branagh, himself, will try to make us forget Sidney Lumet’s lavish classic.
“Suburbicon”: George Clooney’s latest directorial effort is a slow-burn caper set in a 1950s suburban development that has accepted its first black family. It is scripted by Joel and Ethan Coen and stars Matt Damon and Julianne Moore. Sounds like the next best thing to a Coen-directed movie!
“The Post”: Meryl Streep plays Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham and Tom Hanks is Editor Ben Bradley in Steven Spielberg’s historical look back at the Post’s front-page war with Richard Nixon over the Pentagon Papers. Lots of Oscar bait here.
“The Shape of Water”: Master storyteller Guillermo Del Toro’s latest film, set in the 1960s, concerns a mute cleaning woman (the wonderful Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a fishlike hominid in a top-secret laboratory. The fantastical premise is set against the backdrop of Kennedy-era America. Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer and Michael Stuhlbarg co-star.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”: Oscar winner Frances McDormand makes a welcome return to the screen as a mother who protests the handling of her daughter’s murder by the local sheriff (Woody Harrelson). The great British playwright Martin McDonagh wrote the screenplay.
“Wonder Wheel”: Woody Allen is getting positive buzz for his latest period piece set in 1950s Coney Island where the wife of a carousel operator (Kate Winslet) falls for a handsome lifeguard (Justin Timberlake). Juno Temple and James Belushi are also featured and there’s Oscar talk for Winslet’s lead performance.
“Wonderstruck”: Todd (“Far From Heaven”) Haynes directs his favorite actress, Julianne Moore, once again for this adaptation of Brian Selznick’s 2011 novel which tells two different stories set 50 years apart. As a director, Haynes is a risk-taker of the highest order and that alone makes “Wonderstruck” worth seeking out.
Tom Holehan is one of the founders of the Connecticut Critics Circle, a frequent contributor to WPKN Radio’s “State of the Arts” program and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: firstname.lastname@example.org. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.