BY ROGER THOMAS
As was the case last year, there are so many films coming out in the next four months, that I have decided to preview them in two parts. In this article, I will write about the movies opening in September and October. Then in late October, I will do another article about the ones being released during November and December, as the awards season really heats up. So here are the top 12 films to which I am most looking forward in the next two months.
The Light Between Oceans (Already playing in theaters)
I am actually cheating on this one because I just recently saw it. I think it is a beautiful film, visually and dramatically. It has outstanding performances and a story that has to move the heart of any parent. I assume these words came from the novel, but it is one of my favorite lines from any film this year, “If you forgive, you only have to do it once. If you resent, you have to do that every day. That’s too much work. I choose to forgive.” Powerful.
Sully (Opens Friday)
We all remember when that commercial jet landed on the Hudson River. It was an amazing story. Tom Hanks plays the pilot who saved all those lives. The film is directed by Clint Eastwood and it looks great. I am sure there are a lot of details that we have never heard. I, for one, am interested in learning more about this amazing story.
Snowden (Sept. 16)
Most people have an opinion about this man and the choices he made. I am not sure I understand enough to fully judge him, but I am intrigued by his story. Two time Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone is at the helm for this film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the title character. If the film is as intense as the trailer, it should be impressive no matter what your politics are.
The Magnificent Seven (Sept. 23)
This film seems to be a bit lighter than the three films above. However, the trailer certainly looks fun. Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke lead a large cast and in every scene, they seem to be having fun. After spies, plane crashes and distraught parents, this may be exactly the kind of relief we all need. With the exception of the works of Quentin Tarantino, is there anyone who is crafting good westerns? Perhaps director Antoine Fuqua can help fill the void.
Queen of Katwe (Sept. 23)
This new release from Disney looks like a great family film. For the record, I have enjoyed several films about chess prodigies. My favorite is “Searching for Bobby Fisher,” which came out in 1993. I also liked a more recent film about children playing chess: “The Dark Horse.” The only chess movie for which I did not really care was Tobey Maguire’s “Pawn Sacrifice.” “Queen of Katwe” looks to be more like “Searching” than “Sacrifice.”
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Sept. 30)
Is this the new “Harry Potter?” Some seem to think so. I am currently reading the first book which this film is based. In the trailer, we catch glimpses of the story, but mostly the visual effects are what impresses in the ads. We need another fantasy series and hopefully this one will succeed as the “Potter” films did. It will all come down to the story, and my friends who have read all the books tell me it is quite a good tale.
Denial (Sept. 30)
Rachel Weisz has already shined on this list as a grieving mother in “The Light Between Oceans.” This Academy Award-winning actress may be making more speeches in the future. The trailer for “Denial” is quite impressive. This film tells the true story of a man who denied the Holocaust ever happened and the woman who challenged him. Another great line from this season’s films: “Not all opinions are equal.”
The Birth of a Nation (Oct. 7)
This film has been in the news lately because of something the director was involved in years ago. That is unfortunate considering how powerful this films looks. This story of slaves revolting is filled with scriptures and discussions on truth and righteousness. Each filmgoer will have to determine whether the art and the artist are separate entities. The Academy will have to make that decision as well. Early on, “Birth of a Nation” was the frontrunner for this year’s Best Picture Oscar, sight unseen.
The Girl on the Train (Oct. 7)
This is another film adapted from a book. I have heard a lot of buzz about the book but have tried my best to not hear anything about the plot. The trailer is very confusing, but I assume all things will be made clear. I hope to avoid anyone who wants to discuss the film or book because this looks like a film best viewed without any prior knowledge.
American Pastoral (Oct. 21)
Of all the films on this list, I think this is the one I want to see the most. I have seen the trailer a dozen times or more and every time I am moved. Scenes with parents and children often have a powerful impact on me. This film seems to be all about family and the things that can destroy a family’s happiness. Based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Philip Roth, I just hope it is as strong as the previous Roth adaption this year, “Indignation.”
A Monster Calls (Oct. 21)
I read recently this film may be shoved back into December because there is some buzz that it may become a contender for the Oscars. I know almost nothing about the story except that Liam Neeson provides the voice of the monster in the title and the effects look impressive. I just hope this film will be stronger than the recent “The BFG.” That film had many strengths, but I am hoping this one might be much more impressive.
Inferno (Oct. 28)
I have to confess, I have never been a fan of Dan Brown’s novels or the film adaptations that have followed each book. The hero, Robert Langdon, seems to be a highly intelligent man who does fascinating work, it just never impresses me on the big screen. However, the trailer for “Inferno” catches my attention every time it plays. Maybe this will finally be the Langdon adventure that I actually enjoy.
Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.