Fall is arguably the most exciting season for movies, and 2016 is no exception. From thrillers to biopics to dramas, the array of movies presents engaging storylines, supplemented by strong acting. These films should delight audiences and critics alike, a contrast to the splashy blockbusters that failed to impress this summer.
Don’t Breathe — Aug. 26
The horror-thriller Don’t Breathe has been generating a lot of hype this summer, especially for a movie that hasn’t actually been released yet. The film stars Jane Levy (some might remember her from ABC’s Suburgatory) as Rocky, a single mother who wants a better life for her daughter. The blind man, however, traps Rocky and her friends in his house, and begins hunting them. The staggering levels of anticipation for Don’t Breathe’s release could be caused by a few things — for example, the intensity of a super-contained horror film. Though, truthfully, the interest is because of the movie’s trailer, a sublime progression of jump scares that has already spawned a bevy of reaction videos on YouTube.
Snowden — Sept.16
The media’s fascination with Edward Snowden probably peaked with the debut of Citizenfour, an Oscar-winning documentary about the notorious NSA whistleblower that was released in 2014. Two years later, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Snowden as a man who joined the NSA only to learn that the NSA can see and hear everything civilians do. Snowden makes this information public, but the weight of what he reveals is huge and possibly treasonous. After watching the trailer, it is hard not to imagine anyone else other than Gordon-Levitt as Snowden, as he takes on a truly transformative role.
The Magnificent Seven — Sept. 23
The fact that this movie is not related to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is severely misleading, but that’s because it’s actually an adaption of two older movies (one by Akira Kurosawa and the other an American Western). Audiences are definitely going to compare the film to The Hateful Eight, which was released just last year. Nevertheless, it might have never been the prerogative of director Antoine Fuqua to create something startlingly original in the first place. His movie does, however, make a real effort at embodying diversity among the seven lead roles. Starring the likes of Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke, the film depicts a group of men who band together for vengeance.
The Birth of a Nation — Oct. 7
Telling the story of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion, The Birth of a Nation promises to make its own history in a year where racist rhetoric has come to a head. Recall the infamous 1915 film by D.W. Griffith, also titled The Birth of a Nation, and you’ll see where this is going: The old Birth is now recognized as one of the most destructive and racist portrayals of black people in cinema history. The new Birth responds to this and repurposes what it means to be an American. Directed by and starring Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation is about to be a national reckoning.
American Pastoral — Oct. 28
If you want to talk about great trailers, look no further than the trailer for American Pastoral, which is basically a beautiful, but tragic, short film set entirely to a cover of Gary Jules’ “Mad World.” If you can manage not to associate this song with the creepy Donnie Darko bunny, then you’re looking at a stunningly simple depiction of one family’s descent into instability. The movie stars Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning. Set in bucolic small-town paradise in the second half of the 20th century, American Pastoral details a family struggling with their oldest daughter’s extreme political ideas, ideas that can and do lead to violence.
Bleed for This — Nov. 23
Miles Teller always seems to be playing prodigies, and in Bleed for This he is exactly that: Vinny, an overconfident boxer who is gravely injured in a car accident, and must work his way through rehabilitation to box once again. It is easy to dismiss sports movies for their somewhat superficial nature, but Bleed for This, inexplicably, looks like it’ll delve deeper. Part of this has to do with Teller himself, who has become a millennial icon through movies like Whiplash and the upcoming War Dogs. By now, we are already counting on Teller to play the talented-but-brash young man who is good at something but has to work really hard to get better. Soon we’ll find out if Bleed for This is able to create something fresh out of Teller, instead of just capitalizing on what he’s already proven for himself.