Fall movie preview 2016: From 'The Girl on the Train' to 'Doctor Strange' - all the films we can't wait to see
From left: Madina Nalwanga in Queen of Katwe; Tom Hanks in Inferno; Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange. (Handout photos)
Action, drama, comedy, horror and flashes of twisted weirdness: That sounds like the lineup of movies for the fall of 2016.
Taking you from the end of September into mid-November — just before we surrender to the American Thanksgiving weekend — here are our choices for the 16 major films of the fall season. Survive and perhaps even thrive on this fare, and it will prepare you for the year’s holiday season (which kicks off with the Harry Potter prequel fantasy, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them):
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Sept. 30):
Avid photo hound Ransom Riggs segued from his collecting obsession to publishing a bestselling American novel in 2011. Once written and read, it was difficult to imagine anyone but Tim Burton directing the movie version. Here it is, with Burton creating an adventure fantasy starring Asa Butterfield (from Hugo), as the boy who explores horrors from his grandfather’s past. Eva Green appears as the transformational Miss Peregrine and Samuel L. Jackson is the death-dealing villain from beyond the grave. We are expecting something strange, wonderful and absolutely weird.
Making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Peter Berg’s oil-spill disaster movie scored surprisingly well with critics and audiences. This thriller, which is based on the real-life BP disaster of 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico, stars Mark Wahlberg as the action hero. The support cast includes Kate Hudson, Gina Rodriguez, Kurt Russell and John Malkovich. The movie is currently scoring a fresh 82 rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Indo-American filmmaker Mira Nair tells embracing and inspirational human stories. This one, the true-life tale of a humble Ugandan youth who emerges as a chess master, impressed Toronto film fest audiences in People’s Choice Award voting (where it came in third behind Lion and La La Land). David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga co-star.
Multi-talented Nate Parker — who produced, co-wrote, directed and co-starred in his historical opus — blundered into a public relations nightmare at the Toronto film fest when he refused to talk about a 17-year-old rape scandal from his days at university. Charges against him were dropped at the time but the case still carries a stigma. That has diverted attention away from his acclaimed and controversial drama, which uses poetic licence and creative direction to recreate Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in 1831 in Virginia.
Paula Hawkins’ 2015 novel held readers spellbound. Tate Taylor (known for The Help and Get on Up) hopes to do the same with the movie version starring the redoubtable Emily Blunt. She plays an alcoholic divorcee who witnesses something shocking from the window of her commuter train. Lives will be profoundly changed as the information ricochets through lives.
Radically switching gears from playing Batman, Ben Affleck is a forensic accountant who works his money magic for crime syndicates. Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) directs this thriller, with J.K. Simmons as the U.S. Treasury agent dogging his heels even when Affleck goes to work for a “legit” company.
Big-screen concert films featuring standup comedians are rare, so the appearance of this one tells us something about Hart’s exceptional power to entertain. The film, co-directed by Leslie Small and Tim Story, focuses on Hart’s show for 53,000 people on Aug. 30, 2015, in his hometown of Philadelphia.
The original Reacher movie generated $218 million in worldwide box office in 2012, modest for a anti-hero thriller starring Tom Cruise. The series finally continues with a new director, Edward Zwick, but the same star. Hardcore fans of Lee Child’s Reacher novels may never get over the casting, but here we are — and Child himself approved Cruise. The new movie is based on his 18th book in the series, with Jack facing homicide charges from 16 years earlier.
Dan Brown keeps writing the novels, Ron Howard keeps directing the movies, and Tom Hanks obviously enjoys reprising his role as Harvard professor Robert Langdon. In this sequel to The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Langdon wakes up with amnesia in a hotel room in Florence. Unlike Jason Bourne, our beleaguered hero does not have the training to fight back, but he does have to elude a massive manhunt that threatens his life while he figures things out.
Long delayed, this latest instalment in the horror movie Ring Cycle is finally here. As directed by Spaniard F. Javier Gutierrez, this story is set 13 years after the events of the first two titles from the American Ring franchise. In this one, a woman discovers there is a movie within the killer movie on the video. Italian model and actress Matilda Lutz stars.
If superhero movie fatigue has already set it, this might be the one that will get audiences back on track with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. British star Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the title role with Scott Derrickson (Sinister) directing. An appealing ensemble supporting Cumberbatch includes Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton. Derrickson, whose credits include horror titles, will be telling Strange’s very strange origins story.
Telling a quest story that will determine the fate of Troll Town, this is a computer animation for children. It is co-directed by Mike Mitchell, who helmed Shrek Ever After, and Walt Dohrn, an artist-actor who just happened to provide the voice of Rumpelstiltskin in Mitchell’s movie. Working against type, Justin Timberlake voices the lead role in the new movie, playing a grumpy troll survivalist. Anna Kendrick’s troll princess provides an upbeat giddiness that contrasts with Timberlake’s sarcasm.
Amid his personal and public train-wreck rants, Mel Gibson had not directed a film since Apocalypto (2006). Amid chatter of a sequel to his Christ opus, Gibson turned first to this true-life saga about a conscientious objector who serves as a medic and saves 75 lives in the Battle of Okinawa in WWII. Andrew Garfield stars in the lead role as Medal of Honor winner Desmond T. Doss.
Arkansas filmmaker Jeff Nichols is an arthouse director who tackles huge canvases with integrity and style. Examples are Take Shelter and Mud. In his new film, Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga co-star as the real-life American couple Richard and Mildred Loving. In the 1950s, inspired by pure love, they challenge America’s barbaric laws against interracial marriage.
Based on Ted Chiang’s sci-fi short story, Denis Villeneuve’s graceful and elegiac film is challenging for audiences. Viewers have to abandon linear thinking. Once you do that, this brilliant film transcends its story of how a linguist (Amy Adams) and a physicist (Jeremy Renner) learn to communicate with mysterious aliens who arrive on Planet Earth in 12 giant spaceships.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Nov. 11):
Directed by the superb Taiwanese-American filmmaker Ang Lee (Life of Pi), this Iraq War drama is based on Ben Fountain’s debut novel from 2012. Joe Alwyn stars as the title character, a 19-year-old U.S. Army private who returns to America as a hero. He is sent on a propaganda campaign, but he also is a young man carrying the tragic memories of what really happened. Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin and Chris Tucker co-star.